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GMO Oranges? Altering a Fruit's DNA To Save It

timothy posted about 9 months ago | from the you-wait-until-its-gmo-coffee-or-nothing-at-all dept.

Biotech 358

biobricks writes "A New York Times story says the Florida orange crop is threatened by an incurable disease and traces the efforts of one company to insert a spinach gene in orange trees to fend it off. Not clear if consumers will go for it though." The article focuses on oranges, but touches on the larger world of GMO crop creation as well.

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358 comments

nature and consumers (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406023)

Nature has been genetically modifying fruit for millions of years. Genetic modifications can be good, bad, or some of each.

Just because something is "natural" doesn't mean it's good for you. Many natural things are quite deadly. Just because something is modified by humans doesn't mean it's bad for you. It might be! But you don't know that just because it's "genetically modified".

Re:nature and consumers (0, Troll)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 9 months ago | (#44406113)

Show many ANY time in nature where plants have modified themselves with ANIMALS and FISH and then and ONLY then will I buy your bullshit, because in case you ain't been keeping up on current events they have been mixing everything from starfish to grasshopper into plants to increase yields and make them grow larger.

You might also want to look up "shotgun DNA GMO" to see how completely fucked up their splicing is, they take a LOT more genetic material than they actually want and fire it into the cell. What will all the extra do? Will it cause mutation down the line? They don't know and from the way they have been acting really don't seem to give a fuck and why should they? they can simply bribe the white house or congress, just like Cheney's buds at Halliburton did when they bought that asbestos company and were allowed to get all the assets while dumping the cleanup and liability on the taxpayer. Must be nice to be able to buy your way out of anything like that.

The one and ONLY one place where I would agree to this is where you are looking at total extinction, such as the case for bananas,which for those that don't know we only have a couple of Big Mike banana plants in a small greenhouse in South america (this is where the "yes we have no bananas" song came from, the wiping out of the Big Mike in the 1920s by Palm Blight) and it looks like the blight is adapting to the inferior Cavendish that we had to use as a replacement. if gene splicing would bring back the Big Mike, which is superior in every way, and save the Cavendish? Then and ONLY then would i be for this, because its a choice of that or nothing.

Re: nature and consumers (5, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | about 9 months ago | (#44406179)

Show many ANY time in nature where plants have modified themselves with ANIMALS and FISH and then and ONLY then will I buy your bullshit, because in case you ain't been keeping up on current events they have been mixing everything from starfish to grasshopper into plants to increase yields and make them grow larger.

Happens all the time between animal and bacterial species when viruses attack, and to a lesser degree with plants. A virus damages the DNA of the cell, and brings with it DNA from whatever animal or plant produced it. And there are other mechanisms that can produce similar results. See Horizontal Gene Transfer [wikipedia.org] for more info.

Re: nature and consumers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406297)

I'm not sure that applies. Spinach copies it's DNA into a foreign host using a totally different mechanism.

Re: nature and consumers (4, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | about 9 months ago | (#44406703)

I'm not sure that applies. Spinach copies it's DNA into a foreign host using a totally different mechanism.

Is that Volcano Bicep Syndrome you're discussing?

Re:nature and consumers (2)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about 9 months ago | (#44406195)

The majority of a plant's genome comes from [parasitic] vectors, not from beneficial mutations to the plant (the grey area being whole-genome duplication). And fish *are* animals. You're welcome.

Re:nature and consumers (2)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | about 9 months ago | (#44406217)

You might want to take a look at how much of your DNA you share with a banana before asking for examples of plants having animal and fish DNA. Plants don't have to modify themselves with DNA from animals because a lot of that DNA is already there. Yay for evolution and common ancestors.

Re:nature and consumers (3, Informative)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 9 months ago | (#44406615)

You might want to take a look at how much of your DNA you share with a banana before asking for examples of plants having animal and fish DNA

Funny that you mentioned banana's. Ever notice how banana flavoring tastes nothing like a banana that you can buy? Thats because the banana that tasted like that (the Gros Michel) were wiped out [youtube.com] by Panama Disease. We now eat Cavendish bananas, which is also at risk from the same disease.

Gros Michel [wikipedia.org]
Cavendish [wikipedia.org]
Panama Disease [wikipedia.org]

Re:nature and consumers (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 9 months ago | (#44406745)

Huh, I always assumed the fake Banana flavoring was a result of "close enough, lets ramp up production and market the hell out of it" rather than actually tasting like an existing fruit. Like all of the "grape", "strawberry", "watermelon", and "cherry" flavors.

Re:nature and consumers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406327)

That did happen before. But like over a billion years ago.

Plants and "animal" species (bacteria at best) commonly shared material with each other purely because of how early and primitive life was back then.

