Non-Genetically Modified research resources

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by earlene, Apr 15, 2019.

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  1. Apr 15, 2019 #1

    earlene

    earlene

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    There has been so much talk lately of the use of or limits of Non-GMO or non-GM (non-genetically modified) ingredients in products used by those of us here, or what customers may perceive as genetically modified or not, that I thought it could be useful to have a centrally located area where sources could be found.

    As it relates to the U.S., here is an Organic & Non-GMO Report produced by the magazine of the same name:
    https://non-gmoreport.com/what-is-non-gmo-what-are-genetically-modified-foods/

    Here is their list of verified non-GM products (Within that list, one can look at several products under each brand name):
    https://livingnongmo.org/find/products/

    GeneWatch (UK) includes world wide genetically modified crops and animals:
    http://www.genewatch.org/sub-532326

    Genetic Literacy Project keeps track of where GM crops are approved and banned:
    https://gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org/FAQ/where-are-gmos-grown-and-banned/

    Just a few references that I use now and again.

    I found it interesting that there are many soy beans seeds that are NOT genetically modified. Maybe one day, I'll get to see normal soy beans for sale in the stores again.

    A question in my mind is this:

    If a GM crop or product (such as soy beans) is processed to the point that no GM material can be identified in the end product, can it now be correctly be called non-GMO? Legally? Morally? Truthfully? Ethically? Seriously, I wonder about this.

    Actual regulations or laws are less forthcoming in my searches, although they do exist at least to some degree. But I have not listed any here. (Aside from this.) Perhaps such laws would indicate an answer to my above question (previous paragraph.)

    I don't know if this belongs in General Chat because of the philosophical impact of GM has on us, or the Legal Aspects of GM, or Shopping Recommendations, or elsewhere. Although I wasn't really intending this to be a about shopping recommendations, it surely might come up. And I don't envision this to be about the pros and cons of GM, although that may come up as well. More I envision this to be a place to include legitimate reference sources (with pertinent links) so we can help each other do our own research as needed, but without having to re-invent the wheel each person at a time for every single incident in which we may need to do a little research.
     
  2. Apr 15, 2019 #2

    Nate5700

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    Good resources @earlene. I personally don't go out of my way to avoid GM products but it could be helpful to those who do, or who wish to sell to those who do.

    I can probably find links to support this later if it interests anybody, but for me personally I think we've done worse things to crops then simply transplanting a gene or two. I read once that farmers used to irradiate seeds to get them to mutate so they could get traits they wanted, and now some of those varieties are certified organic. Go figure.

    The only irritation I really have with GM products is that Monsanto produces Round-Up resistant soybeans which cross pollinate into other farmers' fields. Monsanto then sues the other farmers, that they cross contaminated, for having Monsanto's patented gene in their soybeans. It's lame.
     
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  3. Apr 15, 2019 #3

    KiwiMoose

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  4. Apr 15, 2019 #4

    earlene

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    Yes, I saw that. And I have also read the Golden Wax statement that once their soy wax is processed there is no remaining Genetic Material in the batches that were tested, although it points out that it does not test on a regular basis. The belief that the processing eliminates discernible amounts of genetic material is what lead my mind to asking the question about can it still be called non-GMO? I suppose it depends on how it is phrased 'contains no Genetically modified material' as opposed to 'made from non-genetically modified soy beans'. See the difference? In my mind the difference is too vague and really open to interpretation.

    But non genetically modified soy beans do exist, even here in the US, and it is possible that such crops could certainly be used to produce soy oil and thereby soy wax. The same would be true of other GM crops that we normally use in soap and bath & body products. But the trend toward non-genetically engineered products is so young overall, that it's not likely that such products are going to become available on a widespread basis for a fairly long time.

    However, I see the EU has some regulations about labeling of non-Genetically Modified food and feed products, which is more than the US has done previously, although we should have similar labeling requirements implemented next year. In the US, the gov't calls it Bio-engineering, even though the general public calls it Genetic Modification. That will probably only add more to the confusion when it comes to what we look for on labels, rather than making it easier for the consumer.
     
  5. Apr 15, 2019 #5

    Nate5700

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    The argument that "once it's processed the modified genes are gone" seems like a lame copout to me. By the time you process it the gene has already done its work. Do some people think that consuming the actual modified gene (a sliver of a DNA molecule) is going to somehow be harmful? If you're going to say you're non-GMO then you should be non-GMO start to finish IMO. Like I said, I'm not big on the whole anti-GMO thing, but if you're going to claim it then you should mean it.

