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"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
while I’m here:
- aspartame does not give you cancer
- gluten is not bad for you if you’re not allergic/don’t have celiac disease
- superfoods aren’t real, they’re just healthy things with maybe some nicer levels of certain vitamins
- vaccines do not cause autism or really anything else and the chemicals present in them that typically scare you are in such minute amounts that they do precisely fuck-all in your body (we’re talking scales of one part per million)
- you cannot do a cleanse or diet to “rid your body of toxins,” your kidneys and liver have that covered
- GMO foods will not kill you; most genetic crop modification just makes our crops hardier and produce more food (and genetic modification doesn’t inject more chemicals into your food, it’s just minor altering of DNA that is made of the exact same stuff your DNA is made from)
- if you feed your cat a vegan diet I will personally come to your home with the skull of a long-dead predator, point out the shape of its jaw and teeth as indicators of predatory feeding habits, and then beat you with it
I love this
Okay, so I went through the tags and a bunch of people are saying-all of this but the gmos…they’re still evil. So glad they’re highly/regulated or banned, or I hope they’re highly regulated and banned. Never buy gmos, etc.
Plant scientist here:
OP is on the money. GMOs are NOT(and I have heard LITERALLY every one of these): radioactive, injections of chemicals, or producing DDT. It is a modification of DNA to improve the crop in some way that farmers find useful.
In fact, technically speaking, all crops are GMOs. Ya know why? Because ever since humans started growing plants they wanted better plants and so they “genetically modified” them by breeding. Want an example? This is a graphic of teosinte, the ancestor of corn, and corn(maize).
Anybody want to have some teosinte at their next barbecue? I didn’t think so.
What governments (and the general populace) term GMOs are organisms that have had their DNA modified in specific ways through the use of biotechnology. This typically leaves some random fragments of DNA scattered in the genome (and plant breeders are required to idenify them and where they are) and the desired insertion, which usually consists of a cauliflower virus promoter, several antibiotic/herbicide resistance genes (these are for selection purposes and are for really rare antibiotics/herbicides) and the desired gene. The exact construct is known-and you can see it too.
The most common gene insertions are for several herbicide resistance genes (Roundup being the most famous) and Bt. Bt is a protein toxic to insects. It affects the peritrophic membrane. Now, you as a human, do not have a peritrophic membrane, nor do you have the required pH in your gut to even have the protein fold correctly. Also, organic farmers regularly spray this same toxin all over their crops-the only difference is that the GMO plant produces it. If you are an insect-like alien-you’d better not eat our food.
Does BT adversely affect monarchs? Yes the variety in question did….and it was pulled from the market. The varieties currently marketed contain different versions of the protein.
“Ahhhhh I am scared because there are all these antibiotic resistance genes and virus genes in my food.” First of all, the studies claiming these were harmful are scientifically invalid due to their experimental design (seriously, the screwed with so many commonly used protocols its ridiculous). Second, plant breeders don’t like the extra genes anymore than you do. The newest research in the field uses CRISPR-Cas or TALEN genome editing technology which allows us to only edit/insert the genes we want. This makes the regulatory process easier and makes us happier because the end result is neater.
Lastly, “Companies won’t let farmers save seed.” I will get into this later (because a related issue is a real issue with GMOs) but I have info for you. Most farmers don’t save seed anyway. This is because almost all commercial farmers grow hybrids. Hybrids are crosses between two different inbred lines. Farmers grow them because they have something we call heterosis or hybrid vigor-this means they grow better and yield better than their parents. Unfortunately, due to the laws of segregation, the plant children of hybrids are not like their parents. They are weird, and weird in farmer terms equals unprofitable and why would I grow that crap. So no, farmers ain’t gonna save their seed anyway.
Now, what are the real issues with GMOs? Because I’m not going to pretend there aren’t some.
IMO the biggest issue with GMOs is that they (and their genes-which is even scarier) are controlled by a few big companies. This means two things-one the big companies dictate what farmers can and can’t do with the seed (and occasionally prosecute people they shouldn’t) and have a scary amount of control over the plant genomes and two, interesting and possibly more beneficial research doesn’t get done because the company is interested in profit.
But, you know what doesn’t help this issue? MORE REGULATION. The more you regulate GMOs the more you will force ONLY companies like Monsanto to do GMO research, because only they will be able to force their varieties through the regulatory hoops. Public and open source genetic manipulation of more agronomically useful traits could help the organic movement by giving it the plant variety tools it needs to get better yields. This is not possible when regulations are extremely tight.
The second issue is one of pest resistance. Pest resistance to herbicides (plant pests) and BT (insect pests) is an issue with GMO crops…but its not unique to GMO crops either. Conventional crops encounter exactly the same issues-its why we need plant breeding-because its a constant race against the continuing evolution of pests. IPM can help these issues…but it alone can’t solve them. Only breeding can do that.
Also, in regards to “Don’t buy GMOs” good luck with that if you’re in the US. Literally every product that isn’t organic and contains either soy or corn (which also includes stuff like soy lechithin and dextrose that’s in most foods) is GMO. Do you know why? Because farmers like to grow what makes them money, and, currently, growing GMOs increases their yields and decreases their pesticide costs so much so that the profits from their crops are worth the increased seed cost. They are making money from GM-otherwise they wouldn’t grow it.
This has been your GMO psa.
plant scientist out.
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