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Scientists Confirm Sheeple Safe to Eat
October 8, 2013 9:55 AM   Subscribe

With 2000+ global studies confirming safety, GM foods among most analyzed "Environmental impact studies are predominant in the body of GM research, making up 68% of the 1,783 studies. These studies investigated environmental impact on the crop-level, farm-level and landscape-level. Nicolia and his team found “little to no evidence” that GM crops have a negative environmental impact on their surroundings."

"In the food and feeding category, the team found no evidence that approved GMOs introduce any unique allergens or toxins into the food supply. All GM crops are tested against a database of all known allergens before commercialization and any crop found containing new allergens is not approved or marketed."

"The researchers also address the safety of transcribed RNA from transgenic DNA. Are scientists fiddling with the ‘natural order’ of life? In fact, humans consume between 0.1 and 1 gram of DNA per day, from both GM and non-GM ingredients. This DNA is generally degraded by food processing, and any surviving DNA is then subsequently degraded in the digestive system. No evidence was found that DNA absorbed through the GI tract could be integrated into human cells—a popular anti-GMO criticism."
posted by Knigel (169 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Link to the full study

Alternate article
posted by Knigel at 9:57 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Who pays the bills at The Genetic Literacy Project? Just curious.

Registrant Name:Registration Private
Registrant Organization:Domains By Proxy, LLC

posted by mecran01 at 10:00 AM on October 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, this is coming from a website whose mission states "Biotechnology is our future."
posted by Slinga at 10:02 AM on October 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


and any surviving DNA is then subsequently degraded in the digestive system.

To say nothing of the incredible array of enzymatic defenses the body has against free floating DNA and RNA.

I'd be more worried about an allergic reaction to a novel protein in my seemingly-same-as-yesterday potato, which I'm not really worried about. That's just the scariest thing that comes to mind for individual health.

My worry about the environmental effects isn't so much that the plants will outcompete or become invasive, its whatever (Monsanto) is put into the ground (if anything) along side the plant that the gm-tinkering allowed the plant to survive contact with.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:03 AM on October 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


Who pays the bills at The Genetic Literacy Project?

Who pays for the anti-articles?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:03 AM on October 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


"Pop a Poppler in your mouth, when you come to Fishy Joe's / What they're made of is a mystery; where they come from, no one knows / You can pick 'em, you can lick 'em, you can chew 'em, you can stick 'em / If you promise not to sue us, you can shove one up your nose."
posted by Fizz at 10:03 AM on October 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


You can't evidence a person out of a position they didn't evidence themselves into.
posted by 0xFCAF at 10:05 AM on October 8, 2013 [28 favorites]


Yeah, this is coming from a website whose mission states "Biotechnology is our future."

You should have seen their previous mission statement, "Please pay no attention to the fluorescent tentacles growing out of our foreheads."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:05 AM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Who pays the bills at The Genetic Literacy Project?

Who pays for the anti-articles?


Who pays for anything anymore? Cause, you know, the government's shutdown and the grant money is in limbo...

I'll bee outside
posted by Slackermagee at 10:06 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


As a zillion people have said before, there are many legitimate arguments against GMOs. However, since the industry can't refute them, they would rather put up silly straw man arguments like this one, then easily demolish them.
posted by Slinga at 10:07 AM on October 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


The Genetic Literacy Project is a non-profit organization funded by grants from non-partisan foundations. We also accept donations from individuals. We have no ties to and accept zero dollars from any industry or corporation. The GLP is affiliated with the non-profit Statistical Assessment Service (STATS) based at George Mason University in Virginia, which supplies administrative support for the GLP, and with the Center for Health & Risk Communication at GMU.

Now, non-partisan foundations and individuals can certainly have links back to industry but it is at least at a level of separation here.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:08 AM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Or at least they claim there is.
posted by Slinga at 10:08 AM on October 8, 2013


For those focusing their attention on the Genetic Literacy Project, you might do better by focusing your attention on the paper itself. Even if the GLP was funded directly from Monsanto, that wouldn't mean that their interpretation of the paper itself was incorrect. This study is one of many emphasising the scientific consensus about GMOs.
posted by Knigel at 10:09 AM on October 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


The Genetic Literacy Project is part of STATS. Funding info for STATS
posted by ghharr at 10:09 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


[Not really okay to pull your own projects into a post you've made. Please post them to Projects or somewhere not in this thread. Email us if you have questions about this.]
posted by jessamyn at 10:15 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Genetic Literacy Project is part of STATS.

The Genetic Literacy Program is the publisher of the article about the study, not the study.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:15 AM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


My biggest concern (solely as a shopper buying food) is the way GMO crops are used: making them "RoundUP Ready" so they can be drowned in poison without killing them. No thanks.
posted by letitrain at 10:18 AM on October 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


My biggest concern (solely as a shopper buying food) is the way GMO crops are used: making them "RoundUP Ready" so they can be drowned in poison without killing them.

How does this make them different from conventional crops that are also sprayed with petrochemicals?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:21 AM on October 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


The safety of the food is one aspect, but there's also the issue of Monsanto suing farmers who save seeds (a stance they may revisit). At least, Monsanto said they wouldn't sue farmers who inadvertently used their seeds if/when a farmer's crops get contaminated with patented stock.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:21 AM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


monoculture/extinction/invasive species.
posted by spbmp at 10:22 AM on October 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


They're both bad. With Roundup you end up with Roundup-resistant weeds that ignore pretty much everything you throw at them. 1, 2.
posted by Slinga at 10:23 AM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I eat GMOs without any fears because I strain the genes out using Lulemon tights. Pinterest FTW!
posted by srboisvert at 10:25 AM on October 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


They're both bad. With Roundup you end up with Roundup-resistant weeds that ignore pretty much everything you throw at them.

So wouldn't you then want them to use less herbicides, as they would when using GMO crops?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:26 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here's the founder. Ex-AEI fellow. Also author of books like "Pension Fund Politics: The Dangers of Socially Responsible Investing" and "Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We’re Afraid to Talk About It".
posted by destro at 10:27 AM on October 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


This paper is their amazing followup to the study commissioned by The Soylent Companies LLC, which studied the rate of decline of the ocean's algae and other protein sources.
posted by Gungho at 10:27 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]



So wouldn't you then want them to use less herbicides, as they would when using GMO crops?


[Citation Needed]
posted by C'est la D.C. at 10:28 AM on October 8, 2013


Also author of books like "Pension Fund Politics: The Dangers of Socially Responsible Investing" and "Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We’re Afraid to Talk About It".

Tell me that you made that up.
posted by goethean at 10:28 AM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


How long before this gets conflated to "prove" that factory farms have no negative impact?
posted by Navelgazer at 10:30 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


We just did this argument a week or two ago, and the unsound arguments against transgenic crops made then are still unsound arguments today.

Appeals to ignorance, appeals to authority, appeals to nature, false attribution, well-poisoning, obvious statistical or methodological errors, circular citations and epidemic back-patting, and outright quackery define the attempts by the ignorant to derail research into transgenic crops. Responses to this study will provide but another data point in the trend - "Hey, someone we find distasteful cited a study, therefore the study is invalid! Something about cancer! Drink 55 gallons of it if it's so safe!"

On the bright side this quarter, Kevin Trudeau finally got (part of) what's coming to him.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:31 AM on October 8, 2013 [14 favorites]



So wouldn't you then want them to use less herbicides, as they would when using GMO crops?


But they don't. They engineer these "roundup-ready" crops, and just dump that stuff all over, without any fear of hurting their crops. You want to use less herbicide? Grow organically.
posted by Slinga at 10:31 AM on October 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Two species I'd like to see more study done regarding the effects of monoculture GM crops, honey bees and Monarch Butterflys.

I am not making the claim they are connected, but both populations are either crashing or in serious decline, and there are at least a few seemingly viable links between the two that I think warrant more attention.

In addition another concern I have is the sheer difficulty that must arrive in assessing all systemic variables. We tend to have a pretty poor track record in doing this. Doing X to solve Y problem causes unforeseen Z problem.

This is not said as an automatic anti GMO stance, and recognizing that we use a lot of GMO products and have for a long time, rather a skepticism that all bases are indeed covered.
posted by edgeways at 10:31 AM on October 8, 2013


I'm not worried about genetically engineered food. Nor am I worried about them causing damage to the environment - the studies are pretty clear that the actual difference between GMO's and selectively bred farm crops are small.

What I am concerned about are the following:

1) The patent and legal framework around GMOs, such that IP rights around genetics (which in and of themselves concern me) lead to fear and uncertainty about what happens to farmers who don't buy GMO crops, but have their fields contaminated by same; and the impact on seed elevators and conventional farming. The net effect of which is to concentrate more and more power over food production into an ever smaller amount of private hands who control seed production, which is proving problematic even without GMO.

2) As a result of 1, we push ever further into monocropping on more and more foods, and its been shown time and time again that unforseen pests and disease can cause global problems with monocrops, with a very large impact on the food chain.

3) Much of the point of GMO has been to make crops resistent to pesticides and herbicides, so they can be drenched in those to increase yields. I'm a lot more concerned about those, including residues and run off into the water table, than the food itself; especially as weeds become effectively selectively bred to resist those same herbicides.

4) While the foods produced via GM at the moment may be benign, as more power and money concentrates via 1 to companies like Monsanto, I trust them not at all not to exert substantial lobbying power against regulators to the detriment of public safety in the long run - I consider them on a par with oil companies when it comes to caring about public safety vs profit margins.

I don't think it's a coincidence that the western country that has some of the weakest regulatory controls most subject to capture is also where GMOs are mostly commonly found unlabelled in foodstuffs. And it's pretty clear that many on the right in the US think there's far too much regulation stopping big business making a profit regardless of external costs already.

So while proving that the current crops from GMO aren't actually poisonous is a good thing, I'd rather hope that was the minimum bar to clear, not the be all and end all of the debate!
posted by ArkhanJG at 10:32 AM on October 8, 2013 [67 favorites]


Don't forget Entine's other works, like "Scared to Death: How Chemophobia Threatens Public Health" and "Abraham's Children: Race, Identity and the DNA of the Chosen People"

Again, not joking.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:37 AM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sheeple? Like, a Sheep crossed with a Steeple? Sheep crossed with People?

oh my god its a sheep crossed with people... soylent sheeple is made of peoooooople!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:38 AM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Don't forget Monsanto's other works, like PCBs, DDT, Agent Orange, rBST, and of course their endless lawsuits against anyone who criticizes them.
posted by Slinga at 10:38 AM on October 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


How does this make them different from conventional crops that are also sprayed with petrochemicals?

Because of a fun thing called the "pesticide treadmill." Making the crops resistant to pesticides allows greater quantities to be applied. The bugs and weeds eventually develop resistance to these pesticide loading a (or the pesticide altogether) so more or different pesticides need to be deployed.

I also take issue with how GMOs are heralded as the solution for the entire world, but focus predominately on crops like rice, corn, and wheat. The genetic revolution seems to blithely ignore the other crops native to different regions of the world, which are better suited to those climates and don't need the intense nutrient application and irrigation that these GMOs so often do.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 10:39 AM on October 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


ArkhanJG - agreed. It's a great shame for this debate to be turned into "anti-GM people are unscientific because lots of papers show (particular) GM crops aren't poisonous". That's a distraction, there's still plenty of ways the industrial-scale use of GM can and probably are bad. Big business is not well known for being incredibly careful about how their money making schemes affect people and/or the planet.

I especially agree about the intellectual property issue, and how that's monetised. It's a worry. Let's talk about that instead of the silly version of the argument?
posted by iotic at 10:40 AM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, when I read the above-the-cut stuff I thought "wait, when was toxicity ever the concern about GMOs?"
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:42 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The suggestion that more study is necessary to assess the food safety of GMO crops over the long term comes up often in these discussions.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:48 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


ArkhanJG, I don't think your issues have anything to do with GMOs. They have everything to do with industrial agribusiness.

