Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

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Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby WaterToFire » Tue May 31, 2011 12:35 am UTC

Biased post here.

This was the first source I found, and there are probably a lot of better ones. Resistance to genetically modified crops seems to be higher than I'd thought it was, and it is worrying. I can understand being against agribusiness, but it seems unlikely that they're going away anytime soon (in the US at least; things my be different in Belgium), and they might as well be more efficient. Disease-resistant crops seem like very much a good thing.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby CorruptUser » Tue May 31, 2011 12:50 am UTC

Sigh, people fight progress, news at 11.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby sourmìlk » Tue May 31, 2011 2:30 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Sigh, people fight progress the rights of 3 billion people to their lives, news at 11.


Non-genetically modified food could only feed 4 billion people. If we abandoned all genetically modified food, 3 billion people would die.
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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby Eseell » Tue May 31, 2011 2:40 am UTC

The article wrote:non-violent direct action
Destruction of property is non-violent now? Also, let my people grow.
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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby big boss » Tue May 31, 2011 4:24 am UTC

While I am completely for genetically modified food, we need to acknowledge that there are potential issues/problems (destruction of natural wildlife, cross breeding between wild plant life and genetically modified plants) that could arise if proper precautions are not taken, and it seems like many of you haven't considered it while writing your posts. And lets be honest, the primary concern of big business is not always what is in the publics best interest...

Anyways, the protesters definitely had no right to do what they did.
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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby sourmìlk » Tue May 31, 2011 4:32 am UTC

big boss wrote:While I am completely for genetically modified food, we need to acknowledge that there are potential issues/problems (destruction of natural wildlife, cross breeding between wild plant life and genetically modified plants) that could arise if proper precautions are not taken, and it seems like many of you haven't considered it while writing your posts. And lets be honest, the primary concern of big business is not always what is in the publics best interest...

Anyways, the protesters definitely had no right to do what they did.


Sure there are some minor risks associated with genetically modified foods, but anybody who doesn't realize that they are so far outweighed by the lives of 3 billion people is an idiot.
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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby Gellert1984 » Tue May 31, 2011 4:43 am UTC

Eseell wrote:
The article wrote:non-violent direct action
Destruction of property is non-violent now? Also, let my people grow.


Sure! Also cannibalism is a viable alternative food source now. Didnt you get the memo?

Seriously, there are issues with some of the methods used for the creation of GM foods, but which would you rather have, every viable scrap of land covered in non-GM crops and people still starving, or colonisation of Mars GM crops that feed more people using less land?

[rage]Short-sighted idiots, I wonder how many of them have large families?[/rage]
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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue May 31, 2011 4:55 am UTC

big boss wrote: And lets be honest, the primary concern of big business is not always what is in the publics best interest...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_rice

I'm not going to claim that big agricultural companies aren't interested in making a profit, but seriously, the 'waaaa, ebil corporations are raping mother earth' line is tired and boring as it pertains to a bunch of ignorant hippies burning a field of potatoes.

This is akin to walking into a furniture store and slashing all the leather chairs because you don't believe in cruelty to animals; it's stupid, destructive, most certainly violent, and doesn't build towards a solution.
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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby sourmìlk » Tue May 31, 2011 4:59 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:This is akin to walking into a furniture store and slashing all the leather chairs because you don't believe in cruelty to animals; it's stupid, destructive, most certainly violent, and doesn't build towards a solution.


Hell, if you're slashing leather chairs then at least you're protesting an actual problem (animal cruelty.)
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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby Zamfir » Tue May 31, 2011 5:39 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:Sigh, people fight progress the rights of 3 billion people to their lives, news at 11.


Non-genetically modified food could only feed 4 billion people. If we abandoned all genetically modified food, 3 billion people would die.

Yes, if people stopped growing GM crops and would not grow other crops in their place. That's hardly likely, is it? Increased yield is not really the big advantage of GM crops, let alone in quantities to feed 3 billion people. It's more in reducing work and cost. Roundup-resistant soybeangd are a big one for example, and it's main advantage is that you can now spray one herbicide in large amounts, instead of multiple herbicides.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby sourmìlk » Tue May 31, 2011 5:42 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:Sigh, people fight progress the rights of 3 billion people to their lives, news at 11.


Non-genetically modified food could only feed 4 billion people. If we abandoned all genetically modified food, 3 billion people would die.

Yes, if people stopped growing GM crops and would not grow other crops in their place. That's hardly likely, is it?


