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Messages - ontic

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ontic:
I haven't had much time to research yet, but one indication is that at least one of those literature reviews cited in the article I linked to (you missed the link, btw, I did post it https://www.biofortified.org/2014/02/industry-funded-gmo-studies/ ) there were about as many papers pro-GM as those "raising serious issues" (or words to that effect).
I did quickly scan that article, but this seems like a case of cherry picking one result.  I believe that the quote you refer to is "An equilibrium in the number research groups suggesting, on the basis of their studies, that a number of varieties of GM products (mainly maize and soybeans) are as safe and nutritious as the respective conventional non-GM plant, and those raising still serious concerns, was currently observed."  If anyone can point to one of these studies that raise concerns about some aspect of some "GMO", I would be interested in seeing it.  In any event the "GMO's" have been tested many times (far more than any "natural" food), and the consensus remains that they are safe.  Scientists, being scientists, tend to be cautious and just about never state that anything can be proved entirely safe.
I did point to studies that raise concerns. I pointed to a dirctory of them. And yes, the quote I referred to says that an 'equilibrium' (a roughly equal number) of 'research groups ... raise concerns about some aspect of GMO'. Just one point of several.

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My sense from informal reading over the years is that there are serious concerns raised, and I find some of them reasonable concerns. I know I haven't given much of that yet, but one is the narrow measures of benefit, or conversely the apparent failure to intuit that there are all sorts of knock-on effects in ecosystems that are unpredictable.
I would argue that this is not an example of a reasonable concern.  This seems to me to be a vague notion that there is something out there that we should be concerned about.
Call it 'vague' by all means. I'm pleased that at least some people are taking the subject of our creation of new organisms by artificial means, which under natural conditions almost certainly would never arise, and letting them loose in the biosphere, a little more seriously. Not enough. Too many have your casual attitude.

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There are obvious examples from the introductions of plants or animals into non-native environments where they have caused havoc.
Indeed the introduction of new species to different areas will sometimes have a major effect.  For example, the introduction of wheat to North America.  The modification of varieties has also had an impact, for example the evolution of corn.  Of course new species have been invading areas for billions of years, though we have sped things up quite a lot.  In any event this is a concern that is not special to "GMO's".
No. I didn't imply that it was a concern that was special to GMOs. I implied that it was a comparable concern. You seem to be suggesting that you find natural introductions of non-native species something to be concerned about, but you are not concerned about GMOs being introduced. Pardon me if I'm not following the logic.

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And perhaps much of my concern is political, about the control of the technology. You don't trust Monsanto. This is the point. The pro-GMOers will point to famines and say we must develop these new crops, but look at the wrangle India had over Monsanto. There is a danger that cutting edge technologies can be used for power and control - a new 'capital imperialism' where we used to have the good ol' British Empire lording it over everyone. I only have vague evidence for that, too, but you have to be stupid not to think it's going on.
I have no doubt that this sort of thing is going on, and has been since long before "GMO's".  On the other hand, it could be argued that "GMO's" have the potential to release societies from such power and control.  There is nothing about "GMO's" that make them any better or worse than any other technology.  We should be concerned about the politics and economics related to the development of "GMO's", solar power, stem-cell therapy... any technology.
You seem to be confused. You were urging me not to be concerned about GMOs. Now you say that we should be concerned about GMOs. You also say, with less contradiction, that they have the potential to release societies from capitalist power and control. Erm, can you say how?

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I love the way the GMO movement argue that GMOs aren't anything different from natural organisms, then slap a patent on them and ban their customers from using anything else, or alter the ecosystem so that nothing else is economically viable.
You seem to be creating a "GMO movement" (I also note the odd term "pro-GMOers") that includes, well, anyone who is not 'anti-GMO'.  This is simplistic and does not reflect the reality.  Note that "golden rice" was developed and made available without a patent.  Note that businesses like Monsanto would patent water of they could.  If you could provide a clear definition of a "GMO" (and "natural"), then perhaps we could address what differences there may be between a "GMO" and a "natural" organism.
OK, how about this: A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques (i.e., a genetically engineered organism).
Since 'genetic engineering' could be taken quite loosely, I would suggest that we include the direct manipulation of an organism's genes using biotechnology. ... New DNA is obtained by either isolating and copying the genetic material of interest using recombinant DNA methods or by artificially synthesising the DNA.
These were taken from the first paragraphs of the relevant wikipedia pages. I would suggest it is a fairly intuitive definition in keeping with most people's understanding, though I realise concerted effort can yield wide meanings from the same words.

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I recognise this can be denied as a "Bad" of GMO itself, but maybe there's a hint about at least a part of a relevant definition. If you can patent it, it's a GMO.
Are you willing to go with such a legal definition?  I see no reason in principle that any organism cannot be patented.  Certainly "natural" products have been patented (e.g., adrenaline).
I didn't know that, but I'd be surprised if the adrenaline now pumping round my body breaches any intellectual property rights. It will be artificially produced examples that are protected by law. Look how nicely this dovetails with GMOs. Are you lab blind? Do you really not understand the difference between artificially engineering organisms and rubbing the stamens of one variety against the stigma of another? And this is exactly why you put "natural" in inverted commas, because natural things (no quotes) cannot be patented. Thankfully the law isn't quite enough of an ass yet.

