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EU May Allow Members Home Rule On GMO Foods

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the but-don't-cross-the-border dept.

Biotech 272

think_nix (1467471) writes The EU Parliament is paving the way for EU Nation States to decide on banning or allowing GMO foods within their respective territories. An further article at Der Spiegel (German) (Google translation) quotes the German Health Minister's claim that if countries cannot specifically, scientifically argue for a ban, this would allow GMO companies to initiate legal actions against the banning ruling states. Furthermore it was noted, given EU Parliaments current stance on not reintroducing border and customs controls between member states, this will make checks and controls of GMO foods between member states even more difficult.

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Let's get rid of EU (1, Insightful)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 3 months ago | (#47238603)

This is the first step to get rid of the EU: reintroduce barriers within the common market.

Next, let's kill the Euro, and perhaps we will regain the ability to do in Europe interesting projects that are just impossible right now: if a project like Ariane would start today, the EU commission would kill it because of free market distortions

Re:Let's get rid of EU (5, Interesting)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | about 3 months ago | (#47238691)

The EU is a weird beast. It's got enough power to be a huge pain in the ass, but not enough to actually do anything. The result is it can't adequately respond to challenges (ie: Crimea, the PIIGS debt crisis), but everyone still hates it for cramping their style. It's somewhat analogous to the US Articles of Confederation, except that government had even less power then the EU (it was somewhere between the UN and NATO in it's ability to bully member-states).

In the long term it's probably much better for Europe if Europeans decide to go the route we Americans did, and create a truly Federal state with it's own Army. The economic advantages of national autonomy are irrelevant if the Russians have just conquered half of Poland, all of Belarus, Moldova, etc. If they paid the right bribe to any single EU or NATO member-state (ie: Bulgaria has had it's eye on a small chunk of Romania since WW1) they could paralyze every Europe-wide organization because on any issue that actually matters ALL member-states have a veto.

Europeans are incredibly good at convincing themselves a small (and in the context of a 7-billion-member human race, even Germany is miniscule), wealthy country is a major global player. You can pull that off if you're wealthy enough. If Nigeria, the Chinese, Indians, and a dozen-odd other states all get their economic houses in order you'll all be Luxembourg.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (2, Insightful)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 3 months ago | (#47238747)

In the long term it's probably much better for Europe if Europeans decide to go the route we Americans did, and create a truly Federal state with it's own Army.

But the EU has been an anti-democratic power for decades, and it seems magic thinking to believe it could evolve in the right direction now. Giving more power to it is an attack on democracy. Giving it an army seems just foolish.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (4, Insightful)

perpenso (1613749) | about 3 months ago | (#47238857)

In the long term it's probably much better for Europe if Europeans decide to go the route we Americans did, and create a truly Federal state with it's own Army.

But the EU has been an anti-democratic power for decades, and it seems magic thinking to believe it could evolve in the right direction now. Giving more power to it is an attack on democracy. Giving it an army seems just foolish.

The previous poster mentioned the US Articles of Confederation (the first attempt at governance after gaining independence) and suggested going the American route. Going the American route would not include keeping the current EU. In this analogy the current EU would be discarded like the Articles of Confederation were and member states would create a new governing body and a new set of rules.

In short, the US didn't evolve from one system to another. We completely thew out the old system, learned from its flaws and started over.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (3, Insightful)

ArmoredDragon (3450605) | about 3 months ago | (#47238913)

You'd also have to ask the member states to give up their sovereignty. This wasn't easy even in the case of the US as there were a ton of issues that needed resolving (i.e. balancing power between small and large states.)

This would be incredibly more difficult in the case of Europe since the individual member states have had their own identity often going back two or even three millennia, not only that but what cultural identity would they take? I.e. little things like what common language will they speak? (Granted the US has no official language, but 80% of the population speaks the same one...such is by far not the case in the EU.) Also, I'm having a hard time seeing how e.g. England would agree to it, seeing as they even refuse to adopt the Euro (which it turns out was actually a good idea and worked quite well in their favor) and they don't even drive on the same side of the road as everybody else.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (2)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | about 3 months ago | (#47239039)

You're creating problems that don't exist.

Let's say we create an EU Senate. Have it based in Strassbourg so the MEPs don't have to make that ridiculous trip one month a year. Give it the same language rules as the EU Parliament. We have now solved many of the problems small states would have with this arrangement. Then merge the various treaties governing the EU into a single document, with three changes:

1) The Senate and associated little EU state/big EU state powers are included.

2) EU states give up their sovereignty over foreign policy and military policy. This includes their vote as members of the UN, but they can retain non-voting representatives if they can convince the UN to go along with it.

3) The EU gets the right to tax to pay for the military and foreign policy. This includes procedures for fully integrating dozens of militaries. It also probably includes a specific tax (ie: VAT not to exceed 10%, plus an income tax if approved by 3/4 of the Senate, or whatever).

Everyone passes it as an Amendment to their Constitution. Then you heave EU-wide elections, and the new EU PM is the most powerful person in the world.

I will agree it's highly unlikely that all this would happen. But if it did it would make Europe much less dependent on US Military aid, make Putin much less likely to get frisky, and generally make the entire world a better place.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47239175)

In the long term it's probably much better for Europe if Europeans decide to go the route we Americans did, and create a truly Federal state with it's own Army.

But the EU has been an anti-democratic power for decades, and it seems magic thinking to believe it could evolve in the right direction now. Giving more power to it is an attack on democracy. Giving it an army seems just foolish.

The previous poster mentioned the US Articles of Confederation (the first attempt at governance after gaining independence) and suggested going the American route. Going the American route would not include keeping the current EU. In this analogy the current EU would be discarded like the Articles of Confederation were and member states would create a new governing body and a new set of rules.

In short, the US didn't evolve from one system to another. We completely thew out the old system, learned from its flaws and started over.

