Herald on GE

September 6th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Genetic engineering of food crops appears to have largely disappeared from public concern since the Environmental Risk Management Authority was set up a decade ago.

It is hard to know whether the disappearance of the issue is because the ERMA has prevented much experimentation in this country, or because crops engineered elsewhere have been in the food chain for just as long and the world’s general health does not seem to have suffered.

Both explanations are true, according to American experts here for a biotechnology conference this week. One of them, a vice-president of Dupont Agricultural Biotechnology and an adviser to the State Department, warned that New Zealand was slipping behind advances in food production and risked being left with outdated crops. …

The regulations governing biotechnology trials in this country appear to have stifled field experiments almost entirely for the past 10 years. The Treasury has expressed concern that agricultural innovation is inhibited and the Environment Minister, Amy Adams, is taking a closer look at the rules. It is high time they were reviewed.

A decade ago, the ERMA regime made economic sense. Genetic engineering was receiving international criticism and this country listened to warnings that its reputation as a “clean green” food producer could suffer unless it adopted a restrictive regime. Now has faded from most of the world’s consciousness, “clean green” does not face the same risk. It is time to assess whether the country’s agricultural science is suffering. 

A review is timely.

People are often susceptible to exaggerated fears of a new technology. Cellphone towers were widely feared. Older people will remember warnings about television when it first arrived. When we travel we probably eat modified rice and wheat products without giving it a thought.

Almost every new technology is feared by some initially.

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67 Responses to “Herald on GE”

  1. IHStewart (388 comments) says:

    ” Almost every new technology is feared by some initially.”

    Bio-fuels weren’t feared in fact the Greens loved it whilst their scaremongering over GM was stand in stark contrast to that. I hope that Greens who follow this blog take the time to read this

    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/08/201283112331806512.html

    I hope they have a think about how many lives they may have sacrificed with their bio-fuel hysteria.

    I will never vote for the Greens. I despise fanatics.

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  2. thedavincimode (6,877 comments) says:

    Forget about the hand-wringy argument. It will just detract from the brand, so why do it?

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  3. Shunda barunda (2,985 comments) says:

    GE is simply not necessary, our dairy farms are already currently pushing the land above and beyond sustainable carrying capacity.

    What the hell is wrong with developing sustainable systems within the natural bounds of current species? (and by natural I include hybrids and plant breeding).

    GE is about certain companies clipping the ticket, it is not about solving world hunger.

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  4. emmess (1,432 comments) says:

    GE is about certain companies clipping the ticket, it is not about solving world hunger.

    Just keep telling yourself that.
    I suggest you read up about Norman Borlaug and the ironically named Green Revolution, because todays Greens would be against it if they were around back then.
    It saved hundred of millions or even billions of lives, but you would say it was just about multinational companies making a profit.

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  5. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    Keiser Report: Monsanto and the Seeds of Evil

    This time, Max Keiser and co-host, Stacy Herbert, about the US State Department’s genetically modified retaliation against France,.

    US ambassador planned retaliation against France for ban on Monsanto

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  6. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    Time for hydroponic dairying and without Monsanto

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  7. berend (1,716 comments) says:

    DPF: Cellphone towers were widely feared.

    Were? Still raging in my local newspaper.

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  8. Kleva Kiwi (289 comments) says:

    @ Shunda

    You show the standard ignorance towards GE that is the result of intense campaigning by detractors. Plant breeding, natural selection etc are facets of GE. There is not one food product on this planet used by humans that is not the result of GE, be it selective breeding over the generations or gene splicing in the lab.
    NZ’s dairy farms are only where they are now thanks to the efforts involved in engineering a more productive bovine that requires less land area per kg of milk solid. GE will only improve this output and reduce the pressure placed on farmland.
    Its time to pull your head out of the cloud and realize that GE will improve things for everyone, ie more productive, less intensive, more profitable and more efficient farming.
    NZ already produces 14 times the food volume required to feed our country.
    The fact remains, the ERMA is slowly but surely eroding the competitive advantage that NZ held over many agricultural economies. Add that to the disadvantage we have thanks to our distance from prime markets and no wonder there is so much unemployment and low income…
    And we have the greens to thank for this

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  9. Shunda barunda (2,985 comments) says:

    Just keep telling yourself that.