1) Current plants are just as patentable as GMOs, and are currently patented just as much as GMOs. IP issues are completely orthogonal to GMOs.

2) Monocropping happens now, and there's little evidence that GMOs change that situation at all. How would GMOs create more monocropping? Presumably by being so much better than all the other types of crops that it's economically infeasible to use other crops? I don't think it's the case that GMOs are some sort of super-crop that are always better than non-GMO. Plus, there's a market for those that avoid GMOs, just as there's a market for those that want to avoid industrial farming, and those that want to organic, and those that want local food (and these are all separate, distinct, concepts. My local Whole Foods' veggies are organic, industrial, non-local food, for example, which is why I avoid them and go to the farmers market for local produce.)

3) Pesticides and herbicides are expensive inputs to farming. "Drenching" is getting thrown around, but that gets directly in the way of farming being economically feasible. And industrial farming is all about the profit, so I'm not sure where this idea comes from that they're going to over apply expensive pesticides, the hope would be to use less, or use cheaper pesticides. And there's nothing stopping "drenching" with non-GMO crops either.

4) The concentration of lobbying power has little to do with GMOs. And ironically enough, by making the regulatory process very expensive to bring GMOs to market, it places a huge barrier for non-monied foundations to get patent-free GMOs out there, and enforces greater requirements on making the GMO profitable.

Yes, there are big concerns with industrial farming. But GMOs connection to that is, at the very best, tenuous.

The argument seems to be industrial farming is bad, therefore GMOs are bad. GMOs don't have to be industrial farming. It's just lumping together things based on vague associations.
posted by Llama-Lime at 10:49 AM on October 8, 2013 [22 favorites]


"Yeah, when I read the above-the-cut stuff I thought "wait, when was toxicity ever the concern about GMOs?""

You must not read my mother's facebook.
posted by klangklangston at 10:50 AM on October 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Tell me that you made that up.

herp and derp
posted by destro at 10:50 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Basically anything related to anything is what often comes up in these discussions.
posted by kiltedtaco at 10:50 AM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just wait until someone transfers the cyanide-producing genes from cassava into other plants.
posted by benzenedream at 10:59 AM on October 8, 2013


Every domesticated crop is genetically engineered via breeding. The questions are, is there anything about the methodology used to change the genes in crops in the new way we are doing it which makes these crops dangerous. What do the competing studies say?
posted by Ironmouth at 11:00 AM on October 8, 2013


Llama-Lime, I agree. It can be really easy to conflate the bad practices of industrial agriculture with GMOs. That said, most pesticide and fertilizer application does end up being excessive because quite a bit of it doesn't end up on the actual crops. The high application rates are often to make sure enough gets to the plant and is not just washed away.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 11:03 AM on October 8, 2013


Because of a fun thing called the "pesticide treadmill." Making the crops resistant to pesticides allows greater quantities to be applied.

I think you mean herbicides in this case as plants would already be resistant to pesticides. But anyway, the reliance on herbicides is a seperate matter. Non-resistant crops (GMO or otherwise) are timed to be planted just after the application of herbicides in no-till farming, a process begun before the introduction of these products. Resistant crops are planted and then sprayed with herbicide. The difference being timing. Almost all no-till since the introduction of herbicide resistant crops has been using resistant crops theres not really anything to compare the data to. Would conventional farmers have used as much round-up had they not used resistant crops, lord knows. Maybe? I can't show a source because one doesn't exist because you can't do a study on something that has no control.

Now as to those pesticides, wouldn't inserting a gene to express a pest toxic enzime mean you then don't have to spray that chemical indiscriminately on crops?

Just wait until someone transfers the cyanide-producing genes from cassava into other plants.

Oh my god! Then they'll be almost as toxic as peaches or cherries!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:03 AM on October 8, 2013


I hate Monsanto with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns, but without hard evidence to back up their claims, and with the preponderance of evidence to the contrary, the anti-GMO folks are starting to veer into the anti-vax and anti-WiFi category.
posted by rocket88 at 11:04 AM on October 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


I think you mean herbicides in this case as plants would already be resistant to pesticides.

Depends on the pesticide. Some of those things can be rather indiscriminate. I take the distinction between herbicide and pesticide to be the intended target, not the only thing that it can kill.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 11:05 AM on October 8, 2013


Don't forget Entine's other works

Where is this derail coming from? Can somebody explain Entine's relevance to this thread?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:09 AM on October 8, 2013


Now as to those pesticides, wouldn't inserting a gene to express a pest toxic enzime mean you then don't have to spray that chemical indiscriminately on crops?

That was the whole idea with Bt Corn, but pests have started to develop a resistance to that as well.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 11:10 AM on October 8, 2013


I hate Monsanto with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns, but without hard evidence to back up their claims, and with the preponderance of evidence to the contrary, the anti-GMO folks are starting to veer into the anti-vax and anti-WiFi category.

Anti-GMO is the liberal equivalent of climate change denial.
posted by McSly at 11:11 AM on October 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


Also, to correct myself, a pesticide is for any pest (including plants!). My previous comment was intended for herbicide/insecticide/rodenticide/fungicide.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 11:14 AM on October 8, 2013


The common thread in anti-XYZ movements being a lack of knowledge of the mechanisms at work.
posted by Slackermagee at 11:15 AM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


One thing to note is, studies like these can only show that existing GM crops are safe. Of course, it is possible someone will make an unsafe GM crop tomorrow. I think one important aspect of the groundswell of people opposed to GM is, it's like a vote of no confidence in bodies like Monsanto to make sure they continue to leave the environment and food unaffected while they rake in all the dollars they can. And that's not so easy to disprove.
posted by iotic at 11:16 AM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also author of books like "Pension Fund Politics: The Dangers of Socially Responsible Investing" and "Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We’re Afraid to Talk About It".

Hi, I'm Troy McClure!
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:18 AM on October 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


This issue strikes me as one of those that, if we had published an article in Popular Science 50 yrs ago laying out exactly what we are doing now to feed the world, most folks would have said bring us this future! The reality of feeding the world using the brainpower, technology, resources, and economics that we currently have, however, is a bit messy. It really doesn't help that the main battle line seems be be drawn over regulation vs. profit (when isn't it, really).
It's another casualty of the ideological divide that seems to override common sense.
Put strict regulations in place that require big agro (already heavily subsidized) to prove it's products are safe both environmentally and healthwise, and sustainable, and let them profit as much as they want from there.
I realize that this is just a ridiculous reduction of the problem, but a hundred years ago leaders like TR just took the issue by the horns and got shit done.
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:18 AM on October 8, 2013


One thing to note is, studies like these can only show that existing GM crops are safe. Of course, it is possible someone will make an unsafe GM crop tomorrow.

Let's set the bar for evidence so high that you would literally need a time machine to clear it.
posted by 0xFCAF at 11:22 AM on October 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Let's set the bar for evidence so high that you would literally need a time machine to clear it.

No. It's a question of who do you trust to make these decisions? Science, yes. Science in the hands of rank profiteers? Perhaps not so much.
posted by iotic at 11:24 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


That was the whole idea with Bt Corn, but pests have started to develop a resistance to that as well.

Bt Corns an interesting one to bring up since the specific Bt enzimes expressed through the inserted genes were just a handfull of numerous of toxic chemicals expressed by the bacteria as cry toxin which is sprayed indiscriminately as an anapproved organic pesticide! Interestingly, this more indiscriminate use seems to be left out in articles linking cry toxin dangers to non-crop pests.

Science in the hands of rank profiteers?

If it's actual science who cares where the money comes from? Science is science, profiteering is profiteering, the two are two seperate things. A scientist that let's the cash source influence the outcome of the experiment is no longer doing science. This is what actual peer review is supposedly for.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:33 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


> One thing to note is, studies like these can only show that existing GM crops are safe. Of course, it is possible someone will make an unsafe GM crop tomorrow.

Let's set the bar for evidence so high that you would literally need a time machine to clear it.


Can we just get one thing clear, at least? There is almost no generalization you can make about whether GMO crops are safe; that's like making generalizations about whether PC software is buggy or carbon-based life is intelligent. It is possible to make a GM organism so toxic that your skin would peel off your hand within a half hour of handling it. It is also possible to make one that's yummy and nourishing and will stay fresh for weeks without refrigeration.

The concern is whether the practices of GM are being conducted with integrity and in the public interest. The answer is almost certainly "sometimes".
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:35 AM on October 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Can somebody explain Entine's relevance to this thread?

He's the executive director of the Genetic Literacy Project, the organization that published the article linked to in the FPP.

Mother Jones profiled him last year in "The Making of an Agribusiness Apologist".

I also suspect that GMU's being awash in Koch bros. money and home to one of their think tanks is not coincidental.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:37 AM on October 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


The concern is whether the practices of GM are being conducted with integrity and in the public interest. The answer is almost certainly "sometimes".

Witness the degree to which industry proponents fight labeling laws. If being pro-GMO was really all about being rational and making rational choices, it probably wouldn't be necessary to spend so much money and time rigging the legal system to keep people ignorant about where their food comes from and how it is made. Unrelenting skepticism about the way this technology is being applied appears to be well-deserved.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:40 AM on October 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


He's the executive director of the Genetic Literacy Project, the organization that published the article linked to in the FPP.

We all know Fox news is a sheisty right-wing shill, but that doesn't mean something they feature is incorrect. Shouldn't we focus on the merits of actual study rather than who writes an article about it?

The concern is whether the practices of GM are being conducted with integrity and in the public interest. The answer is almost certainly "sometimes".

When is it sometimes? Are there examples of biotech firms actually actively trying to do harm?

Witness the degree to which industry proponents fight labeling laws. If being pro-GMO was really all about being rational and making rational choices, it probably wouldn't be necessary to spend so much money and time rigging the legal system to keep people ignorant about where their food comes from and how it is made. Unrelenting skepticism about the way this technology is being applied appears to be well-deserved.

Skepticism is always well deserved, but what "rational choices" can be made with the volume of disinformation out there? Look at this thread in particular, on a site with numerous scientists and truly rational thinkers, not one comment has been made regarding the merits or problems with the study itself. How can we expect the general public to therefore make a "rational" decision on this matter and not see GMO product ingredients as a warning label?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:46 AM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


"1) The patent and legal framework around GMOs, such that IP rights around genetics (which in and of themselves concern me) lead to fear and uncertainty about what happens to farmers who don't buy GMO crops, but have their fields contaminated by same; and the impact on seed elevators and conventional farming. The net effect of which is to concentrate more and more power over food production into an ever smaller amount of private hands who control seed production, which is proving problematic even without GMO."
Farmers who honestly have their fields contaminated by traits accidentally are in no danger, and never have been. Monsanto and other companies have only ever sued farmers who intentionally plant crops they do not have licenses for and then prove it by spraying their fields with concentrations of pesticide that would kill their crops if they hadn't, that is in addition one stubborn old coot who did it on purpose and then proved it by writing Monsanto a letter telling them he did it even though he did not take advantage of it to make a point.