So what you're saying is that we need to have a WW3 in Europe and then build from the ashes. Fuck that !
The current EU isn't ideal, yet it's vastly better than having a continent on continual war.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (2)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | about 3 months ago | (#47238905)

In the long term it's probably much better for Europe if Europeans decide to go the route we Americans did, and create a truly Federal state with it's own Army.

But the EU has been an anti-democratic power for decades, and it seems magic thinking to believe it could evolve in the right direction now. Giving more power to it is an attack on democracy. Giving it an army seems just foolish.

Problems with democracy in a democratic government are caused by two things: Since the EU is set up by a bunch of democracies, it should fit the pattern. And it does. the problems are:

1) Voters who don't know how they're supposed to do their jobs.

2) Institutions that make it really hard for voters to do their jobs.

1) is difficult to solve. The UK has done things one way for centuries. the voters have gotten very used to Westminster system/responsible government/etc. They can deal with that. Government-by-committee-Northern-European-style in Brussels is something they will not learn how to deal with for a few more decades, especially because of:

2) The system is fucking hard to understand. EU states won't give significant powers to the Parliament, so most actual important decisions are made in closed-door meetings between two-dozen Heads of Government. Instead of a potential Greece bail-out being determined by MEPs using their budget, it's determined at a ridiculous conference where dozens of politicians, many elected specifically because they hate the very idea of having an EU (I'm looking at you True Finns) get to bash the Greeks without actually contributing anything useful.

Then the EU Parliament uses it's miniscule power to tweak some regulation, which screws somebody somewhere in the EU because the EU is a fucking big place, and only true Euro-obsessives understand why any of that shit actually happened.

So let's say you're an Austrian voter, you think the Greek people were lied to by their government, and therefore deserved a slightly better deal at the bail-out. If you were a rational human being you'd assume that meant voting for some Europhile left-wing party in the EU elections, but in reality the EU Parlaiment could not do jack about Greece, so what you actually had to do was vote for the Europhile Left-Winger for Prime Minister.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 3 months ago | (#47238937)

The EU could currently not join itself. It fails the democratic requirements.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 3 months ago | (#47239005)

The EU could currently not join itself. It fails the democratic requirements.

This deserves mod points!

Re:Let's get rid of EU (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 3 months ago | (#47239011)

Can't claim that bonmot for myself. IIRC the president of the EU parliament said that.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about 3 months ago | (#47238759)

The United States has a common culture, language, and shared history. The EU has none of those things. The EU is a pet project of a handful of elites with their own agendas (some noble, some not so much) and precious little buy in from the masses at large. It started out as little more than a free trade association with the hope of building a shared economy that would make another European War harder to contemplate. The leap from that to a European version of Washington DC is a bridge too far.

The issue with the Russians is another matter entirely, but I'm not sure why the EU would have more luck deterring them than NATO would. Only four NATO members out of 28 (the US, Turkey, the UK, and France) live up to their obligation to spend 2% of their GDP on defense. You think a European Federation would have any better luck convincing the population to spend money on defense? That seems like a reach. Is there enough of a shared culture to convince the French to send their sons and daughters to die for the Latvians? That's even more of a reach. What about nukes? Will London and Paris surrender control of their nuclear arsenals to Brussels?

The United States works because it's one people, with a shared history. A Federated EU would be an artificial construct, the proverbial rotten structure that comes crashing in with one solid kick.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (2)

jemmyw (624065) | about 3 months ago | (#47238821)

We have at least two of those, a common language and shared history. The language is English, because as much as the French hate it, it is the lingua franca in the EU. The history is one of fighting one another tooth and nail, but it is a long history and most of those wars were about a small handful of elite too.

Is there enough of a shared culture to convince the French to send their sons and daughters to die for the Latvians?

Yes, absolutely. No different to what happens now with NATO.

My argument against a federal EU is from another direction. The USA is too big, and it's politics have become paralyzed by it's size. It might be better off devolving a lot of power to the states.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 3 months ago | (#47239119)

The common language is not common enough. In reality, you can't read a spanish newspaper, or a greek, latvian, swedish one etc. if you don't understand the language, you can't understand what politicians or people are saying in their countries and so the peoples are walled off each other. It's a major hurdle if you want to build a european wide democracy.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47238823)

The United States works because it's one people, with a shared history.

Yeah, its European ancestry. It must be all the wide open space that enabled all the different people to tolerate each other. The US is the original EU. It worked due to limited bureaucracy.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47238825)

The United States has culture and a history? Hahahahahaha! Good one.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (2)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | about 3 months ago | (#47238867)

You don't know much American history. As late as the 1860s almost everyone thought of their first allegiance as to their state, rather then the Federal government. Even today there's more difference in the perception of America's shared history and culture between regions of the US then there would be between many pairs of European states. The Low Countries have a lot more in common with each-other then Texas has with Maine, it's the same with Scandinavia, the Deutscher Sprachraum, etc.

As for military spending, you do realize that France and the UK would have a vote on the European defense budget? Combined they'd have a bigger vote then anyone else. And they'd have help from former Warsaw pact members who a) fear Russia, b) would probably disproportionately not pay for the military (because taxes typically hit richer regions harder, and the ex-Warsaw Pact is poor compared to Luxembourg), and c) would receive a disproportionate amount of the benefit (where do you think the front lines would be? Not in Brittany.). Moreover even 1% of EU GDP would be double Russia's current defense spending.

As for "shared culture" being required for people to die for a country, stop reading about 5 years in the 40s. Ethnic Romanian Transylvanians never had a problem dying for an ethnic German or Hungarian King of Hungary ads long as said king acted in what they perceived was a lawful and fair manner. Same with Bohemians and their German nobles, Shleswig and it's Danish King, etc. Conscription could be a problem, but if France joined a European Federation, and said federation went to war over Ukraine, nobody would bat an eye that volunteers in the Federation Armed Forces werer dying for a bunch of Orthodox Slavs.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about 3 months ago | (#47238961)

You ding me on allegedly not knowing American history and then suggest that France and UK would have a bigger vote than (note the letter in bold) everyone else in a Federated EU? You do realize how the United States Senate is structured right? Why exactly would the low population EU countries be willing to join a Federated EU that allowed the high population countries to dominate them? If your idea is a United States of Europe.....