    And you just keep telling yourself that multinational companies invest in things for the benefit of children and puppies and little kittens.

    Don’t bore me with this feed the world bullshit, it was never true and it never will be true, GE is about boosting production and profit margins by cheating nature.

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  10. Shunda barunda (2,985 comments) says:

    Time for hydroponic dairying and without Monsanto

    We already have a defacto hydroponic dairying.

    The soil is often burried 2-3m deep and the exposed gravel used as ‘media’ for holding nitrogen, super-phosphate, and lime.

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  11. scrubone (3,105 comments) says:

    Don’t bore me with this feed the world bullshit, it was never true and it never will be true, GE is about boosting production and profit margins by cheating nature.

    Yea, profits are evil. The more money a company loses, the more moral it is.

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  12. Shunda barunda (2,985 comments) says:

    You show the standard ignorance towards GE that is the result of intense campaigning by detractors. Plant breeding, natural selection etc are facets of GE.

    Plant breeding and natural selection are both aspects of natural evolution, splicing a donkey sphincter gene into rye grass most certainly is not!

    That is what I am talking about.

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  13. Shunda barunda (2,985 comments) says:

    Yea, profits are evil. The more money a company loses, the more moral it is.

    What bollocks, I never said any such thing. I am not subscribed to greeny socialist agenda, but I am also not ignorant of how the corporate world really works and how the way it works frequently screws up the environment of the country I love.

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  14. emmess (1,432 comments) says:

    And you just keep telling yourself that multinational companies invest in things for the benefit of children and puppies and little kittens.

    I don’t tell myself that dipshit, but try considering the quote below:

    “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our necessities but of their advantages.” Smith, Adam

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  15. tamati (75 comments) says:

    @Shunda.

    So you would object to splicing an insulin gene into an E. coli bacterium, because it is unnatural?

    Tell that to the millions of diabetics, who depend on recombinant insulin every day

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  16. Shunda barunda (2,985 comments) says:

    So you would object to splicing an insulin gene into an E. coli bacterium, because it is unnatural?

    They grow insulin on paddocks do they?

    Try remaining relevant to what we are actually talking about here.

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  17. annie (539 comments) says:

    So you would object to splicing an insulin gene into an E. coli bacterium, because it is unnatural?

    They grow insulin on paddocks do they?

    Try remaining relevant to what we are actually talking about here.

    What’s the diff? Both involve GE technology being used for widespread production and the potential for the release of recombinant organisms into the wider environment.

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  18. tamati (75 comments) says:

    I’m sure someone, somewhere has spilt their r-Insulin outside on a field.

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  19. Shunda barunda (2,985 comments) says:

    What’s the diff? Both involve GE technology being used for widespread production and the potential for the release of recombinant organisms into the wider environment.

    And there’s no evidence of that being a problem is there, nothing like, oh I don’t know, ‘super-bugs’ in hospitals or some such nonsense?

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  20. Shunda barunda (2,985 comments) says:

    I’m sure someone, somewhere has spilt their r-Insulin outside on a field.

    Which would do precisely nothing.

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  21. thedavincimode (6,877 comments) says:

    Plant breeding and natural selection are both aspects of natural evolution, splicing a donkey sphincter gene into rye grass most certainly is not!

    That is the point. Which raises issues about how consumers of GE product who have evolved to digest naturally evolved food will metabolise GE product, how GE product copes with pests and fungi (gee, maybe there is a chemical solution for that ;) ) and how soil bugs and shit interact with GE plants. A bit of a google produces plenty of evidence that there is a fair old debate raging between the boffins (putting aside the predictable greenpeace response) about the damage to people, animals and the soil. Has all the hallmarks of the global warming debate.

    We don’t really even need to consider all that malarkey though, because the cut through answer, given our “clean green” branding, why would we even go there and shunt our commodities further down the commodity value chain?

