Anti-GMO “Right to Know” movement cashing in on scaring and confusing consumers

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An organization called U.S. Right to Know lobbies for GMO labeling laws. It ran the failed campaign in California to require labeling–that measure was rejected, as were similar measures in Washington, Oregon and Colorado. USRTK then resurrected itself, funded by money from the Organic Consumers Association, as a front group to target independent scientists with Freedom of Information Act demands, claiming researchers were paid lackeys of Big Ag. The aggressive campaign provoked the ire of the Union of Concerned Scientists and many scientists who viewed the legal assault as harassment, not unlike the right wing assault on climate change scientists who dared report their findings about human-induced global warming.

So what does, or should, a Right to Know mean?

USTRK and other self-proclaimed consumer rights champions wave this right-to-know flag when it comes to genetically engineered foods. The proclamation begins on high, and trickles down to anti-GMO activists wielding figurative torches and pitchforks, demanding the right to know what’s in their food. With visions of syringe-laden GMO tomatoes dancing menacingly in their heads consumers wonder, “why not just label it?” But the labeling call is mired in ideology. Where does this “just label it” demand originate?

It begins with covert profiteers who stand to gain from GMO labeling. Just one example is America’s now disgraced television doctor, Mehmet Oz. In his response to a recent controversy in which a group of doctors suggested that Columbia University reconsider his prestigious appointment at the medical school, Oz renewed his attack on genetically engineered foods. He played a clip from his recent episode on the newly approved non-browning Arctic apples in which he states, “I base this whole show on the fact that you can make smart choices for your health and for your family but you can only make those choices when you’re fully informed, so I stand by my opinion that all GMOs should be labeled so that consumers can decide for themselves.”

Oz painted a David versus Goliath picture, contending that only “Washington” and “companies” oppose GMO labeling. But the real Goliaths are those who, like Dr. Oz, stand to profit handsomely from GMO labeling. Oz and his wife Lisa support anti-genetic engineering campaigns in support of alternative, natural health products, the manufacturers of which are not just incidentally sponsors of his television show.

Oz has emerged as an icon in the campaign to demonize conventional foods and promote organics. Whole Foods’ website proselytizes about its commitment to GMO labeling initiatives. Ben & Jerry’s promotes its “Labelize It!” slogan, imploring Americans to chant along. And organic lobbying group Organic Consumers Association warns the public to protect its so-called “right to know” what’s in our food.

What is a GMO?

Understandably, issues surrounding food incite emotion. Because food is so important to human well-being, it is crucial that the claims made about it be carefully scrutinized. Do we have a right to know if our food is GMO? What does GMO even mean?

The acronym stands for “Genetically Modified Organism.” That’s not a science term. It was created by anti-biotech activists to make genetic engineering sound creepy, and it took hold. Journalists began using it as shorthand. After resisting it for more than a decade, scientists and industry and government agencies who uniformly hate the term caved; it’s now part of the public lexicon. But it is no less misleading.

An organism is loosely defined as any living thing, including plants, animals, and microbes. What about “genetically modified?” Essentially genes are portions of genomes, which are identical copies of all of the genetic material in any organism. In a multicellular organism, there is an identical copy of the genome in every cell of the body. Like a book in English is written in 26 letters of the alphabet, the genome of any organism is written in four nucleotides, denoted as A,T, C, and G. Genes code for proteins, and while many think of proteins as a food group — the filling deliciousness we consume in eggs, beans, and meat – they are far more than just part of a balanced diet. Proteins are the most basic functional components of living things, not only in animal products, but plants too. Proteins serve all functions of life, from structure, immunity, metabolic, enzymatic functions, and more.

Proteins are large molecules composed of amino acid chains. The sequence of amino acids in any protein determines its 3D structure. Like the 3D structure of a mechanical part or tool defines its function, so does the structure of a protein. Varying sequences of the four nucleotides code for different permutations of amino acids, changing the resultant protein. Think of binary code, in which variations of just two “characters” (0s and 1s) encode complex computer functions.

Proteins dictate almost everything a living thing is and does. Your nails are brittle or strong? Proteins. Your boyfriend’s beautiful blue eyes? Lack of certain proteins. Your daughter always wins her track meets? A complex interaction of proteins and environment. Likewise, the characteristics of a plant (tall, short, juicy, pest-resistant, spiky, etc.) depend on the types and expression levels of its proteins, determined by DNA sequence.

Foods considered genetically modified (GM) are engineered using transgenic technologies. Remember, proteins are encoded by only four nucleotide bases present in all life on earth: A, T, C, G. Nothing is altered in a GMO except for the sequence, addition, or deletion of a few of these nucleotides, often just a handful out of a billion or more “characters.” There isn’t anything added that doesn’t exist in nature. And guess what? Good old Mother Nature alters these sequences on her own, achieving change slower than a snail’s pace – AKA evolution. Genetic modification does this in a targeted, efficient manner, moving or enhancing traits that already exist in nature. Benefits range from helping farmers’ crops resist pests or survive drought, to tear-free onions, to increasing vitamin content of staple foods in third world countries.

In the science world, there are no real questions about the safety and benefits of genetically engineered foods. That’s settled science, agreed upon by everyone from Bill Nye and Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and including every major science oversight agency in the world, from the World Health Organization to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Yet anti-GMO lobbying groups and others with financial interests in blocking sales of genetically engineered foods continue to inject fear and apprehension into the public psyche.

Food labeling transparency is necessary to protect consumers and help us nourish our bodies with a varied, balanced, and healthy diet, but only when this labeling is relevant. Vitamin, mineral and fiber content, for example, are relevant because certain deficiencies can cause health problems. Fat, sodium, and sugar content are relevant too, as they all should be consumed in moderation. Allergen information is key as well, because as parents of kids with allergies know, anaphylaxis is no joke.

Orwell’s Right to Know

Scientifically speaking, GMO labeling doesn’t make sense. The term “GMO” refers to a set of processes, not a product. It’s not an ingredient, it’s a set of breeding techniques. The idea that there are “genetically modified organisms” is fundamentally misleading. Consider for example oil made from GE canola crops. It contains no DNA; there is no GMO, just oil. Or sugar made from GE sugar beets. No protein or DNA. No lab could detect any difference between this “GMO sugar” and sugar made from non GE methods. So what is there to label? Nothing that could nutritionally or healthwise impact the consumer. A label would not be information, it would be stigmatization.

Anti-GMO activists of course know this. Last year, the Genetic Literacy Project analyzed the organic movement’s ‘right to know’ effort.

The consumer-focused message is beguiling, and it’s pushed by myriad activists linked to such organizations as Right to Know GMO, Label GMOs and Just Label It. It’s powerful and superficially persuasive.

“To be clear the Just Label campaign is not an anti-GMO effort,” said Gary Hirshberg, founder of organic food maker Stonyfield Organic, and former director of Just Label It.

After all, what but a conspiracy of the federal government and global corporations could be against providing helpful information to consumers about what they eat? But in less guarded moments, Hirshberg makes it clear that the labeling movement has nothing at all to do with science, information and discourse—it is exclusively an anti-GMO effort.

“Genetically modified organisms are one of the most dangerous and radical changes to our food supply,” he has said. Hirshberg has become a millionaire many times over selling pricey organic foods promoted with labeled marketing claims like “No Yucky Stuff,” which falsely suggests that more affordable conventional products are somehow unsafe and inferior.  “Because GMOs are not labeled in the U.S., they might be causing acute or chronic effects,” Hirshberg has also written.

That’s what Orwell would call The Big Lie.

Which of these are GMOs?

In that vein, here are a few examples of commonly used breeding techniques. Which of the resulting foods should we consider “GMOs?”

Mutagenic wheat: Take several common wheat varieties. Breeders created them with a technique known as radiation mutagenesis or “atomic gardening.” The plants were bombarded with gamma radiation or sometimes soaked in toxic chemicals, scrambling their DNA. Scientists use radiation and chemical mutagenesis techniques to shuffle the mutation cards, hoping for an occasional good hand. Several varieties of wheat, including many high end Italian wheat varieties that make the world’s best tasting pastas, are the lucky cards out of lots of less-than-stellar randomly mutated hands.

Hybrid corn: Next, imagine first cousins or even siblings marrying and reproducing generation upon generation. Keep focused–we’re talking plants, not humans. Now, apply that process to corn. “True breeding” varieties are created this way so that both sets of chromosomes have the same alleles (genetic variation) for a number of traits. This makes their characteristics predictable, just like a Dalmatian mom and a Dalmatian dad will always have Dalmatian puppies. Like purebred dogs, there are benefits, but also health problems that can result from inbreeding, like deafness and urinary stones in Dalmatians or hip displyasia in shepherds. But geneticists figured out that crossing two inbred varieties of plants can fix a lot of the health problems. Voila, hybrid corn. Some call it a tasty dish; I call it slamming two inbred genomes together willy-nilly. With hybridization we lose the kissing cousins health problems, but we also lose the predictability. I have a Pug-Beagle mix and let me tell you, there are unintended consequences when mixing inbred varieties.

