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Public Response to GMOs

In today's world when people prefer organic vegetables and ayurvedic medicines as compared to vegetables grown using pesticides and synthetically produced medicines , what response will the public have for Genetically Modified Organisms? Will they carry forward the trend of having customized organisms or will be a hindrance to evolution and prefer the same old stuff?


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    Nov 7 2013: I don't think GMO's are part of evolution in the traditional understanding of evolution. Evolution is about nature taking her time for the good of all living things in and on our planet. Scientists working in a lab for a transnational corporations which are focused on making profits at the expense of people and the environment is not evolutionary.

    If nature had intended for scorpion DNA to be present in tomatoes so that they look ultra-red, I am sure nature would have figured this out over the past 65-million years. To my mind scorpion DNA doesn't belong in tomatoes, same goes of other weird DNA splicing, whether is be the anti-freeze properties of Arctic fish blood, to make plants frost resistant or bits of DNA from germs, bacteria or viruses to make crops pest or drought resistant.

    Apart from the crop yield, ethical and bio-diversity issues, I don't think anywhere near enough long-term studies have been done to prove whether GMO's are safe for humans or not.
    As a footnote - BSE: which plagued the beef industry in the UK, 20 odd years ago, came about because some "bright spark" thought it would be OK to feed cattle who are vegetarians with cow cake, made from sheep offal which was contaminated with "scrapie" which has been common disease in sheep for hundreds of years, then jumped the species barrier, to the cattle, and from the cattle to humans and to a lesser extent cats and dogs. During the first 5-years or so of the BSE crisis in the UK were were told that beef was safe for human consumption, when it later transpired it was not.
    Finally and if you can cope with my quirky turn of mind - GMO's in our food and drinks may at some future point lead to bizarre human mutation. Unfortunately the gene is out of the bottle GMO's have been unleashed onto the natural world, so I think all we can do a wait and see what happens - for myself I don't buy or consume GMO products, for anyone who is interested in the non-exhaustive list of companies that use GMO's email me.
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      Nov 7 2013: Hi Anna, in a technical sense GMOs are what they are regardless of the process they are made with. They can be a product of mutation and natural selection over a long period of time, but man, in the lab could produce the same change in very little time.
      As to scorpion DNA in tomato: how do you know that nature didn't do similar thing ?
      Just to give you an idea, all living organisms have DNA in common. A chimpanzee, with all its differences has 98 % of genes in common with humans. Even a tiny fruit fly still shares 36 % with us and a bacterium 7 %.
      In other words, even we share a certain percentage of genes with both, scorpions and tomatoes.
      I said it already many times and repeat it once more, genetic modification by humans is a technology as many others. What we do with this technology only depends on us. We can use it for the better or the worse, but condemning the technology as such is misguided.
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        Nov 7 2013: Hi Harald,
        Fair one - I am not a geneticist however I do have a rudimentary understanding of the technology involved and the way they go about selecting strands of DNA from one organism to mix/splice with another.
        Re: Scorpion DNA in tomatoes: if nature already put it there, traces of scorpion DNA would have shown up in pre-GM tests and the geneticists wouldn't have had to add it about 7-years ago.
        Yes all living things on this planet share some % of DNA, but just because we do, doesn't mean it is safe, ethical or appropriate to mix DNA across species. We wouldn't at this point breed humans with chimp to come up with some new hybrid being on ethical grounds (or maybe in some laboratories they are doing this??? Who knows???
        Yes, genetic modification is a technology one of many technologies at our disposal at this point in time, however technology is not "evolution" and we have a responsibilities and choice to make as to whether we use GM technology for good or ill.
        I wouldn't say that I condemn the technology, which enables genetic engineering, as I fully support research into genetic engineering when is comes to human medical sciences in the search for the cure to disease.
        I just don't trust corporations who develop GMO food and drink products and I don't trust our government's to be honest with us as most are sponsored by transnationals and dependent on them to fund their election campaigns and more. Lets face it in spite of global demands by consumers to label GMO food products government's worldwide are resisting, why???
        I accept that humans have been tampering and tinkering with nature since the first cave people - however the tinkering and tampering back in the day happened slowly and our biology was able to keep pace with change - In the GM Food scenario the changes to our food is happening fast, will our bio-systems be able to cope with these changes???
        I still maintain that no enough research or long-term study has gone into the human health impacts.
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          Nov 7 2013: Anna, here we are looking at a number of different issues,
          1) the technology itself, which you admit isn't inherently evil
          2) different kinds of genetic modification: yes, agree, I'm not a proponent either to slice genes with the simple purpose of producing a cat that glows green in the dark. However I'm a proponent of biotechnology such as GM bacteria producing a certain chemical that would be much more complicated, costly and environmental unfriendly to produce with conventional synthesis.
          3) Genes are simply pieces from the DNA strand. It doesn't really matter where it comes from, but in the public eyes it sounds more interesting (or scary, depends whom you ask) if you can say that a scorpion gene was implanted into a tomato. Humans might actually have this very same gene in the DNA strand but it's not activated.
          4) I agree about the ethical side. Theoretically we might be able to custom design a human, which obviously brings some ethical problems with it.
          5) yes again, it's our choice to decide what we do with the technologies at hand. Guns are produced for hunting purpose but some people also use them to kill other people. Same technology, different use. Same is true for GMOs and any other technology.
          6) A healthy distrust (different from paranoia) in governments and corporations is certainly something that makes sense. Sometimes it's just difficult, especially for the man on the road, to separate truth from lie.
          7) I'm not sure whether or not govts. actively resist labeling of GMO based foods. Probably don't do but just don't make it a priority.
          In any case, most people would be shocked anyway because I really think that today it's more likely to find foodstuff that's directly or indirectly (animals fed with GMOs) based on GMOs. Hence, little room to escape from this reality unless you plant your own veggies.
          8) Not enough research. Probably true, or at least it's poorly communicated, but then it also depends of the nature of the particular modification.

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