These days it is stupidly rare, if even possible at all, for it to happen naturally because a lot of life is now discrete and secured against stray DNA and RNA from inserting itself in willy-nilly. (besides viruses, of course)
Given what we know, it could happen, but the chances of it are absolutely tiny. About as much as we know for life to evolve to a sufficiently smart enough state that they can leave a planets atmosphere. (which we don't really know, humans are pretty damn retarded to be honest, I'd be surprised if we weren't the slow kid in the galactic life class)

Shotgun DNA insertion isn't that bad either, as long as the DNA itself actually survives.
For a start, it adds more complexity to the genome, and variety, and generally that makes things more stable against viruses with time.
Imagine if all humans were to die from a simple flu? That is what bananas are like right now. (and Bees too, in a sense, they are weak to an ecosystem change and aren't adapting quick enough)
By adding shotgunned DNA in that fixes the problem and adds possibly random other strings of DNA in too, it will create a genome down the line that will likely separate in to a distinct breed, some might die, some won't.
And the important part, some might develop natural immunities to potential evolutions of future viruses and weaknesses.
That alone is worth it.

Variety makes life survive. It is evolution 101. Same reason incest is bad, because it just ends up amplifying problems because no new DNA is being added to the pool. New DNA that could fix major problems and stabilize a dying species.

These are fruit. Not sentient life. If it was sentient life, then it would maybe be a different thing.
If oranges were to suddenly develop rogue scales out of nowhere, that wouldn't be that big a problem, kill that line, done.
If a human were to grow scales, then that would probably be a problem.
But we are only dealing with fruit. If it makes the thing survive, makes it more stable and doesn't cause any toxicity, insert damn alien DNA in to it as long as it works.

Re:nature and consumers (5, Insightful)

Cyberax (705495) | about 9 months ago | (#44406353)

Show me a wild tomato that can grow without human cultivation and is as tasty as any modern tomato.

What? You can't do it? How about wheat? Or potatoes?

ALL of our current crops are genetically-manipulated wild types that usually can't survive in the wild.

Re:nature and consumers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406373)

Show many ANY time in nature where plants have modified themselves with ANIMALS and FISH

You share MOST of your DNA with plants.

Sheesh.

Re:nature and consumers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406399)

You sound as ignorant as the Jesus trolls.

Re:nature and consumers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406779)

You sound as ignorant as the Jesus trolls.

I'll pray for both you and GP.

Re:nature and consumers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406407)

You're cherry picking your facts. How do you know it's bad by adding starfish DNA to something is going to cause a problem? Humans have like 55% of the same DNA as a banana. So how do you KNOW that this is bad?

People have been cross breeding animals and plants since agriculture was first invented, always trying to get better traits. Mules are the most commonly known example, but plants and food source animals are also quite common. Plus, there has been not a single recordable instance of a human being sick that can be traced back to GMO food. The people who are against it base their fear mongering entirely on hearsay and a lack of facts, and not a single scientific source that says it's ever caused a problem.

Re:nature and consumers (2)

Culture20 (968837) | about 9 months ago | (#44406793)

People have been cross breeding animals and plants since agriculture was first invented, always trying to get better traits. Mules are the most commonly known example

Minotaurs are the second.

Re:nature and consumers (4, Insightful)

Mike Frett (2811077) | about 9 months ago | (#44406853)

All of you are forgetting something, very rarely these days are things done to help or save people. In todays world, if something is made, it's only because someone thinks they can make a lot of $ with it. Consequences are an afterthought.

Re:nature and consumers (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 9 months ago | (#44406491)

What if the GMO crop saved millions of lives? Golden Rice, for example, is a huge boon for poor subsistence farmers in Asiatic countries. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_rice [wikipedia.org]

Re:nature and consumers (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 9 months ago | (#44406575)

I am fine with GMOs like golden rice. They basically added some genes to enable production of beta carotene on rice. Sweet potatoes already had beta carotene but they cost a lot more to grow. I am more skittish with the pesticide resistant genes since with horizontal gene transfer the resistance may pass to weeds and make the pesticide basically useless.

Re:nature and consumers (2)

Culture20 (968837) | about 9 months ago | (#44406803)

I am more skittish with the pesticide resistant genes since with horizontal gene transfer the resistance may pass to weeds and make the pesticide basically useless.

I believe you mean herbicide.

Re:nature and consumers (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 9 months ago | (#44407029)

I am more skittish with the pesticide resistant genes since with horizontal gene transfer the resistance may pass to weeds and make the pesticide basically useless.

"May"?

Re:nature and consumers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406813)

And what if it kills many millions of people? The jury is still out here, as new as it is.

