Vegan Manifesto: Why we should support GMO foods and biotechnology research

|

My name’s Diana Peña, and I am a yoga-loving, bicycle-riding, palm oil-avoiding. environmentalist, ingredient list-reading vegan. I get 92.4% of my monthly calories from simple foods: rice, beans, tofu, and soybean oil (yes, I calculated it). I calculated the ecological impact of the rice I eat assuming it came from California vs. Arkansas. Essentially, I’m a walking stereotype.

The reason why I state these things about myself is because I want to make it clear that I share the same concerns as the rest of the vegan population, particularly an adherence to the central tenant of the vegan philosophy: an optimization of agriculture to minimize suffering and pain of sentient beings. However, regardless of my stereotypically vegan behavior, I, unlike many vegans, am in favor of biotechnology, particularly GMOs, in agriculture, and I think that all vegans should be.

Let’s take one simple example first: genetically-engineered wheat and other staples or seeds to produce omega-3 fatty acids. Crops like these could very well be an excellent replacement of fish for omega-3 fatty acids, taking away any excuse for people to continue eating fish. This would reduce the suffering within aquatic ecosystems, and it could be implemented if we got burdensome governments out of the way of innovation. There is no plausible mechanism of harm to such an idea. We know that the staples we eat are safe and that omega-3 fatty acids are safe. Thus, a staple that is engineered to produce omega-3 wouldn’t be dangerous.

IMG_20160406_130339 (1)One might argue that we can simply use flaxseeds instead of GE foods; however, this isn’t a very practical idea. First of all, staples are already widely eaten, making it much easier to get people to switch from fish to a staple with GEO-derived oils than to flaxseeds. Additionally, 96% of the US’ flaxseeds are grown in North Dakota. This isn’t a coincidence. This is because of the fact that different places have varying soil conditions, climates, and other factors that lead to different yields of different crops.

Farmers want to optimize yields, which is why farmers in Idaho grow lots of potatoes, while those in Arkansas grow lots of rice. If we were to decide to suddenly eat more flaxseed as a nation, then not only would many farmers have to switch to growing these seeds, but yields wouldn’t be optimal everywhere. This would mean more land being devoted to agriculture, which would hurt natural ecosystems. These practical limitations make GE staples a much better substitute source for omega-3 than flax seeds.

A vegan’s view of GE innovations 

Many of my fellow vegans might argue whether such an innovation will be vegan at all. They might say that they don’t want “fish genes” in their wheat, ignoring the fact that “fish genes” don’t exist (All humans share many genes in common with fish: are they “human genes” or “fish genes”?). There is no need to use genes from an actual fish in the first place. Modern technology, being as cool as it is today, gave us DNA synthesizers that enable the construction of synthetic genes from known genomic templates, making an actual fish totally unnecessary in the process of genetically engineering staple crops to make omega-3. Besides, even if we did need the fish, there would be no need to kill one to get DNA. You’d simply need one cell sample, and you could then use PCR (polymerase chain reaction) to make thousands of copies of the gene in question for R&D. Let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good here. Nonetheless, the genes in question would come from algae since fish don’t have them, so the entire debate is moot. Although the point still stands for any crops modified with genes originally found in animals.

Furthermore, yield-preserving traits like Bt and Roundup-Ready allow for crops to beat pests like insects and weeds in a safe, effective way, and there are hundreds of independent studies to prove it. This means less land for agriculture being needed, allowing for more habitats for animals around the world. On top of that, Simplot’s Innate Potato resists browning and bruising and allows for long-term storage, with a future generation model resisting late blight fungus, all with the FDA seal of approval.

These traits mean fewer fungicides used, less food waste (on the field, in the store, and at home), less land needed to grow the same amount of potatoes, and more affordable crops. All of these traits are good for optimizing agriculture for the environment and consumers, and are just a few examples of traits that could be and are being utilized as we speak. Imagine what more could be done if we stopped hampering this amazing technology with burdensome regulations. We could do a lot of good for the world of agriculture with such beneficial innovation.

Additionally, biotechnology could generate synthetic animal products. We already use genetically engineered yeast and bacteria to produce all sorts of valuable substances, from insulin to the vitamins in the tablets I personally use in place of many foods. They are also used in making many common foods, such as almost all of the hard cheese made in the world, and many beers—although many GMO labeling laws exempt these foods. The rennet used in the cheese-making process used to come from calves, making GE microorganisms a more humane source. There is no reason why we can’t use this same biotechnology to produce milk proteins to make cheese free of cows or to accelerate growth in cell cultures to make synthetic meats.

