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Friday links


  1. Water Lily
    Water Lily September 21, 2012 3:22 am

    Since they genetically modified it, I haven’t eaten any corn products except for an occasional organic blue corn tortilla chip. Non-organic corn is no longer a safe food option. Neither is soy – same deal. Most of it is genetically modified. Long term side effects are unknown, but if the recent French study is any indication of what it does to a lab rat, thank you, I’ll pass.

  2. WolfSong
    WolfSong September 21, 2012 3:38 am

    I’m on the fence with the popcorn lung thing.

    On the one hand, I think yeah, consumers need to know the chemical can be dangerous to their health.

    On the other hand, I think, get real, anyone who doesn’t realize eating 2 bags of microwave popcorn a day for 10 years is bad for their health, is an idiot.

    On the gripping hand, like Water Lily said, since so much of the corn products on the market come from genetically modified corns, our family does the very best it can to avoid corn products.

  3. Pat
    Pat September 21, 2012 5:11 am

    I stopped eating microwave popcorn years ago because I hated the artificial taste of its butter. Now I’ve developed a sensitivity to corn which I believe is due to GM agents, so am unable to eat ANY corn products (and some other foods as well, probably due to GM or other additives in the process of raising or packaging the food).

    I understand not trusting the boxed stuff, but I don’t appreciate not being able to trust the whole foods that I eat.

    In the case of the German Shepherd that was killed, the dog was on a chain. All the cop had to do was stay farther from the dog than the end of the chain. Why is that so hard to figure out?

  4. Woody
    Woody September 21, 2012 5:11 am

    We don’t eat a lot of processed food, or food that comes in fancy packages. A large percentage of the food we eat we produce/prepare ourselves. That said, I think damning all gene modified food products is painting with a pretty broad brush.

    We tend to cherry pick the studies that reinforce our beliefs and ignore those that do not. GM vegetables that contain vital vitamins the plant wouldn’t normally produce can help third world people prevent diseases that result from vitamin deficiencies. There are certainly others that have less beneficial or even harmful properties. TANSTAAFL. You pay your money and you take your chances. Hopefully we make decisions using the best data available rather than let our emotions rule us. Sometimes it isn’t easy to sort it all out.

  5. Pat
    Pat September 21, 2012 6:27 am

    Woody, that only works if it applies…

    I’ve developed a true allergy to grasses, including wheat, and yet I read a couple of years ago that rape (producing canola and rapeseed oils, among other things) was GM’ed with a wheat protein. Yet canola products do not mention that on their labels (thanks to the FDA which caters to corn/soy/rape growers and food corporations).

    This is true of other foods as well – they don’t just put vitamins in their plants, but many proteins/whatever of dubious and unrelated nature for the purpose of protecting them against heat, cold, and insects, yes – and *especially* to make them ‘different’, i.e. to patent them (ex: Monsanto and Dow) so they aren’t legally allowed to be duplicated, and can’t be saved and re-sown next year.

    Our health can’t afford to “pay your money and take your chances”. Farmers and food manufacturers are responsible for their actions, same as individuals. Nobody is asking for a free lunch when they insist on product honesty. When the product is food (or medicine), the grower/manufacturer *DOES* have an obligation to tell its customers what is in it’s products, especially in the face of increased allergies and sensitivities.

  6. Matt, another
    Matt, another September 21, 2012 7:17 am

    In the case of the maryland dog shooting decision is is a step in the right direction. Sometimes when a local department won’t rein in there officers, the insurance companies will. If the legal costs become to much for municipal insurance or budgets (assuming medium to small city budgets) then the pressure is applied to cut these kind of unnessecary expenses.

    Buying food is tough nowadays. I like to eat as healthy as possible, but at the same time can only afford so much for food. I try very hard to keep to fresh foods (getting better at it) and/or foods I have frozen or canned myself. I do not trust organic labeled food at the local chain grocery stores and won’t pay the extra prices for them. I will buy, when I can, organic products from our local farmers market. Unfortunately the choice is limited, prices high and overall quality lower than the price.

  7. Matt, another
    Matt, another September 21, 2012 7:25 am

    I find it ironic, that the very government we don’t like interfering is the standard setter for maintaining what qualifies as organic, cage free etc. I looked at the definitions, link below. It would seem to me that a major producer of chicken could meet the requirements of cage free or free range and still raise crowded stressed chickens.

  8. Ken Hagler
    Ken Hagler September 21, 2012 8:28 am

    All food consumed by humans (and domesticated animals) is the result of millennia of genetic modification. It’s just that in the last century people have known what they were doing instead of flailing around blindly.

  9. Claire
    Claire September 21, 2012 8:48 am

    Ken — What makes you think everybody in the past was flailing blindly? True, they didn’t understand genetics, but they did understand what works through trial and error.

    And what makes you think the developers of today’s genetically modified crops know what they’re doing? True, they know genetics and an amazing array of techniques. But is there any evidence that they “know” that their crops are healthy for us? Any evidence they even remotely know the impact on humans and animals of, for instance, embedding insecticides right into the plant?

    OTOH, if the big agribiz companies do know that, they may have a lot to answer for.

