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Old 4th January 2013, 06:26 PM   #1
Puppycow
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Anti-GMO activist admits he was wrong

Leading Environmental Activist’s Blunt Confession: I Was Completely Wrong To Oppose GMOs

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If you fear genetically modified food, you may have Mark Lynas to thank. By his own reckoning, British environmentalist helped spur the anti-GMO movement in the mid-‘90s, arguing as recently at 2008 that big corporations’ selfish greed would threaten the health of both people and the Earth. Thanks to the efforts of Lynas and people like him, governments around the world—especially in Western Europe, Asia, and Africa—have hobbled GM research, and NGOs like Greenpeace have spurned donations of genetically modified foods.

But Lynas has changed his mind—and he’s not being quiet about it. On Thursday at the Oxford Farming Conference, Lynas delivered a blunt address: He got GMOs wrong. According to the version of his remarks posted online (as yet, there’s no video or transcript of the actual delivery), he opened with a bang:
I want to start with some apologies. For the record, here and upfront, I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.

As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counter-productive path. I now regret it completely.

So I guess you’ll be wondering—what happened between 1995 and now that made me not only change my mind but come here and admit it? Well, the answer is fairly simple: I discovered science, and in the process I hope I became a better environmentalist.

It takes a big person to admit that he was wrong. This is not typical human behavior.
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Old 4th January 2013, 07:35 PM   #2
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Well done Mr Lynas. It takes a big person to do that.
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Old 4th January 2013, 07:37 PM   #3
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Sent this link to 2 people who have tried to convince me of the "evils of GMO's!!" for years. I bet they handwave it away as being either a CT or he was "paid off".
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Old 4th January 2013, 08:14 PM   #4
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Here's an interview where he talks about GMOs and nuclear power. I think the fact that his arguments are so non-novel just gets me annoyed with the whole situation. Here's a guy who had a crap understanding of an issue, got to play "journalist" about it, and now gets more press for his new book when he realises he was talking out of his ***.
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Old 5th January 2013, 01:25 AM   #5
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Mark Lynas is the author of a great book.........The God Species. It is a "must read" book for all with any interest in the environment.

This thread is a little late to the party. The book has been out for years!

Mike
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Old 5th January 2013, 06:06 AM   #6
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Most of the food we have been eating over the last 100 years were a lot different when humans began farming. This includes most of the animals and plants. So to say a food is not genetically modified is to talk rubbish.
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Old 5th January 2013, 07:12 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
Most of the food we have been eating over the last 100 years were a lot different when humans began farming. This includes most of the animals and plants. So to say a food is not genetically modified is to talk rubbish.
Those food crops have not developed a self-extinguishing gene so that you have to buy fresh seed from the inventor of the self-extinguishing seed.
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Old 5th January 2013, 08:53 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by leftysergeant View Post
Those food crops have not developed a self-extinguishing gene so that you have to buy fresh seed from the inventor of the self-extinguishing seed.
So? Don't use that seed if that's an issue. And what farmers grow their own seed anyway?

I think most hybrid crops are the same way.
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Old 5th January 2013, 08:57 PM   #9
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Plus that's not really a "GMO" issue, that's an "ethics" issue or a "Monsanto" issue.
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Old 5th January 2013, 08:59 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by StankApe View Post
Plus that's not really a "GMO" issue, that's an "ethics" issue or a "Monsanto" issue.
How so?

Is it unethical to sell hybrid seed? Mules?
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Old 5th January 2013, 09:02 PM   #11
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I don't think so. You can sell whatever you want.

The ONE big stink that came up, was when that guy claimed seed from passing trucks ended up on his farm and Monsanto sued him for using their seed without paying for it and won.... I thought that was kind of a crappy thing to do.

Some people take issue with Monsanto for making their seed not usable the next year. I think that if you don't like it, then buy somebody elses seed.

Not taking a position here, just presenting the idea that the issue with non regenerative seed isn't a GMO issue. perhaps I should have chosen better words
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Old 5th January 2013, 09:09 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by StankApe View Post
I don't think so. You can sell whatever you want.

The ONE big stink that came up, was when that guy claimed seed from passing trucks ended up on his farm and Monsanto sued him for using their seed without paying for it and won.... I thought that was kind of a crappy thing to do.

Some people take issue with Monsanto for making their seed not usable the next year. I think that if you don't like it, then buy somebody elses seed.

Not taking a position here, just presenting the idea that the issue with non regenerative seed isn't a GMO issue. perhaps I should have chosen better words
There were a few cases like that. In at least one the farmer had RoundUp ready seed contaminate his field. Monsanto didn't care. Then the farmer super dosed the field with RoundUp to kill all the crop he actually paid for leaving only the spilled crop. That they had a problem with.

If I remember correctly in other cases Monsanto has been a, um, corncob in the backside.
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Old 5th January 2013, 11:33 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by StankApe View Post
The ONE big stink that came up, was when that guy claimed seed from passing trucks ended up on his farm and Monsanto sued him for using their seed without paying for it and won.... I thought that was kind of a crappy thing to do.
Actually, it was worse than that. Monsanto's POLLEN contaminated his seed crop.

Quote:
Some people take issue with Monsanto for making their seed not usable the next year. I think that if you don't like it, then buy somebody elses seed.
Unless Monsanto can prove that there is no earthly way for the pollen from any of their suicidal crops to get into anybody else's crops, they farm that **** on the moon where it won't bother anybody else. Until then, they are endangering the human race and have no right to do it.

Quote:
Not taking a position here, just presenting the idea that the issue with non regenerative seed isn't a GMO issue. perhaps I should have chosen better words
Yes, it is, actually.
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Old 5th January 2013, 11:36 PM   #14
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lol, no it isn't, your statement about "harming the human race" is laughable!!! bwahahahahahaha!!!

I'm seriously laughing out loud!!!!!!
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Old 5th January 2013, 11:48 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by StankApe View Post
lol, no it isn't, your statement about "harming the human race" is laughable!!! bwahahahahahaha!!!

I'm seriously laughing out loud!!!!!!
If Monsanto's suicide gene gets into the genome of a regionally-adapted, tradition seed stock of corn, it reduces the possibility of recovering viable populations of corn if Monsanto's **** goes viral. It should never be permitted within 1000 miles of a unique variety of corn. People will starve if that suicide gene spreads.
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Old 6th January 2013, 03:54 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by leftysergeant View Post
Those food crops have not developed a self-extinguishing gene so that you have to buy fresh seed from the inventor of the self-extinguishing seed.
Originally Posted by StankApe View Post
Some people take issue with Monsanto for making their seed not usable the next year. I think that if you don't like it, then buy somebody elses seed.
Originally Posted by leftysergeant View Post
If Monsanto's suicide gene gets into the genome of a regionally-adapted, tradition seed stock of corn, it reduces the possibility of recovering viable populations of corn if Monsanto's **** goes viral. It should never be permitted within 1000 miles of a unique variety of corn. People will starve if that suicide gene spreads.
You do know that, despite all the wild accusations and hysterical claims by kooks, there is no "terminator gene" in any Monsanto products? Indeed there is a public pledge on their website (since 1999) stating they will never commercially implement such genetic use restriction technology (which BTW they didn't invent).
More more information on the "great terminator technology hoax" I refer you to Ronald Herring's 2006 paper on this particular bit of woosteria.

While there are a number of reasons to criticise Monsanto this isn't one.

As for requiring farmers to buy new seeds each season, this is already a necessity for hybrd crops anyway.
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Old 6th January 2013, 04:15 AM   #17
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No. This is GREAT!

