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EU May Allow Members Home Rule On GMO Foods 272

Posted by timothy
from the but-don't-cross-the-border dept.
think_nix (1467471) writes The EU Parliament is paving the way for EU Nation States to decide on banning or allowing GMO foods within their respective territories. An further article at Der Spiegel (German) (Google translation) quotes the German Health Minister's claim that if countries cannot specifically, scientifically argue for a ban, this would allow GMO companies to initiate legal actions against the banning ruling states. Furthermore it was noted, given EU Parliaments current stance on not reintroducing border and customs controls between member states, this will make checks and controls of GMO foods between member states even more difficult.
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EU May Allow Members Home Rule On GMO Foods

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  • by manu0601 (2221348)

    This is the first step to get rid of the EU: reintroduce barriers within the common market.

    Next, let's kill the Euro, and perhaps we will regain the ability to do in Europe interesting projects that are just impossible right now: if a project like Ariane would start today, the EU commission would kill it because of free market distortions

    • by NicBenjamin (2124018) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @09:20PM (#47238691)

      The EU is a weird beast. It's got enough power to be a huge pain in the ass, but not enough to actually do anything. The result is it can't adequately respond to challenges (ie: Crimea, the PIIGS debt crisis), but everyone still hates it for cramping their style. It's somewhat analogous to the US Articles of Confederation, except that government had even less power then the EU (it was somewhere between the UN and NATO in it's ability to bully member-states).

      In the long term it's probably much better for Europe if Europeans decide to go the route we Americans did, and create a truly Federal state with it's own Army. The economic advantages of national autonomy are irrelevant if the Russians have just conquered half of Poland, all of Belarus, Moldova, etc. If they paid the right bribe to any single EU or NATO member-state (ie: Bulgaria has had it's eye on a small chunk of Romania since WW1) they could paralyze every Europe-wide organization because on any issue that actually matters ALL member-states have a veto.

      Europeans are incredibly good at convincing themselves a small (and in the context of a 7-billion-member human race, even Germany is miniscule), wealthy country is a major global player. You can pull that off if you're wealthy enough. If Nigeria, the Chinese, Indians, and a dozen-odd other states all get their economic houses in order you'll all be Luxembourg.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by manu0601 (2221348)

        In the long term it's probably much better for Europe if Europeans decide to go the route we Americans did, and create a truly Federal state with it's own Army.

        But the EU has been an anti-democratic power for decades, and it seems magic thinking to believe it could evolve in the right direction now. Giving more power to it is an attack on democracy. Giving it an army seems just foolish.

        • by perpenso (1613749) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @10:39PM (#47238857)

          In the long term it's probably much better for Europe if Europeans decide to go the route we Americans did, and create a truly Federal state with it's own Army.

          But the EU has been an anti-democratic power for decades, and it seems magic thinking to believe it could evolve in the right direction now. Giving more power to it is an attack on democracy. Giving it an army seems just foolish.

          The previous poster mentioned the US Articles of Confederation (the first attempt at governance after gaining independence) and suggested going the American route. Going the American route would not include keeping the current EU. In this analogy the current EU would be discarded like the Articles of Confederation were and member states would create a new governing body and a new set of rules.

          In short, the US didn't evolve from one system to another. We completely thew out the old system, learned from its flaws and started over.

          • by ArmoredDragon (3450605) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @11:06PM (#47238913)

            You'd also have to ask the member states to give up their sovereignty. This wasn't easy even in the case of the US as there were a ton of issues that needed resolving (i.e. balancing power between small and large states.)

            This would be incredibly more difficult in the case of Europe since the individual member states have had their own identity often going back two or even three millennia, not only that but what cultural identity would they take? I.e. little things like what common language will they speak? (Granted the US has no official language, but 80% of the population speaks the same one...such is by far not the case in the EU.) Also, I'm having a hard time seeing how e.g. England would agree to it, seeing as they even refuse to adopt the Euro (which it turns out was actually a good idea and worked quite well in their favor) and they don't even drive on the same side of the road as everybody else.

            • You're creating problems that don't exist.

              Let's say we create an EU Senate. Have it based in Strassbourg so the MEPs don't have to make that ridiculous trip one month a year. Give it the same language rules as the EU Parliament. We have now solved many of the problems small states would have with this arrangement. Then merge the various treaties governing the EU into a single document, with three changes:

              1) The Senate and associated little EU state/big EU state powers are included.

              2) EU states give up their

              • You're creating problems that don't exist.

