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Biotech EU Government Politics Science

EU May Allow Members Home Rule On GMO Foods 272

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 ) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @08:52PM (#47238603)

    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 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.

  • by manu0601 ( 2221348 ) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @09:39PM (#47238747)

    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 Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 14, 2014 @09:59PM (#47238781)

    Yes, we've been splicing those genes for generations.

    Oh wait, we haven't. Anyone who describes selective breeding as genetic modifications is trolling.

  • by Travis Mansbridge ( 830557 ) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @10:15PM (#47238809)
    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 to feed the masses but to feed Monsanto's bottom line. I believe most GMO products currently on the market are probably safe to eat, but I don't think the private company producing those products should be the ones to determine whether or not we require GMO testing and labeling.

    GMO foods aren't unhealthy by default, but they certainly aren't "safe" by default either. When a chemical is introduced into a food for the first time (or the genes to produce that chemical within the food are introduced for the first time) that food should be tested as new rather than considered GRAS. Evolution has served as the test-of-time for genetic changes throughout history, and as we forego that, we certainly need to devise some testing of our own. That said, I think this is an important science that will allow mankind to feed our ever-expanding population.
  • 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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • by Ambassador Kosh ( 18352 ) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @11:29PM (#47238977)

    Actually from a genetic perspective splice is VASTLY more dangerous and unpredictable. It doesn't matter what we have done it for a long time. Most of the genetic engineering we do is inserting only a couple genes into a genome of about 32,000 genes for corn. Genetic engineering is far less likely to have problematic outcomes. The problem is that most people have NO idea how genetic engineering is done and they just think scary scientists but they have NO knowledge at all to make a rational decision on.

    We lose more people ever year from contaminated organic crops that we have lost from all GMOs ever (which is basically zero for the GMOs)

    We have been studying health impacts of GMOs for over 20 years now and so far we can find absolutely none. If you can find some actual real evidence that can be verified then there are many that would love to actually see it.

    Meanwhile radiation and chemical mutagens still qualify as organic and that is about the most dangerous method I can think of.

  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @11:45PM (#47239019) Journal

    Really, my born and raised in Italy and emigrated to the US at age 20 grandfather has a work ethic that a very conservative American would consider exemplary.

    One of my friends growing up, his father was born and raised in Greece. He emigrated to the US in his early 20s also. He seemed to share a work ethic and some other traits with my grandfather.

    You do realize that nothing you said has any bearing on my point, right?

    Culture is local, not ethnic. Well, that's not true either, but you should catch my meaning. It's an entirely different pace of life in the Mediterranean Countries. You can get a similar culture shock if you travel from New York City to New Orleans, and The Big Easy is positively fast paced when compared to Italy, Spain, or Greece.

    Its a welfare state government not the national culture that screws things up.

    Then why isn't Finland broke and begging Germany for bailouts? Finland isn't going to bring the Euro down. The aforementioned countries just may.....

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • by Ambassador Kosh ( 18352 ) on Sunday June 15, 2014 @02:22AM (#47239345)

    If you think that GMOs should be studied in this way then ALL other foods that are modified in ANY way should be studied EXACTLY the same way. It doesn't matter if it was done with traditional cross breeding, gene insertion, mutation via radiation or mutation via chemical mutagen. However whenever I hear people saying we need to study this stuff they ONLY refer to the second one. The other 3 can all be done "organically" are far more dangerous, have had known problems, are far more likely to have side effects and are NOT the ones people are saying we need to study more carefully.

    I do think food should be studied more carefully but if you single out only one type of food and give the other types a free pass that is not actually doing any real science. That is trying to sound scientific to back up your own biases.

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay