The Conversation reports:

Scientists today said they were appalled and disappointed by Greenpeace protesters who whippersnippered a genetically modified wheat crop being grown as part of a CSIRO trial.

The trial crop was part of an investigation into altering wheat carbohydrate content to reduce glycaemic response and improve metabolic health. Planting began in 2009.

Greenpeace’s justification?

“GM has never been proven safe to eat and once released in open experiments, it will contaminate. This is about the protection of our health, the protection of our environment and the protection of our daily bread.”

How are scientists supposed to discover whether it is safe to eat if you destroy experiments that would address that question?

Update: John Quiggin “It will be a long time before Greenpeace can regain my support, if they ever do.”

Update 2: Christopher Preston:

There is no evidence to support the claims of hazard about this trial made by Greenpeace.

I am left with the view that the destruction of this trial was unnecessary and wanton. That’s why the destruction of this trial has left me completely appalled.

Comments

  1. #1 Tristan
    July 15, 2011

    Jakerman:

    Our tried and tested hybridisation does not produce large random damage to the genome like a gene gun does (damage to genes can have significant and unpredicatable an effects).
    Nor does our hybridiastion place the new the new gene is a random spot along the gene sequnce (like the gene gun, where changing place on in the gene sequence can have significant and unpredicatable an effects).

    Do you realise that you’re making exactly the same error made by creationists when they dismiss evolution: focusing on the “random” and completely failing to consider the all-important selection?

    Let’s look at what happens when plant cells are transfected with a new gene. First, out of the millions that are treated, only those that stably express the vector are selected for. Of those, the ones that have incorporated defective or empty vector are weeded out. Then, the ones that fail to form proper plants are of course discarded. Of the population left, the edible parts are thoroughly assayed against their wild-type counterparts to look for any nasty surprises. Then, after all the boxes have been ticked, a crop may be grown for safety trials in animals. It’s only after years of testing that a new GM product goes to market.

    Now, let’s consider some numbers. An average cell, plant or human, undergoes between one and ten DNA damage events every second. All entirely random, most (but not all) repaired with high fidelity. In the time you’ve taken to read this, the DNA in your body has undergone some few hundred trillion double-stranded breaks. Obviously, since you’re still with us, random DNA damage isn’t really as scary as it sounds.

    Now let’s consider the techniques used in traditional plant breeding. In order to develop a wide range of variability to select for, the tried-and-true method used by plant breeders is to… expose plants to mutagens. Flush a greenhouse with mustard gas, expose the plants to a cobalt-60 gamma source, that sort of thing. Then collect the seeds, plant them and see what comes up.

    The level of testing required need be no more than “Oooh, that’s a BIG one!” – there is no safety testing required for plants developed in this manner. Most of the fruit and vegetables currently sold in supermarkets have at least one such event in their family tree.

    So, if it’s really the spectre of random genetic changes with inadequate safety testing that you’re afraid of, I’d advise against eating… well, pretty much anything, really.

  2. #2 jakerman
    July 15, 2011

    >*Funny how these Greenpeace people with brains never duke it out in the peer-reviewed literature.*

    Nexus6, [here is](https://p3-admin.greenpeace.org/australia/PageFiles/321712/Greenpeace%20Report_Australia's%20Wheat%20Scandal.pdf) a key reason there are few independent studies in the peer review:

    >In 2009, Scientific American and Nature Biotechnology reported that GM company contracts prohibit independent researchers from accessing the seed needed for environmental and health research.

    >The independent research on GM that does exist consistently reports different results to GM company research on both the health risks and agronomic performance of GM crops

    [...]

    >Greenpeace has submitted a Freedom of Information request to the CSIRO for both the health and safety parameters and the ethics clearance papers relating to the testing of GM
    wheat on humans. CSIRO has denied this request, declaring this information commercial in confidence.

    The Australian public fund the CSIRO, yet CSIRO’s commercial partnerships forbid the disclosure of health and safety parameters of tests.

    [Here are](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/07/greenpeace_destroy_genetically.php#comment-4450412) some of the commercial interests.

  3. #3 Wow
    July 15, 2011

    > focusing on the “random” and completely failing to consider the all-important selection?

    But we don’t know the consequence of the selection.

    After all, I could SELECT you for vivisection to see if I can remember where the appendix goes.

    So stop complaining about the randomness of my desires and consider the all-important SELECTION.

    Gene splicing puts us in a situation where we have nothing to guide us: there are no natural insect/wheat hybrids. Cross breeding puts us in a nearby available genetic space, where our extrapolations can at least be vaguely trusted.

    You’re like the denialists who look at the projection of 2-3C warming and think “Well, that’s only a little bit warmer” when forgetting that 2-3C warmer could take us into a new climate pattern, one where we don’t know and can’t reliably extrapolate our experience so far.

    You’re like the man falling off a tower block, thinking “I’m safe so far and I’ve fallen 10 floors. So another 10 won’t do any harm”. Whooshing past the second floor saying “So far, so good!”.

  4. #4 Jeff Harvey
    July 15, 2011

    *Of the population left, the edible parts are thoroughly assayed against their wild-type counterparts to look for any nasty surprises*

    So much for Triustan’s argument. He lost it right there. Thoroughly assayed by who? The patent owner? This kind of argument is made up on the spot. To reiterate again, interphylogenetic GMOs create organisms that could never have occurred in nature. Never. Period. As Jakerman said, the technology is very crude. Its not the same as traditional plant breeding, not by a long shot.

    And not surprisingly Tristan has not addressed the myriad of other reasons to hold this technology in grave doubt. Let’s say its safe to eat for argument’s sake. That in no way makes it socially or environmentally sound technology.

    Back to the drawing board for you, Tristan.

  5. #5 Tristan
    July 15, 2011

    Wow: what the fuck?

  6. #6 jakerman
    July 15, 2011

    >*Let’s look at what happens when plant cells are transfected with a new gene. First, out of the millions that are treated, only those that stably express the vector are selected for. Of those, the ones that have incorporated defective or empty vector are weeded out*

    Only the cells that appear stable using limited screening are selected for, we don’t know how stable they are due to the signification and unknown damage that occurs to the genome.

    Rather than the conventions causes of mutations we have evolved to deal with, gene guns make are large disruption in the formation state on the new gene, these mutations are subsequently passed to every cell of the new organisation, multiplying billions of times. This is radically different to the rate of mutation normally dealt with by organisms.

  7. #7 SteveC
    July 15, 2011

    @ Tim, sorry, for the first time since I’ve been lurking and commenting here, I just can’t see what the fuss is all about. One CSIRO GMO experimental plot gets trashed, a few in the dotEDUdotAU community get snotty, and this is the downfall of Greenpeace? I mean, really??. For the life of me I can’t see why this is worth more than a mention, let alone what some at The Conversation are getting their knickers in a knot about.

    I’m with jakerman, Jeff Harvey and those who:

    a) question the efficacy of the methods employed to insert genes in plant genomes;

    b) have rational, reasonable grounds for significant unresolved doubts about the benefits accrued from these radically modified organisms vs. the potential effects of their release into “the wild” (and the consequent, significant [until proven otherwise] risk to naturally-occurring organisms, communities and ecosystems – i.e the Precautionary Principle);

    c) wonder about the influence of the $ and significant global corporate influence on scientific establishments and endeavour; and

    d) highlight the need for long-term studies to determine whether human intake of GMOs AND their release into the environment has, on balance, an undesirable effect.

    And to those who’ve suddenly come over all conscience-stricken about their Greenpeace subscription over this (relatively) minor issue, I say you were Clayton’s supporters in the first place – a few Greepeace bods slashing a CSIRO plot isn’t exactly busting into Crick and Watson’s lab and shutting off the power. It’s probably a cock-up on the part of Greenpeace, and certainly a PR blunder, but the event itself is small beer people. Get a bloody grip.

    [FTR I'm not a Greenpeace subscriber, but I do subscribe to several volunteer not-for-profit organisations. For those who can't see the wood for the trees, I support these organisations (like I would Greenpeace) for their general approach to the matters I give a shit about, and more often than not their take on specific matters. This does NOT mean I support EVERY SINGLE EDICT OR ACTION they take - indeed, if any one of these orgs acted in a way I wasn't happy with, I'd ping others' views and make damned bloody sure the organisation knew that a number of their supporters, members and subscribers had the right raving shits and wanted something done about it.]

    PS Whether the majority of academics at The Conversation or the assorted commenters here crticise, castigate and calumnify Greenpeace or not, the plain fact is that without activist organisations like them (and FoTE, The Wilderness Society and the Victorian Forest Alliance), approaching sweet fucque-all would ever get on GetUp, let alone the MSM, and it certainly would not get stopped when it needed to be stopped (see the shit-fight that is Australian Regional Forestry Agreements). Before anyone jumps down my throat, I’m not saying that these organisations don’t make mistakes and are not above criticism, but without them our planet would be a significantly worse place.

    By all means let’s have intelligent, informed debate about GMOs, and certainly let’s debate effective methods of protest. But FFS people, getting all steamed up about one hiccup in a greater issue? Get some f**king persepctive.

  8. #8 jakerman
    July 15, 2011

    Further more, stability of genes in not the only concern with significant random mutation. There are also toxic effects induced by exposure to products of stable but significantly altered novel genes.

  9. #9 Wow
    July 15, 2011

    SteveC, that comment was rather like Richard Dawkins one to the Skepchick complaints.

    And you know what happened to HIM!