This is not at all a valid fear as a lawsuit without clear proof that the farmer did it on purpose is not a lawsuit Monsanto would win, period.
"2) As a result of 1, we push ever further into monocropping on more and more foods, and its been shown time and time again that unforseen pests and disease can cause global problems with monocrops, with a very large impact on the food chain."
This is also simply not the case. 1920s era hybrid seed technology is what has dramatically reduced variety on industrialized farms, but the IRRI has demonstrated that GMOs are not at all tied to the Hybrid seed business model by creating hundreds of golden varieties of local strains of rice.
"3) Much of the point of GMO has been to make crops resistent to pesticides and herbicides, so they can be drenched in those to increase yields. I'm a lot more concerned about those, including residues and run off into the water table, than the food itself; especially as weeds become effectively selectively bred to resist those same herbicides."
This is also not really meaningfully an opposition to GMOs, this is an opposition to Round-Up.
"4) While the foods produced via GM at the moment may be benign, as more power and money concentrates via 1 to companies like Monsanto, I trust them not at all not to exert substantial lobbying power against regulators to the detriment of public safety in the long run - I consider them on a par with oil companies when it comes to caring about public safety vs profit margins."
The future is still coming (Here is a more detailed talk for biologists and a more detailed talk for computer science people) and Monsanto's current technological stranglehold on the industry will rapidly become even more obsolete than it already is as these techniques become more reliable, cheaper, more precisely controllable, and more accessible to smaller labs. We actually, in spite of ourselves, have an opportunity to learn from the economic mistakes of the last two decades and prevent them from owning the next generation of the world's most technologically advanced seeds by taking control of it ourselves.

There is no reason why institutes like the IRRI shouldn't be able to dictate the terms of the next global market for seeds for the benefit of all mankind - aside from how absurdly ill informed the debate currently is.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:46 AM on October 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


There is almost no generalization you can make about whether GMO crops are safe

That's kind of the point, right? Some GMO crops are safe. Some non-GMO crops are unsafe. I don't see anyone making the argument that any GMO product should be subject to any less scrutiny than any other farming technique. If farmers start using lead as a pesticide, that's a food safety problem just the same as an unsafe GMO crop, but the point is that the GMOness itself is not the danger that people are making it out to be.

Labeling as a "right to know" thing continues to puzzle me. If food harvested under a full moon is shown to be just as safe as food harvested at other times, is it still necessary to pass a law labeling it as such because people who believe in astrology are troubled by the thought of moon-tainted crops? There are a million different factors that go in to a food product; where do we get the idea that GMO requires labeling more than any other factor that doesn't ultimately impact the safety of the final product in an evidence-based way?
posted by 0xFCAF at 11:48 AM on October 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


As a zillion people have said before, there are many legitimate arguments against GMOs. However, since the industry can't refute them, they would rather put up silly straw man arguments like this one, then easily demolish them.

Clearly you missed the last GMO thread.
posted by Artw at 11:49 AM on October 8, 2013


If it's actual science who cares where the money comes from? Science is science, profiteering is profiteering, the two are two seperate things. A scientist that let's the cash source influence the outcome of the experiment is no longer doing science. This is what actual peer review is supposedly for.

The fact you added "supposedly" at the end there shows you understand this is slightly more nuanced than your opening line might suggest. I'm sure I could dig out some peer-reviewed papers that purported to show there was no link between tobacco and lung cancer.

But in any case, science in itself has no moral agency. It does depend on the motivation behind it, and I don't think it's wrong to question those motivations, and the dangers that they might create.

I'm not actually anti-GM, but I do very much understand where the anti-GM impulse comes from in many people, and I don't think "peer-reviewed science!" Is an adequate retort. There is more conversation to be had about this.
posted by iotic at 11:49 AM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


GMO labeling is going to be about as effective as "May contain products known to cause cancer in California" labels. Practically everything but some fresh fruit and vegetables would be plastered with the labeling because who knows if a little GMO corn starch or something sneaked into a package.
posted by Mitheral at 11:50 AM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's worth pointing out that the Genetic Literacy Project has little relevence to the subject of the research. They're one of several places who've written about the article, but don't seem to be connected to the authors or funders of the actual research.

The paper itself is free access and very accessibly written, with clear explanations of the questions they were interested in, and how they went about searching the literature to compile the answers. I heartily recommend that anyone interested in discussing it tries reading it. If you really must ignore the content of the article and attack its source instead, the authors' affiliation is Department of Applied Biology, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy; and Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies (MiPAAF), Rome, Italy. As for fuding: [The lead author] acknowleges ABOCA Spa (http://www.aboca.com/it) for the financial support on manuscript preparation. They're your targets.

Hilariously, from the second paragraph of The Fine Article:
The safety of GE crops is crucial for their adoption and
has been the object of intense research work. [...]
The EU recognized that the GE crop safety literature is still
often ignored in the public debate...
Clearly, these dudes have been on the internet before.
posted by metaBugs at 11:50 AM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Shouldn't we focus on the merits of actual study rather than who writes an article about it?

How so? Who can read all 1700+ papers the authors have, to check the validity of their summary?

(Given the usual dichotomy between the pro- and anti-GMO folks, the disclosure section gave a little dose of welcome irony.)
posted by mittens at 11:50 AM on October 8, 2013


When is it sometimes? Are there examples of biotech firms actually actively trying to do harm?

Straw man. "Not acting with integrity and in the public interest" != "actively trying to do harm". I'm sure when you fund 6 studies and throw out the 5 that don't show the result you want, you don't genuinely believe you're trying to do harm. But you're not acting with integrity or in the public interest either.

(Full disclosure: I give that as an example of not acting with integrity; I do not personally know of cases where Monsanto has done this particular thing. But it's pretty common in pharma.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:51 AM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'll save you guys the time - Aboca - the funder of the paper is anti-GMO
posted by JPD at 11:57 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm curious how many people here have ever tried to even grow something for an extended period of time.

I grow hybrids of south african succulent plants and I use insecticides because otherwise they get infested and end up scarred or stunted and that is with growing indoors and eight floors up in very controlled conditions.

Manual controls like picking insects off are ineffective because it is only in the later stages that pests are even visible and by then damage is done and the next generation of eggs have been laid. Biological controls don't eradicate pests. Nematodes keep populations down but they are still there and you have reapply them regularly and provide the conditions for them to exist - like a pest infestation!

So I use a harsh systemic drench twice a year rotating the active ingredient combined with regular targeted direct applications of diluted alcohol to bugs with a paint brush and the problem is just barely controlled.

I think a lot of the anti-GMO and anti-pesticide folk out there just have no clue about the war that is going on to get food to their tables and the organic non-monoculture people simply have no idea how much needs to be produced and how ineffective their proposed cure-alls are on national and international scales.

The EU has just banned for domestic use all but one of the insecticides I use regularly here in the US. I expect to be hearing from my friends over there that their fantastic collections are under siege within a year or two as the exclusive use of a single pesticide selects for pesticide resistant pests - effectively creating GM pests though a selective breeding program. Curiously they didn't ban the pesticides for industry ( I guess hobbyists are an easier target for regulation). This is a big giant half assed experiment to see if bee populations bounce back. It'll fail of course and it will be impossible to interpret why due to the half assedness but at least they are doing something right?
posted by srboisvert at 11:57 AM on October 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm not inherently anti-GM foods, but this article is mind-numbing rah-rah crap. 2,000 plus studies makes it one of the most studied subjects in science? Not really, no. And they provide nothing to back that claim up. As a pharmacologist, I'm going to guess there are dozens of drugs that have totaled up that number. (Marijuana has 19000 studies, aspirin has 52000. Those numbers will be pared down as to those that have no safety aspects).
The fact is that there are at least 2000 variations of GM foods. So, this mass of studies does not absolve all of their potential risks. If it were a single GM food product, 2000 studies of its production, consumption and environmental impact would be impressive.
Genetic modification is a tool as much as a product. It can be handled correctly or mishandled. It will have benefits and potential risks. The potential risks for any given form may be small. Or not. It is not a single subject and it is not a panacea.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:57 AM on October 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


"I'm not actually anti-GM, but I do very much understand where the anti-GM impulse comes from in many people, and I don't think "peer-reviewed science!" Is an adequate retort. There is more conversation to be had about this."

Certainly not for all of the questions related to GMOs, but for ones related to safety, "peer-reviewed science!" and "rock solid scientific consensus!" really are pretty adequate in the same way that they are for climate denialists, anti-vaxxers, and the whole menagerie of cranks. There is no reason to think that there is anything inherent to the techniques of genetic manipulation to suggest that there is anything actually dangerous about GMOs, even in a fear of the unknown kind of way because the techniques have not really been unknown in a meaningful way for thirty years now.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:59 AM on October 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


If food harvested under a full moon is shown to be just as safe as food harvested at other times, is it still necessary to pass a law labeling it as such because people who believe in astrology are troubled by the thought of moon-tainted crops?

If food producers are able to accurately label their kosher food without any problem, why is it a big deal to label their GM-containing food?
posted by mittens at 11:59 AM on October 8, 2013


"If food producers are able to accurately label their kosher food without any problem, why is it a big deal to label their GM-containing food?"

No one is trying to force anyone to label food as kosher.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:01 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


If food producers are able to accurately label their kosher food without any problem, why is it a big deal to label their GM-containing food?

No one is arguing that it should be illegal to accurately label your food as GMO or non-GMO. Plenty of people are arguing that it should be illegal to not label your GMO food.

The analogous situation would be if it were required to label non-kosher food as non-kosher. I don't think we should do that. Do you?
posted by 0xFCAF at 12:02 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Straw man. "Not acting with integrity and in the public interest" != "actively trying to do harm". I'm sure when you fund 6 studies and throw out the 5 that don't show the result you want, you don't genuinely believe you're trying to do harm. But you're not acting with integrity or in the public interest either.

OK, yes, that is probably a false equivalence (not straw man incidentally) but the onus is on you to show that your acusation that biotech firms are acting contrary to integrity and public interest. A straw man argument would be using industry produced non-peer reviewed tobacco "studies" from the 50's and equivocating them to biotech firms doing GMO research.

Who can read all 1700+ papers the authors have, to check the validity of their summary?

Isn't that what their peers were supposed to do before they published this article in something (unironically) called Critical Reviews in Biotechnology?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:04 PM on October 8, 2013


"Who can read all 1700+ papers the authors have, to check the validity of their summary?"

Professionals. The people we employ at research institutions around the world who are beholden only to their peers, and their ability to convince shiftless bureaucrats that their peers approve, who spend lifetimes learning and communicating science (three of whom reviewed this paper specifically) and who aren't really divided about the questions that this review answers.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:10 PM on October 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


OK, yes, that is probably a false equivalence (not straw man incidentally)

Category error: a false equivalence is one basis for constructing a straw man. Nyah nyah! (I love pedantry, can we do this instead?)

but the onus is on you to show that your acusation that biotech firms are acting contrary to integrity and public interest.

A) I did not accuse. I guessed that it was "sometimes" done in the public interest. "Sometimes" does not exclude "always", it just doesn't assume it.

B) I think we have a fundamental difference of opinion on where responsibility lies when introducing new foodstuffs. It's a bit like restaurant inspection: it's not up to the inspector to prove that the refrigerator is too warm, it's up to the restaurant to prove, with an appropriately positioned and functioning thermometer, that it is sufficiently cold.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:11 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, the analogy to kosher labeling would be a system whereby foods without GMO can be voluntarily labeled, and it's generally assumed that any food without this label probably contains GMO.

This actually sounds like a good idea to me. Is there any reason this doesn't exist yet?
posted by baf at 12:15 PM on October 8, 2013


"This actually sounds like a good idea to me. Is there any reason this doesn't exist yet?"

The Federal Government actually officially sponsors a program that does exactly this to ensure its accuracy
posted by Blasdelb at 12:17 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Interestingly, a local grocery chain has begun labeling the shelves below products that have received an independent GMO-free certification. I'd like to find out more about this program.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:18 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


This actually sounds like a good idea to me. Is there any reason this doesn't exist yet?

Because of pollen cross-contamination (corn and soybeans being notable examples), it is probably harder to assert that a food is GMO-free, whereas it is easier to validate the opposite.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:25 PM on October 8, 2013


Certainly not for all of the questions related to GMOs, but for ones related to safety, "peer-reviewed science!" and "rock solid scientific consensus!" really are pretty adequate ...

