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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 10 2013: In response to "organics" when every body else is eating plastic fruit then you can call your produce organically grown, until then, it's all organic.
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      Nov 11 2013: Organic generally ends up translating as "sustainable". We're not talking about the chemical definition of organic, if we were, plastic fruit would also be considered organic. The problem with the term organic however, is that it has been corrupted by the mega farming industry. At this point it costs so much to label your food organic that most of the "certified organic" foods are actually from highly unsustainable mega farms.
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        Nov 11 2013: the least sustainable way of producing food is small farms or growing your own food in your flat. it is (or might be) a good assurance that it is clean and actually contains nutrients, but it is the most resource intensive way of farming.
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          Nov 11 2013: Small scale farming can be quite sustainable. What is not sustainable is the mega farm industry that we have now, which produces cheap, but toxic foods. Economy of scale only extends so far. A properly designed permaculture system should use very little excess energy. In other words, you would be using only the resources that you would be using anyway. This contrasts current agriculture, where dedicated resources are used for the production of food.

          In either case, as to which forms of agriculture truly are the most sustainable, it is hard to argue that our current farm industry, run by Monsanto et al, is in any way sustainable. The larger the farm, the more difficult it is to stop the spread of disease, and so we pump our animals full of antibiotics. Most of our meat comes from multiple sources, which means an even higher chance of spreading disease. The list of reasons why our current farming paradigm is unsustainable simply goes on and on.
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        Nov 11 2013: please observe that you just claimed the opposite without putting arguments forward.

        there is no fundamental difference between "homegrown" and industrial. there are circumstantial differences, but i'm not talking about that now. in each case, you need to deliver the water, the nutrients, and you need to do some maintenance work. you can, of course, declare these resources negligible, but it is only negligible because it is small compared to your every day's use. this is a false view though, because industrial resource use is also negligible if you divide by the number of people served. and viewing from the other side, homegrown resources use is very high if you multiply by the number of participants.

        it is known on the other hand that industrial techniques are cheaper. like fertilizers and insecticides/fungicides. the result is a cheaper and less resource intensive farming, but usually a lower quality.

        from a sustainability standpoint, none are sustainable, both can be changed to be sustainable, and industrial is actually closer to sustainability.

        as of now, organic/bio/homegrown are only marketed as eco friendly. in fact they are resource intensive, high quality, luxury products. which is not a problem at all, but it is good to see clearly.
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          Nov 11 2013: I most certainly put arguments forward. Regarding economy of scale. I mentioned difficulties in managing larger and larger farms, including the point that industrial farms have far more difficulty managing diseases and that industrial food supply systems also have the same problem. It's why our food is pumped full of antibiotics and pesticides. However, there is also the issue with distribution. For mega farms that produce for people all around the country, if not for multiple countries, a large amount of the energy is used for transportation. In addition, we have had to modify our food stuffs to be able to handle such transportation as well as, in many cases, long term storage.

          I also pointed out that one can grow a certain amount of food really without utilizing any more resources than that person would normally use on a day to day basis. This is not true for all households, but for many. Consider how many people have enough land for the following: house a few chickens, and in addition have a small garden on the property. The chickens keep pests away from the garden. Scraps from the garden feed the chickens. In return, you can get quite a bit of food for very little energy inputted into the system.

          Now, it's true that this wouldn't be able to feed the entire country, but I am saying that economy is scale isn't a perfect ideal. There are reasons why home food production is sustainable, and there are reasons why industrial mega farms are most certainly not sustainable. I also cannot see how an industrial farm could be sustainable. How would you prevent diseases?

          Oh, I should also point out that industrially produced food is not nearly as cheap as it appears because part of that is offset by literally billions upon billions of dollars of government subsidies each year.
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        Nov 11 2013: scaling up can have either zero or positive outcome, but never negative. it is pure logic. if scaling up does not help, you can always just not scale up. instead, build a lot of smaller units. the very fact that people establish large farms indicate that the benefits outweigh the loss. either that, or the industry is made up of total morons that don't understand their own interest. this includes diseases and transportation. farm food is cheaper (all costs included), therefore we can say that solving those problems cost less than the additional value created.

        government subsidy must go. but intensive farming started way before subsidies, and it goes on everywhere, despite the differences. in fact, subsidies are not the cause of centralization, but the effect. large corporations are in a good position to bargain special benefits for themselves. but they have to grow big on their own first.
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          Nov 11 2013: Scaling up often as a negative outcome. Scaling up in business can eventually lead to an inability to actually provide the necessary services for a customer base. Scaling up can end up in the issues I have mentioned above in the farm system. Scaling up can reduce innovative ability. You're right that farming has been around long before subsidies, but think about when the switch over to large scale industrial farming started. Was it around the same time that the industry started receiving subsidies? Government subsidization destroys basic market principals and allows a business to grow far beyond where it "should" and far beyond where it is most efficient.