    All I’m saying is take care out there…

  10. #10 jakerman
    July 15, 2011

    [Here are](http://www.seedsofdeception.com/Public/GeneticRoulette/HealthRisksofGMFoodsSummaryDebate/index.cfm) some of the observations we should studying openly to either increase confidence in the safety of GMOs or improve understand so that GMO can safety problems can be confronted.

    Currently such open disclosure and review is [not on offer](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/07/greenpeace_destroy_genetically.php#comment-4450294).

  11. #11 Jeff Harvey
    July 15, 2011

    Brilliant post by SteveC. Many thanks for it, and also to jakerman.

    I am not a member of Greenpeace, but IMHO this incident is a blip of insignificant proportions. A stupid, irrational act and a PR blunder for sure, but not worthy of some of the invective I am reading on this thread.

    My concern is certainly much more placed in the direction of a small number of essentially borderless, immensely powerful multinational corporations who appear to be trying to take over control of the human food chain. And of course there are many reasons for this concern as I have alluded to above, and which Ewan and his acolytes have failed to address at all successfully. Monique Robin addresses some of these concerns with great alacrity in her book, “The World According to Monsanto” (chilling read, I may say). “Redesigning Life”, edited by Brian Tokar and with contributions from many scientists, also is worth a read.

  12. #12 Tristan
    July 15, 2011

    Intelligent and informed debate? Yes, that’d be nice indeed! Instead, we’re stuck with word salad like this:

    Rather than the conventions causes of mutations we have evolved to deal with, gene guns make are large disruption in the formation state on the new gene, these mutations are subsequently passed to every cell of the new organisation, multiplying billions of times.

    and similar strings of sciencey sounding words from people who don’t understand the basic science – heck, don’t even understand the basics of what science is. But, they’ve got positions, and they’re strong positions. Important positions, darn it. And being strong, important decisions, they have to be defended at all costs. If defending them requires the use of large quantities of bafflegab, lots of emotional buzzwords, ignoring counterpoints and outright lying – well, so be it. After all, these are strong, important positions we’re talking about, so of course defending them is paramount, right? Right?

  13. #13 Wow
    July 15, 2011

    > and similar strings of sciencey sounding words from people who don’t understand the basic science

    Rather odd coming from someone who has dished out their own smorgasbord of greenstuffs themselves on this splendid picnic.

    Again there’s nothing here about what “science is” that is understood, instead just a tirade against people who don’t agree with tristan.

  14. #14 jakerman
    July 15, 2011

    Tristan I note your declination to address the arguemnt and instead your fall back on abuse. So be it.

  15. #15 Michael
    July 15, 2011

    I’d agree that GP’s action wasn’t all that clever.

    But I’m also not so thrilled with the CSIRO experiment.

    Our experiences with experimentation in the field of agronomy have been pretty disastrous (something like 4 useful pasture grasses for 60+ noxious weeds over the 20th C) . It seemed like a reasonable idea to grow a few feilds of some potential useful grasses and see how they went……except that some went quite well and, strange as it may seem, they just spread….and keep spreading.

    Gamba grass is threatening the destruction of the tropical savannahs from one such failed experiment.

    I’d like to think we’ve learned our lesson, but the controls on these experiments seem just a little lax.

    If something like this were a medical experiment, I suggest it might have a snowflakes-chance-in-hell of getting ethics approval.

  16. #16 Ian Forrester
    July 15, 2011

    Here is a [web site](http://gmcropsfarmertofarmer.com/) which includes a video on how farmers are reacting to the GMO “revolution”:

  17. #17 Daniel J. Andrews
    July 15, 2011

    Actually Tristan makes a good point regarding word salad. The one he quoted reveals the person making the statement doesn’t understand what they’re talking about so an informed debate isn’t possible. Every second rebuttal would be “Please crack open a first-year textbook”.

    We should listen though to find out what their concerns are. Maybe they’re misinformed, or maybe they might have valid concerns but lack the background to articulate it, or lack the knowledge to know why that particular concern has already been addressed. If they choose to remain willfully ignorant so they can hold onto their opinions in the face of contrary fact, then they’ll be no different from other deniers of all stripes.

    I also think we should listen because their concerns may initially be more about marketing, market domination and monopolies, economics, onerous restrictions on farmers/growers, etc. That is a whole other area of debate, and I think we should first learn what a person’s main objection is–economic/free market or the actual science, or both strongly intertwined–you can explain the science all you want and not change a person’s mind** if their objections are based on past abuses by large companies. And in economics, opinion is often just as valid as any other knowledge.

    **I know, often you can explain science all you want and still not change a person’s mind even if their objection is strictly based on their misinformed science.

  18. #18 Isabel
    July 15, 2011

    “Planting GM food releases genes into the environment which contaminates others’ crops against their wishes. That’s all there is to it.”

    Exactly. And to repeat, this GM experiment is totally unnecessary. Try eating less wheat or stick to complex carbs (in moderation) for the exact same results. Or better, since we already know that that alternative works.

    Why this experiment? just because it is “science” all us scientists must defend it?

  19. #19 Wow
    July 15, 2011

    So why not look into other posts, Daniel? E.g. Ian Forrester above. Or Jeff Harvey. Or any post by anyone where the posters position is articulated to your satisfaction?

    In short, rather than look for posts you don’t understand, look for posts you do. If there aren’t any THEN articulate your problem with the counter proposal posts.

  20. #20 Ian Forrester
    July 15, 2011

    Watching the deniers claims that Dr. Pusztai’s research protocol was wrong and badly designed. Too bad that wtd did not show some sceptism and actually read what others have found out about the correctness of Dr. Pusztai’s research.

    For those not cognizant of the Royal Society’s biased and completely wrong assessment of GMO’s I will point out that they have been shown to act like the AGW deniers in their biased and compromised support of the GMO promoters.

    [Here](http://www.gmwatch.org/latest-listing/1-news-items/12411-biotech-propaganda-cooks-dangers-out-of-gm-potatoes) is a summary of the conclusions reached by independent scientists on the quality and validity of Dr. Pusztai’s research findings:

    Dr. Pusztai’s research design had already been used in over 50 peer-reviewed published studies conducted at the Rowett Institute, the most prestigious nutritional institute in the UK. Furthermore, the design was explicitly approved in advance by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)—the UK government’s main funding body for the biological sciences.

    The validity of the work was also confirmed by an independent team of 23 top scientists from around the world who reviewed the research, as well as The Lancet, that published it.

    But Chassy and Tribe instead reference their partners-in-spin from the Royal Society. As indicated in Part 1, at the Society there are plenty of scientists with close ties to the biotech industry who came in quite handy during the Pusztai affair. They staged a so-called peer-review—the first in the Society’s 350-year history—but it was more of a hatchet job. The reviewers didn’t even bother to look at all the research data. Dr. Pusztai told me he had offered to provide the complete findings and to meet with them to answer questions, but they refused.

    The editor of The Lancet, Richard Horton, denounced the Royal Society’s unprecedented condemnation of Dr. Pusztai as “a gesture of breathtaking impertinence to the Rowett Institute scientists who should be judged only on the full and final publication of their work.” He called it a “reckless decision” that abandoned “the principles of due process”.

    I urge readers to read the whole report as it confirms the government and institutional bias and dishonesty in approaching the GMO debate.

    A very good web site for info on GMO’s is GMwatch which is on a par with Realclimate in giving an honest description of what is happening with GMO’s.

  21. #21 John Quiggin
    July 15, 2011

    “Let me ask the proponents of GMOs this: if the public really does want GMO food, why is it that they refuse to allow marking of food products with GMO products in it?”

    Umm, because labelling of all GM foods is mandatory

    http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumerinformation/gmfoods/

  22. #23 Neven
    July 15, 2011

    I want to thank some of you guys, Jeff Harvey, jakerman, Wow, Ian Forrester, for your passionate and informed rebuttal. I know I should be researching it more myself and form my own opinion (which I will do some more, climate science takes up all of my reading time), but you confirm my suspicion that something is very rotten in the state of Monsanto.

    I still wonder how people like Ewan R manage to stay working in this industry. If even 25% of the charges against Monsanto are true, that means you are complicit in all the misery that is being caused. I couldn’t live with that. I mean, I’m just a measly translator who feels his conscience gnawing when he has translated some horrible reality-show so that the format can be sold in other countries.

    If Monsanto is the monster it seems to be (like so many other multinationals and banks out there), it is people like Ewan R who make it possible. What a horrible and saddening thought. So many smart people who could be so much more useful in a positive way. But that what’s you get in a brainwashing culture.

  23. #24 Marion Delgado
    July 15, 2011

    I trust greenpeace more than the so-called skeptics who are market fundies to a man.

    The contamination has not been by design of neighbors – that’s simply paid propaganda.

    Until the so-called skeptical movement becomes anything other than a mouthpiece for the corporations, no one will, or should, trust it. The amount of bad faith out there is enormous.

    we have very real issues – theft of the commons, strangulation of the poor by intellectual property, the loss of species diversity, the violation of the rights of smaller farmers by larger ones and by the artificial agriculture giants, the very short term of the unsustainable “green revolution” – all of which get swept under the rug by a corps of people uncritically parroting a line that to address them is “unscientific.”

  24. #25 Marion Delgado
    July 15, 2011

    You shouldn’t sabotage testing, agreed – that’s how you gather evidence to regulate things.

    But I think honestly the reaction is mostly bullshit. Fake balance. Look at the narrowest possible safety considerations, period, because it’s corporate friendly – put the burden of proof on the unfunded public and volunteers. It’s precisely that corporate-friendly, artificially narrowed focus that leads to things like climate change.