    Soylent (a meal replacement shake for those who aren't familiar) actually really impressed me one time. They don't make any bones about it, they posted right on their blog in front of God and everybody "PROUDLY Made with GMOs". Then they went on to explain why GMOs were not harmful in their view. If you're going to use them, just own it.
     
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  6. Apr 15, 2019 #6

    lenarenee

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    Farmers? Ordinary farmers had means to irradiate seeds???
     
  7. Apr 15, 2019 #7

    Nate5700

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    Define "ordinary farmer". I'm not imagining mom and pop on the family farm irradiating seeds, but corporate farming can't be that new a thing. And it may depend on what kind of radiation you're talking about too. Nowadays anyone with a microwave can irradiate seeds (not sure if it would do anything, but it's still radiation).
     
  8. Apr 15, 2019 #8

    Chris_S

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  9. Apr 17, 2019 at 3:30 PM #9

    decisions

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    Thanks for the links OP :)

    Only a very small number of available seeds/plants are GMO - it's just that they are planted on a LOT of acres. The list in the first article is not long - and not all varieties of corn, soybeans, etc. are GMO - most aren't.

    There is a reason why there aren't GMO seeds for sale in the typical seed catalog or your garden store - they don't exist. Buying non-GMO pea seeds is easy when there are no GMO pea seeds to buy. It's like buying vodka-free milk - it's easy to do because it doesn't exist. Next time you see "GMO-free" anything ask them which GMO item they DIDN'T buy. If there is no GMO option, then (at least to me) it's false advertising.

    By saying something is GMO-free when there is no GMO-option makes people think that a GMO version exists. It's a horrible way to make people afraid of something that isn't even there.
     
  10. Apr 17, 2019 at 5:20 PM #10

    earlene

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    Interesting points, decisions.

    I don't know if I would go so far as to think it would be misleading or unethical to say something is not Genetically Modified when it is not (just because a GM version doesn't exist.) Perhaps if there weren't so many people out there who think things that are not genetically modified, are, it would be a mute point. I suppose in a country where all products containing genetically modified ingredients were banned, it would not be necessary to label anything as non-GM.

    My husband works with people (granted, somewhat lacking in the education department) who believe that you cannot purchase any wheat product that does not contain genetically modified wheat (anywhere in the world, not just the US.) Now, my research tells me that is absolutely false, but at least one of his co-workers cannot be convinced. There are just so many people out there who do believe that there are a lot more GM grains being grown by farmers and mega-farmers, that they just feel safer buying a product that says non-GMO and then they don't have to guess.

    The other thing to keep in mind is the global aspect of genetic modification as it pertains to imports, exports, and processing of these items. For the consumer who feels strongly about avoiding the GM products, they are ever on the watch for possible or 'hidden' GM ingredients, and rightly so because it is important to them. Examples of possible or 'hidden' GM ingredients could be pretty much anything with even a little bit of corn, corn oil, or corn syrup in it (particularly common in the US) since there are so many GM corn crops in the world. As of 2017 32% of the corn crops world-wide are genetically modified. Even more notable, is that 77% of all soy bean crops world-wide are genetically modified as of 2017.
    http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/53/

    According to this, 92% of all corn crops in the US are genetically modified. So if one of us (in the US) uses corn oil in soap (not many do, I expect), could it be considered a non-GMO soap? Not to the person who wants no GMO in their life.
    https://www.nongmoproject.org/high-risk/corn/

    The fact that most seed catalogues for the home gardener don't contain bio-engineered seeds is irrelevant to the concern of buying products that may contain GM ingredients. I would venture to guess that the majority of consumers world-wide do consume products that have been produced by someone other than themselves, and often by large companies, and many of these items potentially contain GM items (even world-wide because of import/export and production methods).


    More to the point, I think is this: Educating the public about what is not now genetically modified or how likely it would even be in the products they buy would be generally beneficial. By keeping up with the list of bio-engineered/genetically modified crops, at least we can share with our friends, family, co-workers, students (if we have them), customers (if we have them), etc. about facts regarding this topic. And teaching them how to read and interpret ingredient labels helps, too.
     
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  11. Apr 18, 2019 at 4:03 PM #11

    decisions

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    Earlene, I wish it was as easy as educating but I think this is a knee-jerk emotional, not a factual, battle at this point. You are right - there is no GMO wheat or flour on the market and no matter how many facts you present to this person, he will never believe you. But by putting GMO-free on the product label, they more than imply that a GMO version exists and that their product is safer. I know people who think that modified food starch means it is GMO. It's not - but I'll never convince them.

