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We have friends in Boquete who have strong opinions on GMO. Here is a recent article on the subject.

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US Scientists give GMO’s thumbs up

AFTER TWO DECADES of research, a report by 20 top US scientists has concluded that GM crops, some of which have been introduced to Panama are safe for health and the environment.

Here is a link to the full article:

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/us-scientists-give-gmos-thumbs

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I have a strong opinion about GMO, as well. My opinion is that you ought to follow the science. For the foreseeable future, there will always be people who make false claims, and shrill objections to GMO's based, in particular, on a strong negative bias against the company Monsanto.

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Monsanto bullies and intimidates farmers (please read the following links). If their products are so safe, why are they opposed to labeling them?   Consumers have a right to choose for themselves based on reliable information about the products they are buying. Even if the science says GMO products are not harmful, (and I'm not convinced) consumers have the right to know what they are buying. I try not to buy GMO products, in part because of the bullying tactics of Monsanto. That is my choice, and the US legislature should not protect Monsanto from labeling their goods.

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2008/05/monsanto200805

http://harringtoninvestments.com/uncategorized/press-release-shareholder-resolution-calls-on-monsanto-to-disclose-financial-risks-from-gmo-products/

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Exactly. It is a reaction against Monsanto (I am not here to defend their business practices) that colors many people's opinions and concerns about GMO foods. The bias against Monsanto can be confirmed by the fact that on forums such as this, we RARELY hear the same kind of invective's tossed at the other "big six" producers of GMO - BASF, Bayer, Dupont, Dow, & Syngenta.

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From the above link:  " It does recognize that transgenic resistance to certain herbicides is causing ‘a major agricultural problem’, as other plants and insects are developing immunity to the herbicides used in the GMOs fields."

I am not really concerned about the direct health effects of eating GMO foods, but rather other issues such as the brutal, small farmer destroying tactics of Monsanto and others and their legions of attorneys, and known and potential environmental issues. 

Selling things like "Roundup-resistant" GMO's do indeed benefit corporate requirements for maximizing short-term return on investments, but may have lingering negative effects on the environment. Remember that in addition to changing the character of the crop or increasing yields, many GMO crops are engineered to be resistant to herbicides and designed to kill pests or harm them in a way to reduce or minimize the damage they do to crops.  Roundup kills the most vulnerable weeds, but resistant individual weeds then survive, and natural selection leads to "super-weeds" developing.  Then, even more Roundup is needed to kill the super-weeds.  Rather then suffer losses due to super-weeds, farmers, in their desperation, use ever-increasing amounts of Roundup until the cost/benefit ratio kills the economic viabiliby of growing a particular crop. It's a vicious cycle.  (LINK)

From an additional link

First of all, it is important to understand what a GMO is precisely. The World Heath Organization (WHO) defines them as organisms whose DNA has been altered in a non-natural way. GM plants are usually changed to be insect resistant, virus resistant, or herbicide tolerant. With these changes come some potentially problematic environmental challenges.

Firstly, toxicity is a huge issue surrounding chemical pesticides and herbicides, used commonly with GMOs, in addition to the toxicity inherent to these plants. GMOs may be toxic to non-target organisms, bees and butterflies being the most talked-about examples currently. Bees are hugely important in the pollination of many food crops, but are unfortunately extremely endangered by modern agricultural techniques, such as GM crops. Monarch butterflies are specifically at risk from GMO maize plants. In addition to bees and butterflies, birds are also at risk from pesticides, and work as biological control agents and pollinators, again, like bees.

Furthermore, the long term effects of GMOs are not certain. Pests that are targeted by these agricultural methods can adapt to pesticides and herbicides, in addition to the DNA changes in GM plants to make them ¨resistant.¨ This means that they will not always be effective, but their toxic legacies will remain.

Cumulative effects of products such as GMOs are important to take into consideration. Evidence also suggests that small genetic changes in plants may produce even larger ecological shifts, meaning that there is potential for GMO´s to become persistent and weedy in agricultural conditions, since they are modified to be resistant to some modern agricultural techniques. This can also mean being invasive in natural settings, where GMOs, of course, do not occur naturally. It is not impossible for new, human modified, plants to become invasive species in delicate, natural ecosystems.

