Your thoughts on GM foods and crops?

  • I don't see why they can't just hybridize, we've been doing it for thousands of years and it works very well, but of course, all you need to do that is a good botanist, and you might get rich, but you'll never make the kind of squillions these corporations are after that way...

  • I don't see why they can't just hybridize, we've been doing it for thousands of years and it works very well, but of course, all you need to do that is a good botanist, and you might get rich, but you'll never make the kind of squillions these corporations are after that way...


    I know, but its all about time, people dont want to wait. And if you can create a new plant you can patent it and call it your own


    GRRR:curse:

  • I'm torn - the thought of genetically modified food makes me feel uncomfortable especially if it involves the insertian of genes from non-related or non-plant species. However, I can understand the appeal of speeding up the hybridization process, particularly if it offers immunity to certain plant diseases such as potato blight as in this case.
     
    If, as the article suggests, the quantities of chemicals used last year to control potato blight resulted in a European-wide depletion then consider the amount of extra chemicals entering the environment. Part of me feels that anything that reduces the amount of pesticides, herbicides, etc entering the natural environment (and hence the food chain) can only be a good thing. Consider, for example, the impacts that Dieldrin, DDT and PCBs had on wildlife in the UK and elsewhere during the 20th Century (I appreciate that PCBs aren't a chemical used in agriculture but their persistance in the environment has had a significant effect).
     
    Like I said though, I'm torn. It's not a simple thing and depends on so much more than just sticking a new gene in your favourite vegetable ;)

  • Not good, not good at all! The very thought of eating something which has had its genetic make up altered makes my skin crawl. If an organic farmer has crops growing within pollination range of GM crops they end up being cross-pollinated so the organic farmer ends up with strains of GM crops on his farm. How shit is that?! There was recently a case on the news where an organic farmer complained about a local GM crop cross contaminating his organic crops. The GM farm (backed by big oil company) went and took samples of the organic crops and discovered that it was true that they contained some of the GM crops and actually took the organic land owner to court (and won!!) for stealing the GM crops, which were patented. :curse:
    I've recently discovered that seeds are now being sprayed with a chemical that makes them resistant to pests etc. As the plant germinates and grows, the chemical is then absorbed by the plant and then by us when we eat it, or its produce. The honey bees that pollinate it are also being effected, officially ingesting small amounts of insecticide, then they wonder why bees are becoming scarce! :rolleyes:
    I want my food to be natural, as nature intended. There's enough chemical shit in foods already. When I eat grains and things that are supposed to nourish the body, I prefer them to be natural and not modified to be resistant to pests etc. My body (or anyone else's) does not need to build up pest resistance etc, by eating GM crops designed for this purpose. With the new government pretty much okaying GM crops that seems like the situation is only going to get worse.

  • I'm torn - the thought of genetically modified food makes me feel uncomfortable especially if it involves the insertian of genes from non-related or non-plant species. However, I can understand the appeal of speeding up the hybridization process, particularly if it offers immunity to certain plant diseases such as potato blight as in this case.
     


    I'm in the same mind as Noctula - there was a piece on Countryfile on Sunday evening about the same thing...as the Worlds population continues to grow I do feel we need to find a way of ensuring that crops are more resistant to disease and drought and this may be the only way to do it.


    We quite happily accept, for instance, apple trees that are spliced together so that two different varieties grow together and to my mind that's a sort of genetic modification in that the DNA of one variety joins with that of the other...the difference being that it's not done in a lab.

  • Hmmm, I just think they've taken it too far. It's hard to know what you're eating and where your food comes from unless you've grown it yourself. That's all well and good providing you have the space and can be sure that your seeds aren't genetically modified to begin with! (Then there's the compost to consider, unless it's organic...!) I'm beginning to get a headache with all this!!

  • Responsibility is very important. And it can be said for certain, via capitalism, GM production would certainly be irresponsible. Not that I have a better solution mind :whistle:
     
    At some point though, the understanding of DNA is going to unlock our second Pandora's box. For better or for worse. It'll probably get worse before it gets better. I'm optimistic about the future though.
     
    We need to not forget to learn from the vast biodiversity around us on this planet. GM crops should always come second fiddle to what millions/billions of years of field testing the Earth has already done!

  • The problem is though, that genetically splicing doesn't necessarily result in less chemicals. GM oilseed rape grown in north america is genetically modified to make it resistant to round-up. This is done specifically so that you can control weeds in the growing crop by blasting the field with herbicides which would normally kill the rapeseed as well. Incidentally, rapeseed is called "canola" in north america, sounds friendlier I suppose.