To all the detractors who knew better than this guy, let me just say, I used to believe all kinds of anti scientific woo and like our friend in the OP I too came around to the precepts of science and what it actually means by way of climate science. I first came to JREF because I wanted to know what real sceptics had to say about AGW, through my exposure to scepticism I was - to use a woo phrase - turned on to what science is. It made me question no end of crap that I'd previously accepted, I ended up rejecting a lifetime of hippie upbringing (my Dad, who I worshipped, was an astrologer for crying out loud), it made me question and investigate.

I think it is FANTASTIC that other people are experiencing the same thing - confronted with lies and denial - don't just challenge the woo they are confronted with but open their eyes to everything else.

This is an amazing evolution of thought, that is probably happening to many, many other people. This is amazingly positive and nobody should be derogatory towards someone who has had this Road to Damascus moment. It's really beautiful and, for me, is demonstrative of the power of rational thought. Once you turn on it is impossible to cling to old notions of denial. Everyone should be applauding this guy and sharing the story as one of positivity.

oit's GREAT he is geting media attention, because it will only make other people question their own beliefs.

I can't express how joyous this makes me feel! Mahybe tomorrow I'll try to come up with a more in depth and rational dissertation on why this is so good. But in the meantime...

The world is progressing and this is SUCH a beautiful thing!
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Old 6th January 2013, 04:41 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by leftysergeant View Post
Actually, it was worse than that. Monsanto's POLLEN contaminated his seed crop.
Almost certainly not. The origin of the farmers' original herbicide-resistant canola plants was never established but, as he found them along a roadside growing amongst weeds that he was spraying, it was much more likely to be spilled seed than wind-spread pollen. Monsanto sued because the farmer, knowing exactly what they were (his neighbours were already using Monsanto canola), then used the seeds from them for his next harvest.
Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser
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Old 6th January 2013, 06:42 AM   #19
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My response in another thread in S&M on this topic

http://forums.randi.org/showpost.php?p=8891383
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Old 6th January 2013, 08:45 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
Most of the food we have been eating over the last 100 years were a lot different when humans began farming. This includes most of the animals and plants. So to say a food is not genetically modified is to talk rubbish.
That's an etymological fallacy.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymological_fallacy

"Genetically modified" in this context refers to foods produced using biotechnology.

No foods we ate prior to 1994 were produced using biotechnology.

You never ate a single GMO food prior to 1994.

Edit: I apologize--the first GM food crop hit the market in '94--I put '96 earlier. Fixed it.
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Old 6th January 2013, 09:04 AM   #21
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Also, from the article

Quote:
To feed a growing world population (with an exploding middle class demanding more and better-quality food), we must take advantage of all the technology available to us, including GMOs.
I'm not sure where the evidence for this assertion is.

We already produce more than enough food to feed everyone. We were producing more than enough food to feed everyone before the introduction of GMOs. People still starve.

India produces enormous surpluses of wheat (yes, a surplus of wheat, which is not even a GM crop--transgenic wheat is not even on the market) and it still sits and rots while people starve.

1984: India's Food Surplus

http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/f...ekiel84_01.pdf

2000: Food Aid As Dumping

http://www.globalissues.org/article/...aid-as-dumping

2002: Poor In India Starve as Surplus Wheat Rots

https://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/02/w...ted=all&src=pm

2010: Wheat rots in Punjab, but Kashmir Kaur's Family Will Starve

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruhWplaKdRo

2012: India's Poor Starve as Politicians Steal Their Food

http://www.businessweek.com/articles...eal-their-food
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Old 6th January 2013, 09:15 AM   #22
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I am not reflexively anti-GMO, even though many people I know are. But what I do think is that patent laws can be very dangerous. I do not think food should be patented. If that hinders R&D on the part of companies like Monsanto, I'd pay taxes to keep food as "open source" everywhere. Food is too intrinsic to our very survival to allow its production to be dictated by the profit motive.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto#Seeds

If the science supports GMO as safe, then I will happily accept the science. But I also oppose regulatory capture and seed patents. Monsanto can sell what it wants, but food seeds should be free, as in free beer, to buy, propagate, replicate, etc. The goal is feeding people, full stop.
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Old 6th January 2013, 09:31 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Unabogie View Post
If the science supports GMO as safe, then I will happily accept the science. But I also oppose regulatory capture and seed patents. Monsanto can sell what it wants, but food seeds should be free, as in free beer, to buy, propagate, replicate, etc. The goal is feeding people, full stop.
The biggest obstacle to feeding people is politics, perhaps along with distribution logistics.

