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The Deadly Opposition to Genetically Modified Food
Slate .com via Instapundit.com ^ | February 18, 2013 | Bjorn Lomberg

Posted on 02/22/2013 10:52:31 AM PST by CharlesMartelsGhost

Vitamin A deficiency has killed 8 million kids in the last 12 years. Help is finally on the way. Finally, after a 12-year delay caused by opponents of genetically modified foods, so-called “golden rice” with vitamin A will be grown in the Philippines. Over those 12 years, about 8 million children worldwide died from vitamin A deficiency. Are anti-GM advocates not partly responsible?

Golden rice is the most prominent example in the global controversy over GM foods, which pits a technology with some risks but incredible potential against the resistance of feel-good campaigning. Three billion people depend on rice as their staple food, with 10 percent at risk for vitamin A deficiency, which, according to the World Health Organization, causes 250,000 to 500,000 children to go blind each year. Of these, half die within a year. A study from the British medical journal the Lancet estimates that, in total, vitamin A deficiency kills 668,000 children under the age of 5 each year.

Yet, despite the cost in human lives, anti-GM campaigners—from Greenpeace to Naomi Klein—have derided efforts to use golden rice to avoid vitamin A deficiency. In India, Vandana Shiva, an environmental activist and adviser to the government, called golden rice “a hoax” that is “creating hunger and malnutrition, not solving it.”

The New York Times Magazine reported in 2001 that one would need to “eat 15 pounds of cooked golden rice a day” to get enough vitamin A. What was an exaggeration then is demonstrably wrong now. Two recent studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition show that just 50 grams (roughly two ounces) of golden rice can provide 60 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A. They show that golden rice is even better than spinach in providing vitamin A to children.

(Excerpt) Read more at slate.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: food; gmo
Synopsis from Instapundit.com:

WHEN LUDDITES KILL: The Deadly Opposition to Genetically Modified Food: Vitamin A deficiency has killed 8 million kids in the last 12 years. Help is finally on the way.

Finally, after a 12-year delay caused by opponents of genetically modified foods, so-called “golden rice” with vitamin A will be grown in the Philippines. Over those 12 years, about 8 million children worldwide died from vitamin A deficiency. Are anti-GM advocates not partly responsible?

Golden rice is the most prominent example in the global controversy over GM foods, which pits a technology with some risks but incredible potential against the resistance of feel-good campaigning. Three billion people depend on rice as their staple food, with 10 percent at risk for vitamin A deficiency, which, according to the World Health Organization, causes 250,000 to 500,000 children to go blind each year. Of these, half die within a year. A study from the British medical journal the Lancet estimates that, in total, vitamin A deficiency kills 668,000 children under the age of 5 each year.

Yet, despite the cost in human lives, anti-GM campaigners—from Greenpeace to Naomi Klein—have derided efforts to use golden rice to avoid vitamin A deficiency.

For all the claims of “murder” thrown at the NRA over its policy arguments, the usual suspects are much quieter on this subject, where the connection between policy-advocacy and dead children is much clearer.

Greenpeace is just another eco-fascists organization thinking they know what is best for the rest of the world.

1 posted on 02/22/2013 10:52:37 AM PST by CharlesMartelsGhost
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To: CharlesMartelsGhost
A common story, still repeated by Shiva, is that GM corn with Bt toxin kills Monarch butterflies.

This shows why one cannot have a reasonable discussion with these people... they will put the "welfare" of butterflies ahead of that of human beings!

2 posted on 02/22/2013 11:03:11 AM PST by Former Fetus (Saved by grace through faith)
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To: CharlesMartelsGhost

Until libs reduce our country into a third world cesspool and I have no choice but to eat this food, I will continue to raise and preserve my own heirloom veggies and fruits.


3 posted on 02/22/2013 11:14:41 AM PST by goodwithagun (My gun has killed fewer people than Ted Kennedy's car.)
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To: CharlesMartelsGhost

Okay, how do we separate the beneficial stuff from the stuff that has potential to harm? I’m no idiot. Humans have been modifying food for millenia (corn wouldn’t be corn without humans) through cross-polination, selective breeding, etc..., but how do we know when we’ve maybe crossed a line we shouldn’t have?


