I’ve added an update to the “Rules” tab up top (since I guess it wasn’t clear enough before that being polite is a major requirement…)
So in response to my saying, in essence: “The evidence for bad effects from GMOs has reached a level where it is prudent to avoid them, and due to stupid laws in the USA the only decent way to do that ‘avoiding’ is to buy organic labeled foods” we have someone deciding that the best course of action is to be insulting and attack the messenger. (Worse, he tosses mud at “all you people”):
Submitted on 2012/07/10 at 4:49 pm
I really do feel sorry for all you people. You run around scared of everything, even your own shadow. You think that all pesticides are bad and we should ban them all. Let me tell you something. If, there were no pesticides, there would be no food supply. Also without gm plants we will never feed the ever increasing population of the world. I have been farming for about 50 years.
You people just have no clue.
First off, read the “RULES” tab up top. It matters. Here’s the link:
Second, take your fake sympathy, feeling “sorry”, and stuff it.
Not needed as I’m doing fine, thank you very much.
Third, I’m not “scared of everything”. I do have a deeper understanding of the risks of GMOs than you demonstrate. I am taking prudent actions to protect myself from the manifest risks. As someone with a metabolic tendency to develop food allergies, it IS very important to me when some protein that is demonstrated to induce food allergies starts to be inserted into the genomes of damn near every major food crop. Bt toxin is, first and foremost, a TOXIN. It mostly kills bugs, but in large amounts has causes sensitivities in many cases. Not a problem if used sparingly and if it can be washed off (as in Organic farmers using Bt as a spray, it being a natural bacteria) but a major problem when it is in orders of magnitude higher quantities embedded in every single cell of most major food crops. (Not there yet, but headed there rapidly, with corn and cotton already done and others WIP.)
It is not being “scared” to recognize a real threat and take protective actions against it. It has already been demonstrated that migrant workers spraying Bt sprays can become sensitized. Yes, I’m one of the minority of people prone to allergies. ( It is protective against parasites, so helps in areas with endemic Malaria, like Europe of ancient times).
Would it be thought “scared” or paranoid to be just a tiny bit aware that breathing a lot of dust from latex gloves or wearing them daily could kill you or make you sick?
All of this is predicated on the notion that a food is a well-defined package of proteins and other constituents that can be easily characterized. However, we know that this is not the case. The experience with latex allergy in the United States illustrates the complexity of allergens in plant products. After universal precautions were instituted in 1986, there began an epidemic of allergic reactions and deaths associated with sensitization to a number of proteins in natural rubber products derived from latex of the Hevea brasiliensis tree (Hev b 1-Hev b 13). Use and exposure to latex in medical gloves was one major risk factor for latex allergen sensitization; sensitization was documented among 7% of health care workers and up to 50% of children with spina bifida. Cross-reactivity between latex proteins and certain food allergens was one of the factors that helped to identify latex-allergic individuals. Some of the common foods with defined cross-reactivity to latex are avocado, banana, chestnut, kiwi, raw potato, tomato, stone fruits (e.g., peach, cherry), hazelnut, melons, celery, carrot, apple, pear, papaya, and almond. Foods with less well-defined cross-reactivity to latex are peanut, peppers, citrus fruits, coconut, pineapple, mango, fig, passion fruit, ugli fruit, and grape (Salcedo et al. 2001).
So we promulgated a “rule” that all health care workers had to take “universal precautions” and wear latex gloves all the time when dealing with patients. The result was that some folks died and many became ‘reactive’ to the gloves. (Likely more folks were protected from contagion and death, but we don’t really know. It is probable that the total deaths went down, and we just changed who died… but using nitrile gloves would have avoided the latex related deaths).
Notice that there is an interesting cross connection between food allergies and latex allergies? Wonder about all the sudden onset of “Peanut Allergies” in kids? Lupini beans and peanuts can be cross reactive and some kids from the USA died in Europe on their first exposure to Lupini beans as they and their parents did not know that their peanut allergy could be set off by some “other bean”. There is also some cross sensitivity between soy lectins and peanuts and while it is just theoretical as far as I know (for now) ONE path of investigation is that of “Does all the added soy in processed foods today lead to increased peanut allergy?”.