          How can you assert that subsidization is an effect and not a cause when the subsidization predates the centralization of the industry? I haven't done a full study on the idea, but I like to think of the market in terms of natural evolving systems. When we look at it this way, we see the same kind of limits on growth as we do in the natural world. And, at least to some extent, I have observed caps in growth potential of businesses. Right now it's anecdotal, I'll admit, but I also have provided many reasons why there are limits to economy of scale.
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        Nov 11 2013: i provided a logical (and rather straightforward) argument that scaling up can't have negative *outcome*. that is, can not have *more* negative effects *than* positive effects. it will not be changed by listing negative effects all day long.

        governments have no intent to alienate their voters. in a country of many small farms, governments are happy to subsidy small farms, as it often happens all around the globe. with the existence of large farms, the government is happy to subsidize them too (at the same time) because they employ people, because helping them looks good on television, and because they pay fat pieces of bribe. government interventions go in both directions, they don't care. the government does not what to create anything. they just want to rule the things that exist.
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          Nov 11 2013: "i provided a logical (and rather straightforward) argument that scaling up can't have negative *outcome*. that is, can not have *more* negative effects *than* positive effects. it will not be changed by listing negative effects all day long."

          Well, now you're moving the goalposts. Your original assertion was that scaling up cannot have negative outcomes, now you're saying that it can't have outcomes that are more negative than positive. This is far more complicated to even discuss because we then have to come up with a way to measure negative and positive and compare the measure of both positive and negative outcomes.

          In any case, we're moving far away from the topic of GMOs, so perhaps we should get back to that? Or we can start a new thread. Feel free to post a new discussion on the topic of economy of scale and I'll comment there.
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        Nov 11 2013: listen. outcome is the sum of all effects. can we move on finally?
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          Nov 11 2013: Sure, care to move back to GMOs? Like I said, continuing this thread here doesn't seem appropriate since it's too far off the topic of the "idea".
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        Nov 11 2013: well, it is the same topic actually. GM reduces the costs per unit of output, and therefore more sustainable and more "green" if you will. this, unless of course we let externalities not to be counted. this is the only issue, and actually the same is true for all industries. i see this pattern in a great many cases. some people fear new technologies, but they don't say that, they claim they care for nature. the same argument is used against nuclear power plants. in fact, nuclear power plants are very good for the biosphere. they are dangerous for us only. so if we follow logic and facts, greens should fight for all nuclear solutions, and embrace the possibility of nuclear contamination of cities. the same thing is happening with GM. GM poses a risk mostly to people. it actually helps the biosphere. helps by reducing chemical use, reducing farm area, reducing water use and so on. and people not caring about nature, but fearing negative health effects should oppose GM.
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          Nov 11 2013: There is a fundamental difference between sustainability and cost. I don't see how we can continue on with the discussion as long as you equate the two. You also seem to be ignoring long term "costs" associated with short term gains.
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        Nov 11 2013: in my analysis, i equated sustainability with counting all externalities. if there would be no externalities, sustainability would be guaranteed by the price system.

        this is how it works: suppose there is a finite pool of some resource. if there are no externalities, that resource is owned by some people. if the resource is not essential, it is not a problem if they use it up all. if the resource is essential, the price of the resource goes up as it becomes fewer and fewer. as the owners anticipate the price going up, they will defer their use of the resource, anticipating a greater income in the future. also as the resource starts do deplete (long before it happens), because the price went up, people start to look for ways to either replace that resource, or replenish it. that is how the free market handles scarce resources, if externalities are not allowed.

        now as a contrast, let's examine the situation in which there is a free and unowned resource, like fish in the ocean. in that case, users of the resource are better exploit the resource as soon as they can, or else someone else will. they will not be able to defer the use of the resource, since they don't own it, they can't stop other people using it. there is a race condition to consume as much of it as possible, as soon as possible. and no amount of legislation will be enough. people longing for wealth will always outsmart governments.

        there are only two ways to achieve sustainability. one is internalizing all externalities. the other is totalitarian dictatorship. and i'm not sure about the latter.
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          Nov 11 2013: So you say, but you don't seem to take into account long run effects, and that's really inappropriate. Is the use of fossil fuels more sustainable? It's temporarily more cost effective, but not only will fossil fuels run out, but their use produces a large amount of pollution, which in the future will have to be cleaned up, probably at a high cost.