Non-browning apple: The Arctic apple, newly approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture but yet to hit the market, uses a technique borrowed from nature called RNA interference (RNAi). Scientists “turned off” a handful of genes that produce proteins that cause enzymatic browning of apples when cut, bumped, or bitten. Humans consume RNA molecules in most food we eat, our bodies can’t tell whether they’ve been moved or meddled with.

Virus free papaya: In the mid-80s, the Hawaii papaya industry was in danger of being wiped out by the papaya ringspot virus. Farmers tried several tactics to eliminate the scourge, including moving papaya crops from the island of Oahu to the big island of Hawaii to escape the virus. The tactics all failed. What finally saved the papaya industry was a genetic engineering technique that essentially immunized the new Rainbow Papaya variety against the virus. Scientists inserted a gene from the virus into the papaya genome. That gene produces a protein that protects the papaya from the virus, similar to how the pertussis vaccine protects us from whooping cough. Interestingly enough, there is also a herd immunity effect just like in vaccinated humans, wherein GM papayas protect non-GM papayas from ringspot virus.

The above examples illustrate why the term “genetically engineered” is far preferable to GMO. All the above foods were genetically modified, but only two–the apple and the papaya–would be subject to labeling under currently proposed laws. Yet those are the two examples in which the genetic changes were both minuscule and monitored. What’s wrong with this picture? Regulatory agencies deem the Arctic apple and Rainbow papaya GMOs, while the genome-slammed corn and atomic wheat are considered conventionally-bred, and could be sold as organics. Those bizarre contradictions underscore why categorizing foods as GMO and non-GMO is extremely reductionist if not disingenuous.

So to anyone saying that “GMOs” need to be labeled simply because of a so-called right to know, I ask: Right to know what? If we really want to label food based on breeding techniques, it would make the most sense to label all breeding methods including hybridization, wide-cross hybridization, marker-assisted breeding, chemical and radiation mutagenesis, RNA interference, and upcoming gene editing techniques.

Still, as a person who values good health, enjoys eating, and cherishes her young kids, I’d prefer not labeling breeding techniques, whether the genetic enhancement was done on a molecular level or less precisely. It would be expensive for everyone and confuse the average consumer–which is what the organic industry is counting on.

Unmasking intentions of GMO labeling proponents

GLP-GMO-label

Click image for larger version

Here is the GLP infographic that shows the true intentions of anti-GMO campaigners: activists who say out of one side of their mouth that the “Right to Know” is an innocent campaign to be responsive to the public while at the same time telling their fervid supporters that a mandatory label is a key step towards achieving their ultimate goal: a complete discrediting of GMO foods leading to their eventual ban.

Download pdf here

It makes no sense to change our labeling laws for what the science suggests are arbitrary reasons. Insisting they have a so-called “right to know” whether something is genetically modified is patronizing at best, and infantilizing at worst. While it’s clear to me and other science advocates that the “right to know” movement is a ploy to grow the organic and “natural” food industries and eliminate genetically engineered foods, opponents argue that it’s the will of the masses. Dare I say that the masses have been wrong before? When we know better, we do better.

Kavin Senapathy is a contributor at Genetic Literacy Project, Skepchick, Grounded Parents, and other sites. She is a mother of two, science popularizer, and freelance writer in Madison, WI. Contact and follow Kavin on her science advocacy Facebook page and Twitter @ksenapathy

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  • Alex Bornemisza

    This website is controlled by the industries who have billions of dollars to make off of GMO products. If they are so proud of their product, they should not be worried about letting the people know which foods they are in. It is THEIR fault they have failed to educate the people on GMOs and even if they knew and even though GMOs may be safe (most research is done by the industry and nobody ever sees the raw data, nor does research go longer the 3 months.) people still have a right to know it’s there. RoundUp, the chief pesticide used for GMOs was just labeled as probably carcinogenic by the World Health Organization. People deserve to know. And it’s not like industry, particularly these industries haven’t lied to is countless times
    Over the years. Everything should have a label if it’s on my table.

    • Ben Schaefer

      so you buy foods labeled mutagenetic? and hybridized? and turned down?

    • Karl Haro von Mogel

      “This website is controlled by the industries who have billions of dollars to make off of GMO products.”
      No it’s not. Shill Accusation Syndrome, this is.

      • agscienceliterate

        Karl, if we confront these ignorant activists with “Show us what ya got,” all they got is Shill Accusation Syndrome. They’re empty-headed carcasses. Accusing those of us who have thoughtful priorities based on science with being “shills” is all they have. It’s sad, really.

        • Solutions not judgements

          Show us the human microbiota studies which include pesticides and other additives…. That might shut some people up slowly…

          • JoeFarmer

            What makes you think a study like that would be remotely useful.

            As long as were talking about shutting some people up…

          • Solutions not judgements

            How would it not be useful? When you can thoroughly explain to these “ignorant people” what is really happening what else could they argue?

            I have been reading long enough and pointed to the same so called “evidence” of an LD50 system which is observational studies, synthetic gastric fluid testing, or some other form of in vitro simulation. OSHA this OSHA that, we are below the lethal dose 4x’s. I mean come on. It’s complete BLAH BLAH BLAH talk.

            Show me one MSDS sheet or RR GMO with applied pesticide study that includes a thorough explanation of the HUMAN MICROBIOTA when ingested, inhaled, or skin exposure, from beginning to end.

            Now your uneducated shill rebuttal…

          • kurzweilfreak

            Can you show me the MSDS sheet or studies of effects on the human microbiota on conventional and/or organic food? If not, why not?

          • Solutions not judgements

            Exactly my point. Thanks for tightening down my case some more. I would rather eat something that hasn’t been induced, genetically modified, or sprayed with pesticides, unfortunately that is unavoidable to this day.

            Would you eat poison oak or poison ivy? We should rename the RR crops poison corn, poison soybeans, poison beets, poison papaya.

            Would you continue to have sex with your own family members? The same concept of monoculture farming. Eventually your gonna have some problems, hence why pesticides are introduced.

            How many farmers have tried farming without using pesticides? What techniques did they try and have any techniques worked?

            The only land I’ve seen that actually works and provides an abundance of food are jungles and lands untouched by humans… I may be wrong so help me out here…

          • kurzweilfreak

            It sounds like you really don’t understand what you yourself are saying. To me it sounds like you’re saying there’s no such thing as safe food except that which is found and gathered rather than purposely raised. You make a lot of just plain incorrect arguments and really sound like you don’t know the first thing about agriculture or biology.

          • hyperzombie

            The only land I’ve seen that actually works and provides an abundance of food are jungles

            LOL, the world is not a Disney movie. You would last maybe a couple of days in the jungle, if that.

          • Farmer Sue

            Unless HE is the abundance of food. For one jaguar or two, maybe. Fantasy thinking.

          • hyperzombie

            I wonder if the Jaguars would care if he was 100% Organically fed or not?

          • Wackes Seppi

            You are wrong! How much jungle required to feed one person?

          • Tink

            Your argument sounds like you threw Webster’s Dictionary in a food processor, turned it on without the lid, and wrote your comment from whatever hit the ceiling.

          • Darren Johnson

            You have quite a raft of strawman arguments there. Now try getting some rational ones.

          • JoeFarmer

            Brilliant! Now you’re just parroting Sage’s nutbar ramblings!

          • madcapfeline

            Show us the same studies using pesticides and other additives approved for conventional and organic farming. But that won’t shut you up, you’ll just shout even louder into the echo chamber.

      • Karl. The guy from Monsanto called and said it’s my turn to drive the Ferrari next week. Please leave the keys with my mom.

        • Farmer Sue

          Dang, Mischa; I thought it was MY turn to get the Shill Bennies!

          • It’s so hard to keep track… the Ferrari, the Jag, the Viper. Sometimes I lose track.

            Tell you what Farmer Sue, let’s sort it all out at the monthly meeting in Cancun.

          • hyperzombie

            Tell you what Farmer Sue, let’s sort it all out at the monthly meeting in Cancun.

            Hate to jump in here, but will that be at the Monsanto yacht meeting or the secret lair meeting, cause I really dont like discussing these issues when hot tubbing with super models on the yacht, but any way free Cyrstal for everyone,, LOL it is always free.

          • My secret contact at Monsanto is wondering if we could hold the next secret-lair-meeting at your house again? And remember to use your secret-Monsanto decoder ring when you answer hyperzombie!

    • agscienceliterate

      Alex, do you eat cheese? Genetically modified. Yet excluded from all the sloppy and misleading gmo labeling laws. Do you support inaccurate labeling?