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Maybe not, but the power of the technology makes a difference. The advantages of a GMO can be so great in the short term and narrow measures applied that it is likely to utterly replace all competing varieties, for example, or significantly alter the numbers of other species in the local ecology.
I think that you may have a mistaken notion of what "GMO's" are.  These are not 'super-organisms', they are no more likely to replace other organisms in the environment than any other species.
With respect, I think perhaps you don't know what they are. They are very often engineered to produce pesticidal compounds, conveying higher immunity against pest attack, which represents an immediate and powerful selective advantage over natural varieties without this. They are also mostly engineered to resist chemical herbicides, so that they survive while 'pest' species and natural varieties are killed on spraying (Roundup, etc.), conveying another selective advantage. This is then compounded deliberately by the domestication efforts of humans planting these varieties instead of older, natural ones with higher genetic diversity (since GM ones are clones). You are apparently attacking a straw-man version of the fear of 'super-organisms'. That is what they are supposed to be, or there isn't any point. Of course, the resulting reduction in genetic diversity represents a future risk to our food security, if pathogenic organisms evolve 'to compensate' (not to be taken teleologically, of course). I wonder how long it would take to repopulate our fields from samples in Svarlbard.

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Suddenly, from the shops having half a dozen varieties of apple or potato, there's one GM variety. Genetic diversity is hailed as the most important measure of resilience in biology, as you're aware, and yet we're merrily deliberately celebrating its reduction in our crops.
Monoculture is a concern, and again this has nothing to do with "GMO's".  One can have a monoculture with or without "GMO's".
Sure. But GMOs represent a very powerful driver of this VERY DANGEROUS process, which is responsible for significant species loss, and would be a major contributor to risks to food security from seriously reduced genetic diversity of our staple crops.

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Hmm. That's kinda odd. I sense this is a bit of a mantra.
I don't know what you mean.  All living things are 'modified' one way or another.  We have intentionally modified organisms in various ways for thousands of years.  If people wish to demonize certain organisms, it is up to them to specify what they mean.
Which, regrettably, I am apparently failing to do in a way that you are capable of comprehending. Please note, however, that I am not and have never 'demonized' GMOs. Another mantra. Another reverse-pyschology, straw-man propaganda term, like 'Frankenfood' to make all the nay-sayers look like hippie kooks.

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Now you have the link, I'd be interested to know if you see any bias. Yes, 'many studies are being carried out by people who are not financially rewarded by big business', but more seem to be of the other sort.
And... ?  The unstated implication you seem to be making is that somehow if most of the studies are funded by big business then those that are not so funded should not be trusted?  This makes no sense.
Yes, that makes no sense. I'm saying almost the opposite (maybe you made a typographical error). The text doesn't say most of them are funded by big business, but that a strong association was found between professional conflict of interest and 'favorable study outcome'. This suggests grounds for scepticism.

  The petroleum industry has huge resources and yet has failed to prevent the consensus among climate scientists that anthropogenic global warming is real (a point the article you linked to makes).
And? Whether any particular level of funding has or has not helped establish the reality of one phenomenon only has vague, circumstantial implications about a completely different one. In the case of GMO crops, or their potential risks, there is little that corresponds with the 'reality' condition of AGW. It would be fairly meaningless to say that concerns were 'real' or 'unreal'. My first and strongest objection to the off-the-cuff assertion that GMOs have ben studied and been found to be safe and useful is that the measures of safety and usefulness seem to be poorly conceived, narrow, short-sighted, unimaginative and largely economic.

I thought I'd check quickly if there is a scientific consensus on GMOs, and found this https://gmoanswers.com/scientific-consensus-and-gmos
While the list of organisations supporting GMOs is impressive, the brief statements remind me of the most obvious of these narrow concerns, food safety in consumption. Obviously this must be tested, but the whole of the GMO debate seems overwhelmed with these food safety studies. I intuited the risks of toxicity from an alteration of the genes of a food to be almost nil, perhaps naively. It is the longer-term local and global effects on ecosystems and politics that I am more concerned about. The page on GMOs and the environment on that site gives the impression that the world exists in a time bubble and changes in one organism have no effect on others. Tests again are to ascertain that the new crop 'grows the same as the non-GM variety. They're also tested to make sure that they demonstrate the desired characteristic, such as insect resistance.' If it does what it's supposed to do, that constitutes one of those positive study results. (I realise this is a brief summary, but this is what I find generally.) It also says they are assessed for 'impact on beneficial insects like honeybees or ladybugs', displaying a nonchalant and potentially dangerous categorisation of wild organisms as 'beneficial' or 'pests'. This is the current paradigm in agricultural sciences, is it? If we decimate pest species, we can just ignore the complex ecological consequences and rejoice that our crops are, for now, growing normally? Where have all the insects and birds gone? Who gives a shit? Read this http://www.birminghampost.co.uk/lifestyle/lifestyle-opinion/vast-reduction-insect-numbers-indicative-13185845
Go on, tell me this is nothing to do with GMOs.

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You assert that no bad effect has been identified. I'm not sure about that at all, but I'll keep looking.
I cannot prove a negative, but I have asked repeatedly, in a number of different places, for any good evidence that "GMO's" cause harm, and I have yet to see any such evidence.
Maybe you should follow some links I posted already, or do some research yourself. But this is going to look pretty positive on the whole while agricultural science is so blinkered (as evidenced above). It is a subject where imagination, considering probable long term effects of GMOs from known ecological principles, is important.

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I also hope you can understand some of the issue I have, which is of the 'unknown unknowns' variety. Science is amazing, but it has this problem. Its validity is solidly positioned in the past. It makes future predictions, but can only ascribe value to its hypotheses after checking the results. Hence, where future dangers are involved, we have to use our imagination a bit more, and hard science can mislead us through its reliability in other areas. I have no wish to dilute commitment where countering global warming is concerned, but this is an issue there too. Ecosystems and substance cycles (like the water cycle or carbon cycle) are chaotic, dynamic equilibria, so a small miscalculation in one prediction (the rate of acidification of the sea, for instance) can have magnifying effects later.
It is certainly wise to know that our understanding of the universe is limited, and we cannot be certain of our predictions.  However, this argument could be deployed against the use of antibiotics, vaccines... really any technology.
Yes, and there is now a predicted catastrophe re antibiotics! Since GM technology could be seen as arbitrarily beneficial to the industry, there is just as much risk of 'overuse' as has led to the antibiotics crisis. And the comparisons don't stop there. There's another direct one concerning the evolutionary 'arms race' that is started when you wage war on parts of the ecosystem. We may see a time (or our children may) when biotech is desperately trying to combat the latest super-pest infestation that's wiping out vast areas of our monoculture diets. I know next to nothing about vaccines.

