Why we don’t test GMOs like pharmaceuticals

|

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.

A very common question or criticism of GMOs is that they are not properly tested, particularly on humans. . . .

. . . .

. . .“[W]hy don’t we do clinical trials on GMOs the same way we do for drugs?” Drugs are designed to cause a change in the human body. . . Since drugs are altering something in humans, it’s important to know the side-effects. . . and whether or not they’re causing the anticipated effect . . . In contrast, GMOs are designed to be equivalent to their non-GE counterparts. . . GE crops which ARE designed to impact human health, such as vitamin-A enriched rice, should be tested in humans to determine if the desired outcome is achieved. . . .

Another reason why GMOs aren’t tested on humans is that there’s no plausible mechanism for harm.

. . . .

This isn’t a cop-out. If we’re looking for a harmful effect but don’t know what it is because we don’t have a reasonable mechanism whereby harm may occur, how can you design the experiment? What variables will you measure? . . . .

. . . [W]hat is exclusive or unique about GMOs that merits such rigorous testing, yet excludes other crop modification techniques?

Read full, original post: Why aren’t GMOs tested on humans?

  • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

    My response to the full article: http://disq.us/p/1bb6p1g

    • Farmer with a Dell

      Thanks for the wooden nickels, ‘Buck’, but those don’t even work as bus tokens around here. What ARE they good for, anyway, stuffing into the slot to dispense a 1 minute canned performance by a carnival automaton impersonating a “philosopher of science” (ie. bullshit artist)? Sorry, we’re not working the midway today ‘Buck’, we’re in the lab and in the field.

      • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

        As Upton Sinclair said: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

        • Farmer with a Dell

          So that’s your excuse, ‘Buck’, and you’re sticking to it? Do you really think your salary in la la land is better and more secure than it might have been out here in the world of science and reality?

          Upton Sinclair was an OK writer, as far as that goes, he could stir the masses but little else. I’d rather see you hold up Norman Borlaug as your idol…he did sooo muuuch more to alleviate hunger and pestilence in the world…but it’s your prerogative, ‘Buck’. Just don’t be disappointed when we don’t follow you to whatever parallel universe you imagine you are marching to.

        • hyperzombie

          Wow, so your salary depends on you not understanding genetics…That is very sad.

    • agscienceliterate

      You need to go to Congress and get them to require that all foods be evaluated as drugs.

      Good luck.

      • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

        Obtaining congressional action seems a more proper role for lobbyists and activists.

        My role is research analyst: compile the strongest positions and their supporting arguments related to the topic, assess current and likely future perspectives, the criteria for each, build scoring system, and make recommendations for portfolio direction and prioritization.

        • agscienceliterate

          Well, if you want to regulate GE as a drug, there is no reason not to regulate all food as drugs. Criteria, scoring systems, and portfolios are irrelevant if you are going to be consistent about drug oversight of food.
          Food is food. We don’t separate oversight agencies depending on the process by which that food is grown.
          Oh, and tell us who you’re doing all this “research” work for, OK?

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            The claim “food is food” appears to be a false equivalence, at odds with a substantial body of law – including that promulgated by GMO inventors, patent owners, manufacturers, and of course: those who oppose GMOs and the technology to produce them. Perhaps they are all wrong, but citing an anecdotal similarity to claim equality, while ignoring other factors appears unconvincing and fallacious, although clearly YMMV.

          • agscienceliterate

            Answer my 2 questions.
            1) Why do you do your research just on GE, for regulation as a drug? And not mutagenically produced food?

            2) And who are you doing your research for?

            You certainly don’t think that GE are the only patented seeds, do you?

          • Jason

            …at odds with a substantial body of law – including that promulgated by GMO inventors, patent owners, manufacturers, and of course: those who oppose GMOs and the technology to produce them.

            According to who?

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            Diamond v. Chakrabarty, 447 U.S. 303 (1980)

          • agscienceliterate

            Answer my previous questions. This is the third time I have asked.

            1) why do you think just GE foods should be regulated as a drug, and not other foods produced by gene-altering methods?

            2) who are you doing your research for?

            Oh, and a 3rd question: Why do you think this 1980 ruling, which says GE’s can be patented (and other seeds have been patented since 1930), implies that therefore GE foods should be regulated as drugs? A pretty far-fetched non sequitur.

            This is what that ruling said:
            “In a 5–4 ruling, the court ruled in favor of Chakrabarty, holding that:
            A live, human-made micro-organism is patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Respondent’s micro-organism constitutes a “manufacture” or “composition of matter” within that statute.”

            This ruling is entirely silent on whether a patented GE food should thus be regulated as a drug.

            You are reaching desperately.

          • Jason

            That case challenged whether companies could patent microorganism. The SCOTUS ruled that they could.

            Care to try again?

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            If SCOTUS is an insufficient source, you are invited to state your reasons for rejection.

          • agscienceliterate

            You miss the point. Again.

            SCOTUS ruled only that these GE organisms are patentable.
            (And other seeds have been patented since 1930.)
            SCOTUS said nothing about thus needing to regulate GE as drugs. Do not read that speculative conclusion into their narrow ruling.

            And please answer my previous questions. This is now the 4th time I have asked.

          • Jason

            No, ‘Buck’. No one said SCOTUS is not a insufficient source. What I said was this case doesn’t support what you claimed.

            Care to try again?

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            The general consensus is SCOTUS made a new legal distinction regarding patentability of organisms, even though as you correctly point out: the particular organism in that case was not designed for ingestion.

            Insofar as food we are discussing contains patented organisms, that SCOTUS decision has been the held as basis for the legitimacy of the patent. The existence of a criteria which distinguishes “a non-naturally occurring manufacture or composition of matter—a product of human ingenuity” appears to contrast with the claim “food is food”.

            Reasonable people can disagree whether this has significance.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            “Food is food”…and food doesn’t necessarily have to meet your (or SCOTUS’s) criteria for “naturally occurring”…it merely needs to be nutritious and safe. Food is food is food. Any arbitrary non-nutritive distinction you care to make has no significance insofar as the physiology of nutrition is concerned. Lipase, villi, peristaltic movement have no concern for our patents or for your fear of the dark.

          • Jason

            As I interpret this, the “composition of matter” applies to the composition of the patentable organism. That does not apply to the food produced by that organism, nor does it imply that because the organism is patentable that any product of that organism is also patentable or automatically “different” from other food.

            But it appears that you’re starting from a false premise. The only one claiming that “food is food” is you. In reality, the onus is on the patent holder to prove that foods from their GMO are not materially different from other similar food. If they show that to be the case, then that particular food is food. If they don’t, then it is different and falls under different regulations.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            The courts view seems to be that the nature of “composition” determined patentability.

            If, after a review the discussion chain, you believe I claimed “food is food” rather than AgSciLiterate, please cite my comment and I’ll be happy to correct any misperceptions.