The food is there--there is more than enough food for everyone. I've yet to see any actual evidence that this is caused by the availability of GM crops over the last 19 years, might I add. Especially considering much of the surplus is wheat.

By the way, in addition to wheat, tomatoes on the commercial market are NOT produced with biotechnology--yet in Spain, enough surplus is produced for this:

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ndIFZ92KCQ...al_2011_01.jpg
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Old 6th January 2013, 10:04 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Wuglife View Post
That's an etymological fallacy.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymological_fallacy

"Genetically modified" in this context refers to foods produced using biotechnology.

No foods we ate prior to 1994 were produced using biotechnology.

You never ate a single GMO food prior to 1994.

Edit: I apologize--the first GM food crop hit the market in '94--I put '96 earlier. Fixed it.
Nothing that you said here is wrong. Still, essentially all of the critical changes in the economics and nutritional content of food and feed stock are the result of conventional breeding. Monsanto was Monsanto even with conventional hybridization techniques. If wheat has more gluten than it used to, that's conventional breeding. Most of the much-sweeter fruit and vegetables are products of conventional breeding--although I'd like to know about the super-sweet sweet corn and pineapple. That seemed to happen all of a sudden.
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Old 6th January 2013, 03:37 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by StankApe View Post
The ONE big stink that came up, was when that guy claimed seed from passing trucks ended up on his farm and Monsanto sued him for using their seed without paying for it and won.... I thought that was kind of a crappy thing to do.
No such thing ever happened.
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Old 6th January 2013, 03:38 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by leftysergeant View Post
Actually, it was worse than that. Monsanto's POLLEN contaminated his seed crop.
Nope, that's not what happened either.
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Old 7th January 2013, 02:55 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by leftysergeant View Post
If Monsanto's suicide gene gets into the genome of a regionally-adapted, tradition seed stock of corn, it reduces the possibility of recovering viable populations of corn if Monsanto's **** goes viral. It should never be permitted within 1000 miles of a unique variety of corn. People will starve if that suicide gene spreads.
Perhaps you could explain: exactly how does a suicide gene go viral?
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Old 7th January 2013, 03:19 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by leftysergeant View Post
If Monsanto's suicide gene gets into the genome of a regionally-adapted, tradition seed stock of corn, it reduces the possibility of recovering viable populations of corn if Monsanto's **** goes viral. It should never be permitted within 1000 miles of a unique variety of corn. People will starve if that suicide gene spreads.
How, exactly is the gene going to "go viral" when it prevents the next generation from reproducing? It seems to me it's very much a self-limiting gene.

ETA: If it actually existed.

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Old 7th January 2013, 06:40 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by CORed View Post
How, exactly is the gene going to "go viral" when it prevents the next generation from reproducing? It seems to me it's very much a self-limiting gene.

ETA: If it actually existed.
You need both alelles for the suicide gene. Ever hear of Tay-Sachs?

You only get half of a gene in any sperm or ovum. It might take a couple generations for two of them to meet again, but the possibility increases with each generation.
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Old 7th January 2013, 06:48 PM   #30
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The trechnology exists, and one cotton company shares the patent with the USDA. Monsanto tried to buy the cotton company.

I do not trust a corporation to promise not to screw up the world for profit. Nobody in their right minds would.

The technology should be prohibited on terms more stringent that nuclear non-proliferation, for any crop.

Monsanto can afford to wait until enough countries go fascist that they can get away with it.
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Old 7th January 2013, 07:14 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by leftysergeant View Post
You need both alelles for the suicide gene. Ever hear of Tay-Sachs?