The strongest powers in the EU have allowed their armed forces to atrophy to a point where they couldn't sustain a bombing campaign against a third world country without American assistance. There are over a dozen countries in the EU and NATO that can't contribute in any meaningful way to collective security. You seriously believe there's the political will to both form a genuine Federation and take a leading role on the global stage? You say conscription "could" be a problem?! Outside of Finland and Switzerland I can't think of any EU country that still practices it. But you want me to believe that all three dozen or so squabbling countries are both going to surrender their sovereignty and suddenly move forward with a common defense policy that has teeth?

Do some reading on the political crisis that was instigated by NATO's decision to deploy the Pershing II Missile in the 1980s. Then contemplate these facts:

1. NATO was a lot smaller in those days, so consensus was easier to obtain.
2. NATO had a real enemy in those days, so policy makers were more willing to take a political hit for the greater good.
3. The missiles were just a ploy to bring the Soviet Union to the negotiation table, which everybody was smart enough to realize, except the Greens.
4. European politics in the 1980s were a lot less hostile towards the defense establishment than they are today.

You're dreaming if you think European politics in this day and age would allow for any of what you're proposing. It's telling that you concede the UK and France would need to outvote the rest of the States before they could have a meaningful defense posture.

P.S., The EU and NATOs best hope is that Putin doesn't call our respective bluffs, because I find it extremely unlikely that the Baltic States could withstand the sort of subversive campaign that he has applied so successfully to the Ukraine, nor do I think anybody in NATO is truly willing to go to war with a nuclear state over them. Germany? Sure. Poland? Probably. The Baltic States? Not bloody likely.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (1)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | about 3 months ago | (#47239097)

So if somebody told you that Wyoming had a smaller vote in the US then Cali you'd call BS on him because of the US Senate? Spoken like somebody who would make a big deal out the e in then.

As for the rest, I think you;re under-estimating a) how fucking big the EU is, and b) how being big changes the EU's military incentives. At 1% of GDP the EU would be spending $140-$160 Billion a year on defense. That's double the Russians and almost as much as China. Heck, the Germans, French, and Brits alone spend $160 Billion. Add in Italy and they've got the Chinese beat.

France can't actually afford all the things a real great power has, so they do a weird kabuki theater version, with a pint-sized aircraft carrier, some real fighter jets, and not much else. Same with the UK. Even if they tripled their spending they probably couldn't support a single carrier battle group, and a couple Stealth Bombers. OTOH, if they're together with the entire EU they have legitimate needs for flexible airpower on the Baltic, the Black, the Mediterranean, and the North Atlantic; which could mean carrier battle groups. They also have a need for strategic transports 9to get German tanks to Ukraine quickly), and a 10 Billion Euro bill for strategic bombers is much more doabable if your base defense budget is 192.5 Billion Euros.

As for the politics, I freely admit this is not likely to happen. At all. My argument isn't that I can magically convince the Austrians to give up their sovereignty to Brussels, it's that if somebody did magically convince the Austrians to do so a) the world would be a better place, and b) the Austrians would not regret it.

history mocks you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47239047)

history mocks you. All of your examples were effectively mercenary armies, and irrelevant to a modern democracy.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 3 months ago | (#47238943)

It still is little more than a free trade association. More and more it seems the main goal is to make it easier to get laws bought, instead of buying each country individually you get a central hub you have to bribe.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about 3 months ago | (#47238911)

The EU is here to stay. It's too convenient a scapegoat for politicians who can blame any kind of unpopular policy on it. It goes like this: If you have an unpopular policy to push through, band together with the other EU countries who suffer from the same problem, make it a EU policy, and then you can go home, wring your hands and sigh that you really, really don't want to do that to your people but the EU forces you to.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (1, Troll)

rtb61 (674572) | about 3 months ago | (#47238941)

Not to forget that is regardless of how much the US wants it to disappear in order to ensure US dominance ie the worst of Greece's debts were crafter by a US corporations specifically to cheat EU rules. The US is seeking to dump the Ukraine on the EU in order to further destabilise the EU. The conservative UK is colluded with the US under the five eyes conspiracy, to disrupt the EU. The pesky euro just become to powerful against the US dollar, so as said by Nuland "FUCK THE EU", a lot more was going on there, than just some crazed scheme to destabilise just one country. So now create conflict between Russia and the EU in order to cut off gas supplies and further damage the EU economy, added benefit you cut off exports from the EU to Russia and who does that hurt the most EU or Russia and who benefits, the US and whoops China, now that isn't all that well thought out either. The corporate states of America, never to be trusted with anything, too many heads pulling in too many directions, the corporate hydra.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (1)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | about 3 months ago | (#47238967)

Goddamn. Anti-American Leftists really have no clue what motivates US Policy.

What we actually want is a peaceful, stable, and extremely boring Europe. This has been policy since George Washington, but the tactics have changed from isolationism to muscular interventions that promote our vision of a democratic and capitalist world. We switched tactics not because we feared the left was about to take over Europe, we did it because the right (aka: Hitler) had actually already taken over Europe, and turned the continent into a real life Dystopian Nightmare. We stopped him by supporting the Soviets to the hilt, and later insisting that our European puppet states remained democratic (to our great discredit, we did not manage to make sure all our global puppets were free; but within Europe itself our record was quite good).

What we want is actually a federal EU with a huge Army. That way we could send our army home, and know that Putin couldn't get up to any shenanigans. Since democracies (especially capitalist democracies) tend to agree on almost everything, we'd probably end up fighting on the same side in any non-European War either of us got involved in.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about 3 months ago | (#47239013)

"Goddamn, Americans really have no clue what motivates US Policy" because there are too many heads pulling in too many directions often conflicting directions but it is still pretty easy to figure out which US corporations and doing what stuff to advantage themselves and bugger everyone else, including all those other competing US corporations. THERE IS NO COHESIVE US POLICY, NONE, IT DOES NOT EXIST, wake up to that fact and you will realise why the US is fucking up all over the place, it is doing it to itself.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (2)

peppepz (1311345) | about 3 months ago | (#47239161)

Your government wants Europe to meet the interests of the companies that rule your country. Whether that means a peaceful, stable, boring place or a fascist, military-controlled, or terrorism-ridden state [wikipedia.org] is of secondary importance.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (1)

Rei (128717) | about 3 months ago | (#47239231)

Gladio had what to do with private corporations? It was an anti-soviet guerilla-prep program run by NATO in every country in Europe, wherein later a few groups got infiltrated by right-wingers who tried to use their power in immoral manners. But that doesn't stop a particlar brand of conspiracy theorist from crediting to Gladio everything under the sun.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 3 months ago | (#47239009)

If such a plan existed, it backfired badly. The fallout of driving a wedge between the EU and Russia was a multi billion dollar gas deal that now gives China billions of cubic meters of cheap gas.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47239221)

And if that decrease the number of new coal plants built, it sounds like a win.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (4, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | about 3 months ago | (#47239265)

Is that a joke? The "gas deal" certainly provides cheap gas all right - so cheap that there's essentially zero profit in it for Gazprom. It's a real testament to how desperate Russia is to not look like they're dependent on the EU to buy their gas. Check out a map of Russian gas pipelines. Notice the complete lack of any pipelines anywhere near China's major cities. The gas deal leads from an undeveloped field through a nonexistent pipeline through nonexistent processing facilities. The pipeline isn't supposed to come online until 2020, and the main field until 2021. And that's assuming they can actually build it, which given their track record while *not* under sanctions is a big "If". And even if all that transpires, it's still a small fraction of their EU gas exports.

Anyone who actually looks at the "deal" can easily see it was just a PR move.

The concept that Russia can just turn east to China is beset by the fundamental problems that Russia doesn't have infrastructure connecting itself well with China, the vast majority of their people live nowhere near China, the vast majority of their industries are nowhere near China, and so forth. Russia is set up to function as part of Europe. And if it came down to it, does anyone in their right mind think that if the EU and US basically told China "us or them", they'd choose Russia, rather than the vastly larger markets of the US and EU that China's already intensely integrated with?

Not like the "breakup" with Russia would be painless for Europe. They'll be paying higher oil rates and significantly higher gas rates, plus higher rates for a wide variety of raw materials. But the situation is highly lopsided; Russia's GDP is an eighth the size of Europe's, a 16th the size of Europe + US. Whatever reduction in trade that hurts the EU / US hurts them an order of magnitude worse, barring huge multipliers on their part. Their manufacturing sector, in particularly high tech goods, is grossly undersized for the size of their population, and that's very unfortunate because such goods (in particular industrial goods, spare parts, etc) are often not fungible. They're also highly dependent on food imports (at least those are fungible).

Re:Let's get rid of EU (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 months ago | (#47238959)

In the long term it's probably much better for Europe if Europeans decide to go the route we Americans did, and create a truly Federal state with it's own Army.

Just look at how well creating a strong federal government with a large standing military has worked for the USA! Why, it's practically turned it into a shining beacon of peace, freedom, and international cooperation!

Re:Let's get rid of EU (1)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | about 3 months ago | (#47238983)

Actually, it did. We were literally not a free country until Lincoln centralized the government and created a large standing army.

You don't want to give the central government too much power, but if you give it too little you risk a nasty neighbor (such as us Americans) turning you into a private fiefdom for a Fortune 500 company. Just ask the former United States of Central America how well going their own ways has worked out for them.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 3 months ago | (#47238727)

Nah. It would still happen.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47238865)

You're a moron.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47239217)

Kind of stupid comment to make.

Re:Let's get rid of EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47239107)

Barriers might be a good thing for altogether different reasons than killing the EU, namely, bio and food security, crime prevention, traffic and resource management and control of social and economic development. Not that the last part sound very freedomy and commie-free.

if a project like Ariane would start today, the EU commission would kill it because of free market distortions

Considering the competition in the global launch market from Russia, China and others, the free market seems to eats Ariane even with the ESA support. I'd rather see such killing to cause a birth of a competitive launcher industry, although the launchers have been a government supported item from the start for obvious reasons. I wonder how SpaceX is actually doing in the financial sense.

I actually read the article... (4, Informative)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | about 3 months ago | (#47238611)

So I should probably be banned from Slashdot.

It assumed a lot of knowledge about how current EU GMO law works. I think that it was saying that currently the EU in Brussels approves GMOs in European agriculture, and then national governments can choose whether to let the crops into their countries. So the EU approved a strain of corn, and something else (it's mentioned in the article), and France/Germany/etc. have said those two crops aren't allowed within their borders. This just gets rid of the EU step. They'll be banned in Berlin and Paris, not Brussels.

The article also mentions that the nations would need a reason to justify banning a GMO, but given that the MEPs quoted were mostly from countries that enthusiastically enforce the ban and nobody was going "hey, but your government will be forced to let GMOs in," I strongly suspect that the list of reasons a state can give for justifying a ban is really long.

Re:I actually read the article... (4, Informative)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 3 months ago | (#47238669)

So I should probably be banned from Slashdot.

It's pot luck really... the probability is close to equal that you'll be modded informative for your blasphemy.

It assumed a lot of knowledge about how current EU GMO law works. I think that it was saying that currently the EU in Brussels approves GMOs in European agriculture, and then national governments can choose whether to let the crops into their countries. So the EU approved a strain of corn, and something else (it's mentioned in the article), and France/Germany/etc. have said those two crops aren't allowed within their borders. This just gets rid of the EU step. They'll be banned in Berlin and Paris, not Brussels.

