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Old 01-15-2008, 05:30 PM   #21
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I'm jumping on board because I would like to learn more about this too.....
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Old 01-15-2008, 06:52 PM   #22
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My wife is home from her trip now, and said she would either register here and comment
or send me an email with information about plants and genetic modification.

It might be a day or two, so hang in there.
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Old 01-15-2008, 08:23 PM   #23
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[quote=Caine;534758]Were these worms genetically engineered to fit inside that can?
No, but they were preserved in a lead lined can.
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Old 01-16-2008, 04:54 AM   #24
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I'm not worried. We've been breeding animals and plants for years -- make that hundreds of years. I just don't see that much of a difference. Yes, I love it when I can grow my own veggies in my own garden. I'm an omnivore, though, and I like to be able to eat good food year-round. Given where I live, that means I'd never eat a vegetable for months, and I sure as heck don't want to slaughter my own cows, pigs and chickens. So the fact that they're trying to make a fruit or veg that can stand up to transportation just means that I can have lettuce now. Otherwise I wouldn't get anything but canned goods until .... September? So genetic finagling works for me.
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Old 01-20-2008, 10:44 PM   #25
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Sorry it took so long, but my plant genetic Phd seeking wife is in the middle of grant writing time... no grant, no money, no
research...

Here are her comments, slightly edited for clarity. She has a tendency to break into multisyllabic words.. ;)

One type of cloning includes cloning a gene (making copies of it) and inserting it into something else to produce a certain substance. For example, insulin. The gene(s) used to make insulin were cloned into bacteria, providing a cheaper, safer, more readily available insulin to diabetics than had previously been available from pig pancreas. This is an example of perfectly safe and widely used genetic engineering today.
(Grilling Fool says: most insulin used today is this type.)


Regarding issues of safety in plant cloning: Genetically engineed plants that produce vegetables are often referred to as "Frankenfoods" by those who would want to scare the general public. This is just more sensationalist journalism that does nothing to further the discussion of the topic, but is designed to inflame fear and worry in a generally uneducated public.

If someone handed me a genetically engineered tomato and told me to eat it, I would, no problem. That's because your body doesn't have an alert system that blinks off and on alerting your body that it is genetically altered... your body digests it just as it does any other tomato. It doesn't recognize specific genes as foreign to the tomato. Likewise, proteins and carbohydrates are subject to the same digestive processing. (GF says: this means that on a chemical, protein, molecular, sugar, carbohydrate, etc level, the
cloned item is no different from any other.. the building blocks are identical to naturally produced blocks.)

Genetically engineered foods are strenuously tested to ensure that they are the "same" as their "natural" counterparts. The metabolites are extracted from these foods and studied by mass spectrometry to ensure that there are no new compounds popping out that might be dangerous. Any changes are characterized as the intentioned changes, and otherwise, the plants are exactly the same. Otherwise, there is too much of a risk to human health and safety... and the company's litigation fund, that these products just would not make it out of research and development.

Methods of inserting and propagating genes are getting better, with many of the plants actually being sterile. There would be no chance of the genes escaping into already existing populations. Other techniques have been developed that allow the plants to propagate, but would also keep the genes from escaping by some clever genetic tricks. At this point, I wouldn't worry at all about it. These issues have been well sorted out in response to public concern.

Biodiversity and insect/pathogen disease may be an issue, but with the safeguards preventing genetic escape, biodiversity of already existing populations should not be affected. There are crops being developed resistant to insects, different pathogens, weed killers, frost, etc, that are successfully used. Again, the chances of these traits escaping to the general population of plants is virtually nil.

At this time, I think that one of the most pressing ethical issues of genetically engineered or modified foods is that of power and big corporations. One of the main reasons why these genes are not getting out into the environment is because the plants have been engineered so as not to be able to produce fertile seed. That way, the farmers can't keep part of the harvest and plant it next year... they have to go and rebuy the seed from Monsanto, or whoever is selling it to them. This does give the big corporations like Monsanto and Bayer Crop Science a steel hand in the market. Unfortunately, given the current governmental atmosphere, this is unlikely to change. Funds for research by public institutions such as universities are so low that really very famous scientists are not able to get research funding. The money simply isn't there. This allows private corporations to get ahead, and as they get ahead, they get a wider corner on the market. Without investing in scientific research at our public institutions, we are not going to be able to combat large agri-pharma monopolies.