You see, a wide spread protein with a known immunogenicity can cause all sorts of bad things, including death, in folks prone to allergies (i.e. “people like me”). So added Bt, a protein with known immunogenicity to just about every food, and especially one that already has a triggering lectin (soy) is just a Really Really Stupid Thing. Unless you are willing to accept thousands of deaths world wide as “just part of the cost of doing business”. (We do that now for latex and gloves, for peanut allergies and cross reactions, and many more).
But I trust you will understand if I am unwilling to accept being put at risk of death by you for your profit.
In 1999, researchers discovered that migrant health workers developed positive skin tests and elevated specific IgE and IgG antibody levels to B. thuringiensis kurstaki (Btk) spore extracts containing Cry1Aa and Cry1Ab delta endotoxin proteins after respiratory exposure to Btk crop spraying (Bernstein et al. 1999). A number of positive skin tests, as well as increased levels of specific IgE and IgG antibodies, were present in more highly exposed groups than in medium- to low-exposure groups.
It is not a great leap to go from “Bt is a known allergen” to “Bt in food will induce allergic response in sensitive individuals”. As I have known allergic responses to 4 foods already ( including corn, garbonzo beans, and cow milk) it is not being “scared” to say “I think I need to pay attention to this risk prior to anaphylactic shock starting.” Rather like those parents of kids with Peanut allergies would not be “scared” if they chose to avoid soy and lupini beans too. Prudence. Aware. Informed. Not “scared”.
If you and yours do not have any allergies anywhere in your family and friends, that’s great. Enjoy your Starlink Corn. Just don’t make a world where “folks like me” can not eat without dying or vomiting.
Think that Bt is broken down in digestion, so “no problem”?
Reprod Toxicol. 2011 May;31(4):528-33. Epub 2011 Feb 18.
Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada.
Aris A, Leblanc S.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Sherbrooke Hospital Centre, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada. firstname.lastname@example.org
Pesticides associated to genetically modified foods (PAGMF), are engineered to tolerate herbicides such as glyphosate (GLYP) and gluphosinate (GLUF) or insecticides such as the bacterial toxin bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). The aim of this study was to evaluate the correlation between maternal and fetal exposure, and to determine exposure levels of GLYP and its metabolite aminomethyl phosphoric acid (AMPA), GLUF and its metabolite 3-methylphosphinicopropionic acid (3-MPPA) and Cry1Ab protein (a Bt toxin) in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. Blood of thirty pregnant women (PW) and thirty-nine nonpregnant women (NPW) were studied. Serum GLYP and GLUF were detected in NPW and not detected in PW. Serum 3-MPPA and CryAb1 toxin were detected in PW, their fetuses and NPW. This is the first study to reveal the presence of circulating PAGMF in women with and without pregnancy, paving the way for a new field in reproductive toxicology including nutrition and utero-placental toxicities.
So now we can extend the understanding to the point of confirmation that Bt toxin from food ends up circulating in the blood.
So exactly how much of a leap is it to say that a known allergen circulating in the blood of allergy prone individuals might cause allergic reactions? Can you say “It is a certainty”? The only questions are how many people and how long to onset.
How can you possibly think I’ve said all pesticides are bad? I specifically said I have a jug of Roundup for use on spurge. Heck, I’ve even got an old jug of Malathion in the garage ( does a nice number on ants… though I haven’t needed it since I put a thick layer of borax in the walls and behind the sink. Boron being toxic and a “pesticide”.)
I’ve specifically stated I’m happy with “convention” cultivation and that the only reason I’m saying “Time to buy organic” is that the present labeling laws make that the only way to know you are not getting a load of GMO stuff.
So no, I’m not against pesticides. I do think they ought to be used sparingly and intelligently. Putting Bt toxin in every acre of everything out there is just going to create a new world of Bt resistant bugs and eliminate one of the few “pesticides” that can be used in “Organic Farming”. (That Monsanto would like to drive organic farmers out of business is, I’m sure, just coincidental… IMHO of course.)
But can you grow food without pesticides? Well, yes. Losses to bugs prior to the pesticide era were about 20%. Then we went to lots of pesticides and yields rose. Then the pests became resistant and we’re back to about 20% losses. (About 10 years back). Now we’ve got a new toy. “This time for sure!”… and we’re already getting Bt resistant bugs… We’ll be back to 20% loss rate in no time.