    BTW, the answer to the debate isn’t found in comparisons with spot artificially derived medical solutions. That’s just silly.

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  22. tamati (75 comments) says:

    “Super Bugs’ are a result of extensive and occasionally improper use of anitbiotics – Most of which are produced from from naturally occurring compounds. Nothing to do with GE!

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  23. Shunda barunda (2,985 comments) says:

    “Super Bugs’ are a result of extensive and occasionally improper use of anitbiotics – Most of which are produced from from naturally occurring compounds. Nothing to do with GE!

    No shit Sherlock, but it’s still broadly relevant as an example of what happens in a controlled environment when we attempt manipulate natural processes.

    Super bugs can’t exist outside of human controlled conditions, we created their niche.

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  24. Kleva Kiwi (289 comments) says:

    Bit into an apple latley?
    All major varieties sold in supermarkets in NZ are the result of extensive GE programs.
    The fact is GE refers to multiple types of process to the manipulation of crop and animal products. The labeling given by left wing extremists try’s to paint the picture that all GE must be bad cause this one guy tried to put frog genes into my wheat to further their goals.
    As for “(gee, maybe there is a chemical solution for that )” the whole point is to produce field crops resistant to disease and pest so we dont have to use harmful and poisonous chemicals to treat our food before we consume it.
    This in turn creates bigger yields for less outlay, reducing the land area required to produce the same volume of crops/meat/product, thus reducing the strain on the environment as a whole.
    Organic farming is by far the worst polluter on this planet thanks to less productive farmland, less yield, more chemicals/additives introduced into the environment, and by far a huge increase in consumption of fossil fuels.
    The fact that the whole GE process is promoted and lead by large international corporate’s is beside the point. The result is a business makes money (the whole purpose of them) by for filling a need/requirement of continued human demand and development
    Making money is not a bad thing!

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  25. tamati (75 comments) says:

    Yes, we manipulated the natural process of death from bacterial infections and made of the most significant strives forward in medical science. What a shame.

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  26. vto (1,131 comments) says:

    Yes, quite right, new technologies are often unreasonably feared. All them idiots worrying about ……..

    ddt
    formaldehyde
    asbestos
    nuclear
    thalidimide

    … we just have to have faith. And belief…. I certainly believe everything that’s in the paper..

    (fuck me, the level of analysis on here is quite something)

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  27. annie (539 comments) says:

    tamati (20) Says:
    September 6th, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    Yes, we manipulated the natural process of death from bacterial infections and made of the most significant strives forward in medical science. What a shame.

    Well said.

    Go and look at the headstones in Boulton St cemetery sometime. Entire families wiped out within a few weeks, most likely from scarlet fever or diptheria. Antibiotics are used the the treatment of both, although only vaccination (there's GE again) will fully protect against diptheria.

    (fuck me, the level of analysis on here is quite something)

    And I agree, some of you guys don’t seem to be able to understand probabilities.

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  28. Kleva Kiwi (289 comments) says:

    VTO, even some of those what you listed have been the subject of over vilification and propaganda.
    Do you do realize that somewhere in the vicinity of 70% of NZ water distribution pipe network is Asbestos cement pipes?
    Also that nuclear in itself is not harmful, but the radiation can be of harm, yet we use radiation on a day to day basis such as smoke detectors in your home, microwaves, cancer treatment, soil density testing, standing near someone/anything (everything gives off radiation to a degree), irradiating food products, etc the list goes on.
    You could add a million things to your list, 99% of them naturally occurring everyday use items that can cause potential harm.
    Dosn’t mean you should ban something because of potential harm. Yet we will continue to be submitted to the pestering of scare mongerers and extremest who have no understanding of the things they cry about
    NZ is loosing/has lost our competitive edge agriculture and farming thanks to draconian scare mongering from people who refuse to understand. Your in a dream land if the “clean green” image has anything to do with this

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  29. tamati (75 comments) says:

    Well said –Kleva.

    Smoke alarms are potentially lethal… If eaten.

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  30. chiz (1,164 comments) says:

    Shunda:What the hell is wrong with developing sustainable systems within the natural bounds of current species? (and by natural I include hybrids and plant breeding).