How is that at all related to what I said? This planet can only support 4 billion people using non genetically modified foods.
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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby Kulantan » Tue May 31, 2011 5:45 am UTC

Yeah, I think sourmilk is talking about GM's increased yields and viability. However, sourmilk, can we have a cite for this number?
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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby Zamfir » Tue May 31, 2011 5:54 am UTC

Think about it. Even if all crops in the world were GM food, that would mean a 75% increase in yield. In practice, it's something like 20% of all crops, so those crops would have to have to have yields several times higher than before. You'd think someone would have noticed by now, instead of trying to show improvements of a few percent.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby sourmìlk » Tue May 31, 2011 6:02 am UTC

Kulantan wrote:Yeah, I think sourmilk is talking about GM's increased yields and viability. However, sourmilk, can we have a cite for this number?

Yeah, one moment...

So, I'm having trouble finding specifically the 4 billion figure (though I'll keep looking), but I do have a figure showing that a technique developed by Norman Borlaug may have saved 1 billion people. Also, Zambia starved its people by refusing genetically modified crops.

Okay, now I got the link: organic farming (without genetic modification or pesticides etc.) can only feed 4 billion people.

Zamfir wrote: so those crops would have to have to have yields several times higher than before.


They do. For example, genetically modified cotton in India has yields two times higher than that of normal, organic cotton. And in the past 100 years, corn yields in the USA have quadrupled, and wheat yields around the world have nearly tripled.
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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby Levi » Tue May 31, 2011 6:05 am UTC

The GM food conspiracy is the first and only one I encountered in the wild before hearing of it through secondary sources, and as such it holds a special place in my heart. I went to an SAT writing workshop and the guy teaching it used GM food and the supposed dangers thereof as the topics for all the writing exercises, plus spent... oh... it was a while ago so I don't remember exactly how long, but something like ten or twenty minutes talking about it. I was concerned a bit, though the claims did seem over the top (we're sickly and all going to die early, horrible deaths) and then looked them up when I got home and found out the dude was an idiot.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby CorruptUser » Tue May 31, 2011 6:16 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
Kulantan wrote:Yeah, I think sourmilk is talking about GM's increased yields and viability. However, sourmilk, can we have a cite for this number?

Yeah, one moment...

So, I'm having trouble finding specifically the 4 billion figure (though I'll keep looking), but I do have a figure showing that a technique developed by Norman Borlaug may have saved 1 billion people. Also, Zambia starved its people by refusing genetically modified crops.

Okay, now I got the link: organic farming (without genetic modification or pesticides etc.) can only feed 4 billion people.


It's possible to farm organic GM; organic just means no fertilizer/pesticide. Which is actually BS; the organic farms are right next to real farms, so the fertilizers and pesticides runoff onto the organic fields. Only, since the pesticides are of lower concentration, it's worse as the bugs slowly grow immune.

It's the Bosch-Haber process that the world depends on, that uses natural gas as a catalyst to bind airborne nitrogen into nitrates.

Look up Fritz Haber sometime. Real sob story.

Levi wrote:The GM food conspiracy is the first and only one I encountered in the wild before hearing of it through secondary sources, and as such it holds a special place in my heart. I went to an SAT writing workshop and the guy teaching it used GM food and the supposed dangers thereof as the topics for all the writing exercises, plus spent... oh... it was a while ago so I don't remember exactly how long, but something like ten or twenty minutes talking about it. I was concerned a bit, though the claims did seem over the top (we're sickly and all going to die early, horrible deaths) and then looked them up when I got home and found out the dude was an idiot.


The only thing to worry about with GM crops are terminator genes; added to prevent the crops from going to seed. Monsanto claims it's to prevent crossbreeding with wild crops in case something goes wrong, the fact that such a gene means that farmers will always have to buy the seeds from Monsanto instead of growing their own is a bit suspicious.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby sourmìlk » Tue May 31, 2011 6:23 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:
It's possible to farm organic GM; organic just means no fertilizer/pesticide.

Organic in every context I've encountered it means "not genetically modified." That may not be the actual definition, but it's the one that people use.

The only thing to worry about with GM crops are terminator genes; added to prevent the crops from going to seed. Monsanto claims it's to prevent crossbreeding with wild crops in case something goes wrong, the fact that such a gene means that farmers will always have to buy the seeds from Monsanto instead of growing their own is a bit suspicious.


I thought they got rid of the terminator genes and just made farmers sign a contract saying they wouldn't re-plant?
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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby CorruptUser » Tue May 31, 2011 6:28 am UTC

Errm, yeah, my mistake. Terminator genes aren't in use. Massive lawsuits are used instead, bankrupting any people who would dare even try to defend themselves in court. So, Monsanto = the Church of Happyology. Except, they actually do stuff.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby Hawknc » Tue May 31, 2011 6:30 am UTC

You're comprehensively wrong about the definition of "organic". Non-GM is one part of it, but not the whole, and I've never encountered a person before you who thinks it is.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby CorruptUser » Tue May 31, 2011 6:35 am UTC

Huh. Wrong again I guess. Sorry 'bout that.

