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Questions about genetically modified food

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Questions about genetically modified food

Postby Scepcop » 30 Apr 2010, 18:33

I have a question.

Some people told me that genetically modified food in the US was damaging to your health and emotions, causing people to become more tense.

How do you avoid genetically modified foods in the US or anywhere? I was told that food in Taiwan is also genetically modified.

But how can you know which foods are and which aren't? I mean food does not say "genetically modified" on its label.

If genetically modified food is unhealthy and makes one tense, then why did the FDA approve it? Aren't there studies measuring its effects?

“Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
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Re: Questions about genetically modified food

Postby Nostradamus » 30 Apr 2010, 20:38

One of the interesting early tests of modified foods was done in Europe with GM potatoes. The potatoes were fed to rats. The rats came down with all sorts of nasty lesions and problems. That looked like a pretty good test and was splashed all over the news in Europe and the world.

There is a simple problem here.

Pustzai first came to prominence after he published a study in The Lancet claiming that rats who were fed genetically modified potatoes experienced immune system changes. The Lancet published the study over the objections of its own referees assigned to conduct a peer review of Pustzai’s research. A number of those referees, who are usually semi-anonymous, went public with their objections to the Lancet’s publication. Professor John Pickett, for example, who refereed Pustzai’s paper for The Lancet, told the BBC,

Since I understand that a number of us were very, very critical of the work and yet the journal is going to go ahead and publish this information with its conclusions, then we have decided to speak out.

If this work had been part of a student’s study, then the student would have failed whatever examination he was contributing the work for.

An independent group of six toxicologists appointed by the UK’s Royal Society concluded that Pusztai’s research was fundamentally flawed. Its report said,

We found no convincing evidence of adverse affects from GM potatoes.

Where the data seemed to show slight differences between rats fed predominantly on GM and on non-GM potatoes, the difference were uninterpretable because of the technical limitations of the experiment and the incorrect use of statistical tests.

Too often, the media’s depiction of scientific controversies is like this Wired News article — a one-sided fairy tale that leaves out key information that the reader needs to evaluate the claims being made.
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Re: Questions about genetically modified food

Postby Nostradamus » 30 Apr 2010, 20:54

In my searches on GM I found the following statement posted in 1991 to AgBioWorld

From: Robert Wager
posted to To: "''"
Date: Wed, 4 Jul 2001 08:48:03 -0700
Subject: [SCOPE:GMF-news] Rebut to Dr. Pusztai article

I would like to rebut the lengthy article by Dr. Pusztai

The first point about the complexity of food does not mean that the analysis
is not done. Techniques such as mass spectroscopy, 2-D gel electrophoresis,
FPLC and HPLC are all used to analyze the complex nature of food. Many
people agree that there needs to be more open peer-reviewed data available.
However the lack of publications does not mean the research has not been
done. An excellent example of the scope of research needed prior to
commercialization of a product can be found at the following EPA web page,
http// This site shows 70 pages of
criteria that must be met by the producer of a variety of Bt Maize. I
encourage anyone interested in the real regulatory process to look up this

The use of "Substantial Equivalence" is accepted by OECD in 1993 as the
cornerstone of health hazard assessment of GM foods. Further , The Royal
Society of Canada Panel on The Future of Food Biotechnology stated " In the
panels view, when substantial equivalence is invoked as an unambiguous
safety standard (not as a decision threshold for risk assessment) it
stipulates a reasonably conservative standard of safety consistent with the
precautionary approach to the regulation of risk associated with GM Foods".
Virtually every bite of food we eat contains DNA, get use to it. The study
quoted fed mice huge amounts of virus DNA for a month and then found small
fragments of the DNA in the mouse cells. This is in no way comparable to
consuming minute quantities of transgenes in food. Antibiotic resistance in
bacteria is a real problem but the real culprits are improper use of
antibiotics and the use of antibiotic "growth enhancers" in agriculture,
not the kanamycin resistance gene in most first generation GM plasmids.
Kanamycin is not used to treat human infections.

The paper about GM-potatoes being toxic to mice states the following data
as significant: "in the group of mice fed on the 'delta-endotoxin', several
villi appeared abnormal (151.8 in the control group verses 155.8 in the
transgenic treated group and 197 for the endotoxin group) If he was arguing
that Bt-potatoes are the same as regular potatoes then the data supports
that conclusion not his assertion of the toxic nature of Bt-potatoes. As
for quoting his own paper that was soundly dismissed by peer-review as "deeply
flawed" or "meaningless", what more need I say.
No one has demonstrated an allergic reaction to the Bt toxin itself. The
report he quotes states seroconversion to the whole bacteria not the toxin
which is the only thing engineered into the plants. If the bacteria were so
bad then why have organic growers been using it for 30-40 years with out

An antibody is made to recognize a short sequence of amino acids ( usually
6-8 aa in length) this is the epitope of the antibody. So please explain to
me why comparisons to known allergenic amino acid sequences is bad science.
Known allergens can be stable in acid conditions so again why is acid
stability tests of proteins bad science?

I agree with Dr. Pusztai that our future depends to some extent on the
development of GM foods and that effective regulations should be in place
but considering that approximately 3,500,000,000,000 transgenic plants have
been grown in the US alone and there have been NO confirmed cases of GM
food harming any individual. I would say that the present system works well. As
science learns more, better questions can be addressed. One such advance is
the use of micro-arrays to truly determine the extent of transgene
expression in a whole plant.
Robert Wager
Malaspina University College
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Re: Questions about genetically modified food

Postby NinjaPuppy » 04 May 2010, 19:29

I know nothing of genetically modified food. I know a bit about hybridization of plants however. It's why nothing tastes as good as it used to. The old varieties have been thrown to the wayside for the newer hybrids that can make longer shipping times and whatnot. Their taste or flavor no longer matters.
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Re: Questions about genetically modified food

Postby Nostradamus » 04 May 2010, 20:44

I recall an interview on NPR with a peach grower. He was asked about his crop. He said that the reason for his success was his father's insight and chain sawing the orchard one spring and growing all new trees. These were the tasteless ones he ships. The interviewer points to a patch near the farmhouse and asks about the older looking trees. The farmer says that's what the family eats. His father left edible fruit for the family and the rest he says is inedible junk he sells. The interviewer asks the farmer, "Don't you eat your own peaches." After a laugh the farmer responds, "Are you kidding?"
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Re: Questions about genetically modified food

Postby NinjaPuppy » 04 May 2010, 23:13

Exactly! If it ships better or grows without problems, this is what we are fed. Don't even get me going on the pesticides, fertilizers, etc. that are used in the process. We basically are sheeple.
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