    It reminds me of chris mooney’s guest on point of inquiry – to show a fake balance, he said, while cons didn’t get the NAS view right on A, B, C, D … liberals didn’t get the NAS view right on the safety (to people) of disposing of radioactive waste in deep ocean ridges. Without breaking it down by education (liberals are at the 2 ends). Not asking about what was in the media – disposing of it at a place like Yucca Flats.

    Oh, and where are the people, I ask again for, what? the 100th time? taking the lying bastards at “Brave New Climate” to task for their public-endangering proven lying about Fukushima? It’s easy to pile on a public-interest group, but not so easy to take on people who shill for powerful corporate interests, is it?

  25. #26 Majorajam
    July 15, 2011

    Really disappointed by this thread and many of those who’ve proven so capable in other venues. Special tip of the hat to Vince Whirlwind in that regard for his ‘balancing extremists’ contribution. Might be worth his googling Northern Ireland or the Occupied Territories to see how that works in practice. Alternatively googling ‘reap the whirlwind’ will probably do.

    More generally, it would be nice if the anti-GMO jihadists refrained from conflating the distinct issues here regarding the case for GMO and the case for blowing up science experiments whose findings you might not like. The latter not the former, fyi, is the subject of the post.
    I was only able to find one genuine defense of Greenpeace’s actions in this thread, which was that it ‘wasn’t a big deal’ (and fyi, justification by attack on CSIRO, let alone via guilt by association innuendo, is fallacy). This assertion ignores the fact that institutions, like people, reveal important things in small ways.

    The Reign of Terror was in many ways foreshadowed by the self-indulgent fanaticism by which budding French Revolutionaries loathed the aristocrasy. A former business colleague’s shabby treatment of his secretary would predict subsequent and more consequential asshattery, and on and on etc. ad nauseum.

    The point is not the magnitude of the impact of Greenpeace’s dabbling here in scientific terrorism, but what that says about the character of the organization. And that is something I for one could never justify associating myself with.

  26. #27 Davis
    July 15, 2011

    Your defense of GMOs is feeble.

    Defensive much?

    I made no defense of GMOs. Your understanding of the patent system was flawed, and you were repeating one of the most common misunderstandings of how the system works. Especially in the context of this discussion, I consider it important to actually get these sorts of facts correct.

  27. #28 jakerman
    July 15, 2011

    [John Qiggin](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/07/greenpeace_destroy_genetically.php#comment-4458955)

    Australia’s largest GMO crops are round up ready canola and cotton. And GMO canola oil and cotton seed oil are excepted from labeling by the Food Standards Authority of Australia. Children are already eating GMO oil is Australia, with no human feeding trails and no way of determining the effects is population studies.

    Similarly sugars from GMO crops are exempt from labelling.

  28. #29 AaronG
    July 15, 2011

    For Wow and all those that are defending the actions of GP.
    There is little use using rational argument with you people. Like Climate Change deniers you just make up your own facts and push conspiracy theories to drum up fear in a effort to gain support for your position. The point here is that GP vandalisied a scientific experiment being performed by govt scientists. There were no secrets surrounding the experiment that was being performed as CSIRO and OGTR have pointed out. How would GP react if a bunch of Climate Change deniers smashed a Solar Panel experiment or wind turbine experiment? The surprising thing here is that none of the climate change denier loonies have done such a thing, where does this leave GP!

    If GP took the time to engage with the scientists from CSIRO they would realise that this piece of work is just one small part of a larger research direction that is also looking into nonGMO options. The reasons for using GMO is because its a quick way to gain proof of concept before going down the track of traditional breeding and other avenues that take considerably longer. But it seems GP has little interest in the facts and its main drive is to gain media attention.

  29. #30 John Quiggin
    July 15, 2011

    The tobacco analogy made by jakerman has some problems. It took time for the link to be investigated, partly because epidemiology was much less developed in the first half of C20, partly because there were other suspects like air pollution and partly because of the disruptions caused by WWII (which meant that early German research wasn’t followed up).

    But as soon as researchers started looking at the possibility of a link between smoking and lung cancer, the data showed it clearly. And animal experiments rapidly confirmed the link/

    By contrast, in the GM case, Americans have been consuming GM foods for years, while Europeans have not. It ought to be easy to see any substantial risk in epidemiological data pretty soon. At this stage, the only plausible candidate for a large effect would appear to be obesity, but there are better explanations available for that. On top of that there is the failure of animal experiments to yield significan results.

    It is entirely possible that some GM foods may have health risks – that’s one reason for the CSIRO experiments. But returning to the original post, that’s precisely why this action was so destructive.

  30. #31 jakerman
    July 15, 2011

    D.J Andrews;
    >Tristan makes a good point regarding word salad. The one he quoted reveals the person making the statement doesn’t understand what they’re talking about so an informed debate isn’t possible.

    Sorry my response was not up to standard. Let me state it another way. The disruption caused by inserting gene with a gun is on a different scale to that of the mutations organisms deal with day to day.

    So too the genetic mutation resulting from the combination of gene insertion and tissue culture, which can change 2-4% of the DNA (Bao, Granata et al 1996; and Labra, Savini et al 2001).

    Gene insertion has significant effects on gene expression through the organism. Srivastava et al (1999) found that 5% of the host’s genes changed their level of expression after a single gene is inserted.

    It is difficult or impossible to assess the safety of such complex changed to hundreds of thousands of interacting proteins and enzymes without long term comprehensive feeding studies. These have not been done.

  31. #32 jakerman
    July 15, 2011

    >*in the GM case, Americans have been consuming GM foods for years, while Europeans have not. It ought to be easy to see any substantial risk in epidemiological data pretty soon.*

    On the surface you’d think so, but reading from an epidemiological perspective its not so simple. [Judy Carman](http://www.gefreeaustralia.org/images/JUDY-download.pdf) writes:

    >let’s assume for a moment that GM food is making people ill and see how easy it would be to find the proof that GM food is causing the illness. The first problem is to recognise that there is a new health problem in the community.

    >Without full animal testing, we don’t even know which diseases to look for in people. If the resultant disease is an existing disease, for example, cancer, that has a registry or effective surveillance system established for it, we will be alerted to an increase in that disease if people are paid to look for it. If the disease has no effective surveillance system, either because it is a new disease and therefore cannot be under surveillance, or because it is an existing disease without a surveillance system, the problem may go completely unnoticed. Most diseases have no surveillance system, including diseases that kill many Australians each year, such as asthma.

    >Consequently, we are likely to be unaware of any problem until a critical mass of clinicians begins to individually recognise that they have been seeing a lot of syndrome X, start asking their colleagues if they have seen the same, and push for an investigation. If this does not happen, we may never know there is a problem. The HIV/AIDS epidemic went unnoticed for decades, even though it created memorable secondary infections, such as those obtained from cats, and had a focus in young gay men who tended to cluster geographically and see the same doctors. It was largely picked-up by chance, because record-keeping of one pharmaceutical drug, pentamidine, indicated an unusually high number of patients with a rare pneumonia, even though there were by then thousands of HIV/AIDS cases worldwide. We still do not know how many people are infected, even in Australia, which has one of the best surveillance systems in the world. It is also important to note that, by the time some surveillance data are collected and made available for analysis, several years can elapse. This can lead to a lag of several years between the cases occurring and appearing in a surveillance system. [cont...]

    Naomi Oreskis points out that tobacco companies in the 1950 or 1960s argued that cancer varied from country to country and state to state in the US even where smoking rates were similar. But Oreskies points out that other population factors confounded such comparisons.

  32. #33 AaronG
    July 15, 2011

    What you say is true jakerman and is widely accepted by scientists in the field. In fact alot of transgenic cereal plants grow poorly when compared to plants that aren’t transgenic. BUT transgenic plants are a useful tool when trying to understand a trait compared with other more traditional methods that would otherwise take ALOT longer. Like I said previously the work that was destroyed is a small part of a larger research direction that will more than likely result in a nonGMO product. But that doesn’t seem to concern GP they just seem hellbent on whipping up fear and misinformation.

    By the way this has all been outlined by CSIRO before. The debate just seems to have been hijacked by people who don’t really understand the complexities of the field.

  33. #34 Ian Forrester
    July 15, 2011

    Why do GM supporters who also claim to be against AGW deniers accept the lack of transparency shown by GM companies and their supporters such as the Royal Society and many Governments yet get their knickers in a knot over the lack of transparency by AGW deniers? This is hypocrisy.

    It took years for people to get access to the “scientific” reports submitted to the USDA to support the regularity acceptance of GM products. When the reports were eventually disclosed they were shown to be both scientifically shoddy and actually showed many of the same metabolic abnormalities found by Dr. Pusztai’s original Lancet paper.

    Since then there are many peer reviewed papers showing similar abnormalities in experimental animals. Yet the USDA (and other regulatory agencies) keep all industry reports under wraps.

    This is deplorable and is the exact opposite of open and correct science. Why do you support such lack of transparency?

    Will the supporters of GM who have commented on this thread please explain their lack of support for honesty and transparency?

    The comment by AaronG:

    Like Climate Change deniers you just make up your own facts and push conspiracy theories to drum up fear in a effort to gain support for your position.

    is an insult to those intelligent and honest people who have taken the time to study exactly what is going on in the dishonest world of GM crops and their biased supporters. Please be more sceptical and actually try and read up on the many dishonest tactics used by Monsanto et al.

  34. #35 Ian Forrester
    July 15, 2011

    AaronG said:

    The debate just seems to have been hijacked by people who don’t really understand the complexities of the field.

    Please stop insulting people who know a lot more about the GM mess than you seem to have.