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I don't think there is any evidence of direct risk of meteor strike currently either.
Actually there is.  We don't know everything about the objects moving around in the solar system, but we can estimate the risk from a major meteor strike.  We can describe what a meteor is, and how it could harm us.  We have evidence that there are objects moving through the solar system, and evidence that such objects can cause harm.  This is quite different from the "GMO" case.
Why, because you're sure GMOs are safe, or because it's difficult to measure that particular future trajectory? I've tried to suggest that we know a great deal more about the principles of ecology than certain authorities are letting on, while they merrily wipe out 'pests' with no thought for the morrow (and have a perfect analogue in the antibiotics issue).

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That's not a Luddite manifesto, just food for thought.
Time for a quote from Douglas Adams: "Many were increasingly of the opinion that they'd all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans."
So you took it as a Luddite manifesto.  :dunno:
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This is an interesting resource (not that I necessarily consider it unbiased) listing and classifying some of the GMO research: http://www.greenmedinfo.com/guide/health-guide-gmo-research
You can dig into it by type, such as http://www.greenmedinfo.com/anti-therapeutic-action/genetically-modified-organisms
Some just have abstracts, some are freely published.
Here's one https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2952409/?tool=pubmed which raises serious concerns, for instance,
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the possible chronic side effects of pesticide residues are not scientifically assessed, whereas these edible GMOs were modified in order to either tolerate or produce such residues in the first place. In addition, unpredictable metabolic effects, such as metabolic interferences, or direct or indirect insertional mutagenesis consequences cannot be excluded. All these possibilities have been summarized (Fig. (Fig.1).1). For instance, insertion of the transgene in varieties producing Cry1Ab toxin caused a complex recombination event, leading to the synthesis of new RNA products encoding unknown proteins
Now, I can find lots of websites stating categorically that there are no risks, that the science has proved there are no risks, etc., but a number of criticisms, like the above, are raised again and again by independent researchers, as well as studies with contrary findings on toxicology, horizontal gene transfer, pesticide runoff, etc., and, like the above, re-analyses of industry-led research describing a range of poor protocols (after a legal battle to force the data even to be published). Making an adequately detailed and informed judgement is impossible for me, as the biology is way above my pay grade.

However, I am sceptical about my original position due to not finding, so far, a similar phenomenon as is readily available for AGW, reputable journalistic whistleblowing. On the other hand, this may reflect a tendency of such journalists to accept the orthodox message, when they face the same problem I have of the extreme technicality of the detail. Journalists may accept scientists telling them that their global warming data is virtually incontrovertible and there's a conspiracy of self-interested oligarchs trying to push it under the carpet. They may also accept scientists telling them that the GMO safety data is solid and reliable, and there's a bunch of hippies trying to hinder progress, when those scientists have been swayed by simplistic arguments, poor experiments and propaganda from the agricultural oligarchs.

The arguments for GMOs seem to be based on poorly analysed assumptions about the need for them. For example, Golden Rice is held up as evidence that the industry is well-meaning. There is an easily verifiable problem, that large numbers of people in poorer countries dependent on rice are malnourished, suffering blindness due to the lack of vitamin A, and a rational solution, Golden Rice, to provide that additional vitamin. But nobody acts on the obvious alternative, recognising that the problem is actually caused by the power of agri-business and Western economical self-interest, which manipulated these countries to grow rice for export, causing the dependence on rice as a cash crop, with the resulting malnutrition and suffering, and that vitamin A is readily available in large numbers of easily grown crops, that the local population could use to feed themselves properly. Instead of fixing the problem at source (our enslavement of develping countries to grow food for the rich), we deepen the enslavement by making them dependent on an even narrower range of crops, ready to be drenched with arbitrary quantities of Roundup. And then we call it all good science and global beneficence, because, having fed 8 rats on the stuff for three days, nobody died.
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ontic:
Sure. I acknowledge my claim is somewhat vague and unsupported. I think there is some objective rationale behind my concerns. I don't know - and didn't say - that big business is 'controlling virtually all the scientists'.
Fair enough, you suggested that "big business has... paid for most of the 'research'", I took it one step further because I would have expected that if a substantial number of experts studying "GMO's" are not being funded by "big business", then we have no obvious reason that they would be hiding Bad stuff about "GMO's".
Yes, I understand. No problem.