In fact, many groups are working on these sorts of projects, and some don’t involve genetic engineering at all. Memphis Meats, New Wave Foods, and many other groups are doing the admirable work of taking animals out of agriculture, while feeding the world more efficiently in the process. It’s extremely unfortunate that many of those getting in the way of such goals are vegans, but would rather let their naturalist ideology and dogma supersede their opposition to animal exploitation

Harmless biopsies allow for the collection of cells from donor animals, and these cells can be used to make tons of meat to make millions of burgers. Yes, you read that right. Maastricht University in the Netherlands has an excellent FAQ page to explain cultured meat. Even if this technology involved the deaths of a few animals to harvest the substrate medium and scaffolding structure for the cultured beef, that doesn’t change the fact that this is a net benefit to preventing animal deaths. This technology could lower the death toll from the current unimaginable number (go ahead and try to imagine 10,000,000,000 per year of anything; it’s literally unimaginable) to a much smaller amount that is a net benefit to livestock. Once again, let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good here. Being purists will only hurt animals.

Other technologies such as induced-pluripotent stem cells (regular cells turned into stem cells) can take what little animal involvement that takes place in cellular agriculture and reduce it even further to almost nothing Scientists are already developing gel-based scaffolding methods to replace the collagen used normally, along with growth media free from fetal bovine serum. Cellular agriculture is progressively lessening its reliance on animals to produce food to feed the world. It’s important for vegans to come together to support this technology to back research that could improve it even more. I cannot stress enough the point that being purists will only hurt our cause; we can make cellular agriculture rely as little on animals as possible, which is a net benefit to animals.

Call for vegan action

Unfortunately, people aren’t choosing to adopt a vegan diet. The reasons are irrelevant, as the end result is still the same: less than 2% of the population consist of vegans at any given time. We are never going to convince the large majority of people to adopt a collective vegan diet. Attempting to do so is admirable, but it’s not working. As unfortunate as that is, we can still do a lot more good for livestock animals with the aforementioned technology. There is no good reason to eschew it and stand in the way of perfectly good solutions through fear mongering and obstruction.

I became a vegan as an extension of my pacifist and environmentalist leanings. Because of this, I would hate to see fellow vegans stand in the way of protecting our fellow earthlings for baseless ideological reasons. Vegans could come together through finances, promotional manpower, and even by becoming researchers and educators to create a new generation of scientists to work on cellular agriculture.

With that being said, I think we should all remember the following: “The best argument against the outreach method is a five-minute conversation with the average meat eater.”

I’m sorry to say that, but it’s true. People view the animal rights movement negatively, and extremist organizations like PETA have only hardened stereotypes. Organizations like Mercy for Animals utilize proven, effective methods of advocacy, but, while commendable, is not enough.

My goal is the same as that of many ethical vegans: sending the animal-based food industry as close to obsolescence as is practically possible. I’m going to side with the winning team to make that goal a reality, and I truly hope that fellow vegans will side with me on that front in principle, participation, and finances. Our fellow earthlings demand it. Please don’t let them down.

Update: Genes to make omega-3-producing crops would come from algae, making the fish debate pointless, but the point still stands for all animal-origin genes. Thanks, Mark.

Diana Peña (@Inorganic_Vegan) is an ethical/ecological vegan at Brooklyn College training to educate people about science. A long-time advocate, she promotes biotechnology and other evidence-based agricultural solutions to optimize food production and distribution, feed the world and to finally put an end to animal agriculture.

  • marklynas

    A couple of very minor points. Actually the omega-3 oils are not being taken into wheat, but into an oilseed called camelina (a brassica, a bit like oilseed rape or canola). Secondly, the origin of the gene is actually marine algae, so nothing fishy about that! (The fish get their omega 3s up the food chain, beginning with the algae – they don’t synthesise omega 3s themselves).

    Other than that, great stuff!

  • AutumnSylver

    I’m currently transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, and I support genetic modification. I’m studying biotechnology in college, so I understand the science. It isn’t as scary and dangerous as the organic industry wants people to believe.

    • Sean Geissler

      You should volunteer yourself and your family to be the subject of a documentary/study that follows you as you and your children consume GMO products over the course of a year. If I saw more convincing evidence that GMO proponents actually eat and feed these to their children, I may be persuaded.

      • agscienceliterate

        20 years of eating it, here. And I am a model of sane, logical healthy rationality, despite what those activists will tell you. Persuaded? Didn’t think so.

        • Sean Geissler

          Well why not sign up to have your experiences documented for the rest of us? You need to do something to be more convincing. Internet comments don’t demonstrate anything.

          • agscienceliterate

            Sign up? I am telling you my experience. Either you believe it or you don’t. And, believe it or not, I do not need to convince you. I think you should stick to organic and document your own experience, and quit being such a busybody concerned with what the rest of us eat.

          • Sean Geissler

            Just thought you might like to help ease the concerns of skeptics. Hopefully someone out there would be willing.