Still, that doesn't make complete sense, since genetic engineering has been around since ancient times; what do you think the domestication of animals was? People have long said "this fruit tree is tastier than the other ones, I'll plant more of this instead". Just that in modern times we speed up the process with science.
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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby Hawknc » Tue May 31, 2011 6:38 am UTC

That was to sourmilk, not yourself. Unless you engaged in redefining a word somewhere I missed. :P

Edit: in light of the below post, arguing about organic food really doesn't hold any relevance to the thread, so I'll drop it.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby Mittagessen » Tue May 31, 2011 6:40 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:Okay, now I got the link: organic farming (without genetic modification or pesticides etc.) can only feed 4 billion people.
...
They do. For example, genetically modified cotton in India has yields two times higher than that of normal, organic cotton. And in the past 100 years, corn yields in the USA have quadrupled, and wheat yields around the world have nearly tripled.


Firstly nobody is talking about organic farming instead of GM crops. Ever heard of the green revolution? Guess what, India feeding her people had nothing to do with GM crops but with the wide availability of artificial fertilizer. The vast amounts of overproduction in Europe had and has nothing to do with GM crops, but with the wide availability of artificial fertilizer. China feeding herself has nothing to do with GM crops but, again, with the wide availability of artificial fertilizer.
If at all, GM crops had a negative impact on food security in the region it matters (East Asia).
The major yield increase over the last century has been achieved by increased use of technology, use of better strains and most importantly the use of fertilizer. Haber-Bosch is feeding the world, not Monsanto.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby CorruptUser » Tue May 31, 2011 6:41 am UTC

No-no, I had claimed that it was possible to farm organic and GM at the same time, when you proved it was a contradiction. So umm, bonus point for you?

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby sourmìlk » Tue May 31, 2011 6:47 am UTC

Hawknc wrote:You're comprehensively wrong about the definition of "organic". Non-GM is one part of it,

That's all I was trying to state. I didn't mean to say that it was the only criterion, just that it was one of the criteria.

mitagessen wrote:Haber-Bosch is feeding the world, not Monsanto.

Then see the first citation: the genetic modification of a single crop is estimated to have saved 1 billion people from starvation. Is genetic modification the sole cause of increased crop yields? Obviously not. But it is an extremely large part.
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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby Zamfir » Tue May 31, 2011 6:49 am UTC

Yeah, saying that fertilizers, pesticides and GM together are saving the world is like saying that me and Bill Gates are pretty rich together. GM has its advantages, just not that much.

Some graphs to get an order of magnitude idea:
Soybean yields per acre in the US. Couldn't find one without the dubious trend line, but you'll have to live with it.
Image

Roundup-resistant soybeans are the great success story of GM: it went from non-existent to nearly all soy between 1995 and now:

Image

US soybean yields have increased about 10% to 20% since the introduction of GM soy, from high 30s to about 42. The bad harvest in 2004 muddies the picture a bit. It clearly fits in a larger of picture of improving yields, so presumably not all of that improvement is caused by Gm. But perhaps a lot of it, it's clearly the Big Thing in soybeans.

So GM is probably useful, but it's not world-shaking. It's fairly similar to the other kinds of improvements made in modern agriculture, as has been made for the last decades.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby sourmìlk » Tue May 31, 2011 6:51 am UTC

So GM is probably useful, but it's not world-shaking.

One billion people. That seems kind of world-shaking.
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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby Zamfir » Tue May 31, 2011 6:53 am UTC

@ sourmilk, your 1 billion quote has nothing to do with GM at all. It's about a guy who introduced western crop types an agriculutaral methods in India in the 1960s. Those types were the result of old-fashioned hybridization.

Of course, putting that all on one guy is a bit rich, in those days millions of third-world students visited agricultural schools in the west and in the Soviet Union. But yeah, there was a great gain to made by spreading the most yielding techniques over the world, and there is still more to be gained even now.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby achan1058 » Tue May 31, 2011 6:57 am UTC

Why don't we just plant GM that can easily spread to wild plants, so that the activists can't even avoid it even if they try? :twisted:
Zamfir wrote:@ sourmilk, your 1 billion quote has nothing to do with GM at all. It's about a guy who introduced western crop types in India in the 1960s. Those types were the result of old-fashioned hybridization.
And how is hybridization not "GM"? I mean, it's still just a way of modifying genes, like artificial selection and the whole 9 yards that humanity had been using the last 10000 years...... I see no real difference.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby johnny_7713 » Tue May 31, 2011 7:03 am UTC

achan1058 wrote:Why don't we just plant GM that can easily spread to wild plants, so that the activists can't even avoid it even if they try? :twisted:
Zamfir wrote:@ sourmilk, your 1 billion quote has nothing to do with GM at all. It's about a guy who introduced western crop types in India in the 1960s. Those types were the result of old-fashioned hybridization.
And how is hybridization not "GM"? I mean, it's still just a way of modifying genes, like artificial selection and the whole 9 yards that humanity had been using the last 10000 years...... I see no real difference.