What I would like to emphasize is that genetic crop engineering has been occurring for thousands and thousands of years in the form of plant breeding. Doing so by "modern" methods speeds up the process, but it isn't any more un-natural than breeding traits into or out of crops. (GF says... say you select plants that are hardy and survive frost, and eventually create a wheat that grows in snow... you have selected GENES when you select traits. Science is inserting genes to achieve the same result.... much faster.)

I was at the dog park one day, and someone was giving me a lecture on why they wouldn't eat some food that had been engineered to have more omega-3 fatty acids. Evidently a fish gene had been inserted into the plant, which allowed it to make these nutrient rich oils. I was told that they didn't want to eat it because they were scared they were going to get gills. As if the fish gene would pop out and mysteriously be able to incorporate itself somehow into every cell of the human's body and then change the entire metabolism and morph the human into a fish. A lot of these horror stories are based on lack of knowledge and misunderstanding, as well as sensationalist journalism to scare the masses.

On the contrary, the plants with the fish gene in them are actually quite beneficial. With all of the medical research going on, extending our lifespans beyond what they would normally be, we are going to need better, more nutritious, more plentiful crops. We aren't going to get those by traditional crop breeding... that can take hundreds of years to get what you want. As far as I am concerned, the benefits of GMO's (especially those of plants) far outweigh the risks, especially now that there are better ways of containing the "foreign" genes and preventing "escape."

So there you have it. Like I said.... if she isn't worried, neither am I.
(Back to the insulin... our dog was diabetic, and we had to buy insulin at WalMart to use. On the boxes it says the insulin is
from the genetically engineered source.. and was MUCH MUCH less expensive!)
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Old 01-20-2008, 10:55 PM   #26
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I dont think it can all be lumped in as good or bad, seems like more of a mixed bag to me. For instance, with the growing world population and shortage of land, wouldnt being able to grow more crops on less land be a good thing? And being able to grow crops that produced the same yield but with less of a leaching effect on the soil also be good? Then there are the crops that are engineered with a greater resistance to pests, thus diminishing the need for petsicides, thus diminishing thier use, and isnt that good for the environment?
I think I am more worried about the chemicals being used on and in foods than the engineering that went into growing and producing it. I once saw an ear of 'maze' layed next to an ear of 'corn', they barely looked simular.
In most instances, I think engineering is doing in the lab what was once done in the field just faster and more efficient. I also think that as long as we take the time to run our tests and complete our studies before leaping ahead, we shouldn't be running into any significant problems.
But then again, only time will realy tell.
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Old 01-21-2008, 11:23 AM   #27
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Thanks GF, and my thanks to Miss GF for the very informative information!!!!

Thanks!!!
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Old 01-21-2008, 03:42 PM   #28
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I'm don't have knowledge on the ins and outs of the engineering of different foods, but the problem I have is that when cloned meats are available, they won't have information stating the fact. I think that is wrong!!!
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Old 01-21-2008, 11:25 PM   #29
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just think of cloned meat as coming from an identical twin cow or pig or chicken.
If eating that wouldn't bother you, then neither should cloned meat.
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Old 01-22-2008, 04:42 AM   #30
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As we eat genetically altered food and read about new safety tests, we may start to realize that we are the unwitting and unwilling guinea pigs in the largest experiment in human history, involving our entire planet's ecosystem, food supply, and the health and very genetic makeup of its inhabitants. Worse yet, results coming in from the first objective tests are not encouraging. Scientists issue cautionary statements almost weekly, ranging from problems with monarch butterflies dying from genetically modified corn pollen to the danger of violent allergic reactions to genes introduced into soy products, as well as experiments showing a variety of actual and suspected health problems for cows fed genetically engineered hormones and the humans who drink their milk. And this doesn't even consider slow-acting problems that might not show up for years or decades. Who decided this was an acceptable risk?

Read the article here

And do not forget "we are what we eat"
Are You Eating Frankenfood?
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