What do you mean by "safety" here? It's a big topic ...
posted by iotic at 12:25 PM on October 8, 2013


Just make genetic material, etc. unpatentable to push research towards the public rather than private interests.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:26 PM on October 8, 2013


OK, yes, that is probably a false equivalence (not straw man incidentally)

Category error: a false equivalence is one basis for constructing a straw man. Nyah nyah! (I love pedantry, can we do this instead?)


Doh!

I think we have a fundamental difference of opinion on where responsibility lies when introducing new foodstuffs. It's a bit like restaurant inspection: it's not up to the inspector to prove that the refrigerator is too warm, it's up to the restaurant to prove, with an appropriately positioned and functioning thermometer, that it is sufficiently cold.

Actually, I don't think we're really so far apart . I'm not actually pro or anti GMO at all, I'm just pro-science and pro-skepticism. Where I think we differ is that someone has to set a limit for which we will accept a new technology and that bar cannot be unacheivable, the refrigerator cannot be required to go below absolute zero before the restaurant can serve food. If (actual, peer-reviewed) study after study HAS shown that GMO crops are (on their own) safe, then we can safely move that they are most likely safe. If the thermometer in the fridge says it's less than 40, then we have to let them keep selling food at least until there is sufficient reason to believe that 38 is the proper temperature.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:26 PM on October 8, 2013


I suspect that we only differ in our skepticism of the integrity of a process which does not in the near term reward integrity. I don't think you need the parody mustachio-twirling villain to expect that regulatory capture (of the K-street revolving door variety) a huge messaging budget and very powerful and influential friends need to be counterbalanced with intense public-interest scrutiny.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:31 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I suspect that we only differ in our skepticism of the integrity of a process which does not in the near term reward integrity.

Oh, I know there's plenty of bullshit passing for science these days, and as a government regulator I'm under no delusions that government regulation is infallable. I just maybe have more hope that real journals are mostly doing their jobs.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:42 PM on October 8, 2013


BTW, the comparison of GM skeptic (which in my case is more "GM practitioner skeptic") with anti-vaxxers that some have made is a bit insulting. GM is an incredibly vast domain of -- it is scarcely an exaggeration to say it -- infinite potential. The immunoresponse characterisics involved in vaccination has been explored to good effect for more than a century, and the domain of that field is correspondingly infinitesimal in its scope compared to GM. I think it has amazing promise; even to the point of saving the world: efficient carbon sequestration, ocean deacidification, biofuels, food sources that can arrest desertification and deforestation ... you name it, frankly. But I am terrified of its potential misuse and I do not have a good opinion of its practitioners or much confidence in its oversight.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:43 PM on October 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


> You can't evidence a person out of a position they didn't evidence themselves into.

It's really annoying to assume that the reason that people are dubious about GMOs is entirely stupidity.

I've been skeptical because of a lack of evidence, and an extremely poor track record on the part of the creators of this technology. More evidence is extremely useful to me, and I suspect to an awful lot of reasonable people.

Skeptical doesn't mean I'm going out of my way to avoid GMOs or boycotting companies that use it - I simply want more information.

The linked article was IMHO deeply flawed. The number of research papers is irrelevant. As has been commented above, the headline, "With 2000+ global studies confirming safety, GM foods among most analyzed subject in science" is false. The site is clearly very much biased in one direction, and my guess is that it's a PR effort.

The actual survey article referenced is pretty convincing. If you had to pick one sentence, it'd be this one:

"The experimental data collected so far on authorized GE crops can
be summarized as follows: (a) there is no scientific evidence of toxic or allergenic effects;"

The ongoing difficulty with GMOs appears to me that you can create "new" organisms fairly easily, each of which might have issues, particularly with allergies. I'm willing to accept that the evidence seems very strong that GMOs so far have introduced no new issues, so now my interest is in a system that allows new work in this area to proceed effectively, but still continues to protect the consumer and the ecosystem against possible issues.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:46 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


So, the analogy to kosher labeling would be a system whereby foods without GMO can be voluntarily labeled, and it's generally assumed that any food without this label probably contains GMO.

This actually sounds like a good idea to me. Is there any reason this doesn't exist yet?


I have definitely seen foods labelled as non-GMO in the grocery store (Canada, fwiw). Unless you mean you want an official government certification for it, which seems like kindof a waste of public money to me, but there are worse things for the government to waste money on, I guess.
posted by randomnity at 12:55 PM on October 8, 2013


I'd go a step beyond "oversight in the public interest". I'd be very glad to see GM itself in the public interest; i.e. not done merely in service of the incumbent socioeconomic and agricultural models. I mean if you're gonna grow monocrops, why not engineer them to improve the soil and reduce our dependency on synthetic fertilizers? Obviously plants can't synthesize the minerals they consume so you'd still need to add calcium or whatever, but most of the other compounds that contribute to fertile soil, as well as properties like pH and characteristics like aeration can be produced biologically out of the same stuff all life is made out of (hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen).
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:15 PM on October 8, 2013


BTW, the comparison of GM skeptic (which in my case is more "GM practitioner skeptic") with anti-vaxxers that some have made is a bit insulting.

Entirely apt if assertations are being made without evidence and then defended with "we just don't know" or vague handwaving about conspiracies - that is purest antiscience woo.
posted by Artw at 1:27 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Diversity.
posted by devnull at 1:29 PM on October 8, 2013


"I suspect that we only differ in our skepticism of the integrity of a process which does not in the near term reward integrity. I don't think you need the parody mustachio-twirling villain to expect that regulatory capture (of the K-street revolving door variety) a huge messaging budget and very powerful and influential friends need to be counterbalanced with intense public-interest scrutiny."

Oh but it does, Monsanto's seed division only lives and breathes but with a very sharp and very heavy sword of Damocles hanging directly over its head. The current regulatory environment for GMOs is a compromise that is very favorable to both Monsanto and to us, where Monsanto and its competitors each submit to a 'voluntary' regulatory process during which each of the even vaguely plausible fears about GMOs is tested. They make sure that any peptide that could plausibly be translated as a result of the modification is immediately broken down in stomach acid to be dead sure it cannot be an allergen (despite the fact that we get exposed to a truly astronomical number of novel and totally uncharacterized peptides every time we eat anything and nothing is used from any organism known to contain any allergen anyway) - just in case, they conduct and supervise safety tests in mice that don't make any sense to do - just in case, they conduct and supervise field trials to test environmental fears that don't make any sense - just in case, and it all ends up confirming what we have known since the 80s each fucking time.

The moment there is even the barest whiff of a scandal that isn't just bullshit like all of the others since GMO-denialism became a thing in the mid 90s, one cute kid with whatever you guys are imagining on the evening news, though and suddenly the favorable environment changes as what is sensible does. Suddenly labeling would actually make sense, suddenly the FDA would have something actually worth aggressively regulating by requiring the necessary song and dance bullshit that pharma goes through, and suddenly Monsanto would not be making so much money. The FDA is perfectly happy to require that big pharma spend a billion dollars proving safety and efficacy for every drug they put on the market because there is actually reason to do so, do you really think Monsanto wants to join them?

"I also suspect that GMU's being awash in Koch bros. money and home to one of their think tanks is not coincidental."

This kind of thinking is something that really impresses me about these debates, just how dramatic and absurd the conspiratorial thinking that pervades so much of the conversation so rapidly gets. The kind that just so naturally assumes that the world is controlled by forces that are malevolent for the sake of malevolence and are opposed only by the heroic yet eternally ineffective people who ARE IN THE KNOW but aren't co-opted by those malevolent forces. It is a powerful narrative, and it seems a tempting one to believe in as it places the true believer in a naturally privileged position without ever having to go through the work of actually understanding anything. With the entire scientific community playing to the tune of Monsanto, why should I bother actually reading the research it produces? The EPA is just a revolving door filled with people who don't care about me, what would be the point of trying to understand their comprehensive reports on the environmental effects of each GMO? This article fits my biases and that one doesn't, thus I already know which one is lying to me, why bother checking sources?

Koch Industries is not involved in the GMO business and have no meaningful financial stake in it, while they are certainly some pretty fucked up motherfuckers with some pretty fucked up values - they are not just abjectly evil mustache twirlers, and this kind of calling wolf can only serve to discredit real fucked up shit that does happen.

"BTW, the comparison of GM skeptic (which in my case is more "GM practitioner skeptic") with anti-vaxxers that some have made is a bit insulting. GM is an incredibly vast domain of -- it is scarcely an exaggeration to say it -- infinite potential. The immunoresponse characterisics involved in vaccination has been explored to good effect for more than a century, and the domain of that field is correspondingly infinitesimal in its scope compared to GM. I think it has amazing promise; even to the point of saving the world: efficient carbon sequestration, ocean deacidification, biofuels, food sources that can arrest desertification and deforestation ... you name it, frankly. But I am terrified of its potential misuse and I do not have a good opinion of its practitioners or much confidence in its oversight."

Surely the sheer mass of bullshit, that is obvious to anyone with the most basic of post-secondary science educations, which dominates these debates is not invisible to you. Greenpeace does not put out fliers with nuanced economic critiques of our agricultural system; they paste monarch butterflies all over everything with references to long discredited research, exploit the suicides of farmers in India, tout the cancer fears of bullshit artists like Séralini, and they succeed at defining the conversation. While certainly not everyone expressing skepticism in this thread is equivalent to an anti-vaxxer, that kind of position has become more or less extinct from the national conversation as GMOs have continued to not be a meaningful source of economic problems, real safety concerns, or environmental damage while frankenfood enthusiasts only get louder.

I too am terrified at the potential for misuse in the rapidly arriving next generation of GMO technology, but the constant stream of crying wolf that characterizes these debates - just like it does the vaccine ones - is not going to help us police it.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:45 PM on October 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


I'm curious how many people here have ever tried to even grow something for an extended period of time.

I've got a couple thousand square feet of garden that I haven't applied a commercial pesticide to in the six years I've been living at this location. I'm not really opposed to pesticides per se I just haven't need them yet. I'm fairly certain my experience isn't unique to the site.
posted by Mitheral at 1:56 PM on October 8, 2013


"I also take issue with how GMOs are heralded as the solution for the entire world, but focus predominately on crops like rice, corn, and wheat. The genetic revolution seems to blithely ignore the other crops native to different regions of the world, which are better suited to those climates and don't need the intense nutrient application and irrigation that these GMOs so often do."

This is a strange thing to fault the genetic revolution for without also discussing why. Just look at the extraordinary amount of trouble researchers with direly required food security goals, plans for implementation that are impeccably spotless and desperately needed from a social justice perspective, and an economic structure built for the benefit of mankind have run into. There is a reason why the fruits of the genetic revolution are so inequitably distributed, and its not Monsanto.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:00 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree that, like anti-vax, there is deliberate and ignorant disinformation on both sides of the GM debate -- more deliberate on the industrial side, possibly more ignorant on the anti side.

But still, the two are not equal because of profound differences in the maturity of the technology, the monetizing potential and the scope of the risks. I'm more afraid of the harm that antivaxxer nutjobs can do than of the potential harm of producing an errant vaccine. With GM, those fears are very much inverted.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:01 PM on October 8, 2013


(Er, on rereading that I see the net effect of it is to apparently defend misinformation in one case as opposed to another. Not really what I meant to do...)
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:05 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shit, that really was a poorly framed comment. It also says pretty much in so many words that there is deliberate misinformation on the pro-vax side, and that too is not something I actually meant to say. Sorry all, I'd delete it if I could.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:11 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Koch Industries is not involved in the GMO business and have no meaningful financial stake in it

From the 7/2/13 WSJ article: "Koch Brothers Angle for Bigger Role in Wall Street Deals":

Koch Industries Inc., their closely held industrial conglomerate with annual sales of $115 billion, made a splash last month by acknowledging an interest in buying newspapers. But Koch Industries also is looking at other possible investments, particularly in energy and agriculture-related businesses . . .

