Genetically modified foods (vegetables especially)... - VeggieBoards

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#1 Old 07-13-2008, 05:47 PM
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Does anybody ever worry about cheaper, non-organic vegetables that are genetically modified, like corn? I'm pretty sure I've heard that the process for modifying the genes of different fruits and veggies involves things like fish cells or something. Is there truth to this? And if so, how does one find out which vegetables and which brands are safe? Would certain inorganic produce be off-limits, then, because of this very irksome complication?

Thanks! This just never seems to be brought up...
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#2 Old 07-14-2008, 02:47 PM
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Organic produce is always non-GMO.

Non-organic produce isn't necessarily; most field corn and soybeans in the U.S. are GMO for example. The source of the introduced genetic material varies by strain. It is more common to introduce genes from other plants or from microbes, but in some cases animal genes may be used.

To me, a GMO made with a fish gene is still vegetarian; in that the harm done to animals to get that GMO is not greater than the harm done to animals in normal plant production. Nor am I very worried about health consequences; I've never seen evidence or even compelling theory as to why they'd be harmful to me. I do prefer to have non-GMO for environmental reasons though.
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#3 Old 07-14-2008, 04:53 PM
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This is an interesting topic! Hopefully i can explain to you what I mean in an easily interpretable way...

In New Zealand, anything that contains more than 5% GM needs to be labelled (I think, or maybe it's anything that contains less than 5% GM can be labelled GMO free). So I try to read labelling carefully.

I'm not actually too afraid of GM products, although this does not mean that I support their production either.

If you are concerned about GM products from a Vegan perspective, as far as I know most of the genes used are from bacteria or other micro organisms and not transplanted from animals.

If they were transplanted from animals... then I guess it would be your choice whether to consume the vegetable or not! Technically speaking using animal genes in plants would be classed as exploitation of animals. But the process would only have to occur once in order to produce the crop, and then from there onwards no more animals would be harmed.

When you eat a vegetable with an animal gene in it you wouldn't be responsible for the death of an organism with a nervous system... so I guess depending on your beleifs it could be ok.

I'll have to think about this some more...

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#4 Old 07-15-2008, 12:58 PM
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the only thing that worries me about genetically modified vegetables is that they are sometimes modified to be resistant to herbicides and pesticides which is not good for the environment. If the plu code on the food starts with the number 8 is is genetically modified
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#5 Old 07-17-2008, 11:55 AM
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My understanding is that at the present time most (but not all) fresh vegetables in the store are non-GMO. Most GMO crops are large scale field crops like dent corn, soy and canola. Most of these have been modified to withstand being spayed with Glyphosate (RoundUp). Not only does this allow more herbicide use than before, but the biggest risk in my mind is the near certainty of widespread cross pollination with non-GMO crops or related weeds (creating super weeds). As a grower and maintainer of hundreds or rare heritage vegetable varieties one of my biggest concerns is avoiding any possible cross pollination with genetically modified crops being grown of neighboring farms. Luckily we have lots of trees that provide screens.
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#6 Old 07-17-2008, 12:13 PM
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My biggest objections to GM foods are that, for example, companies like Monsanto can sue organic farmers for "stealing' their patented GM plants if the pollen from a field of Monsanto's GM corn gets blown onto the corn in an organic farmer's field and pollinates it.

Seed from GM crops cannot be saved and planted, because it is either designed not to be viable, or it is patented, and must be purchased new, rather than saved from plants grown from previously purchased seed. You also are forced to purchase all the chemicals you need to grow these GM plants from the same company you buy the seed from, or you can be prosecuted.

I also dislike how they sell their experimental crap to developing nations who are dealing with famine and food shortage, because they know they are too desperate to say no. Lots of crops that the people in the USA would reject are being tested on the starving people of developing countries, and I find this reprehensible.
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#7 Old 07-17-2008, 01:02 PM
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Very important points, SomebodyElse!

About the high cost of GM crops and seed monopoly, and resistance:

I am much less worried about personally consuming plant foods possibly modified with animal genes rather than about the inhumane economic and environmental impact of these developments.

GM fruit/veggies in their fresh form are not really marketable in my country, they must be labelled clearly, and consumers apparently are sceptical about them, and organic food (all of which must be GMO-free by law) is quite popular.

However, many people care less about GM grains and ingredients of GM origin in processed food. But I'm glad that there is at least some awareness, especially as GM corn (MON810, the only commercially grown GM crop in the EU at present) is already being cultivated in Germany and some other EU countries - and mainly fed to farmed animals, as it is quite marketable that way, since non-organic meat/dairy/eggs are selling without problems...

Even more reasons to be/go vegan.
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#8 Old 07-17-2008, 01:54 PM
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I actually love to study genetics and plants and personally don't have an issue with the idea of genetic modifications. My only issue with it is what in the past we've been modifying towards and mostly the impact that these modifications have had on local ecology... (Such as the herbicide use as mentioned, the ability for these crops to become superweeds if they escape the crops which is actually a major concern with drought-resistant GMOs and the like, the effect the GMOs that produce inherent pesticides have on the insects that would naturally eat them, etc.) As for tree screens and distance standards etc. between crops and wildlife; its debatable how adequate the current standards are... However, I've read several studies that have shown that this issue might not be as of much concern as I personally give it... who funded those studies, I am not sure...

The change in the plant itself could easily be more nutritious, if we were to choose to do so. My only issue with that is in the past we've chosen big, pretty, shiney fruits/veg rather than more nutritious. Were GMO to become accepted within years I'm absolutely sure we'd see "Tomatoes, now with Omega-3!" and "High Fibre Peaches!" and "Broccoli with Vitamin B12!" and so forth--something I personally would definately consider adding to my diet.

Wednesday: the genes themselves are harvested from whatever it is has the gene we want; if we want frost resistance (as was given to tomatoes that sparked the fish allergy controversy) then we get it from atlantic fish. If we want disease resistance we likely get it from a strain of bacteria. If we want something plant B has, we get it from plant B.

There are several ways to produce GMO plants with this DNA and most (if not all..) of these ways include bacteria, as there exist several sorts that specialize solely in corruping plant DNA and so you can see how easy it would be to use this bacteria to add whatever DNA you want to your plant, simply by putting your DNA in the bacteria (which is relatively simple to do!)
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