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Old 10-03-2007, 12:14 PM   #121
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We shouldn't DEMONIZE industry, but I think skepticism is also healthy.
I've been trying to live by the principles that we choose what exists in the world by how we spend our money. If we continue to buy non-GMO stuff, we send the message that is what we want.

Even Monsanto wouldn't produce GMO products if nobody bought them...
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Old 10-03-2007, 01:39 PM   #122
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A problem with OGM corn for example, though, is that the pollen goes all over. Read of one organic farmer who lost his crop due to nearby OGM corn.. and then to add insult to injury got sued by Monsanto or whomever for illegally possessing the OGM hybrid result. Other strains are solely designed to create a pipeline for sales of proprietary pesticides or weedkillers. I'm all for science and testing when it can be controlled adequately. When you have an OGM crop that kills off pests, it could also negatively affect other beneficial insects, or populations of birds and other animals that might need those pests to live, so you affect a whole ecosystem. I'm not saying the human payoff may not be there, but we have to be attuned to, and prepared for, unintended consequences.

I tend towards tree-hugging only 'cause in a world with no trees I don't think we'd be around very long. The apparently bucolic landscape in which I currently live is actually extremely sterile. There are virtually no worms, no squirrels/chipmunks/raccoons or any of that sort of thing. Many bird species have been killed off (even tiny songbirds) due to their apparent tastiness factor. At one point in my life I was quite familiar with a certain crowd (slogan: Better Living Through Chemistry) who would have been thrilled to live aboard the Starship Enterprise, subsisting on synthetic Jell-O-type cubes that represented a steak dinner. While I'm sure it's do-able, I remain underwhelmed by the prospect.

Sorry if someone has posted this elsewhere here:
Dutch boffins tout green petri-dish synthetic meat | The Register

Genetically modified foods have been around for almost 60 years. Even so-called "organically" grown foods are grown from seeds that have been altered so they are more resistant to disease and such. That is not going to change anytime soon.......

And, no,I am not the expert. My deceased sister was, and she educated me ad infinitum on the subject......................
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Old 10-03-2007, 02:25 PM   #123
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Actually our waste milk goes into large holding tanks where twice a week a farmer comes and picks it up to feed to his pigs,

If your bacon tastes a little sweeter toward the end of January its due to the unsold egg nog going to your local swine farm
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Old 10-03-2007, 05:58 PM   #124
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I couldn't find the one where the eyes blink sequentially

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Old 10-03-2007, 10:33 PM   #125
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OK, beer bottled, spent some time in real life, and now, back to T-Al's controversial thread about his store-bought milk not tasting quite so good all the time, but his wife can't really tell the difference. Geez Al, can you stick to the lighter topics for a change?

Oh, and thanks to Samclem for covering some of this so well in his post.

A few points for Ladelfina:

'
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Originally Posted by ladelfina View Post
ERD50, those are all good points (except for the one about regular corn pollination;
Don't know about a lawsuit, but the problem does exist with current hybrids, and people will sue over just about anything:

Quote:
Do not plant sweet corn in the same garden with popcorn. The quality of the sweet corn will be reduced if it is cross-pollinated by popcorn.
Another link mentioned they saw cross pollination of corn > 1600 feet away (as far as they tested).

Quote:
Another aspect that is more pertinent to the milk thread is: are we interested in producing only the maximum food product X per acre, or are we interested in producing food that is healthful and TASTY!?

The interests of business and of the consumer do not always converge perfectly.
Well, maybe they do converge. And not everyone wants the same thing. Certainly, many vegetables are grown and bred with shipping, shelf-life, ease of harvest, and other things over taste. But there is consumer demand for inexpensive foods, so the market meets the demand.

It's not all doom-and-gloom. In ANY market where cheap junk is being sold, there is almost always a market for the high quality stuff. Fast food didn't shut down high-end restaurants. You can buy cheap audio gear at WalMart, but there are still lots of manufacturers of super-high-end audio gear.

And for Greg - point-by-point just got too long. Even this is too long. It really boils down to what Samclem asked, can you provide anything to measure the risks/rewards of all these concerns you have? Without some measure of risk/reward, we wouldn't get out of bed in the morning for fear of... everything - really.