      Alex, do you want sugar from gmo sugar beets labeled? There is NO genetically modified DNA in processed sugar, yet all of thte sloppy and misleading gmo labeling laws would have required sugar be be falsely labeled. Do you support false labeling?

      Alex, are you anti-industry, anti-corporation? Anti-big business? Then you won’t eat organic, which is upwards of a $60-Billion industry.

      Alex, do you support labeling your organic foods if the farmers have used bacillus thuriengensis on them?

      Alex, are you a shill for Big Organic?

    • JohnDoe

      http://i.imgur.com/ycUU4VS.jpg

      Labels should actually inform consumers about things they actually need to know, like nutritional content, ingredients, and allergy information, not serve to confuse them by adding relatively meaningless information.

      • Geoff

        Oh – like the cholesterol-free banana?
        How about letting producers label products as GMO free? But then the industry would cry foul that it makes their product seem tainted. (Hint – that was the argument in the growth hormone use in dairy cattle).

    • Ray Zielinski

      Hope you don’t eat sweet potatoes. They were recently shown to have been the recipients of two independent, naturally occurring transgenic events – exactly the same process used to make the dreaded GMO’s – and people have been eating them without harm for a long time.

      • Solutions not judgements

        Is the sweet potatoe RR and what pesticides are used before and during the growing process of this broad statement when saying GMO?

        Can you also please cite or explain the human microbiota process including all traits ld50 of the possible pesticide residue and whatever else might be within this sweet potatoe?

        • Good4U

          No.
          No.
          Congratulations, you just made the case in favor of GMOs.

          • Solutions not judgements

            Congratulations, you just made yourself sound pretty dumb because when you say GMO there are many different practices. Some are actually good and use a natural process that would occur even if humans didn’t exist… Surprise surprise there smart one!

        • Ray Zielinski

          No. These were naturally occurring events. Agrobacteria do not naturally contain genes conferring RR.

          • Loren Eaton

            That’s incorrect. If you look up the Agrobacterium strain CP4, you will find that it is the source of the EPSPS gene.

          • Ray Zielinski

            Sorry, but you’ve only got this partly correct. The RR gene is from Agrobacterium sp. CP4, but it is from the Agrobacterium genome and not from the Ti plasmid that contains the components that carry out plant transformation and the T-DNA that is actually transferred. Scientists at Monsanto identified a strain that was resistant to glyphosate, isolated the mutated EPSP synthase gene and engineered it into a modified Ti plamid that allows it to be transferred into a plant and be expressed. Genes from the chromosome of Agrobacteria are not transferred into plants, so the EPSP synthase gene would not have been transferred into sweet potatoes – and if it happened long ago, it would have been an EPSP synthase gene that is inhibited by glyphosate. Bottom line, they are not RR.

      • Geoff

        The sweet potato horizontal gene transfer (HGT) does not do anything but reinforce what we’ve known all along —- that this does occur naturally but in a time and spatial scale that is much different than that of the GE industry. AND – it demonstrates the concerns of those opposed to GMO’s that there IS a risk of HGT from the original GM plant into …… well, who knows since the sweet potato received the gene from a bacterium. BUT, industry said that HGT was not even worth considering as a concern yet now it’s proof that GMO’s are safe. Which is it?

        “This paper validates what GMO critics have said all along: that horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is a potential risk of GM and must be considered as part of the risk assessment – yet it misleadingly presents this fact as showing that GM technology is safe.

        “Historically, GMO seed companies have denied that HGT happened or claimed it was unimportant, since they were arguing against having to look for any unintended consequences due to the insertional mutagenesis associated with HGT. ”
        http://www.gmwatch.org/index.php/news/archive/2015-articles/16148-sweet-potato-genetically-engineered-by-nature-or-spin-worthy-of-goebbels

        • Ray Zielinski

          Unfortunately, the interpretation that HGT will occur readily from a transformed plant into something else ignores the mechanism by which Agrobacterium transformation of plants works. This bacterium functions by transferring a portion (the transferred DNA or T-DNA) of a tumor-inducing (Ti) plasmid into a plant host. In the wild, this promotes unorganized growth in the plant, which the bacterium colonizes to make use of reduced carbon (sugars) and nitrogen (amino acids) synthesized by the plant. The machinery that facilitates replication of the T-DNA and its transfer into the plant host is retained on the Ti plasmid in the bacterium. This means that the potential for HGT of the T-DNA into another organism from the DNA transferred into the plant is drastically reduced. This is how Agrobacteria in nature act as pathogens. In genetic engineering, when transformed plants are recovered steps are taken to ensure (1) the Agrobacteria are killed AND (2), because of initial concerns about HGT, the Agrobacterium genes that direct movement of the T-DNA are separated in the Agrobacterium from the T-DNA to doubly ensure that they are not transferred into the plant host. As a result any property attained by the plant is from the T-DNA and not the Agrobacteria and the T-DNA is inherited just as any other gene possessed by the plant because it is incorporated into one of the plant’s chromosomes. So, is HGT of the T-DNA possible from a transgenic plant: yes, but no more than it’s possible for any other gene the plant possesses to be transferred. I do not know the frequency with which this occurs, but certainly is is at a vastly lower frequency than when Agrobacteria transform plants. The question is: do people who have regularly consumed sweet potatoes harbor T-DNA in their cells somewhere in their bodies, and if so does it cause any harm? I’m skeptical about this because acidic conditions in the stomach will damage the DNA badly, but of course that’s not proof. I guess you could genotype samples of cells lining a persons gut, but that still doesn’t say whether any adverse reactions happened. So, since this is getting overly long, I’ll just conclude by saying that if I lived in a country where vitamin A deficiency was a major health problem, I would consume golden rice, if it were available. The odds of protecting my vision, and that of my kids if they ate it, would be vastly higher than my odds of receiving the gene responsible for making the rice golden.

          • Geoff

            Or eat something else that contains Vit A, is not GM nor from Monsanto.

          • Ray Zielinski

            Easy to say for people to say in developed countries. Not so much in countries where rice is the bulk of one’s diet and there aren’t alternatives. And, Monsanto didn’t develop golden rice, they gave up patent claims on one (or some) of the components that were used to construct it.

          • Geoff

            Who said anything about golden rice?

          • Wackes Seppi

            Some prominent people say that the
            anti-Golden Rice activism is a crime against Humanity.

          • Geoff

            Hmm – like Vandana Shiva?

          • JoeFarmer

            LOL! You claim that you farm, and you mention Shiva?

            Game over.

          • Geoff

            What does mentioning knowledge of V. Shiva have to do with whether or not I farm? BTW – I don’t give a rip if you “believe” me or not but I don’t need to try to convince folks by using Farmer as my nom de guerre.

          • hyperzombie

            Like seriously??? What are you 4?

          • Geoff

            Hmm – seems like developing countries aren’t so hot on GM seed either.

            http://news.sciencemag.org/asiapacific/2014/08/china-pulls-plug-genetically-modified-rice-and-corn

          • Wackes Seppi

            Hmm – seems like developing countries
            cannot be subsumed into China.

            And hmm – your « news »
            are getting « olds »:

            https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2015/01/07/china-extends-permits-on-gm-rice-and-corn-research/

            Do your homework!

          • Geoff

            First sentence in your article – “can not be sold as food”.

          • Wackes Seppi

            Title reads: « China extends
            permits on GM rice and corn research »

            First sentence in « my »
            article reads: « The government has renewed permits allowing
            scientists to grow three varieties of genetically modified rice and
            corn in China, more than three months after they had expired,
            suggesting the technology has the continued backing of the
            authorities. »

          • Ray Zielinski

            Another thought about this topic. What we really need in the GMO discussion is separation between GMOs per se (how they are made, what they actually contain and confer on plants, what effects these alterations do or do not have on people) and Monsanto. A very disturbing trend in these discussions is that dislike of agribusiness, and in particular Monsanto, muddles the discussion about GMOs. A step back and a couple of deep breaths to separate the two would be a good thing.

          • Geoff

            Sorry but Monsanto chose to be on the forefront and to propose some pretty awful ideas —– as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, any company that would bring the terminator gene idea further than “a good laugh at the bar” is no business to be trusted.

          • Wackes Seppi

            Sorry but the Monsanto that chose to be
            on the forefront is not the Monsanto that you guys love to hate. It
            is the agricultural division that was left so to speak on the
            roadside when former Monsanto’s jewels were merged into the new
            Pharmacia.

            Sorry, but the new Monsanto did not
            propose awful ideas, unless you consider « awful » to
            mean highly successful. Higly successful with farmers in major
            agricultural countries.

            And sorry, Monsanto did not produce the
            « terminator gene ». The latter is an invention
            developed within Delta & Pine, with financial support from USDA.
            The patent was hence assigned to the company and to the United States
            of America as represented by the Secretary of Agriculture.