  • Unease. I'm not scientifically grounded enough in genetics to really understand the risks but it makes me nervous - much more so than things that make others nervous, such as nuclear power


    We cant tame life itself in the same way we use the laws of physics

  • Not good, not good at all! The very thought of eating something which has had its genetic make up altered makes my skin crawl. If an organic farmer has crops growing within pollination range of GM crops they end up being cross-pollinated so the organic farmer ends up with strains of GM crops on his farm. How shit is that?! There was recently a case on the news where an organic farmer complained about a local GM crop cross contaminating his organic crops. The GM farm (backed by big oil company) went and took samples of the organic crops and discovered that it was true that they contained some of the GM crops and actually took the organic land owner to court (and won!!) for stealing the GM crops, which were patented. :curse:
    I've recently discovered that seeds are now being sprayed with a chemical that makes them resistant to pests etc. As the plant germinates and grows, the chemical is then absorbed by the plant and then by us when we eat it, or its produce. The honey bees that pollinate it are also being effected, officially ingesting small amounts of insecticide, then they wonder why bees are becoming scarce! :rolleyes:
    I want my food to be natural, as nature intended. There's enough chemical shit in foods already. When I eat grains and things that are supposed to nourish the body, I prefer them to be natural and not modified to be resistant to pests etc. My body (or anyone else's) does not need to build up pest resistance etc, by eating GM crops designed for this purpose. With the new government pretty much okaying GM crops that seems like the situation is only going to get worse.


    I hate it, the world is all about money :( Makes me sick.....


    I'm in the same mind as Noctula - there was a piece on Countryfile on Sunday evening about the same thing...as the Worlds population continues to grow I do feel we need to find a way of ensuring that crops are more resistant to disease and drought and this may be the only way to do it.


    We quite happily accept, for instance, apple trees that are spliced together so that two different varieties grow together and to my mind that's a sort of genetic modification in that the DNA of one variety joins with that of the other...the difference being that it's not done in a lab.


    I think thats the wrong stand point to look at it, you can reduce disease and pests via working with nature....if you multi-crop and make it so that green fields arnt actually deserts like you see if you go round much of the english countryside, a desert of green. If you just use your head and try to use nature to help you, instead of against it like most of the scientists are doing then you might get somewhere!!!


    The problem is though, that genetically splicing doesn't necessarily result in less chemicals. GM oilseed rape grown in north america is genetically modified to make it resistant to round-up. This is done specifically so that you can control weeds in the growing crop by blasting the field with herbicides which would normally kill the rapeseed as well. Incidentally, rapeseed is called "canola" in north america, sounds friendlier I suppose.


    Radio 4 had a good debate and this came up, a lot of the time it doesnt usually make them need any less chemicals, and the seeds of GM crops usually cost a lot more anyhow!!!!

  • there was a piece on Countryfile on Sunday evening about the same thing...as the Worlds population continues to grow I do feel we need to find a way of ensuring that crops are more resistant to disease and drought and this may be the only way to do it.


    Why?


    No, seriously, why? The more people the greater the load, so apparently we need to find a way to feed them so that they can breed even more? Populations always grow to match food supplies; whether its rabbits with access to carrots or foxes with access to rabbits, humans with access to whatever. Except the only natural predators we have are viruses. :S


    Let the population balance out to a level that can be fed without resorting to fiddling; both because of the untested nature of that which is fiddled with, and the simple factor of not piling more people on the cart just because it hasnt tipped up yet.

    "The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can't do."


  • I think thats the wrong stand point to look at it, you can reduce disease and pests via working with nature....if you multi-crop and make it so that green fields arnt actually deserts like you see if you go round much of the english countryside, a desert of green. If you just use your head and try to use nature to help you, instead of against it like most of the scientists are doing then you might get somewhere!!!


     
    But it only works if the human population works with it. I agree where you're coming from (this is where I throw my intellectual snobbery into the mix and blab on about my BSc and MSc in Ecology and the fact I work as an Ecologist, blah, blah, blah ;) :p) and logically it makes perfect sense but it's going to take a stupidly long time to bring people around to that way of thinking.
     
    Generally, working as a research scientist (which, I hasten to add, I don't) you have a goal in mind, you're pushing the boundaries of science to find answers to perceived problems. GM crops are thought by some to be the answer, in the same way Nuclear Power is thought by some to be an answer (including many well known Environmentalists). It could be an answer, it could also be a ticking time bomb. That's why many people are torn, because it really isn't black and white for 99% of the population, oh life would be far simpler if it were black and white and personally I would choose to stand behind the balance of the ecosystem, but it's not like that.
     
