Stop Bashing G.M.O. Foods, More Than 100 Nobel Laureates Say

Jul 1, 2016

By Niraj Chokshi

More than 100 Nobel laureates have a message for Greenpeace: Quit the G.M.O.-bashing.

Genetically modified organisms and foods are a safe way to meet the demands of a ballooning global population, the 109 laureates wrote in a letter posted online and officially unveiled at a news conference on Thursday in Washington, D.C.

Opponents, they say, are standing in the way of getting nutritious food to those who need it.

“Greenpeace has spearheaded opposition to Golden Rice, which has the potential to reduce or eliminate much of the death and disease caused by a vitamin A deficiency (VAD), which has the greatest impact on the poorest people in Africa and Southeast Asia,” the laureates wrote in the letter.

Proponents of genetically modified foods such as Golden Rice, which contains genes from corn and a bacterium, argue that they are efficient vehicles for needed nutrients. Opponents fear that foods whose genes are manipulated in ways that do not naturally occur might contaminate existing crops. And, they say, the debate distracts from the only guaranteed solution to malnutrition: promoting diverse, healthy diets.


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25 comments on “Stop Bashing G.M.O. Foods, More Than 100 Nobel Laureates Say

  • @OP- And, they say, the debate distracts from the only guaranteed solution to malnutrition: promoting diverse, healthy diets.

    Regardless of the merits of particular GM crops, there is no evidence that GM crops are the ONLY solution to world malnutrition, or that they necessarily increase crop yields.

    The prime cause of world malnutrition is over-population and local wars, so those are the most urgent problems which need to be addressed.

    Crop yields per unit area have been increased considerably over the years, but there is no evidence this has reduced global malnutrition.
    Increased population from initial increases in food supplies, (along with the dispossession of subsistence farmers in favour of large commercial farms producing food for export), has simply increased the numbers of people suffering from malnutrition in third world countries.

    There may well be benefits from particular GM crops, but until proper testing and regulatory mechanisms are put in place to check on environmental impacts, a precautionary approach is advisable.

    There are already massive problems from the failures to regulate global transport and produce functioning quarantine systems to keep existing invasive species out of ecosystems where they become pest species.

    We don’t need a cascade of new ones arising from reckless experimentation.
    Once “out of the bottle” and into an environment, bio-hazards are self replicating, and extremely difficult or impossible, to put back under control!

    Some which were casually let out into foreign environments over a hundred years ago are still rampant and costing billions!

    Genetically modified organisms and foods are a safe way to meet the demands of a ballooning global population,

    There are no good reasons why we have to assume the acceptance of the failure to control the “ballooning” human population explosion and run around instigating monocultures or exterminating wildlife or the planet’s ecosystems, over vast tracts of land!



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  • Now we have 100 Nobel laureates calling for the vilification of GMOs to stop. Yet, still we have people at RDF crying, “The sky is falling!” We have had almost twenty years of eating and growing GMO crops. Where are the dire consequences opponents have been promising? Or is something else at work? Is opposition to new crop technology really opposition to anything that might support further world population growth? That appears to be the subtext of Alan for Discussion’s comment. We have to starve the world in order to keep world population under control.

    “Increased population from initial increases in food supplies, (along with the dispossession of subsistence farmers in favour of large commercial farms producing food for export), has simply increased the numbers of people suffering from malnutrition in third world countries.”

    This is an outright claim that increasing food supplies is a cause of overpopulation. We all know what the UN has predicted for world population by 2050 and 2100. That’s going to happen. We had better figure out ways to feed them. These Nobel laureates are saying let science help. Organic farming isn’t going to feed them.



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  • A friend of mine, a few years ago, emigrated to South Africa because his brother, already out there, found a gap in the market, or so he thought, because all the best fruits were being exported and the worst was for sale in their own super markets. They thought that they could supply top quality fruit, at a premium of course, to those that could afford it in their own land. The setting up of the company went well for a while and the feedback from promoting the idea was encouraging. When the time came to fill the warehouse they acquired and at a crucial time, the packaging machinery they ordered, instead of arriving at Capetown ended up on the other side of the country. After weeks of chasing they finally arrived, by which time orders were cancelled. One of the drivers whispered in my friends ear that they were ordered to take the equipment as far away as possible and they had been sabotaged by Cape fruit company. Disclaimer: I have no idea if any of that is true!!! Anyhow, they went bankrupt owing thousands and had to do a midnight flit.

