The Big Picture: Feeding Edge

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Bananas... If you've eaten a banana... You've eaten a clone.

The modern banana or the cavendish, are all exact genetic clones of the original. Through selective breeding and what not. They can only reproduce via horticulural vegetative reproduction.

Now that's some real Frankenfood.

So stop nommin dem clones. Lest yee ole' god smite thee.

dragontiers:

HankMan:

Edit: What was that screen shot of The Princess' Bride at 1:25 about?

Inigo Montoya:
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

I'm guessing he was referencing that quote. I would have tried to get a clip from the cliff scene to make it more obvious, but hey, joke made.

OT: I am constantly getting into arguments about this and organic food with family members. It's all pretty silly once you boil it down.

"Boil it down"?
Oh no it's...

FRANKENSOUP! RUN!
XD

Apples and Oranges here.

Your original example is of genetic alterations that could happen naturally.

Your second example is using techniques to create outcomes that could never happen in the natural world no matter how much a horse and a cow have sex.

Creating crops that produce their own insecticides (very powerful ones) is a bad idea. It creates shitty food and doesn't stop the insects.

So yeah, fun story, but comparing apples to oranges makes the rest of your point pretty weak.

Keep in mind, I love science (and your videos), but at least understand the topic enough to recognize the differences before you make a video about it :/.

PS. I think the word that sprung to my mind watching that video was "Pedantry".

Sepiida:
GM is still a technology in its infancy and we still don't have a good idea about what a lot of genes do or how they interact with one another. So yes, there is plenty of idiocy within the GM foods controversy but there is also a sliver of sense.

We don't tend to actually mass produce food with altered genes that we arn't sure about though.

A Pious Cultist:

Sepiida:
GM is still a technology in its infancy and we still don't have a good idea about what a lot of genes do or how they interact with one another. So yes, there is plenty of idiocy within the GM foods controversy but there is also a sliver of sense.

We don't tend to actually mass produce food with altered genes that we arn't sure about though.

Generally speaking when a factory farm gets it's hands on something that works it starts using it wildly without giving a shit to get studies done.

Look at antibiotics and cattle.

I'm actually curious how many super bugs have been created just by our wanton misuse of things that would otherwise be quite wonderful.

Extra note on my original post: I'm for Genetic Engineering, I just think Monsanto and companies like it (IE basically just it) are not good choices to be performing it. When you hand very powerful science to stupid people with money you end up with cows stuffed full of antibiotics even when they aren't sick.

geierkreisen:
You may think Star Trek, I think Dune.
You may think "for the good of mankind", I think "for the good of the monopolist".

It's not really a scientific problem, it's an economical and social one.
While a farming dynasty can, say, breed the perfect sheep for their benefit, Monsanto and others genetically engineer crop and vegetables to dominate the market.
They even go so far as to "unsex" plants so that they don't produce new seeds which have to be bought for a hefty price every damned year again and sustainability and independence go overboard.

I only fear the day when Monsanto's Sardaukar-crops have eliminated all and every "organic" AKA traditional alternative and some African farmers have to go Fremen on His Imperial Highness' corporate ass.

Totally what I wanted to say. Most of the legitimate fear over GMO's has to do with how MNC's such as Monsanto use this advantage to unfairly dominate the market, and thus either shut out most of the developing world from actual market competition, or by making every developing farmer a "forced client", as their seeds will not naturally reproduce. In short, Genetically Modified anything isn't inherently bad, it's just currently being used to do some pretty cruddy things.

Maybe I haven't been paying attention, but I never got the impression that people think genetically modified foods are anything but carrots and tomatoes and apples. I thought the impression is that they're unnaturally red tomatoes, unnaturally crunchy carrots, unnaturally.... red apples; like in those stories where you go into a town and everybody seems unnaturally happy and smiling but something seems off.

While as far as I can tell genetically modified foods are good and all, I seriously disagree with breeding being called genetic engineering. It's just not how the word is used. Just because a butterfly has the words butter and fly, doesn't mean I can go around saying butterfly and expect people to think of a fly made of butter. Or maybe a fly that's attracted to butter?