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I said (more like) that big business is largely outside democratic control, and scientists have too much freedom and incentive to keep pushing the envelope.
I agree that so-called "big business" is not democratic, and I certainly trust companies like Monsanto about as far as I can spit.  "Pushing the envelope" is once again vague, one could argue that 'pushing the envelope' is what science does by definition.  What is missing here is any indication that "GMO's" are Bad.
I haven't had much time to research yet, but one indication is that at least one of those literature reviews cited in the article I linked to (you missed the link, btw, I did post it https://www.biofortified.org/2014/02/industry-funded-gmo-studies/ ) there were about as many papers pro-GM as those "raising serious issues" (or words to that effect). My sense from informal reading over the years is that there are serious concerns raised, and I find some of them reasonable concerns. I know I haven't given much of that yet, but one is the narrow measures of benefit, or conversely the apparent failure to intuit that there are all sorts of knock-on effects in ecosystems that are unpredictable. There are obvious examples from the introductions of plants or animals into non-native environments where they have caused havoc. And perhaps much of my concern is political, about the control of the technology. You don't trust Monsanto. This is the point. The pro-GMOers will point to famines and say we must develop these new crops, but look at the wrangle India had over Monsanto. There is a danger that cutting edge technologies can be used for power and control - a new 'capital imperialism' where we used to have the good ol' British Empire lording it over everyone. I only have vague evidence for that, too, but you have to be stupid not to think it's going on. I love the way the GMO movement argue that GMOs aren't anything different from natural organisms, then slap a patent on them and ban their customers from using anything else, or alter the ecosystem so that nothing else is economically viable. I recognise this can be denied as a "Bad" of GMO itself, but maybe there's a hint about at least a part of a relevant definition. If you can patent it, it's a GMO.

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I have been alarmed when I have looked into this by the narrow definitions of benefit, and apparent lack of consideration of the potential dangers to the environment at more systemic levels. I typically found studies on crop yields, spread of GM crops to small areas outside field test sites, success in short-term goals like 'pest' control (if you're going to put quotes round GM, let's do it round 'pest' too), and tests on toxicity. But it's years ago and I don't have the references to hand.
Fair enough, but note that these concerns are not special to "GMO's".
Maybe not, but the power of the technology makes a difference. The advantages of a GMO can be so great in the short term and narrow measures applied that it is likely to utterly replace all competing varieties, for example, or significantly alter the numbers of other species in the local ecology. Suddenly, from the shops having half a dozen varieties of apple or potato, there's one GM variety. Genetic diversity is hailed as the most important measure of resilience in biology, as you're aware, and yet we're merrily deliberately celebrating its reduction in our crops. Crops take up a larger and larger percentage of the environment, so diversity of those crops and the ecosystems supporting them should be of major concern. It seems not to really come into the purview of the GMO research - or it does in that other half of the papers I mentioned, perhaps!

For the record, I am putting quotation marks around "GMO" because the term is not well-defined at all.
Hmm. That's kinda odd. I sense this is a bit of a mantra. The definition is stretched to make it include manual crossing of varieties and thus muddy the waters. Of course, all definitions are arbitrary, but there's a long way between natural crosses of varieties and the deliberate microscopic insertion of genes from different kingdoms, or indeed the arguably non-life genetic machinery of viruses. There are several reasonable places on this continuum where we could draw a line.

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OK. A brief bit of searching tonight throws up a figure of 1/3 of collected research projects being "independent", and the source seems to be intending to be very pro-GM. I'm not very far through it due to following links to other articles, but it has so far struck me as disturbingly biased....
I don't agree with your interpretations here, there does not seem to be any obvious bias illustrated by the short passages you quoted and you did not provide the sources (references).  However, there are two things that seem to be clear: many studies are being carries out by people who are not financially rewarded by big business, no evidence of any Bad effect of "GMO's" has been identified.
Now you have the link, I'd be interested to know if you see any bias. Yes, 'many studies are being carried out by people who are not financially rewarded by big business', but more seem to be of the other sort. You assert that no bad effect has been identified. I'm not sure about that at all, but I'll keep looking. I also hope you can understand some of the issue I have, which is of the 'unknown unknowns' variety. Science is amazing, but it has this problem. Its validity is solidly positioned in the past. It makes future predictions, but can only ascribe value to its hypotheses after checking the results. Hence, where future dangers are involved, we have to use our imagination a bit more, and hard science can mislead us through its reliability in other areas. I have no wish to dilute commitment where countering global warming is concerned, but this is an issue there too. Ecosystems and substance cycles (like the water cycle or carbon cycle) are chaotic, dynamic equilibria, so a small miscalculation in one prediction (the rate of acidification of the sea, for instance) can have magnifying effects later.
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An even more robust review of the total literature published in 2014 is more conclusive in their findings: "The scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazards directly connected with the use of genetically engineered crops."