    In North Cyprus where I am at the moment, a woman has posted on FB that a fruit they were picking off trees for free a few years ago is being sold at high prices in the shops and the land is now owned by farmers so no longer free.

    Just a few observations to add to the discussion.



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  • prietenul #2
    Jul 2, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    Now we have 100 Nobel laureates calling for the vilification of GMOs to stop. Yet, still we have people at RDF crying, “The sky is falling!” We have had almost twenty years of eating and growing GMO crops. Where are the dire consequences opponents have been promising?

    It has been explained to you in several previous discussions, that the food safety of the end product, is not usually the prime concern, but you persist in refusing to recognise the problems of potential invasive species, serious environmental concerns about intensive monocultures, and the political, ecological and human implications, of corporate profit being made a top priority!

    http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/habitats/forests/explore/invasives-101.xml

    Invasive species have contributed directly to the decline of 42% of the threatened and endangered species in the United States. The annual cost to the United States economy is estimated at $120 billion a year, with over 100 million acres (an area roughly the size of California) suffering from invasive plant infestations. Invasive species are a global problem — with the annual cost of impacts and control efforts equalling five percent of the world’s economy.

    No type of habitat or region of the globe is immune from the threat of invasive species.

    Why are you still stuck on one-issue thinking, while disparaging those who understand and look at the bigger picture?

    The risk of accidentally creating new GM invasive species (with no evolved ecological control mechanisms) is real, and would be extremely costly!

    The cost to the planet and biodiversity of ever increasing monoculture land-use is also real!



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  • prietenul #2
    Jul 2, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    “Increased population from initial increases in food supplies, (along with the dispossession of subsistence farmers in favour of large commercial farms producing food for export), has simply increased the numbers of people suffering from malnutrition in third world countries.”

    This is an outright claim that increasing food supplies is a cause of overpopulation.

    Increased food supply and medical treatment prevents the death rate which would otherwise restrict population growth which increases demand on food supplies.
    Diverting food production overseas for profit, does cause starvation in those dispossessed, who previously were fed from the production of their land.

    We all know what the UN has predicted for world population by 2050 and 2100. That’s going to happen.

    It does not have to happen if proper contraception and family planning is put in place as a balance against the reduction in the natural death-rate from starvation and disease.

    We had better figure out ways to feed them. These Nobel laureates are saying let science help. Organic farming isn’t going to feed them.

    Trying to feed an ever increasing population on a planet with finite resources is a fool’s errand, which can only lead to an eventual catastrophic population collapse, when the population has expanded beyond sustainable levels and destroyed its habitat by over-exploiting resources to destruction!
    There are many examples where other animal populations have done this!



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  • I don’t personally share the viewpoint that genetic modifications in of themselves are necessarily dangerous although no doubt the business model of firms like Monsanto forcing farmers to become dependent on their products is deplorable. However as Alan says the primary problem is ever increasing population. Unless this is controlled no other measure will ever be more than a bandaid. Human nature is to exploit whatever resources and opportunities become available. If food production increases then population will just increase to take advantage of it until the problem is as bad as before.

    What primarily drives overpopulation is poverty, lack of contraception, lack of education, lack of social safety nets such as pensions and geriatric medical care. People have large families so that there is someone to take care of them in old age when the government doesn’t. Religion has its sticky fingers in much of this. Telling people that contraception is evil, marginalising women, not educating them and preventing them contributing to the economy. There is an almost perfect correlation at the global scale between poverty and overpopulation and religiosity. Most of the muslim world would be a dust bowl if it weren’t for their oil revenues.

    Religion is responsible for more human suffering over the ages than any other single cause. Robust Constitutions like that of the USA manage to ameliorate some of its dangers and allow personal freedom and wealth production but only its eradication will allow all of this planet to become a reasonably civilised place to live on.



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  • The GMO issue is not a scientific danger (well, not much) but a political danger; that despicable companies like Monsanto or a small cabal of such, will one day own the IP on all food, all non-GMO food having been driven out of the market.