          • agscienceliterate

            Ease the concern of skeptics? What, isn’t the science enough? You have to be spoon-fed? Since when is it my interest or job to try to change the mind of skeptics? I’ve joined many others in giving you lots of information and references. You have to grow up and take responsibility for your own education and skepticism. Can lead a horse to water, etc. Your skepticism seems very ingrained, in any case, and nothing I or others say will change your mind. There used to be a farmer who posted on GE farming stuff who would say “Your mind is slammed shut tighter than a hog’s ass at fly time.” Not my job to pry open your mind. If you lack the scientific acumen, open mind, and curiosity to dig deeper into this issue yourself, then you just better stick to organic and non-GMO certified. It is certainly easier than having to think for yourself.

          • TB

            Creeper answer

      • AutumnSylver

        Actually, I eat GMOs all the time. They’re extensively tested for toxicity and allergenicity. If it’s for sale in grocery stores, you can be assured that it has been tested and they know it’s not harmful to human health.
        What’s actually scary is the way that organic farmers produce new versions of crops. They expose their current crops to highly toxic chemicals and radiation to induce DNA mutations. Mutations which may or may not be harmful to human health, but unlike GMOs, they’re not required to be tested.

        • Sean Geissler

          Would you volunteer yourself for a project to follow your diet and analyze the physiological changes in your body over time? I think the GMO world needs more grass roots action like that. Your kids would be even more convincing.

          • AutumnSylver

            If you could stop assuming I have or will ever have kids, that would be great.
            I don’t see the point of volunteering myself to be monitored for physiological changes, because there won’t be any negative changes caused by GMOs. Watch while nothing happens?

          • Sean Geissler

            The point is to help persuade all of the skeptics out there.

          • David Cascio

            Who gets their unbiased scientific information from some type of a DIY documentary?

            Go read one of the many scientific publications studying the effects of GMOs on human test subjects. It’s already been done hundreds of times in a much more controlled (and scientific) environment than what you are asking for. If skeptics can be convinced by watching a video of someone eating Doritos containing GMO soy and not dying, their thought process shouldn’t be reinforced. Instead they should be educated about the scientific method and pointed towards scholarly article databases.

          • Theodore Willoughby

            Some folks just don’t want to help their own cause. Probably because these accounts are cat-fishing you.

          • There is no plausible mechanism for GM food being harmful. Humans have been eating GM sweet potatoes for centuries without harm. The only food cultivars that have caused harm, such as the Lenape potato, were developed by conventional methods.

            ps. Your interest in other people’s children is a little bit creepy. You appear to be using GMO as a fig leaf for your trench coat and lollipops routine.

          • Sean Geissler

            So, no one is willing to actually prove that they eat GMOs or feed them to their own children on a daily basis? I’m surprised by that, given how safe they are, and how fiery all of the online supporters are, to a point.

          • JP

            Are you willing to actually prove that you eat polyploid crops or feed them to your own children?

          • Sean Geissler

            Hi JP, thank you for your reply, but I’m actually seeking people that are willing to work together in a constructive manner. If you are willing to demonstrate that you consume these products and would like to volunteer yourself or your family for the doc, I’d love to set it up. If not, you could kindly refrain from childish antagonism. Cheers.

          • JP

            Well, that certainly doesn’t answer my question.

          • Sean Geissler

            There are legitimate concerns that could be well put at ease with my idea. I’m only trying to help your cause, JP. If only you were interested in doing more than commenting on articles….the GMO movement could be so much farther ahead.

          • JP

            No, I really don’t think your creepy requests to film people eating will put anyone at ease.

          • Sean Geissler

            I respectfully disagree. There have already been multiple films of such a nature.

          • JP

            ……. And?

          • Huh? I’m willing. Should a team of appropriately qualified and respected team of scientists propose such a study I’d be in it. Heck, free food, why not?!

            You might recall that the fortified banana had no shortage of food trial volunteers. But you are a known troll and a high school drop out so you can’t expect to be taken seriously.

  • Axel Lieber

    Good article. Thanks for writing it. Just in case you aren’t aware, there are quite a few vegans who share your views. Among others, you (and anyone else interested) can meet them in the Skeptic Vegan Discussion group here:

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/skepticvegan/

    … and the Vegan Bodybuilding and Nutrition group here:

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/VeganNutrition/

    Both groups are “science-friendly”.

    • Sean Geissler

      I’m very science friendly, unfortunately I haven’t seen much science on the effects of GMOs on human beings. Only short term animal tissue studies.

      • JP

        It’s food. It doesn’t have some magical bad “effect.”

        • Sean Geissler

          Oh, because food can’t hurt you, make you sick, or contribute to any chronic illness like cancer, heart disease, or diabetes.. I forgot.

          • agscienceliterate

            Eat what you think is healthy, then. The rest of us have the capacity to make our own choices. What, are you a religious evangelist or something?

          • Sean Geissler

            Perhaps you don’t share my interest in the pursuit of knowledge, but I think more science is always better than less. Cheers.