On “Farmer Tom’s” organic farm (where I’ve spent a couple of very pleasant days) they have wonderfully productive fields. Their losses to pests are not very high at all. Why? LOTS of labor. Pulling out infested plants. Hand picking bugs if need be. Washing aphids off with soapy water. Using a propane burner if needed to sterilize some areas. More work, but just as effective.
Per Organic Yields
It is a persistent myth that “If, there were no pesticides, there would be no food supply.”. The very existence of Organic Farming gives the lie to that. What there would not be is “CHEAP Chemical food supply”. It takes more labor to run an organic farm. ( I grew up in farm country. Dad was an Iowa farm boy and we had a few acres where he “played” on his toy farm. Mostly he sold real estate, but he made sure I know how to farm. I’ve picked peaches and walnuts on commercial farms (what you do to make money in farm country) and I know that you do not go into the fields after they fumigated the soil… I’ve mixed tubs of malathion and DDT and several others. But it is just as possible to farm without the pesticide stew.
Grandma was Amish. The Amish are well know for living the farm life. Dad grew up chasing hogs and eating corn on the farm. All grown without chemicals.
Research shows organic yields can equal or exceed conventional
A 12-year experiment in the United States has shown that organic yields are improving and sometimes exceeding conventional yields. Results from the Long Term Agroecological Research (LTAR) site, a collaborative effort between producers and researchers, counters criticism that a major shift to organic agriculture would lead to decreased yields.
Carried out on approximately 17 acres of productive soils at the Neely-Kinyon Research Farm and led by Dr Kathleen Delate of Iowa State University, a vast amount of data comparing a wide array of performance parameters of both organic and conventional crops were collected from 44 quarter-acre experimental plots. The plots are of sufficient size to simulate conditions of commercial production.
Although initially less productive than their conventional varieties, by the third year the yields were equaled and the organic crops’ yield exceeded that of the conventional crops in the fourth year: Across all rotations, organic corn harvests averaged 130 bushels per acre while conventional corn yield was 112 bushels per acre. Similarly, organic soybean yield was 45 bu/ac compared to the conventional yield of 40 bu/ac in the fourth year.
Cost-wise, on average, the organic crops’ revenue was twice that of conventional crops due to the savings from non-utilization of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
As a farmer, since Organic produce fetches better prices ( on the order of $500 to $1200 / acre instead of $50-$100 for conventional) you ought to be smelling the money…)
Yes, it takes a LOT more work. Yes it is a much more complicated system. No, it does not yield less unless you chose to do less. (Then again, with a lot of $$$/acre, many organic farmers can afford to produce less per acre.)
There is a surplus of food growing capacity in the world. We can easily raise yields by about double in aggregate without getting too exotic, and more than that with simple greenhouses. Such techniques are already used in fields here in California. ( I drove by many near Ventura this weekend. Looked like some kind of bramble berry under the plastic arches.) There were lots of other rows neatly as raised beds with row cover plastic “mulch” laid out. Ready for the plants that would soon enough be in salad bowls and on plates nation wide. That someone in Nebraska chooses to plant a lower yield method but one that gives more $$$ / hour of his labor and with less labor hired; that says nothing about total food production ability. It also says nothing about comparative yields from organic vs ‘conventional’. ( In quotes as “chemical production” was unconventional when my Dad was a kid and organic was conventional then.) Frankly, the amount of land planted to “not much” just in California is amazing. Most of the hills around the valley are left as grasses. Hard to get a tractor on some of it, and harder to get water. Yet, if needed, we could make them into productive farms. (They just can’t price compete at present with the valley floor). Something like 90% of the global traded walnuts come from a small part of the Central Valley of California (where I grew up… near those orchards). The wiki puts our English Walnut percent of the nation at 99%:
“The United States is the world’s largest exporter of walnut seeds. The Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys of California produce 99 percent of the nation’s commercial English walnut seeds.”
There is a LOT of land around there that is in rough grass with a few cattle on it that could easily become walnuts if anyone wanted more.
The same is true around the world. We just choose to use diffuse low intenisification production methods as it is less work for the farmer and takes less labor. It is the result of an optimizing for COSTS instead of for PRODUCTION. (For maximum production per acre, greenhouses are spectacular, and can have yields up to 10 times as much over the year. Partly from more crop cycles, but partly from more production per acre per cycle. Much lettuce in California is now going into hydroponic greenhouses. The “fancy” lettuce.)