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  • There is another word for “GMO”: It’s AGRICULTURE. Humans have been genetically modifying organisms to our liking for thousands of years. Science has figured out how to make the process faster and more “targeted.”

    Everything you eat is a GMO. Always has been, through your whole life.



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  • mickey bitsko #8
    Jul 3, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    There is another word for “GMO”: It’s AGRICULTURE. Humans have been genetically modifying organisms to our liking for thousands of years. Science has figured out how to make the process faster and more “targeted.”

    Unfortunately for this “targeted” view, evolution is a scatter gun, not a rifle, with genes frequently having more than one function, and not giving a damn about human objectives. !



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  • 8 @mickey

    Science has figured out how to make the process faster and more “targeted.”

    Making the process faster and more “targeted” also means that we don’t have sufficient time to assess the risks. As we’ve seen with things like trans-fats, adverse effects may not show up immediately. Concerns have been raised regarding possible health impacts such as increased susceptibility to allergies but the testing has simply not been done. Too many vested interests, and an unholy alliance between academia and industry, ensure that it probably won’t be. Add to this the potential for a handful of multi-nationals to gain a monopoly on global food production and you have real cause for concern.

    That’s not to say that GM foods should be banned. On the contrary they have the potential to contribute to a second green revolution. All we’re asking is that the science is studied impartially and independently and that Governments develop the necessary frameworks to ensure the safety and integrity of our food supplies into the future.



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  • The Greenpeace position reads very badly in my view.

    http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/agriculture/problem/Greenpeace-and-Golden-Rice/

    The argument on hitching the solution to a vitamin A deficiency to a single foodstuff makes no real sense introduced into India where half the problem is and where rice is a main source of carbohydrate. African dependence on Golden Rice is not actually likely given the progress of other supplementing processes and the long process of changing whole lifestyles. It would not be right to move people away from safe and reliable crops for this amelioration alone, when other amelioration techniques are growing increasingly successful. (Unicef put out a good paper.) Perhaps a few more crops need the Vit A hike….

    There is no Monsanto to deal with so my main concern is out of the window-

    The patented key technology for Golden Rice production, invented by Prof emeritus Ingo Potrykus, of ETH-Zurich and Prof Peter Beyer, of the Univ of Freiburg, provided access to a package of ancillary technologies required to engineer the trait into rice. A license to those technologies was obtained from Syngenta. The package contained proprietary technologies belonging not only to Syngenta but also to Bayer AG, Monsanto Co, Orynova BV, and Zeneca Mogen BV.These companies provided access to the required technologies free of charge, for humanitarian purposes.

    The argument of corrupting organic businesses with genetic contamination makes no sense to me. Organic businesses are already at risk of “genetic contamination”. As organic in no way necessitates sustainable or safe, I will not be going out of my way to protect their confidence trickery.

    Cross breeding this for-free variety may produce many more more suitable for different agricultural circumstances.

    I need to see a better case against its adoption in India.

    It would seem that anti-GMO activity is not behind the non adoption of Golden Rice and Golden Rice 2, but because it is not as high yielding as other types, or its high water requirement disfavours it as a crop.



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  • From the original linked letter.

    The United Nations Food &; Agriculture Program has noted that global production of food, feed and fiber will need approximately to double by 2050 to meet the demands of a growing global population.

    Making the crass assumption that we must unquestioningly accept exploding human population numbers!

    Organizations opposed to modern plant breeding, with Greenpeace at their lead, have repeatedly denied these facts

    The “fact” that we must unquestioningly accept exploding population numbers!

    and opposed biotechnological innovations in agriculture.

    Yeah! I know! Stuff like toxic insecticides and herbicides pronounced to be “harmless” over decades, before being banned when proper research is done. Pointing out the damage to biodiversity and of vast tracts of monocultures, and pollution of water courses by fertiliser and slurry run -off!

    They have misrepresented their risks, benefits, and impacts, and supported the criminal destruction of approved field trials and research projects.

    A bit like the “criminal” obstruction of factory effluent pipes which were illegally pouring toxic chemical into rivers!

    Scientific and regulatory agencies around the world have repeatedly and consistently found crops and foods improved through biotechnology to be as safe as, if not safer than those derived from any other method of production.

    Which is begging the question, as it fails to take into account any which are unevaluated, untested or not “improved by biotechnology!