While hundred years ago most agricultural plants, while clearly man-made in some sense, still had a immense diversity. Industrialisation of agriculture in Europe and North America already caused many subspecies of potatoes, wheet, tomatoes and many other plants go extinct, changing from a diversity where often each valley had their own kinds to one where in the whole of Europe hardly more than a dozen kinds of potatoes are planted instead.

This increases the danger that the surviving kinds will someday be victim to some newer desease and vanish as a whole.

"Helping" poor and developing country's farmers with "improved" seeds in the past usually only caused them to lose their biodiversity. With many schemes they can no longer create their own seeds at all, but need to buy them year by year, making independent farmers into interest slaves. Even with schemes where they still can produce their own seeds, reduced biodiversity means that new deseases likely mean their crop is no longer viable and they need to buy a new one.

Re:nature and consumers (5, Interesting)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 9 months ago | (#44406625)

Sure there are lots of scary looking methods of splicing DNA, but those are all done experimentally for research purposes. Those don't ever make it to your dinner plate.

You know the human body contains 3 complete genomes from viruses and about a hundred thousand or so incomplete ones. One of these virus genomes includes genetic material that transcribes to create a critical reproductive function that we could not live without today, and it came from some other animal. So indeed, humans themselves carry DNA from some other animal, and in fact depend on it. In fact, 8% of our genome comes from foreign sources.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/12/science/12paleo.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 [nytimes.com]
http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2012/06/14/we-are-viral-from-the-beginning/ [nationalgeographic.com]
http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/05/10/the-lurker-how-a-virus-hid-in-our-genome-for-six-million-years/ [nationalgeographic.com]

GMO has the potential to reduce the need for farmland, which if I were an environmentalist I would be ecstatic for because that means tearing down less forest land to create farms to feed people and end world hunger. In addition, it will make food much less expensive which means your bargaining power goes up, which means less poor people.

In commercially sold GMO, all they do is modify a very tiny number of codons to make the plant resistant to glyphosate. That's it. During natural reproduction, plants go through thousands of mutations, mutations much larger than this one, and we haven't the slightest clue what these mutations do. Yet making a small tiny change where we know exactly what it does has people like you raging? Why? Especially given that the chemical composition of the food that ends up on your plate is not chemically distinct from non-GMO based foods.

I don't know what GMO did to ruin your life, but having a vendetta against it because you're ideologically opposed to it doesn't do anybody else any favors. In fact, it does the world a disservice akin to the new rise of smallpox due to the FUD campaign against vaccines. In fact I'd say it's equally destructive.

Please stop spreading FUD about GMO. Thank you.

Re:nature and consumers (1)

linuxgeek64 (1246964) | about 9 months ago | (#44406649)

DNA isn't really a species-specific thing. There's no way you could tell that a sequence of DNA from a starfish was actually from a starfish without comparing it to the DNA of other starfishes.

And extra DNA doesn't cause mutation. Mutagens, radiation and miscopying cause mutations. Additional DNA is usually far more beneficial than harmful, because it can provide extra resistance to pathogens, as #44406327 said.

Also, jeez, you sound like a conspiracy theorist.

Re:nature and consumers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406835)

Well, if all the non-gmo oranges die off from this disease, so your only options are GM oranges or no oranges at all, which will you eat?

Re:nature and consumers (4, Interesting)

Xicor (2738029) | about 9 months ago | (#44406125)

certain companies that create genetically modified plants have left a bad taste in our mouths. and the problem is the government seems to support them even though they are total assholes. i dont mind the premise behind genetically modified foods... i mind the fact that companies can modify their strain of a plant to be incredibly dominant, which then spreads into other areas, giving the company grounds for a lawsuit. that being said, i think a lot of ppl dont like the idea of genetically modified foods because "humans shouldnt be playing god"... i believe they are under some misconception that there is a god playing a direct part in the evolution of plants and animals.

Re:nature and consumers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406885)

Monsanto does not sue farmers unless they have reasonable belief that the farmers are intentionally violating their patents. Monsanto offers to remove any errant GM plants from a farm for free if a farmer doesn't want them and doesn't intend to pay patent royalties.

I don't agree with patents on food BUT a lot of the complaints against Monsanto are totally fictional.

Re:nature and consumers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406141)

Not to mention that oranges are already a man-made fruit.

Re:nature and consumers (2, Informative)

Khyber (864651) | about 9 months ago | (#44406743)

Wrong.

Go take yourself a trip to the Citrus State Park in Riverside, California, and go learn about the history of the orange, which came from Brazil.

Re:nature and consumers (0)

Hentes (2461350) | about 9 months ago | (#44406155)

The difference is the speed of modification. Sure, there is naturally toxic food, but through thousands of years we have learned which ones are those. GMOs, on the other hand, are new and improperly tested food that are made to look exactly the same as the time-tested natural variants. Which is why labeling GMO is necessary so that we can collect empirical data on their effects.

