The Big Picture: Feeding Edge

 Pages PREV 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 . . . 15 NEXT
 

Nice way to oversimplify a horrendously complex issue, Bob. While some of the hysteria over genetic engineering is unfounded, there are quite a few genuine concerns associated with *modern* genetic engineering, some of which I will very briefly touch on. But first things first - recombinant DNA technology is not simply a more efficient form of selective breeding. Its scope is much wider and allows scientists to do things which are simply impossible through "classical genetic engineering." But at least you went to the trouble of admitting that you were oversimplifying things. Too bad it kinda harms your argument quite a bit.

As for the genuine concerns, they're mostly commercial ones, which is to say the ones that bother me are. When biotech companies started spruiking GM crops they were touting all these great potential benefits such as pest resistance, improved nutrition and higher crop yields. As far as I'm aware their track record hasn't exactly been stellar in regards to delivering on these wonderful promises. One thing just about all GM crops have in common is that the plants are sterile, i.e. they don't produce seeds. This means that farmers have to go begging to the biotech companies every season for new seed to plant (one could go so far as to argue that GM crops are engineered in this fashion purely for profits). As for pest resistance and improved yields - the story of Monsanto's Roundup Ready Soy is commonly cited as an example of the failings of GM crops.

Then there's that rather knotty issue of so-called "gene patents." In general I have serious misgivings about the very concepts of patents and intellectual property (kinda ironic/hypocritical seeing as I have my name on a patent), so I'm probably not the best person to discuss this issue.

And then there's the alleged link between GM crops and declining bee populations. While I've yet to see conclusive research that shows precisely that GM crops are killing bees (and more importantly *how*), if it turns out to be true then this is a pretty big deal (y'know, seeing as how a whole lotta plants rely on bees for the whole sex thing).

Well, duh...?

Some people say our food source has been screwed from the moment we started growing crops that yielded larger amount of cereal. I bet the same people also want us to forget about fire, go back to using stone tools and move into nice stone caves.

This week it was a pretty small picture, as in it looked at a complex issue in an oversimplified manner and ignored some points that are what truly bothers people. Yeah, sure, you have a number of scare-monering idiots who lump all aspects of GenEng together and try to burn it with fire. But that doesn't mean there's no merit to concerns regarding GenEng Food.

See, what really bothers people isn't when species are bred for certain traits (which is GenEng). It even isn't much of an issue when traits inherent in a species "tuned" by science. What bothers people is when crap like fish genes in fruit starts happening. That's what "Frankenfood" (which I agree is a stupid term) reffers to. The potential effects on human health of such mix-and-matching aren't fully explored, but that doesn't stop companies from growing even such food, since as we all know, profit is king.

Yes, there are organizations that are supposed to keep an eye on stuff like that, but there's also corruption and inefficiency in such organizations, so stuff slips through the cracks. And people are worried about it.

Now, don't get me wrong. In general, I'm in favor of GenEng as one of the solutions to the growing problem of feeding the ever-growing fuckton of people on the planet. And in principle, I agree with most of what Bob said in this BP. But blanket dismissal of all possible concerns regarding GenEng food is about as stupid as blindly lashing out against all forms of GenEng simply because it sounds similar.

I don't know, genetics is a giant can of worms. Selective breeding has existed for thousands of years, but even that can have ramifications in the long run. Just look at the meriad of canine afflictions.

We shouldn't be afraid to try new things, but we shouldn't lose our heads in the process.

This Episode is amazing.

I live in the Netherland and never knew todays orange carrot has been selected by the Dutch farmers to honour the Royal House of Orange. I lol'd.

One of the most informative episodes yet, thanks Bob, I am glad the Escapist asked you to do this. Keep up the good work!

I'd totally endorse any food that promoted itself as frankenfood

the main problem with GMOs is how they are handled. I know science is cool and progressive and all but we need more regulations which there are currently none watching the big GMO companies. A huge problem with what they do is also how they manage the business and keep staples dependant on things like round up, which will slowly just build up in the ocean over years and years until its toxic. A great movie for anyone out there who wants to know the real reasons GMOs are bad is King Corn, a documentary you can get on netflix watch instantly if you have it.

Once a week, Bob gets to rant about stupid people? You have the best job in the world.

Me thinks that Bob got the Third Degree from someone over his choice of Christmas Turkey/Goose.

Onyx Oblivion:
Freaking fear-mongering media.

Trying to make stupid people scared of nothing.

The only thing stupid people need to fear is being stupid. Once they're not stupid anymore, there's not much else to fear; except for, you know, the slow descent of the US into a Fascist Police State.

;-p

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.

But.....The food must Flow!