Koch executives also believe a growing world population will require heavy investments in U.S. food production. That may lead to more Koch investments in fertilizer, already a core business, and irrigation-related businesses.


The article goes on to note that Charles Koch, "abhors what he considers excessive U.S. government regulation."

So this may be less about GMOs at the moment, and more about working preemptively against regulation in areas the firm wants to expand into - and about opposing regulation more generally. The Koch bros. are longtime enemies of environmental regulations.

In any case, the Kochs are not the only pro-"market", anti-regulation investors dumping money into the right-leaning / libertarian think tanks and academics at GMU (though they give the most). The general climate there makes me skeptical of many publications affiliated with the University.
posted by ryanshepard at 2:12 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree that, like anti-vax, there is deliberate and ignorant disinformation on both sides of the GM debate -- more deliberate on the industrial side,
Perhaps it's just a function of who I hang out with and where I live, but I haven't heard much from the industry side at all, much less any deliberate misinformation. I don't doubt that it's out there, but I do doubt that it's very prevalent or that it's foundational to anybody's argument. Could you point me to a few examples of what you're talking about?

I will admit to being a priori highly skeptical of any argument about "both sides," both because it does not absolve anyone of their guilt, and it's usually a false dodge anyway.
posted by Llama-Lime at 2:15 PM on October 8, 2013


"Koch executives also believe a growing world population will require heavy investments in U.S. food production. That may lead to more Koch investments in fertilizer, already a core business, and irrigation-related businesses."

That article is referring to Koch Fertilizer, LLC and the Koch Agricultural Company which are in the business of nitrogen fertilizer and cows respectively. This has nothing to do with GMOs and everything to do with loose associations.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:19 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Has the "both sides" argument ever been used in support of anything that wasn't awful or bullshit?
posted by Artw at 2:24 PM on October 8, 2013


"I agree that, like anti-vax, there is deliberate and ignorant disinformation on both sides of the GM debate"

I'd be interested to see an example of disinformation from the seed industry. There are stupid people who represent no one who believe and say all sorts of things, but I've yet to come across anything like Monsanto's seed division actually getting caught in a lie, or even saying anything deliberately misleading, while each of the even otherwise reputable 'GMO-skeptical' publications that Séralini sent his manuscripts to like Grist and Mother Jones were happy to spread obvious bullshit. I'm not sure there are really reputable 'GMO-skeptical' voices left in the national conversation, which is itself kind of terrifying, but the industry has if anything been kind of impressive with how careful and deliberate they so consistently are about avoiding bullshit.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:36 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


People who simply want to know which vaccines their children have been given aren't usually categorized as "anti-vaxxers". But for some reason, with this debate even people who just want to know details about what's being fed to them get characterized as some kind of Luddites or Flat Earthers or conspiracy wackos and it's demanded that you present a comprehensive scientific theory of specific issues you might be concerned about in the future before you're deemed worthy to inquire about which GMOs you're eating and when you're eating them.

Maybe someone can help me out with a question - I could have sworn I watched a television documentary a few years ago—one that was simply describing the technology used in creating GMOs, without apparently being pro- or anti-—which described the modification of a crop via the insertion of genes from an insect that was resistant to the predation of a pest into the plant's DNA. Does anyone know if that's a sort of thing that occurs - GMO food crops where the donor organism is an animal rather than another plant or a bacterium?

It seems to me that if this is something that does happen now or could happen in the future, at the very least vegetarians and vegans should be able to know and choose whether or not they eat plants with animal genes in them, especially individuals for whom it's a matter of religion. (And I suppose that the same argument would apply to Muslims if pig genes were incorporated into other food animals, or any of the many other religious and non-religious dietary restrictions.)
posted by XMLicious at 2:38 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm curious about the pro-vaxx disinformation.
posted by Artw at 2:39 PM on October 8, 2013


umm, Artw,
George_Spiggott: "It also says pretty much in so many words that there is deliberate misinformation on the pro-vax side, and that too is not something I actually meant to say. Sorry all, I'd delete it if I could."
Shit happens, its ok.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:44 PM on October 8, 2013


Has the "both sides" argument ever been used in support of anything that wasn't awful or bullshit?

Prozac, maybe? There was a lot of grim tut-tutting from scientology-associated people about the suicide risks from taking Prozac, based on their particular view of psychiatry, and on the other hand you had Lilly and hordes of doctors insisting on Prozac's safety, but it turned out both sides were misinforming the public, and there was indeed an increased suicide risk, although not, obviously, for the reasons the scientologists gave?
posted by mittens at 2:44 PM on October 8, 2013


I find the "SCIENCE!" brigade quite off-putting in the liberal-minded part of North American discourse. It paints all opposing views as being anti-scientific, as faith-based, as not reasonable. (Just see any discussion of bicycle helmets on MetaFilter before this year, and you'll see it in full force.)

For a good long while, I think we had it for "ENGINEERING!" - e.g. any opposition to new highways was unreasonable and anti-progress. (Can't you see that the engineering makes it clear that it's necessary and proper to build this highway, and the next, and the next?) There was nothing wrong with the engineering as such. But now that it's evident to many that an overabundance of highways has detrimental effects, it's clear that the engineering had values built into it - with the purpose of road infrastructure having been defined as moving the maximum rate of motor vehicles, implicitly ignoring or dismissing detriments to the surrounding neighbourhoods and the consequence that highway-building results in car-dependent cities.

I see something similar here - yes, there's good and reasonable science regarding safety of current GMOs. But to go from that to "it is completely unreasonable to oppose GMOs because SCIENCE!" is a leap of logic. The missing step is the value assumption that, e.g., safety and ease of production are the correct metrics. How about the value not of average safety but that of rare but possible occurrences? (E.g. industrial meat on average is just fine, but consolidated production increases the reach of a single case of contamination.) Science is not even the only relevant discipline - I would say economic aspects are pretty relevant to my values.
posted by parudox at 2:53 PM on October 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


What if a meteor from space hit someone who was eating a GMO product? IT COULD HAPPEN!
posted by Artw at 2:54 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


But for some reason, with this debate even people who just want to know details about what's being fed to them get characterized as some kind of Luddites or Flat Earthers or conspiracy wackos and it's demanded that you present a comprehensive scientific theory of specific issues you might be concerned about in the future before you're deemed worthy to inquire about which GMOs you're eating and when you're eating them.
Do you see this as happening in this thread, or in other discussions elsewhere?
posted by Llama-Lime at 2:59 PM on October 8, 2013


at the very least vegetarians and vegans should be able to know and choose whether or not they eat plants with animal genes in them

Speaking as a vegetarian, I have to say this particular aspect of GMOs doesn't bother me much. I'm sure I eat more pounds of bug parts off my vegetables than I do pounds of gene snippets from GMOs.
posted by mittens at 3:06 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I see something similar here - yes, there's good and reasonable science regarding safety of current GMOs. But to go from that to "it is completely unreasonable to oppose GMOs because SCIENCE!" is a leap of logic. The missing step is the value assumption that, e.g., safety and ease of production are the correct metrics. How about the value not of average safety but that of rare but possible occurrences? (E.g. industrial meat on average is just fine, but consolidated production increases the reach of a single case of contamination.) Science is not even the only relevant discipline - I would say economic aspects are pretty relevant to my values."

I'm not sure that this is a fair characterization of anyone in this thread, or even anyone significant in the national debate outside of the thread. It is indeed completely unreasonable to oppose GMOs because of the clearly false claims about safety, or the environmental damage that either clearly doesn't exist or is clearly unrelated to GMOs, or the economic claims to don't stand up to even the most basic scrutiny but at the same time I'm also not sure that there is anyone in this thread who is really happy with how GMO techniques have been commercially exploited. The moment we all put down the bullshit we can really have the grown-up conversations about this that we desperately need to be having before the next genomic revolution starts to change everything.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:10 PM on October 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


"It seems to me that if this is something that does happen now or could happen in the future, at the very least vegetarians and vegans should be able to know and choose whether or not they eat plants with animal genes in them, especially individuals for whom it's a matter of religion."

People are always free to eat organic produce if they really feel strongly about this sort of thing, but we are talking about animal information not animal products, more analogous to a picture of a cow than a steak.

"(And I suppose that the same argument would apply to Muslims if pig genes were incorporated into other food animals, or any of the many other religious and non-religious dietary restrictions.)"

This is something that was thought of way back in the 70s when this stuff was first being dreamed up and pig genes are very consciously not used.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:20 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Interesting thought. A DNA sequence extracted from a pig cell is, by any reasonable definition, pork. But if you were to isolate the exact same sequence from another animal (and given the ~98% correspondence between pig DNA and a host of other mammals including us, chances are you could) or synthesize that same sequence, it is not pork.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:31 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are a lot of reasons to be skeptical of GMO as an industrial process and food safety is only one small (important, but small) aspect of how foods are made, one that deals with GMO at the tail end of things, where the goods are consumed. So as a scientist, the whole SCIENCE! argument fails to impress me, especially when it ignores results that do not agree with the preformed conclusion — namely that, above all else, GMO crops are an unqualified good, and any results which conflict or complicate that notion along the process of how GMO are developed, manufactured and integrated into food pipelines are ANTISCIENCE!

For one, there has been increased use of herbicides and pesticides with planting and growing GMO crops, particularly glyphosate. When people here who denied that glyphosate use is associated with chromosomal aberrations were confronted with research that showed that result, their response alternated between silence and more SCIENCE!-style retorts.

In the long term, I feel strongly that this kind of dishonest response gives empirical science a bad rap, and perhaps deservedly so. There are a lot of things that genetically-engineered products can do to improve the lot of mankind, and scientists who keep pushing SCIENCE! while choosing to ignore the larger picture look to me like people indistinguishable from industry shills who are, in the long run, doing more to hold back honest, empirical science than any good-faith consumer asking for more information about the ingredients in their food products.

Maybe associating these SCIENCE! folks with industry hacks isn't fair, but when I basically get lumped in with the anti-vaxxer crowd for suggesting that increased pesticide and herbicide use is in all probability a bad idea, not only for consumers of GMO goods but also for farm workers who are exposed to those chemicals in quantities even far greater than consumers, I can't say I feel too terrible making that association.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:34 PM on October 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Monsanto and its competitors each submit to a 'voluntary' regulatory process during which each of the even vaguely plausible fears about GMOs is tested

Okay, so my big food paranoia involves the analogy between the GMO testing and drug testing. Medicines go through rigorous testing, but stuff still gets through. Celebrex and thalidomide are the first two big examples that come to mind, but even acetaminophen turns out to be more dangerous than we realized when we started using it fifty years ago. And there is the ugly history of studies being kept out of the public eye so that other drugs would seem safer than they are. So there is this fear that maybe all the GMOs currently on the market are safe, but the next one might turn out to be dangerous. Or it will turn out 20 years from now that some strain of rice you're eating today causes heart disease, or who knows.

If you're a consumer, and you're not a scientist, and you're aware of the way dangerous things slip into the market, it becomes very difficult to know who to trust. I mean, it's obvious that there's this huge segment of anti-GMO people who are not really interested in the science, even in a simplified form--to this day, you still see plenty of blogs and stuff presenting the Seralini thing as though it were big new important information with no mention of it being discredited. But on the other side, you've got an industry, and industries aren't really great at transparency. They're really good at telling you their product is safe, but of course they would say that.