4 posted on 02/22/2013 11:15:05 AM PST by IYAS9YAS (Rose, there's a Messerschmitt in the kitchen. Clean it up, will ya?)
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To: goodwithagun

GMO food is not about feeding the world or saving the children. It is about controlling the supply of food through patent laws.

“Control the oil,you control the nation. Control the food, you control the people.” Henry Kissinger.

Nice tag line. Updated;

“Joe Biden’s motorcade has killed more people than my guns.”


5 posted on 02/22/2013 11:23:14 AM PST by maine yankee (I got my Governor at 'Marden's')
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To: CharlesMartelsGhost

Modifying to add vitamins is fine with me, I have issues screwing with genes that add insecticides, etc....


6 posted on 02/22/2013 11:24:27 AM PST by GraceG
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To: IYAS9YAS

Start with the Movie “Food inc.”

Also “The World according to Monsanto.”

Then “The Future of Food”


7 posted on 02/22/2013 11:26:01 AM PST by maine yankee (I got my Governor at 'Marden's')
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To: maine yankee

The patent holder only controls the seed produced pursuant to his patent. The fact that the marketplace recognizes some patented seeeds to be markedly superior to seeds previously in commercial use testifies to the value of free markets.


8 posted on 02/22/2013 11:35:45 AM PST by Mr. Lucky
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To: CharlesMartelsGhost

Liberals are Luddites. They hate progress that will result in healthier children with fewer adverse consequences for the environment.

You’d think Greenpeace would want to end world hunger and take millions of square meters of farmland out of circulation. You’d be wrong.


9 posted on 02/22/2013 11:39:39 AM PST by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
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To: CharlesMartelsGhost
You know, I thing the GMO-foods present a terrible trap.
First off, the companies developing them care more about [ab]using patent-law than in food-production.
Secondly, consider what would happen if they developed a "super grain" (fruit or vegetable) that provided even the bare minimum of all nutrients needed -- and consider the control they could exert if they embedded a "self-destruct gene" (as has been done w/ several GMOs)to force all farmers to have to purchase new seed EVERY PLANTING -- it'd be like crack-dealers giving free samples while employing the "it just works" marketing of Macintosh with the viciousness of Microsoft at its worst: after all everybody needs to eat.
Third, what's wrong with, you know, varying your diet to get all the nutrients needed?
10 posted on 02/22/2013 11:39:58 AM PST by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.)
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To: CharlesMartelsGhost
WHEN LUDDITES KILL: The Deadly Opposition to Genetically Modified Food: Vitamin A deficiency has killed 8 million kids in the last 12 years.

Does the "it's for the children" reasoning have a familiar ring to it? Personally, I think it's BS. It's mostly about Syngenta controlling that part of the seed market like Monsanto with corn, soy beans and cotton. GMO seeds being 'intellectual property' farmers can't save any of the seed for the next season unless they pay royalties to the seed producer. Just google "Monsanto sues farmer" and see what's going on.

11 posted on 02/22/2013 11:43:58 AM PST by tbpiper
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To: GraceG

Making crops pest-resistant means fewer applications of toxic chemical pesticides to control pests.

It means less environmental degradation and more safe and healthier food on the table. Apparently you must like food slathered with chemicals that are more dangerous than genes that combat pest infestation of the foods you eat.

You’re an idiot!


12 posted on 02/22/2013 11:44:08 AM PST by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
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To: Mr. Lucky
The patent holder only controls the seed produced pursuant to his patent. The fact that the marketplace recognizes some patented seeeds to be markedly superior to seeds previously in commercial use testifies to the value of free markets.

Constitutionally patents are on very weak legs when applied to plants [IMO], as it says To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries; but plants aren't 'inventions' nor are these modifications 'discoveries' -- add to that the 'perpetual copyright' the Supreme Court basically handed Disney means that these GMO patents may realistically never expire.

13 posted on 02/22/2013 11:45:15 AM PST by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.)
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To: goldstategop

If liberals and RINOs stopped paying farmers not to farm, stopped turning corn into fuel, and stopped sending aid to evil dictators and other countries that want to party like it’s 1499, then we wouldn’t need any of these GMOs as there would be enough food “fer the childrun” and these archaic societies would be forced into modernity.