I am as interested in eating healthy as the next bloke who cares about productive longevity, but corn is the most genetically modified crop in the history of the world...for a reason. It's caloric value per cultivated acre rivals that of the best of the grains. Without these super-grains, the human race has outstripped nature's ability to feed the 7 billion or so of us.

The article also mentions that the nations would need a reason to justify banning a GMO, but given that the MEPs quoted were mostly from countries that enthusiastically enforce the ban and nobody was going "hey, but your government will be forced to let GMOs in," I strongly suspect that the list of reasons a state can give for justifying a ban is really long.

The human race was eating GMO long before it wasn't cool. Wild grains were exploited and improved by the first hundred generations of hunter/gatherers before science knew what a genome was.

Re:I actually read the article... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47238781)

Yes, we've been splicing those genes for generations.

Oh wait, we haven't. Anyone who describes selective breeding as genetic modifications is trolling.

Re:I actually read the article... (5, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | about 3 months ago | (#47238783)

The human race was eating GMO long before it wasn't cool. Wild grains were exploited and improved by the first hundred generations of hunter/gatherers before science knew what a genome was.

The elephant in the room is the centralization of agriculture with corresponding loss of genetic diversity in our annual harvest. When everybody's growing the exact same plant we're but one bug away from a failed harvest. The consequences (higher food prices) in the First World would be survivable, with adjustments, but the third world would be utterly fucked.

You can see this on a smaller scale at the grocery store. Bell peppers will grow just fine in most of CONUS, so prices should be fairly resistant to local disasters, right? Wrong. California suffers a massive drought and we've all got higher prices and a limited selection to contend with. Just why does California produce the lion's share of bell peppers and other crops that can grow almost anywhere? Economy of scale. Usually that's a good thing, but in this instance it's setting us up for a massive failure with some pretty dire consequences.

GMO isn't the problem, but it is symptomatic of a lot of structural flaws in the agriculture industry.

Re:I actually read the article... (1)

kittylu (705146) | about 3 months ago | (#47238835)

There is an inherit difference between mere "splicing" and the ultra complex "modification" often overlooked and erroneously conflated here. Traditional splicing is likely benign, while the latter is socially and environmentally reprehensible. Reading, and maintaining proper perspective.

Re:I actually read the article... (4, Insightful)

Ambassador Kosh (18352) | about 3 months ago | (#47238977)

Actually from a genetic perspective splice is VASTLY more dangerous and unpredictable. It doesn't matter what we have done it for a long time. Most of the genetic engineering we do is inserting only a couple genes into a genome of about 32,000 genes for corn. Genetic engineering is far less likely to have problematic outcomes. The problem is that most people have NO idea how genetic engineering is done and they just think scary scientists but they have NO knowledge at all to make a rational decision on.

We lose more people ever year from contaminated organic crops that we have lost from all GMOs ever (which is basically zero for the GMOs)

We have been studying health impacts of GMOs for over 20 years now and so far we can find absolutely none. If you can find some actual real evidence that can be verified then there are many that would love to actually see it.

Meanwhile radiation and chemical mutagens still qualify as organic and that is about the most dangerous method I can think of.

Re:I actually read the article... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47238845)

...the third world would be utterly fucked.

That's the plan. Kill off 5 or 6 billion people, especially from those countries. All sorts of problems are solved.

Re:I actually read the article... (2)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 3 months ago | (#47238885)

Many problems with your scenario...first of all, commercially grown bell peppers (and other vegetables) are not all of the exact same variety. Sure, there's more popular varieties, but different climates and soils call for different varieties. They use different peppers in California than they do in Minnesota (and it's not just economy of scale - California climate and soil is favorable to bell peppers).

Also, even within the same variety of plant, there are genetic differences, even if they're very similar. A doomsday virus that kills one variety of bell pepper isn't likely.

Also, have you ever looked in a bell pepper? There's a lot of seeds. Should a miracle happen and (say) Anaheim Bell Peppers no longer can be grown, it would be easy for another variety to take its place very quickly. There are seeds banks around the world, private growers, etc. The extinction of most varieties of bell peppers just is not going to happen.

Farmers don't re-seed from their own crops, and (in the first world at least) haven't done so for 70-80 years. So the fact that most farms choose to raise the most popular variety of peppers in a non-factor into the genetic diversity of the crops.

Re:I actually read the article... (2, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | about 3 months ago | (#47238997)

You've kind of missed the point:

1. You could wipe out bell peppers tomorrow and nobody starves to death. My example was simply to point out how centralization leaves the market more vulnerable to local disasters.

2. I can't buy a green bell pepper that's not grown in California, unless I go to the farmers market. They're simply not carried by any grocery store that I have access to, including the higher end (Wegmans) one. They'll grow almost everywhere (zones 1 through 11 if you're curious) yet California accounts for more than half of production and virtually all of the selection at the grocery store.

3. My concern with a bug is something that goes after grains, not veggies. You think our grain supply has the same genetic diversity that it did in yesteryear? You're dreaming. Do I think it would mean the end of humanity? Nope, I even said as such. I find it doubtful that the First World would even see a decrease in the obesity rate, much less have to contend with famine. The Third World on the other hand..... what do you suppose happens to them if there's a failed grain harvest and food prices skyrocket?

Re:I actually read the article... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47238925)

Without these super-grains, the human race has outstripped nature's ability to feed the 7 billion or so of us.

Exactly. That's why Republicans support these GMO bans. They want us minorities to starve. They constantly fight to make food production less efficient. As Professor Julian Cribb proved, the Republicans will succeed by 2050. Faux Knews celebrated this news of hundreds of million of people in Africa and Asia dying every single year.