          • agscienceliterate

            Great. I pursue my own science. I do not need your suggestions to “sign up” for an experiment. Read what you wish. Do your own science. “Sign” people up. Go fer it. Document your own organic and non-GMO certified diet for a couple of years. Maybe a decade. Then come back and tell us what you learned, ok?

      • Diana Pena

        I suggest reading “A Decade of EU-funded GMO research.” They’re fine. There is also no plausible mechanism of harm. How would Bt Corn producing a pesticide that doesn’t affect humans harm us, for instance?

        • Sean Geissler

          Hard to be sure it can’t affect humans without any clear scientific studies on human beings. Do you have any?

          • agscienceliterate

            Basic science, Sean. Google it. Bt acts differently in the insect gut than it does in the human gut. Took me 30 seconds to find that out.

          • Sean Geissler

            No science is ‘basic’

          • Guest

            Wow, what a brilliant and disarming retort…NOT.

          • Diana Pena

            The decades of organic farmers using Bt with no ill effects. And the fact that it’s only activated by alkaline guts.

        • Sean Geissler

          Diana, do you have kids? Some of us would be much more re-assured if we could see GMO proponents feeding them to their own children. The GMO industry needs grassroots activists such as yourself to take a stand, and show the world once and for all that you are so certain of GMO safety, that you’re willing to PROVE that you feed them to your own children every day.

          • Diana Pena

            I don’t have kids. However, I eat gmo corn and soy all the time. Like in corn flakes.

            Also, you are being irrational. You shouldn’t judge the safety of something based on whether or not people feed it to whoever. Organic is more likely to give you food poisoning, but that doesn’t mean that feeding it to your kids makes it any safer.

            However, I have given my baby cousin soy-based formula with GMO soy.

            Plenty of Americans feed them to their kids each day.

          • Sean Geissler

            Your anecdotal evidence might not be sufficient for the discriminating consumer. I think they need more than that. Would you volunteer for a documentary project that follows the diets of you and your baby cousin to help demonstrate?

          • Diana Pena

            You asked for an anecdote, and now you want a documentary? You’re moving the goalpost. If you are making a documentary, I’ll sign up and show you my corn flakes.

            For crying out loud, we’ve been feeding this stuff to ourselves and our livestock for decades, and we’re also living longer than ever.

          • Sean Geissler

            Well, no, I didn’t ask for an anecdote. I said there is a need for proof that you consume them. Not even you, necessarily, but any other GMO proponents as well. My previous post, for your reference:

            “Some of us would be much more re-assured if we could see GMO proponents feeding them to their own children. The GMO industry needs grassroots activists such as yourself to take a stand, and show the world once and for all that you are so certain of GMO safety, that you’re willing to PROVE that you feed them to your own children every day.”

          • Diana Pena

            What do you want from me in a comment? I could upload a picture of me with a box of corn flakes from my shelf, and you wouldn’t care.

            In this article, I cited hundreds of studies that prove these crops are safe. We have decades to prove it. If you can’t accept that, then you have a problem.

          • Sean Geissler

            I’m not asking for a comment, I’m asking for a human being to step forward and allow close documenting their intake of genetically modified food products and the physiological effects therein. What better way to show that you mean business than by showing the world that you’re willing to consume the product, and feed it to one’s children to boot, on a daily basis for say, 12-24 months. I think that’s what people would like to see more of.

          • agscienceliterate

            20 years of it. No physiological effects except the knowledge that I am eating healthy sustainable food. Showing the world. Willing to consume, and seeking it out. Good enough fer ya? Didn’t think so. You are all hyperbole.

          • Sean Geissler

            Why not volunteer your family for it? Scared?

          • agscienceliterate

            You are not reading my posts. Read slowly. Very slowly. I. Have. Been. Eating. GE. Foods. For. Decades.
            Got it now?
            And you should stick closely to organic and non-GMO certified. Stay far away from GE foods. And stay far away from what I choose to eat.

          • Sean Geissler

            Your anecdotal evidence is insufficient for the average consumer, it seems. Let me know when you’re prepared to offer a bit more skin for your cause. I’d love to help get the information out there.

          • agscienceliterate

            Do your own experiments. Read your own woo. Make your own choices. Eat organic and non-GMO certified. Keep your nose out of my food choices, and keep your sanctimony to yourself.

          • agscienceliterate

            If you are so discriminating you should just stick to organic and non-GMO certified. Perfect solution to yours suspicians, fears, and reluctance. Your choice. My choice, however, is my own. Perhaps you should concentrate on what you put in your own mouth, and not on what I choose to eat. Your sanctimony is amusing, but not compelling.

          • Sean Geissler

            Why wouldn’t you want to do it?

          • agscienceliterate

            Sean, you obviously will not accept anecdotal stories (K which I think are worthless, but whateva), years of study, and decades of evidence. Fine. You should stick to organic and non-GMO certified. They are perfect for you. They are products made exactly for you. You will be happy eating them. Stay away from GE. And also stay far, far away from my food choices, ok?