                These aren't problems per se, rather they're cultural barriers that prevent people from wanting to be under the same banner. What you're suggesting in effect is basically like the creation of Czechoslovakia (I can't believe I actually spelled that right the first time) under the assumption that everybody is just alike and they'll all want the same government. That particular union, which was at gunpoint, didn't last once the gun was no longer brandished. Those people had very little in common and went their

                • Keep in mind that my proposal only actually changes two things:

                  1) It adds an EU Senate.

                  2) It gives whomever wins the EU Parliamentary elections absolute power over two more areas: foreign policy and military policy.

                  The context-level of a culture, ethics, and legal systems would not really change. Contract law would not be affected, except to the extent it's currently effected by EU treaties nobody made any of these countries sign at gunpoint.

                  I also think you're focusing way too much on the idea of the natio

            • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Sunday June 15, 2014 @04:26AM (#47239557)

              You'd also have to ask the member states to give up their sovereignty. This wasn't easy even in the case of the US as there were a ton of issues that needed resolving (i.e. balancing power between small and large states.)

              This would be incredibly more difficult in the case of Europe since the individual member states have had their own identity often going back two or even three millennia, not only that but what cultural identity would they take? I.e. little things like what common language will they speak? (Granted the US has no official language, but 80% of the population speaks the same one...such is by far not the case in the EU.) Also, I'm having a hard time seeing how e.g. England would agree to it, seeing as they even refuse to adopt the Euro (which it turns out was actually a good idea and worked quite well in their favor) and they don't even drive on the same side of the road as everybody else.

              There is a large group of nations within the EU that have little problem with increased integration, Britain is in something of a small minority in its anti-EU stance. Until now keeping Britain in the EU has been seen as important and nobody really thought they should leave. Recently, however, the idea has been voiced in other EU countries that the British should just should just bloody leave if they have that stink in their nose rather continue this constant dithering. People are just getting sick of hearing Britain threaten to leave and then never doing anything about it, especially since it usually seems to be a smokescreen to extort special treatment. There is a whole bunch of things that can be done in terms of restructuring the EU if the UK is no longer there fucking things up to get special deals for it's financial industry. If the UK decides to go it will certainly be watched with great interest as they leave the common market, refuses to join the EEZ which is not an option for most of the UK Euro-skeptics/isolationists since it would involve enacting all those hated EU laws without any say in how they are made (a say which the UK currently has as an EU member). Ukip in Britain, the Freedom party in the Netherlands and Front National in France all believe that Europe is better off as a bag of squabbling nation states that Europe was before the EU was set up. The kind of squabbling, feuding bag full of angry weasels that would not have been able to agree on whether or not the Soviet Union was a threat for long enough to even conceive of forming an alliance against the Soviets to prevent them from gobbling Europe up one squabbling state at a time. NATO was only formed as a counterweight against the Soviets after several swift ass-kicks from the Americans and they cannot be counted on to the play the role of the big bad parent forever. So who is right? Is it Ukip and Co. who think they can take Europe back to being a bag of small squabbling nations and still be taken seriously by great powers like China, India, Russia and the USA? Or is it the so called 'federalists' who see increases in political and economic union as the only way to stand up to the big boys? You tell me? Which is more likely to succeed in helping Europe to deal with the Great powers of the 21st century? One big European cat or a group of cute little house-cats? If this reminds you Americans of a debate that took place in the US before the civil war about the pros and cons of increasing Federalism that is no coincidence. The one difference is that I am not nearly as alarmed at the prospect of a European civil war as some of the more delusional Euro skeptic wing nuts who seem to consider a pan European civil war to be just around the corner.

        • In the long term it's probably much better for Europe if Europeans decide to go the route we Americans did, and create a truly Federal state with it's own Army.

          But the EU has been an anti-democratic power for decades, and it seems magic thinking to believe it could evolve in the right direction now. Giving more power to it is an attack on democracy. Giving it an army seems just foolish.

          Problems with democracy in a democratic government are caused by two things: Since the EU is set up by a bunch of democracies, it should fit the pattern. And it does. the problems are:

          1) Voters who don't know how they're supposed to do their jobs.

          2) Institutions that make it really hard for voters to do their jobs.

          1) is difficult to solve. The UK has done things one way for centuries. the voters have gotten very used to Westminster system/responsible government/etc. They can deal with that. Government-by-co

        • The EU could currently not join itself. It fails the democratic requirements.

          • by manu0601 (2221348)

            The EU could currently not join itself. It fails the democratic requirements.

            This deserves mod points!

        • With millions of EU citizens living across borders, large trade flows and shared environmental and political concerns, getting rid of the EU will mean a new treaty organisation to handle all this stuff. 28x27 bilateral agreements on product standards, fisheries, competition, access to benefits and healthcare, taxation and energy isn't going to work.

          There will always be something in the place where the EU is now. At least this one HAS a parliament, unlike the WTO, NATO, etc. Better to make it work.

      • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @11:05PM (#47238911)

        The EU is here to stay. It's too convenient a scapegoat for politicians who can blame any kind of unpopular policy on it. It goes like this: If you have an unpopular policy to push through, band together with the other EU countries who suffer from the same problem, make it a EU policy, and then you can go home, wring your hands and sigh that you really, really don't want to do that to your people but the EU forces you to.

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by rtb61 (674572)

          Not to forget that is regardless of how much the US wants it to disappear in order to ensure US dominance ie the worst of Greece's debts were crafter by a US corporations specifically to cheat EU rules. The US is seeking to dump the Ukraine on the EU in order to further destabilise the EU. The conservative UK is colluded with the US under the five eyes conspiracy, to disrupt the EU. The pesky euro just become to powerful against the US dollar, so as said by Nuland "FUCK THE EU", a lot more was going on the

          • Goddamn. Anti-American Leftists really have no clue what motivates US Policy.

            What we actually want is a peaceful, stable, and extremely boring Europe. This has been policy since George Washington, but the tactics have changed from isolationism to muscular interventions that promote our vision of a democratic and capitalist world. We switched tactics not because we feared the left was about to take over Europe, we did it because the right (aka: Hitler) had actually already taken over Europe, and turned the c

            • by rtb61 (674572)

              "Goddamn, Americans really have no clue what motivates US Policy" because there are too many heads pulling in too many directions often conflicting directions but it is still pretty easy to figure out which US corporations and doing what stuff to advantage themselves and bugger everyone else, including all those other competing US corporations. THERE IS NO COHESIVE US POLICY, NONE, IT DOES NOT EXIST, wake up to that fact and you will realise why the US is fucking up all over the place, it is doing it to it

            • by peppepz (1311345)
              Your government wants Europe to meet the interests of the companies that rule your country. Whether that means a peaceful, stable, boring place or a fascist, military-controlled, or terrorism-ridden state [wikipedia.org] is of secondary importance.
              • by Rei (128717)

                Gladio had what to do with private corporations? It was an anti-soviet guerilla-prep program run by NATO in every country in Europe, wherein later a few groups got infiltrated by right-wingers who tried to use their power in immoral manners. But that doesn't stop a particlar brand of conspiracy theorist from crediting to Gladio everything under the sun.

          • If such a plan existed, it backfired badly. The fallout of driving a wedge between the EU and Russia was a multi billion dollar gas deal that now gives China billions of cubic meters of cheap gas.

            • by Rei (128717) on Sunday June 15, 2014 @01:41AM (#47239265) Homepage

              Is that a joke? The "gas deal" certainly provides cheap gas all right - so cheap that there's essentially zero profit in it for Gazprom. It's a real testament to how desperate Russia is to not look like they're dependent on the EU to buy their gas. Check out a map of Russian gas pipelines. Notice the complete lack of any pipelines anywhere near China's major cities. The gas deal leads from an undeveloped field through a nonexistent pipeline through nonexistent processing facilities. The pipeline isn't supposed to come online until 2020, and the main field until 2021. And that's assuming they can actually build it, which given their track record while *not* under sanctions is a big "If". And even if all that transpires, it's still a small fraction of their EU gas exports.

              Anyone who actually looks at the "deal" can easily see it was just a PR move.

              The concept that Russia can just turn east to China is beset by the fundamental problems that Russia doesn't have infrastructure connecting itself well with China, the vast majority of their people live nowhere near China, the vast majority of their industries are nowhere near China, and so forth. Russia is set up to function as part of Europe. And if it came down to it, does anyone in their right mind think that if the EU and US basically told China "us or them", they'd choose Russia, rather than the vastly larger markets of the US and EU that China's already intensely integrated with?

              Not like the "breakup" with Russia would be painless for Europe. They'll be paying higher oil rates and significantly higher gas rates, plus higher rates for a wide variety of raw materials. But the situation is highly lopsided; Russia's GDP is an eighth the size of Europe's, a 16th the size of Europe + US. Whatever reduction in trade that hurts the EU / US hurts them an order of magnitude worse, barring huge multipliers on their part. Their manufacturing sector, in particularly high tech goods, is grossly undersized for the size of their population, and that's very unfortunate because such goods (in particular industrial goods, spare parts, etc) are often not fungible. They're also highly dependent on food imports (at least those are fungible).

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        In the long term it's probably much better for Europe if Europeans decide to go the route we Americans did, and create a truly Federal state with it's own Army.

        Just look at how well creating a strong federal government with a large standing military has worked for the USA! Why, it's practically turned it into a shining beacon of peace, freedom, and international cooperation!