If you want to just say 'we don't know what will happen from 20 years of exposure to all these various things', then you have to provide an alternative. Consider this, seriously:

Without the advantage of hindsight, what would you have done with these proposals?:

1) Heat Pasteurization of milk (hey-hey, we are back to MILK!) - heat breaks down compounds in milk. Could there be long term health issues with these artificially modified compounds? How can you rule it out? So, do we accept deaths from unpasteurized milk because we are afraid of what the future *might* hold?

2) Chlorination of our water supplies - chlorine is a poison. You keep bringing up the possible issues of low-level and combinations of toxins. Again, do we accept deaths from un-chlorinated water supplies because we are afraid of what the future *might* hold? Who are we going to test this on for twenty years (or 80 years if it involves kids?)?

penicillin? vaccines, etc, etc....

I don't think these are exaggerations or distortions of your view, I think they fit directly into your line of thinking if they were new technologies being proposed today. Is spraying a crop with Glyphosate, which has been studied, tested and approved for use really worse than the idea of adding chlorine directly to our water supply? Or using tools to genetically modify plant DNA, rather than wait and seek out nature's random events?

Quote:
I don't want to find out that we've been slowly accumulating some nasty little toxins inside our bodies that someday, maybe twenty years from now will accumulate to the point that, perhaps, we die early...
I could buy this argument, except for the fact that we do use some amount of care (maybe not enough for you) before bringing new products/processes to market. Look at what the FDA rejects for example. And, when something is found to be dangerous, it tends to get removed from the market (lead-free plumbing, paints, gasoline; freon, etc). Not a perfect system of course, but really, what is the alternative? I fail to see how we could make any progress with your high standards of acceptance for change.

So please greg, map out some examples for us - how DO we safely implement advances? Is science involved, or does the general population's fear of something new rule the day?

-ERD50
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Old 10-04-2007, 07:29 AM   #126
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Yeah, where are the examples?

Hey, all kidding aside, dammit, I want a perfect world. And by God it better be as I define it. GOT IT.

Now get busy and create it for me. I got pontificating to do, so I'll be busy.
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Old 10-04-2007, 07:59 AM   #127
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With lawsuits, just Google "monsanto corn lawsuit" and you can take your pick of dozens! None of this makes the food product cheaper but IS about control of huge markets. The bulk of it is competitor patent challenges, but also extends to spying on farmers to make sure they don't save a single seed.. or attacking innocent, inadvertent, and unwilling "hosts" of GM plants:
Quote:
[Monsanto] investigates 500 farmers each year, and to date they have been awarded over $15 million through lawsuits. "Farmers are being sued for having GMO’s [genetically modified organisms] on their property that they did not buy, do not want, will not use and cannot sell," said North Dakota farmer Tom Wiley.
Chattooga Conservancy

Monsanto is also being sued for monopolizing glyphosate.
American Corn Growers File Federal Lawsuit to Stop Monsanto's "Predatory Pricing" of Glyphosate

As far as Pasteurization vs. raw milk goes.. it's sheerly an economic convenience. With clean cows and proper handling, there are few if any inherent risks to drinking raw milk and in fact unadulterated compounds in raw milk do apparently have health benefits. There are studies that show raw milk confers a level of protection against asthma and allergies. There are plenty of raw-milk cheeses in Europe and no one is keeling over from them.. yet in the US they are for some reason verboten --contrary to the supposed liberal US distinction ("show me it's unsafe") vs. Europe ("show me it's safe") . The modern milk industry does not choose, for economic reasons, to create a safe natural food chain, and pasteurization is the fix.

iLiberty.Org - Relative Risk of "Raw Milk"

N.B. I also eat plenty of raw eggs.. (in carbonara, zabaglione, tiramisu') and so far so good.

In some European countries, you can buy milk in "bulk" using your own containers from distribution machines. This cuts out some of the processing/packaging (and profit) so milk companies are agin' it.

Beppe Grillo's Blog: My house cow

Again, the profits in the food biz are less to be made on increased yields than on increased processing.

And you do kind of have to ask why, if our food is "safer and cleaner" than ever.. why so many more people have food allergies? Is this just anecdotal?

It's obvious that in a lot of foods, even minimally processed ones (milk, wheat, rice as opposed to Eggo waffles and Doritos) have Things Added and Things Taken Away. I don't think we really understand the complete ramifications of either, so I can understand some skepticism.