14 posted on 02/22/2013 11:48:32 AM PST by goodwithagun (My gun has killed fewer people than Ted Kennedy's car.)
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To: OneWingedShark
By that logic, mechanical devices would be ineligible for patenting because they all are mere variations of wheels, levers and inclined planes.

A plant variety must be invented and asexually produced by the applicant to be eligible for a patent. Plant patents, like utility patents, expire after 20 years.

15 posted on 02/22/2013 12:00:26 PM PST by Mr. Lucky
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To: OneWingedShark
Secondly, consider what would happen if they developed a "super grain" (fruit or vegetable) that provided even the bare minimum of all nutrients needed
< br />Soylent Green has all the nutrients you need, but you don't see anyone trying to mass-market it. Therefore, your reasoning is flawed. (:
16 posted on 02/22/2013 12:13:46 PM PST by Svartalfiar
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To: maine yankee

You are so correct in that it is to control the food supply. Farmers are taking Monsanto to court as the farmers have been told they can no longer use their own seeds to grow crops but have to buy them from Monsanto.


17 posted on 02/22/2013 12:26:37 PM PST by elephant
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To: Mr. Lucky
By that logic, mechanical devices would be ineligible for patenting because they all are mere variations of wheels, levers and inclined planes.

Just because something has a basis in something simpler, or is an improvement doesn't mean it's not a new invention; IIRC, there is a little plastic piece that can fit in your pocket that literally replaced a whole roomful of machinery for dialysis.

A plant variety must be invented and asexually produced by the applicant to be eligible for a patent. Plant patents, like utility patents, expire after 20 years.

That's just my point! Plants aren't invented! Soybeans, asexually reproducible, for example, are still soybeans -- even if they have a patented resistance to roundup.

18 posted on 02/22/2013 12:29:14 PM PST by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.)
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To: goldstategop

And you are ignorant of the effects of GMOs on human health.


19 posted on 02/22/2013 12:40:58 PM PST by Rennes Templar (Business owners work harder! You have to support millions.)
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To: maine yankee

“Vitamin A deficiency has killed 8 million kids in the last 12 years.”

If there ever was a sentence designed to manipulate and control, that’s it.


20 posted on 02/22/2013 12:49:28 PM PST by Rennes Templar (Business owners work harder! You have to support millions.)
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To: CharlesMartelsGhost

Proud to be a Luddite, if that means foods that don’t have non-plant genes inserted into their DNA.


21 posted on 02/22/2013 1:01:50 PM PST by aMorePerfectUnion (Gone rogue, gone Galt, gone international, gone independent. Gone.)
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To: goldstategop

“Apparently you must like food slathered with chemicals that are more dangerous than genes that combat pest infestation of the foods you eat.”

... So in your world there are only bad option?


22 posted on 02/22/2013 1:05:53 PM PST by aMorePerfectUnion (Gone rogue, gone Galt, gone international, gone independent. Gone.)
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To: CharlesMartelsGhost

Who cares about a few million blind kids when when the earth is being saved by the anti-Gm food lobby?

Like it was saved by the anti-DDT lobby.


23 posted on 02/22/2013 1:06:07 PM PST by count-your-change (you don't have to be brilliant, not being stupid is enough)
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To: OneWingedShark
As you said: Just because something has a basis in something simpler, or is an improvement doesn't mean it's not a new invention.
24 posted on 02/22/2013 1:19:35 PM PST by Mr. Lucky
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To: goldstategop
Making crops pest-resistant

Except the way Monsanto does that is making the plants more pesticide/herbicide tolerant so the farmers can spray MORE pesticide/herbicide on the plants to resist pests. But, guess what? The pests are becoming more pesticide/herbicide resistant and there is more pesticide/herbicide in the food we eat.

Nearly Half of All US Farms Now Have Superweeds

But of course there's another way. In a 2012 study I'll never tire of citing, Iowa State University researchers found that if farmers simply diversified their crop rotations, which typically consist of corn one year and soy the next, year after year, to include a "small grain" crop (e.g. oats) as well as off season cover crops, weeds (including Roundup-resistant ones) can be suppressed with dramatically less fertilizer use—a factor of between 6 and 10 less. And much less herbicide means much less poison entering streams—"potential aquatic toxicity was 200 times less in the longer rotations" than in the regular corn-soy regime, the study authors note. So, despite what the seed giants and the conventional weed specialists insist, there are other ways to respond to the accelerating scourge of "superweeds" than throwing more—and ever-more toxic—chemicals at them.