My italics. Note the bias - plenty of evidence!...(to affirm a cautious stance based on equilibrium between positive and negative results in health-related studies); an even more robust review (than that cautious stance); no significant hazards DIRECTLY connected with GM crops. That's great, since the biosphere is so compartmentalized.
I find it interesting that you interpret a lack of evidence for any direct effect as evidence of an indirect effect.  Without reading the actual article it is hard to tell, but it seems like this specific paper looked for a direct effect and found none.  That does not mean that there is no indirect effect, but it certainly is not evidence of anything Bad about "GMO's".
I hope what I've said above helps you grokk that a bit more.
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Yeah, manipulation died out as a phenomenon, it was so useless. ::)  I guess this type of thing may not be typical, or I may be misinterpreting it.
One must always be cautious of data manipulation, and also about 'data fishing' (If you start with a set of data with enough variables, you can pretty much always find statistically significant relationships somewhere even when there are no actual relationships, plus one must keep the old adage in mind: correlation does not necessarily mean causation.)  In any event, it would not surprise me if something on the order of 2/3 of this research is supported in some way by so-called big business, and about 1/3 'independently' supported.  In the 2/3, I would expect at least some scientists to be ready and willing to publish results that provide evidence of Bad stuff in the use of "GMO's", and I would expect that many of the 'independent' scientists would be ready and willing to do the same.  Thus the complete lack of such credible evidence cannot be dismissed by appealing to industry influence.
Well I haven't yet had time to find the other half of the 'equilibrium' that paper mentioned, in which serious concerns were raised. These may, of course, be more 'imaginative' and 'philosophical' papers, and dismissed by hard scientists as irrelevant. I don't think there is any evidence of direct risk of meteor strike currently either.
Of course absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but any claim that there is something Bad about "GMO's" is not supported.
References please.  ;)  But seriously, I don't know what this means. There could be tons of Bad evidence out there. I don't know how much you've searched for it. I know it's early days for me. So absence of Bad evidence may be all we have as yet. Additionally, it's difficult to assess, since we have to work out if there's an agenda behind either kind (and, for me at least, I don't have the detailed biology to understand a lot of it).
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OK, your request was rather abrupt. Anyway, the evidence we would need to consider is historic (and economic and political as well as scientific). Or are we going to discuss data from the future? But you're right, you're not commenting on those.
I apologize for being abrupt, I posted in haste.
I'm sorry I took it the wrong way. Glad we got that sorted. I'll skip the rest of that issue.
For the record I am a university biology professor.
Noted. For the record, I'm aware of my potential for Dunning-Kruger effect, and hope not to overestimate my ability. I did biology to (UK) 'Advanced Level' and some additional stuff in my first year of a geology degree. Very casual learning since. Your knowledge will be a big help in this.
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There are a few ideas in the last paragraph. Which in particular do you disagree with?:
the chaotic system difficult to predict
I would go with 'a complex system is difficult to predict'.
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current and future actions risk dangerous change
Vague and applicable to just about anything.  It could be argued that there is a risk to not using "GMO's".
Indeed. That opens a whole mess of philosophical debates! One issue is whether taking action and not taking action bare different intrinsic moral responsibility. It also reminds me of a theory that many human changes were arguably Bad, whilst each person involved made rational decisions to improve their lot. It was applied (I forget by whom) to the Neolithic Revolution, and quite convincingly! Growing crops caused increases in malnutrition, famine, disease, murder, war.... while hunter-gatherers lived relatively healthy, peaceful lives surrounded by plentiful food. Then we slashed and burned the forests. Then we started burning coal and oil. Now we're unleashing AI, nanotech and biotech. That's not a Luddite manifesto, just food for thought.
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GM is becoming exponentially more powerful
I find this meaningless with a definition of "GM", units that are increasing exponentially, and what is meant by "powerful" in this context.  Certainly our ability to modify genetics is increasing and will likely allow us to do things in the future that will present considerable ethical and practical challenges.  Of course the same might be said of other technologies, but I would agree that genetic technology has perhaps the greatest potential for changing the way we live.
Yes. I think a terraformed future is most likely, especially with AGW to contend with.
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the precautionary principle therefore says to take great care and time and discussion
How much?  We could test "GMO's" for thousands of years and still have this objection raised.  Where would we be if this precautionary principle was applied to vaccinations for example.
Sure, there are limits. For me, it happened already. I didn't really notice and nobody asked my opinion, and it seems nobody is asking anybody's opinion in the general public, just doing it. This is maybe why there's so much reaction against GMOs.
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Sure, I'm fine with a definition of 'GMO', although I guess it's problematic, partly because the subject is so multi-dimensional. We can define it too closely, whereupon crossing two plants in your garden shed qualifies, or we can have a more realistic view of GMOs embedded in a socio-economic context, where it intersects with pesticide use, pollution, ecological diversity, food security, famine (and from there, international politics, etc.), and large corporations with political clout.
This is a problem, there really is no clear distinction between "GMO's" and 'wild' organisms.  However, on what are we going to apply the precautionary principle?  What organisms are potentially dangerous, and why?  What do you consider to be a "GMO"?

Peez
I hope I've started to answer that last bit. There's no 'clear' distinction between a lot of things we nevertheless separate. It's somewhere between a shiny lab and virgin forest.
Cheers,
ontic
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split off from "Deextinction and rewilding".

Let me know if I've put any posts in the wrong thread.

If you want me to change the title of this splitoff-thread, someone will have to explain to me how to do that in Elkarte.

Edit the OP.  The Title can be edited there.
Maybe "AGWhitewash and GMOaning" :D
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Yo mods please split the "GMOaning" derail off to its own thread, starting around the second post.
Yes, sorry: this was largely my fault.

Peez
Sorry, mine too.
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ontic:
Peez, you said,
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There are certainly issues that we should be concerned about, but I find it odd that you accept the scientific consensus on global warming but not on GMO's.
I explained why I accept the consensus on GW but not on GMOs.
I can only guess that you are referring to the vague and unsupported claim that some unspecified thing about "GMO's" is bad and that big business is controlling virtually all the scientists with expertise on this area.  Once again, this is the sort of thing I expect from climate change deniers.
Sure. I acknowledge my claim is somewhat vague and unsupported. I think there is some objective rationale behind my concerns. I don't know - and didn't say - that big business is 'controlling virtually all the scientists'. I said (more like) that big business is largely outside democratic control, and scientists have too much freedom and incentive to keep pushing the envelope.

I have been alarmed when I have looked into this by the narrow definitions of benefit, and apparent lack of consideration of the potential dangers to the environment at more systemic levels. I typically found studies on crop yields, spread of GM crops to small areas outside field test sites, success in short-term goals like 'pest' control (if you're going to put quotes round GM, let's do it round 'pest' too), and tests on toxicity. But it's years ago and I don't have the references to hand.
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References, please.
For what?
For starters, for this: "Meanwhile, big business has... paid for most of the 'research'..."
OK. A brief bit of searching tonight throws up a figure of 1/3 of collected research projects being "independent", and the source seems to be intending to be very pro-GM. I'm not very far through it due to following links to other articles, but it has so far struck me as disturbingly biased. Several quotes have emboldened text (pro-GM), while one only has to read the surrounding text for completely contrasting conclusions. For example, a passage (needing a better proofreader) from a literary review is quoted:
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An equilibrium in the number research groups suggesting, on the basis of their studies, that a number of varieties of GM products (mainly maize and soybeans) are as safe and nutritious as the respective conventional non-GM plant, and those raising still serious concerns, was currently observed. Nevertheless, it should be noted that most of these studies have been conducted by biotechnology companies responsible of commercializing these GM plants.
and interpreted thus:
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José Domingo and Jordi Giné Bordonaba are certainly no cheerleaders for biotech crops. Yet, despite the increase in industry funded studies between their reviews of the literature in 2007 and 2011, they still find plenty of evidence to affirm their cautious stance towards the technology.