There are legitimate concerns regarding genetically modified foods that aren't so much a concern when you breed foods. We've made plants that produce their own pesticides. Genetically modified doesn't automatically mean it's evil, but it is different from just breeding foods.

Somebody already posted about this before me. This is a matter of definitions. If we don't agree on what words mean, we can't have a proper discussion. I wasn't 100% sure about this either; I looked up genetically modified and genetically engineered to make sure that my personal definition wasn't some construct in my mind that I imagined.

I'm all for gm-food that helps increase the size of crops. It's probably one of the most efficient ways of staving of starvation in underdeveloped countries. Unfortunately for those countries companies have also produced seeds that only give one harvest before new seeds must be bought, so unfortunately greed cancels out the advantages. At least for the people who need them the most. This has nothing to do with genetic engineering in particular of course. I believe it's the answer to any number of modern plagues. Releasing something, say, resistant against cold/disease etc into nature can have consequences however, so it's a good thing there are watchers.

Millions of people just got pwned.

A Pious Cultist:

Sepiida:
GM is still a technology in its infancy and we still don't have a good idea about what a lot of genes do or how they interact with one another. So yes, there is plenty of idiocy within the GM foods controversy but there is also a sliver of sense.

We don't tend to actually mass produce food with altered genes that we arn't sure about though.

You don't know much about agribusiness do you?

In addition, others have now mentioned what I failed to. Monsanto and the other big companies are using this technology in fairly nefarious ways to drive out competition. Not the usual undercutting farmers with ridiculously cheap prices but patenting their crops and then suing a farmer if some of their seeds happen to get into his field.

Was talking to someone about this just the other day. Very glad to see the non-idiot version of what GM is reaching a wider audience. Thank you Bob.

Anyone seen the episode of Penn and Teller: Bullshit that covers this? There's a bunch of people interviewed on the topic, and some of them seem to think that GM foods will make you sprout new arms or legs. Thanks Hollywood. Thanks for helping to make that demographic fail biology science forever.

Reminds me of how people refused to undergo MRI scans when the machines were invented because they were called Nuclear Magnetic Resonance scans at the time. Since anything with the word nuclear in it made people soil themselves, they had to drop the "nuclear" and add "imaging" at the end.

If only more people watched this. There would be more understanding and fewer idiots.

It's easy to just brush off the anti GM food people as a fringe group, but realize that political pressure from anti GM lobbies have caused several african nations to literally ban high yield crops. These people are killing millions with their idiocy.

killer tomatoes you say?

image

"Organics fear that which is different. It is a hardware error, a reflex of their flesh."

I'm quoting that beacuse I've always been wondering about what such fears stem from in its very essence. I know "what", but not "why".

I suppose it's just one of the less fortunate side effects of having complex brains that can pretty much imagine things on their own in rampant ways.

Everywhere this sort of fear-spreading, politically biased propaganda takes root society has failed in informing the public. We need a greater emphasis on these things in schools! Atleast in Sweden, and the U.S. most likely.

Well.. that truly is the big picture. Because it ignores a lot of the finer details.

Let me start by saying I really don't care what I eat. Someone who habitually consumes as much snack food as I do does not have the luxury of a high horse when it comes to this stuff, and generally if it looks like food I'll eat it.

That being said you massively oversimplified GMO and the inherent dangers. Yes, selecting traits and genetic variants has long been a practice amongst the farmers of the worlds, and there's nothing inherently wrong with it. All right, it kind of sucks for the cows who literally cannot survive without constant human supervision, but it all tastes the same on the dinner plate.