Re:nature and consumers (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 9 months ago | (#44406157)

Genetic modification is in itself neither good or bad, it's all the question of which genetic modification that is done and the effects of it.

One problem that is common today is that there's a tendency to only grow a few very high-yielding crops in large volumes, and that means that if some disease starts to adapt to a certain crop then there's a risk that it can have a big impact.

Nature itself has a tendency to adapt, it's a continuing arms race between pests and crops, but when humans are involved the natural evolution is taken out of the equation.

Re:nature and consumers (4, Interesting)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 9 months ago | (#44406641)

Nature is full of extinction events. There is no particular reason to believe that anything that nature does will be beneficial to people; it's a wholly random thing.

The idea that nature is something uniformly beneficial is silly and naive.

Controlling the environment became the lot of man when he learned to make fire. Genetic engineering is just the latest manifestation of this.

Re:nature and consumers (3, Interesting)

lxs (131946) | about 9 months ago | (#44406161)

Nature doesn't care whether you live or die, so it is free to modify plants and animals at random even if a mutation breeds an organism that ends up killing off half the species on the planet. Humans are responsible for any harm that they end up causing their fellow creatures so it's right that we hold them to a higher standard.

Re:nature and consumers (1)

Xicor (2738029) | about 9 months ago | (#44406171)

or we should learn to mimic nature and not care if we kill off a species or two

Re:nature and consumers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406285)

You said a very important word there "we", the thing is this isn't "we" but for perhaps in a variant on the "Royal We" format. This is a limited number of people, companies, corporations, foolish and bought off politicians playing Russian Roulette (and not just with GMOs but with related chemicals as well) with the entirety of humanity and the rest of nature and with weapons potentially more destructive then ICBMs.. And like the old saying goes "It is NOT NICE to fool with Mother Nature!"

How appropriate, captcha: altars, considering they have us all on one.

Re:nature and consumers (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406305)

Something isn't natural because WE messed with it. Quit your straw-man bullshit. It never was about it being good because it is natural. It was about it being BAD because it ISN'T.
That is, because our body had millions of years, to adapt to it, and deal with it. But with what we changed, it had ZERO time.

Of course genetic modifications can be good or bad, or even both. But AGAIN, that's not the point! (Arguing besides the point is SO typical of industry lobby bullshit, I can smell it from 5000 miles away. Especially with straw-man arguments.)
It is about that we DON'T KNOW.

The only thing we do know, is that our bodies had ZERO time to shift the good/bad ratio towards good. Zero.
So it is much more likely to be bad than anything natural.
(Where "natural" includes those natural things we know are good because we ate them for ten thousand years and thrived.)

Example: Stevia: Used for >5000 years. Nothing of any way happened that made our lives worse when using it.
Aspartame: Used for <50 years. Made by a company with the trustworthiness and ethics of Dr. Mengele, known for countless acts of mind-boggling evilness. A source of phenylalanine. Conclusively shown to cause diseases. As if it wasn't already blatantly obvious to any biochemist out there who looked at its formula once.

Yet you probably believe that Stevia is "bad" because you cling to that one Monsanto "study" where it caused reproductive problems in mice. Even though that only happened, after they gave those mice half their body weight of Stevia *per day*. An amount where even water becomes gravely life-threatening! Let alone salt.

But you don't want to hear that. Because it's not knowledge with you. It's belief. (An American staple.) From what you have been told. And you don't actually know why you think that way. So you must cling to it even harder! Otherwise (you think) you'd have to hate yourself and how you fell so easily for such gigantic bullshit.

Typical American industry-brainwashed bullshit again.

And I really hope you die from it. Painfully.
Stupid of that magnitude deserves punishment by natural selection.

Re:nature and consumers (1)

SlashDread (38969) | about 9 months ago | (#44406427)

You are correct, on the surface of things.
However the anti-GMO argument is not just "GMO is always bad for you". It just states, that GMO is a way to uncertain technique at this moment to blindly risk the worlds food supply.

Re:nature and consumers (2, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 9 months ago | (#44406587)

That story is over. GMO has been in large scale production for decades now with no negative effects. The bogeyman isn't there.

Re: nature and consumers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406887)

Decades! Lol, try 1000 years and I might take you seriously. It's taken us 100 years to realise CO2 could cause us a few problems.

Re:nature and consumers (1, Insightful)

rmstar (114746) | about 9 months ago | (#44406445)

Just because something is modified by humans doesn't mean it's bad for you. It might be! But you don't know that just because it's "genetically modified".