Finally, biodiversity, while it is critical in all ecosystems and to the sustainability of all species, is put at risk by GMOs. When GM crops are planted, generally in a mono-crop fashion, many heritage seeds are no longer used. The nature of GMOs means fewer weed flowers and, therefore, less nectar for pollinators. Toxins released into the soil through the plants´ routes mean fewer soil bacteria, which are integral to healthy soil for plants to grow without the use of chemical fertilizers. Toxic residues are left in the soil of GM crops. Nutrients are not returned to the soil in mono crops and from GMO foods, meaning that soil is becoming dry and void of all nutrients, generally integral to the growing process. A cycle of dependence on GMO seeds and chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides is then created in order to grow a single crop. In addition to soil issues, the irrigation used to grow GM foods naturally carries all of these problems into water sources and into the air. This exposes different bacteria, insects, and animals to the same problems.

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Yes, despite some of the information above being false or misleading, there ARE legitimate issues, as you point out with GMO crops, pesticide resistance among them. A number of people in the scientific community have suggested a best management practices protocol for both GMO & non-GMO crops that could alleviate these issues. Page 5 of the first link:

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/07/are_gmos_safe_yes_the_case_against_them_is_full_of_fraud_lies_and_errors.html

 

http://www.nationalacademies.org/includes/genengcrops.pdf

 

Edited by Gordon Bakke

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On 5/31/2016 at 7:19 AM, Gordon Bakke said:

I have a strong opinion about GMO, as well. My opinion is that you ought to follow the science.

Which "scientists" should you follow, Gordon? The article says "20 top US scientists" say GMO's are okay. As always, follow the money. Who pay them and pays for their "research?" There are a lot more than 20 scientists who say GMO's are questionable at best, harmful at worst. Here are just a few links. There are many more:

http://www.organiclifestylemagazine.com/scientists-against-gmos-hear-from-those-who-have-done-the-research

http://naturalsociety.com/800-scientists-global-gmo-experiment-stop/

http://www.saynotogmos.org/scientists_speak.htm

Personally, I don't care who is "pushing" GMO's: Monsanto,  BASF, Bayer, Dupont, Dow, & Syngenta. I'll repeat what someone else said: if these companies are convinced GMO's are safe, why are they fighting tooth and nail to keep the information off of labels?

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Just about every reputable scientific organization in the world has made statements to the effect that GMO foods are no more dangerous than their non-GMO counterparts.The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has made this statement:

"The science is quite clear: crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe … The World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the British Royal Society, and every other respected organization that has examined the evidence has come to the same conclusion: consuming foods containing ingredients derived from GM crops is no riskier than consuming the same foods containing ingredients from crop plants modified by conventional plant improvement techniques."

Here are just a few arguments against the idea of mandatory labeling of GMO foods:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/labels-for-gmo-foods-are-a-bad-idea/

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From the Slate artical I linked to above:

 

"GMO labels won’t clear this up. They won’t tell you whether there’s Bt in your food. They’ll only give you the illusion that you’ve escaped it. That’s one lesson of the Non-GMO Project, whose voluntary labels purport to give you an “informed choice” about what’s in your food. Earlier this year, Slate interns Natania Levy and Greer Prettyman contacted the manufacturers of 15 corn products bearing the Non-GMO Project label. They asked each company whether its product included any ingredients sprayed with biopesticides. Five companies didn’t reply. Two told us, falsely, that their organic certification meant they didn’t use pesticides or anything that could be harmful. One sent us weasel words and repeated them when we pressed for a clearer answer. Another told us it adhered to legal limits. Three confessed that they didn’t know. None of the manufacturers could give us a clear assurance that its product hadn’t been exposed to Bt.

That’s the fundamental flaw in the anti-GMO movement. It only pretends to inform you. When you push past its dogmas and examine the evidence, you realize that the movement’s fixation on genetic engineering has been an enormous mistake. The principles it claims to stand for—environmental protection, public health, community agriculture—are better served by considering the facts of each case than by treating GMOs, categorically, as a proxy for all that’s wrong with the world. That’s the truth, in all its messy complexity. Too bad it won’t fit on a label."

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