        • Actually, it did. We were literally not a free country until Lincoln centralized the government and created a large standing army.

          You don't want to give the central government too much power, but if you give it too little you risk a nasty neighbor (such as us Americans) turning you into a private fiefdom for a Fortune 500 company. Just ask the former United States of Central America how well going their own ways has worked out for them.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            Actually, it did. We were literally not a free country until Lincoln centralized the government and created a large standing army.

            So, during what period was this a free country?

      • The EU is a weird beast. It's got enough power to be a huge pain in the ass, but not enough to actually do anything.

        It was designed by Belgians, so what do you expect?

    • Nah. It would still happen.

    • by jonfr (888673)

      You clearly do not understand what EU is about. As a policy GM crops fall under Common Agriculture Policy as it is set by the EU member states ministers (along with EU parliament).

      The whole thing about GM crops is ridiculous, since all food is in fact GM crop. It has all been modified genetically with selective breeding over a long period of time.

      The anti-EU crowd in Europe does not know or have interest in reading history of how Europe was before the invention of EU and its predecessors. All they want is a

  • by NicBenjamin (2124018) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @08:53PM (#47238611)

    So I should probably be banned from Slashdot.

    It assumed a lot of knowledge about how current EU GMO law works. I think that it was saying that currently the EU in Brussels approves GMOs in European agriculture, and then national governments can choose whether to let the crops into their countries. So the EU approved a strain of corn, and something else (it's mentioned in the article), and France/Germany/etc. have said those two crops aren't allowed within their borders. This just gets rid of the EU step. They'll be banned in Berlin and Paris, not Brussels.

    The article also mentions that the nations would need a reason to justify banning a GMO, but given that the MEPs quoted were mostly from countries that enthusiastically enforce the ban and nobody was going "hey, but your government will be forced to let GMOs in," I strongly suspect that the list of reasons a state can give for justifying a ban is really long.

    • by rmdingler (1955220) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @09:15PM (#47238669)

      So I should probably be banned from Slashdot.

      It's pot luck really... the probability is close to equal that you'll be modded informative for your blasphemy.

      It assumed a lot of knowledge about how current EU GMO law works. I think that it was saying that currently the EU in Brussels approves GMOs in European agriculture, and then national governments can choose whether to let the crops into their countries. So the EU approved a strain of corn, and something else (it's mentioned in the article), and France/Germany/etc. have said those two crops aren't allowed within their borders. This just gets rid of the EU step. They'll be banned in Berlin and Paris, not Brussels.

      I am as interested in eating healthy as the next bloke who cares about productive longevity, but corn is the most genetically modified crop in the history of the world...for a reason. It's caloric value per cultivated acre rivals that of the best of the grains. Without these super-grains, the human race has outstripped nature's ability to feed the 7 billion or so of us.

      The article also mentions that the nations would need a reason to justify banning a GMO, but given that the MEPs quoted were mostly from countries that enthusiastically enforce the ban and nobody was going "hey, but your government will be forced to let GMOs in," I strongly suspect that the list of reasons a state can give for justifying a ban is really long.

      The human race was eating GMO long before it wasn't cool. Wild grains were exploited and improved by the first hundred generations of hunter/gatherers before science knew what a genome was.

      • by Shakrai (717556) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @10:00PM (#47238783) Journal

        The human race was eating GMO long before it wasn't cool. Wild grains were exploited and improved by the first hundred generations of hunter/gatherers before science knew what a genome was.

        The elephant in the room is the centralization of agriculture with corresponding loss of genetic diversity in our annual harvest. When everybody's growing the exact same plant we're but one bug away from a failed harvest. The consequences (higher food prices) in the First World would be survivable, with adjustments, but the third world would be utterly fucked.

        You can see this on a smaller scale at the grocery store. Bell peppers will grow just fine in most of CONUS, so prices should be fairly resistant to local disasters, right? Wrong. California suffers a massive drought and we've all got higher prices and a limited selection to contend with. Just why does California produce the lion's share of bell peppers and other crops that can grow almost anywhere? Economy of scale. Usually that's a good thing, but in this instance it's setting us up for a massive failure with some pretty dire consequences.

        GMO isn't the problem, but it is symptomatic of a lot of structural flaws in the agriculture industry.

        • by kamapuaa (555446)

          Many problems with your scenario...first of all, commercially grown bell peppers (and other vegetables) are not all of the exact same variety. Sure, there's more popular varieties, but different climates and soils call for different varieties. They use different peppers in California than they do in Minnesota (and it's not just economy of scale - California climate and soil is favorable to bell peppers).