In principle, that is correct. OTOH, leaving something powerful like genetic modification of organisms in the hands of corporations (with their well known behavioral disorders [siivola.org] ) is really a very bad idea.

And one of the primary negative aspects of the startup way of advancing science and technology is that after some point companies have a very strong incentive to lie, disinform, and cut all sorts of corners to make their product happen, because otherwise they go broke. That's ok with apps and other inocuous stuff, but something potentially dangerous like GMOs should not be done this way.

The situation is essentially the same as with nuclear power. Yes, it is theoretically possible to do it safely, but not in practice. So I'd be OK with banning GMOs until we find a better way of organizing such dangerous endeavours (could be a long time, though. I'm not aware of anyone thinking in that direction).

Re:nature and consumers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406855)

If it's natural, it means it's probably been around for a while, meaning we probably at least know if its bad or not. Consider, for example, that there is some evidence that refined grains, as opposed to whole grains, increase the risk of diabetes. Well do they or don't they? We just don't know, because refined grains haven't been around for that long. It takes a very long time to figure out a relationship between an item and a long term disease like diabetes or cancer.

Yet, making a more "naturally refined" grain would be the kind of thing that an agricultural company would want from GMO foods. We simply don't know what the long term effects of those changes to our diet might be.

Genetic Roullette (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406033)

Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods
ISBN 0972966528

There is a lot of scientific evidence that genetically engineered food is harmful long term, and I have boycotted all GMO food from my diet. I cut way back on processed foods, and always check the ingredients list. If it has corn, soy, conola, or other commonly engineered crops and doesn't say certified organic, I won't buy it. I also go out of my way to find restaurants that use certified organic ingredients.

GMO isn't about saving lives or helping people, it's about monopolizing food crops. They want to GM all food crops globally, plant and animal. Guilt organic seed vaults while you still can, we might actually need it someday.

Re:Genetic Roullette (2)

jcaplan (56979) | about 9 months ago | (#44406263)

The effect of a genetic modification depends on what was changed. Some genetic modifications have given clear and reasonable cause for concern. In the case of Monsanto's "Round-Up Ready" seeds, greater use of pesticides (Monsanto's "Round-Up") on crops is possible. Pesticide exposure is a serious risk for farm workers as well as the environment and a point of reasonable concern for consumers, though low-dose toxicology is tricky business. Another problematic modification is the addition of BT toxin genes to crops. Although, BT is approved for use in organic produce, the chronic low dose of BT toxin is a problem because it allows pests to evolve to become resistant to this useful compound more easily than would occur with occasional external application of higher doses. BT toxin resistance has already developed in India in response to crops incorporating the BT gene. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacillus_thuringiensis [wikipedia.org] It would be reasonable to expect more widespread resistance to occur with continued use of crops with BT genes.

The use of the spinach gene to give bacterial resistance to orange trees mentioned in the aricle does not have these issues. The article notes that this bacterial resistance gene is widespread, existing in variants in many plants and animals. Also, having orange trees with this gene would allow for reduced use of pesticides, which the article notes have tripled in response to the encroachment of the insect which carries the bacterium responsible for the destruction of the orange trees.

I would argue not for a ban on genetically modified organisms, but for careful scientific review on a case-by-case basis whether a modification carries a net benefit, not just on whether a particular crop is safe to consume. A serious problem with previous approvals is that they ignored effects like evolution of resistant organisms and incentives to use more pesticides.

Re:Genetic Roullette (4, Interesting)

JDevers (83155) | about 9 months ago | (#44406645)

I agree with your point, but to be fair Round-Up (glyphosate) is an herbicide and not a pesticide. I know, sounds like semantics, but making good arguments but messing up the details makes your point less salient. Glyphosate is also one of the safest herbicides in wide spread use, numerous studies have shown little if any long term adverse side effects and while acute toxicity is a possibility it is extremely rare and almost certainly an issue of a accidental extreme exposure. Natural resistance to glyphosate is the REAL reason to not want it used so widely. It is an extremely useful herbicide and to apply it when MANY alternatives exist because it make life easier than those alternatives is poor agriculture.

Re:Genetic Roullette (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 9 months ago | (#44406697)

Basically I agree with your points. My feeling, however, is that new GMO products should be treated the same as new drugs. One can argue that the controls should be tighter, as they expose more people to the change. Often the changes created by a new GMO organism are greater than the change in a new drug (which is often just tweaking to preserve patentability).

I think this means that I'm in favor of tighter controls on GMO organisms than you are, but I'm not sure, as I also favor looser controls on new drugs (than are officially in place...I'm not considering here that drugs tests are run by the people who will profit from finding them safe and effective).