          • Sean Geissler

            I’d like to know more about your food choices actually. I’d like to film and document all of them to put the whole issue to rest. Just a suggestion to GMO proponents.

          • agscienceliterate

            Nope. You can’t film my food choices. I eat GE foods. Have for decades, yawn. I prefer GE foods. I avoid organic foods. Get it? ‘Nuf said. Eat your own food and selfie-yourself with your own videos. Mind your own business. Eat organic. Eat non-GMO certified. Bug off.

          • Sean Geissler

            I’m disappointed by your response, but am hopeful that someone may step up to the plate.

          • Shadeburst

            The “proof” you insist on has in fact been performed so many times it’s not even news anymore. And I’m trying to remember the last time I read of a diabetic (they take GMO insulin three or more times a day) growing a second head or lizards bursting out of their skin ala Alien.

      • agscienceliterate
        • Sean Geissler

          This site can’t be reached

          http://www.genera.biofortified.org’s server DNS address could not be found.

          ERR_NAME_NOT_RESOLVED

          • agscienceliterate

            Then, duhhh, type it in your own server your own self. Sheesh.

          • Sean Geissler

            Are you spamming me?

          • agscienceliterate

            Naaaah. Just referring you to the 1800-plus safety studies on GE. But I think you should continue to read Seralini, David Wolfe, the Food Babe, Mercola, Oz, Vandana Shiva, and the other woo sellers. Stay away from the GE studies.

          • Sean Geissler

            My point is that, since there is so little grassroots enthusiasm from the pro-GMO crowd, with no one accessible really stepping up and showing the world, look, it’s so safe, I’ll prove to you that not only I eat it, but I feed it to my own children every day, I think it would be a very helpful way to communicate sincerity and accountability, but it seems there’s a shortage of people willing to go on a strict GMO diet and allow it to be documented over a period of time, which is disappointing and slightly confusing.

          • Qurat Ali

            Here’s someone that does feed her children GMOs and documents it. https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2016/03/02/feed-kids-gmo-foods-not-organics-doesnt-make-bad-mom/
            Like many other here stated, I do eat GMOs, and I would gladly feed GMOs to my children, if I had them. I’d also gladly document it. You create the GMO only good plan, get the cameras, and sign me up buddy.
            We can banter in hypotheticals all day, but in the end it appears you just want to be argumentative for argument’s sake.

          • Sean Geissler

            No I’d actually like to see some real proof that you do, actually. I think that would be incredibly persuasive material. There is no proof or documentation of the author’s diet other than anecdotal evidence in the article cited, unfortunately.

          • Qurat Ali

            I ordered a 12 case of Soylent, which contains GM soy, I eat papayas and I eat GM corn.

            I’m still waiting to be contacted for this documentary you talk about making.

            ScienceMoms is already beating to you it I guess.

          • Jason

            So little grass roots enthusiasm? Seems like just about every single corn, soy & sugar beet farmer in the country does exactly what you said….grow them and feed them to their family. How else would you explain 90+% market penetrations without enthusiasm for these products?

            There are so few GMO crops that going on a strictly GMO diet would be next to impossible. And because that’s not representative of real world consumption, what would it prove anyway?

          • Guest

            No one has ever scored a field goal against sean because of his moveable goalposts, which only he is allowed to have, because he’s so, well, special.

          • Lol. I see you now keep your comments private. Last time you trolled this site you kept stepping on rakes. Even I felt embarrassed for you. Now how about you run along and eat nothing but organic kale for the next five years then tells us how it pans out? But make sure you keep it all sciencey with proof you ain’t cheatin’.

          • agscienceliterate

            I’ll even pay for his one person “woo-documentary” film. Because, like, a filmed anecdote is reliable data and incontrovertible science. If it’s on film it has to be true, right? I like the metaphor of him stepping on rakes. Maybe he will do it in his film for us.

          • SageThinker

            So all you do is comment on GLP with pro-industry talking points and personal attacks. You sick person.

          • agscienceliterate

            Pure boring science that anyone can look up.

      • Axel Lieber

        Sean, do you demand to see a long-term study each time a new plant is created by cross-breeding two or several existing plants, thereby affecting a massive, random and unsupervised gene transfer? That would seem a reasonable position to hold if you are worried about a single (or couple) of genes precisely being inserted, the results studied ad nauseam and supervised/audited by regulatory bodies around the globe.

        • Sean Geissler

          No, my concerns are limited to a few specific products by a few specific companies.

          • Axel Lieber

            But why?

          • Sean Geissler

            Scientific curiosity. I happen to love science.

          • Axel Lieber

            My question is: why do you want to see studies only in the case of deliberate, limited, controlled, precise and supervised genetic transfers but not in the case of random, unlimited, uncontrolled and unsupervised genetic transfers? The latter would seem massively more suspect than the former.