  35. #36 jakerman
    July 15, 2011

    AronG,

    I’m advocating open and transparent feeding trials. This is [not currently on offer](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/07/greenpeace_destroy_genetically.php#comment-4452620).

  36. #37 Ian Forrester
    July 15, 2011

    Jakerman, in addition to the lack of transparency in the feeding trials there is currently no transparency or information on exactly what they are doing from a biochemical point of view. To claim that “starch enzyme” will be added is an insult to the intelligence of independent people who can give an honest appraisal on any possible problems in the metabolism of the modified plants. Without knowing exactly what is being added, manipulated and messed around with we are completely in the dark as to possible and probable problems arising.

  37. #38 AaronG
    July 15, 2011

    Two things

    Jakerman
    The reason there is no information on feeding tials is because it hasn’t been decided if it will go ahead. Something which has already been clearly outlined by CSIRO.

    Ian Forrester
    What did I say that was wrong or insulting? The fact remains that the trial that was destroyed was not solely for the purpose for feeding trials. Again something that has been either overlooked or simply ignored by people beating the drum for both sides of the debate.
    I’ll point it out again…the use of transgenic or GMO’s in this project is but one small part of a larger research focus that will most likely lead to the generation of a nonGMO product. Something that has been pointed out by CSIRO before.

    And Ian I suspect your keeness play to the man and not the ball is a sign of the weaknesses of your own arguments.

  38. #39 AaronG
    July 15, 2011

    Ian

    Just so this is straight in your head. Their not adding a starch enzyme. Their silencing a gene that encodes a starch enzyme. And the work that they are doing was supposed to address these questions of biochemical changes.

  39. #40 jakerman
    July 15, 2011

    >*Jakerman The reason there is no information on feeding tials is because it hasn’t been decided if it will go ahead. Something which has already been clearly outlined by CSIRO.*

    CSIRO declined the FOIR declaring this information
    [commercial in confidence](https://p3-admin.greenpeace.org/australia/PageFiles/321712/Greenpeace%20Report_Australia's%20Wheat%20Scandal.pdf):

    >Greenpeace has submitted a Freedom of Information request to the CSIRO for both the health and safety parameters and the ethics clearance papers relating to the testing of GM wheat on humans. CSIRO has denied this request, declaring this information commercial in confidence

  40. #41 AaronG
    July 15, 2011

    Jakerman
    I’m symphatic to your concerns but I think its missing the point. What GP did was to destroy an experiment that may or may not have answered your questions. The chances that GM cereal crops will become a reality in Australia is small. This is not because GP will stop it, but because its too expensive and difficult. Its very difficult to transform wheat…for instance for every 100 plants you try to transform about 5 might come through the process and even then the results of the transformation are mixed. Add this to the ongoing improvements in breeding technology and GMO becames impractical. So I think worrying about GM wheat entering the foodchain is premature. Using GM is a useful tool, it helps understand how genes control certain traits and will continue to be one that will help improve breeding programs.

  41. #42 jakerman
    July 16, 2011

    Aaron, As you’ve gathered I’m not against GM trials and studies per se. I am open to the possibility that GM could be useful under careful control, supported by appropriate safety trials.

    What I’m skeptical about is the approval process and safety protocol for the current GMO commercial crops. CSIROs with holding safety protocols of trials under the declaration of commercial in-confidence relationships strips me of any confidence that their planned tests will be open and transparent. The conflict of interest in CSIRO makes me more skeptical.

    I have no evidence that this planned trial will be more than the previous inappropriate 28 day feeding trials, using mature rather than developing test animals.

    If GP’s goal was to get this protocol under some scrutiny and into the public awareness then I don’t know how else they would have achieved this.

  42. #43 AaronG
    July 16, 2011

    Jakerman
    I think were arguing for different things. I can understand you wanting more transperancy but I think there are better ways of arguing your point than simply destroying someone elses work. I was very upset to hear of this vandalism as I know how hard it is to get your research to this stage of development.

    Again I think the fears of many here are premature. There is little evidence to suggest that GM wheat is a viable commerical crop. However it is very good for being able to understand the role of genes that are linked to useful traits. Like I said before its very difficult and expensive to transform wheat, which is why it upsets me to see that when an experiment reaches maturity like this that it is so needlessly destroyed. For me GP acted recklessly and should apoligise

  43. #44 jakerman
    July 16, 2011

    Aaron, yes I think we arguing for different things. One’s personal assessment of GM wheat viablility is a not the key issue for me. The vandalism of the crop is not the key issue for me (except that it altered me to the trial). The key issue for me is a proper feeding trial protocol for any GMO. The right time to establish this is immediately, not waiting until there is a crop one thinks might be more viable.

  44. #45 jakerman
    July 16, 2011

    (except that it altered [alerted] me to the trial)

  45. #46 Ian Forrester
    July 16, 2011

    AaronG is using the same tactics as AGW deniers, the use of ad hominem attacks:

    And Ian I suspect your keeness play to the man and not the ball is a sign of the weaknesses of your own arguments.

    For your information I know a lot more than I suspect you know about genes and genetic regulation. I worked for a number of years in cancer research studying the activity and expression of cancer genes (onco-fetal genes to be precise). I know what promoter genes are and how dangerous they can be. There are many potentially nasty genes which are silent after a certain period in embryonic development. These genes are turned off by unknown mechanisms but can be turned on by external agents such as viruses and chemicals (carcinogens) resulting in cancer. The promiscuous insertion of promoter genes in the wrong place can turn on these “silent” genes. You may be prepared to take such a risk but I am not. Genes added during GM are now known to move from one organism into another.

    The potential for harm if these promoter genes are incorporated into mammalian genes is not nice to contemplate. Most genetic modifications use the cauliflower mosaic virus promoter which is a powerful promoter. No one can say that it will not induce unwanted “silent” genes from becoming active especially when most “safety” tests are performed for only 28 days and are not tested over at least one complete generation.

    Most molecular biologists are just “gene jockeys” and have very little understanding of the complex metabolism of plants and animals.

    As I said in an earlier post, stop insulting and using ad hominem attacks on people who disagree with you, it makes you look like an AGW denier.

  46. #47 AaronG
    July 16, 2011

    Ian if you took the time to read my arguments then I think you would find that you are being rather silly

  47. #48 Chris S.
    July 16, 2011

    “Most molecular biologists are just “gene jockeys” and have very little understanding of the complex metabolism of plants and animals.”

    I detect a whiff of bullshit here. Ian stop insulting and using ad hominem attacks on people who disagree with you, it makes you look like an AGW denier.

  48. #49 AaronG
    July 16, 2011

    Furthermore Ian many of the claims you outlined re gene transfer, are in the realm of pseduo science. If genes from plants could transfer to mammals then why isn’t there any evidence of this happening already? Thats because it doesn’t happen.

    Plus the amount of DNA in bread is so small and damaged that it could never be re intergrated. Not to mention what the digestive tract does to it.

    Also just out of curiosity, does your objection to GMO extend to the production of insulin or clotting factors that diabetics and others with chronic illnesses rely on? Or is it selective?

    This is besides the point though GP destroyed research something that was not necessary.

  49. #50 jakerman
    July 16, 2011

    >The potential for harm if these promoter genes are incorporated into mammalian genes is not nice to contemplate. Most genetic modifications use the cauliflower mosaic virus promoter which is a powerful promoter. No one can say that it will not induce unwanted “silent” genes from becoming active especially when most “safety” tests are performed for only 28 days and are not tested over at least one complete generation.

    Aaron, [this study](http://www.springerlink.com/content/k1314216v854qr56/) might interest you.

  50. #51 AaronG
    July 16, 2011

    Ian I’ve read that paper and all it shows is that the CaMV promoter is active in the selected cell lines when they are treated with transfection agents that enable the transient transfection. I would guess that the same experiments have a control system where the cells aren’t treated with the chemicals to calculate transfection efficiency. That is the promoter isn’t active when you don’t use chemicals that enable the transient expression. So in simplier terms the promoter / bit of DNA does not work unless you treat the cell lines (anueploidy cells, in simplier terms they aren’t normal cells) with chemicals that enable the DNA to intergrate with the host cells DNA. So unless you drink a whole lot of these chemicals and then shock yourself with electricity or a freezing cold bath to enable the Promoter DNA to enter your body I would say that the CaMV promoter stands little chance of entering your cells and being active.
    Plus the promoter used in these plants is usually a maize ubiqitin promoter…a promoter from a plant that we as humans have been eating for 1000’s of years without sprouting corn shoots from our heads

  51. #52 Jeff Harvey
    July 16, 2011

    *scientific terrorism*

    Majorajam,

    What about economic, financial and corporate ‘ terrorism’? Where does that rank on your list is ‘ isms’?

  52. #53 Watching the deniers
    July 16, 2011

    @ Ian Forrester

    So Ian.

    You wave away the US National Academy of Sciences, claim the Royal Society is in on the “GM” thing and state:

    “…I urge readers to read the whole report as it confirms the government and institutional bias and dishonesty in approaching the GMO debate.”

    Wait, haven’t we heard these claims before?

    Wait.. I hear the echo of a conspiracy. You know, the supposed institutional/guv-a-ment/science establishment *bias” against climate sceptics.

    Your counter? A post to a link to a partisan website (GM Watch), which is not peer-reviewed research? I could write that report in a matter of hours.

    This is crank science. Science by blogging. And yes, as an active blogger I know the difference between research and an opinion piece.

    GM Watch offers opinion pieces.

    – Point to one fatality or injury or incident of harm
    – Point to one valid piece of science, without claiming everyone is against you/anti-GM

    Where is your science?