    GE is about certain companies clipping the ticket, it is not about solving world hunger.

    GE is about people developing new plant and animal varieties, nothing more, nothing less. Sometimes it may be possible to do this by conventional breeding but not as rapidly or accurately, sometimes it may not be possible to do it by conventional techniques. It is difficult to see why we should be limited to the current varieties.

    Plant breeding and natural selection are both aspects of natural evolution, splicing a donkey sphincter gene into rye grass most certainly is not!

    Careful. Nature can and does transfer DNA between species, and even between kingdoms. Like many people you seem to think that plant breeding consists of cross-pollination and that there is therefore a huge leap to GE. But in fact there were a whole slew of plant breeding techniques invented in the 20th century that go beyond what happens in nature, either in degree or in kind.

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  31. chiz (1,164 comments) says:

    tdm: A bit of a google produces plenty of evidence that there is a fair old debate raging between the boffins (putting aside the predictable greenpeace response) about the damage to people, animals and the soil. Has all the hallmarks of the global warming debate.

    Not really. There is a debate in the scientific community over GE to about the same extant that there is a debate over evolution, or the holocaust. That you can find debates on it with google is about as meaningful as the fact that you find people having online debates as to whether evolution is true, or whether the holocaust happened.

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  32. redeye (630 comments) says:

    They make Roundup Ready Canola so that farmers can spray the whole crop and only the weeds die. Are you all happy to have your fish & chips fried in glyphosate then?

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  33. tamati (75 comments) says:

    Roundup breaks down within a few days of use, and at low concentrations is not harmful.

    So yes, I’m more than happy to eat f & c fried in GM canola oil.

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  34. Shunda barunda (2,985 comments) says:

    Well said.

    Go and look at the headstones in Boulton St cemetery sometime. Entire families wiped out within a few weeks, most likely from scarlet fever or diptheria. Antibiotics are used the the treatment of both, although only vaccination (there’s GE again) will fully protect against diptheria.

    You really aren’t listening to what I am saying and you certainly aren’t being logically consistent.

    Antibiotics are great, but they have issues with their use, issues that have only relatively recently become widely understood.

    Tell me, why is it so unreasonable for me to have concerns about organisations (intent only on making money, not saving lives) that want to screw with genetic engineering outside the lab in the environment I live in?

    Do you want to live in a laboratory?

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  35. thedavincimode (6,877 comments) says:

    chiz

    Didn’t mean actual online debates. Meant links to papers re boffins research etc.

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  36. thedavincimode (6,877 comments) says:

    redeye

    I think it was the GE canola/glyphosphate thing that some head boffin type overseas maintains is rooting the soil (kills the good bugs or encourages the bad bugs or some such). And I think in Europe there is a move to straight out ban glyphosphate because of the human health lobby.

    But its probably all just peacenik bullshit – like thalidomide, DDT, asbestos and agent orange.

    My point though, in terms of GE, is why diminish our brand?

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  37. Shunda barunda (2,985 comments) says:

    VTO, even some of those what you listed have been the subject of over vilification and propaganda.

    Yeah!! Thalidomide is great at stopping morning sickness, and shit, arms and legs on your child just helps them get up to mischief anyway!

    Do you do realize that somewhere in the vicinity of 70% of NZ water distribution pipe network is Asbestos cement pipes?

    Well gee, I guess when people start inhaling their water this will become a problem. Take a look at what people wear when they break those pipes up in a dry environment though.

    You are confused about the risks of GE, you are having faith in something before it is proven safe. All of your examples required sickness and death before a correct application was found.

    With GE, it is entirely likely that certain problems will not be able to be contained once they escape.

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  38. redeye (630 comments) says:

    Roundup breaks down within a few days of use, and at low concentrations is not harmful.

    So yes, I’m more than happy to eat f & c fried in GM canola oil.

    The breaking down claim is constantly being disputed. Just type Glysophate residual into google. I use about 40 litres of concentrate a year and can tell you that anything that can’t be killed by the stuff won’t be knowingly going down my throat.