I had a class where we studied the moral implications of technology and one group did a presentation on genetically modified foods. The conclusion was simple

It doesn't matter anymore. If not for these modified foods we wouldn't be able to produce enough to feed the current population of the planet. There is a reason the only people swearing off this stuff are from places like the US where food is plentiful and cheap. If we all did what these guys wanted billions would be dying of starvation right now

MovieBob:
Feeding Edge

This week, Bob takes a bite out of "frankenfood."

Watch Video

Awesome, your best video yet Bob! I'm actually starting to like these more than your movie reviews.

Swaki:
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.

Yay, clones. I don't have a problem with clones. You just need a virus that the original was susceptible to and all the copies are done for as well. That's exactly the opposite of genetical engineering. Hell, it's basically inbreeding carried to the extreme. Something nature can kill in an instant. I can hear agri-corps whine in their sleep.

Oh, wait. Before that happens, healthy Dora the All-Natural Cow will have been replaced by bovine Imperial Moohtroopers. And when they die like uddered flies it's tofu time all the time. Where's that hot organic cocoa to soothe my nerves?

But the way they modify the food, is it actually safe and does not include any chemistry that reacts negatively to the human body, but rather increases the duration of time such foods can be kept for instance?

As always Bob, you bring light and clarity to issues that I may not necessarily think enough about. Thanks for the information good sir.

I call shenanigans! People who benefit from defibrillators are not dead. Rather, their hearts have stopped beating. "Dead" is when no more electrical impulses are being generated by the brain. If you tried to shock a brain dead person... Bye Bye Birdy.

Urh:
Nice way to oversimplify a horrendously complex issue, Bob. While some of the hysteria over genetic engineering is unfounded, there are quite a few genuine concerns associated with *modern* genetic engineering, some of which I will very briefly touch on. But first things first - recombinant DNA technology is not simply a more efficient form of selective breeding. Its scope is much wider and allows scientists to do things which are simply impossible through "classical genetic engineering." But at least you went to the trouble of admitting that you were oversimplifying things. Too bad it kinda harms your argument quite a bit.

As for the genuine concerns, they're mostly commercial ones, which is to say the ones that bother me are. When biotech companies started spruiking GM crops they were touting all these great potential benefits such as pest resistance, improved nutrition and higher crop yields. As far as I'm aware their track record hasn't exactly been stellar in regards to delivering on these wonderful promises. One thing just about all GM crops have in common is that the plants are sterile, i.e. they don't produce seeds. This means that farmers have to go begging to the biotech companies every season for new seed to plant (one could go so far as to argue that GM crops are engineered in this fashion purely for profits). As for pest resistance and improved yields - the story of Monsanto's Roundup Ready Soy is commonly cited as an example of the failings of GM crops.

Then there's that rather knotty issue of so-called "gene patents." In general I have serious misgivings about the very concepts of patents and intellectual property (kinda ironic/hypocritical seeing as I have my name on a patent), so I'm probably not the best person to discuss this issue.

And then there's the alleged link between GM crops and declining bee populations. While I've yet to see conclusive research that shows precisely that GM crops are killing bees (and more importantly *how*), if it turns out to be true then this is a pretty big deal (y'know, seeing as how a whole lotta plants rely on bees for the whole sex thing).

You make some great points, but I think Bob was mostly trying to dispel people's fear of actually eating the food. You know, the people that think you'll grow an extra arm or something. That being said, that gene patent issue is so idiotic. Farmers have lost millions from it. There have been cases where farmers have been sued even though they didn't use the seeds, just for simply reseeding their own seeds and the message that gives to the farmers who are using these patented seeds.

I want a purple carrot. Also, I HATE baby carrots. Those are just not natural. Plus they don't taste as good and look terrible... also their really weird as far as efficiency goes.

i still dont like al franken

I agree with your general point, but your arguments are moot.

At least in my little Google based researching genetically modified food is not only safe and more efficient, but its also becoming essential to sustain a world population over 4 billion, which that number I believe is the maximum projected figure that growing only whole organic food can feed, meaning that turning away from engineering food is kind of for lack of a better more descriptive terms the starvation of some 2.5 billion people.

However I do have one small petty gripe with MovieBob here, related to the use of defibrillation. In that speaking as an EMS agent, we don't shock dead people as this is not a life restoring intervention. Defibrillating or shocking, temporarily depolarizes the cardiac tissue which essentially shuts it off for a second, and allows the natural pacemaker in the heart to resume its normal electrical impulse. So in the scenario of a patient in asystole, or commonly refereed to as "flat Lining", shocking the patient is NEVER the proper treatment because there is no cardiac electrical impulse in asystole, in this case a medical rescuer is preforming CPR, now an AED or Automated External Defibrillator will more be attached as the use of proper CPR may bring an asystole patient into a cardiac condition in which shocking is advised. The two common conditions for patient to be that would require shocking the patient is Ventricular Tachycardia (V-Tach) and Ventricular Fibrillation (V-Fib), I am aware there are other rare cardiac electrical rhythms that shock is advised but they are rather rare to come across in a patient. So the next time you see a flattening heart rate monitor and there's a person calling out for the paddles as their first intervention, do know they are full of shit.