    As to the countryside being a green desert, in many places that's true and the loss of hedgerows even now is terrifying (compare a recent aerial photo to one of just ten years ago and you'll see what I mean) but large swathes of the countryside is still ecologically diverse :)

  • I'm surprised you say that hedgerows are in decline. I thought the idea of ripping out hedgerows was widely discredited years ago. The original thinking was that it was more efficient, especially using big machinery. It soon turned out that the ground under where the hedge had been is basically subsoil and doesn't really grow anything useful, that at most all you needed to do was widen the gates a bit for the machines and that hedges provide useful windbreaks as well as wildlife refuges.

  • Why?
    Let the population balance out to a level that can be fed without resorting to fiddling; both because of the untested nature of that which is fiddled with, and the simple factor of not piling more people on the cart just because it hasnt tipped up yet.


    Yes that's fine....but who's going to take the decision that people in one country are going to have to starve at the expense of others who can afford to pay.....and who's going to put the limit on the population....
    OK in the end it may well be forced on us but - while I agree your point is very valid - it's going to involve some tough decisions.


    Quote from Ecowatcher

    I think thats the wrong stand point to look at it, you can reduce disease and pests via working with nature....if you multi-crop and make it so that green fields arnt actually deserts like you see if you go round much of the english countryside, a desert of green. If you just use your head and try to use nature to help you, instead of against it like most of the scientists are doing then you might get somewhere!!!


    It would be nice but I suspect you wouldn't be able to raise the crop yields enough to keep up with feeding the growing population.

  • I'm surprised you say that hedgerows are in decline. I thought the idea of ripping out hedgerows was widely discredited years ago. The original thinking was that it was more efficient, especially using big machinery. It soon turned out that the ground under where the hedge had been is basically subsoil and doesn't really grow anything useful, that at most all you needed to do was widen the gates a bit for the machines and that hedges provide useful windbreaks as well as wildlife refuges.


     
    Nope, they're still being removed - you get an extra few feet of grazing see :rolleyes: You're supposed to apply for permission to remove a hedge (agricultural) but it doesn't always happen because who's going to check? Also, the Hedgerow Regulations that are supposed to protect "important" hedges (based on various criteria) are next to useless. Example - farmer wants to remove hedge, told "no" because it's important, but he can cut it as low as he likes for management purposes as long as the cutting doesn't destroy the hedge, so he does and then sticks 100 sheep in the field. The sheep eat the re-growth. Six months later, no hedge. (That's a real example I know of and I bet it's not unusual).
     
    But yeah, I've got aerial photos here at work, some from 1998 and some from 2006 and it's really upsetting to compare them :(

  • Unbelievable. I was thinking of the large grain farms, it hadn't occurred that sheep farmers would do the same. I'd bet that they will eventually realise that it's pointless, livestock need shelter too and hedgerows provide it. Idiots.

  • I'm surprised you say that hedgerows are in decline. I thought the idea of ripping out hedgerows was widely discredited years ago. The original thinking was that it was more efficient, especially using big machinery. It soon turned out that the ground under where the hedge had been is basically subsoil and doesn't really grow anything useful, that at most all you needed to do was widen the gates a bit for the machines and that hedges provide useful windbreaks as well as wildlife refuges.


    Hedgerows are still lower then they were say in the 40's.... Its also isnt just the hedgerows, if you multicropped and had a diversity of crops and plants it would help so much more.

  • Unbelievable. I was thinking of the large grain farms, it hadn't occurred that sheep farmers would do the same. I'd bet that they will eventually realise that it's pointless, livestock need shelter too and hedgerows provide it. Idiots.


     
    Indeed, but land is money, be that through crop growing or animal husbandry.
     
    You can see the results around here easily enough - go up to my parents village and after heavy rain it's a silt filled river running down the road outside the front of their house because there's nothing stopping the flow of water off the fields and into the road. Then the farmers complain to highways that the roadside drains that are supposed to deal with the flow are blocked (with mud etc) - they don't consider that they're actions might have something to do with it.

  • Hedgerows are still lower then they were say in the 40's.... Its also isnt just the hedgerows, if you multicropped and had a diversity of crops and plants it would help so much more.


     
    Try and persuade the average farmer that - multicropping involves more effort, more work, more manpower, different types of machinary, a whole different way of working. There aren't the resources to support it anymore because of the changes in agriculture since the 1940s. It would involve going back to more small scale farms which people aren't willing to do, even assuming it was possible. They have to turn a profit after all - farming's just another business nowadays. :( We're a tertiary economy.