An even more robust review of the total literature published in 2014 is more conclusive in their findings: "The scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazards directly connected with the use of genetically engineered crops."
My italics. Note the bias - plenty of evidence!...(to affirm a cautious stance based on equilibrium between positive and negative results in health-related studies); an even more robust review (than that cautious stance); no significant hazards DIRECTLY connected with GM crops. That's great, since the biosphere is so compartmentalized.

Later, the main article says
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Looking at the scientific literature about GMO safety, we find little difference between the results of independent and industry funded studies.
...and then goes on to demonstrate that this is a lie.
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What if we were a little more rigorous in our scrutiny? Johan Diels of led a team that did exactly that. The results were interesting, but not without some problems.
It then quotes a passage (their bold) from the paper:
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In a study involving 94 articles selected through objective criteria, it was found that the existence of either financial or professional conflict of interest was associated to study outcomes that cast genetically modified products in a favorable light (p = 0.005). While financial conflict of interest alone did not correlate with research results (p = 0.631), a strong association was found between author affiliation to industry (professional conflict of interest) and study outcome (p < 0.001).
The text goes on to trivialize the professional conflict of interest correlation and blatantly lie and set up a strawman:
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The authors did find a correlation between "industry affiliation" and favorable study outcome. But realize how far we have moved the goal posts. We started with the proposition that we couldn't trust any of the research because it was it was all paid for by the industry. But we found that's not true. Now we have researchers looking into the matter and they can't find a relationship between industry funding and favorable study outcomes. And there's no connection there. What's left is griping about the industry ties of some of the researchers. Before looking a little closer at that, let's get one thing out of the way. When a company pays for a study, they are paying because they want to find out something. Fudging the data does not help them in their business. Such data manipulation would be generally be counter productive.
Yeah, manipulation died out as a phenomenon, it was so useless. ::)  I guess this type of thing may not be typical, or I may be misinterpreting it.

Anyway, their figure of 1/3 "independent" would seem to substantiate something of my vague claim (although I'm not sure what their definitions of "independent" and "non-independent" are).  If 2/3 of the studies are "non-independent", and "a strong association ... between author affiliation to industry ... and study outcome", then I have reason to suspect that professional conflict of interest may be skewing GM study outcomes. I put it rather bluntly, maybe.
https://www.biofortified.org/2014/02/industry-funded-gmo-studies/


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The vast compex political and economic history of GMO (presumably the bit you're incensed that I'm sceptical about)?
I am not "incensed" and I am not commenting on history, economic or otherwise.
OK, your request was rather abrupt. Anyway, the evidence we would need to consider is historic (and economic and political as well as scientific). Or are we going to discuss data from the future? But you're right, you're not commenting on those.
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Do you demand references anytime someone shares an opinion?
I ask for references when someone puts forth a claim if I wish to examine that claim critically.  This is a habit that I recommend strongly.
OK. I recommend voicing your wish to examine the claim critically more invitingly, offer concerns about it or a contrary view, chew the fat a bit. Just asking for references is a common way of saying "You don't know what you're talking about, and some research will prove you wrong". It comes over as pretty rude.

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But a reference or two won't change my mind overnight, due to the fact that it's a vast complex political and economic history.
I am not specifically trying to change your opinion.  I presume that you have sources for your information, obviously your sharing such sources with me (and others) would not change your opinion (you already had access to that information).  I asked for the references to better understand your position, to assess it, and to challenge my own position.
I don't have sources for my information - so the challenge requires me to ignore it and leave the photos-or-it-didn't-happen suggestion or put quite a bit of time into carefully researching it myself. Again, maybe, "How much is your opinion supported by evidence?" would be a pleasanter starting point. If one of your motives is to challenge your own position, you could do some reading yourself.

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But I'll take any rational arguments or evidence on board. Thanks. Admittedly, I have spent some time researching the climate-change-denial propaganda and the power base it emanates from, and less the GMO debate. So educate away!
I have little to contribute on the politics or economics involved in the various issues related to so-called "GMO's".  I do have a modest grasp of genetic modification of organisms, this is what I was commenting on.
I have a very modest grasp of that too. I recently read Creation: the origin of life; the future of life by Adam Rutherford, which is very good. It informed my view that the field is exploding at an exponential rate, so part of my concern is the technology getting ahead of the regulation (it already has, in fact, in that genetic code is being bought online and assembled by amateurs). I wasn't aware that you had commented on genetic modification of organisms. You asked for evidence of my comments on it.
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Part Two:
The precautionary principle also points in opposite directions:

With GW, we have a chaotic system that's difficult to predict the behaviour of precisely, but there is reason to believe that past and current actions risk extremely dangerous climate change (this is an understatement), so the precautionary principle says that we should strive to reverse the damage, even if it's just buying time while more research is done. It is also a problem that we were not aware of while it was growing over many decades.

With GMOs, we have a chaotic system that is also difficult to predict the behaviour of (in fact, these are essentially the same systems, the whole ecosystem of planet Earth), and there is reason to believe that current and future actions risk dangerous change. The technology of genetic modification is becoming more powerful exponentially. The precautionary principle therefore is against the 'consensus' (if indeed there is one) for GMOs, again at least in order to buy more research, theoretical reasoning and public discussion time.
I disagree with your final paragraph.  Perhaps we should start by defining a "GMO" since this is a vague term.