          • Sean Geissler

            Because more science is better than less science.

          • Guest

            So then why are your concerns limited to a few specific products by a few specific companies?

          • Axel Lieber

            You are avoiding the question altogether, and your answer is self-contradicting. You don’t seem to make a lot of sense to me and you sure don’t seem to have a scientific mindset. You don’t need to, of course. You are entitled to your own views, no matter how weird or unreasonable they may seem to others.

            What nobody is entitled to is holding up the rest of the world with unfounded concerns. When there is not a shred of evidence to give cause for concern, and when the vast majority of scientists qualified to have an opinion on the matter are supportive of a technology, nobody less qualified should expect to have their own unfounded fears trump everything else and stop the technology from being applied. GM tech is badly needed to deal with hunger, malnutrition, disease, climate change and animal suffering.

            We need to weigh the obvious and revolutionary benefits against vague and so far unfounded concerns. I know where I come down on this question.

          • Sean Geissler

            So, you disagree that it would be helpful in persuading those with hesitations about gmo safety to have a proud GMO proponent prove beyond any doubt their willingness to consume and feed their own children the products in question?

            I happen to feel this would be a great way to lend credibility and accountability to the many distant, inaccessible GMO proponents so vocal online. I think that’s what the majority of the public is looking for.

          • agscienceliterate

            You are a one-track pony. What you happen to feel may not be the way other people determine safety. But by all means, you should doggedly pursue your dream and get funding for this “study” that you think will show something.
            Hint: Anecdotes are not data. Anecdotes are not science. But you don’t seem to be too interested in reliable data and science, so go fer it.
            Hint #2: You are erroneous in presuming that this is what the “majority” of people might be looking for.
            Advice: Do your own study. Stay away from GE. Eat organic. Eat non-GMO certified.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Oh, for heaven’s sake Geissler, cut the crap. You, of all people, should know nothing, absolutely nothing, will “persuade” anti-GMO ideologue assclowns like yourself to accept the obvious safety of our food. Besides, you wouldn’t know the first friggin’ thing about designing and executing any sort of meaningful “documentary” to establish anything about anything. You are a magnificent specimen of a flaming sphincter.
            Only a complete jackass would think we are in any way hesitant to nourish our kids and grandkids with our safe, abundant, affordable modern foods. Some 85% of modern foods are enhanced by GMO technology in one way or another and we are delighted to have our families benefit from that. In fact, and in the interest of safety our family scrupulously avoids “organic” foods (smeared with feces and secretly dosed with illegal pesticides) and we boycott all farmers market stuff (of dubious origin and mauled over by crowds of grubby people including moms with snot nosed babies in dirty diapers on their arm – YUCK!). As a consequence my extended family and most others are thriving. We’re living longer, healthier lives than our ancestors. I can’t help it if over-privileged lard-assed twunts like you are killing yourselves by lying motionless and stuffing your faces. That has nothing to do with GMO and everything to do with failure of reason and lack of will power.
            Now, clap your hands over your ears, Sean, and stupidly demand for the umpteenth time for someone to “volunteer” to have you “document” them eating good nutritious modern food (same as we’ve uneventfully been eating for 20 years or longer, now).
            I wouldn’t let you anywhere near my family to “document” anything, Sean, you creepy prying pervert. You sound more like some sort of disgusting voyeur. You have no legitimate concern, you are just angling to abuse someone somehow. Disgusting.

          • agscienceliterate

            He should eat organic and non-GMO certified food only. Made just for him. And leave the rest of us alone.

          • Ken S., As Seen On Watch Lists

            Doesn’t “organic” basically mean “a cow pooped all over this, please pay a lot more for it?”

          • Axel Lieber

            You won’t answer my question but you expect me to respond to yours? No, mate, that’s not how it works. Besides your question has already been answered by others here.

            I’ll just leave this here for anyone who may find it useful.

            https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2016/01/13/no-long-term-gmo-studies-humans/

      • agscienceliterate
    • Diana Pena

      Thanks!

  • mem_somerville

    There’s also a palm oil alternative that activists are working very hard to prevent, we were just discussing several items about that this morning.

    https://twitter.com/mem_somerville/status/723875977298849792

  • I know GMOs are the way of the future, and I am not opposed to this if it increases food production for less cost, with less animal suffering. However, for my own self I prefer to eat home grown veggies that are organic and GMO free as much as possible. There is something to be said for having a garden with organic compost that you take care of yourself. The delicious ripe tomatoes that I grow at home during the summer taste better than those from the store. I will also buy organic and locally GMO free fruits and veggies as much as possible. I prefer the taste, and that is something to be said. Some people want to spend money on entertainment and clothes, I prefer eating food that tastes good.