            But you are of course free to believe
            and proclaim that (presumably) your country brings ideas further than
            “a good laugh at the bar” and is not to be trusted.

            Do your homework!

          • Geoff

            OH – I didn’t know that there’s “New Monsanto” and “Monsanto Classic”. And certainly herbicides and GMOs wouldn’t be used in agriculture. So remind me again how Monsanto is not in the ag business

            Awful and successful are not mutually exclusive terms. Monsanto’s decision to use (or contemplate using) the GURT technology to stop farmers from saving their seed is pretty low but again, if you believe you can patent a life form because you inserted a gene into its DNA you are unlikely to be concerned about much.

            You are correct with regard to Delta and Pine but no sign that the US holds or held the patent. BTW – the original concept was to reduce volunteer plants post harvest by having their seed be non viable. Monsanto saw it as a means to control a market.
            .http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?TERM1=5352605&Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=0&f=S&l=50

          • Farmer Sue

            Uh, Geoff … you can’t simultaneously accuse a corporation of designing “non-viable” seeds (Monsanto’s aren’t “non-viable”) and also say that farmers were sued for contamination by viable seeds.
            It’s one or the other.
            And, in both cases, both are exaggerations; there ARE no “terminator” seeds, and the few jerks that get sued for having genetically engineered crops for which they didn’t pay, deserve to get sued.

          • hyperzombie

            I wonder why no one gets bent out of shape by the seedless watermelon sterile/terminator seed?

          • Wackes Seppi

            Spitting against the seedless
            watermelon or spitting the seeds of a « conventional »
            watermelon (and chasing those seeds that landed at the wrong
            place)… that’s the alternative.

          • Geoff

            So then do explain how Percy Schmeiser could have managed to end up with a field of Monsanto’s RR canola without having bought viable seed. Magic? Considering that Monsanto claimed he had 1000 acres of “their” product he would have had to commandeered 6000#.

          • Wackes Seppi

            So then do explain how Percy
            Schmeiser could have managed to end up with a field of Monsanto’s RR
            canola…

            There is something very upsetting in
            your attitude, that by the way mirrors that of many activists:
            jotting down an « argument » and expecting from those who
            know to rebut it.

            If you had done your homework – and
            done it seriously by checking credible sources such as the judgments
            delivered by the Canadian courts – you would know.

            You would know that Mr. Schmeiser
            has provided various scenarios to the courts. But:

            « The trial judge found that
            “none of the suggested sources [proposed by Schmeiser] could
            reasonably explain the concentration or extent of Roundup Ready
            canola of a commercial quality” ultimately present in Schmeiser’s
            crop ((2001), 202 F.T.R. 78, at para. 118). »

            In the end, he stated that he « sprayed
            a three-acre patch near the road with Roundup and found that
            approximately 60 percent of the plants survived » and that
            « [i]n the fall of 1997, [he] harvested the Roundup Ready
            Canola from the three-acre patch he had sprayed with Roundup. He did
            not sell it. He instead kept it separate, and stored it over the
            winter in the back of a pick-up truck covered with a tarp. »

            Next:

            « 63 A Monsanto
            investigator took samples of canola from the public road allowances
            bordering on two of Mr. Schmeiser’s fields in 1997, all of which
            were confirmed to contain Roundup Ready Canola. In March 1998,
            Monsanto visited Mr. Schmeiser and put him on notice of its belief
            that he had grown Roundup Ready Canola without a licence. Mr.
            Schmeiser nevertheless took the harvest he had saved in the pick-up
            truck to a seed treatment plant and had it treated for use as seed.
            Once treated, it could be put to no other use. Mr. Schmeiser planted
            the treated seed in nine fields, covering approximately 1,000 acres
            in all. »

            You may believe the fairy tale. I do
            not. There is a simpler explanation, one which also explaines how
            Monsanto got at him. But Monsanto accepted it for Mr. Schmeiser
            admitted in essence that he had taken specific steps, on purpose, to
            obtain GM seed and grow a crop from it.

            You may believe the fairy tale. Anyone
            with basic knowledge of agriculture and farm-saved seed production
            knows that any reasonable farmer would not harvest his seed from a
            roadside, particularly in the case of canola.

            Good Percy Schmeiser, the innocent
            victim of ugly Monsanto? An incredible story that, unfortunately,
            continues to contaminate public opinion.

            To help you in your homework:

            https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/2147/index.do

          • Wackes Seppi

            « OH – I didn’t know
            that there’s “New Monsanto” and “Monsanto
            Classic”…
            »

            That’s one of your huge problems!
            Forging definitive opinions – er, taking over definitive opinions –
            based upon gossip, dysinformation and in the final analysis lack of
            judgement.

            « …And certainly
            herbicides and GMOs wouldn’t be used in agriculture…
            »

            Kettle logic.

            « …Monsanto’s decision
            to use (or contemplate using) the GURT technology to stop
            farmers…

            Where is the proof? Real proof,
            please, no assertions by activists?

            « …but again, if you
            believe you can patent a life form because you inserted a gene into
            its DNA you are unlikely to be concerned about much.

            Kettle logic. Well, if one can
            consider this to be logic.

            « You are correct with
            regard to Delta and Pine but no sign that the US holds or held the
            patent.

            You are correct to write that was
            correct.

            You are also correct to write that
            there is no sign… because there is a clear indication. If you look
            up that USPTO patent database, you will find an item entitled
            « Assignee » which, for patent No. 5,723,765, reads
            « Delta and Pine Land Co. (Scott, MS) » and, on the next
            line « The United States of America as represented by the
            Secretary of (Washington, DC) »

            OH – You may not know that, in your
            country, the patent application must be filed by the invento(s), that
            there is then, where relevant, an « assignment », i.e. a
            transfer to, e.g., the employer, and that the Government is a
            co-assignee when the invention was made on the basis of Government
            funding.

            « BTW – the original
            concept was to reduce volunteer plants post harvest…

            BTW – the original concept is best
            extracted from the patent document, not gossip or hearsay. The first
            paragraph of the « Background of the Invention » reads:

            « This invention relates
            to certain transgenic plants and involves a method of creating
            transgenic plants with controllable genes. More particularly, the
            invention relates to transgenic plants that have been modified such
            that expression of a desired introduced gene can be limited to a
            particular stage of plant development, a particular plant tissue,
            particular environmental conditions, or a particular time or
            location, or a combination of these situations.

            Elimination of volunteering is only
            possible application of the invention.

            « …Monsanto saw it as
            a means to control a market.
            »

            Where is the proof?

            And by the way, what is the connection
            with the patent document you cited?

    • kurzweilfreak

      You know, these companies are, in fact, so proud of their products that they do label them very clearly. But unless you’re a farmer (which is the group of people that actually buy these products), you’re unlikely to see the label. Because these companies sell seeds. Grocery stores and restaurants sell food.

      • Tink

        Yes, I’m still at a loss when I see the anti-GMO/pro-label crowd parroting the phrase (or some semblance of the phrase), “We deserve to know what’s in our food!” Considering that genetic modification is a technique/method/process, and not an ingredient, what exactly do they want labeled?

  • gmoeater

    ooooo, Alex; a clever rhyme!! “Everything should have a label if it’s on my table!” Compelling.
    And the “shill” argument. Borrrrring.
    You’re just as anti-gmo under the cover of “just label it”) as those mentioned in the article.
    Do you support my right to know if an organic food was produced by mutagenesis? Would you support labeling laws for mutagenesis, as referenced in the article?
    (did you read the article?)

  • Carl G Craver

    According to the FDA, labeling as containing GMO or GMO free could be interpreted as misleading since there is no significant difference. If a food is significantly different it must be given a new name.
    http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm059098.htm

  • Gregor Samsa

    Senapathy has it wrong about who is assaulting climate change scientists. It is the left, spearheaded by Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva, that is harassing scientists that do not see it their way. http://www.politico.com/story/2015/02/climate-change-study-funding-raul-grijalva-115568.html

  • denise dander

    Genetically engineered foods are on the market only because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has covered up the warnings of its own scientists, misrepresented the facts, and violated explicit mandates of U.S. law. The following points provide the details and describe the solution.

    The Food Additive Amendment of the U.S. Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act institutes a precautionary approach and requires that new additives to food must be demonstrated safe before they are marketed. (21 U.S.C. Sec. 321) Although the FDA admits that the various genetic materials implanted in bioengineered organisms are within the amendment’s purview, it claims they are exempt from testing because they are generally recognized as safe. Genetically engineered fail all requirements for safety via our FDA guidelines.