The problem with GMO isn't the selection of specific traits. It's that, largely, it's a very new science with very little understanding. Just because we can map a genome or two doesn't mean that we know the entire cause-and-effect of genetic modification. We're still learning a great deal about what each gene affects, and even in the simplest of genomes this can be a long and complicated process. Cows are not simple. Certain plants are, but that's a different aside. The problem is that since we don't exactly have the firmest grasp on the subject matter yet, we're hardly equipped to regulate this practice for consumption. Yet we claim that it's all very well-controlled, which it isn't really. We don't know exactly all the ramifications, we simply know the most superficial results: more tasty food that doesn't immediately kill people when they eat it. This, too, is not a new problem in food regulation, but GMO is a very rapidly evolving practice and as such is hard to keep up with. So, naturally, people are reluctant to consume the most basically engineered foods.

Then there's the knowledge that there quite literally is food that is becoming hybridized with other foods that it couldn't otherwise naturally fuse with. Like pork with fish genes introduced to produce omega III fatty acids. Or the numerous fruit fusions such as pluots(plum apricots) and lematos(lemon tomatoes). These all sound pretty awesome in theory, we admittedly know very little about the results other than instant death, disease, or sterilization are none of the side effects. People are afraid of another asbestos: a seeming miracle product that will save the world right up until we find out about the cancer. And a little caution never hurt anyone, least of all science. If people like us are fine with eating from the genetically modified tree of knowledge, that's all well and good. But to simply quack "paranoia" at everyone who shows a little trepidation towards eating pork carrots(OK, an exaggeration, but still one with a point) doesn't exactly demonstrate a grasp of what the greater problem is here.

In addition to this we don't know of the potential allergens we may be creating through entirely new foodstuffs. Most of these things have never existed in nature before, and to make so many new kinds of food now carries the risk that certain people simply won't be able to consume it and won't even know this until their esophagus closes up.

More to the point, GMO carries other risks more tangibly. The introduction of stronger, modified products often results in the destruction of the untampered product. This is more easily controlled in animals, but in plants it's an absolute nightmare to keep under wraps. Just look at how many poor farmers companies like Monsanto sue because they happened accidentally have their crops infested with runaway spores and seeds from their GMO crops. This introduces massive legal confusion, and also makes it difficult for the "paranoid" to select crops that didn't start in a petri dish. Whether or not it actually is dangerous to consume, GMO is forcing itself out there against the will of the farmers and the frightened and uneducated masses.

Bottom line, GMO may be the savior of humanity(more efficient crops, healthier meat, awesome flavors), but we have no real way of knowing the effects, and thus people are cautious to embrace it. This isn't an experimental car or something, it's what we eat: a very tangible concept that hits pretty close to home for everyone. If all of a sudden someone introduced a new element into oxygen that survived the constant process of filtering in plants and animals and supposedly enhanced the performance of humanity, that would sound super-awesome, but we might still be reluctant about releasing mass quantites of that element into our air without a little more testing.

The real problem with genetic engineering is the patenting of certain varieties of food. Companies already own the rights to grow certain types of food. This is more of a legal problem than a medical one.

I'm not sure I totally agree with Bob either. Although I personally don't give a flying crap about GM foods, I can understand where some people are coming from. I'm not sure how grounded or sensical the following point is, but I'ma give it a try anyways: farmers breeding the wooly sheeps are selecting based on phenotypes over a long amount of time. That gives it inherent reliability, more cycles, more successes. Sheeps can be more or less wooly, so we might as well keep the super wooly ones.
Compare that to a scientist altering a gene that they think will affect the amount of wool a sheep has. How exactly are we to know what consequences will come of this? Of course, in the farmers case there also could be issues that we don't realize (extra- wooly sheep have iron deficiencies or something, that doesn't turn up until years of eating them), but chances are higher that things will be stables simply because of the method that is being used to select for it.