    • hyperzombie

      Well even if you wanted to you cant get GMO fruits and veggies for the home garden, they dont sell them to home gardeners. (I think papaya may be the exception)

      What would inorganic compost be? I do believe that all compost is Organic.

      I prefer eating food that tastes good.”

      You should try the GMO sweet corn, it is delicious.

      • agscienceliterate

        And GMO sweet corn is free of the toxic mycotoxins left behind by corn borers that are inadequately prevented in organic corn.

  • westcoaster

    ABSOLUTELY NOT. I’ve been a vegan for 30 years, and have been around long enough to see how much we’ve already messed up meddling with mother nature…GMO’s are NOT necessary, and there is no way in hell I think we should be risking going down that route. We need to stop wasting food, and start using land and water far more efficiently…There is so much more we can do to improve crop yields and must keep plant diversity in the hands of people (yes, corporate control of GMO’s is a somewhat separate issue to the undetermined long term safety factor, but cannot be separated and that is a serious problem!) Flax does NOT have to be grown all in one place otherwise use up land better directed to other crops (get rid of livestock if you want to free up land!) I could go on. We’ve lost 80% of plant diversity in a very short period of time…gmo crops are not the answer!

    • agscienceliterate

      Read the literature. GE does just that. It uses land and water farm more efficiently and is far more environmentally sustainable. With higher yields and thus less footprints. But your sanctimonious vegan arguments are cute, so you should keep eating vegan. Avoid GE at all costs. You should stick to organic and non-GMO certified and feel all proud of yourself. These foods are grown specifically for people like you. Of course, many organic foods are grown under corporate conditions, and Monsanto has about the same annual value as Whole Foods, but hey, why let a few inconsistencies get in the way of your high-horse arguments?

      • westcoaster

        “cute”, “high horse”, “sanctimonious”…seriously? You also don’t know what I’ve read or where I shop. I also know your claims are exaggerated, suggesting I’m not the one here not up to date on their homework. It doesn’t help your cause to disrespect the intelligence of others, or growers like myself with experience IN THE FIELD. There are other food systems busy improving yields and the fact that you’re only interested in dismissing those speaks volumes. Bah bye!

        • Sean Geissler

          Well said, westcoaster!

        • TB

          The GMO people are creepers

        • JP

          Who said they are dismissing other methods for making farming more efficient? I don’t see where that was even remotely implied.

    • Diana Pena

      The safety factor is not undetermined. It’s settled. We have two decades of data, and there is no way these crops can harm us. Bt is a pesticide that does not affect humans, and roundup ready doesn’t involve any sufficient dose of anything toxic enough to cause harm.

      I’m not against reducing food waste, but do you honestly believe that we can just send food to the poor people around the world? Who’s gonna pay for that? You want to give people fish instead of teaching them how to fish.

      Also, plant diversity is not hurt by genetic engineering. Less land needed to grow more food is preserving biodiveristy by leaving more land for nature. Also, GEOs have the new traits cross-bred into existing varieties. There are over 7,000 varieties of Bt corn, alone.

  • Veganmashuu

    Although pesticide usage has been shown to be decreasing with increasing uptake of GM strains such as bt corn, herbicide usage with these strains is increasing.

    As far a biotech in general is concerned, I’m all for it; insulin production is a perfect example of a net gain for vegans.

    However, for I still want to see appropriate measures being taken to ensure product safety in any GM products before their release into the wider world. The fact that until 4 years ago large quantities of genes in the human genome were regarded as ‘junk DNA’ with no apparent function, until studies started to suggest the term junk DNA should be expunged as a result of insights gained into function of these genes, to me sounds a note of caution. Obviously selective breeding enhanced by genetic analysis is not the same as introducing new genes to a crop whether or not those genes are thought to be harmless.

    The main reason I believe for people’s suspicions about companies like Monsanto is those companies’ histories. As one of the manufacturers of agent orange, they have indirectly (they didn’t personally deploy the defoliants on parts of asia) caused enormous problems with birth defects for example in countries like Vietnam. Another reason would be that people are more sceptical about the extent to which these corporations should be trusted. DDT was seen as safe for humans, and you can see video footage of children being sprayed with it, only for the dangers to become clear later.

    For people to be reassured about advances in genetic engineering, they need to know that adequate steps are being taken to ensure safety even if these steps are redundant. It is better to have rigourous saftey testing which proves the saftey of any product rather than have nasty surprises a few years down line.

    Personally I’ve been vegan for 20 years and like to think that my decision to become so was rational. I cringe when I people advance the “natural” argument, but also don’t want to trust a companies to do the right thing when their only reason for existence is profit, and often short term profit at that. I’m not anti-science but I am pro-regulation and a healthy amount of caution.

    • agscienceliterate

      You do know, of course, that many foods, including organic (like Ruby Red Grapefruit), are produced through mutagenesis, which entails scrambling of hundreds or thousands of genes randomly, with no predictable outcome, through chemical baths or irradiation, with zero testing and zero oversight.