Re:I actually read the article... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47239083)

Last I knew, it was the loony environmental lefties that are against GMOs. The same ones wanting to ban grocery bags and keep complaining about "big agro".

Re:I actually read the article... (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 3 months ago | (#47239287)

The human race was eating GMO long before it wasn't cool. Wild grains were exploited and improved by the first hundred generations of hunter/gatherers before science knew what a genome was.

Natural selection and cross breeding/hybridization are not what 99% of us are talking about when we discuss "GMO" [wikipedia.org]

Conflating the two ideas doesn't give me much confidence in anything else you have to say on the subject of GMOs.

The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47238637)

And the scientific consensus on GMO safety is as broad and overwhelming as the consensus that man is behind much of the current global warming.

Anti-GMO hysteria is anti-science, plain and simple. It is no different from insisting that CO2 doesn't drive global warming, and no different from saying that vaccines are dangerous because you heard that some kid got autism a few days after being vaccinated.

The EU, by taking this decidedly anti-science stance, is holding back important scientific advances that will be necessary to feed and supply an ever increasing global population.

We should hold anti-GMO zealots with the same disdain as we hold climate change deniers.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47238649)

And the scientific consensus on GMO safety is as broad and overwhelming as the consensus that man is behind much of the current global warming.

Anti-GMO hysteria is anti-science, plain and simple. It is no different from insisting that CO2 doesn't drive global warming, and no different from saying that vaccines are dangerous because you heard that some kid got autism a few days after being vaccinated.

The EU, by taking this decidedly anti-science stance, is holding back important scientific advances that will be necessary to feed and supply an ever increasing global population.

We should hold anti-GMO zealots with the same disdain as we hold climate change deniers.

Europe is self sufficient when it comes to agriculture. So we don't need, we don't want GMO.
The rest of the world can go fuck itself up with you Americans first in line.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 3 months ago | (#47238679)

Well.

That went from zero to hateful in almost NO time at all.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (3, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | about 3 months ago | (#47238973)

It's just an allergic reaction to GMO astroturfing.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47238739)

Let me hazard a guess: you're German? With this and their stance on nuclear energy, Germany is a fucking cancer on Europe.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (2)

Shakrai (717556) | about 3 months ago | (#47238797)

What they spectacularly failed to accomplish with guns and tanks they're silently accomplishing with Deutschmarks, err, I mean Euros. They learned their lesson from the United States very well......

Of course, it's not Germany's fault they're so much more productive than the rest of Europe. Ever been to Italy, Greece, or Spain? The "work ethic" in those cultures is utterly foreign to an American, never mind a German. It may make for an easy going lifestyle but it's not very competitive in a global economy. Now compound that cultural predisposition with a few decades of economic mismanagement, which necessitate bailouts, and ask yourself if you'd be willing to write the check without preconditions if your last name was "Merkel".

Its politics not culture ... (2)

drnb (2434720) | about 3 months ago | (#47238993)

... Of course, it's not Germany's fault they're so much more productive than the rest of Europe. Ever been to Italy, Greece, or Spain? The "work ethic" in those cultures is utterly foreign to an American, never mind a German ...

Really, my born and raised in Italy and emigrated to the US at age 20 grandfather has a work ethic that a very conservative American would consider exemplary. And Italian culture is not gone from his house as my father and us visiting grandchildren can attest. If you are working hard or studying hard he is kind and generous, slack off and you will hear about it. And the expectation level is not fixed, if you were lucky enough to be stronger or smarter than average then expectation are increased. He runs his house and raised his kids pretty much like his father. When visiting Italy I've seen my 90 year old great-grandfather tending his orchard. When my grandfather says to him, hey your 90 years old, take it easy. My great-grandfather replies that he'll take it easy when he's dead, that working keeps him healthy.

One of my friends growing up, his father was born and raised in Greece. He emigrated to the US in his early 20s also. He seemed to share a work ethic and some other traits with my grandfather. Strict house, exemplary work ethic, generous to family and friends who lived up to his expectations.

Don't confuse culture with the politics of the day. Its a welfare state government not the national culture that screws things up.

Re:Its politics not culture ... (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | about 3 months ago | (#47239019)

Really, my born and raised in Italy and emigrated to the US at age 20 grandfather has a work ethic that a very conservative American would consider exemplary.

One of my friends growing up, his father was born and raised in Greece. He emigrated to the US in his early 20s also. He seemed to share a work ethic and some other traits with my grandfather.

You do realize that nothing you said has any bearing on my point, right?

Culture is local, not ethnic. Well, that's not true either, but you should catch my meaning. It's an entirely different pace of life in the Mediterranean Countries. You can get a similar culture shock if you travel from New York City to New Orleans, and The Big Easy is positively fast paced when compared to Italy, Spain, or Greece.

Its a welfare state government not the national culture that screws things up.

Then why isn't Finland broke and begging Germany for bailouts? Finland isn't going to bring the Euro down. The aforementioned countries just may.....

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 3 months ago | (#47239073)

While I think GMO are unnecessary and the tone of your post is hateful, thanks for porting this to attention.
The former Reichskanzler works for Gazprom, that might have something to do with it.
And building a shit ton of renewable energy capacity with lots of subsidies, with the net effect of increasing CO2 emissions and then boasting about green power, that's brilliant.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (0)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 3 months ago | (#47238851)

Europe is self sufficient when it comes to agriculture.

Question:
Which country is nicknamed the "bread basket of Europe"?

TNXMH

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47238889)

America could nuke Europe into oblivion and there's nothing any of you could do about it. How does it feel knowing you only live at our whim?

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 3 months ago | (#47238979)

Dunno. What do you tell China when they come asking?

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (1)

Ambassador Kosh (18352) | about 3 months ago | (#47238985)

You do realize that lots of Americans would die also right? Nukes on that scale have large consequences. We also have the problem that Germany makes nearly all biotech equipment world wide. I am sure all those American's in need of daily insulin shots would like to keep getting it and it would take us a while to gear up to make that equipment ourselves. There is engineering training you can't even get in the USA. For what I need to learn for more advanced biotech work it looks like I am heading to Germany for a masters and phd because the education is simply not available here in the USA.