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  39. chiz (1,164 comments) says:

    Shunda:You are confused about the risks of GE, you are having faith in something before it is proven safe

    There are no grounds for suspecting that it isn’t safe.

    With GE, it is entirely likely that certain problems will not be able to be contained once they escape.

    That’s true with conventional breeding too.

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  40. nasska (11,808 comments) says:

    thedavincimode

    Any moves to restrict the use of glyphosphate will have some bad flow on effects. Until the advent of Roundup & direct drilling there wasn’t much alternative to the plough, disc, harrow & hope for gentle rain method of establishing crops or grass. Get the forecasts wrong & the soil either blows away or turns to mud & heads for the sea. Since agriculture in NZ is dependent on hardy farmers growing grass on cliff faces the methods used by our forefathers are unsustainable.

    I hope that there is more thought than emotion on this subject.

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  41. tamati (75 comments) says:

    Google – the most distinguished scientific database there is! – The EPA and the EU both still believe it is safe.

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  42. redeye (630 comments) says:

    nasska no one is suggesting restricting it. I does it’s job perfectly. But spraying if directly on to the crops we’re going to eat, and changing the genetic structure of those crops so they can’t be killed by it is not something I warm to.

    Personally I’d like to watch a few other nations kill themselves off before we try it.

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  43. Kleva Kiwi (289 comments) says:

    Shunda, It is you that is confused. You want to ban everything unless proven safe. Reality check, there is nothing 100% safe.
    I simply responded to examples given pointing out their common use, as a point to say that they are only unsafe in certain context. I am fully aware about the aspects surrounding Asbestos, probably far more than you will ever be since I am gainfully employed in an industry that deals with it.
    However you seam to ignore that fact, and it is a fact, that GE organisms have been in our environment for decades, with close to zero harmful effects. People here have been trying to point out your concerns are unrealistic.
    I have to ask, what the hell does saving children have to do with running a business? It bears no relevance at all to safety concerns of GE.

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  44. tamati (75 comments) says:

    @ Redeye,

    So why don’t you simply poor your money down the sink and buy organic produce?

    Personally I’d like to see New Zealands economy develop and prosper, rather than kill our agriculture sectors comparative advantage, for the sake of a few greenie nutters.

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  45. chiz (1,164 comments) says:

    redeye:changing the genetic structure of those crops so they can’t be killed by it is not something I warm to.

    Why not? Roundup resistance is a naturally occurring mutation and some companies have managed to produce roundup resistant crops by standard crop breeding techniques.

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  46. tamati (75 comments) says:

    @ Kleva

    BAN DIHYDROGEN MONOXIDE!

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  47. thedavincimode (6,877 comments) says:

    nasska

    I understand anecdotally that the Euro Nazis are talking of pinging it full stop (the health issues) which, the argument runs, would lead to issues around market access for us. Even if there is any substance to the concerns, that seems a bit of overkill for its use simply in re-grassing as distinct from slapping it on the same ground year in year out (as they do), or even twice a year on the same ground in the southern hemisphere when double cropping. But I’ve seen or heard something a while ago somewhere to the effect that GE Canola (or some other GE crop) modified to be roundup resistant (see redeye above) winds up stuffing soil biology and is actually resulting in falling production.

    My impression was that it’s more of an issue in the foodchain in a cropping context, and a different issue in plants GE modified to be roundup resistant. That would suggest that honest pastoral and dairy farmers, such as yourself, aren’t the problem. Are you aware of any moves in this context by the Euro Nazis – sounds like even if there is nothing in it there’s enough ammo for a trade barrier.

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  48. nasska (11,808 comments) says:

    redeye

    I accept that the debate started about straight GE modification but it got side tracked above. I have mixed feelings on the entire subject as I can’t imagine going back to pre glyphosphate days yet I’ve got an aversion to using my paddocks as a laboratory for mad scientists.

    Trouble is that we simply don’t know what side effects there could be & I wouldn’t trust a multi national corporate to tell the truth over anything that might alter their balance sheet.