          Also, even within the same variety of plant, there are genetic differences, even if they're very similar

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Shakrai (717556)

            You've kind of missed the point:

            1. You could wipe out bell peppers tomorrow and nobody starves to death. My example was simply to point out how centralization leaves the market more vulnerable to local disasters.

            2. I can't buy a green bell pepper that's not grown in California, unless I go to the farmers market. They're simply not carried by any grocery store that I have access to, including the higher end (Wegmans) one. They'll grow almost everywhere (zones 1 through 11 if you're curious) yet Californ

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        The human race was eating GMO long before it wasn't cool. Wild grains were exploited and improved by the first hundred generations of hunter/gatherers before science knew what a genome was.

        Natural selection and cross breeding/hybridization are not what 99% of us are talking about when we discuss "GMO" [wikipedia.org]

        Conflating the two ideas doesn't give me much confidence in anything else you have to say on the subject of GMOs.

      • "The human race was eating GMO long before it wasn't cool."

        Look I am for GMO for a variety of reason, but please stop using that line of reasoning. It has long been common parlance to use GMO for genetic modification which are not reachable by hybridization. What we have used for thousand of year is hybridization. The two are comparable, but not on the time period counting on 1000 of years. It is nigh impossible by hybridization to get, say , peanut genes in soja, or human hormone growth factor in , say, t

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 14, 2014 @09:06PM (#47238637)

    And the scientific consensus on GMO safety is as broad and overwhelming as the consensus that man is behind much of the current global warming.

    Anti-GMO hysteria is anti-science, plain and simple. It is no different from insisting that CO2 doesn't drive global warming, and no different from saying that vaccines are dangerous because you heard that some kid got autism a few days after being vaccinated.

    The EU, by taking this decidedly anti-science stance, is holding back important scientific advances that will be necessary to feed and supply an ever increasing global population.

    We should hold anti-GMO zealots with the same disdain as we hold climate change deniers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by manu0601 (2221348)

      GMO that are resistant to roundup can be treated with a lot of roundup, which ends up in your body. The GMO is safe, roundup is not.

      • Actually, it's pretty low on the toxicity scale.
      • I liken GMO rhetoric to nuclear rhetoric, just because it has a bad side doesn't mean we should stay away from the technology. Maybe they should issue a ban on specific variants of the technology, to inspire scientist to take GMO to the next level. The next level in both health and social equality.

      • Roundup is expensive (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Roundup is expensive. That is why you're not getting poisoned with it. It's also fairly low on the toxicity scale, but the matter of fact is that it's expensive, so farmers do their damndest to use as little of it as they can. This is why roundup-resistant beans are important; they can wick the beans, lose nothing to the soil or overspray, and kill everything else that's taller than the beans, which is to say, effectively competing with the beans. Without roundup resistant beans, they used a lot more roundu

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Depending on the way organisms are modified, they certainly may remain safe, but some modifications may not be safe (imagine a plant modified to produce ricin, for example, not that they would engineer something so dangerous intentionally) and should be tested as scientifically as anything else. What is worrisome is the revolving door between Monsanto and the FDA (Michael R. Taylor, Margaret Miller) to streamline the release of these products and minimize or eliminate their distinct labeling, not in order t
      • by SydShamino (547793) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @10:58PM (#47238893)

        As I replied to the parent poster myself, anyone that says "GMOs are safe" or "GMOs are dangerous" should substitute the word "chemicals", as in "chemicals are safe" or "chemicals are dangerous". That makes both statements sound equally silly as both are broad categories that could readily contain both healthy and unhealthy products.

        On the other hand, a statement like "companies must submit studies, and the FDA must approve them, before a chemical may be added to a food" sounds rather reasonable to most non-libertarians. Likewise, "companies must submit studies, and the FDA must approve them, before a genetic change may be added to a food" sounds equally reasonable and yet is labeled "zealotry" by folks like the parent poster.

        • I support labeling ALL food for EVERYTHING in it. The cost to do a very DNA, protein and chemical assay for a food product is pretty cheap to do now and could easily be made available online for all foods. Organic foods, especially ones that have been radiation mutated, have more potential to be dangerous than GMO foods. We have people that are against BT toxin genetically engineered into things like corn but have no idea that BT is a certified organic insecticide and it is sprayed on organic crops is LARGE

        • by TubeSteak (669689)

          As I replied to the parent poster myself, anyone that says "GMOs are safe" or "GMOs are dangerous" should substitute the word "chemicals", as in "chemicals are safe" or "chemicals are dangerous". That makes both statements sound equally silly as both are broad categories that could readily contain both healthy and unhealthy products.

          In sufficient quantities, any chemical is dangerous.

          On the other hand, a statement like "companies must submit studies, and the FDA must approve them, before a chemical may be added to a food" sounds rather reasonable to most non-libertarians.