--
Chlorine: There are hydrogen peroxide and ozone treatments that can reduce or eliminate the need for chlorine (depending on distribution; if it's your swimming pool you can go completely chlorine-free with some kind of oxygen/ozone type purifier). You can wait for the chlorine to dissipate or use filters before drinking it. I am encouraged now to go out and get a test kit to see where our water effectively is at, since at our source I see they list it as 8.5mg/L, which to me sounds high.

Microfiltration removes bacteria and spores and is currently being used for milk by some suppliers (either before or after pasteurization, apparently, rather than in place of). In theory one imagines it could be used for water, too.

Just because one solution is OK (with reservations), doesn't mean there can't be a better one!

Funny you mention penicillin which is a natural kind of mold! I tend to eat things that have a bit of mold (just get rid of the moldy part) but a lot of people wouldn't out of fear.

ERD50.. good luck with your brew-- which I assume is NOT pasteurized, right? You are taking your life in your hands there, bub!!
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Old 10-04-2007, 09:29 AM   #128
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Greg,
To help move this into the area of tangible impact: can you provide a source for information on the demonstrated adverse health impact caused by food stabilizers and preservatives? It would be especially helpful if the source also considered offsetting benefits (e.g. from the avoidance of consumption of oxydized fats, etc)
I think you know that I can't give loads of scientific/technical data for support of my position. First, it may not be there. There is a chance that no one has large studies of the effect of small doses of toxic entities. Anyway, I don't have easy access. My food choice philosophy has developed from a fair amount of anecdotal evidence, articles written in magazines and newspapers, radio shows, and a reasonable amount of thinking about the topic. I am not a fanatic. Earlier in this thread I stated that given the practical choice I drink organic milk, but if that's not readily available I choose the next cleanest milk down, rSTP (sp?) free. And so on.

As a further example of low levels of toxin possibly causing problems down the line (at a later point in time) we need only look at the use of DDT, a pesticide, in this country. We stopped using it in this country and worldwide many years ago. It was destroying the eagle population and doing a fair amount of harm in the environment. It was banned; the DDT stopped seeping into the environment and a sort of non-DDT balance was restored; the eagle population among other populations grew again. A good thing.

Nowadays, there is a desire to start using DDT in parts of Africa to fight malaria. It is cheap and would be very effective in controlling mosquitoes (and maybe other Texas related varmints?). Good things. I don't necessarily think that this would be a bad choice--if the DDT is used judiciously.

So, I agree, some sort of balance in our social and scientific community is needed, in our decision making process.

Quote:
I agree with the point you make about food choices being important in the overall health of people. I think the vast majority of the problem is that people eat foods in unhealthful proportions (not enough vegetables and whole grains, too much meat and starch, etc), and that many of us simply consume more calories each day than we burn.

Now, somehow converting that observation into concrete action is where I think our paths will diverge. I want people to make the right choices based on their own enlightened self interest. What would you propose as a way to get people to eat more in a more healthy way? I do not believe it is the place of the state to force adults to change behaviors that are not adversely affecting others.
So, my perception of the problem may not converge with yours, and your notion of enlightened self interest may not match mine. This is sad--possibly. In my ideal food world, "enlightened self interest" means I have the knowledge available to make an informed choice regarding my foods. As a direct example of my inability to make a good choice: many companies directly lobby the gov't so that they don't have to label their products as "containing GMO products. They specifically are trying to hide the facts about what they sell. How can I make a decision when the information is specifically and explicitly hidden from me? To my mind, in this case, I want a gov't that will make sure such information is readily and easily available to me. That way I can make an enlightened choice.

I see many examples of the gov't behaving covertly when it shouldn't. And I infer that many times and much information about food is hidden from me when I would like it available so that an informed and spot choice right at the choice sight can be quickly made efficiently. One might say that this information is readily available if you just google it, that it is easily findable. But practically speaking, this really isn't true. For most folks, life is busy. They buy lots different products on a regular schedule. Because of this, they need to trust the gov't or someone to do the right thing, to make sure that the products are safe. This means more than meeting minimal standards nowadays. Most folks don't have time to do a thorough investigation of every single product they buy. They're busy raising children, working, fixing the house, making car payments, wasting time on message boards, etc. They don't have time to add a huge number of additional chores for all the safety issues related to them and their less enlightened children. It is much more efficient to hire the process out to competent experts, such as the ones gov't could find if it was properly chosen and managed. [But we may disagree on the innate ability of gov't to act competently?]