India's Rice Revolution

Kumar, a shy young farmer in Nalanda district of India's poorest state Bihar, had – using only farmyard manure and without any herbicides – grown an astonishing 22.4 tonnes of rice on one hectare of land. This was a world record and with rice the staple food of more than half the world's population of seven billion, big news.

It beat not just the 19.4 tonnes achieved by the "father of rice", the Chinese agricultural scientist Yuan Longping, but the World Bank-funded scientists at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, and anything achieved by the biggest European and American seed and GM companies. And it was not just Sumant Kumar. Krishna, Nitish, Sanjay and Bijay, his friends and rivals in Darveshpura, all recorded over 17 tonnes, and many others in the villages around claimed to have more than doubled their usual yields.

The villagers, at the mercy of erratic weather and used to going without food in bad years, celebrated. But the Bihar state agricultural universities didn't believe them at first, while India's leading rice scientists muttered about freak results. The Nalanda farmers were accused of cheating. Only when the state's head of agriculture, a rice farmer himself, came to the village with his own men and personally verified Sumant's crop, was the record confirmed.

GMO fail: Monsanto foiled by feds, Supreme Court, and science

This matters because stacked-trait crops are a favored approach to combat the superweeds and bugs that are part and parcel of years of GMO crops. But the more you stack, the worse your yield. The scientists also found evidence of a “yield penalty” that comes simply from the act of manipulating plant genes.

In short, the more one meddles with plant genes, the worse yields get; when you change multiple genes at once, yields drop even further. This should give pause to those who see GMO seeds as the means to address more complex problems like drought tolerance, nutritional value, or plant productivity. These are traits involving dozens, if not hundreds, of genes. This study suggests genetic manipulation of food crops at such a scale is a losing game.

A few years ago, the Union of Concerned Scientists published a report with a similar conclusion, but this is one of the first rigorous attempts to establish through controlled experiments the yield benefit (or penalty) of GM seeds.

As Challenge over Seed Rights Approaches Supreme Court, New Report Exposes Devastating Impact of Monsanto Practices on U.S. Farmers

The new report investigates how the current seed patent regime has led to a radical shift to consolidation and control of global seed supply and how these patents have abetted corporations, such as Monsanto, to sue U.S. farmers for alleged seed patent infringement.

Seed Giants vs. U.S. Farmers also examines broader socio-economic consequences of the present patent system including links to loss of seed innovation, rising seed prices, reduction of independent scientific inquiry, and environmental issues.

Debbie Barker, Program Director for Save Our Seeds and Senior Writer for the Report, said today: “Corporations did not create seeds and many are challenging the existing patent system that allows private companies to assert ownership over a resource that is vital to survival, and that, historically, has been in the public domain.”


25 posted on 02/22/2013 2:06:31 PM PST by ELS (Vivat Benedictus XVI!)
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To: CharlesMartelsGhost
"They show that golden rice is even better than spinach in providing vitamin A to children."

Oh, well, don't mention carrots while continuing the work of Malthus and trying to outlaw private gardens.


26 posted on 02/22/2013 2:09:43 PM PST by familyop (We Baby Boomers are croaking in an avalanche of rotten politics smelled around the planet.)
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To: CharlesMartelsGhost

This is the dumbest article I’ve ever read on FR. Vitamin A deficiencies are caused by evil governments and cultures that cause poverty and starvation among their people. Spreading Frankenfoods won’t help starving kids in Zimbabwe, Somalia or Bangladesh? This stupid article is what happens when a corporation hires a liberal democrat for public relations.


27 posted on 02/22/2013 3:25:14 PM PST by aimhigh ( Guns do not kill people. Abortion kills people.)
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To: Mr. Lucky
As you said: Just because something has a basis in something simpler, or is an improvement doesn't mean it's not a new invention.

I'm unconvinced that things like a infertility/self-destruct gene are improvements... especially when for ALL of human history farmers have kept seeds for "next-year's crop".