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  49. chiz (1,164 comments) says:

    tdm:But I’ve seen or heard something a while ago somewhere to the effect that GE Canola (or some other GE crop) modified to be roundup resistant (see redeye above) winds up stuffing soil biology and is actually resulting in falling production.

    Sounds suspiciously like propaganda. One of the problems with debates over GE is that anti-GE fanatics are fond of quoting things out of context if it fits in with their ideology, and most of them don’t believe in double-checking sources.

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  50. thedavincimode (6,877 comments) says:

    tamati

    Your missing the point. Someone the other day pointed out that we only produce enough food to feed 19 million people which is absolutely stuff all in a global context. Doesn’t it make sense therefore, to try and pitch that in a segment of the market that commends a price premium because of our non GE brand? ie laps up the clean green image with the green fields snow-capped mountains and lots of little hobbits running about the place.

    As to production, a farmer I know pointed out seed companies are constantly flogging new varieties of this that and the other on the basis of increased production. But it’s priced accordingly, their production stats are compiled under trial conditions that differ from reality and he reckons that by the time you factor in the price hike, and seasonal and climatic variability you are no further ahead – you are better off sticking with less expensive varieties that have stood the test of time. But maybe he was just a bit jaundiced by an experience or two, I wouldn’t know.

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  51. nasska (11,808 comments) says:

    thedavincimode

    The Euro Nazis are at least consistent….they have spent the last fifty years dreaming up reasons to keep our produce out of their markets & this is just another means to an end.

    I don’t know any more than you do on the subject & probably less. I would suggest however, that if glyphosphate ever gets targeted in a GE context then some halfwit will end up throwing baby & bath water out together.

    If this happens we have to be prepared for some real problems in the way we farm in NZ.

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  52. thedavincimode (6,877 comments) says:

    chiz

    No, it was from a well respected scientist as I recall – possibly in the US. From memory, he was a bit of an old codger and not given to wailing and knashing of gums. But then, this is what goes on with global warming too (but what went on with thalidomide, asbestos, DDT …).

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  53. thedavincimode (6,877 comments) says:

    nasska

    Well exactly. Can’t plough because of the carbon nazis; can’t spray because of spray nazis. Best to just head for the pub.

    What’s your take/experience with new seed varieties? Do they live up to the billing and the price?

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  54. chiz (1,164 comments) says:

    Yes, tdm, but remember that some scientists are crackpots. There are people who get Phd’s in history, then become holocaust deniers, or they get Phd’s in geology then become young-earth creationists etc. Most of the scientists in the anti-GE movement are crackpots, despite having science degrees. There are creationists, AIDS-denialists (who think that AIDS isn’t caused by a virus), yogic flyers (who think they can levitate if they meditate in the lotus position).

    Two high-profile anti-GE scientists overseas have stated that they think people can telepathically modify the molecular structure of water. One doctor in the anti-GE movement in NZ is also involved in the anti-vaccine movement. Another doctor in the local movement wrote a book on heart health many years ago in which he revealed that heart disease wasn’t linked to cholesterol levels, instead it was, it turned out, caused by “concepts that couldn’t be translated into western rational thought”.

    I’ve personally heard one former scientist in the anti-GE movement here in chch pass off press releases as “research”.

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  55. redeye (630 comments) says:

    Re the new seed varieties. They must be profitable going by the quality of the brochures they slip into my letterbox.

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  56. thedavincimode (6,877 comments) says:

    chiz

    I’m not defending him – I don’t know enough, but unlike what seems to be most of our climate experts, this guy stuck to his knitting his whole life and wasn’t the kind of fringe nutter per your examples. He was some kind of soil scientist or agronomist and by all accounts highly regarded in his (relevant) field. On the other hand he was about a million years old so maybe he just blew a seal or a gasket or some such. Wish I could remember. :(

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  57. nasska (11,808 comments) says:

    thedavincimode

    A few years ago I was the greatest sucker around for a new variety. I’d start off full of hope after reading the pamphlets & listening to the sales patter then realise six months down the track that I’d been reamed again. Nowadays it takes a lot to shift me off a strain that has proved successful in the past.

