TED Conversations

Brenda Munoz

This conversation is closed.

gm foods bad? or good?

About 80 percent of the people in Europe oppose GM foods and not many people in America are aware we eat GM food. There is a growing debate about whether or not we should have GM foods.

  • Dec 27 2011: I'm happy to put food on the table let alone worry about how it's grown. I think people in the U.S. just worry that they don't know if it will hurt them in the long run
    • thumb
      Dec 27 2011: WOULD it do anything harmful in the long run?
      • thumb
        Dec 28 2011: Could do, but it's unlikely to do more damage than the less controlled hybridization we've been eating for the last century. For GM crops to go to market require much more stringent tests. Ask yourself if starving Africans, who need drought resistant crops, would care about a highly hypothetical risk.
        • Dec 28 2011: Matthieu,

          Have there not been incidents where the starving Africans did resist GM foods, for a variety of reasons?

          I seem to recall Angola, Sudan, Zambia and others tried to prevent GM foods in the country. However, the import of the food wad tied into other forms of economic aid, and thus forced on the 'starving Africans' it supposedly benefits.

        • thumb
          Dec 28 2011: Seth, you make a good point. i recall that they refused aid from the United States because they did not want the GM food. But what is the big issue with the use of GM? Why are some people willing to starve rather than give genetically modified foods a chance?
        • thumb
          Dec 28 2011: I know nothing about foreign newspapers, I picked the first that covered that story
          My source are a few documentaries and discussion programs.I posted good links before but can't find them anymore.
          Here is one of them.


          A good story made by German, French, Canadian cooperation.
      • thumb
        Dec 28 2011: I think some of the issues around accepting the aid has been about the introduction of "terminator seeds" and the loss of biodiversity.

        I am going to look for an article I read recently about the increase in price of food in India after the introduction of proprietary seeds (which are actually more the issue than the GM factor). People aren't allowed to hold back a percentage of their crop to plant subsequent years.
        • thumb
          Dec 28 2011: A just opposition, but to my knowledge, this technology has never been commercialised. However that hardly constitutes the GM crop landscape today particularly when humanitarian efforts are concerned. The problem is not GM as you say. It would be good to see Monsanto lose its monopoly on GM crops. That can't happen until there's a real market for GM crops arises though.
        • thumb
          Dec 28 2011: I would love to see the article, so if you could please link that :)
          Only Monsanto owns GM foods?
      • thumb
        Dec 28 2011: Brenda, GM food is really harmful.
        The whole issue was discussed before but it can't be said often enough: the production of food from seeds distributed by companies like Monsanto form a disaster for life on earth including us.

        Many thousands of farmers in India have committed suicide after using these seeds. They have to buy new every year with the fertilizer and herbicide. The yield of harvest isn't as good as promised. The soil gets dead and bees are wiped out because they take in the herbicide with the nectar. The crops of neighbors are pollinated with the patented pollen of the Monsanto seeds and they need to pay Monsanto for it. The investments are too high and farms are ruined so the only way out is to kill yourself.


        There are documentaries made in India, Canada, Mexico and more countries to illustrate the dangers from real events. How the many varieties of maize are threatened by the modified pollen from plants grown out Monsanto seeds. How government in the US is infiltrated by Monsanto people to manipulate the course of affairs and opinions. And worst of all is how those few companies monopolize the food production worldwide.

        It is really necessary that all that is alive can’t be patented anymore whether it is manipulated or not.
        • thumb
          Dec 28 2011: The daily mail is your source? I'm surprised it doesn't say GM gives you cancer, everything gives you cancer in the daily mail world.
        • thumb
          Dec 28 2011: I actually saw a documentary on this, and the statistics fro their death is quite scary. Maybe they're not dying directly because of the GM food, but rather because of the company that controls GM foods and how much in debt they get.

          Matthieu, is the Daily mail a bad source?
        • thumb
          Dec 28 2011: Here's the one I read:

          (which is
          http://www.vancouverobserver.com/world/2011/12/15/indian-cotton-farmers-maneuver-between-fair-trade-monsanto-and-debt-search-better?page=0,1 if you prefer the long URL).