    There has never been a single confirmed case of a negative health outcome for humans or animals from their consumption.

    But most of the required studies, have simply not been done!

    Their environmental impacts have been shown repeatedly to be less damaging to the environment,

    Less damaging to the environment than what???? Heavy insecticide spraying, intense use of chemical fertilizers?

    They are certainly just as damaging as other forms of monoculture.

    and a boon to global biodiversity.

    This is laughable! No intensive monoculture or monopoly of seed patents, “is a boon to biodiversity”!

    Greenpeace has spearheaded opposition to Golden Rice, which has the potential to reduce or eliminate much of the death and disease caused by a vitamin A deficiency (VAD), which has the greatest impact on the poorest people in Africa and Southeast Asia.

    Golden Rice may well turn out to be a valuable crop in fighting vitamin deficiency and should be approved as a food crop if it has met safety testing..

    WE CALL UPON GOVERNMENTS OF THE WORLD to reject Greenpeace’s campaign against Golden Rice specifically,

    Which could turn out to be a reasonable suggestion should the check it out and approve it.

    and crops and foods improved through biotechnology in general; and to do everything in their power to oppose Greenpeace’s actions and accelerate the access of farmers to all the tools of modern biology,

    Any merits of the cheery picked example of Golden Rice” are no basis for claiming carte blanch for everything else!

    especially seeds improved through biotechnology.

    I think the plot to patent and commercially monopolise seed production is a well known political problem which these stooges are skirting over!
    I would have to ask, “which subject areas are their specialisms, because they are clearly clueless on some relevant serious issues.

    Opposition based on emotion and dogma contradicted by data must be stopped.

    Yep! The false claims about enhancing biodiversity denying causing the extinction of older commercial strains of food plants by monopolising seed production and destruction of habitats by commercial agriculture must be challenged. Cheerleaders for reckless biotech companies, must not be allowed to use recognition of personal achievements as a badge of authority for false or misleading claims!

    Anyone who fails to recognise the impact of the human population explosion, as in the opening paragraph of this letter, obviously is missing the big picture!

    How many poor people in the world must die before we consider this a “crime against humanity”?

    Given the numerous political, military, and commercial reasons for poor people dying, perhaps cheering for unrestricted introduction of crops many of which have no evidence suggesting they increase crop yields, as a panacea for these problems shows a very blinkered view!
    What was that about “emotion and dogma”?

    Innovative science is potentially beneficial, if properly tested and regulated.

    Cheerleading for reckless experimentation and ruthless commercial exploitation by people with no relevant qualifications, is not!