Peez
There are a few ideas in the last paragraph. Which in particular do you disagree with?:
the chaotic system difficult to predict
current and future actions risk dangerous change
GM is becoming exponentially more powerful
the precautionary principle therefore says to take great care and time and discussion

Sure, I'm fine with a definition of 'GMO', although I guess it's problematic, partly because the subject is so multi-dimensional. We can define it too closely, whereupon crossing two plants in your garden shed qualifies, or we can have a more realistic view of GMOs embedded in a socio-economic context, where it intersects with pesticide use, pollution, ecological diversity, food security, famine (and from there, international politics, etc.), and large corporations with political clout.
8
Oh I see, Cephus0, you're just counting cash, and then you reckon...what, that the biggest funding is fraudulent? I offered the follow-the-money argument as one thing we should consider. If you just think whoever's spending the most is the most corrupt, end of argument, that's a bit silly. Count the cash - count the scientists - we've had both now.

I would expect that the funding on research into climate change would be fairly big - it's one of the biggest threats to our survival. Calling it 'alarmist science' is pure propaganda, begging the question (i.e. concluding that AGW is trivial or a lie). I see no reason to make that claim.

Your casual dismissal of the importance of undisclosed funding of political lobbying is worrying, as is your dismissal (and childish misunderstanding) of the motive, "charged with evil, malice and a Baphomet-esque desire to destroy the planet". It is greed. The culprits are not worshipping Satan necessarily, just insanely greedy for money and power.

Your complaint about taxes being spent on climate research is the other side of you missing the point. Here's a quote from a prominent article you maybe haven't found yet: ""The real issue here is one of democracy. Without a free flow of accurate information, democratic politics and government accountability become impossible,"
https://phys.org/news/2013-12-koch-brothers-reveals-funders-climate.html
Citizens can vote on how their taxes are used, they can't vote to stop multi-billionaires buying policy.

Wonder why the USA is now out on a limb on climate change? Another bit of news you may have missed: https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/in-the-withdrawal-from-the-paris-climate-agreement-the-koch-brothers-campaign-becomes-overt
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How this happened is no longer a secret. The answer, as the New York Times reported, on Sunday, is "a story of big political money." It is, perhaps, the most astounding example of influence-buying in modern American political history.

As the climate scientist Michael Mann put it to me in my book "Dark Money," when attempting to explain why the Republican Party has moved in the opposite direction from virtually the rest of the world, "We are talking about a direct challenge to the most powerful industry that has ever existed on the face of the Earth. There's no depth to which they're unwilling to sink to challenge anything threatening their interests." For most of the world's population, the costs of inaction on climate change far outweigh that of action. But for the fossil-fuel industry, he said, "It's like the switch from whale oil in the nineteenth century. They're fighting to maintain the status quo, no matter how dumb."
9
You literally cannot be serious in the first part of your money trail claim.  Government funding - with your taxes - of alarmist climate science makes the Manhattan Project look like a school science fair.  The fossil fuel industry itself ploughs plenty in also.  Cash funding research into natural climate drivers - which you doubtless have some hysterical slur name for - is utterly trivial in comparison.
Listen, I was going to collect a few links for you, but I'll let you find them. I just duckduckgo-d "koch brothers climate change denial propaganda campaign". Try the same in your fave search engine, see what you find.
10
Peez, you said,
There are certainly issues that we should be concerned about, but I find it odd that you accept the scientific consensus on global warming but not on GMO's.
I explained why I accept the consensus on GW but not on GMOs.
References, please.
For what? The vast compex political and economic history of GMO (presumably the bit you're incensed that I'm sceptical about)? Do you demand references anytime someone shares an opinion? If you want to correct my mistake and bring my opinion in line with the 'scientific consensus' on this, fine. But a reference or two won't change my mind overnight, due to the fact that it's a vast complex political and economic history. But I'll take any rational arguments or evidence on board. Thanks. Admittedly, I have spent some time researching the climate-change-denial propaganda and the power base it emanates from, and less the GMO debate. So educate away!

Part Two:
The precautionary principle also points in opposite directions:

With GW, we have a chaotic system that's difficult to predict the behaviour of precisely, but there is reason to believe that past and current actions risk extremely dangerous climate change (this is an understatement), so the precautionary principle says that we should strive to reverse the damage, even if it's just buying time while more research is done. It is also a problem that we were not aware of while it was growing over many decades.

With GMOs, we have a chaotic system that is also difficult to predict the behaviour of (in fact, these are essentially the same systems, the whole ecosystem of planet Earth), and there is reason to believe that current and future actions risk dangerous change. The technology of genetic modification is becoming more powerful exponentially. The precautionary principle therefore is against the 'consensus' (if indeed there is one) for GMOs, again at least in order to buy more research, theoretical reasoning and public discussion time.
11
Introductions / Re: Eh yeah so like cool hi
Can't argue with that.
12
So many of these issues make me feel helpless. We have corporate interests running the show, in tandem with scientists with little to hold them back. This field, like nanotech and AI, is almost entirely outside of the democratic process. When there is a public outcry, such as with GM crops, those voices are just shouted down as ignorant, by referencing corporate-funded scientific studies with ridiculously narrow value-measures (usually productivity and profit-cost).

This was bad for decades. Now that things are really hotting up (global warming, rising isolationism, robots taking even more jobs, the deep politicization of the Internet and cyber-warfare, social media filter bubbles where we all end up talking to ourselves...), it is getting pretty scary. I think we're likely to feel more pressure of time, make decisions more authoritatively without democratic involvement (or just the protest-on-the-sidelines type), and more unilaterally. While 'globalism' is a handy whipping-boy, it doesn't just disappear because you build walls, and solutions to these things must largely be global concerns. Even with the best decision-making we could devise, the future involves vast amounts of chaos, especially with all these levels of change coming together.