    Price of seed when growing a fodder crop or regrassing is not a huge consideration. The price of a failure may be a year’s production off that same piece of ground & I see little incentive to pay to do the trial work for free.

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  58. thedavincimode (6,877 comments) says:

    nasska

    Your response is pretty consistent with the earbashing I got.

    But maybe you should have focussed more on telepathy; willing and encouraging those expense little seeds to grow (per chiz above).

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  59. nasska (11,808 comments) says:

    thedavincimode

    Believe it or not, a couple of months ago I was yakking to mate of mine who farms not far out of Martinborough. A lot of the area has been cut up for boutique vineyards & lifestyle blocks.

    Anyway he was having a bit of trouble getting his head around the bloke who bought the 10 acre block across the road. Apparently this coot was given to reading poetry to his newly planted olive trees…..no word yet on the fate of the olives.

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  60. Shunda barunda (2,985 comments) says:

    Shunda, It is you that is confused. You want to ban everything unless proven safe. Reality check, there is nothing 100% safe.

    No actually, I don’t.

    But exclaiming “nothing is 100% safe” is hardly an argument for GE is it. There are calculated risks and then there is blind optimism, and I see a shit load of blind optimism in the corporate/banking world.

    I simply responded to examples given pointing out their common use, as a point to say that they are only unsafe in certain context. I am fully aware about the aspects surrounding Asbestos, probably far more than you will ever be since I am gainfully employed in an industry that deals with it.

    And yet is was proclaimed as the wonder product and “safe” when it came out, just like GE could be.

    However you seam to ignore that fact, and it is a fact, that GE organisms have been in our environment for decades, with close to zero harmful effects.

    Such as? lets discuss those examples.

    People here have been trying to point out your concerns are unrealistic.

    In a sense, it’s not GE that is the problem, it is the lack of incentive to do it right that is the problem.

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  61. chiz (1,164 comments) says:

    In what way are the current incentives wrong?

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  62. Anthony (798 comments) says:

    I’m not sure how GE research in NZ could end up making Monsanto rich, unless they were funding it and claiming all the rights to it – which is not what is happening or being proposed to happen!

    GE is already a reality so why should NZ now hold back on it (given reasonable safeguards of course)?

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  63. Kleva Kiwi (289 comments) says:

    Oh lets see.
    Most variants of apples
    kiwifruit
    All tobacco
    several varieties of wheat
    Most of the cattle in NZ
    Most of the sheep in NZ
    Tomatoes
    The list goes on. But it entirely depends on how you want to define GE. There is so many facets or degrees in it, from gene splicing, gene pruning, cloning, cross breading, selective breading, evolutionary mutations….

    We also import massive volumes of things like soy beans, wheat etc which are mostly GE crops

    The USA has had planted crops since about 1987. US tomatoes in 1994. France introduced GE tobacco to its fields in 1994. Medical applications date back earlier than this.

    Did the world end?
    No, we all just live longer now more than ever before (ok, probably not the smokers, but it has nothing to do with the GE side of it…)

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  64. Thrash Cardiom (298 comments) says:

    Can’t trust GE companies own reports on their products. This study highlights some potentially nasty side effects of some of Monsanto’s GE products. Monsanto’s own studies were too short and so the side effects didn’t show up.

    Abstract

    We present for the first time a comparative analysis of blood and organ system data from trials with rats fed three main commercialized genetically modified (GM) maize (NK 603, MON 810, MON 863), which are present in food and feed in the world. NK 603 has been modified to be tolerant to the broad spectrum herbicide Roundup and thus contains residues of this formulation. MON 810 and MON 863 are engineered to synthesize two different Bt toxins used as insecticides. Approximately 60 different biochemical parameters were classified per organ and measured in serum and urine after 5 and 14 weeks of feeding. GM maize-fed rats were compared first to their respective isogenic or parental non-GM equivalent control groups. This was followed by comparison to six reference groups, which had consumed various other non-GM maize varieties. We applied nonparametric methods, including multiple pairwise comparisons with a False Discovery Rate approach. Principal Component Analysis allowed the investigation of scattering of different factors (sex, weeks of feeding, diet, dose and group). Our analysis clearly reveals for the 3 GMOs new side effects linked with GM maize consumption, which were sex- and often dose-dependent. Effects were mostly associated with the kidney and liver, the dietary detoxifying organs, although different between the 3 GMOs. Other effects were also noticed in the heart, adrenal glands, spleen and haematopoietic system. We conclude that these data highlight signs of hepatorenal toxicity, possibly due to the new pesticides specific to each GM corn. In addition, unintended direct or indirect metabolic consequences of the genetic modification cannot be excluded.