Re: Genetic Roullette (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406529)

I am a trained geneticist and have been involved in genetics/genomics research for more than 20 years. I can categorically assure you that this book is complete and utter nonsense; in this particular case the one-star reviews are bang on.

GMO is scary... for now. (3, Interesting)

Lairdykinsmcgee (2500904) | about 9 months ago | (#44406067)

Genetic modification of crops in a formal sense scares people for now. But, this is a young technology, and current genetic modifications are made, to a certain extent, blindly. While these modifications have known effects, they are also bound or at least potentially bound to have unknown effects as well. The reason, however, that these do not scare me so much is that this technology will only progress, and we will only gain a better understanding of how these modifications are affecting our crops. Hopefully, we can make decent decisions ab out regulating this in the mean time, but I think it won't be terribly long before we can make genetic modifications that are solely safe and hopefully better for consumers. In terms of the historical progression of agriculture, there has never been a time in human history that we have NOT modified the genes of our crops; only, we have done this through controlled abuse of the relatively quick and convenient evolution of crops given their short lifespan (new generations are quick to rise). Barely anything we eat today would be naturally occurring in actual nature. We designed these things to occur through comparatively (to GMO) crude methods. Bigger watermelons, redder strawberries, beefier wheat, or what have you. GMO could be the next step in this progression of healthy and nutritious foods IF done correctly. All the same, with knuckle-heads controlling the direction of GMO, it could have vastly different and unknown consequences. I'm simultaneously nervous and interested to see where it goes with a little more time.

Re:GMO is scary... for now. (2)

Xicor (2738029) | about 9 months ago | (#44406133)

yea, i dont think anyone has forgotten the killer bee incident.

Re:GMO is scary... for now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406219)

Didnt realize those were man made until now. I hope they dont spread this far north.

Re:GMO is scary... for now. (0)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 9 months ago | (#44406449)

'Killer bees' are simply African honey bees introduced into South America. There is no genetic modification to this story.

Re:GMO is scary... for now. (1)

dragonsomnolent (978815) | about 9 months ago | (#44406531)

Actually Killer Bees are Africanzied Honeybees, they scientist who created them cross-bred the two species in hopes of making a more resilient honeybee. I suppose he succeeded, those killer bees are quite tough to take out (unless you have a flamethrower). http://lmgtfy.com/?q=killer+bees [lmgtfy.com]

Re:GMO is scary... for now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406969)

Wrong.

Orange juice sucks anyway (4, Informative)

WillyWanker (1502057) | about 9 months ago | (#44406077)

Once you understand how commercial orange juice is made I guarantee you'll never want to drink it again.

Re:Orange juice sucks anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406233)

Once you understand how commercial orange juice is made I guarantee you'll never want to drink it again.

How bad can it be?

Are they taking pay loaders full of oranges and the migrant workers that pick the oranges and just dumping them all into giant mechanical squeezers?

If so, why isn't there more protein in orange juice?

And is that were "Blood" oranges come from?

Re:Orange juice sucks anyway (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406381)

Yep. It's called Solyent Orange.

Re:Orange juice sucks anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406383)

No, oranges aren't always available or in season or whatever, so they store a lot of it for the year and it becomes flavorless, so they somehow make flavoring and re-introduce it into the juice when they are ready to bottle and ship it.

Re:Orange juice sucks anyway (2)

msauve (701917) | about 9 months ago | (#44406583)

It's not as you imply - juice losing it's flavor due to storage, then being artificially flavored.

Really, all you had to do was read the article to find that nothing nefarious is going on:

nearly all of Florida's juice [is] a blend of just two [varieties]: the Hamlin, whose unremarkable taste and pale color are offset by its prolific yield in the early season, and the dark, flavorful, late-season Valencia.

So, they get a bunch of unflavorful juice from one variety in the spring, store it, then mix it with flavorful juice from another variety when it's available later in the year. That's bad, how?

Re:Orange juice sucks anyway (1)

eriks (31863) | about 9 months ago | (#44406833)

It's a bit more than just that. Look at the "Not From concentrate" section of this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orange_juice [wikipedia.org]

and you'll get a better idea of what's done, though there is more explicit information available if you're interested.

The "Flavor Packs" they use are technically "natural" since they're derived from oranges, but the whole process sounds pretty nasty to me. I'll continue to just eat in-season fresh oranges or squeeze them myself for juice, and eat different fruits when they're not in season.

Re:Orange juice sucks anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406281)

Is it made from sausage?

Re:Orange juice sucks anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406415)

Fooey. People today are fine with eating or drinking something these days when they know how it tastes and they know what nutrients it contains. But when you tell them that it's Genetically Modified or you reveal the industrial processes that exist behind it (most food goes through these processes!), suddenly everyone gets all picky about it. Most of it is irrational pickiness (and I say that as someone that is irrationally picky about what food I will eat).