          That seems fairly reasonable, but it isn't how the law currently works.
          http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2014/04/07/are-secret-possibly-dangerous-ingredients-in-your-food/ [washingtonpost.com]

          So really it's "companies can submit studies, withdraw them if the FDA doesn't say yes, then claim the chemicals are safe for your food anyway"

        • You can also bake arsenic into bread, yet if someone out there was saying that baking caused every known aliment and then some and I responded that baking is safe and the anti-baking movement were unscientific, especially if they were prone to disregarding scientific consensus and replacing it with conspiracy and shoddy rat studies, I'd be perfectly justified. A thing is not safe simply because it is genetically engineered, that's an absurdity that no one is saying, but effectively, as far as what you are

      • The reason the government participates in pipelines between the regulated and the regulators is that there aren't a lot of alternatives. Seriously.

        The government needs people who are experts in a lot of very specific fields. In this case you'd need somebody who knows a little bit about genetic engineering, a lot about food safety, a lot about government regulations, and (ideally) quite a bit about the business practices of the big agricultural companies he was regulating. Universities are gonna create peopl

      • We don't do genetic engineering the way you seem to think we do. When it comes right down to it the engineers and scientists involved are essentially very lazy and that is a GREAT thing. We don't engineer new proteins. We find a protein that does what we want and that people already eat and put that gene in. For instance in some parts of the USA it is hard to grow tomatoes (which are very good for you) because of frost problems. A variety of tomato has been made that splices in a gene from an arctic fish to

      • You do realize that ricin is already produced by plants, right? There are plenty of natural plants that can ruin your day or end your life.
    • by SydShamino (547793) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @10:53PM (#47238879)

      Saying you are "pro-GMO" or that "GMOs are safe to injest" is like saying you are "pro-chemicals" or that "chemicals are safe to injest". Both statements are too overly broad to be anything but ridiculous.

      There are most certainly genetic splices that could result in lethal "food" crops. For example, we could splice in genes from a variety of poisonous mushrooms and probably get them to express the lethal chemicals in, say, a tomato. Has Monsanto done that? No, of course not, that would be foolhardy of them, and they are evil, but not fools. Might one of the thousands of genetic modifications in the food supply yield something with unforeseen consequences? Without sufficient study, it's anti-science to say it's settled one way or the other. (That's the kind of sufficient study that *has* been done on global warming, but cannot be done on "GMOs" as a whole.)

      GMOs need to be validated at the lowest level, one change to one crop at a time, where we can see what individual changes to certain plants do to their growth, production, and edible safety. Then we can approve those changes. Is this kind of approval being done? Not in the U.S. it isn't.

      All of the above ignores the fact that some genetic changes are made to make the plants resistant to certain pesticides or other poisons, which are then slathered on the plants as they grow. Let's blanket assume that those genetic changes have been vetted, researched, and approved, and are 100% harmless for human consumption. Are the chemicals the plants have been bathed in suitable for human consumption? Just how long and how hard do I have to wash the food to get those chemicals off? Are they absorbed into the food? Is a non-GMO version less likely to have toxic chemicals in it? (Can I get a non-pesticide version without having to swing all the way to the other extreme and buy organic?)

      The fact that you make such broad, unprovable statements such as "Anti-GMO hysteria is anti-science" and call your opponents "anti-GMO zealots" completely ruins the rest of your reasonable argument about the need for genetic modifications to food staples to ensure an adequate global food supply in the 21st century.

      • Yes, GMO could potentially have harmful results. So could conventional breeding. If the risk is not significantly greater for changes via GMO than changes via conventional breeding, there isn't a compelling reason to treat them differently.
      • Do you know what in ireland they actually developed a potato that was genetically engineered from a wild variant that was resistant to blight? However ANTI GMO groups effectively got that forbidden for usage. Instead we use the normal "organic" approach of controlling the blights. We spray heavy metals on the potatoes. We know 100% those are bad for you and we know that they end up concentrating in the potatoes. Now I doubt anyone could ever eat enough potatoes for that to be a problem but we developed a be

        • by khchung (462899) on Sunday June 15, 2014 @01:40AM (#47239259) Journal

          If you want to scrutinize GMO you should be for scrutinizing all food. I don't care if you use genetic engineering, traditional cross breading, organic radiation mutation or organic chemical mutation they should ALL be checked. However saying that only the genetic engineering approach should face higher scrutiny is idiotic.

          I found this to be a very easy indicator to find out if I am talking to someone with real science knowledge, or someone who just sprout anti-whatever nonsense.