AMERICA #1 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47239201)

First in line, AMERICA USA #1

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (2, Interesting)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 3 months ago | (#47238657)

GMO that are resistant to roundup can be treated with a lot of roundup, which ends up in your body. The GMO is safe, roundup is not.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47238789)

First of all, don't act as if pesticides were never applied to crops prior to the invention of RR-tolerant GMOs.

Second, Roundup is one of the least toxic commercial pesticides out there. It is actually less toxic than the alternatives, including those that are commonly used on "Organic" certified crops. For example, Organic-approved pesticide Rotenone is *quite* toxic as compared to Roundup.

See here: http://www.wafriends.com/PesticideToxicityChartLargeFlyer.png [wafriends.com]

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 3 months ago | (#47238945)

Actually, it's pretty low on the toxicity scale.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (2)

JCaptainP (2702995) | about 3 months ago | (#47238989)

I liken GMO rhetoric to nuclear rhetoric, just because it has a bad side doesn't mean we should stay away from the technology. Maybe they should issue a ban on specific variants of the technology, to inspire scientist to take GMO to the next level. The next level in both health and social equality.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47239109)

I disagree. There are great parallels. The Republicans support nuclear power because it leaves vast stretches of land uninhabitable just like their GMO crops. They want to reduce the available amount of usable land so that the land they already have stolen becomes more valuable. That is the way of their kind.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47239253)

[citation needed]

Roundup is expensive (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47239063)

Roundup is expensive. That is why you're not getting poisoned with it. It's also fairly low on the toxicity scale, but the matter of fact is that it's expensive, so farmers do their damndest to use as little of it as they can. This is why roundup-resistant beans are important; they can wick the beans, lose nothing to the soil or overspray, and kill everything else that's taller than the beans, which is to say, effectively competing with the beans. Without roundup resistant beans, they used a lot more roundup at a different part of the season to kill off everything, and then plant the beans. This is much, much better.

Source: 840 acres in corn and beans

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47238743)

GMO, like nuclear power, is entirely safe if used responsibly.

But it's often used technically irresponsibly, as with large scale monoculture. And it's more frequently used socially irresponsibly, as an excuse to allow corporations to patent derivative works of nature.

So the problem I have with modern GM (no strawman conflation with unfettered small scale breeding, please) is the same problem I have with nuclear power: humans are fucking idiots. I think a modern, balanced nation can responsibly handle nuclear power, but I'm not sure we've shown ourselves as able to properly regulate GM on a large scale yet.

The main problem here is the EU's allowing private corporations to sue states when the states exercise a reasonable sovereign right to regulate agriculture.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47238801)

Show one example of a technically irresponsible GMO. Trillions of GMO meals have been served for well over 20 years and there has been no documented case of harm.

As for patents - there is nothing special about GMOs that allows them to be patented. Conventionally-bred varieties can and are patented too.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 3 months ago | (#47238995)

You might want to check for changes in (food) allergy rates in the past 20 years.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 3 months ago | (#47239001)

Both could be done sensibly and safely.

If nobody had any monetary interest in cutting corners, of course.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (2, Insightful)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | about 3 months ago | (#47238809)

Depending on the way organisms are modified, they certainly may remain safe, but some modifications may not be safe (imagine a plant modified to produce ricin, for example, not that they would engineer something so dangerous intentionally) and should be tested as scientifically as anything else. What is worrisome is the revolving door between Monsanto and the FDA (Michael R. Taylor, Margaret Miller) to streamline the release of these products and minimize or eliminate their distinct labeling, not in order to feed the masses but to feed Monsanto's bottom line. I believe most GMO products currently on the market are probably safe to eat, but I don't think the private company producing those products should be the ones to determine whether or not we require GMO testing and labeling.

GMO foods aren't unhealthy by default, but they certainly aren't "safe" by default either. When a chemical is introduced into a food for the first time (or the genes to produce that chemical within the food are introduced for the first time) that food should be tested as new rather than considered GRAS. Evolution has served as the test-of-time for genetic changes throughout history, and as we forego that, we certainly need to devise some testing of our own. That said, I think this is an important science that will allow mankind to feed our ever-expanding population.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47238875)

That's a pretty bold claim you make there - do you have any evidence to support the notion that the FDA (Actually, it is the USDA who approves GMOs) has made it easier to approve GMOs? It is actually, to this day, very costly and time-consuming to get a new GMO approved.

There has never been labeling required for GMOs - the law has always been that labeling is not required if the products are not substantially different or harmful.

And another detail - transgenic technology is very very precise, whereas traditional breeding/hybridization methods are very imprecise. There have been cases where non-transgenic breeding (i.e. just simple cross-breeding) has unintentionally resulted in a toxic product.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (4, Insightful)

SydShamino (547793) | about 3 months ago | (#47238893)

As I replied to the parent poster myself, anyone that says "GMOs are safe" or "GMOs are dangerous" should substitute the word "chemicals", as in "chemicals are safe" or "chemicals are dangerous". That makes both statements sound equally silly as both are broad categories that could readily contain both healthy and unhealthy products.

On the other hand, a statement like "companies must submit studies, and the FDA must approve them, before a chemical may be added to a food" sounds rather reasonable to most non-libertarians. Likewise, "companies must submit studies, and the FDA must approve them, before a genetic change may be added to a food" sounds equally reasonable and yet is labeled "zealotry" by folks like the parent poster.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (1)

Ambassador Kosh (18352) | about 3 months ago | (#47239021)

I support labeling ALL food for EVERYTHING in it. The cost to do a very DNA, protein and chemical assay for a food product is pretty cheap to do now and could easily be made available online for all foods. Organic foods, especially ones that have been radiation mutated, have more potential to be dangerous than GMO foods. We have people that are against BT toxin genetically engineered into things like corn but have no idea that BT is a certified organic insecticide and it is sprayed on organic crops is LARGE amounts. It then washes into water ways and it is not good for the aquatic life. In the BT GMO foods the BT is in the plant itself and concentrates in leaves and stems and we eat neither of those for corn. We have also tested BT extensively and it has ZERO risk to humans.