But enough of that, yes the fear of modified foods is irrational as there is no study to suggest the ingestion of such products is harmful.

i need to show this to my aunt...NOW!

Cyberfood and modded cow were the best XD I didn't know about the purple carrot, so thanks :)

Well I do agree with you, but most of the fear I believe is in the possibility of what it could lead to rather then what it is. It kind of brings the fear of Jurassic Park since it is people without any real limits while they mess with the genetics of something. There is the probability it could be used to end world hunger, but there is also the probability that it might end up like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Much is unknown, and people fear what they don't know.

The Stonker:

John the Gamer:
Yay! We (dutch) made carrots! Also: BEWARE! Be nice to us or we'll make all foods orange!

Be nice to us or we'll send Bear cavalry.

image

or

image

because image 1 is more funny than daunting

SFR:
I think Bob was mostly trying to dispel people's fear of actually eating the food.

Lasers? Cool.
Robots? Cool.
Giant laser-eyed robots laying waste to your hometown, killing your family? Not cool.

I didn't know that. Thanks for sharing it.

And mecha vegetables? Sorry cyborg vegetables only sounds awesome to me.

Bob, I have to disagree with you. That was not the big picture because genetic engineering is the altering of genetics in a laboratory. Selective breeding is a very different process. Are you telling me that something that happens in a few months in a laboratory is just as save and tested as something that happened over several hundred generations?
I'm worried about genetic engineered food because I know who really funds this research: Big food and agricultural cooperations and I trust big multimillion dollar cooperations as far as I can throw a car. I'm not saying that these alterations done in a lab are dangerous but they have to be thoroughly tested and made sure that they don't affect their environment or people in a negative way. I once read about a salmon that fully matures in a matter of months instead of the normal few years and multiplies like crazy because of an alteration and activation of a gene. Sounds well and good but what would happen if it got into the wild? It would wreck havoc on the ecosystem and drive many other fish that can't compete with it into extinction. I know we already did these things with some other breeding programs in the past but now we can do it faster and on a much larger scale. Don't let them escape you say? See my comment about big cooperations above. The ecosystem is not on their number one spot of their "most important things" list, it's money and profit. I'm not criticising that, it's their nature but we can't be careless with these things. They have a tendency of snowballing out of control.
All in all, I'm all for the process of genetical engineered food. I just think that they should be held to high scrutiny and not be altered and sold willy nilly.

Edit: Bob, I agree with your opinion in principle, but it sounds like a defence of your precious science and not considering the dangers of it. Good scientists consider benefits and dangers of their material. ;)

The Stonker:

John the Gamer:
Yay! We (dutch) made carrots! Also: BEWARE! Be nice to us or we'll make all foods orange!

Be nice to us or we'll send Bear cavalry.

Then we'd turn those orange too! Have Fun!

image

Wow, I enjoy the movie reviews, but this was completely pointless and a waste of my 5 minutes. Zero informationl; no fresh, creative insights; no humor... nothing.

Almost nobody is making a fuss over (slightly) selective breeding, the issues are with quality vs quantity and spreading the wealth in an economically viable, sustainable, ethical way and also with somewhat agreeing on those values. None of which you touched upon.

Did you hear some hippie moan about something and it pissed you off?

Carrots where purple? I'll be damned, I learned something new today.

At last.
Thanks bob.
I am more concerned about pesticides harming the ecosystem, but that's different.
Congrats on a great segment!

The problem with every word that came out of Bobbo's mouth today is twofold: reliability and validity. Unlike laboratory experimentation, which occurs (ideally) under controlled conditions that will have a negligible effect upon any outside environment, the genetically modified foods (and their new, arguably "superior" genes) are being introduced to unknown populations. While there have been several extensive studies performed on overall impact, it is infeasible to obtain data on every single interaction that every genetic alteration could possibly have. This is from where the so-called "unreasonable" and "ignorant" fear of many people stems: the very real possibility of an unforseen interaction of heretofore unrelated genes creating a very real threat in the form of a virus or a new bacterium or even an entirely formed brand-spanking-new multicellular organism. It only has to happen once to be a disaster. Contemplate that, I'll wait...