          Those who are anti-GMO and anti-nuclear power share a common problem, they usually refuse to apply the same safety yardstick to the currently in-use alternatives. "Proven safe" is the term you often heard from these guys, yet is *anything* ever "proven safe"?

          We know pollution from coal power is killing people, we know coal mines are killing people, yet those same anti-nuke guys rarely call for closing coal power plants when they call for closing nuclear power plants.

          We know chemical pesticides are harmful, we know people have been using even less controllable approaches to alter the genes of plants (chemical or radiation), we know people are starving to death because they don't have crops that grow well in their region, and we know most staple food we eat every day come from plants that are already hugely modified from its natural ancestors. Yet anti-GMO crowd sweep all these under the rug when clamoring against GMO crops, calling for them to banned until "proven safe".

          Claiming the splicing in genes is more dangerous than radiation is akin to saying modifying a program by replacing a subroutine with one from another program is more dangerous than randomly flipping bytes everywhere in the program binary. It can only sound plausible if you assumed the person doing to splicing is intending on doing harm.

          • It is pretty depressing to see so many people that claim to be pro science but really just seem to be pushing their own personal agenda and trying to use a scientific type process to cover for it.

            For some reason right now many consider organic to be some kind of health shield that nothing can penetrate and anything with that label is always good for you. It is not based on anything rational and should definitely be studied carefully also. One of the problems we keep having with organic is the use of natural

      • by williamhb (758070)

        ... the rest of your reasonable argument about the need for genetic modifications to food staples to ensure an adequate global food supply in the 21st century.

        We don't require GMO in order to ensure an adequate global food supply. It is somewhat more cost effective but certainly not required. Removing US agricultural subsidies, such that African farmers (and other countries) could stand a chance of becoming competitive and developing in a fairer market, would make a greater difference.

        Likewise, removing mandatory requirements for bioethanol in petrol/gasoline in many countries. (Which have diverted grain production towards fuel rather than food.)

    • Let's ponder.

      Can we live without a planet?
      Can we live without GMO plants?

      So, let's assume we want to err on the safe side, what should we choose?

      • Right now the safest approach is no more traditional cross breeding, radiation mutation or chemical mutation and all 3 of those have organic versions that are allowed and used. The safest way we know of to change something in a plant is via genetic engineering. If you want a tomato that is more cold resistant it is better to find a protein that has cold resistance that we already eat and splice just that gene in. The other approaches introduce thousands of other genes and sometimes the result are toxic. How

        • You act as if we can simply insert and subtract genes as we wish, and that we know exactly just what each gene is doing in an organism. If this was the case, I wouldn't complain.

          What we do, though, is essentially taking a very, very complicated machine that we barely understand and throw some tools in it, watch it rattle and clank and look at the result we get to see. If we like it, we repeat throwing the same tools into it in the same way. We don't know what that does inside the whole machine, though. Whet

    • by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Sunday June 15, 2014 @01:08AM (#47239211)

      And the problem is, like anti-vaxxers, the GMO denialist is going to continue to adapt, shift goal posts, and develop new and misleading claims. The GMO denialists aren't anti-GMO, oh no, they're pro safe GMO, just like how Jenny McCarthy claims to be pro-safe vaccine, not anti-vaccine, but somehow manages to find flaw in every vaccine. Same thing is happening here, with every type of GMO crop, they are going to find a flaw in, even if they have to mislead or lie to make that point.

      What irks me is that so few people have the understanding to see these people for what they really are. Which isn't surprising, because how many people are involved in agriculture anymore? So when someone says that Bt crops are unsustainable because they create superpests, people think they are bad. No one points to the same thing happening in conventionally bred crops and says conventional breeding is wrong, because they do not know about those examples, so those GMOs seem bad.

      Then the anti-biotech crowd points to herbicide resistant crops, and hey, doesn't a plant designed to withstand a chemical sound bad? But they conveniently neglect to mention that this enables a switch from less environmentally damaging weed control methods like soil degrading tillage. Instead, they harp on how the herbicides that go with those crops are increasing in usage, but don't seem to care to mention that they are replacing harsher herbicides.

      Hit those points and they shift to the anti-corporate angle, which sounds reasonable enough by comparison.Naturally, they don't mention that the opposition to GMOs started with the Flavr Savr tomato, produced by a small company, or that there is also strong opposition to Golden Rice, which was developed by the International Rice Research Institute and could be saving the lives of countless children in developing countries. They even attack the Rainbow papaya, developed by the University of Hawai'i, that saved the Hawaiian papaya industry, and Greenpeace has a creationism grade stupid denial of it's success on their site. In Australia and France, GMO low GI wheat and virus resistant grapes developed by CSIRO and INRA (government bodies) was destroyed. You can't claim to be merely anti-corporate while also opposing all GMO work done by universities, NGOs, governments, and small companies. I've seen people oppose the Arctic Apple (non-browning apple developed by a Canadian company) on the basis of cross pollination (apples are asexually propagated), and GMO taro got banned in Hawai'i because of local politics.