So, enlightened self interest is vital to me too. And all of our society and each individual should have correct information available to make individual and collective choices. In fact we should all contribute funds to furthing enlightenment in our children by raising money for schools. But this costs money doesn't it? And, currently we have a group of folks who have as a primary goal the reduction of the cost of gov't and minimization of it's size. This to me appears to run counter to what 'enlightened self interest' really means. Or am I wrong? There is the possibility that business could provide that 'enlightening' factor. But all most evidence that I see leads me to believe that those businesses are primarily interested in their own self interest--not mine. That sometimes they lie to us and try to fool me in order to further their own self interest and expand their profits by misrepresenting their products.

Thankfully, we share some enlightenment about an economic philosopher that solved this difficulty for us. Adam Smith, the fellow that talked about the invisible hand, also said that business interests can't be left alone to their own devices, that some governing entity, a controlling group needs to ultimately govern that invisible hand group. Because if those business folks are left solely to their own devices nothing good will come of it. But you already know Adam Smith said this, don't you?

So, samclem, what is your definition of freedom?
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Old 10-04-2007, 09:47 AM   #129
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ERD50.. good luck with your brew-- which I assume is NOT pasteurized, right? You are taking your life in your hands there, bub!!
Ladelfina, I just have a minute now, I will try to get back to your other comments which are discussable (I appreciate that!), but I need to comment on this most important comment!

I would NEVER pasteurize or micro-filter home-brew beer! It affects the taste, and there is no need. I have studied beer a lot, it is a hobby, and every source tells me that there are NO dangerous microorganisms that can survive in beer! And I have NEVER seen any evidence contrary to that. There are some very active home brew forums, they discuss everything under the sun related to brewing, and if people were getting sick (other than from the obvious occasional over consumption) it would be known.

That safety is a major reason that beer became popular over the years. Traditionally, you:

A) Boil the unfermented beer (wort) for an hour - this kills off stuff in the water and grain.

B) The malted grain and boiled hops lower the pH of the wort, making it inhospitable to many 'critters' after cooling to room temp.

C) Initially, the cool wort is aerated. The yeast are added and they consume the oxygen. Yeast is one of the few creatures that can operate both aerobically and anaerobically. Again, this helps weed out other dangerous critters - they cannot survie both environments.

D) The yeast eat the oxygen and malt sugars (maltose) and produce CO2 bubbles in the process which further scrubs the beer of any oxygen. This prevents the beer from 'oxidizing' which is the 'stale' taste you get in old crackers for example.

E) Lastly, those yeast produce alcohol which again makes the environment harsh on other critters.

All those things combine make wonderful preservatives, and much tastier than a bowl of barley-meal!

Beer is good food! Well, HOME-BREWED beer at least. BTW, there are sources for 'organic' malt and hops now. I've never bothered.

I'm thirsty.

-more later (fair warning?)

-ERD50
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Old 10-04-2007, 10:08 AM   #130
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. . . As a direct example of my inability to make a good choice: many companies directly lobby the gov't so that they don't have to label their products as "containing GMO products. They specifically are trying to hide the facts about what they sell. How can I make a decision when the information is specifically and explicitly hidden from me? To my mind, in this case, I want a gov't that will make sure such information is readily and easily available to me. That way I can make an enlightened choice.
. . . There is the possibility that business could provide that 'enlightening' factor.

So, samclem, what is your definition of freedom?
Regarding the mandatory GMO labeling: I don't know why the government should mandate that this information appear on packages (do we mandate that producers tell us when the crops are hybrids, or when the beef is from a cow that is the product of selective breeding rather than random bovine romantic encounters in the field?). Clearly some food activists feel that GMO crops are somehow different and more dangerous than these earlier methods of modifying agricultural genetic material, and they wanted the government to force producers to put a label on them primarily as a means to raise awareness of the public (that is, they waned free advertising for their cause). I'm sure they would prefer that the warning be in red letters, 20 point font, with a skull and crossbones on each side. I think it would be incorrect to mandate this labeling until these GMOs are found to be intrinsically different and more dangerous than other products.