So you don't want to be crazy, but you also don't have a lot of faith that somewhere between the science and the market something might get missed. What things is it reasonable to fear? Which things are just silly to fear, but you don't know because no one is explaining it? ("Jeez mittens, the amount of Tylenol you just took is like a billion times higher than the BT toxin you eat in an entire year, quit worrying.")
posted by mittens at 3:45 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's very simple: If your answer to "where is the evidence" is a bunch of hand waving then you have no claim to making a scientific argument.
posted by Artw at 3:47 PM on October 8, 2013


When people here who denied that glyphosate use is associated with chromosomal aberrations were confronted with research that showed that result, their response alternated between silence and more SCIENCE!-style retorts.
That's pretty bad, I would like to see where this happened.
...when I basically get lumped in with the anti-vaxxer crowd for suggesting that increased pesticide and herbicide use is in all probability a bad idea,
First, nobody has done this. At all. Second, what does increased pesticide and herbicide use have to do with the topic at hand, GMO safety? Can you connect increased pesticide and herbicide use to GMOs at all, and if so, how? Is it one particular GMO, or is it all GMOs?

I hope that my questions aren't too SCIENCE! pushy. I ask earnestly, and with open ears.
posted by Llama-Lime at 3:55 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


"That's pretty bad, I would like to see where this happened."
You can follow the whole ridiculous drama and its willful misunderstanding of what toxicity actually means from here if you really want to, but be sure to actually read the paper eventually cited to see if it actually comes as advertised. Also this paper is a lot more relevant to glyphosate as it is applied GMOs rather than as imperialists spray it onto people.
posted by Blasdelb at 4:21 PM on October 8, 2013


There is a reason why the fruits of the genetic revolution are so inequitably distributed, and its not Monsanto.

To be fair, I never blamed Monsanto for this. As you pointed out in your densely worded link, there are many different reasons. But just because there is no single culprit doesn't mean it's not something that should be called out and paid attention to moving forward.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 4:24 PM on October 8, 2013


IIRC the whole "drink a bottle of round-up if you're so sciency" silliness got shot down by mods last time, maybe let's not go there again?
posted by Artw at 4:29 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do you see this as happening in this thread, or in other discussions elsewhere?

I see it happening as much as I see "attempts by the ignorant to derail research into transgenic crops" here. I mean, what is the analogy to anti-vaxxers meant to convey, if not to insinuate that it's baseless and foolish to be anything other than as enthusiastic about GMO crops as you are about vaccines? Not that I'm certain which actual arguments in the thread are getting analogized to opposition to vaccination.
posted by XMLicious at 4:38 PM on October 8, 2013


Also this paper is a lot more relevant to glyphosate as it is applied GMOs rather than as imperialists spray it onto people.

Now that is pretty interesting, and I'm going to find a way to slide it into the next Round Up discussion I find myself in. (Although I'm still reeling from the idea that more than half of the subjects never smoked...even the North Carolina ones?!)
posted by mittens at 4:44 PM on October 8, 2013


There's actually plenty of negative things you can say about GMOs that are perfectly reasonable, such as that they come with a bunch of troubling social and economic implications. Absolutely nothing anti-vax about that.

Claiming a health risk that there is no evidence for or handwringing over the potential for one because "we just don't know" as if nobody has researched it however solidly puts you in the same category as anti-cadets, people who believe in electrosmog and people who farming er over whatever the current Daily Mail style groundless risk is.
posted by Artw at 4:46 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


As increased volumes of herbicides and pesticides are used with GM crops — some chemicals which are studied that have known exposure risks, some studies which suggest increased types of genotoxic effect, other chemicals that we're not sure about long-term consequences but seem to have troublesome effects — then that can have real health consequences for those who grow our food, as well as for consumers.

That, too, is a safety issue that is specific to the employment of this technology that I, as a consumer and a moral scientist have an interest in understanding more fully. I think it would be dishonest, shameful and unscientific to deliberately downplay research that questions the gospel that GM foods — and the mechanisms by which they are manufactured — are automatically safe until proven otherwise.

We tried that unregulated "safe-until-proven-unsafe" strategy with the American chemical industry in the 1900s and we were sold a bill of goods that promoted radium, lead paint and MTBE (among other products) as "safe" and "rational".

In a cost-benefit analysis, GM foods might feed many more people in the long run and might do a better job of providing nutrition that current diets may lack. I understand that side of the discussion. But if the process of manufacturing these engineered goods does more to sicken workers and increases everyone's overall body burden with accordant health and downstream epigenetic and congenital effects, then I think knowing about that is also useful when deciding what to purchase, in the same way that I do not knowingly buy goods made in sweatshops or with child labor.

As a single human being, I have virtually no political power, but I do have some minor economic leverage, and change in a capitalist system starts with individual purchasing decisions. Labeling foods as genetically-modified when I know they are treated with more chemicals, on average, allows me to make an informed choice. Producers who use the legal system to hide this information are doing so in order to profit from their well-organized and well-astroturfed campaign of misinformation and obfuscation. Lying to consumers in this way is not in the public interest, in my opinion.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:07 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon, could you please link to these studies?
posted by Knigel at 5:17 PM on October 8, 2013


I hate Monsanto with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns....

I'mma stop right there.

If Monsanto is for it, I'm agin' it. It's the "little or no" part that gets me. How little? And how cumulative?

Even if they're perfectly safe, I don't want food controlled by corporations.

Screw GMOs. We don't need to live in a monoculture world where factory farms control everything.

Heritage seeds.
Where it's at.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:05 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Everyone should go read Nathanael Johnson's posts on GE crops on Grist. You can start with today's post on insecticide use with GMOs but they are all excellent. Relevant to this thread, I highly recommend the ones on safety, regulation, and the one about whether farmers benefit.
posted by R343L at 6:09 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


the attempts by the ignorant to derail research into transgenic crops. 

I think this is a pretty uncharitable read of the critics, inspector. Many of the doubts people have about GMO research concern the potential for private sector interests to misuse or abuse GMOs in various ways for unfair economic gain or advantage. The politics have very little to do with being pro or anti science. See, I for one, am all for publicly funded research into GMO tech as long as its done with no special carve outs for proprietary anything. New science with this much potential for abuse shouldn't be trusted solely to the private sector, and we should never countenance the possibility of some key discovery that might be vital to the public interest being effectively suppressed by IP law. IMO, the public sector should be doing and paying for this research, ensuring it's done honestly and transparently, and sharing the benefits freely with the public for the public's benefit. So count me as someone who's all for the science, but not so much for profiteering off what should be basic science research.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:15 PM on October 8, 2013


To add my own personal comment, rather than just pointing people at other sources, this study is important not because it's saying anything new but because it's actually getting some attention. While many of you point out other concerns with GE crops, those aren't the ones that animate the public campaigns. The official pro-labeling campaign here in Washington is very careful to stay away from health claims, but many of the unofficial groups are quite willing to trot out every debunked claim about them. I regularly see Food & Water Watch (for one) citing crappy research (for instance, this post praises a paper on glyphosate toxicity that every expert I've seen panned as utterly meaningless and they did that for the Seralini crap last year too). I wish people were more animated by questions of agricultural sustainability rather than fears of unknowns, but it's the threat that it might harm you (or your children -- saw that one in a Sierra Club email the other day) that are driving the GMO labeling debate right now, at least for quite a lot of people. It's easy to get people riled about about GMOs if you make outrageous claims about farmers being sued or them causing cancer (or autism or allergies) but less so if you have to admit that the record on GE crops is mixed and many of our agricultural problems aren't caused (or solved!) by existing GE crops.
posted by R343L at 6:19 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


i don't have an issue with their particular methods or data, i just think they're asking the wrong questions. the important environmental and food safety questions won't be answerable for decades.
posted by cupcake1337 at 6:52 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Epidemiologist/molecular biologist involved in chemical and drug regulation weighing in:

I don't normally wade into comment section chatter on this issue, because there's usually a lot of woo in support of GMO food product regulation and a lot of narrow field arrogance supporting GMO food products. It's usually in the smarter comment sections that I encounter a lot of the latter category. And so, I'll add this reminder to those who don't know or don't acknowledge that it is a cornerstone of public health policy, planning, and risk management--a persistent abundance of caution is not an unsound argument, no matter what degree your personal level of confidence in how existing data extrapolates to human and ecological health over large regions and longer timescales than have been studied.

I would add that this is perhaps especially important to remember when the industries in question are involved to any degree in the crafting of the regulatory system under which they operate. Our federal agencies recognize this just as they recognize that they are unable to come up with the resources to avoid relying on input from the industries they regulate. Come to (or webcast into) any of the public hearings and comment periods held on the matter by FDA and USDA and EPA (they're routinely announced in the Federal Register) if you have any illusions about this, and also about the difficulty in evaluating and translating academic research into decision making for nations and international harmonization authorities.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 7:51 PM on October 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


I highly recommend reading Jack Kloppenburg's First The Seed, which situates plant biotechnology firmly within the rise of capitalist agribusiness. We know how other innovations, for instance in engineering (mechanization) and chemical sciences (fertilizer, pesticides) have increased yields, yes, but also generated massive social upheaval (i.e. the Green Revolution). The life sciences were tightly bound up in all this. Here's Kloppenburg:

Both critics and defenders of the Green Revolution recognize that, whatever the benefits, the introduction of the 'miracle' wheats and rices [...] played a crucial role in galvanizing not just substantial yield increases, but a wide range of negative primary and secondary social and environmental impacts as well. These include the exacerbation of regional inequalities, generation of income inequalities at the farm level, increased scales of operation, specialization of production, displacement of labor, accelerating mechanization, depressed product prices, changing tenure patterns, rising land prices, expanding markets for commercial inputs, agrichemical dependence, genetic erosion, pest-vulnerable monocultures, and environmental deterioration.

He notes the particular role of biotech in the historical "concentration and centralization of capital in the seed industry, the commodification of the seed, the decline of the petty commodity producer, the struggle over the control of the state apparatus, and the continued appropriation of plant genetic resources in the Third World"

He shows how public biotech research was systematically shaped over time to support the development of a now dominant and highly concentrated private sector. So beyond the health risks or general discomfort I may or may not have about GMOs, I consider their development and applications within this historical political-economic trajectory, where corporate capital has only continued to extend and consolidate its capacity to shape how genetic technologies like GMOs get used, who gets to use them, and for what purposes. For illustration. For me, GMOs pose a bigger question about what kind of agriculture we want (among other big questions) more than whether or not I'm grossed out by the underlying science, which is actually pretty neat sometimes.

Oh, and as for 'exploiting' farmer suicides in India, here's Vandana Shiva on one current 'application' for GMOs.
posted by eagle-bear at 12:23 AM on October 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I will say this. We already have genes of other organisms in our own genetic code, viruses, mainly.

I think it highly likely a GMO crop could be damaging. Some others are going to be perfectly safe. Probably the vast majority.

And since all animal DNA has huge shut off parts that include virus DNA and all that, I don't believe that the mere introduction of GMO is bad.

As for people not liking licensure agreements with seeds, well this is the real world. Such things are common intellectual property profit models. The people who are making the seeds are just trying to make money with a self-replicating product. Not easy if you think about it.

It seems to me the way to go about things is to buy things without GMO that are labelled as such. I see them around. Doing this would expand the market for non-GMO food.

The final thing is this. I'm not concerned about a company claiming they have a pesticide-ready GMO corn seed. I'm concerned with the practice of trying to eliminate huge groups of organisms so we can get 0.4% more corn per bushel to market. GMO is just the tool.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:10 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


"just in case, they conduct and supervise safety tests in mice that don't make any sense to do - just in case, they conduct and supervise field trials to test environmental fears that don't make any sense - just in case, and it all ends up confirming what we have known since the 80s each fucking time. "

Blasdelb, I really appreciate your opinions and research based insights that you bring to conversations- and I COMPLETELY agree with you that a large portion of anti-GMO rhetoric is literally based in lies and faulted logic.