    When you are presented with counter evidence to your beliefs, you claim “massive institutional bias”.

    Ian – I’m sorry mate, but I’m going with orthodox science with this like so many other things. I’ll ignore the GM Watch as an anti-GM equivalent to “Watts up with that!”

    I expect better from Greenpeace.

    All I can see is a “the ends justifies the means” argument and reliance on shoddy/flawed science.

    Poor play, poor play indeed.

  53. #54 Watching the deniers
    July 16, 2011

    Some have questioned why we should highlight, or condemn the actions of Greenpeace. Haven’t they done enough “good” to deserve a free pass, or just a mild rebuke?

    Are they not fellow travellers, useful in the fight against the climate sceptics? Well, they don’t get a free pass in my books.

    The reason I’m bitterly disappointed is because “we” – the progressive, pro-science, reality based community – are better than that.

    We are *better* than the climate sceptics.

    We are *better* than the creationists.

    And we are better than those that send death threats to scientists, the anti-vaxers and other armies of the night that threaten Enlightenment traditions.

    We expect the climate sceptics et.al to play by the rules of science, and despair at how they fudge data, rely on faulty reasoning and junk science.

    Deltoid is up to over 60+ posts on the Australian’s war on science. And that is only a timy % of the crap emenating from the Murdoch press. Then there is the swill produced by Anthony Watts, Marc Morano, Monckton…

    Their entire campaign is based on manipulation, publicity stunts and playing to people’s fears.

    Greenpeace have been fierce in taking the fight to them.

    Good.

    But Greenpeace use the imprimatur of science to argue action on climate change is needed, and that the “sceptics” abuse science.

    To then turn around and attack the work of scientists and base their hostility to one branch of science for *ideological reasons* is more reason to condemn them.

    We are better than that.

    We should aspire to be the best.

    Greenpeace should aspire to be better than that.

    What separates “us” from those that would attack science is our respect for not only the methodology of science, but for reason. For evidence. For the belief that we can know the universe.

    *Sapere aude*

    Dare to know.

    If Greenpeace want the respect of the reality based community, then – damn it – play by the same rules.

    If you want to put it into purely political terms, descending to the same level of the climate sceptics et.al damages us all.

    It is the reason the public have embraced epistemological relativism and are confused by debates around science: if “they” do it and “we do it” who is right?

    No, Greenpeace was wrong.

    They are wrong on the science.

    Their actions were wrong.

    “We” are better than that.

    And yes, I will say it.

    We are better than Greenpeace.

  54. #55 Jeff Harvey
    July 16, 2011

    WTD:

    You have lost the plot. You singularly fail, for instance, to argue any of the many points which raises serious doubts about the social, economic and political ideologies underlying the ‘ gene revolution’ , and how these are likely to reduce food security rather than to increase it. I think that the concept of intellectual property and patent rights owned by giant for profit corporations on staple foods is a form of economic terrorism. I explained this in an earlier posting (#100) and elsewhere, and you for some reason keep digging at Ian on the basis of one – just one – aspect, ‘ human health’. The same goes for John Quiggin. Your trick is to focus on one small area and to run with that, irgnoring a vast wealth of other concerns. It seems to me that the climate change denial lobby is quite good at doing that too – attacking Mann et al’s ‘hockey stick’ whilst ignoring all of the other evidence showing that humans are forcing climate. You know the truth is that your defense of transgenic technology is a lot closer to the climate change deniers than you clearly realize. Your strategy is to defend the technology using but one incomplete example (effects on human health) and to ignore many other important concerns. Even if transgenic organisms are not a serious threat to human health in no way justifies the technology as currently defined. The huge environmental risks aside, the very fact that a small coterie of immensely powerful multinational corporations are slowly taking over the human food chain should be of profound concern to everyone. And the fact that they focus on only the most profitable seeds – meaning transgenic over conventional – should at least raise serious warning signs as to their real agendas.

    And, most importantly, we need to address the question as to the huge number of environmental concerns. For instance the fact that more glyphosate has been used since the use of so-called herbicide resistant crops? And the clear scientific evidence that this has led to rapid herbicide resistance in a number of noxious, outbreaking (or invasive) weeds? Ot the fact that gene transfer between GMOs and wild types will certainly give some wild relatives a competitive edge over natural wild types? Or the fact that the reliance on GMOs erodes genetic diversity as more and more farmers converge towards a single type of GMO? That genetic diversity is a pre-requisite for adaptation to multiple biotic and abiotic threats in nature? Or the fact that the technology will never be affordable to farmers in the developing world, and that once ‘roped in’, governments who subsidize the use of this technology will forever be beholden to it and to the companies that hold the patents? Or the fact that many insects are developing resistance to transgenic crops in only a few years?

    You want scientific evidence? There’s lots of it in these areas, even if in the human health arena we are admittedly working on conjecture. But my advice to you as a scientist is to take off those blinkers and to expand your vision as to the effects of this technology on humanity and the environment in the longer term.

    The ecological risks and consequences

  55. #56 Chris O'Neill
    July 16, 2011

    Jeff Harvey:

    It’s not just Monsanto. Bayer and other biotech firms don’t want to sell conventional varieties anymore. [They are] [n]ot as profitable. And since the biotech trait is patented, you get the bonus of patent protection when you insert the trait into a seed. That allows the likes of Monsanto to sue farmers for the “crime” (patent infringement) of saving seed, … .

    Sounds like a restrictive trade practice is being suggested. Farmers would well know if they have to pay GM firms everytime they sow GM seeds and would be able to decide if it’s worth it. If GM firms decide they don’t want to sell conventional seeds anymore there’s nothing to stop farmers saving their own conventional seeds or indeed setting up their own conventional seed supply businesses.

  56. #57 jakerman
    July 16, 2011

    Anti science is throwing out testing protocol when it finds health risks. Its anti-science to block access to GMO seed to conduct safety trials.

    We need a proper feeding trial protocol for GMOs. That is a pro-science position.

  57. #58 Watching the deniers
    July 16, 2011

    Where is your science.

    Give me evidence of harm or a fatality.

    Waiting.

  58. #59 AaronG
    July 16, 2011

    @jeff harvey
    Your concerns whilst based in some sense of reality are a little late and misguided. The food chain is largely already taken over by large companies (and not that is all bad). The lack of genetic diversty shouldn’t be blamed on transgenics but the sucess of breeding programs and the distribution of the elite modern varities throughout the developing world (largely because of well meaning Aid workers).

    The problem I think people have with your arguments is that the Green movement delibrately ignores all the benefits of GMO’s and tend to exaggerate the risks. For instance, the use of GMO cotton in China has had massive health benefits as farmers aren’t exposed to as many carcinogenic pesticides as they dont need to spray as much. And speculating that the DNA in plants could reintergrate with human DNA is just silly.
    However, I agree there are problems with GMO’s re: resistance and gene transfer to close relatives. But the world isn’t perfect so instead of insisting on wild fantasies about organic farming being able to feed the world, maybe the green movement should take a more measured and pragmatic approach to food.

    But I think what annoys most people here is that what GP did was anti-science and none of the arguments presented above have or could justify their actions. The ends does not justify the means!

  59. #60 Watching the deniers
    July 16, 2011

    My *small point* is asking for evidence. Any evidence. The rest of what you say are assertions and speculation.

    I’m not arguing for or against GM.

    I’m asking you to back up your claims with good, solid science. I’ve not seen it yet.

    Answer these two questions, as I have asked many times:

    >> Point me to one example of harm or a fatality caused by GMO that supports you concerns about health.

    GM foods where [first put on the market in the early 1990's](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_food#Health_risks) so we’ve had close to two decades for evidence of their harm to amass.

    Where is it?

    Is this not the whole crux of your concerns? Human health?

    Where is your evidence of harm?

    Secondly:

    >> Point me to peer-reviewed literature that backs up your claims that GMO represnets a substantial risk

    To [quote Wiki](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_food#Future_developments):

    >> Plant scientists, backed by results of modern comprehensive profiling of crop composition, point out that crops modified using GM techniques are less likely to have unintended changes than are conventionally bred crops.

    See:

    [Catchpole, G. S. (2005). "Hierarchical metabolomics demonstrates substantial compositional similarity between genetically modified and conventional potato crops". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 102: 14458.](http://www.pnas.org/content/102/40/14458)

    >>There is current debate whether genetically modified (GM) plants might contain unexpected, potentially undesirable changes in overall metabolite composition. However, appropriate analytical technology and acceptable metrics of compositional similarity require development. We describe a comprehensive comparison of total metabolites in field-grown GM and conventional potato tubers using a hierarchical approach initiating with rapid metabolome “fingerprinting” to guide more detailed profiling of metabolites where significant differences are suspected. Central to this strategy are data analysis procedures able to generate validated, reproducible metrics of comparison from complex metabolome data. *We show that, apart from targeted changes, these GM potatoes in this study appear substantially equivalent to traditional cultivars*.

    Come on guys, I’m happy to play.

    Where is your evidence?

  60. #61 Watching the deniers
    July 16, 2011

    @ Ian, Jaker etc.

    [British Medical Association 2003 statement on GM Foods](http://www.isaaa.org/kc/Publications/pdfs/ksheets/K%20Sheet%20%28BMA%29.pdf)

    Opening:

    >>The need for further research – Despite the great deal of research conducted on the genetic modification of food, many
    unanswered questions remain, particularly with regards to the potential long-term impact of GM foods on human health and the environment. Few studies on the effects of GM food on human health have been short-term and specific. There is still a lack of evidence-based research with regards to the medium and long-term effects on health and the environment – which is presently the focus of public debates. *Thus, it is crucial for research sponsors and the government that the public’s concerns are taken into account from the earliest stage of the research process.*

    And:

    >>*The BMA believes that the potential for GM foods to cause harmful health effects is very small, and many of the concerns expressed pertaining to risk also apply to conventionally derived foods.* However, safety concerns must still be addressed.