But, there is a perfectly good market-based solution. If the producers of non-GMO products want to label them as such, they can readily exploit the founded or unfounded fears of consumers to sell their products at higher prices. The government's only role should be to assure that the claims on the package are accurate--e.g. that the frozen corn labeled "non-GMO" really contains no GMOs, and that the label and advertising make no factually incorrect claims. What is wrong with that? Let the people decide based on their own perceptions of what is best (not a bad definition of freedom) and let both product lines co-exist.

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Old 10-04-2007, 10:29 AM   #131
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samclem,
if you were buying meat, wouldn't you want to know if it came from a clone or the real thing?
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Old 10-04-2007, 10:39 AM   #132
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samclem,
if you were buying meat, wouldn't you want to know if it came from a clone or the real thing?
A clone is the real thing, IMO. With the possible exception of reduced telomere length, the organism is identical to the parent. So, nope, i wouldn't care if it was cloned beef.

To extend the "truth in labeling" point a little: I'd say that if a GMO product contains proteins that are not found in natural cultivars/subspecies of that product, that the packaging should say so. After all, if you cram a lot of DNA for peach proteins into an apple genome (and can get the organism to produce them) then what you've got is nutritionally as much a peach as it is an apple. For example "This corn contains proteins naturally found in bananas" contains all the information the consumer needs in order to make a decision. They will know that the organism has been engineered to some degree, and they'll know that if they aren't allergic to bananas, they won't be allergic to this corn. But, if the corn just has increased levels of certain proteins already found in corn--no label should be required.
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Old 10-04-2007, 10:57 AM   #133
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Popping in.

Should organic corn be labeled:

"THIS PRODUCT PRODUCED WITH DIHYDROGEN-MONO-OXIDE and NUCLEAR RADIATION"

Translation: Water and sunshine. But people would be frightened by it, I guarantee.

-ERD50
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Old 10-04-2007, 11:59 AM   #134
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I think that people opposed to GM crops do not understand our current crops.

Almost all of our crops (and farm animals, and people too for that matter) are the product of selective breeding and hybridization. What does that mean? Breeders, and now scientists search for plants/animals with random 'natural' mutations*. These mutations occur due to 'natural' events - ionizing radiation from the sun is one source. When they stumble across a useful mutant, it usually has undesirable characteristics also. So they try to create hybrids with other desirable plants, and work to come up with something that has some good qualities of both.

Pretty labor intensive, time consuming, dependent upon luck, and unpredictable.

So today, we have tools that allow us to selectively try to make changes to the DNA in a much more controlled, directed methodology. Why shouldn't we do that? It's just a tool.

Once man learned to use tools, he started building huts and tents and log cabins when the 'natural' habitat provided by caves was found unsuitable. Same thing. We humans use tools to alter our environment. These are just modern tools. With risks and rewards. Or should we just stumble around, hoping to find a suitable cave/plant/animal?

-ERD50

* BTW, Darwin first formed his theories before he visited the Galapagos. He studied the work of the breeders of 'show' pigeons. And he noticed that when allowed to interbreed, the offspring, no matter the parent, would revert to 'normal' wild pigeons with just a few generations. The total amount of DNA changed was miniscule, even though their appearance was markedly different.
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Old 10-04-2007, 12:08 PM   #135
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samclem,
if you were buying meat, wouldn't you want to know if it came from a clone or the real thing?
Why are people so afraid of the word 'clone' (and GM for that matter)?

If a cow delivers identical twins, you could serve steaks from each of them. They would be clones. Is that scary?

IIRC, every banana we eat is a clone, isn't it?

At any rate, cloning of animals is an expensive process. It will probably never be used to produce meat to eat. It may very well be used to produce clones of bulls that have demonstrated superior characteristics. Artificial insemination has gone a long way to make better use of superior genes, cloning is just another tool in that box.

I am still 1,000,000 times more afraid of that car in the oncoming lane, traveling at a legal speed limit that could result in a 110 mph head-on collision. Especially when they are on a cell phone .