Oh, yes, this is TR. Alternative caption for the first picture: "Look! Baby mamoths had butt-holes!" And Britt Ray is hot.
There are certainly issues that we should be concerned about, but I find it odd that you accept the scientific consensus on global warming but not on GMO's.

Peez

Inconsistent without doubt.  Blind acceptance of industrially driven ridiculously narrow value-measures consensus GMO science should naturally be the trivial extension of blind acceptance of UN IPCC driven ridiculously narrow value-measures consensus climate science.

And after all, consensus is paramount in modern science where the outmoded and troublesome burden of evidence has been largely superceded.  Consensus is a far more reliable indicator of scientific truth and has served as an all but infallible guide throughout the history of human enquiry.
Yeah, let's not think for ourselves. Count the scientists.

For one thing, the money trail clearly points in opposite directions in each case. Our acknowledgement of AGW is still being hampered by oil barons (oh, and a consensus, kinda, was that Trump would be the way to go...not unconnected). Meanwhile, big business has railroaded GMO onto the planet, paid for most of the 'research', sold more of its original products and gained control of the increasingly monoculture new products through patents. Call that 'not being implemented well' if you like.
13
Introductions / Re: Eh yeah so like cool hi
Not everybody's anybody. I'm probably not me.
14
Hi, fascinating thread, by which I mean that it's somehow got to 1087 pages (I've read about 5 of them, so apologies if I'm not up to speed).

I'm sure some of these points will have been mentioned before, but if they have, just take this as additional support:

Raising animals for food is very inefficient, and a plant-based diet provides all our dietary requirements. Keeping animals at least risks cruelty, and incentives to increase efficiency tend to increase this risk. I worked with sheep at one time and began to question the default position that they just look a bit scared when we herd them, husband them and medicate them, but it doesn't matter. I began to form the subjective opinion that they're pretty terrified.

I'm no fan of monoculture, and have argued for 'organic' farming, depending on how that's defined (which is problematic), and I have no specialist knowledge, but I imagine there are economies of scale that apply to agriculture, which would at least ameliorate the efficiency losses of transportation compared with on-site production and consumption in a relatively closed system.

Given that we are in the midst of a revolution in automation in farming and will see increasingly sophisticated robotic systems in future capable of monitoring soils and other ecological data, planting, tending and harvesting crops, which can run largely on solar energy or electricity from other sources of renewable energy, this will both increase the efficiency and flexibility of 'organic' (ecologically diverse) agriculture and reduce the need for 'human' power. As has been pointed out, using human power is a loss, since humans are powered by the food we're growing, and it's not just evens:- when you factor in the harvesting, preparation and cooking of that portion, along with other incidental costs arising from feeding ourselves in order to labour on a farm, the losses are greater. The environmental costs of transporting foodstuffs and fertilizers are also likely to drop sharply as battery technology improves (at least Elon Musk is betting a hell of a lot on it).

Bit by bit, hopefully in time, we're fixing systems by embracing more futuristic technology. Retreating into hovels in the woods isn't likely to provide solutions for the energy and food crises we face, and won't suit most people in the slightest, though it will always suit some. And those that it suits often ignore the vital contribution of others that they still depend on. They're happy to brag about how self-sufficient they are while they're relatively young and (er, physically) healthy.

And that's another reason the small-scale often isn't low-impact overall - farming communities, requiring young, healthy workers to sustain the old, decrepit ones, need to have bigger families. A high-tech present-and-future increasingly allows neutral or negative population growth, which would be a massive relief to the planet.
15
Politics and Current Events / Re: Goddamnit Al
I thought for a minute the robot sex toys had been let loose and were running amok. Just humans again. For now.
16
Introductions / Re: Eh yeah so like cool hi
Just kidding.  Welcome.

Do you know about DDWFTTW?
Is that the long-running over-unity hoax thing, yea. I came here for that too. Unlike you I escaped for a long time, but eventually the intellectual gravity of TR was irresistible.

Just kidding about the over-unity hoax bit. :D
17
Introductions / Re: Eh yeah so like cool hi
Welcome to TR, ontic.  :]

Our 'welcome' gif follows.:

:welcome:

ETA: Really we aren't that bad, we just like the gif.
Meh. You're just a bunch of girls! ;)
Thanks for the welcome, everyone!
18
So many of these issues make me feel helpless. We have corporate interests running the show, in tandem with scientists with little to hold them back. This field, like nanotech and AI, is almost entirely outside of the democratic process. When there is a public outcry, such as with GM crops, those voices are just shouted down as ignorant, by referencing corporate-funded scientific studies with ridiculously narrow value-measures (usually productivity and profit-cost).

This was bad for decades. Now that things are really hotting up (global warming, rising isolationism, robots taking even more jobs, the deep politicization of the Internet and cyber-warfare, social media filter bubbles where we all end up talking to ourselves...), it is getting pretty scary. I think we're likely to feel more pressure of time, make decisions more authoritatively without democratic involvement (or just the protest-on-the-sidelines type), and more unilaterally. While 'globalism' is a handy whipping-boy, it doesn't just disappear because you build walls, and solutions to these things must largely be global concerns. Even with the best decision-making we could devise, the future involves vast amounts of chaos, especially with all these levels of change coming together.

Oh, yes, this is TR. Alternative caption for the first picture: "Look! Baby mamoths had butt-holes!" And Britt Ray is hot.
19
Introductions / Eh yeah so like cool hi
Hi.

(Too much editing later...)

Thanks for reading.  :]