    Conclusions regarding GM foods and health:

    >>BMA believes that *there is no substantial evidence to prove that GM foods are unsafe however*, the
    organization calls for further research and surveillance to provide convincing evidence of safety and benefit.

    >>Epidemiological health surveillance will remain impractical in the UK while so few of the population are
    exposed to GM foods.. The BMA still considers that with adequate risk assessment procedures, independent
    and rigorous testing of novel foods, adequate post marketing surveillance and proper regulation, GM food
    has potential benefits for both the developed and developing world in the long-term.

    >>Continuing sound scientific research will also provide the only means of eliminating the uncertainty that still surrounds the environmental and health impact of GM crops.

    So – no known health risks,

    BMA calls for more research.

    *How can we research when the research is destroyed?*

    As stated, this is what has angered and disappointed many. It’s not about the GM debate, but the actions of Greenpeace: stopping research.

    You do know [Queensland have been growing GM crops (cotton)](http://www2.dpi.qld.gov.au/fieldcrops/9548.html) since mid 1990s right?

    And that it has led to a [90% decrease in pesticide use?](http://www.scienceinpublic.com.au/media-releases/gm_australia):

    >>GM cotton was released in 1996, as part of the fight back against Helicoverpa – arguably the most destructive agricultural pest in the world. Bollgard II varieties now make up 90% of the Australian cotton industry. What difference have they made?

    >>*Gary Fitt from CSIRO Entomology in Queensland will report that farmers have reduced pesticide use by up to 90% providing on-farm benefits and greatly reducing environmental disruption.*

    >>But he will also say that the best results come from good integrated management. Long term success will require mobilization of the whole farm environment and greater understanding of the flows of impacts and services between intensive cropping systems and the surrounding landscape.

    I mean, if you [want to read the research](http://www.icac.org/cotton_info/tis/biotech/documents/recorderdocs/december_03.pdf):

    >>In 1998/99 it is estimated that the reduction in spraying across 125,000 ha of Ingard® crops resulted in 1.75 million liters less pesticide entering the environment. Despite the variable performance, the average 56% reduction in pesticide applications for Helicoverpa represents a spectacular impact for an IPM product…

    And that:

    >>The most consistent “winner” from Ingard® technology has
    been the environment, with reduced pesticide loads, while the cotton industry has gained long term sustainability through the progressive adoption of more integrated pest management approaches using Ingard® cotton as a foundation.

    Concluding:

    >>Ingard cotton, as the first commercial introduction of
    biotechnology to the Australian cotton industry, has shown
    the potential of transgenic pest tolerant crops to significantly reduce pesticide use, providing major environmental benefits. After an initial period of negligible economic benefits, Ingard varieties are now returning significant economic benefits.

    So farmers are using less pesticide. Bad GMO! Bad!

    CSIRO must be docturing those figures right?

    Hiding the decline in pesticide use?

    Right?

  61. #62 Michael
    July 16, 2011

    Bt is nice piece of gmo tech and it’s great to see how much it has reduced the amount of spraying needed for cotton (which was astronomical, now it’s just a fair bit).

    I think there’s neglible risk in the consumption of gmo’s, but I still have significant concerns over the release of some gmo plants into the ‘wild’ given our abysmal record in managing non-gmo plants outside of their origins.

  62. #63 Neven
    July 16, 2011

    We are better than the climate sceptics.

    We are better than the creationists.

    And we are better than those that send death threats to scientists, the anti-vaxers and other armies of the night that threaten Enlightenment traditions.

    We are better than Greenpeace.

    Obviously it is about being better than others for some. Newsflash: this isn’t about ego or identity.

    Science isn’t a homogeneous monolith to be worshipped unquestioningly and at all times. In fact, science isn’t called ‘the sciences’ for nothing.

    Imagine all climate scientists all of a sudden get millions from Big Fossil and start saying that there is no problem with the climate whatsoever. What does the progressive, pro-science, reality based community do then?

  63. #64 MartinM
    July 16, 2011

    Imagine all climate scientists all of a sudden get millions from Big Fossil and start saying that there is no problem with the climate whatsoever. What does the progressive, pro-science, reality based community do then?

    Break into their offices and smash their computers, apparently.

  64. #65 Jeff Harvey
    July 16, 2011

    Aaron, please elaborate why it is not such a bad thing that borderless, largely unaccountable MNCs aree gaining increasing control of the human food chain. You make the quite irrational claim that “The food chain is largely already taken over by large companies (and not that is all bad)”.

    It certainly is bad for poor farmers in the south who cannot afford the technology. Its also alarming when one considers that society can be held to ransom with respect to this technology.

    WTD: pesticide use drops only insofar as insects remain susceptible to Bt-containing GMOs. You must seriously need your brain examined if you think that insects will not respond to such a simple challenge. In fact, many species already have. And once they are resistant o Bt containing crops, then this renders Bt useless as a biological control agent in future. Its much the same story as occurred with the overuse of DDT. So in effect, your argument is utterly useless, and shows that you understand not one iota of evolutionary biology. You appear to think that, once used, Bt-containing crops will forever be useful in combatting lepidopterous pests. I explained earlier that many of the most serious pests – including chewing herbivores like Helicoverpa armigera and Heliothis virescens – are already becoming fully resistant to Bt-containing crops. I spoke with many entomologists recently in South Africa and they came back with a number of similar scenarios. You appear not to want to read what you do not like to read, much like the climate change deniers whom you claim fall into the same category as those (like me, a scientist as it turns out) who have a lot of misgivings about an expensive technology that appears to primarily benefit well-fed people in the developed world whilst bypassing most in the south.

    And of course many of the big chemical-agro biotech firms are just delighted to see the landscape sprayed in huge quantities of herbicides so long as this is profitable. Weed resistance? Who cares so long as the investors benefit.

    What I see here from some posters is a blind acceptance of a technology fraught with a huge number of social, political and economic risks that are conveniently ignored. Chris: as you are well aware, many of the seed companies have been bought out by the big agro-biotech firms. Its not as easy to remain independent as you might think.

  65. #66 Isabel
    July 16, 2011

    “Bt is nice piece of gmo tech and it’s great to see how much it has reduced the amount of spraying needed for cotton (which was astronomical, now it’s just a fair bit).”

    Of course, we *could* have just planted hemp….

  66. Neven:

    > > We are better than the climate sceptics. We are better than the creationists. And we are better than those that send death threats to scientists, the anti-vaxers and other armies of the night that threaten Enlightenment traditions. We are better than Greenpeace.

    > Obviously it is about being better than others for some. Newsflash: this isn’t about ego or identity.

    No, it’s about remembering that there’s a difference between right and wrong, between good and bad, and that it’s not OK to do bad things ‘in the name of’ doing something which may, perhaps happen to be sort of good.

    If we go around trashing anything we don’t like, regardless of the facts, regardless of the evidence, then how are we different from ideological thugs?

    — frank

  67. #68 AaronG
    July 16, 2011

    Jeff
    Of course there are benefits, the first thing that comes to mind is economies of scale cheaper production costs. Another is the fact that many large companies invest significant amounts of money into R&D.
    But I suspect you will ignore the benefits or twist them to fit your own ideology. I notice you didn’t address my points about the obvious benefits of certain GMO’s. Would you prefer that farmers like those in China that are reaping the health benefits of GMO cotton revert back to using nonGMO. Or would you prefer they not farm cotton at all and slip further into poverty. The problem with your arguments is that they come from the perspective of a middle class westerner that has probably never experienced or witnessed real poverty. Spouting your ideological points of view about the evils of MNCs while ignoring the benefits is a sure fire way of becoming irrelavant in this debate.

    Also as I addressed your point could you address mine…how do you justify the destruction of the experiment by GP…was it a means to an end? In that case how would you feel if a bunch of climate change deniers went out and smashed a sloar power experiment? Some thing different ideology.

  68. #69 AaronG
    July 16, 2011

    Frank exactly my point! GP destroyed something they didn’t like regardless of the fact that it was approved by the government regulator. So how do you justify GPs actions…ideological thugs maybe?

  69. #70 AaronG
    July 16, 2011

    Sorry about the friendly fire frank

  70. #71 Watching the deniers
    July 16, 2011

    I keep asking for evidence that would support the claims of Ian, Jaker et.al.

    I’ve asked at least half a dozen times now.

    @ Jeff, surely your not about to claim science is my religion? I’m asking you guys to give me evidence, reports and research that supports your case. I’ve brought examples of research and statements by the NAS, BMA and Royal Society. I’ve given PNAS research.

    And still nothing?

    You keep dodging and weaving.

    @ Ian, insects develop resistance/defences to GM crops, pesticides or “natural” predators. I think evolution is well understood by now. The red queen hypothesis is a given. Same with drug resistant bugs. Do we throw out antibiotics because of the well understood interaction between drugs and bugs?

    Organic pesticides would cause the same evolutionary arms race. So, what’s your solution?

    Again, evidence!

    Come on guys, give me something? Anything?

  71. #72 Ian Forrester
    July 16, 2011

    Watching the deniers is showing is lack of ability in knowing anything about human studies. Of course we can’t show people dying from eating GMO’s. Stop being so stupid.
    You are just acting like an AGW denier throwing out strawmen.