    The way I look at it is that people who are afraid of GMOs should never eat a new food of any sort for the rest of their lives - it might contain a DNA sequence that makes a protein that they've never eaten before. There are always people who are going to have an allergic or otherwise negative reaction to something be it milk, sunshine, bee stings, peanuts, gluten, GMOs, avocados, kiwi, penicillin, etc etc etc. The list is a long as everything we are ever exposed to in our lives.

    I think it is important that the seed catalogs are claiming to sell non-GMO seeds - it puts the idea into the minds of millions of people that GMO alternatives exists for everything when they don't. But at this point in time, fear and marketing override fact in this arena.

    It's nice to see a well thought our perspective :) rather than vitriol on this topic.
     
  12. Apr 18, 2019 at 4:24 PM #12

    Steve85569

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    The last bit of this thread brings up questions for me.
    We humans have been modifying the genetic makeup of plants and animals as long as we have been farming. Maize became corn, we have beef and dairy bovines and fowl that lay eggs every day. All of those things just aint natural - we as a race have modified them over generations of breeding choices.

    Not having a GMO wheat out there is a myth. There is a test strain that was not supposed to be released from the test area in the Dakotas that was found just outside of Pendleton, Oregon a few years ago growing happily in a field. We are in fact losing control of GMO organisms.

    That said I do feel that gene splicing is dangerous to our general health.

    I have no control over corporate farming and the lobbying that prevents a sane set of guidelines.

    Many thanks to earlene for the thread!!
     
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  13. Apr 18, 2019 at 4:41 PM #13

    decisions

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    Actually, breeding doesn't modify the genetic make up of an organism - breeding is a selection for a desired characteristic. Breeding does not use any outside forces used to change the genetic make up of the organisms. The original maize was bred for desired characteristics to make what we know as corn today - the genome wasn't modified by man but traits were selected. Cows that produced a lot of milk were chosen for breeding, not cows that produced only a little milk. Chickens that laid more eggs were used for breeding, chickens that laid few eggs weren't.

    At lot of the wheat that we eat today was made by radiation of wheat kernels/seeds - they were irradiated and uncontrolled, random changes were made to the genome. The seeds were grown and the ones with the good characteristics were kept. No one knows what changes were made - and they aren't GMO as no genes were added.

    No company grows GMO wheat to make flour - escaped seeds are another issue and problem ~
     
  14. Apr 18, 2019 at 4:43 PM #14

    Nate5700

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    Precisely, which is why I wonder if and why genetic engineering is really any different. It's a philosophical gray area I suppose. The thing that scares me about it is the possible application of it to humans. The possibilities of fighting disease and improving quality of life are intriguing, but who's to say some rogue state couldn't genetically engineer an army of super-soldiers? Sounds kinda out there, but hey, it happened in Star Trek.

    I don't see why it should be, but as you said...

    For the sake of my mental health I've sort of had to let go on the worrying about what I can't control. Until we're somehow able to separate money from politics in the US, this is just one of the many issues that will remain unresolved.

    Sure it does. The desired characteristics/traits come from genes which are passed to the organism's offspring through selective breeding.
     
  15. Apr 18, 2019 at 4:48 PM #15

    kasilofchrisn

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    A while back I was talking with my parents while collecting some of my fresh chicken eggs to give to them.
    The topic came up of what kind of feed I was feeding my chickens.
    And the answer is that I have switched from feeding a corn-based feed that my previous batch of chickens ate to a no corn no soy version for my current layers.
    They asked me why I had switched and what was wrong with corn.
    And my answer was number one so much corn is genetically modified that I wanted to get away from that and number two I just feel better with them eating this food as I feel it's a bit healthier.
    Now my dad was a farmer for many years and he asked me what was wrong with GMO food,explaining to me virtually all food products today are genetically modified.
    The fact is that although most foods are genetically modified only some of them are modified in a lab using ultra modern science techniques.
    And it got me to thinking and understanding what he was talking about.
    I don't have a problem with a corn farmer crossing a corn that grows long ears with a corn that grows large kernels by cross pollinating on his farm by hand.
    But I do have a problem with a company like Monsanto or whomever modifying our sugar beets so that they are resistant to a cancer-causing weed killer.
    And I think that's the tricky part of the whole GMO labeling.
    Both of those examples I listed above are genetically modifying the plant but one of them is perfectly safe and healthy and the other one is questionable and may not be.
    As the above poster pointed out Corn used to be Maize. Many of the things that grow today were modified from a wild plant to the varieties that we have today.
    Although most of them probably got that way from selective breeding and cross pollination is that still not a genetic modification from the wild plants that they started with?
     