-ERD50
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Old 10-04-2007, 12:23 PM   #136
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Regarding the mandatory GMO labeling: I don't know why the government should mandate that this information appear on packages (do we mandate that producers tell us when the crops are hybrids, or when the beef is from a cow that is the product of selective breeding rather than random bovine romantic encounters in the field?). Clearly some food activists feel that GMO crops are somehow different and more dangerous than these earlier methods of modifying agricultural genetic material, and they wanted the government to force producers to put a label on them primarily as a means to raise awareness of the public (that is, they waned free advertising for their cause). I'm sure they would prefer that the warning be in red letters, 20 point font, with a skull and crossbones on each side. I think it would be incorrect to mandate this labeling until these GMOs are found to be intrinsically different and more dangerous than other products.

But, there is a perfectly good market-based solution. If the producers of non-GMO products want to label them as such, they can readily exploit the founded or unfounded fears of consumers to sell their products at higher prices. The government's only role should be to assure that the claims on the package are accurate--e.g. that the frozen corn labeled "non-GMO" really contains no GMOs, and that the label and advertising make no factually incorrect claims. What is wrong with that? Let the people decide based on their own perceptions of what is best (not a bad definition of freedom) and let both product lines co-exist.

Freedom: "Just another word for 'nothin left to lose'". J. Joplin
OK, so above is a perfect example of spinning around in nowhereville--Tony Snow style--as best as I can see. You previously stated that 'enlightened self interest' was important to you. I assumed you meant that this is probably important for others to experience also, that good information should be easily available to and for all. This, to my mind, would be a good thing, although it would cost some extra money to achieve. I believe it wouldn't cost much, given that we have 350 million folks and a significant portion of them whose health could quickly be be improved on their own with some better information, which in turn improves productivity and general health.

Now, above, you've decided that you only want other folks to have partial information (see your comments above) based on what you think is 'enough for them (and yourself)' information--not truly full or better knowledge. What I think I'm reading above is that you really want "unenlightening knowledge." Many others may very well want more information in order to make a realistic 'enlightened' choice. How does purposefully gathering and using lesser bits of knowledge about food or any other portion of life make things better? If we, any major gov't and citizens, had better knowledge about Hitler before he came to power, wouldn't there have been a greater likelihood of something correct being done before things went awry? So do you really want 'stupid knowledge'? Are you saying above you mean the opposite of what you said previously?

I would very seriously like to hear what your definition of 'self interest' is too because at this point you appear to me to be contradicting yourself there too.
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Old 10-04-2007, 12:35 PM   #137
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This topic reminds me of a small resentment that festered in my old ‘hood. Many people knew about the "secret farm" but didn’t tell my family until like, thirty years into the fifty years they lived in the area. It was a wonderful place to go where you could get unpasturized milk and other goodies like fresh eggs. A particular barn would be empty except for the farmer’s cat and a few assorted farm animals; there was a box in a corner to leave money. You had to know where to find the price list to figure out how much to leave. And of course we were all sworn to secrecy.
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Old 10-04-2007, 12:47 PM   #138
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GM crops aren't just modern versions of what farmers have done for thousands of years of selecting better seed varieties.

Major problems include:

1) the crops are manipulated to not reproduce - where a farmer might save a portion of his crop from last year's harvest for next year's seed, some GM crops don't make their own seeds, you have to buy more each year

2) GM crops are selected for certain characteristics like a tomato that won't bruise after being dropped 100 feet, or bigger shinier apples (but mostly water not flavor) etc..that is why you often see a flavor and nutrient difference in organic

3) they need specialized chemical nutrients (surprise! that also need to be purchased) that can alter the nutrients that end up in the end product

4) they often need a LOT of extra water.

5) loss of seed variety - there are campaigns to "save" natural seed varieties because of the increasing loss of variety, we are more vulnerable to catastrophe if something happens to the few in play.

just a few off the top of my head...
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Old 10-04-2007, 01:29 PM   #139
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bright eyed View Post
GM crops aren't just modern versions of what farmers have done for thousands of years of selecting better seed varieties.