    However, if animal experiments show harmful effects, and they do, don’t deny it then we can fairly confidently predict that there will probably be problems to humans too.

    As a scientist who has worked with animal models in the past I can be confident in extrapolating effects from animals to humans. But I can’t prove it and it is very unlikely that proof will ever be provided.

    Do you have to be reminded that science never proves anything only disproves something.

    There is no evidence to disprove that GMO’s are bad for animals.

  72. #73 Ian Forrester
    July 16, 2011

    AaronG said:

    Would you prefer that farmers like those in China that are reaping the health benefits of GMO cotton revert back to using nonGMO

    Well I suggest you read up on what is actually happening today, not five or ten years ago when BT cotton was first introduced.

    I suggest you read up on how the Mirid bug is reaping havoc in BT cotton fields.

    This always happens when you put all your eggs in one basket.

    India is faring even worse than China with it’s BT cotton fields.

  73. #74 jakerman
    July 16, 2011

    WT Denier,

    If you are so sure that GMO are intrinsically safe why not support a proper transparent independent protocol for feeding trials?

    If proper feeding trials found GM pea damages mice, we need a high level of testing in an open transparent protocol for all GMO, including current commercial crops (that were approved without such). This finding proved GMO can not be assumed to be equivalent to normal food.

    We’ve pointed you to [evidence of the risks](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/07/greenpeace_destroy_genetically.php#comment-4452620) of GMO, but you seem to be denying this.

    You also appear to be denying that we [cannot expect](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/07/greenpeace_destroy_genetically.php#comment-4461561) to find damage caused to humans without proper feeding trials.

  74. #75 Watching the deniers
    July 16, 2011

    So Jaker, if GP destroy research how can we conduct trials?

    That is the point.

    I’m not arguing GM, I’m arguing for research.

    I’m also asking to back your claims.

  75. #76 Tristan
    July 16, 2011

    If we go around trashing anything we don’t like, regardless of the facts, regardless of the evidence, then how are we different from ideological thugs?

    This. So much this.

  76. #77 AaronG
    July 16, 2011

    Ian you say your a scientist but your fanciful proposition of DNA from food being able to reintergrate with our own DNA and be able to be actively expressed makes me seriously question your credentials. I notice you haven’t responded to my rebuttal….

    Being a technician in a lab doesnt make you a scientist or an expert on GMO plants Ian. Especially when that lab you worked in dealt with mammalian models and not plants.

    And AGAIN…no argument has adequately addressed the rational behind the needless destruction of the CSIRO experiment by GP…I’m beginning to think you guys don’t have one and all the arguments presented are just deflections to somehow reconcile this gross act of vandalism with your own conscience.

  77. #78 AaronG
    July 16, 2011

    And as for the Chinese cotton farmers…take another look there are new varieties of cotton that don’t suffer from resistance…plus again you failed to address my question about GMO clotting factors and insulin as well as other medications that are being brought onto the market…are the too dangerous…well are they?

  78. #80 Ian Forrester
    July 16, 2011

    AaronG is an other GMO supporter who seems to like strawmen. Do you use GMO straw, is it better?

    If you had actually read what I posted and followed it up by doing a little bit of research you would have seen that resistance is not the problem with BT cotton in China. The problem is that other bugs have found cotton plants to be very tasty and safe haven without the normal use of pesticides. Thus farmers experience a double economic whammy since they are paying much higher prices for GM seed then they have to use chemical pesticides anyways.

    The problem in India is different. The seeds being sold there are resistant to a pest which is not really a problem there and the farmers once again pay for expensive seeds then have to spray anyway. The strain being pushed in India is also not suited to the climate conditions in many parts of the cotton growing areas.

    I wont go into the super-weed problems encountered in the USA.

    I will ignore your ad hominem and insulting comments. I think that the people who are criticizing GMO’s know where knowledge and expertise lie.

  79. #81 Holly Stick
    July 16, 2011

    Well, if you google ‘india gmo suicide’ you find many hits, though most do not look too credible. These two articles weigh some of the arguments, the first in 2009:

    http://www.columbiacitypaper.com/2009/11/10/the-suicide-belt/

    This one from May 2011 has some interesting conclusions:

    “…Look at the AP line in the chart and consider that Bt cotton wasn’t even adopted on a significant scale until 2005. There’s a ten year surge in cotton yields, and six years of it happened before Bt started to spread. Ag hands can ponder the various factors affecting these trends, but one thing is for sure: most of the cotton boom cannot be attributed to Bt seed.

    In fact Bt seed also appears to be exacerbating a key problem underlying the suicides: technology treadmills…”

    http://fieldquestions.com/2011/05/13/do-not-read-gm-cotton-and-indian-farmer-suicide/

  80. #82 AaronG
    July 16, 2011

    @Ian
    Are you against GMO insulin and other meds…simple question?

  81. #83 Ian Forrester
    July 16, 2011

    AaronG asks:

    plus again you failed to address my question about GMO clotting factors and insulin as well as other medications that are being brought onto the market…are the too dangerous…well are they?

    That is not a simple question to answer since I have no knowledge of the conditions for production and we don’t know if the products are identical to their natural counterparts or not.

    Any production of pharmaceutically active products should adhere to the following guidelines:

    The facility must be enclosed, waste streams should be sterilized before disposal to the environment.

    Pathogenic or human colonizing micro-organisms should not be used. This apples to E. coli in particular.

    The products should be identical to their natural counterparts. If they are not e.g. lack of proper post translational modification then they should undergo rigorous testing and they should not be assumed to be “equivalent”.

    I am completely against pharmaceuticals genetically engineered into plants since they cannot be controlled no matter what the promoting companies say.

  82. #85 AaronG
    July 16, 2011

    Ian like I have said previously the world isn’t perfect and neither are GMO plants. The difference is I believe we can work to make the technology better, whereas you will never concede that there is a place for it under any circumstances…it would’nt matter if there were a thousand trials showing no adverse impacts you would cling to one or two trials that fit your ideology and come up with bizarre claims like that of reintergration of GMO dna with our own and continue to advocate the senseless vandalism that GP commited.

  83. #86 AaronG
    July 16, 2011

    Ian
    Its funny how you have never considered this.
    Guess what all those conditions you outlined are used for transgenic plants

    And guess what the insulin and other therapeutics are not identical to the ‘natural’ form, and they do use bacteria that can potentially colonize human…and unlike your crazy theory about plant-human gene transfer gene transfer between bacteria is real and therefore the chance of crazy frankenstein bacteria infecting humans is much likely than your wacky proposition.

    So unless you want to apply double standards I suggest you and those like you should probably explain to those that suffer from diabetes and other illnesses that if we want a pure society free of GMOs tht they will have to do without or starting slaughtering pigs for there insulin.

    Like i said the world isn’t perfect so deal with it.

  84. #87 Holly Stick
    July 16, 2011

    One more link about Prof. Stone:

    http://anthropology.artsci.wustl.edu/stone_glenn

  85. #88 Ian Forrester
    July 16, 2011

    More strawmen from AaronG, he cannot focus on one particular argument but jumps around and around (hey there were some promiscuous genes which at one time were called “jumping genes”, maybe you have been infected by some of these from GM jumping beans).

    One of the first things I learned when I got into applied research as opposed to pure basic research is the concept of cost/benefit analysis. With pharmaceuticals there is an obvious benefit so it is prudent to look at their production. However, one should still consider potential problems.

    With GMO crops the benefit is only to the producer of the seeds of the plants or associated products required for the plants to grow. All the so-called benefits to consumers and farmers have just not materialized. In fact there are lots of problems both economic and environmental with the majority of the GM crops. That is why I am against them. Why can’t you see that?

    I know why. Please answer this question, is it possible to identify AGW deniers and GMO supporters using facial recognition technology?

    Answer, NO, since both groups have their heads in the sand. Is that why you cannot see all of the problems associated with the products you are supporting?

    As for this comment:

    Guess what all those conditions you outlined are used for transgenic plants

    in reference to the suggestions I made for the necessary conditions for a facility to produce GMO’s that is so ridiculous that it is not worthy of comment. No wonder you are so blind to the effects of GMO’s if you consider an open field with netting as sufficient to contain any GMO release is just nonsense.

    As for your comments on insulin and other pharmaceuticals, if you have been keeping up with the science you would be aware researchers are looking at other hosts for the genes such as yeasts.

    There are also methods to produce natural human insulin. Have you ever heard of mammalian cell culture? In fact,the future for treatment of type 1 diabetes will be the use of immobilized islet cells either external or hopefully internal to the body. There are rapid advances in this technology being made.

  86. #89 AaronG
    July 16, 2011

    Ian this will be my last post here before I go on living in the real world and leave you to your naysaying and pessimism where nothing is ever good enough and corporations are evil.

    Yes I have heard of mammalian cell culture, having done a PhD in molecular biology I am very familiar with many of the techniques used for transformation and in vitro protein production and purification. And yes I’m aware that yeast has in the past been used and is still used for various applications. But guess what yeast and mammalian cells can be tricky to grow and therefore more expensive to use in the production of drugs like these. So big bad corporations use the cheap alternative E.coli to ensure people can afford there drugs… Those evil corporations. So these supposed alternative techniques that researchers are investigating aren’t a reality yet are they and probably wont be because there is a cheap way to do it that works alread…better get your GP buddies to go down to the pharma labs and trash them.

    As for your stupid remarks about netting and so on about the containment of the trial that was destroyed by GP. Did you know that wheat pollen is enclosed within the flower and that outcrossing to other species is almost impossible…why because wheat is from the fertile cresent and has no wild relatives in Australia and secondly, wheat is so inbred from thousands of years of human selection that it doesn’t cross with anything. Its hard enough to cross it with its wild relatives let alone an unrelated species. But im wasting my breath because all this was clearly outlined in the OGTR risk assessment…something which have chosen to clearly ignore.