      You do know, of course, that Monsanto’s revenues are about the same annually as Whole Foods, which is definitely a for-profit endeavor.

      You do know, of course, that Monsanto is only one of a number of GE seed companies, and that you might consider spreading your seed-company bashing around more equitably.

      • Veganmashuu

        I mentioned Monsanto as an example, as it is often the target of most of antipathy. I didn’t at any point defend Whole Foods (the company) or suggest they were motivated by anything other than profit. I was not engaged in any “bashing” of Monsanto I merely gave an opinion on where the some of the antipathy towards them may originate. I’m not a fan of whole foods market though I will admit that I have occasionally shopped there, there isn’t one in my home city, but I did shop there at least once I was in London for the day and in need of a take away lunch.

        I also don’t think I actually advocated organic food either at any point, though I can see how that may have been implied through my comments about pesticide and herbicide use.

        The way in which you interpreted my comment as bashing Monsanto is interesting. I’d be interested to know if you can point any specific animosity towards Monsanto in my comment; just a professional interest.

        As for mutagenesis, it’s seems to me that this might not be necessarily a good idea, as you say without any form of oversight, and I have read articles suggesting that such foods should not be regarded as organic.

  • Dermot

    Hi Diana,

    I was discussing your article with someone and they brought up some counterpoints. I was wondering if you could address them. Here is the comment:

    “This we firmly disagree with. She fails to cite any academic studies over the safety of GMO foods and does not address environmental concerns like glyphosate drift or crop contamination. 80% of GMOs are modified with the bacterium thurengiensis to withstand glyphosate spraying. Furthermore, GMOS have not been shown to have any higher yield than their organic counterparts and have actually been shown to have 1/4 the nutrient quality in many cases, so you have to eat almost 4 times as much to receive equivalent vitamins. Also, biotechnology is the epitome of human rights violations, if you look at business practices of Monsanto and Syngenta; Vandana Shiva in India discusses in depth the effects biotechnology corporations have had on her culture and the documentary David VS Monsanto to name just a couple. Biotechnology relies on profit-maximization through monocropping practices, which is terrible for ecological systems and in comparison to say, permaculture, is way more space consuming, labor intensive, and input intensive. I am all for continuing to research GMO but they need to have some transparency and stop trying to force their way past safety precautions and legitimate longitudinal studies.

    I started researching GMO in 2009 when I did a report on them for a physical science inquiry requirement with my degree and I was nonbiased at that point, as I had never heard of them. The studies that I have are only through the college library but I have them saved as individual PDFs if anyone wants to know my sources. While the promise of GMO in theory sounds as of it could eradicate world hunger, do you honestly believe that a for-profit corporation really cares about feeding people healthy, safe, and inexpensive food? Or is it likely the opposite where they will take all measures to ensure their bottom line, monopolize the market, patent seeds, and dominate the food sources so people have no choice and are forced to re-buy their seeds every year? I could go on about this for a long time but the truth is, there is just not enough information at this point to truly deem them as ‘safe’ and there has been too much secrecy in the increase of GMO prevalence in grocery store foods to trust that biotechnology companies have the general publics better interests at heart.”

  • You’re living in a Fools Paradise if you believe that GM food is healthy… Talk about genetic illiteracy!!! Check out my article http://www.news24.com/MyNews24/GMO-Foodstuffs-Questions-for-Geneticists-20140425 so I don’t have to repeat myself. Other than that, I agree very much with your perfectionism and desire for a better planet and concur with many of your points.

    • JP

      So, basically, your proof of GMO food not being healthy is a bunch of claims and hypotheticals? Good effort.

      • Did you bother to read my article? There is plenty of empirical proof that GM is harmful… They just don’t know why. Try digest my rationale before criticising…

        • JP

          Yeah, I read it. Sorry, but it basically reads as “I don’t understand why anyone would do this so it must be bad.” Not particularly convincing.

          • Well, all I am really saying is that the GM guys don’t actually know enough about genetics to modify the gene sequences and that to do so is irresponsible in the face of bad results, read Indian farmers committing suicide over failed GM crops, rats getting cancer, lower growth rates and resistance to glyphosates for a start… GM isn’t science because the results (claimed) aren’t repeatable…

      • And, generally, why would companies fake research if they don’t have an underlying problem??? Wanna see URL’s? Talk about claims and hypotheticals….

  • InsanelyBright

    Such a fake website. Shilly.

  • Avit Pestmal

    the gullible & ignorant people will probably fall for that scam of gmo, it is a complete misunderstanding of how nature work, when you get the right design with permaculture, nothing can beat mother nature.GMO are the evil empire, created to produce huge quantity of low quality food for animals, they now want the vegan market as well, this could never work if we were not mentally conditionned to accept evrything that is labelled “scientific” blindly, like a religious cult. break free ! use your common sence & do your own research !