  10. Scott
    Scott September 21, 2012 9:11 am

    I wonder if the bruhaha over the popcorn additive is similar to the hype over cyclamates years ago? Yes, it’s harmful in extremely large quantities,and some folks may be extra sensitive to it. I very seldom eat microwave popcorn because to me, it’s tasteless(most nuke-em food is sort of bland)-I like oil-popped popcorn(I found an old oil popper at Goodwill for $2 that works perfectly). I’m not sure how much of the GM-phobia is based on truth, and how much is hype.
    It’s my guess there will be genetically modified people in the not too distant future, and a century from now, genetic modification to humans will be as common as vaccinations today.

  11. Kent McManigal
    Kent McManigal September 21, 2012 9:37 am

    I’d like to photograph myself with my hand over my heart, and a big “F*** Obamney!” written boldly on it. Think they’d like that?

    I’m torn on the whole GMO thing. Yes, everything we now eat has been genetically modified. Some of the “traditional things” aren’t good for us. Some of the “frankenfoods” aren’t good for us. The “traditional” stuff may have killed off a lot of our ancestors before we either adapted to it, or we GMed it enough to make it less a problem. (Reading “Guns, Germs, and Steel” by Jared Diamond was fascinating- and I still think agriculture was a big mistake as far as quality of life/happiness goes.) I do know that for me, personally, stressing too much about everything I eat would ruin my health at least as much as eating corn that has jellyfish genes in it (or whatever).

  12. kevin m
    kevin m September 21, 2012 10:14 am

    I read somewhere that soy is less/ almost indigestable if it is not fermented [tofu]. Probably explains how asians can eat the stuff and not balloon in weight.

  13. Matt, another
    Matt, another September 21, 2012 10:20 am

    I still prefer my “genetic” modifications to be done through generations of selectiver breeding, generally within specific species. I am no partial to genetic modifications that were done by torturing some poor genome into accepting chemicals, frod dna etc.

  14. Ellendra
    Ellendra September 21, 2012 11:23 am

    Simple plant breeding can result in some amazing variety. In all traits, including pesticide and insect resistance.

    I’m afraid to grow corn anymore. I have some seeds that were tested and shown not to have been contaminated by GMO’s, but because of how far corn pollen travels there’s no way to guarantee it would stay that way. And, to be honest, I’m more scared of a Monsanto lawsuit if their corn pollinates mine. I know that GMO’s might cause health issues, and I already have more than my share of those, but a lawsuit can destroy your livelihood now, whereas the health issues might happen sometime down the road.

    So, for now, I’m keeping some heirloom corn seeds in my “emergency” stash, for if and when society crumbles and Monsanto is the least of anyone’s worries.

  15. naturegirl
    naturegirl September 21, 2012 3:57 pm

    It’s hard keeping up with reports that one minute say food is “whatever” and the next it’s not….I really try to avoid anything genetically altered, in general…and I don’t trust “organic” like I use to, either…..lately I have been dismayed at the arsenic in rice reports, since I dearly love rice…

    As for popcorn lung guy and all the people who have sued places like McDonalds because of their own bad habits, it seems to pay big time to be stupid now a days…..

  16. Woody
    Woody September 24, 2012 2:28 pm

    I realize that this thread is now internet ancient history, but, the much touted French study damning gene modified food apparently has a few problems with openness and honesty, not to mention scientific method.

    ArsTechnica reports:
    …..”The important checks provided by that system have now been systematically undermined by a group of French researchers, primarily at the University of Caen. The researchers managed to get a paper published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology. Their paper examined the long-term viability of rats fed a diet supplemented with either the herbicide Roundup or a crop engineered to tolerate high levels of Roundup. In their study, the researchers claim to have found that both the pesticide and the GMO crop reduced the lifespan of the rats and caused a high incidence of tumors.

    People with relevant expertise, when given a chance to look at the study, found significant and systematic flaws with both the experimental approach and the data. Presumably, this is precisely why these scientists went out of their way to avoid giving them the chance to look.

    At the blog Embargo Watch, Ivan Oransky has tracked how the researchers controlled access to their paper. Any journalist that wanted to receive an advance copy was required to sign a non-disclosure agreement before receiving one. That agreement prohibited the outlet from sharing the results with any outside experts before the embargo lifted. In other words, if a press outlet wanted to be one of the first to cover the story, it would have to run the story without having any experts sanity check the paper.

    The manipulation didn’t end there. The embargo lifted during a live press conference from the researchers, hosted in London in cooperation with the Sustainable Food Trust. The SFT conveniently had a press release prepared; a release claiming that the research was “supported by independent research organization, CRIIGEN.” However, this neglected to note that the paper’s lead author, Eric Seralini, is on the CRIIGEN board.

    The researchers got exactly what they’d intended. The first coverage was largely uncritical. Slashdot linked to the press release when mentioning the story, while the first coverage from Reuters didn’t address any scientific questions whatsoever (although it did raise some cautions about the researchers themselves). “……..

    The ArsTechnicia article has lots of links to supporting information so anyone who is interested should go there to read the original.

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