Bob mentioned this himself in his video. Getting orange carrots from the purple ones took rather a long time, and that's exactly why people don't care about it. If someone figured out suddenly how to make tomatoes grow 3 times as large, and tomorrow all the tomatoes in the grocery store were huge, some people would freak. The advantage GMs bring us is the reason we fear them. The question is: what level of understanding do our scientists have on the genomes they're messing with? I would argue in favour of "not all that much". I'm certainly fairly ignorant on the subject, so correct me if I'm wrong. But there's no denying that we aren't at the stage where we can 'genetically code' whatever we want into existence; we discover these on/off switches on a case by case basis, to a large extent. So when the new fast-growing fruit goes through testing before being released on the market, how sure are we that everything is in its proper place?

Once again, I'm not disagreeing with Bob at all. There is undoubtedly way WAY to much panic associated with this topic. I just find it very hard to swallow the idea that messing with genes we don't fully understand is as stable a way to modify foods as simply picking the biggest and juiciest.

And wollyest

- Edit: stickfigure covered most of this already. Doh. Slowtyping fail

Good video, but a little simplistic. Genetic engineering is a little more complex and interesting than breeding. Breeding is mainly subtractive. You select out certain traits removing the original genetic material from the stock. There is a component of genetic engineering that does this and does it much faster. The thing that genetic engineering does that is much harder to do with breeding is additive genetics. Like pigs that glow in the dark. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/4605202.stm Things like that can never be achieved through breeding. Not meaning that they are dangerous, just that they need to be tested more before you release them to the public. I have no real problem with genetic engineering and modification. It just seems that it is being done a little haphazardly which could result in some rather surprising unintended results. Just slow down and do the science right. Test and verify. Follow up studies on possible side effects. Genetic modification easily runs into unintended consequences, some very good some very bad. Just do your science right with proper control and precaution. Adding apple genes to a fish might result in some very bizarre interaction of proteins. Who knows it might end up with a cure for aids or it might cause a latent toxic in the brain. Only proper testing and experimentation will show. Scientific research must be done wisely and with caution. Imagine what would have happened if Oppenheimer hadn't designed his experiment to quickly shut down. It seems companies see a lot of money in this field and aren't using proper discipline in their research.

Mostly I don't like genetically engineered food (as others have said, selective breeding is not the same thing since genes not in the species won't be expressed) since most of it is done by companies more interested in selling more weed killer than actually improving the crop.

Weed killer is enough of a problem as is dumping more of it on over stressed land is not helping anyone.

Okay, before I watched the video, the word "frankenfood" triggered in me numerous discussions with my Biology teacher, who can't understand people are called fish "Frankenfish" because they were genetically altered to taste better and control how much of them taste just as good. Because that's what farmers do all the time, ever since ancient times. They keep the good stuff and reproduce it/grow it so that there will be more of that kind. The only difference here is that... Well, it's controlled in a lab and that seems to have people weirded out for some reason.

There was an episode of Degrassi (I hate that show) where one of the stupid teenage girls organized a protest to keep genetically modified food out of the cafeteria. When she mentioned "frankenfood" it literally took everything I had to resist leaping out of my seat and putting my fist through the TV screen.

I've only read headlines of american media on the subjectand the way they demonize it I figured they meant using unnatural chemicals to affect the growth of the plants.
Can anyone link me a newsarticle about the subject so I can be better informed about what the media in the US are saying about this?

@Stickfigure: Kudos, man, you're the first one, who actually got it right.

vivaldiscool:
It's easy to just brush off the anti GM food people as a fringe group, but realize that political pressure from anti GM lobbies have caused several african nations to literally ban high yield crops. These people are killing millions with their idiocy.

/harsh sarcasm
Well barked, corporate puppy.
/harsh sarcasm off

We industrialized people are doing everything we can to keep the First World relatively small, don't we? Science saves lives, but economical independence and a national feeling of self-worth save countries. Monsanto and its pack-members, hell I think even Bob (sorry Bob), want you to think that every problem can be solved with science. But science literally has its price. See fracking, see deep-sea drilling, see fast breeder reactors, see genetic modification in all of its forms.

Science today is not about helping the world, it's all about the money.
I am nerd enough to dream of a better future. I am old enough to know what is going on.

geierkreisen:
You may think Star Trek, I think Dune.
You may think "for the good of mankind", I think "for the good of the monopolist".