Major problems include:

....

just a few off the top of my head...
bright eyed, most of those characteristics can be attributed to hybrids that can be used by 'organic' farmers, some even more so. I'm pretty sure all GM crops have fertile seed - that is one of the reasons for the lawsuits. Farmers can 'copy' the 'proprietary seed' in the way people make digital copies of copyrighted material. Most hybrids, if fertile, do not produce offspring that is the same as the parent, it requires the two different strains of parents again, and that is done by the seed companies and they charge for it.

If the apple tastes watery - don't buy it. :confused:

And of course, you didn't mention any of the positives of GM. Oh well.

Also worth noting. All this talk of Europe as a model. Isn't ULTRA-pasteurized milk the norm there? UP milk suffers more degradation in nutrients and flavor due to the higher heat/time profile, but lasts longer and requires less (no?) refrigeration. Just maybe the Europeans weighed the pros/cons, made an informed decision and went for UP-milk? Less energy consumed to cool it, less milk wasted due to spoilage? I'm sure if they prefer alternatives, they are available, for a price.

-ERD50
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Old 10-04-2007, 01:40 PM   #140
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bright eyed View Post
GM crops aren't just modern versions of what farmers have done for thousands of years of selecting better seed varieties.

Major problems include:

1) the crops are manipulated to not reproduce - where a farmer might save a portion of his crop from last year's harvest for next year's seed, some GM crops don't make their own seeds, you have to buy more each year

2) GM crops are selected for certain characteristics like a tomato that won't bruise after being dropped 100 feet, or bigger shinier apples (but mostly water not flavor) etc..that is why you often see a flavor and nutrient difference in organic

3) they need specialized chemical nutrients (surprise! that also need to be purchased) that can alter the nutrients that end up in the end product

4) they often need a LOT of extra water.

5) loss of seed variety - there are campaigns to "save" natural seed varieties because of the increasing loss of variety, we are more vulnerable to catastrophe if something happens to the few in play.

just a few off the top of my head...
But, just as ERD mentioned above, every single one of these attributes has previously been achieved by the "old fashioned" methods used for thousands of years to achieve improved plant and animal species through selective breeding.

1) Many hybrids (produced for thousands of years both natural and through human intervention) cannot reproduce. Nothing new here. Mules (horse and donkey crossbreed) are sterile, but very handy animals--and can be eaten without ill effect. Many crop species are sterile. If farmers want crops with viable seeds, and it is worth to to them to give up the attributes offered by newer varieties, ..then they should simply buy them.

2) Crops are produced (via selective breeding and newer methods) to provide attributes the market wants (non-bruised fruit, etc). Also, if a type of plant can be brought to market more cheaply and sold for less, then I'd like to enjoy that advantage as a consumer. If it has less flavor or other undesirable attributes, then I'm less likely to buy it. The first cultivars of most of our popular foods were not as tasty as what we enjoy now--why should we expect them to have been? Farmers and breeders have done a fantastic job for thousands of years, and things will get better with the improved tools. Let the consumer decide.

3) Special nutrients: gain, if the farmer believes the cost is worth the benefit, he can buy the special seeds. If not, he can go on as before. Each farmer is in the best position to decide what is best for him (that is, how he can best meet what consumers want).

4) And some don't. Millions of people have been saved from starvation through the growth of drought-tolerant crops produced by selective breeding. If a new variety requires more water, Mr Greenjeans can make his own decision on whether it is worth the cost to him. If water is in short supply and needed for other things, then that's a separate issue--it should be priced to reflect its true value so that farmers won't waste it.

5) This has been happening for thousands of years, newer tools haven't fundamentally changed anything. We have created monocultures of many of the biggest crops, and that comes with some risk. Still, some folks are saving heirloom seeds and are growing old-style crops for niche markets. Good for them! I hope they sell a lot of products and are very successful.
In the US and in Europe, we used to have wheat rust epidemics about every 4-8 years. These fungal diseases were extremely devastating, and led to farm failures, higher food prices, and some malnutrition in especially bad years. Thousands of tons of antifungal agents were sprayed to stop these epiphytotic events. When is the last time you heard of an event? That's because the cultivars now grown incorporate multiple resistance genes to the rust varieties. While it's possible that the fungus will overcome these resistance genes (that's the nature of natural selection), the use of this scientifically produced wheat has undoubtedly reduced human misery, reduced food prices, and prevent the spraying f huge amounts of chemicals into the environment. I think that's a good thing.
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