But the statement you made above strikes me as a sentiment that is actually itself anti-science. Would you make the same arguments about cigarettes before research was done on the harmful effects? We only KNOW that cigarettes are harmful because of the extensive research done. I get that your point seems to be that we've already done enough research and should simply accept they are safe and accept them into life, however I think there are many valid reasons (that are not related to the false arguments you see in your opponents) for people to reject your conclusions. Especially when you indicate research about safety is overkill. It frankly makes me less likely to trust your perception since you think the science is itself overkill and already have an agenda that you'd rather be the truth. I think you work really hard to remain unbiased and you're very knowledgable about science which makes your opinion valuable, however your dismissal of extensive safety research as something unnecessary since "we already know" what is safe makes me really wonder what ego investment you've made in being "right" about this; over being willing to have a more truth seeking perspective on this?

All that said, I don't engage in debates with anti-GMO arguments and really if anything, people who make bad or false arguments on MY OWN TEAM make me even more frustrated. I can see why you would get frustrated having conversations with people who are unwilling to look at the science to begin with.

I think GMO's are going to be incorporated no matter what the common people think. I have zero faith that this is truly because corporations over-ride the opinions of the public to better serve the public. You yourself already seem willing to wash over safety concerns in favor of "what you already know". I don't think this kind of 'already knowing' products for human consumption are safe is good for people. You look at the science and wiegh the info as best as you can at present. I respect that currently the science indicates GMO's are safe. I think many things have appeared safe in mice and had different outcomes in humans. I remain unconvinced and uninterested in being a test subject despite that I'm a poor and good candidate for such testing in humans.. But I'm certain GMO's will be given to people anyway so we'll go ahead and find out that way. I am in favor of research continuing as we actually expect these food sources to make up a larger part of the human diet.

There are side effects other than sudden death, subtle things that can affect well being non-the less. I would rather eat GMO veggies than ramen for every meal- but I would rather eat regular old veggies that aren't GMO's rather than GMO's. And sure if it's between not helping the poor get food andgiving them GMO veggies sure, give them the veggies. I still believe arguments those are the only two options in helping the poor "GMOs or NOTHING!" are completely dishonest arguments. The time and money invested in GMO's could be invested in other ways of helping the poor and I still think it's dishonest to suggest GMO's are necessary because that is the only possible way to help poor people eat.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, if someone gives me foodstamps and says "You can have only GMO veggies because we've decided that's cheaper and we want to see how well this helps the poors" I will think they're an asshole. I do not believe a lot of situations of hunger have anything to do with a lack of food crops and this would strike me as asking me to a test subject for everyone one else to find out how a large diet of GMO's works in humans.

And as a poor person who needs help getting food sometimes, I think I have a right to be concerned about the bullshit motives involved in the "GMO's for the poors" campaign. If you really want to help me, why not give me a garden space so I can grow my own veggies? That kind of work, helping grow community gardens/neighborhood gardens, and veggie plots on people's land, is not as fun. If we could perfect gardening techniques, provide resources, training and assistance for individuals to have a large yield crop and help make sure all people have access to the land themselves, it would put the power back in the hands of the people rather than at the discretion of monstanto. Who really doesn't give a fuck about me or any other type of poor person as far as I can tell.

I'm not going to make any argument that there is any proof GMO's aren't safe, I am going to say they're just a fucking distraction from doing the things that really need to be done to help those who need help in a meaningful way.
posted by xarnop at 8:52 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Especially when you indicate research about safety is overkill."

On my desk I have an apple from a tree by an abbey that is on my way to work. As far as I can tell the tree is a cross between a Cox's Orange Pippen and some likely extinct idiosyncratic Flemish variety, but I can be reasonably certain that the variety has never been tested for pretty much anything related to safety much less effects on the environment. I'm about to peel this apple, being allergic to apple skins (is this variety more immunogenic to me than others? No one can tell me), and I'm going to enjoy the fuck out of it because apples are fucking delicious and there is no reason to think that this one might be unsafe. Indeed, while the techniques involved on apple crossings are fundamentally stochastic and unpredictable in their genetic effects, and I don't even fucking know who crossed these apples beyond maybe monks, I do know enough about apples to know that there are pretty much zero plausible ways in which this one could hurt me. While no, formally I cannot prove the negative, I still feel comfortable assuring myself that eating this apple is not going to mess with my microbiota anymore than any other apple would, its not going to cause cancer lumps to grow out of my head like Séralini's unfortunate mice, and its not going to cause crop dusters to dump industrial quantities of glyphosate on me as part of coca eradication efforts.

GMO techniques have been put through a truly excessive amount of testing that, as the article behind the FPP exhaustively reviews, all arrives at pretty much the same conclusion - these techniques are not substantially more dangerous than more traditional ones. For example, check out this freakish genetically modified cow, its kind was first created some time just before 1807 in Belgium when a calf was born with a mutation to its myostatin gene, which has never gone through any characterization process for safety. Myostatin is necessary for the ordinary processes of telling muscles to stop growing and when the gene responsible for myostatin was inactivated through a mysterious genetic event this was the result. We have no proof that this mutation doesn't have some bizarre effect on gut flora when you eat it, no one has ever tested it, but does that mean its dangerous? No, even though we have no idea what inactivated the gene. It could have been a point mutation is some essential amino acid, it could have been a virus inserting its DNA into the middle of the gene to mysterious and uncharacterized effects, it could be a chromosomal abnormality altering the expression of thousands of genes, but there isn't really a conceivable way it could have happened that would matter one damn to us - knowing of course that the cows are relatively healthy even if they require c sections to give birth.

On a biological level, the only meaningful difference between that Belgian farmer's stroke of luck and what happens when researchers manipulate the genomes of useful crops is intentionality, and the only difference between the apple on my desk and an Arctic apple is how much simpler the arctic modification is. The techniques are not mysterious or unknown, or even new, this is now the thirty year anniversary of the first useful GMO product. Questions relating to the safety of GMO techniques have been trivial, if not solidly answered, for decades now. They are indeed a distraction from the real problems with how GMOs are economically structured that the ignorance of a public fundamentally disconnected from the systems that feed it, governmental apathy, and an activist community dominated by cranks enable. I'd much rather we focus the valuable efforts of the kinds of people with the skills to answer them on more valuable questions, the answers to which would actually benefit mankind, and much rather that people with a passion for economic justice build rational agricultural structures that scientists can support instead of Monsanto rather than just continuing to flail ineffectively at it. Projects like Golden Rice and Rothamsted's wheat conducted not-for-profit should be the norm, food security is a human right and the technology that enables it has no business being abandoned by us to be picked up and patented by private entities. This would be trivially easy to do now with all kinds of awesome projects that can produce higher yields with lower inputs or better produce, if only activist cranks would get out of the way.

We are rapidly approaching an age of gut flora modified to make our poop change color to screen for or diagnose disease and bacteria that make meat packaging turn purple when they encounter gasses associated with meat spoilage, but our understanding of GMOs hasn't left the 50s and our conversations about them haven't left the 90s. These are projects that undergrads could come up with and implement, imagine what Greenpeace with its 320 million dollar budget could accomplish with replacing Monsanto's seed division rather than flailing at it, if only it wedged its head out of its collective ass and gave a shit about something other than being greener, angrier, dumber, and more useless than thou. The increased yields that the next generation of technology promises would mean less need for farmland and a world where third world farmers could compete - if it is distributed equitably, increased pest and disease resistance would mean less need for expensive and harmful inputs like pesticides, improved shelf-life and transportation characteristics would mean that more crops can be adapted to less developed economies, improved drought tolerance would allow drought prone regions to weather climate change without parasitic western food aid, improved salt tolerance would open up blighted land to self sustainable communities, and increased nutrient density already means greater food security.

Of course Monsanto doesn't give a shit about the poor, which is why we should.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:21 AM on October 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


The article fails to escape its own ideologies. In the last line it claims:

The reason for the public’s distrust of GMOs lies in psychology, politics and false debates.

But I don't distrust GMOs. GMO is a scientific concept as well as a class of physical objects, but it is not a person, nor a group with whom I bear some relation of trust. We only trust people. Basically the author is revealing their own error: she is unintentionally applying the language of identity while advocating for an objective, decision-related idea. And that, is ideology at work. If people like this author can't keep their logic straight, why should anyone trust them?
posted by polymodus at 2:29 PM on October 9, 2013


Second point. The major blind spot of GMO advocates is that they think like scientists instead of engineers. Has it ever occurred to them that "lack of evidence" is a naive formulation of the actual problems, namely, the societal and technological complexities involved? Simple observation: this is a new area of technology that entails far-reaching consequences both in space and time. If people take a dim view of how GMO is being exploited today, they actually kind of have a point.

Misunderstanding and lack of understanding lie on both sides of the debate. If only more people recognized that as a starting point, the conflict would be more productive.
posted by polymodus at 2:43 PM on October 9, 2013


Heh. Yes, not accepting making shit up as a valid mode of discourse is thinking too much like an engineer. What a bunch of Spocks we are. We should all just rely on crystals and shit because hey, nobody can say that they don't work, do they?
posted by Artw at 2:52 PM on October 9, 2013


[Maybe make an effort on the good faith discussion part of this complex thread?]
posted by jessamyn at 3:14 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I do not believe a lot of situations of hunger have anything to do with a lack of food crops

This is what bothers me about these discussions. The science says they are safe, I agree. But why aren't the scientists asking why hunger is a problem in the first place? I wish they paid as much attention to history as science - there's nothing inherent to third world countries that destines them to starvation.

In Haiti in 1986 we imported just 7000 tons of rice, the main staple food of the country. The vast majority was grown in Haiti. In the late 1980s Haiti complied with free trade policies advocated by the international lending agencies and lifted tariffs on rice imports. Cheaper rice immediately flooded in from the United States where the rice industry is subsidized. In fact the liberalization of Haiti's market coincided with the 1985 Farm Bill in the United States which increased subsidies to the rice industry so that 40% of U.S. rice growers' profits came from the government by 1987. Haiti's peasant farmers could not possibly compete. By 1996 Haiti was importing 196,000 tons of foreign rice at the cost of $100 million a year. Haitian rice production became negligible. Once the dependence on foreign rice was complete, import prices began to rise, leaving Haiti's population, particularly the urban poor, completely at the whim of rising world grain prices. And the prices continue to rise.

Does Haiti need more rice?
posted by gorbweaver at 8:49 PM on October 9, 2013


Haiti needs farmers with the tools to compete with farmers in Alabama.

I'm talking about the difference between the Rockefeller foundation and Norman Borlaug bringing the technology necessary for high yield agriculture to Mexico, which employed millions and feed tens of millions, and NAFTA, which flooded Mexico with cheaper food than Borlaug ever could but drove millions of farmers off of their land and into poverty and hunger when they could no longer afford the food that supplanted them. Western governments don't care the majority of time it is convenient not to do so and it would be foolish to rely solely on them, much less the Republicans who pushed those subsidies into that farm bill. Absent a strong industrial economy like South Korea's capable of sustainably maintaining food imports on its own terms, the only solution is a return to food independence that 'more rice' would be an essential component of if grown in Haiti. While the problem is indeed inherently political, technological innovation is often more helpful in shaking up existing power structures than from any direct economic benefit they might bring.

All it requires is people with a conscience to do the shaking.