          Likewise it may cost less to produce food in mass quantities in a factory farm, but at what point does the massive spread of disease end up costing more than the amount that you save by economy of scale? Think of how many outbreaks of E. Coli we've had lately.
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        Nov 11 2013: we digress again, but here you go. you are talking about two resources here: fossil fuels and atmospheric heat radiation balance. the first is easy, we need owners for reservoirs, and they use it in any rate they see fit. we do want to use it all up, why would we want it to be there, unused? and as i explained, as the remaining reservoirs shrink, price goes up, alternative solutions come about. that is all cool.

        the atmosphere is a harder nut to crack. we need to establish rules so everyone using the atmosphere (that is, everyone indeed) owns the atmosphere. nobody should be able to emit anything that affects the composition or state of it without everyone's consent. so either convince us that it is harmless, pay us money, reverse the effects, or stop polluting. that is my proposed solution. but we need laws that trust the people with this decision. we don't need administrations and offices. we need contracts. imagine for example if BP should have signed contracts with each and every fisherman and land owner in the mexican gulf in order to get a drilling licence. i can assure you that they would do a damn good job making sure nothing goes wrong, or else they could say goodbye to any future drilling.

        one might say, but then we will have no drilling. well, okay for me. if something can't be done convincingly safely, don't do that. but in fact it can, and a good insurance solves the problems. compensation for any damages guaranteed, as well as consent of everyone involved.

        once again you think that every entrepreneur is a silly-wally. they understand very well the risks of infections. that is why they have separated areas, that is why they have like "turns" or what on animal farms, with sterilization in between. that is why they use chemicals. and that is why they have insurances. big farms are fine, thanks for asking.

        and to be on topic, that is why they use GM.
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          Nov 12 2013: Why shouldn't we use up all of the fossil fuels? Well, have you been keeping on eye on the amount of pollution they cause? What about acid rain? There's a problem with just burning up all the fossil fuels. Fossil fuel burning can also increase the amount of respiratory conditions that a population face.

          Massive farms are not fine. Beyond the issue with treatment of the livestock, they are pumping tons of toxic chemicals into the environment and into our food system. They are also decreasing the nutritional content of food. And as I mentioned before, we have outbreak after outbreak of E Coli and other diseases and require nation wide recalls thanks to the mass production system. Big farms are not doing fine. As I mentioned, the only reason that they can manage is because of the high rate of subsidization.
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        Nov 12 2013: there are two possibilities. either you are superficially reading my comments, or you deliberately try to derail the conversation. which one is it?

        i explicitly discussed the problem if finiteness and the problem of pollution as two separate issues. in the first paragraph, i explained that finiteness is not an argument against using it all. in the second paragraph, i have explained my position on pollution. in your reply, you simply ignore the second part, and pretend that i don't know about it. what the heck?

        the same is true about farming. i refuted your previous points, they are now ignored, and came up with other stuff. who were talking about moving goalposts?

        environmental issues are discussed in my analysis that you have ignored. i have nothing to add.

        e-coli is less likely to be an issue with large scale farming. manure spreads coli. artificial fertilizers don't. grazing spreads coli. artificial fodders or what is the name do not. no surprise, a few years ago there was an especially aggressive coli outbreak in germany. the government was very active finding the source, then suddenly abandoned the issue. the source is almost certainly was a bio (organic for americans) farm, which are very popular in germany. oops.
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          Nov 12 2013: Quite honestly, I didn't see how your discussion regarding pollution actually did anything to address how sustainable it is, nor does it in any way help your argument regarding the conflation of immediate cost and long term sustainability measure.

          You say you have refuted my previous points regarding farming, but how can you say that when almost 200,000 pounds of food has just been recalled due to a multi-state E. coli outbreak? http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2013/11/bagged-salads-suspected-multistate-e-coli-outbreak. That amounts to literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasted food and who knows how much in medical bills.
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        Nov 12 2013: let me reiterate then. pollution is an externality. there are two ways of getting rid of it: internalizing and forbidding. we need a combination of the two. sustainability is automatically granted by these, except if people are totally idiots. nobody will pollute his own property if it makes it lose value. and nobody will allow anybody to pollute his property. uncontrolled pollution happens only when there is a possibility for the tragedy of commons. it is a wrong approach to ban certain activities. we should only ban the unwanted results. let inventors come up with ways to do things without unwanted results.

        how many percent of the total output was that 200000 pounds? hundreds of thousands sounds like a drop in the ocean. we should not look at occasional events, but averages. also bear in mind that big farms still use a lot of "organic" methods, for example they feed hay and things like that to animals. let technology continue, and cattle will never see anything natural ever. they will never even see a single coli bacterium. another fifty years later there will be no cattle, just factory grown artificial meat. and that will be safer than any food we have ever had. and also it will be more sustainable. and a lot cheaper.

        that is the way we are walking for some tens of thousands of years now. won't stop to please you.
      • Nov 19 2013: Do YOU volunteer to spend all your time growing food? Barring that, who do you nominate to be slaughtered in order to reduce population to levels that can actually be sustained by this "organic" and "sustainable" fad?
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          Nov 19 2013: Your argument is full of logical fallacies. Getting rid of the unsustainable mega farms, or more precisely, allowing them to fall under their own weight by removing their subsidies, would not mean that I would have to produce my own food, although I do produce some, and plan on producing a lot more in the future. Neither would it reduce the food supply. Far more food is produced than can be consumed right now. Big farms are actually paid to throw out food. The problem, in most of the world, is distribution.

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