    110 Laureates Supporting Precision Agriculture (GMOs)

    Zhores I. Alferov 2000 Physics
    Sidney Altman 1989 Chemistry
    Hiroshi Amano 2014 Physics
    Werner Arber 1978 Medicine
    Richard Axel 2004 Medicine
    David Baltimore 1975 Medicine
    Paul Berg 1980 Chemistry
    Bruce A. Beutler 2011 Medicine
    Elizabeth H. Blackburn 2009 Medicine
    Gunter Blobel 1999 Medicine
    Paul D. Boyer 1997 Chemistry
    Sydney Brenner 2002 Medicine
    Mario R. Capecchi 2007 Medicine
    Thomas R. Cech 1989 Chemistry
    Martin Chalfie 2008 Chemistry
    Steven Chu 1997 Physics
    Aaron Ciechanover 2004 Chemistry
    Claude Cohen-Tannoudji 1997 Physics
    Leon N. Cooper 1972 Physics
    Elias James Corey 1990 Chemistry
    Robert F. Curl Jr. 1996 Chemistry
    Johann Deisenhofer 1988 Chemistry
    Peter C. Doherty 1996 Medicine
    Richard R. Ernst 1991 Chemistry
    Sir Martin J. Evans 2007 Medicine
    Eugene F. Fama 2013 Economics
    Edmond H. Fischer 1992 Medicine
    Jerome I. Friedman 1990 Physics
    Andre Geim 2010 Physics
    Ivar Giaever 1973 Physics
    Walter Gilbert 1980 Chemistry
    Alfred G. Gilman 1994 Medicine
    Sheldon Glashow 1979 Physics
    Roy J. Glauber 2005 Physics
    Joseph L. Goldstein 1985 Medicine
    David J. Gross 2004 Physics
    Roger Guillemin 1977 Medicine
    Sir John B. Gurdon 2012 Medicine
    John L. Hall 2005 Physics
    Lars Peter Hansen 2013 Economics
    Serge Haroche 2012 Physics
    Leland H. Hartwell 2001 Medicine
    Harald zur Hausen 2008 Medicine
    James J. Heckman 2000 Economics
    Dudley R. Herschbach 1986 Chemistry
    Avram Hershko 2004 Chemistry
    Gerardus ‘t Hooft 1999 Physics
    H. Robert Horvitz 2002 Medicine
    Robert Huber 1988 Chemistry
    Tim Hunt 2001 Medicine
    Louis J. Ignarro 1998 Medicine
    Daniel Kahneman 2002 Economics
    Eric R. Kandel 2000 Medicine
    Wolfgang Ketterle 2001 Physics
    Aaron Klug 1982 Chemistry
    Brian K. Kobilka 2012 Chemistry
    Roger D. Kornberg 2006 Chemistry
    Herbert Kroemer 2000 Physics
    Finn E. Kydland 2004 Economics
    Leon M. Lederman 1988 Physics
    Yuan T. Lee 1986 Chemistry
    Robert J. Lefkowitz 2012 Chemistry
    Anthony J. Leggett 2003 Physics
    Jean-Marie Lehn 1987 Chemistry
    Michael Levitt 2013 Chemistry
    Tomas Lindahl 2015 Chemistry
    Rudolph A. Marcus 1992 Chemistry
    Barry J. Marshall 2005 Medicine
    Eric S. Maskin 2007 Economics
    John C. Mather 2006 Physics
    Craig C. Mello 2006 Medicine
    Robert C. Merton 1997 Economics
    Hartmut Michel 1988 Chemistry
    James A. Mirrlees 1996 Economics
    Paul L. Modrich 2015 Chemistry
    William E. Moerner 2014 Chemistry
    Mario J. Molina 1995 Chemistry
    Edvard Moser 2014 Medicine
    May-Britt Moser 2014 Medicine
    Kary B. Mullis 1993 Chemistry
    Ferid Murad 1998 Medicine
    Erwin Neher 1991 Medicine
    Ryoji Noyori 2001 Chemistry
    Sir Paul Nurse 2001 Medicine
    Christiane Nusslein-Volhard 1995 Medicine
    Arno Penzias 1978 Physics
    Stanley B. Prusiner 1997 Medicine
    Jose Ramos-Horta 1996 Peace
    Sir Richard J. Roberts 1993 Medicine
    Bert Sakmann 1991 Medicine
    Bengt I. Samuelsson 1982 Medicine
    Randy W. Schekman 2013 Medicine
    Brian P. Schmidt 2011 Physics
    Richard R. Schrock 2005 Chemistry
    Phillip A. Sharp 1993 Medicine
    Hamilton O. Smith 1978 Medicine
    Oliver Smithies 2007 Medicine
    Thomas A. Steitz 2009 Chemistry
    Joseph H. Taylor Jr. 1993 Physics
    Daniel C. Tsui 1998 Physics
    Harold E. Varmus 1989 Medicine
    Sir John E. Walker 1997 Chemistry
    J. Robin Warren 2005 Medicine
    Arieh Warshel 2013 Chemistry
    James Watson 1962 Medicine
    Eric F. Wieschaus 1995 Medicine
    Frank Wilczek 2004 Physics
    Robert Woodrow Wilson 1978 Physics
    Ada E. Yonath 2009 Chemistry

    110 signatories posing as authorities:-
    and NOT A SINGLE EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGIST, AGRICULTURALIST, OR ECOLOGIST among them! !!!!



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  • phil rimmer #11
    Jul 3, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    I need to see a better case against its adoption in India.

    It would seem that anti-GMO activity is not behind the non adoption of Golden Rice and Golden Rice 2, but because it is not as high yielding as other types, or its high water requirement disfavours it as a crop.

    Parts of the Greenpeace argument are poor, but if these properties of Golden Rice you point out in India, contaminate traditional native strains which are better adapted to local conditions, the lower yielding features or higher water requirements, could be passed on to home saved seed, affecting subsequent crops.