  • One of the farms I visited on Open Farm Sunday is run by a guy who believes in keeping hedgerows....and keeping uncultivated land 5 metres either side of it as well. He grows several types of crop that he rotates and he regularly leaves fields fallow for a year or so.....and only sprays if it becomes absolutely necessary.....don't know if he'd allow GM crops on his land....to bring this back on topic...:)

  • Try and persuade the average farmer that - multicropping involves more effort, more work, more manpower, different types of machinary, a whole different way of working. There aren't the resources to support it anymore because of the changes in agriculture since the 1940s. It would involve going back to more small scale farms which people aren't willing to do, even assuming it was possible. They have to turn a profit after all - farming's just another business nowadays. :(


    Sadly so; in a globalised market, farms have to parody factories to be "efficient" :rolleyes: So the countryside gradually become urbanised by the "agribarons" (not the best term, but we are stuck with it).


    Quote

    We're a tertiary economy.


    Indeed :(

    "The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can't do."

  • Yes that's fine....but who's going to take the decision that people in one country are going to have to starve at the expense of others who can afford to pay.....and who's going to put the limit on the population....
    OK in the end it may well be forced on us but - while I agree your point is very valid - it's going to involve some tough decisions.


    It will happen one of two ways (well, three actually - see later); it will either be enforced by a global government or the global community will fragment back into national identities and priorities (which is less likely to happen unless there is a massive change in perspective (no gonna happen realistically) or a global 'catastrophy' that forces us out of the global network and back onto local scales).


    Sadly, post the mid 1600s, power has shifted from agrarian/local towards business/industrial/global, which is how the old landed upperclass has been replaced as the ruling class by the uppermiddle/nouveau-riche industrialist class. So long as power is about business and not land, we will continue to have globalisation....and as long as we have globalisation we will have massive population growth (unless it all goes a bit china-eqsue authoritarian).


    So the choice becomes how we want the decision made; by a Global authoritarian control network, or through re-localising our priorities and stopping trading with other countries. But then of course they will be forced to feed themselves and will probably turn to GM crops to do so :insane:


    Which leaves us one realistic option; war. :S

    "The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can't do."

  • Interestingly cultivation, a common farming practice, kills more
    earthworms and beneficial insects than any other practice. Farmers
    adopting no-tillage through the use of Roundup to control competing
    vegetation are measuring increases in earthworm populations compared
    with the practices of old!

  • Interestingly cultivation, a common farming practice, kills more
    earthworms and beneficial insects than any other practice. Farmers
    adopting no-tillage through the use of Roundup to control competing
    vegetation are measuring increases in earthworm populations compared
    with the practices of old!


    Sorry but killing a few bugs over spraying chemicals any day....

  • The bugs are needed for pollination and to feed the birds, we cant keep using the old disease succeptable and water greedy plants.
    If you have your own organic patch, what happpens when your hit by disease or the weather destroys ya crop?? off to tescos?
    gm is needed, controlled as pesticides are, but it is the way forward.

  • The bugs are needed for pollination and to feed the birds, we cant keep using the old disease succeptable and water greedy plants.
    If you have your own organic patch, what happpens when your hit by disease or the weather destroys ya crop?? off to tescos?
    gm is needed, controlled as pesticides are, but it is the way forward.


    GM is not needed, our population reduction IS needed.....And you cannot argue ploughing causes less bugs for pollination....Ploughing would cause less worms, thats all.....


    And any organic farmer, would know to use many different variety's so not one disease will wipe them all out.....

  • Its all about money not science, you make the seeds sterile thus the small farmer is unable to keep his own seeds, a yearly customer wait a couple of years the up the price of seeds, called it an improvement! all the small farmers of the developing countries use there own seeds, this is bad news for the Global producers so you can bet your life they are keen to get there seeds out there, regardless of the local effects it's only a profit margin to them but life and death to a farmer. I produce all my seeds but try to buy non F1 hybrid or genetically modified seed it's a struggle but worth it.

  • Its all about money not science, you make the seeds sterile thus the small farmer is unable to keep his own seeds, a yearly customer wait a couple of years the up the price of seeds, called it an improvement! all the small farmers of the developing countries use there own seeds, this is bad news for the Global producers so you can bet your life they are keen to get there seeds out there, regardless of the local effects it's only a profit margin to them but life and death to a farmer. I produce all my seeds but try to buy non F1 hybrid or genetically modified seed it's a struggle but worth it.


    i agree, theres a lot of information online about monsanto and what they're doing to american agriculture