And when the new orange dies? (1)

Shoikana (174613) | about 9 months ago | (#44406097)

Why don't they work on a cure for orange greening? If they don't know the nature of the disease, who's to say that in 10 years the new orange won't be susceptible to a new or mutated disease? And then where are we?

Re:And when the new orange dies? (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 9 months ago | (#44406181)

This is happening all the time in nature, so that's nothing new.

The big problem is that humanity has been influencing the crops that we grow for such a long time now to obtain higher yields that some other parts like disease resistance has been put on hold.

Re:And when the new orange dies? (5, Interesting)

HiThere (15173) | about 9 months ago | (#44406831)

Sorry, but the big problem is monoculture. This results in an entire crop being (nearly) genetically identical. THIS results in all plants being susceptible to the same invasive organism...of course it's also what makes the taste, shape, etc. so predictable, and until the invasive organism arrives, that's quite advantageous.

I only eat natural foods.. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406105)

You know the kind that have been selectively bred over thousands of years and would never have happened by chance. The kind that are now grown in huge monocultures that are all susceptible to the same diseases like these oranges. I don't want people messing with my food!

orange juice is sugar water anyways (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406139)

OJ has this image as healthy, it's not really. It's just easy to mass produce, and the art of perfuming industrial OJ with natural oils so it always tastes the same is the key.

Re: orange juice is sugar water anyways (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406927)

Exactly, think how many oranges you'd have to eat to get a single glass of OJ. It's not much better than soft drinks really, and extremely unnatural.

This is great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406183)

Not only do we get an orange that can survive this disease, but we finally have a word that rhymes with orange: Sporange!

Saving Florida's Orange Crop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406213)

Anyone who has lived in Florida long enough knows that most citrus growers have been genetically modifying their citrus groves into housing development and strips malls for some time now. More money that way...

Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406245)

The orange is not endangered. Its not as if Florida is the only place on earth were oranges are farmed.

Symptom of monocropping (4, Insightful)

AttillaTheNun (618721) | about 9 months ago | (#44406273)

As stated by others, this is a natural phenomenon and is only a problem for modern industrial agriculture practices, especially those based on the mass monocropping of a few select breeds to feed the world. Putting all of our eggs in a few baskets is just ignorant. An ecosystem requires diversity to survive.

This smells like a scheme to make GMO crops more acceptible to the public, suggesting only science can save the oranges and therefore we'll just have to get use to the idea of GMO crops, as if there were no other viable alternatives.

Here's an alternative - replace monocrop orchards with polyculture farms (i.e. food forest) that are based on the same principles of natural ecosystems. Their diversity is what has allowed them to survive just fine without human interaction for longer than we've been around to fuck up the works.

Re:Symptom of monocropping (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406405)

From TFA:

“In all of cultivated citrus, there is no evidence of immunity,” the plant pathologist heading a National Research Council task force on the disease said.

Re:Symptom of monocropping (0)

AttillaTheNun (618721) | about 9 months ago | (#44406663)

Yeah I'm replying to my own post. There is a bias in this post that pisses me off, as it attempts to white-wash GMO crops.

"But the idea of eating plants and animals whose DNA has been manipulated in a laboratory — called genetically modified organisms, or G.M.O.’s — still spooks many people." Painting skeptics as less intelligent isn't likely to gain their favour. Besides, I do not choose to place the well-being of our environment and our food supply in the hands of corporations such as Monsanto that have clearly demonstrated an interest in becoming a monopoly food provider. I am skeptical that their GMO strategy would not include either sterile breeds or a hoard of patents and lawyers to defend their monopoly over the only remaining blight-resistant orange crop. It would surprise me none if the origin of this blight was not strategically introduced based on previously developed GMO resistance.

Re:Symptom of monocropping (1)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 9 months ago | (#44406883)

People are spooked at GMO, just as people are spooked at lots of stupid things. The answer to mass hysteria isn't to play along with it. People don't want to consume MSG or artificial sweeteners, even though these are well studied to have no effect on our health. Fat is terrible and we should eat as little as possible to be healthy, only it's the building block of human hormones, many nutrients need fat to be absorbed, and meta-studies don't show any relation between cardiovascular health and getting too much saturated fat. People need to eat vitamins, even though it's been very well established they are (slightly) detrimental to our health.

Re:Symptom of monocropping (2)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 9 months ago | (#44406861)

But the basic premise of agriculture conflicts with a diverse ecosystem. Farmers could plant a jungle, but their yield would be far lower & subsequently costs would be a lot more, I doubt it would be possible to sustain 7 billion people that way.

And all that to prevent using GMO crops, which are totally harmless to our health.