    As I was commenting earlier, each case needs to be looked at on its individual merits.



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  • I see good arguments on all sides here. The one above, that “not a single evolutionary biologist, agriculturalist or ecologist” reminds me of a list a creationist student in one of my anthropology classes gave me a few years back. It was a list of ‘scientists who don’t believe in evolution’. There wasn’t a biologist or anthropologist on the list, but also a number of chemists and others who may be good in their respecitve fields, but know dick-all about biology and how nature works. The list given me contained anybody who had letters after their name that looked impressive – there were dentists included on the list (not sure how that applied to the question at hand. ) I wonder who the chemists on the list here work for?

    As for the comment above to the effect that this whole GMO issue is just about agriculture that we’ve been doing for thousands of years, let me give a definition of domestication that I use in my classes, basically: ‘Human interference in the reproduction of an organism in order to make it more useful for humans”. I believe that is what the person meant by the comment about agriculture, and yes, we have been doing that for 10,000 years or more, BUT we haven’t been sticking genes from one organism into another, AND we haven’t been dumping tons of chemicals onto our food sources until relatively recently. My problem is not that GMOs are inherently bad, but I’ve got some problems with the pesticides and herbicides used in factory farming. That is a whole new ball of wax, historically, to deal with that IS very recent and we don’t really have a lot of data on that aspect as yet. What we have are studies done that show some pretty awful effects from some of those chemicals. I don’t have a lot of trust in Monsanto and the other companies that brought us DDT and Agent Orange, among other things. Remember how well THOSE worked out?

    I think the golden rice IS probably a good idea, but Malthus already pointed out some time ago that a population will continue to increase until the environment can no longer support it. Is that really what we want to do? Most of the world’s problems today are either caused or horribly exacerbated by too many humans on the planet. Do we want to wait for destruction of environments, hellish drought and starvation of millions, , or try to do something about the REAL root cause here?



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  • This

    The argument on hitching the solution to a vitamin A deficiency to a single foodstuff makes no real sense introduced into India where half the problem is and where rice is a main source of carbohydrate.

    should read

    The argument against hitching the solution to a vitamin A deficiency to a single foodstuff makes no real sense introduced into India where half the problem is and where rice is a main source of carbohydrate.

    Alan

    There are a wide range of rice varieties

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_rice_varieties

    They are all at risk of cross contamination one with another. Note the extraordinary numbers on the Indian sub continent. These are grown bordering each other and will have differing yields, tastes, water usage and other characteristics.



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  • phil rimmer #15
    Jul 3, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    There are a wide range of rice varieties

    They are all at risk of cross contamination one with another.

    Probably to some extent, but it’s a big continent, landscape features can isolate patches of crops.

    Note the extraordinary numbers on the Indian sub continent.

    Considerable indeed.

    These are grown bordering each other and will have differing yields, tastes, water usage and other characteristics.

    With climate change, there may need to be some geographical reshuffling from the available diversity, in order to adapt to increased or reduced rainfall, or reductions in availability of dry-season melt-water from the Himalayas.
    Altitude may also become a factor if temperatures continue to rise, or wind directions change.

    There is certainly going to be no “one size which fits everything”!



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  • There is certainly going to be no “one size which fits everything”!

    Isn’t that evolution at work? I am wondering if we are being a little bit arrogant to think we can take on nature. The only real argument I can see is the one of big companies owning the rights to everything. A little like my North Cyprus story above. If the poorest can’t even pick a piece of fruit in their own land then that is the problem?



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  • prietenul #2
    Jul 2, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    Now we have 100 Nobel laureates calling for the vilification of GMOs to stop. Yet, still we have people at RDF crying, “The sky is falling!” We have had almost twenty years of eating and growing GMO crops. Where are the dire consequences opponents have been promising?

    @#5 – It has been explained to you in several previous discussions, that the food safety of the end product, is not usually the prime concern, but you persist in refusing to recognise the problems of potential invasive species, serious environmental concerns about intensive monocultures, and the political, ecological and human implications, of corporate profit being made a top priority!