      My point is, change the developer, change the trait, change the gene, change whatever, and the opposition still stands. This is not logical by any sense. Let's call it what it is, a symptom of anti-science sentiment and a shift to pre-enlightenment naturalism. As it stands, of all the potential applications of GE crops, we only have a few traits in use due to the overly strict regulatory burden keeping out publicly developed GE crops, and that's absurd. No one is saying there aren't legitimate problems or issues, but you're sure as shit not going to get anything even remotely resembling an accurate picture from any anti-GMO group I've ever heard of. The parent poster is right. It's time we called this movement out for what it is, and threw it in the rubbish pile next to the denial of climate change, vaccinations, and evolution.

      Disclaimer, I work with a publicly funded crop breeding program, so if you believe that there is a vast world wide conspiracy among virtually every agricultural researcher and plant scientist on earth to hide the secret dangerous truth about GMOs that you were clever enough to discover at by reading nonsensical bullshit and speculating on your couch (though strangely we shop at the same stores and eat the same foods as everyone else), you might want to disregard this post, but you were going to do that anyway.

      • Some of the things Monsanto (and others) have done look very bad to the general public. When a large multi-national company appears to be trying to force their produce down your throat you tend to suspect what they are doing is bad. Some simple changes would help: 1-mandatory labeling of all GMO (and drugs), 2- treat GMO as a new crop, not as a minor variant of an existing one that doesn't require testing for safety.
    • by Skylinux (942824)

      We should hold anti-GMO zealots with the same disdain as we hold climate change deniers.

      Go lookup what happened to some of the old corn lines when GMO corn was introduced to Mexico. GMO corn has crossed with old strains and have produced crippled plants.

      This isn't really a GMO problem but rather a problem on how we use it. For me GMO === Monsanto and their "you must not plant produced seeds" license agreement. It has also been shown that their plants cross with current lines AND WILL FUCK THEM UP to the point where they become useless.

      Ban greedy companies so we may have an honest discussion ab

      • I've never heard of your 'crippled plant' claim and have no idea how that would even be biologically possible to be a result of the transgenes presently used in corn.

    • by richlv (778496)

      what about the terminator seeds and other nast practice ?
      i suspect that evilness of gmo companies contributes a lot to the attitude.

    • by nadaou (535365)

      Bullshit, Mr. A.C. Complete bullshit.

      Go back and study your scientific method. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

      You can claim to be able to prove a negative, and know the unknown, and attack anyone who disagrees with you with ad hominems, but your words are only empty bluster.

      You fall into a classic logical trap:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_ignorance [wikipedia.org]

      This is entirely different than the CO2 problem, which has been known, understood, and measured for a long time. Ask again in 150

    • by itsdapead (734413)

      Anti-GMO hysteria is anti-science, plain and simple. It is no different from insisting that CO2 doesn't drive global warming

      Couple of important differences:

      First, follow the money. Which side of each 'debate' is being bankrolled by big business?

      Which side relies on "absence of evidence* is evidence of absence" and is expecting the other to "prove" its case by making firm "this is going to happen" predictions about a huge, complex, poorly understood natural system? (*and we get to choose what we mean by 'evidence')

      Which side is proposing to "test" their position by forging ahead and irreversibly introducing material into the

    • "Anti-GMO hysteria is anti-science, plain and simple."

      No, it isn't. Anti-GMO maybe is fueled by anti-science but the real concern is anti-big greedy corps modelling future and setting their own agenda about population risk management.

      Anti-GMO is looking at Deepwater Horizon oil spill and not wanting Monsanto having the same level of control about food as BP on the oil business.

  • by Kohath (38547)

    Does it matter that the consensus of scientists and scientific studies is that GMOs are safe? Or is "science" just a rhetorical tool -- a line in a script that the players must speak when they're performing for the crowd, forgotten the next day because there's a new script with new villains?

    Personally, I'd say it doesn't matter any more or less for GMOs than for anything else. I support GMOs in general because I support technological progress and individual choice. If individuals or farmers choose GMOs b

  • I have to think that this is someone's idea for an end run around USA agribusiness lobbyists in TAFTA negotiations.
    • by manu0601 (2221348)

      OTOH, the anti-GMO pressure is so strong on EU MP and MEP that if TAFTA favors GMO, it is likely to be voted down.

      This is a subject of astonishment to me, but EU people are able to strongly reject GMO, while they fail to really oppose austerity policies.

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