You only get half of a gene in any sperm or ovum. It might take a couple generations for two of them to meet again, but the possibility increases with each generation.
Yes but a single case of them meeting again isn't a problem since it only reduces your yield (assuming we are talking about events in a single acre) by 0.001%. There are almost certianly naturaly accuring recesive alleles that do more damage than that.
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Old 8th January 2013, 07:31 AM   #32
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I have never understood the opposition to genetically modified foods. I continue to think it must originate with the scientifically illiterate who are scared of long words.
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Old 8th January 2013, 10:26 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by tyr_13 View Post
Well done Mr Lynas. It takes a big person to do that.
True. I hope he devotes the rest of his life to undoing the damage he's done.
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Old 8th January 2013, 10:47 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by portlandatheist View Post
Perhaps you could explain: exactly how does a suicide gene go viral?
Originally Posted by CORed View Post
How, exactly is the gene going to "go viral" when it prevents the next generation from reproducing? It seems to me it's very much a self-limiting gene.

ETA: If it actually existed.
The whole "terminator gene" controversy is a manufactured one; the gene has never been implemented and no one plans to do so.
Ronald Herring covers this particular nonsense in detail in his paper on "Operation Cremate Monsanto", the various claims and the intent of those who made them.

Originally Posted by leftysergeant View Post
The trechnology exists, and one cotton company shares the patent with the USDA. Monsanto tried to buy the cotton company.
I think you're referring to D&PL, which was acquired by Monsanto in 2007.

Originally Posted by leftysergeant View Post
I do not trust a corporation to promise not to screw up the world for profit. Nobody in their right minds would.
That's why there are regulatory mechanisms. Have you even heard of, for example, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety?

Originally Posted by leftysergeant View Post
The technology should be prohibited on terms more stringent that nuclear non-proliferation, for any crop.
Hysterical, unscientific nonsense.

Originally Posted by leftysergeant View Post
Monsanto can afford to wait until enough countries go fascist that they can get away with it.
What does this even mean?

Originally Posted by Travis View Post
I have never understood the opposition to genetically modified foods. I continue to think it must originate with the scientifically illiterate who are scared of long words.
Well said. Have a muffin.
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Old 8th January 2013, 01:07 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Travis View Post
I have never understood the opposition to genetically modified foods. I continue to think it must originate with the scientifically illiterate who are scared of long words.
I just remember that wild, "natural" bananas are inedible and it's only through human breeding (since many many centuries) that they are, and they're a very healthy food, and, yeah...

My local grocery store is so annoying lately. They've started promoting all manners of "bio" and non-GMO foods (which are invariably more expensive too), with stupid slogans such as "good for nature, good for me". Nevermind that GMOs get more crop yields for less space, and therefore destroys the environment less.... ugh, "good for nature" indeed.
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Old 8th January 2013, 01:08 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by leftysergeant View Post
Those food crops have not developed a self-extinguishing gene so that you have to buy fresh seed from the inventor of the self-extinguishing seed.
You don't have to do that now. You are free to buy seed from whoever you want.
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Old 8th January 2013, 01:09 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by StankApe View Post
Plus that's not really a "GMO" issue, that's an "ethics" issue or a "Monsanto" issue.
More accurately, it's a "contract" issue.
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Old 8th January 2013, 01:11 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by StankApe View Post
The ONE big stink that came up, was when that guy claimed seed from passing trucks ended up on his farm and Monsanto sued him for using their seed without paying for it and won.... I thought that was kind of a crappy thing to do.
If you're talking about Percy Schmeiser, nothing he did was "innocent". He knew exactly what he was doing, which is why the court found in favor of Monsanto.
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Old 8th January 2013, 01:15 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by Travis View Post
I have never understood the opposition to genetically modified foods. I continue to think it must originate with the scientifically illiterate who are scared of long words.
Bingo.
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Old 9th January 2013, 09:53 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by The Central Scrutinizer View Post
Bingo.
Snap!
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