    See #5, #10, #11, #12, #15 and #34 on this earlier discussion!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2014/07/core-truths-10-common-gmo-claims-debunked/#li-comment-147776



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  • This is a bit like saying “stop bashing chemicals. Since some chemicals are clearly good, ALL chemicals should be used freely in your food and consumer products without restriction.”

    GMO are not a single blanket thing. They need to be tested. They need to be labelled. Consider allergies. If someone is allergic to peanuts they need to know if the food they are eating contains peanut genes.

    Klebsiella planticola is a micro-organism found on the roots of every plant species on earth. It helps them absorb nutrients. A company in Oregon decided to genetically modify the organism to produce alcohol from plant waste for biofuel, then sell the remaining sludge as fertiliser. By happenstance, Michael Holmes, a student needing a project for his PhD thesis, decided to test the new lifeform for toxicity and discovered that it killed any plant it touched by producing twenty times more alcohol on its roots than it could withstand. What looked like such a great green idea on paper turned out to be a bioweapon that could have killed all plant life on earth.

    The problem with GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), is they are like Pandora’s box. Once we release them into the environment, there is no way to take them back. We have to be cautious. We have to think about what will happen when those modified organisms escape the field. You have no right to contaminate other people’s strains. We have to think about what will happen when the new genes jump to other species.



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  • phil rimmer #15
    Jul 3, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    The argument against hitching the solution to a vitamin A deficiency to a single foodstuff makes no real sense introduced into India where half the problem is and where rice is a main source of carbohydrate.

    It does seem to be a rather contorted argument, that rice has to be modified to a Golden variety – untried in many locations, to provide vitamin A, when vitamin A can easily be provided by simply growing crops like carrots or tomatoes!
    Golden Rice may well be appropriate in some localities, but will probably produce poorer yields on others.



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  • My sentence construction is terrible. It is not unreasonable to propose Golden Rice 2 as a possible in India bringing a vitamin A benefit and if the yield is good enough against a local variety of rice (possibly not).

    India is the number two producer of tomatoes 14m tonnes (US 11m). Distribution to and production in poor areas is the problem.



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  • 110 Laureates Supporting Precision Agriculture (GMOs)

    Precision horticulture is computer controlled hydroponics, shading and ventilation – usually in glasshouses or poly-tunnels!

    Precision Agriculture = (GMOs)?? Really????

    Satellite monitored water use and managed irrigation with measured fertiliser, and remote plant health monitoring, is “precision agriculture”!

    No necessary connection to GMOs.



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  • Alan4discusion #12, list of Nobel laureates.

    I thought that Richard Dawkins had dumped, in his books, the irrelevance of highly regarded specialists in a field of inquiry (nowadays = mostly science) in other fields of inquiry with his annihilation of the astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle’s mental diarrhea about junk yards / hurricanes / Boeing 747s! Not that I have the occasion very often, but when someone is very keen on the audience of a discussion knowing that he (and I use the male case on purpose with reason!) is a doctor, I immediately challenge him what his doctoral thesis was about.

    You commented on the list you compiled as follows:
    110 signatories posing as authorities:-
    and NOT A SINGLE EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGIST, AGRICULTURALIST, OR ECOLOGIST among them! !!!!

    I won’t pretend that I could comment usefully on those receiving the prize for Physiology or Medicine (among whom are Peter Medawar and Niko Tinbergen) as the only category in which the prize-winner can comment with more than a layman’s knowledge, but the other four categories are without a doubt plainly irrelevant to the topic mentioned in the article (and never mind the prize in Economics funded by a Swedish bank (!!!) in 1968, and first awarded in 1969). But what gets me hopping mad is the insinuation that all of about 100 Nobel Laureates know chicken droppings about the subject. Alan4discusion puts it at zero above; I would hesitate to exclude the Physiology or Medicine bunch so categorically. But the article heading part “… More Than 100 Nobel Laureates Say” is, at it stands, CRAP!



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  • Regarding overpopulation, I find Hans Rosling’s presentations helpful. He addresses many possible myths in other videos. Here is a 16 minute presentation on population projections.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LyzBoHo5EI

    This is a 1 hour edition called “Don’t Panic”.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ks064fU7_M

    Also, regarding invasive species costs, do we know how much damage is done by non-GMO or “natural” species like the Asian carp, rats, cats, crazy ants etc. and how much by actual GMO species?



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