    Microbiologist Dr. Louis Pribyl stated: “There is a profound
    difference between the types of unexpected effects from
    traditional breeding and genetic engineering and GMO’s may be more hazardous. Dr. E.J. Matthews of the FDA’s Toxicology Group warned that genetically modified plants could contain unexpected high concentrations of plant toxicantsCiting the potential for such unintended dangers, the Director of FDA’s The Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) called for bioengineered products to be demonstrated safe prior to marketing that animal feeds derived from genetically modified plants present unique animal and food safety concerns( Why my pets do not eat GMO foods) The toxicological tests were NEVER DONE and GMOs were introduced into the food supply

    Roundup Ready or HT herbicide tolerant crops make up the vast majority of GMO that we are eating every day. From the USDA web site: Roundup Ready crops are absolutely dominating agricultural production of staple crops in the United States. There has NEVER been one single long-term toxicological feeding study of these genetically modified organisms. In spite of the warnings of FDA scientist the FDA allowed them on to the market with NO TOXICOLOGICAL STUDIES. Think about that for a moment. This is heinous

    The genetically modified Roundup Ready crops, which even FDA scientists warned contained potential threats to human health, along with their associated herbicide, namely glyphosate or Roundup which is in fact lethal to cells that make up over 90% of the DNA in your body, these plants and their accompanying herbicides were allowed into the global food supply without even one STUDY! Inconceivable but true.

    Roundup/ Glyphosphate has been linked to ADHD, Cancers to include brain and breast, Diabetes, Hypertension to name a few/

    • Alex Shannon

      Annotations and sources, please?

    • RobertWager

      Replaying an old myth I see.. What run out of new ones?

    • If GMOs are in any way dangerous, why have there been no lawsuits yet?

      • Solutions not judgements

        Can you explain the reactions that occur in and on the human microbiota?

        Can you point me to anyone who can explain the human microbiota and is posting these articles even on the organic movement side?

        • I’m sorry my friend, but I have no idea.

        • kurzweilfreak

          What reactions? You’re going to have to be a bit more specific here.

          • Solutions not judgements

            Pesticides and RR crops. Even organic foods for all I care…

          • kurzweilfreak

            You didn’t answer the question. What reactions in the human microbiome are happening that need an explanation? You claimed there’s some kind of reaction happening as a result of eating GMO food and/or Roundup residue. What reaction are you talking about?

          • Solutions not judgements

            The hypothesis of which i speak is that the presence of glyphosate in levels that we do see in the human diet has a significant effect on the population balance of the human gut microbiome.

            This organ in the distal gut serves important functions in humans, and its health is highly correlated to the health of the human superorganism.

            Glyphosate’s main mode of biochemical action is the blocking of the EPSPS enzyme. This blocks the shikimic acid pathway, which blocks the production of chorismate, which prevents the production of aromatic amino acids as well as other effects, and this causes many effects down the line.

            Animal somatic cells do not contain the EPSPS enzyme, but microbes in the human gut do contain the enzyme.

            These microbes have been shown to be sensitive to glyphosate at levels similar to those in the human diet, and furthermore, some of those microbes are more resistant and some are more sensitive. It just so happens that the more sensitive microbes also tend to be the more beneficial microbes.

            Therefore, it seems likely to me that glyphosate in the diet which passes through the human gut, would exert a selective pressure on the microbial biofilm and community there, which would favor some microbes and disfavor others.

          • Tink

            Your hypothesis, your science fair project.The burden is on you to prove (or disprove) your hypothesis. To simplify my comment, I can hypothesize the unicorn poop sparkles and smells like chocolate chip cookies. That doesn’t mean I can then insist someone else prove it.

            Come on, now. Stop asking Mommy to do your homework for you.

          • Lester

            He has tinkered w science Tink don’t you tink? :)

          • Dan Hill

            How do other common pesticides found on non-gm crops affect the microbes? The argument of whether glyophosate is bad or not is legitimate to some degree, but does not belong in a GMO conversation. Unless you can point out the safety of other commonly used pesticides versus round up. You’re deflecting and pivoting from a gmo debate to conventional vs organic debate, although I assume unintentionally, it’s still not relevant to the conversation.

          • Tink

            “This organ in the distal gut serves important functions in humans, and its health is highly correlated to the health of the human superorganism.”

            What organ are you referring to?

          • Lester

            SNJ I believe you are onto something credible in my humble opinion. Kudos! I admire your modest word “hypothesis”. I uphold it is theory if gut microbiology is studied carefully in situ in thorough observation. These cultures are extremely important to human health more than people can hypothesize. More theories need to be validated in academia and science to prove or disprove ideologies. I personally believe it’s no longer an anecdote. People can call me nutbag or any word in their lexicon but more attention needs to be zeroed in on this crucial subject. Where can I read your papers/references? Either way, thank you infinitely for shinning light on this important matter.

          • Solutions not judgements

            Follow sage thinker. He is the mad genius behind these amazing discussions. I am only his parrot.

      • Geoff

        Right – let’s sue Monsanto. They crushed producers whose canola was contaminated by their “proprietary” GM stuff.

        • Which farmers were crushed by Monsanto’s “proprietary” GM stuff?

          • Geoff

            I was thinking of Percy Schmeiser (sp) for one but now I can’t tell if he won or lost. Either way, you better have a pretty big checkbook to play I that game. If you look there have been law suits usually just settlements like the wheat contaminated in Oregon.

          • Percy Scmeiser was proven to be a thief. The GMO wheat was an unregistered variety.

          • Geoff

            You asked why there weren’t any lawsuits so I provided you some.

            Monsanto is paying a settlement on that wheat issue. And their Chief technology officer wants us to believe it’s “bioterrorism”. Ha. Come on.

            http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/09/26/351785294/gmo-wheat-investigation-closed-but-another-one-opens

          • The lawsuits you’re talking about have absolutely nothing to do with whether glyphosate or GMOs are safe.

          • JoeFarmer

            “Geoff” has outed himself as an activist with no agricultural knowledge at all. He’s tried to be a pretend scientist and pretend farmer on the internet, but he’s gotten smacked down.

            You’ve got to give the organic activists credit, though. They’re not relying so much on Ted Miner’s. “GMO Pesticide Industry” schtick so much. Or Dr. Ena Valikov’s, “I’m a vet so I know more than you” nonsense. They’re inventing new internet personas like “Geoff” in a last ditch attempt at legitimacy.

          • Quite right. It’s impossible to know if we’re even dealing with real people.

          • hyperzombie

            Well I think we are dealing with real people, they are just crazy that’s all.

          • Geoff

            Geez – Sorry I stumbled into your lair of followers. I had no idea the literacy project had a political agenda and truly bumbled my way in here via a story link. Believe what you want about my ulterior motive but you will note that unlike most here (and likely those you battle with), I’ll move on as I have plenty of other interests (check out my Disqus history vs the rest of you).

          • Yes, I’ll be sure to check out your Disqus history as soon as I complete tonight’s secret initiation ceremony with my “followers.”

            We’re meeting at the lair everyone! Bring your Monsanto amulets!!

          • Geoff

            “We’re meeting at the lair everyone!”
            Mischa’s buying the first round.
            “Bring your Monsanto amulets!!”
            And get a free Monsanto refrigerator magnet!
            \

          • Don’t be so silly Geoff. everyone knows Monsanto pays for all the drinks.

    • Sue farmer

      Denise must get her “information” from Dr. Oz and the Food Boob.

    • kurzweilfreak

      I’ve looked for an original citation for where this Dr. E.J. Matthews has supposedly made this claim, but I can’t find any place showing this claim in his own words, the publication that it was in, what talk he gave that he said this in, or anywhere else besides anti-GMO websites that claim he said this. Where exactly did Dr. Matthews state this? I’d appreciate the citation here. Otherwise, I’m going to just assume that it’s bullshit and someone just plain took his name and made it up.

  • As Dr. Patrick Moore and I always say, “You can’t separate the organic movement from the anti-GMO movement. They are one and the same, existing in perfect anti-technological symbiosis. What’s bad for GMOs is good for organics and vice versa.”
    http://dailycaller.com/2014/04/01/organic-activists-need-gmos-now-more-than-ever/

    Follow the money y’all.

    • Jeremy Rawley

      They’re also one big cult religion in the same vein as evangelical Christianity. Organic cultists worship food and chemophobia. Christians worship a 3,500-year-old book written by goat-herders who believed in absurdities such as a flat Earth, talking animals, necromancy, astrology, parlor tricks (e.g., rods into snakes, water into wine), blood sacrifice (Gen. 22:10, Lev. 1-9, Judges 11:29-39, John 3:16), faith healing, impossible chimeras, and the five elements of witchcraft. They believed that dipping a magic wand in blood and sprinkling it all over someone would cure them of leprosy. They believed rabbits chewed cud, bats were birds, whales were fish, and pi was a round number. They even believed that if you displayed striped patterns to a pregnant cow, it would bear striped calves.