    http://www.biolsci.org/v05p0706.htm#headingA11

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  65. Thrash Cardiom (298 comments) says:

    Here is the Conclusion of the above study:

    Patho-physiological profiles are unique for each GM crop/food, underlining the necessity for a case-by-case evaluation of their safety, as is largely admitted and agreed by regulators. It is not possible to make comments concerning any general, similar subchronic toxic effect for all GM foods. However, in the three GM maize varieties that formed the basis of this investigation, new side effects linked to the consumption of these cereals were revealed, which were sex- and often dose-dependent. Effects were mostly concentrated in kidney and liver function, the two major diet detoxification organs, but in detail differed with each GM type. In addition, some effects on heart, adrenal, spleen and blood cells were also frequently noted. As there normally exists sex differences in liver and kidney metabolism, the highly statistically significant disturbances in the function of these organs, seen between male and female rats, cannot be dismissed as biologically insignificant as has been proposed by others [4]. We therefore conclude that our data strongly suggests that these GM maize varieties induce a state of hepatorenal toxicity. This can be due to the new pesticides (herbicide or insecticide) present specifically in each type of GM maize, although unintended metabolic effects due to the mutagenic properties of the GM transformation process cannot be excluded [42]. All three GM maize varieties contain a distinctly different pesticide residue associated with their particular GM event (glyphosate and AMPA in NK 603, modified Cry1Ab in MON 810, modified Cry3Bb1 in MON 863). These substances have never before been an integral part of the human or animal diet and therefore their health consequences for those who consume them, especially over long time periods are currently unknown. Furthermore, any side effect linked to the GM event will be unique in each case as the site of transgene insertion and the spectrum of genome wide mutations will differ between the three modified maize types. In conclusion, our data presented here strongly recommend that additional long-term (up to 2 years) animal feeding studies be performed in at least three species, preferably also multi-generational, to provide true scientifically valid data on the acute and chronic toxic effects of GM crops, feed and foods. Our analysis highlights that the kidneys and liver as particularly important on which to focus such research as there was a clear negative impact on the function of these organs in rats consuming GM maize varieties for just 90 days.

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  66. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    Shunda barunda and others…….

    A high proportion of what you eat every day comes from GE food. Many food and flavour extracts are from GE foodstuffs – and have been for more years than youd possibly imagine.

    If youve eaten canned salmon – then youve eaten GE salmon.
    If you use house labelled cooking oil (of any claimed source – be that olive or any other type) then it will have GE oil in it.
    All forms of things like cornflower will have some GE in them – and all sorts of processed foods are full of GE – things like tofu (made from soy bean extract) are almost impossible now to get that do not have GE in them. Canned tomatoes (and similar high volume processed foods will have GE in them.
    North american corn and soy are highly GE (soy – over 90%). If you eat pork (much of which comes into NZ from Canada – then its almost certainly been grown on GE corn)

    However if you are really worried about whats in your foods – forget GE and worry about anything that comes from asia – they might be Ok or they might have ANYTHING in them. I think the average in china is another food scandal every week – and thats just what is found out. The latest is recycled cooking oil being used for making vaccines (ok its not food but certainly more dangerous)

    etc, etc.

    So – please go have a look in the mirror and check to make sure youre not developing a third ear……!!!!!!

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  67. Griff (8,194 comments) says:

    You would be hard pressed to find ANY processed product in NZ that does not contain GE maize contaminated ingredients

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