Re:Symptom of monocropping (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44407017)

AttillaTheNun here, posting anonymously from my phone.I rerspectfully disagree. Given aqual acreage, yields of a single crop such as oranges would probably decrease, total yield would be comparable if not greater, without the neeeds for expensive inputs and risks of a singler monocrop.

Sepp Holzer's farm in Austria is probably one of the most productive per acre in europe. Want an example of a large acreage american farm that switched from the typical monocrop of corn or soybeans to a more sustainable polyculture? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kb_t-sVVzF0&sa=X&ei=vEz1Uf_BL8G8yAGZ6oCIBQ&ved=0CBAQqwQ

Re:Symptom of monocropping (2)

HiThere (15173) | about 9 months ago | (#44406867)

Monoculture is important. (In an earlier post I made this very point.) But almost equally important is rapid transportation. This allows infective organisms to spread world-wide VERY quickly.

A balance has to be achieved (1)

houbou (1097327) | about 9 months ago | (#44406275)

It might be worth it, after all, what's the point of having this knowledge and not use it.

"root" cause of this problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406283)

The reason for this problem, regarding orange tree infections, is the prevalent mono-culture culture we have been pushing for many years. These systems are most susceptible to issues such as Florida's orange growers are facing today. Consider that ALL seedless oranges are clones of a single tree... What could POSSIBLY go wrong?!

Honestly, I'd happily put up with seeds to have a more healthy and disease-resilient ecosystem.

Re:"root" cause of this problem... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406377)

TFA:

“In all of cultivated citrus, there is no evidence of immunity,” the plant pathologist heading a National Research Council task force on the disease said.

Re:"root" cause of this problem... (1)

Khyber (864651) | about 9 months ago | (#44406765)

Key word: CULTIVATED.

Bet you there's plenty of wild citrus that is immune to this, given it's guaranteed to have wildly different DNA versus the mono-culture cloning of the same plant over and over again.

Re:"root" cause of this problem... (1)

russotto (537200) | about 9 months ago | (#44406913)

They may be evil moustache-twisting gene splicers, but they're not idiots. If there were a wild citrus species which was immune, they'd be mining it for genes.

nature has variation (3, Insightful)

markdavis (642305) | about 9 months ago | (#44406363)

>"Florida orange crop is threatened by an incurable disease"

And perhaps that is because they plant millions of the same species/strain with no natural variation? Haven't we learned yet how bad that is?

Re:nature has variation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406727)

Apparantly the orange industry isn't on speaking terms with the banana industry.

Re:nature has variation (1)

markdavis (642305) | about 9 months ago | (#44407013)

>"Apparantly the orange industry isn't on speaking terms with the banana industry."

LOL!!

OK, that isn't quite what I meant, but very funny

show me an orchard without disease (1)

mounthood (993037) | about 9 months ago | (#44406411)

Somebody has to speak for these oranges. You all got on this website for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I’m asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make oranges...better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave.

Don't like GMO? Look at the alternative (2)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 9 months ago | (#44406443)

No oranges.

The idiots that oppose protecting a worldwide food crop from certain extinction because they're scared of science ought be ignored flat out in this case.

Not a result of monoculture: (4, Interesting)

arielCo (995647) | about 9 months ago | (#44406543)

Quoth TFA:

“In all of cultivated citrus, there is no evidence of immunity,” the plant pathologist heading a National Research Council task force on the disease said.

Deal with it: there's no all-wise Mother Nature who has arranged for the perfect harmony of all beings. Species evolve taking advantage, in spite of, or in a mutual-benefit relationship with other; and then sometimes because the other simply isn't around. Previously isolated species may meet, and whole taxa may thrive or perish.

Citrus greening disease [wikipedia.org] has been around for a century across species, and it's incurable. The alternatives are 1. eradicating the pathogen (good luck), 2. eradicating the vector (even harder, and craptons of pesticides are required), 3. making the vector immune (read: genetic manipulation), or 4. making the plant immune (again, genetic manipulation). Pick your poison.

To all you GMO fans out there (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44406563)

I don't give a shit what you want to eat. Go and eat it. Just put a f*cking label on the food so that I know what I'm eating. If it is GMO or not, just label it.

There are douches out there that don't want food to have a label on it. Oh, they give reasons like "we don't think you should know about that" and "we are smarter than you". The truth is more like "this food is no good for you but we'll mix it in with real food so you can't tell".

Monocultures (2)

techneeks (1374735) | about 9 months ago | (#44406819)

are the real issue. If you plant 1000's of acres if one thing you are likely to have your crop wiped out by one disease that easily spreads. Use spacer crops to avoid spread of such diseases. I know it doesn't really fit with our ways of thinking but ... nature does it this way. Why not mimic it?
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