          It discusses the ramifications of pest-resistant cotton, and new pests taking over where the old pests can no longer affect the crop.
        • thumb
          Dec 28 2011: The daily mail is a tabloid, it's the worst of sources, just look at the articles presented in the sidebar to get an idea of the target audience. Some of my colleagues at Newcastle University made a recycling camera project a few months ago that was tested on a few university accommodations and the daily mail wrote a scathing attack on my friends accusing them of working for a 'Big Brother' type project for the British government. I think I am well-placed to say they are utter filth. They're also famous for linking just about everything to cancer.
        • thumb
          Dec 28 2011: Thank you Gisela and Frank, the links are very helpful.
      • thumb
        Dec 28 2011: Yes Seth, that is entirely correct and its outrageous. If you investigated those reasons, you might find that your comment doesn't really vindicate your position at all. It's more of a question of campaigning from organisations that make up their mind before the facts (i.e Greenpeace and co) then any sort of real danger.
        • thumb
          Dec 28 2011: So would the problem arise from the monopolized industry? Hypothetically speaking if we were to remove Monsanto from the equation, then would the concern for genetically modified food decrease?
      • thumb
        Dec 28 2011: It should, but it probably won't. Many people have already made up their mind before the facts. I think Michael Specter tackles it in his TEDtalk. Strong opposition is often given the same rank as evidence (just look at Seth's comment for example, there's an assumption that opposition is necessarily rational) even though they are so far apart. The vaccine scare is an example of a total non-evidence based opposition that grows in number by simply existing (thankfully only in the US, in the UK, Wakefield lost his medical license).
        • thumb
          Dec 28 2011: "Big Brother" *chuckle*, how I enjoyed "1984".
          I also recall the pressing issue of labeling al the food that is genetically modified. What do you think?
      • thumb
        Dec 28 2011: @Frans: Fair enough. I'd say avoid the daily mail, the sun, the mirror...anything sensationalist really. I'll have a look at the documentary. I have also been told to watch 'the world according to Monsanto' which is in the thumbnails.
      • thumb
        Dec 29 2011: Naturally yes, the consumer needs to be aware of what he is purchasing. As I said earlier, GM isn't as much of a necessity in the industrialised world so let the consumers chose between GM and their organic products.
      • thumb
        Dec 29 2011: Brenda, I will bring to mind which I haven't heard of yet but is worth considering.
        If bees appear to disappear due to pollen and nectar that contains poisoning "Roundup", it is well possible that the food we eat from those plants contain that same poison.
  • thumb
    Dec 27 2011: Probably because we've learned that large agricorps don't actually have our best interests at heart, and have no problem making people sick if it boosts their bottom line.

    I believe you are still drinking milk in the US from cows injected with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) - banned pretty much everywhere else in the civilized world. Even though it is banned here (Canada), I tend to stick with organic for what little milk/cream I use, as I am somewhat squicked by the (yeah, I will just not specify the details here - you can go look it up if you want to know) and the treatment of the cows with factory farming.

    Of course, you also live in a nation where it is perfectly legal to report false news, something that certain interests tried to pass here last year (in advance of Faux News North *cough* I mean "SunTV" opening its doors). So you don't actually have any "right to know".

    I know I sound like a distrustful conspiracy theorist, but what's that saying? Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean no one is following you.
    • thumb
      Dec 28 2011: HAHA! Actually, I agree with you on that last comment.
  • thumb
    Dec 27 2011: The only two arguments I have ever accepted as valid is that it is hard to contain, meaning that GM crops can spread to non-GM fields, and that in our industrialized countries, it's hardly necessary (but of course, that arguments hardly holds in countries which could benefit from drought resistant plants). Otherwise, it's mostly all fear-mongering from activists who don't really know the science of it all or how crops have been improved up to now (because it's an error to believe that today's non-GM crops haven't been artificially selected for higher yields, Norman Burlaugh life revolved around it). There is this pervasive nonsensical idea that natural means safe. Plants make their own toxins, they didn't wait for agriculture to fight off pests.
  • Dec 28 2011: I'm not sure Brenda but I think it was around that time, you seem to know more than I do.
  • Dec 27 2011: Hi Brenda
    It has not been around long enough to know, let's hope not.
    • thumb
      Dec 28 2011: They came about in 1996 correct?