No you see, hybridisation is 'natural', whereas GM is done in a lab by scary (and probably mad) scientists and is thus artifical and evil (which to many of these activists is the same thing).

On a more serious note GM can (emphasis on can) involve introducing genes from different species.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby achan1058 » Tue May 31, 2011 7:04 am UTC

johnny_7713 wrote:
achan1058 wrote:Why don't we just plant GM that can easily spread to wild plants, so that the activists can't even avoid it even if they try? :twisted:
Zamfir wrote:@ sourmilk, your 1 billion quote has nothing to do with GM at all. It's about a guy who introduced western crop types in India in the 1960s. Those types were the result of old-fashioned hybridization.
And how is hybridization not "GM"? I mean, it's still just a way of modifying genes, like artificial selection and the whole 9 yards that humanity had been using the last 10000 years...... I see no real difference.


No you see, hybridisation is 'natural', whereas GM is done in a lab by scary (and probably mad) scientists and is thus artifical and evil (which to many of these activists is the same thing).

On a more serious note GM can (emphasis on can) involve introducing genes from different species.
I don't see why it is necessary a bad thing. Regardless, viruses has been modifying genes of many species for a looooong time (humans included, of course), and who knows where those genes come from. Heck, some of them are even known to cause cancer!

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby Zamfir » Tue May 31, 2011 7:07 am UTC

achan1058 wrote:And how is hybridization not "GM"? I mean, it's still just a way of modifying genes, like artificial selection and the whole 9 yards that humanity had been using the last 10000 years...... I see no real difference.

It's a different technique, like a car is not a horsedrawn cart despite having wheels as well.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby achan1058 » Tue May 31, 2011 7:11 am UTC

I see it more like the multiplication of 2 numbers by hand vs by calculator. The technique is different, but the end result is effectively the same, except one is usually more accurate.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby Zamfir » Tue May 31, 2011 7:20 am UTC

But achan, the end result is not the same. That's why people do it in the first place, to achieve results they could not get by traditional methods.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby achan1058 » Tue May 31, 2011 7:21 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:But achan, the end result is not the same. That's why people do it in the first place, to achieve results they could not get by traditional methods.
Given enough time, you can select for just about any gene you want, just like how given enough time, you can break any crypto system in use by hand. Of course, in either case, enough time means billions of years, if not more.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby sourmìlk » Tue May 31, 2011 7:24 am UTC

So, it's like multiplying a 20,000 digit number by hand vs multiply a 20,000 digit number via calculator?
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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby Magnanimous » Tue May 31, 2011 7:42 am UTC

But if you forget to carry the seven, you kill all life on the planet. Kidding, of course.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby skeptical scientist » Tue May 31, 2011 8:32 am UTC

achan1058 wrote:I see it more like the multiplication of 2 numbers by hand vs by calculator. The technique is different, but the end result is effectively the same, except one is usually more accurate.

Yes, except the protesters aren't protesting the use of hybridization and artificial selection, which farmers have been using for millenia. You'd be hard-pressed to find a food crop in existence in the world that hasn't been redesigned by human intervention.
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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby AvatarIII » Tue May 31, 2011 9:28 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:This is akin to walking into a furniture store and slashing all the leather chairs because you don't believe in cruelty to animals; it's stupid, destructive, most certainly violent, and doesn't build towards a solution.


Hell, if you're slashing leather chairs then at least you're protesting an actual problem (animal cruelty.)



destroying leather chairs just increases demand for leather chairs, therefore increasing the number of animals needed to supply leather chairs.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby Deep_Thought » Tue May 31, 2011 9:37 am UTC

skeptical scientist wrote:Yes, except the protesters aren't protesting the use of hybridization and artificial selection, which farmers have been using for millenia. You'd be hard-pressed to find a food crop in existence in the world that hasn't been redesigned by human intervention.

My personal favourite example of this is that carrots used to be purple.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby sourmìlk » Tue May 31, 2011 10:27 am UTC

AvatarIII wrote:destroying leather chairs just increases demand for leather chairs, therefore increasing the number of animals needed to supply leather chairs.


Well yes, clearly it's a stupid and counterproductive way to protest an issue. (Looking at you, PETA blood-throwers).
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