    My advice to you Ian is to chill out a bit and stop being such an alarmist. If not leave the problem solving to those of us that are willing to accept the world isn’t perfect and come up with real solutions not some fantasy about organic farming. Seeya and have a nice life

  87. #90 Chris O'Neill
    July 17, 2011

    Jeff Harvey:

    as you are well aware, many of the seed companies have been bought out by the big agro-biotech firms. Its not as easy to remain independent as you might think.

    At the very least, the big agro-biotech firms would not be able to charge more for seed than it would cost farmers to supply themselves. It is possible that a cartel arrangement would enable them to do this but it would then attract the attention of competition commissions, especially when they are notified by farmers lobby groups which in Australia at least, are very influential.

  88. #91 Ian Forrester
    July 17, 2011

    Anyone else notice the similarities between AGW deniers and GMO supporters? One is they both use the same language

    stop being such an alarmist

    I guess that AaronG is going to go back to his GMO corporate environment where he will be patted on the back for standing up to an alarmist and putting him in his place.

    Well, I live in the real world, I spend lots of time out in the country and have talked to many farmers about the corporate takeover of their industry. Many are not at all happy.

  89. #92 Ian Forrester
    July 17, 2011

    AaronG’s knowledge of wheat seems to be very low.

    If anyone wants to read about wheat pollen and gene transfer to both other what strains and other plants they should read [this article](http://www.npsas.org/newsletters/wheatPollen.html).

    It does not agree with what AaronG claims. Why am I not surprised?

  90. #93 Blattafrax
    July 17, 2011

    #182
    Ian Forrester
    Are you aware that it would be impossible to produce _any_ protein based pharmaceutical product without “pathogenic or human colonizing micro-organisms”? There is no shortage of chemical pharmaceuticals made with biotransformations either.

    An antibody-producing hybridoma cell line is a cancer cell.

    “… waste streams should be sterilized …” (!) Gee, why didn’t anyone think of that? I hope the Powers That Be read these comments.

    And no, the products should not be “identical to their natural counterparts”. The products should be the most effective possible taking into account toxicity, immunogenicity, potency, pharmacokinetics, shelf-life, etc, etc, etc. Lucentis, Victoza, Pegasys spring to mind without too much effort.

    You can live in the dark ages without the option of safe and effective medicines if you like; don’t force your nonsense on my children and me.

  91. #94 nsib
    July 17, 2011

    Ian,

    AaronG’s knowledge of wheat seems to be very low.
    If anyone wants to read about wheat pollen and gene transfer to both other what strains and other plants they should read this article.
    It does not agree with what AaronG claims. Why am I not surprised?

    Your ability to read and comprehend information seems to be very low. (BUUUURN! AaronG’s analysis seems to be spot-on; the article you linked to was about the possibility of out-crossing with jointed goatgrass, a very close relative to wheat that does not exist in Australia.

    I doubt I’ll post any more on this topic, since the signal-to-noise ratio is depressingly low, but I’ll leave with this parting statement: Anyone calling themselves “anti-GMO” is being frickin’ dumb. There exist valid concerns about gene copyrighting, testing procedures for new GMOs, etc, but I suppose those are too nuanced for the luddites and nature-worshipers in Greenpeace and other organizations. Demonizing GMOs but being fine with artificial selection is akin to praising the art of painting but calling digital art an abomination. (Drawing without paper?! How unnatural!)

  92. #95 Neven
    July 17, 2011

    No, it’s about remembering that there’s a difference between right and wrong, between good and bad, and that it’s not OK to do bad things ‘in the name of’ doing something which may, perhaps happen to be sort of good.

    If we go around trashing anything we don’t like, regardless of the facts, regardless of the evidence, then how are we different from ideological thugs?

    — frank

    Frank, I’m not condoning what those Greenpeace activists did. I don’t have enough details anyhow. But that’s why I also don’t condemn it, cry about own goal this, own goal that, and how we, the reality-based progressive smart ones, are so much better than the anti-science, anti-GMO luddites who are really just like AGW deniers.

    How do we judge the Greenpeace activists that scaled that chimney at Kingsnorth power station?

  93. #96 Jeff Harvey
    July 17, 2011

    Nsib writes, *Demonizing GMOs but being fine with artificial selection is akin to praising the art of painting but calling digital art an abomination*

    What a vacuous remark. Two points. First, artificial selection works with genes already present in an organism. It does not create inter-phylogenetic crosses that would not occur in a billion years. I work with cultivated plants and their wild relatives in my research. In many instances, cultivars have lost the ability to defend themselves through the process of domestication and its attendant effects on secondary plant chemistry – usually meaning that the plants have lower concentrations of defensive phytotoxins that the wild types. Research is ongoing to determine if it is possible to breed other forms of defense – such a morphology – into plants using artificial selection via plant breeding using genetic in formation already stored in genomes of different plant strains. However, once we begin randomly inserting genetic material from completely unrelated donor organisms into new recipient organisms, we are entering an uncertain new world where there are all kinds of unanticipated consequences. Its just another example where humans think that they can fix any kind of limitations placed on us by nature with technology, whilst failing to draw back the scale of the human enterprise. We now have drought resistant crops, saline tolerant crops and the like, which are fine but do not deal with the problems wrought by burgeoning human numbers and per capita impacts on the environment through widespread destruction of our ecological base. Many of these techno-fixes deal only with symptoms of the human enterprise but not the underlying causes, such as climate change, habitat destruction and the overconsumption of natural capital.

    Second, many of us here are not ‘demonizing’ GMOs, but raise a number of concerns about the technology. These concerns cover a broad swathe of disciplines and fields of endeavor. I agree with WTD that we need more research, but certainly this should be the domain of independent bodies such as non-corporate funded universities and institutes and we should not at all depend on results ‘handed’ willy-nilly to us by the same companies who manufacture GMOs for profit. Working alongside and in collaboration with molecular biologists, I would also say that this research must be multidisciplinary, involving researchers with expertise in genomes, organisms and right up to experts in the study of communities and ecosystems. Like it or not, much of the efficacy of the research IMHO has relied on molecular biologists, who like it or not lack much in the way of any expertise on larger scale ecology.

    Finally, I would argue that the those with the financial means to conduct this technology must share it with their poorer counterparts in the south. I would think more highly about this research if it were aimed at sharing technology rather than seeing genetic diversity in terms of ‘intellectual property’ and ‘patent rights’. The very fact that bioprospectors are paid by the big firms to look for plants and animals in the topics that they can collect, bring back to northern labs, and look for certain properties (e.g. medicinal traits) that they can extract, refine and patent, suggests to me that the technology is not at all driven by any altruistic agenda but simply for profit. As I said earlier, who in the end benefits from it? The African farmer who can barely afford a new hoe or the industrial farmers in the north with farms covering many thousands of acres?

    I have already addressed the other areas of concern about this technology and will not reiterate it here, except to say that (unsurprisingly) none of the strong defenders of inter-phylogenetic bioengineering have responded to them.

  94. #97 Michael
    July 17, 2011

    What concerns me most about GMOs is the risk assessment process, particularly the time factor.

    A plants that is now posing the biggest threats in North Australia since mimosa was initially released in the 1930’s and has only recently been delared a noxious weed. Remember too, that mimosa was judged to not have ‘weedy’ charateristics before it went totally feral.

    I wonder just how much thought has gone into assessing the risk not just in 5 years, but over 50 or more.

  95. #98 SkepticalSteve
    July 17, 2011

    And chance of them steering those whipper snippers towards the climate research division?

    Oh no, that’s right…. they’re on YOUR side!

  96. #99 Neven
    July 17, 2011

    Its just another example where humans think that they can fix any kind of limitations placed on us by nature with technology, whilst failing to draw back the scale of the human enterprise. We now have drought resistant crops, saline tolerant crops and the like, which are fine but do not deal with the problems wrought by burgeoning human numbers and per capita impacts on the environment through widespread destruction of our ecological base. Many of these techno-fixes deal only with symptoms of the human enterprise but not the underlying causes, such as climate change, habitat destruction and the overconsumption of natural capital.

    Amen…

  97. #100 nsib
    July 17, 2011

    Jeff Harvey,

    I think you’re holding too tightly to your initial assessment of GMOs, and your argument is suffering for that. In your response @195, you’ve bent and broken the truth in many places, apparently solely for the purpose of rhetorical strength. For example, no one is “randomly inserting genetic material” into anything, and to suggest otherwise is quite dishonest. If you feel that the existing protocols and regulations for testing GMOs are lacking, please focus on that rather than tilting at windmills. Honestly, I too have concerns about the regulation and especially the legal status of GMOs.

    Secondly, you’ve brought up what I view as a false dilemma; the idea that we have to choose between research on GMOs OR working on environmental improvements. Your insinuation that I think GMOs are a cure-all is puzzling, since I said nothing about that in my first response, nor do I hold that belief.

    Lastly,

    Second, many of us here are not ‘demonizing’ GMOs, but raise a number of concerns about the technology.

    my initial post was in response to Ian Forrester, who, judging from his posts, would have no problem with being called “anti-GMO.” I thought I made it clear that there are a lot of concerns about GMOs that are worthy of discussion; I was just sick of arguments that boiled down to: GMOs are unnatural and evil! That’s an argument born of fear and ignorance, and I’ve seen that same view way too often from anti-government types in the US.