  16. Apr 18, 2019 at 5:11 PM #16

    Rune

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    I think, that if a product like soy wax is made from GMO crops, then the soy wax itself is GMO even though they claim they have processed it to death to remove any traces of it.

    Lard will not suddenly be vegan just because they might process it so much that the final product becomes like an olive oil or something. It will still be from an animal.

    I bought a GMO soy wax that is processed to death and have no traces of GMO left. So they say. I guess they have to do that to be able to export it to Europe. But I think it is GMO whatever they claim, since the farms over in America have GMO crops on their land, and that might be harmful for the local flora and fauna.

    If I one day start to sell soap, I will mention it if somebody ask, and send them the documentation for that soy wax so they can judge themselves if it is GMO or not.
     
  17. Apr 18, 2019 at 5:12 PM #17

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    Breeding is the selection of desirable, naturally existing traits/genes - breeding does not modify existing genes. If I want a red tomato that tastes good and doesn't crack, then I choose the plants with the reddest, tastiest and most crack resistant tomatoes and pollinate (or breed) them. I don't change anything - I just pick the traits I want from the plants with the best of what I'm looking for.

    Breeding is selection, not modification; changing a gene is modification. There is a big difference. We've selected the best foods to grow and eat, sure - but we haven't modified the genomes. Teosinte - the original maize - made tiny ear-like things on a plant with many stems. Over many, many years, plants that were tall, made bigger ears, and had fewer stalks were repeatedly chosen and used for pollinating and making new seed. Eventually we ended up with a tall plant that makes 1 or 2 very large ears. The Incas didn't modify genes, they bred based upon traits and made selections.

    Modification is intervening and changing a gene or genome - like putting in a gene from a Bt bacteria into a plant to make a Bt expressing plant. The gene in the bacteria is bad for caterpillars and organic farmers spray it on their crops to kill caterpillars all the time. A modified plant would have that bacterial gene added to it's genome and it's genome would be modified and it would be resistant to the caterpillars. If a plant was naturally resistant to worm X, you might use it for breeding - but you would not have modified the genome in any non natural way.
     
  18. Apr 18, 2019 at 5:42 PM #18

    earlene

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    Well, gene-splicing only happens in the laboratory setting. Hybridization is not gene splicing.

    Remember that natural selection has occurred in many species for thousands of years, and we don't think of the survival of the fittest as genetic modification, do we? Even if some change occurred over time within the structure of a plant as it adapts to changing environments (as they do when faced with changing environments), do we call that genetic modification? No, we call it environmental adaptation. Animals do it and plants do it; and so do mammals such as ourselves.

    Now, I do understand that some genetic changes occur over time, within some species of plants with hybridization, and the argument can be made that they were genetically modified unnaturally as opposed to natural adaptation.
    reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2607317/

    So I do understand the stance that hybridization was a crude form of genetic modification.

    However, with hybridization, one is working within closely related species. With gene splicing, (aka genetic modification or bio-engineering) DNA from non-related species are sometimes introduced into the DNA of the host. Looking at it that way, they are not the same thing at all.

    Edit: spelling correction.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2019 at 7:56 PM
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  19. Apr 18, 2019 at 6:08 PM #19

    Nate5700

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    Ah, now we're getting somewhere in this discussion. I failed to consider the case where say, a bacterial gene would be spliced into a plant or something. I could understand the concern with that, as it would be difficult to predict how that gene would behave in an organism it didn't originate from. Still, done properly, scientists can understand what sort of protein the gene would make and would thoroughly study its effects. It's the "done properly" that's the tricky part. Can we trust Monsanto to not cut corners in their research before bringing a product to market? I'd be a little iffy on that.
     
  20. Apr 20, 2019 at 6:40 PM #20

    earlene

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    Which brings us back to some of the reasons why there are so many people who choose not to purchase or use products made with bio-engineered material. I certainly understand refusing to buy products which essentially would support the perpetuation of less-than-ideal practices.

    But I think the fact that so many countries are looking at this issue and producing regulations around it, points toward at least an attempt to handle it responsibly.

    (At the bottom of this reference, there is a list of various countries' regulatory agencies for bio-engineered products. It may not be complete.)


    I agree with you on that, Rune. Ethically, I believe it is wrong to say a product was not made with any genetically modified material, just because the GM markers have been processed out.
     
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