While Haitian food security is a problem that will likely go unsolved for an awfully long time due to its complexity as well as western racism and apathy, there are other food security concerns that are indeed entirely do to a lack of or insufficient food crops that modern breeding has the capability to solve right now. A tool doesn't need to immediately solve all of our problems to ave value.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:51 AM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Blasdelb- I think it's most likely the good from GMO's will change the world. I also think, I do not want to be experimented on with biotech in my cells, because of the potential for things to go wrong or unpleasant experiences to happen to me. However that we will also be doing these things to humans is also, to my thinking an inevitable. I have mixed feelings about experimenting on living beings, yes any living beings. In fact, I have mixed feelings about eating living beings.

I have not, personally, aligned myself with any opposition of GMO's but I think when you expect to plow over people's concerns with "I know what's best for you" people should be suspicious.

You're in a position of privaledge, one in which you have the ability to understand the science, he access to an education that permits extensive time devoted to learning and doing science, and also the ability to look at this research and evaluate whether you think it's safe or not. To you, it's obvious, to many people you saying "Hey everyone, we scientists know this is safe just just accept letting us feed you whatever we dictate is safe an matches our agenda" is not comforting in the slightest. It's as assuring as "Hey I work in the NSA and everything is cool, everyone calm down with this hysteria."

I get why to YOU it's obvious this is hysteria, but I'm just asking for you to consider the privilege you have of being able to evaluate science and determine for yourself what is safe an what isn't. The rest of us are just trusting you because you sound like a good person (from what I know of you, you are) and from what I know of science you seem accurate and well read. However science isn't about what SEEMS right, and I have limited ability to actually evaluate your positions for accuracy.

And that is scary because sometimes scientists, indeed entire fields of assumptions in research that appear right based on actual research done, can be wrong.

When my great grandmother raised her three children she was told, by experts, not to hold them when they cried. Not at all. As in let them cry for hours til they just stopped crying. She said this experience tortured her and the children, and haunted her for years later, no doubt was harmful to the children as well;

but on what grounds could she have refused to obey the wisdom of an expert when it counter acts everything in her being telling her these expert was full of shit but she doesn't know how to do science, she can't PROVE she has valid ground to stand on.
You're asking people to give up their intuition in favor of what experts say is right and there are very valid reasons people don't want to do that.

I'm not saying you're wrong Blasdelb, if anything I'm just trying to give you some perspective that might help you if you're goal is to explain to people why the science is right and has already been proven, given that a lot of us really can't evaluate the papers you have access to even if you show them to us. I'm just saying, it may take time for the people you want to come around and it might take a willingness to go along with additional safety research that you think is unnecessary.

Biotech science and experiments on living beings makes me sad. In fact life makes me sad because we have to eat living beings to live. I'm not saying that me being sad is a reason to not do the science, I'm saying I want to get to choose whether I eat it or not or whether I support the use of this technology by my consumption of it. Once it's perfected and it's certain living beings aren't being harmed by it, I think it has the potential to create a much more humane and enjoyable world. But I think it's fair for people to have fear and deep sorrow about the experience of living beings who may suffer to make this happen.
posted by xarnop at 6:38 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


And that is scary because sometimes scientists, indeed entire fields of assumptions in research that appear right based on actual research done, can be wrong.

But that gets into a tricky area, doesn't it, because then we're not talking just about scientists, we're talking about the way a society interprets and communicates the science, and that opens up an entirely new world of risk.

Here is how I have been thinking about it. Everything we manufacture has safety risks, whether it be salami or booster seats. And it's absolutely okay to ask: What are the risks with GMOs? Which things should we be worried about, were those risks not being mitigated by sufficient testing? And that's tough to work out--the data is there for the reading, but it's among so much noise about tumors and allergies and confusion between having a plant generate an insecticide versus a plant having herbicide resistance, and the big Monsanto hate, and the casual assumption that 'voluntary regulation' is the same as 'no regulation.' So threads like these that point you to actual information are incredibly valuable--not just that there are risks, because of course there are, but what are they, and how are they being dealt with? You read that paper that the original link is based on, and you're like, that's it? That's the sum total of science's fears about this stuff? Nobody's turning into cicada-headed monsters or anything, we're just worried about allergies and things like that? I found that refreshing after listening to years of fear-rhetoric about this stuff.

When you give the example of your great-grandma, I think that's an interesting thing, because nobody knows anything about child psychology. Maybe that's a little bit of an exaggeration, but it is certainly true that we have been told a lot of things that sound authoritative but have no basis in reality. We've been sold books, products, lectures, ideas, all on the basis of people who sound like they know what they're talking about. And the whole debate on GMOs is filled with people exactly like that, loud and authoritative. Is it any wonder people are scared? We do not have a good cultural mechanism for sorting through this stuff, for knowing what to trust; we do not understand science, and cannot untangle it from the marketing surrounding it. We do not have a good cultural memory either; did you know, before the thread, how long GMO technology had been around? I certainly didn't. That one fact, its longevity, should be enormously comforting, but it's not, because it's left out of the public discussion.

Above I complained that, how could you judge the validity of the paper if you didn't yourself read the hundreds of other papers it was based on. But how many hundreds of papers has the other side offered? How much research at all? Shouldn't there be more than speculation and repetition, if there are grave dangers involved?

We know there are costs associated with reducing risk. And that once a company starts really buckling down to make more profit, those costs can seem too high. And so there's that fear, too, that eventually Big Evil Seed Co will decide a little anaphylaxis is a small price to pay for a boost in profit. But even that fear is a little weird, because Evil Seed Co, for all its past wrongs, probably isn't currently killing as many people as the companies further down the chain, such as Big Evil Cow Co, and Big Evil Fast Food Chain. It seems like there are larger issues with food safety than this.

So...so all of this to say that I've found this thread far more comforting than I would have thought.
posted by mittens at 8:09 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Blasdelb you say the problem is “inherently political,” and I agree. But I think we have different understandings of how the “third world” came to be. I wish Haiti's problems came from Western apathy! But Haitian farmers are not competing with Alabama farmers, they're competing with the American state. I'm glad you understand the racism, but the racism is a product of hundreds of years of Western fears of an independent Haiti. To repurpose a phrase used earlier, western apathy is a “powerful narrative” but the reality is far more barbaric. I'm skeptical of claims that all we need is the right people “with a conscience to do the shaking.” Any meaningful shaking will enrage US corporate interests – Aristide wasn't deposed for moral reasons.

I view politics as a struggle between competing interests, with science as one instrument. I don't personally think science should be a tool for domination (I love Carl Sagan!), but that is demonstrably how the US perceives it. Monsanto, Coca-Cola, and Exxon-Mobil are not simply competing interests to more humanitarian alternatives – they are existential threats to the species. I don't think you're a corporate shill or naïve, but our priorities differ. I believe getting the west out of the third world would achieve more than science funded by corporations, even though the science is right. The science behind the atomic bombs contributed to human understanding of the universe, but politics were always the motivating force and almost rendered us extinct. We lucked out that time, but the planet is not always so forgiving.
posted by gorbweaver at 8:53 PM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nicolia and his team found “little to no evidence” that GM crops have a negative environmental impact on their surroundings."

And yet BT corn exists to have an impact on the environment of the various worms that eat corn.

But there are things one can try all by themselves - The farmer then scooped corn from another bin and flung it near the pigs, which ran over and quickly devoured it. The farmer said, “The first corn is genetically engineered. They won’t touch it.”
posted by rough ashlar at 7:06 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not hard to think the GMO variety tastes different. However the farmer's test is hardly the epitome of scientific rigor. The opposite really as the farmer tried to thumb the scale by using fresh GMO and old organic corn by anthropomorphizing the squirrels taste preference. But there are several things he probably didn't control for besides an assumed taste preference:
  1. pesticide application (amount and timing)
  2. growing conditions variation year to year (the organic corn is a year older than the GMO corn)
  3. harvest time and how close to the ideal (sweetness of corn is directly related to correct harvest time)
  4. storage conditions (obviously different between fresh and year old corn)
Besides if he's really got a corn that pests won't eat he's going to make a fortune.
posted by Mitheral at 7:25 AM on October 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Besides if he's really got a corn that pests won't eat he's going to make a fortune.

Mice fed GM soy had altered young sperm.4 Embryos of GM soy-fed parent mice had changed DNA.5 And mice fed GM corn had fewer, and smaller, babies.7 yes a way to reduce mice - a great product and the world will beat a path to your door for that better mousetrap.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:37 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


How Dr. Bronner's Got All Lathered Up About GMOs: Best known for tingly soaps with wacky labels, the company has become one of the biggest players in the battle over labeling genetically modified ingredients.
posted by homunculus at 4:53 PM on November 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Correction: Updates have been made to this story. The original version overstated the amount of money raised by proponents and opponents of Initiative 522. It also incorrectly reported that Foam Maestro Tim Clark has tattoos. Mother Jones regrets the errors.
posted by mittens at 5:49 PM on November 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Looks like Monsanto will get to own the labeling of what goes into Washington State's food supply, just by drastically outspending against its critics' ads and buying off corrupt pseudo-scientists to act as corporate stooges in the media and online. It's disgusting, but it's the kind of corruption we can rely on when SCIENCE! is the battle cry.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:16 PM on November 5, 2013


Almost 70 percent of the funding for the “Yes” campaign came from out-of-state businesses and organizations, led by California-based Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps and the Center for Food Safety in Washington, D.C.

Aww, but I wanted those OTHER businesses to own the food labels!
posted by Drinky Die at 4:56 AM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Kind of hilarious framing, BP, the people who want to "own" the labels are the ones trying to avoid being forced to put a scare mongering logo on their food for no reason via the lobbying efforts of competing businesses?)
posted by Drinky Die at 4:58 AM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Of course its only cheating when you lose.
posted by Blasdelb at 5:10 AM on November 6, 2013


Please call your congressperson to support my new "All One!" labeling bill, which will require food producers to include any details from the Moral ABC on their products, including whether their ingredients teach all astronomers since the Year One, Abraham-lsrael-Moses-Buddha-Hillel-Jesus, Spinoza-Paine, Sagan & Mohammed, inspired every 76 years, for 6000 years, by the Messenger of God's Law, the Messiah, Halley's Comet, the Blazing Star of Abraham-David-Buddha-Bethlehem & Mohammed.
posted by mittens at 5:58 AM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Aww, but I wanted those OTHER businesses to own the food labels!

The amount of money spent by anti-food-labeling supporters was completely out of proportion, especially considering the close result. It is too bad that once-decent scientists will now prostitute themselves to be lobbyists for Monsanto and friends. Hope they got paid well.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:55 AM on November 6, 2013


The amount of money spent by anti-food-labeling supporters was completely out of proportion

So what? They didn't put the initiative up. Should they just not weigh in on an attempt to damage their business?
posted by Drinky Die at 11:46 AM on November 6, 2013


Should they just not weigh in on an attempt to damage their business?

In a better world, I hope that future food sourcing issues do not get to be decided on the basis of whether the outcome is or is not profitable to shareholders and the Science!-ists who prostitute themselves for the benefit of those shareholders.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:27 PM on November 6, 2013


I agree, it was idiotic of your side of this debate to put this to a public vote entirely open to manipulation from business spending on both sides. In the future food issues should be decided based on expert government regulators answering the question, "Is there accepted evidence that this food product is harmful?"

I'm just glad the side with the evidence on their side won in this case, in many other cases the wrong side has won on initiative votes.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:52 PM on November 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


it was idiotic of your side of this debate

I know — "our side" is to blame for corporations buying election results!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:27 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Colbert Report: Washington State's GMO Labeling Initiative
posted by homunculus at 12:19 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know — "our side" is to blame for corporations buying election results!

Your side created an election to buy and then tried to buy it and got outbid. World's smallest violin.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:48 PM on November 7, 2013


[KNOCK THIS RIGHT OFF YOU TWO]
posted by jessamyn at 12:52 PM on November 7, 2013


Colbert is awesome, as usual.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:20 PM on November 7, 2013


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