Sarcasm aside, when reliability (the ability of a process to deliver the same results with statistical consistency) and validity (the ability of a process to produce what it is attempting to produce) are both missing from studies that were supposed to be gauging the long-term effects of new genetic coding and altered organisms being introduced to the environment at-large, we have a problem in the making.

the people at the escpaist don't seem to be crazy people. Glad to see Moviebob doing what I like most about the escapist, grabs controversy by the collar and beats it in a way that even Gene Hunt would cringe

I'm going to put this out there but there is pretty seismic difference between selective breeding and direct generic engineering. Saying that one is the same as the other is kind of like saying that an assault rifle is the same in magnitude as a sword. They're both killing devices, but one is a shit load more efficient than the other. In fact by exactly the same logic the use of DDT is fine because humans have employed methods of killing pets that eat their crops pretty much since farming began. The objection to GMO foods is based on scientific observation of both eco systems and trends in human activity. The problem is essentially that the sorts of traits that humans look for in a food crop are often those that are disastrous to eco systems. The ideal human food crop would be one that grows really quickly in poor soil and can only be eaten by humans (i.e kills/prevents eating by bacteria, insects and even bigger animals if possible) which sounds good but also means that introducing it into an eco-system would result in it spreading quickly and either out competing or killing all the native species. There is of course a solution to this, namely the terminator gene, but that has its own problems. When GMOs first became commercially available they were marketed as being able to solve third world hunger through increased food crops and were sold poor farmers, particularly in India. The issue is that with most farming the majority of seeds used in a harvest are taken from the previous year's harvest rather than paid for. Forcing farmers to buy seeds each year caused the costs of farming to sky rocket, removing any benefits you got from GMOs and in most cases making things worse. In fact if it wasn't for the tremendous profits that agri-business companies made off the sale of GMO crops they never would have survived as an option.

The other thing to keep in mind with selective breeding is that it's a lot slower than outright genetic engineering meaning that eco-systems typically have time to adapt, likewise the creatures it produces are vastly more dependent on humans to survive unlike GMOs. Selective breeding is comparably limited, but that's also what prevents it from being destructive.

I find it disingenuous, and to quite be frank insulting, that concern over GMOs is straw-manned as fear of science. Much of my concern like that of many people is drawn from scientific understanding of how specie's behaviours affect eco-systems and a likewise precise understanding of how humans have interacted with eco-systems thus far.

he has some strong points but he makes the whole concept sound flawless. I Know most of my food was enginered to be a certain way but the people who engienered it might not have know what was best. case in point, the pork industry. you remeber the slogan "the other white meat"? that was about pigs. pigs did not always produce mostly white meat, they were breed to have extreamly high muscle content. and yes this was all done through selective breeding, so a guy in a lab dosent even come into play. most pigs develope this high muscle content but never move outside a pen thats just a little bigger than there bodies. the most exercise they get is the 20 foot walk to the truck that ships them off to the slaughterhouse. they can actually strain there heart so much by using these muscles for the first time that the die of heart attacks on that little walk. there are tons of other thigs i dont want to dive into like there imune systems are shot because there imunity has been breed away, and that the pork industry decided that the pink meat (the way pigs used to be) actually tastes better. If anyone is interested, look up the last episode of the first season of "this american life" its where i got most this information.

there are tons of potential problems with turning traits on and off in a lab as well. the thing i would be most worried about is mutation. not really a problem when you alter plants, but there could be a huge problem when done to live stock. i honestly didnt understand enough of the information to relay it faithfully so i will summerize the part i know. if the genetic code is altered there is and increased chance that the DNA will mutate much quicker and in unknown ways from what happens normally in the corse of the organisms life. your cells replicate billions of times within your life but the body has ways to regulate mutation. it isnt perfect either, diseases like cancer and lukemia result from mutation. if we say genetically enginered all our cows in the next generation with the same gene manipulation, and that manipulation caused most of the cows to die. there might be an extreamly small percentage that didnt die but still mutated and can harm other things. like what if cows suddenly didnt show signs of mad cow (to be honest though im not entierly sure what eating beff that had mad cow would do to you, i just know they wipe out entire farms to get rid of it so people dont eat tainted beef.) that is all extreamly dummed down of course and it is a worse case scenario. but you have to plan for the worst when you are doing something that way you can be perpared.

i however am hopefull for a future of enginered food. it be great if they could make tomatoes taste like choclate but be two times as healty the the current produce. and i know there is no way to stop this trend (since, like bob said, it was like the first thing we learned how to do). im just cautious of people's tendancy to over do it.

 Pages PREV 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 . . . 15 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Your account does not have posting rights. If you feel this is in error, please contact an administrator. (ID# 54301)