      These same ignorant savages, just like the anti-GMO crowd, also failed miserably at morality. They condoned:

      –Forced starvation (Gen. 41, 2 Thess. 3:10)
      –Genocide (Gen. 6-7 and 19:24, Ex. 11:7, Num. 31, Joshua 6:21 and 10:40, 1 Sam. 15:2-3)
      –Racism (Gen. 28:1, Num. 25:6-9)
      –Sexism (Gen. 3:16 and 7:2, Luke 2:23, John 4:7-18, Col. 3:18, 1 Peter 3:1-7, 1 Tim. 2:11-15, 1 Cor. 11:3-13, Romans 1:27, Eph. 5:22-24 and 5:33, Titus 2:4-5, 1 John 2:13-14)
      –Homophobia (Lev. 18:22)
      –Transphobia (Deut. 22:5)
      –Ableism (Lev. 21:17-23)
      –Cannibalism (Lev. 26:16, Deut. 28:53, Isaiah 49:26,, Jer. 19:9, Ezekiel 5:10, Micah 3:2-3, Lam. 4:10)
      –Coprophagy and urine-drinking (2 Kings 18:27, Isaiah 36:12)
      –Rape (Deut. 21:11-14 and 22:23-29, Judges 19, 2 Sam. 13)
      –Pillage (Joshua 6:24)
      –Forced abortion (Hosea 9:14-16, Matt. 29:14, Mark 13:17)
      –Child abuse (Ex. 21:15-17, Deut. 21:18-21, Psalms 137:9, Proverbs 19:18, Hebrews 12:7)
      –Child molestation (Num. 31:17-18)
      –Slavery (Gen. 9:20-25 and 24:35, Ex. 21-23 and 27:3-7, Lev. 25:44-46, Ruth 4:10, 1 Peter 2:18, Eph. 6:5, Titus 2:9-10, Philemon 1:12, 1 Tim. 6:1-4)
      –Slave abuse (Ex. 21:20-21 and 21:26-27, Proverbs 29:19, Luke 12:46-47)
      –Disproportionate punishments (Ex. 20:5, Deut. 23:2)
      –Family hatred (Gen. 25:28, Matt. 10:34-37, Mark 10:29-30, Luke 14:26)

      Why? To justify their own inhumanity by claiming to do the will of God/YHWH/Allah! Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Joseph Smith, Vandana Shiva, the Food Boob, Mr. Oz, Josh Axe, David Wolfe, Jeffrey Smith, Joe Mercola, Robyn O’Brien, Freelee the Banana Girl, Nutritarian Nancy, and Mike Adams all have more similar ethical and moral codes than most people are willing to admit! Greenpeace is as much a hate group as Focus on the Family, and Whole Foods is a megachurch selling this elitist food gospel for tithes!

      • Say what you will about Christianity, but Christians don’t use tax dollars to try to destroy science.

        • Biron_1

          Quite true — the religion comparison is unfair.

          As I’ve said elsewhere, I eat kosher food. Like organic, the reasons are cultural and not based on science. Where the comparison ends is that the organic movement transfers the burden of labeling to GMO producers. The kosher consumer looks for certification and would never demand that a non-compliant producer mark their food “Treyf” (non-kosher)!

        • John Zohn

          They sure do when it comes to promoting creationism over evolution.

          • There are no consequences to that debate. It’s purely academic.

          • John Zohn

            Academic vs Superstition

          • People are entitled to hold whatever religious or superstitious beliefs they choose, until they start to cause harm to others. This is why the Islamic Jihad and the environmental movement are so horrible.

          • John Zohn

            Your ridiculous analogies expose your agenda, but that’s not surprising coming from someone who thinks global warming is a hoax, is a critic of hybrid cars and believes the American mortgage crisis that precipitated the financial meltdown was caused by “overregulation.”

          • Waaa… you’re hurting my feelings John.

            What were we talking about again?

          • John Zohn

            Your ridiculous analogies

  • Geoff

    I think you (the author) are only seeing one part of the argument …… that consuming GMOs are bad for human health. That’s been pretty well refuted but the potential ramifications on the environment at large by using (releasing) this technology on the planet is my concern. Let me decide what type of producer/production I want to support with my dollars. Isn’t that what free-market capitalism is all about?

    We heard the same sorry arguments about labeling milk as “rBST free” meaning exogenous growth hormone (Posilac from ….. Monsanto) was not used on the cows producing the labeled milk. The hue and cry was that no one will buy milk that’s not carrying that label so it’s not fair. Maybe consumers should have a right to choose what type of management practices they support —– But that is what industry fears …….
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/07/business/07bovine.html?_r=0

    BTW – I do farm and am NOT an organic zealot but I can see when things are off base.

    AND as far as Right To Know goes …….. we have had required RTK training for any potential hazards in the workplace for over 25yrs and that includes Whiteout for office personnel (obviously not a problem now but tells you how long the program has been in existence).

    • JoeFarmer

      “AND as far as Right To Know goes …….. we have had required RTK
      training for any potential hazards in the workplace for over 25yrs…”

      And that’s OSHA. As in an employee has a right to know what hazards he/she may be exposed to in the workplace. It’s a false comparison to try to relate that to a small group of consumers’ curiosity. The consumers are not exposed to any hazard at all.

      • Geoff

        As consumers in a market-driven economy, you damn well better believe they are entitled to know. Just the same as you have the right to know what constitutes Made in America and choose accordingly. Does it mean it’s better? Maybe or maybe you want to support American workers. But that’s your choice that can only be made through knowing.

        I think you underestimate the small number of consumers – I don’t want to support that type of farming – not curious nor worried about the health effects.

        • JoeFarmer

          Curiosity does not confer a right to know. Please study “compelled speech”, e.g., IDFA v. Amestoy.

          What type of farming are you talking about that you don’t want to support?

          • Geoff

            Curiosity is your word and indicates no further action by the inquirer based on the information requested. That’s hardly the case for me and others.

            So do you choose products based on where they’re manufactured? Is country of origin labeling also compelled speech for the curious?

            I don’t want to support the type of farming that:
            1) makes it only an option for a handful of people and as a “birth right”
            2) divides communities as neighbors scramble to get more land away from other farmers in the area.
            3) requires hiring “chemical advisors” to manage your crops.
            4) supports an international conglomerate that has demonstrated it has no concern for the welfare of the populous and was willing to use biotechnology to do it —– (any company that even thought using terminator genes to control farmers is no company I want I want to support).

            That’s just off the top of my head and you’d know all of these issues if you really are “joe farmer”.

          • JoeFarmer

            “Curiosity is your word…”

            No, that’s how the law sees it.

            “…and indicates no further action by the inquirer based on the information requested. That’s hardly the case for me and others.”

            Just because you suffer from a case of self-entitlement doesn’t create a need for anyone to do anything.

            “So do you choose products based on where they’re manufactured? Is
            country of origin labeling also compelled speech for the curious?”

            Once again, you’re conflating, just like you did with OSHA.

            “1) makes it only an option for a handful of people and as a “birth right””

            Do you live in the U.S.? Where I farm, right about half of the land is leased. So no one is getting locked out. If you can’t afford to buy land, you can lease it.

            “2) divides communities as neighbors scramble to get more land away from other farmers in the area.”

            That’s nonsense. Most of the land here is sold at auction – highest bidder gets it. No one is forced to sell, unless they go bankrupt.

            “3) requires hiring “chemical advisors” to manage your crops.”

            Where in the world did you come up with that? I have never heard of anyone having that title. Crop protection is a complex subject, and I get information from university extension people, and a private agronomist or two, but no one that’s called a “chemical advisor”.

            “4) supports an international conglomerate that has demonstrated it has no concern for the welfare of the populous and was willing to use
            biotechnology to do it —– (any company that even thought using
            terminator genes to control farmers is no company I want I want to
            support).”

            That is a recitation based on ignorance. GURT technology was jointly developed by Delta Pine and USDA. Monsanto bought Delta Pine and shelved the technology.

            “That’s just off the top of my head…”

            More like out of your backside.

          • Geoff

            How can free-market capitalism work its magic if consumers don’t get access to the information they want to decide what they want to buy – regardless of whether you or I believe that info is “important”?

            So you refuse to address your own purchasing criterion by calling it conflation?

            The land issues I speak of are real here. I know of at least 3 farmers (including one who rents from me) who lost some ground they were farming (leased ground) when a family member passed away and other neighboring farmers swept in to woo the landlords and grab a those leases. It’s real.

            Any farmer here hires a “field man” from the chemical/fertilizer plant to come out and design their spray and fertilizer programs for each field and crops. Yes – I generated the term “chemical advisor”. Extension agents here are worthless … more focused on 4H/FFA and the fair. No private agronomists except the ones through McGregor’s or Wilbur Ellis (our chem/fert guys).

          • Dominick Dickerson

            I think you’re ignoring the fact that there are atleast two voluntary labeling systems in place that give consumers a choice if they want to avoid foods containing GE crops. Both USDA organic and non gmo project certified exist and provide those consumers who want it the option.