Even “crap land” with no water can become food producers if anyone wanted or needed it.
So I’m sorry you are so “scared” of running out. It really isn’t justified…
We use pesticides and chemical fertilizers for convenience not from necessity.
With that said: I have no issue at all with using pesticides or chemical fertilizers – provided it is done intelligently. That is a very low threshold for fertilizers. A much higher one, often unmet, for pesticides. And I’ve seen no evidence for anyone even aware of how far they are from that limit for GMOs.
So, in light of the above examples of things presently working and producing, I think it’s pretty clear that the “you people” who “have no clue” are not me and the folks here. I’d suggest that you have spent 50 years on a farm, but not spent it looking at other ways to farm productively and profitably.
Organic makes a LOT more $$$/ acre than “conventional” / Chemical. It takes a much more complicated farm management process and about 5 times the labor rate ( IIRC what Farmer Tom said while we were touring his commercial farm ) and has more stringent requirements for care and skill. It can produce all the food the world could ever want, or need.
That we choose to do otherwise is just that, a choice. Personally, I choose to use synthetic and mineral fertilizers as I’m lazy. I generally have not used pesticides. (Other than Roundup on the spurge… which I still sometimes pull… even though it was a near invisible bit of sap on the finger from pulling some that caused my eyes to feel on fire and me to be in the ER… but now I do a full decontamination wash with an alcohol rinse after pulling spurge and NEVER let a contaminated hand near the face…)
The first year, I had a terrible ‘leaf miner’ problem. Then the second year some insect loving birds showed up and moved in. I also let some tobacco naturalize around the edges. The leaf miners deposit eggs on them, that never mature…. No more leaf miner problem.
Sometimes “pests” build up. I’m getting near zero Kale or Cabbage seeds produced this year. Why? There are these seed eating “tweety birds” stripping them. I thought of doing something to get them to leave (and in an ’emergency’ would be having Sparrow Stew ;-) but frankly I have enough kale seed in storage and enjoy the birds rather a lot… Besides, my fault for planting them 3 or 4 years in a row. Normal rotations would have prevented getting on the Tweety Bird Lunch Bar Registry… (Next year I’m doing Parsnips instead…)
That doesn’t mean a ‘no pest treatment’ system doesn’t work. It means I was lazy and didn’t do a simple crop rotation (that I’ve done before…) and have a ‘skip year’ for things seed eating birds like.
In short: I’ve spent over 50 years growing up in farm country, working on farms, helping my Dad on his “toy farm” (from which we ate nicely…) and going to an Ag college, being a bio-sciences major for about 3 years and taking upper division genetics. All the time looking at new and different cultural techniques. I have a fascination with hydroponics and greenhouse systems (due to their extraordinary productivity) and I’ve got a modified French Intensive system in the backyard. (Squares, not rows, and some chemical fertilizers as I’ve been a bit lazy with the compost…)
So in terms of “who has no clue”… well, all I can say is that I’ve got a lot of clue. So must be someone else who’s a turnip shy of a cart load…
You are welcome here, but: Read the “rules” up top. Don’t insult people or call them stupid. Realize that when you leap off a ‘cliff of conclusion’ it is you who crash at the bottom.
A few minutes with a search engine could have shown you that Organic production is way more profitable than bulk chemical. A few more would have shown systems of farming and gardening that produce as much or more per acre and do it “organically”. (And some that produce less tons / acre but even more $/acre). Heck, even actually reading what I wrote would have saved you from blanket assertion of clearly untrue things.
So “clean it up a little” and play nice. Be polite. I’m not out to prevent you from growing all the corn and soybeans and whatever you want, dumping on all the fertilizer you can buy, or even playing around with FrankenFoods. Just keep their pollen inside your farm borders, and keep them off my dinner plate. For the simple reason that knowing how the immune system works tells me it is just a matter of time before I’m in the ER with a shock reaction to Bt. Yes, it’s “my problem” as I’m the one with the metabolism that attacks any persistent foreign protein as a potential Malaria threat… but you don’t need to make it impossible for me to eat, either.
What’s that, you say? It isn’t possible to keep the genes inside your borders?
Ah, well, now that’s gonna be a problem…
Hope your liability insurance is all paid up…
(The number of lawsuits that will be kicked up once folks start having documented reactions is going to make a lot of lawyers rich…)