It's not really a scientific problem, it's an economical and social one.
While a farming dynasty can, say, breed the perfect sheep for their benefit, Monsanto and others genetically engineer crop and vegetables to dominate the market.
They even go so far as to "unsex" plants so that they don't produce new seeds which have to be bought for a hefty price every damned year again and sustainability and independence go overboard.

I only fear the day when Monsanto's Sardaukar-crops have eliminated all and every "organic" AKA traditional alternative and some African farmers have to go Fremen on His Imperial Highness' corporate ass.

That's exactly my issue with GM food. In principle, I support the idea of genetically modifying food to improve quality. However, the problem is that most of those doing it (ie. GM food corporations) aren't interested in quality, rather in quantity and market share. The inclusion of 'suicide genes', susceptability to disease and pests, and changing the cehmical makeup of the soil so only that same GM crop can be planted there do more to damage those who could benefit most from GM foods rather than helping them. The fact that approval of GM foods for human consumption was fast-tracked rather than appropriately tested for potential long-term effects makes me doubly suspicious.

As with most things, the GM food issue is an examle of mankind ruining a perfectly good idea.

Interesting story about the carrots there. I think the purple ones look pretty cool, I'd like to try one.

I haven't seen a controversy over genetic food in my country, but many people cry out when there is any kind of science that has to do with human genetics, like checking embryos for genetically transmittable deceases.

Hello Bob, Russ, and Co.:

Big fan of your informative videos as always, and I really love this series - hearing Bob vent about random topics is a nice addition to my weekly Bob watching. That said, he's by far my favorite part of the series: the visuals are starting to over-ripe, specifically the faces. I had two ideas that you might consider for further production of this series, both related to the... I don't know what you call them, I think of them as 'emotional illustrations':

1: MORE FACES - the visuals on 'To The Movies' don't stale because they mostly consist of media from the topic of discussion, but Big Picture is mostly populated by 'the faces', with the same few being reused multiple times during one episode. It'd be some work, but I think more would be better.

2: LAYERS - What if instead of throwing in the faces intermittently between relevant pictures, you had pictures running in the center of the screen, and then the faces running along in the bottom-left corner. Then they could react not only to what Bob is saying and feeling, but also to what they see in the pictures. Again, a bit more work and more editing than can be done with Movie Maker, but I think it would make the show more compelling.

The visuals certainly aren't the center piece of the series, which is just as well, but they do lend something to Bob's thoughts and wisdom so it may be something to consider.

I always hated that term, "Frankendfood" it just sounds so ignorant about what it really is. This is one of the many reasons I've stopped listening to the media and those idiot groups who rag on and on about this subject. Nice work on this on Bob.

The purple carrots thing floored me, I had no idea.

Very informative and great video, but let's keep the microphone-crunching to a minimum going forward Bob...

You heard it hear first people.
Cybor food is coming. And it's not pretty.

I,m not worried as long as my potatoes dont gnaw my face off

If you guys want to see a bit more of how awesome GM foods are, watch this episode of Penn & Teller's Bullshit:



The first half of the episode is about dieting, then they talk about GM food.

great video, and im actually willing to take it one step further, if you have ever tasted kobe beef you probably have a extremely rich uncle you once visited in his house (which is larger than the apartment complex i live in) down in florida, where you tasted all sorts of delicious things you could never afford, and then never being invited again because you wanted to go to a museum instead of an alligator farm...okay that may just have been me, but you get the point, kobe beef is freaking expensive, but it doesnt have to be, if we allowed cloning of animals, but alas, cloning sounds even more scary than genetic engineering, heck im all for it and i still piss my pants when someone mentions it.

oh and speaking of things that makes me piss my pants, dude stop using those freaky black/white faces, or if you really like them; make a alternative video just for me where, instead of those scary faces there would be nothing but the title screen, thats all im asking for ^^

i WANT PURPLE CARROTS!!! that is all

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