            The “info” your refering to is not concerning health risks, or environmental impact or composition but what method of plant breeding is used. None of the proposed labeling systems for GE food want a truly informative label, that would entail labeling which ingredients and the nature of the transformation event. Labeling supposes that all GE crops are the same, but that’s not the case. But I question whether or not knowing what method of plant breeding developed the varieties used in foods is pertinent information, especially when it’s not being applied across the board for all plant breeding techniques. By only wanting to label one method it implies there’s some extraordinary risk associated with it as compared to others, which is not the case.

        • agscienceliterate

          Geoff, I’ll pose the same Q I ask other “label it!!” fanatics.
          Do you think that organic foods and other foods produced with mutagenesis should be labeled? If not, why not?

          • Geoff

            Only if it’s produced in the lab.

          • agscienceliterate

            Well, where ELSE do you suppose mutagenesis (blasting with chemicals and / or irradiation) takes place?? Of course it takes place “in the lab.” So you would agree with Kavin that ALL methodologies of plant production should be labeled? Seems you don’t really know what you support; you sound quite confused. Confusion plus arrogant conviction equal mashed potato thinking.

          • Geoff

            Before you start using a term you might want to make sure you know what it means, idiot.

            The mashed potato is your brain Mr science illiterate.

            “Mutagenesis /mjuːtəˈdʒɛnɪsɪs/ is a process by which the genetic information of an organism is changed in a stable manner, resulting in a mutation. It may occur spontaneously in nature, or as a result of exposure to mutagens. It can also be achieved experimentally using laboratory procedures. In nature mutagenesis can lead to cancer and various heritable diseases, but it is also a driving force of evolution. Mutagenesis as a science was developed based on work done by Hermann Muller, Charlotte Auerbach and J. M. Robson in the first half of the 20th century.[1]”

    • Farmer Sue

      Your “right to know” ends where my rights to grow approved crops begins, when your “right to know” is full of obfuscation, implied “dangers,” and utter lack of scientific credibility.
      You have a right to eat anything you want, but you do not have a right to demonize healthy food that I grow. Get off your high horse.

  • Wackes Seppi

    « The acronym … “Genetically
    Modified Organism” … was created by anti-biotech activists to
    make genetic engineering sound creepy… »

    I don’t think this is true. My
    recollection is that it is a creation of industry when « genetically
    engineered… » started to be scary.

    • hyperzombie

      Why? almost all insulin is made by GMOs, complications have never been lower.

      Many cancer med are made by GMOs, the cancer survival rate has never been higher

      Many heart meds are made by GMOs, and once again survival rate is higher

      Do you have any evidence that GMO is dangerous?

      • Wackes Seppi

        Why? A simple issue of perception. In
        French, « manipulé » — the originally used adjective –
        sounds (more) scary than « modifié ». Same for
        « engineerd » v. « modified ».

        « Do you have any evidence that
        GMO is dangerous? » Oh yes! GMOs are very dangerous to the
        mental state of hyper-hypochondriac persons and, when opinion
        manipulation has worked, people.

        To get serious again, the danger has to
        be assessed on a case-by-case basis. I would certainly not want to
        be the guinea pig testing food derived from a plant producing e.g.
        ricine. So far, none of the GMOs on the market has shown any danger
        by reason of it being a GMO. And the odds are that the next in the
        pipeline will as well, not only by design but also because, unlike
        « conventionally » bred plants, they are subject to
        extensive testing.

      • Geoff

        The difference being those products are created in a controlled environment not released into the global ecosystems. And I’m okay with that use of GMO’s.

        • hyperzombie

          LOL, genes in the ecosystem that has to be stopped…

          • agscienceliterate

            O noooooo! There are GENES in the ecosystem??? I’m so gonna post that on Food Babe’s facebook; she HAS to know about this conspiracy and threat to mankind!

          • Geoff

            Wow = you really are a bunch of idiots here pretending to be science “literate”. Of course this is a site uses the scientific viewpoint of its parent, the American Enterprise Institute. ‘Nuf said.

          • agscienceliterate

            Geoffie, you haven’t answered ONE question or responded to any of the science from responders, relating to all of your wacko paranoid conspiracy mashed potatoes.
            Idiots?
            Whatever. We’ll let the readers judge who’s the idiot.

          • Damo

            I think you mean jeans. All my produce is properly dressed.

  • agscienceliterate

    Geoff says he supports labeling of seeds if the product is produced “in the lab.” OK, there’s a lot of woo-wooo thinking going on here. I’ll attach a simple article about mutagenesis (which he also supports labeling if it’s done “in the lab” –which obviously it is), from Wiki, that anyone can understand.
    Geoff, mutagenesis has random, unintended consequences. Some work out. Those are sold as seeds for food, including organic. They are not tested or regulated.
    Geoff, genetic engineering uses ONE gene. With very intended consequences. With years of testing and the highest regulation of any foods in the world.
    Now, want to try again with your argument, now that you are no longer confused?
    Here’s the Wiki article (readable and understandable by non-scienfic minds) on mutagenesis: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutagenesis_(molecular_biology_technique)

    • Wackes Seppi

      Those are sold as seeds for
      food, including organic…

      But that’s only the beginning of the
      story. Those are also used as genitors for further breeding. A
      modern variety which activists find acceptable as being the progeny
      of variety A and variety B (well, so far, until they also get at
      crossing and selection) is likely to have « questionable »
      varieties in its ancestry. If mutation breeding is also not
      acceptable, unless its produces are labeled, activists may wish to go
      back to the plant material from the 1920’s to be on the safe side.
      All modern Brassicas (the cabbages) should be labeled for the male
      sterility system that is used to produce hybrid seed is the result of
      laboratory operations. Same for wheat which includes genes from its
      ancestors or distant relatives.

      But, wait! The results of artificial
      mutation breeding are no different from the results of natural
      mutations… We should definitely scout for them (good luck…) and
      label…

      • agscienceliterate

        O for heaven’s sakes.
        And horses and wooden plows, too?
        Who gives a darn about what “activists” find “acceptable” ??
        Get real.

        • Wackes Seppi

          You’re obviously not living in Europe.
          « Hidden GMOs » is a subject matter that may be picked up
          by political powers.

          • agscienceliterate

            Nope. I live in a country supposedly respectful of science. I have no idea why Europeans are wacko about gmos.
            It may be political (it certainly is where I live!) but it is not based on science.
            Public policy decisions should be made based on facts, not on political persuasion based on hype.

  • Lester

    Oh snap :/ I have chosen to delete this comment as it may be considered offensive, derogatory , spam etc. to certain earthlings. Gotta go back to saving the universe as planet XYZ wants to start a peace treaty with planet Jeemoh. I have a feeling they are working things out. I wish the same for the model blue planet we look up to. We are going green just like the smoothies we drink. Hope you are too. This hippie alien is outta here. Peace and Love children!!

    • Ammyth

      You sound like a creepy stalker. You also don’t seem like you’ve been burdened by an overabundance of education.

      • Lester

        Burdened to the point of extreme headache! Ouch! My cup runneth over! That nine-letter word tossed around in America. “education, is not how you use the word but how you implement it” A young lad in the town of Todmorden shouted when an apple fell on his head.

    • Sher De Lune

      Lester, you sound like a scary stalker with your “Don’t let be seen by our group on May 23rd.” nonsense. Honestly, that sounded like a threat.

      • Lester

        All jokes aside…this is not a joke NOR a threat! I apologize to everyone for my stupidity! I just don’t want my girl Kavin to fight agianst the crowd of ppl and look bad. In fact, I may just march with the march against the march people. You fight or do something stupid you are going down. This is a peaceful protest like Kavin said! Im on her side. You mess with moms and you will be on the evening news. #sciencenotviolence #blockwackjob lol Im w/ you! Everybody just laugh! Life’s too short people! Thank you Sher De Lune you are also one of my fav replies. Kisses & blessings!

    • Catherine Emerson

      Did you even have anything to add to the discussion other than threats? Sheesh – even the other Anti-GMO whack-a-doodles at least TRIED to make an argument based on mis-information and bad data. This is just lazy.

      • Lester

        No threats Catherine! That makes two lazies! Don’t get if you are replying to me or to the post in general! Hey i can be blonde too! Lazy? I don’t think you are…like your dignified look Smile!

    • Michael Newman

      “Your lies and deceit will be exposed.” Waiting…

      • Lester

        I sound like the bible there haha! i’m still Waiting for the rapture ! oh lord JESUS! They think i am the anti-christ! WWJD i mean what should i do lol. Nice reply ty!

    • Paul Koopman

      I strongly advise you reconsider your time spent in mom’s basement. I’m not speaking for Kavin, but I imagine she continues down the path because she is much better educated than you are, and simply knows enough about the topic to know what the professional tinfoil hat peddlers are actually selling.

      • Lester

        lol Your advise is strong indeed! You sound like my father when I was a kid defending my mother! This is like a movie Im playing in my head your words patronize me. Bloody heck mate, let me do my homework so that I can pass the test of time! And educate myself! BTW when you compare people’s education you sound like That angry substitute teacher that can’t control her audience. I know you have class! We are all saved by the bell! Cheers

    • Kavin Senapathy

      If you’re actually someone I know, feel free to message me with your real identity. If you don’t want to do so publicly, by all means, DM at fb.com/ksenapathy. By the way, I have discussed the shikimate metabolic pathway in other work, but I don’t see why I have to mention it in everything I write. In fact, your bringing up the “shikimic pathway,” gives me a good idea who you are….

      • Lester

        Kavin, I am terribly sorry if this came as threat. Let me just clarify my post for the sake of ALL of us. I DID NOT intend this as a threat, you are safe with me girl!(No, really) I WOULD NEVER resort to violence or anything illegal. I mean it! I am a well-intentioned individual. I have kids just like you do. But it seems that you hurt us in many ways by attacking us and by using your power. WE ALL WANT best for our children! So we protect them like no other! Just as I WISH the best for your child. ALL I WANT IS FOR GMOs to be labeled PLEASE!!! I am crying as I write this. I have suffered with allergies my whole life and see our children suffer too! It’s a constant battle of what to eat. I EAT GMO’s too! Let me repeat that: I eat GE food. I will STILL BUY but I and ALL of us have the right to know! Just like PKU patients; Diet Coke alerts them as they should on their label. (Phenylketonurics: contains PHENYLALANINE). Why are GE ingredients such a mystery ? Why? If I can control my diet I can control my health and the health of the people I feed. So 5-10-20 years from now my hope is that I can see transparency in labels. Something’s got to happen. Can you imagine if I had a “new or rare” disease (like Phenylketonuria) my hope would be that the FDA had my best interest in alerting me so that something life-threatening wouldn’t happen. ANAPHYLAXIS is real! Wouldn’t you agree? Just like Monsanto says we need to have a balanced plate! ORGANIC & GMO can solve the world’s food crisis but by all means like in 64 other countries this one need to step up to the plate! The music is resonating and WE MUST ALL listen to it. I hope the MARCH gets POSITIVE media coverage so that ALL people can weigh in on the debate. Let’s all be part of the solution. I ADMIT, I did come out as hurtful and offensive but my goal is for people to wake up and decide for themselves. Not a corporation nor a blogger nor ‘Science’ a mom has instincts just like any rational mom! I am not perfect, in fact I am far from it! I have flaws just like everyone I am human just like you. Believe it or not I am a fan of your writing and your interests. We share a lot in common. I can talk to you for hours and pick your brain. I just really want to know who you represent. Are your hands really tied down to speak the truth? Do you really want to draw attention to this? Do I? I was ashamed of my post but when you say words like “the now disgraced Dr.O.” it really strikes a nerve there. I am NOT trying to MESS with you at all! But this article offended a lot of people on both sides of the discussion. What I meant by don’t let be seen by our group on 5/23 I meant the entire protesters as a whole. I am NOT part of any group but myself and my family. Not trying to cause trouble at all. But if it takes this to raise awareness call me crazy. I’ll confess when I saw your youtube videos I was endeared by you as a person and became conflicted as to what you specifically address. Trust me I’m on your side with much of your knowledge (do you want to speak about the human para-limbic system?) But on certain things I strongly oppose. This could go on forever! I know you are exceptionally intelligent use it for the best for you and ALL of US! TO ALL YOUR READERS I am not a hater I am a LOVER! Very eccentric but with a heart like MOTHER EARTH let’s just all be (friends?) good neighbors and dialogue. LOVE YOU ALL MEAN IT!

        • Kavin Senapathy

          Really, I shouldn’t be seen by all of the MAM protestors on 5/23? That makes it sound worse. MAM is supposed to be non-violent and I hope its leaders follow through with that intention. Clearly you’ve read much of my writing if not all of it, watched my videos, and you lurk on my public Facebook page. If you’d like to talk then stop hiding behind an anonymous identity. Really, I’m happy to let you pick my brain. I’ll speak with you on the phone, via Skype, via chat, whatever. When you’re ready to put a name to your words, please feel free to contact me.

          • Lester

            KS your work on earth is laudatory. Please help keep your planet sustainable and healthy and robust for future generations. Who knows after humankind there may be a modified/hybrid of your species with something foreign introduced. Oh My Greatness did I say alien? I meant recombinant (in a good way)! This wacky space cadet has to sign off! Remember 2,4-B a good posterchild. Tootles :)

    • Jeremu

      Your arguments are so strong and relevant that I don’t know why people don’t listen to you. Go man go. Change the world

      • Lester

        Slapped w/ sarcasm but I love it THANK YOU for helping me change the world ! You are a smart cookie!

    • Stacey H

      “Repent of your sins”?

      Seriously, do you even have a clue as to how wacko you sound?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sY278K4ljWs

      • Lester

        That was a cute video! You made my day! I know I sounded wacko. I just have different styles of writing to reach the right people! It’s all strategy. No harm. Thanks for the humor :)

    • John Hepenstal

      My favourite sentence in this is “I love you.”

      It provides a respite after all the mindless hatred.

      • Lester

        If i were an alien I’d abduct you John (don’t take this as a threat :) to represent the human race in the cosmos! God bless the UK! GOD BLESS people full of love! This is my favorite reply! Congratulations you used that magical four letter word! Cheers mate! ~Leicester

    • Darren Johnson

      So do you get off making anonymous threats, you pathetic, uneducated, moronic, lowlife?

      • Lester

        HAHA no I do not get off! Thanks for the macho humor though! I like the saying “Scientists say the universe is made up of protons, neutrons and electrons. They forgot to mention morons.” You got to laugh at life Darren!

        • Darren Johnson

          You are pathetic.

          • Lester

            Giggling Martian Outcry… We text (gmo for laughing) no hard feelings.. Back to space DJ !

    • Michael Cooper

      ah, a throw-away anonymous account. Your parents must be proud.

      • Lester

        They are proud just like I am a proud parent! Prost!

  • agscienceliterate

    Lester: For the rest of us, please clarify. 1) How do you know Kavin is a “paid shill” ? 2) What about us athiests who don’t have sins to “repent” — do we not have ability to think critically and scientifically, with compassion and concern for the environment and people? 3) What do you mean by May 23 — is this some kind of a threat? 4) You admit to knowing Kavin; why slam her anonymously here, rather than contacting her directly?

    Kavin, your article is excellent, as usual.

    • Lester

      All right all right ! Take me to church so that i may confess my sins. Attention you all: I was a coward, i dont know Kavin personally, I don’t know that she is a paid shill, I did rant like a teenager, NO it is not a threat!, I can contact her directly, and I am just as concerned with this march as you are. Haha I just saw that she is atheist I love it. Im sorry to all of you! Thank you for comforting me. I am not going to do anything unlawful. Please show this to your FBI if you’d like. My conscious is clear! Now down with the kids let’s all go to the pub and get some cocktails and then we can discuss GMOs in Newcastle and the like! Cheers. Feeling peckish here, should i dig in to some Onion Rings they are way better here!

  • Majombaszo

    I’ve long been searching for an article that best explains exactly what GM science and technology is as well as an article that explains why labeling is simply nonsensical (no different than labeling what kind of dirt a head of lettuce was grown in – inconsequential to the end product so long as it’s lettuce) that I could just hand over to friends and family who constantly ask me to explain it to them and are unwilling to accept that I am knowledgeable but not qualified to expound on the topic. I wanted something short and this isn’t it. I don’t care. They are going to have to read it anyway. I’ve poured over many, many articles over many days and this, Dearest Kavin, is by far the most brilliant and well presented one on the subject. It’s neither too simplistic nor over anyone’s head.

    You get the highest compliment I can possibly give a person – MAD GENIUS!!

    • Kavin Senapathy

      Why, thank you! I’m glad this article can be your go-to about GM science and labeling.

  • NoNonsenseRD

    Excellent article! Look to the evidence and ask the experts, not Dr. Oz and the Food Babe!

  • dana_larsen

    GMO plants are also patented and owned by corporations, and that is a valid concern regardless of health issues. Farmers can’t keep or share the seeds from their GMO crop, forcing them to buy from the same company every year. That is a reason for me not to want to buy GMO foods.

    Also, there’s religious issues for some people who don’t want to eat certain animals. Maybe not wanting to eat pork or cow genes is irrational, but don’t people have a right to make their own food choices even if it for an irrational religious reason?

    Arguments against labelling basically boil down to the claim that people will make the wrong choice and reject GMO foods if they are labelled, but shouldn’t people have the right to make a choice about their foods for whatever reason they want?