28 posted on 02/22/2013 9:14:32 PM PST by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.)
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To: OneWingedShark
Farmers who agree with you are wholly free to continue to propagate heirloom seeds; but, you'll have a hard time finding any serious farmers who agree with you.

Prior to the introduction of Round Up ready seeds, There was no economical/efficacious soybean herbicide: soybeans were weeded mechanically. Tillage encouraged erosion, increased moisture loss, damaged the crop, and was back breakingly laborious.

29 posted on 02/25/2013 6:14:40 AM PST by Mr. Lucky
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To: Mr. Lucky
Farmers who agree with you are wholly free to continue to propagate heirloom seeds; but, you'll have a hard time finding any serious farmers who agree with you.

Not so; there have been instances where [possible] wind-borne pollination from neighboring GMO crops have led to the legal persecution of their owner. -- This is especially damaging for any farm which raises "natural organic" produce, as even the pollination from GMOs destroys the legitimacy [and results in legal liability IIUC] of their labeling the produce as such. (So if you decide to go with an organic crop, catering to a small, specialized customer, but your buddy-across-the-road doesn't [and uses the GMO] and there is cross pollination you could be in trouble from two directions: copyright infringement from the corporate, and fraud suits from your customers.)

Prior to the introduction of Round Up ready seeds, There was no economical/efficacious soybean herbicide: soybeans were weeded mechanically. Tillage encouraged erosion, increased moisture loss, damaged the crop, and was back breakingly laborious.

And? Does the added convenience of such negate the rights of those farmers that do it the traditional way?

30 posted on 02/25/2013 6:51:08 AM PST by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.)
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To: OneWingedShark
This thread seems to have become the proverbial dead horse which we've beaten enough, but the "wind-borne pollen story never withstands scrutiny.

First of all, soybeans are largely self pollinating; that is, the pollen transfers from the stamen to the pistil before the bean blossoms. While some pollen can become windborne, and fertilize the pistil of a different plant, it's the exeception, not the rule.

But, let's assume that the chances were 50-50 that the bean would be pollinated by a different plant and let's ignore that the likelyhood of one plant being pollinated by another decreases geometrically with distance, the odds of an advantageous trait accidentally transferring from one field to another would be so low as to be mathmatically impossible. (keep in mind that the Round Up ready trait provides no benefit unless it is found in virtually all beans in the same field).

There are about 180,000 soybeans in a bushel, an average yield would be about 50 bushels per acre and a typical field maybe 40 acres. So, 360,000,000 soybeans would be a fair test population.

Just as heads wouldn't innocently turn up each time in 360,000,000 coin flips, virtually all of 360,000,000 million soybeans wouldn't be cross pollinated by a neighbor's field.

31 posted on 02/25/2013 8:20:05 AM PST by Mr. Lucky
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To: Mr. Lucky
First of all, soybeans are largely self pollinating; that is, the pollen transfers from the stamen to the pistil before the bean blossoms. While some pollen can become windborne, and fertilize the pistil of a different plant, it's the exeception, not the rule.

And yet it's because of this possibility, exceptional though it might be, that the big companies are able to intimidate and extort the small farmers. But it needn't simply be soybeans: it could be corn, apples, heck anything.

But, let's assume that the chances were 50-50 [...]

You are concentrating on one thing: stupid soybeans.
That is not the issue at hand; the issue is: these companies are laying a [legal] groundwork to seize control of food production at the lowest levels. -- Indeed to even make traditional [heirloom] plantings a liability.

32 posted on 02/25/2013 8:40:33 AM PST by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.)
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To: OneWingedShark
I used soybeans as the example because they are open pollinated. Corn, whether GMO or not, is hybridized and, therefore, its seed cannot be preserved and replanted.

Commerical seed companies so dominate the market for farm crop seed because their product is so far superior to heirloom seeds that, with the exception of some silage corn, no serious farmer plants open pollinated seed, not because of some nefarious conspiracy.

In the 1930's my grandfather, who in virtually every respect was a better farmer than I, could expect a yield of about 25 bushels per acre from heirloom open pollinated corn; on the same field, I now obtain 200 bushels per acre with triple stacked hybrids.

33 posted on 02/25/2013 9:22:03 AM PST by Mr. Lucky
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