The only way you can harm yourself with BT is turning it into a powder and inhaling it. However if you turn anything into a powder and inhale it then you are screwed up exactly the same way because our lungs don't handle particulates very well.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (1)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | about 3 months ago | (#47238939)

The reason the government participates in pipelines between the regulated and the regulators is that there aren't a lot of alternatives. Seriously.

The government needs people who are experts in a lot of very specific fields. In this case you'd need somebody who knows a little bit about genetic engineering, a lot about food safety, a lot about government regulations, and (ideally) quite a bit about the business practices of the big agricultural companies he was regulating. Universities are gonna create people who are experts in one or two of these fields, but have no experience in an actual production environment. Activist groups tend to be dominated by part-time volunteers, and as a part-time volunteer there's only so much you can actually learn. Moreover as an activist it's likely you've done something to help a controversial ally, and/or are an activist on other issues; which will make it really hard to get through the Senate.

So the government tends to hire a Monsanto guy to regulate Monsanto, because nobody else is qualified to do that shit. Then when the president changes that guy gets replaced (probably by a new industry hand), and he needs a new job, and all he's really qualified for is helping industry evade the regulations he just wrote.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (1)

Ambassador Kosh (18352) | about 3 months ago | (#47239007)

We don't do genetic engineering the way you seem to think we do. When it comes right down to it the engineers and scientists involved are essentially very lazy and that is a GREAT thing. We don't engineer new proteins. We find a protein that does what we want and that people already eat and put that gene in. For instance in some parts of the USA it is hard to grow tomatoes (which are very good for you) because of frost problems. A variety of tomato has been made that splices in a gene from an arctic fish to prevent freezing. We have eaten fish with that gene since before we even had language. We know that protein is safe universally.

Don't you think it is good that more people would have access to fresh vegetables in a completely safe way? Many people today would not even survive without GMO. Effectively ALL INSULIN used is GMO. ALL modern biotech drugs (protein, monoclonal antibodies etc) are GMO. We have proteins your body already makes but certain sicknesses cause it to stop making them and then your immune system, red blood cell production etc start shutting down. We can now fix that. Do you think we should stop doing that also?

Genetic engineering sounds dangerous only because you don't know how it works and what is involved. It is safe and actually pretty simple. When it comes right down to it editing DNA is not very hard to do.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 3 months ago | (#47239029)

You do realize that ricin is already produced by plants, right? There are plenty of natural plants that can ruin your day or end your life.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (1)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | about 3 months ago | (#47239105)

That's why I used it as an example of something that could be (but wouldn't be, as I said) engineered into other plants. I used that mainly as an example of why "GMOs are safe" is an overly-broad and uninformed statement.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 3 months ago | (#47239195)

Yes, if you take it in a strict, completely literal meaning. However, the intended meaning is that it is close enough to being the same risk as non-GMO plants with current practices that there is no reason to differentiate between them. Repeating that every time gets old pretty quick, though, so they state something shorter yet similar and assume that the context should lead most people to an appropriate understanding.

Re: The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47238817)

Anti GMO people are already held in distain. Why else would pro GMO companies pay off politicians to ensure that GMO food doesn't have to be labeled as such?

They say things like "we can't label it because it has 15 ingredients so we can't be sure exactly if it contains GMO or not". Then they turn around and say "but we can safely manage the alteration and interaction between genetic mutations involving living things with 1000s of genes".

Something fishy is going on. You can eat whatever crap you want to. Feed it to your kids if you want to. But don't deny *me* the right to make decisions about what *I* eat.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (4, Interesting)

SydShamino (547793) | about 3 months ago | (#47238879)

Saying you are "pro-GMO" or that "GMOs are safe to injest" is like saying you are "pro-chemicals" or that "chemicals are safe to injest". Both statements are too overly broad to be anything but ridiculous.

There are most certainly genetic splices that could result in lethal "food" crops. For example, we could splice in genes from a variety of poisonous mushrooms and probably get them to express the lethal chemicals in, say, a tomato. Has Monsanto done that? No, of course not, that would be foolhardy of them, and they are evil, but not fools. Might one of the thousands of genetic modifications in the food supply yield something with unforeseen consequences? Without sufficient study, it's anti-science to say it's settled one way or the other. (That's the kind of sufficient study that *has* been done on global warming, but cannot be done on "GMOs" as a whole.)

GMOs need to be validated at the lowest level, one change to one crop at a time, where we can see what individual changes to certain plants do to their growth, production, and edible safety. Then we can approve those changes. Is this kind of approval being done? Not in the U.S. it isn't.

All of the above ignores the fact that some genetic changes are made to make the plants resistant to certain pesticides or other poisons, which are then slathered on the plants as they grow. Let's blanket assume that those genetic changes have been vetted, researched, and approved, and are 100% harmless for human consumption. Are the chemicals the plants have been bathed in suitable for human consumption? Just how long and how hard do I have to wash the food to get those chemicals off? Are they absorbed into the food? Is a non-GMO version less likely to have toxic chemicals in it? (Can I get a non-pesticide version without having to swing all the way to the other extreme and buy organic?)

The fact that you make such broad, unprovable statements such as "Anti-GMO hysteria is anti-science" and call your opponents "anti-GMO zealots" completely ruins the rest of your reasonable argument about the need for genetic modifications to food staples to ensure an adequate global food supply in the 21st century.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 3 months ago | (#47238991)

Yes, GMO could potentially have harmful results. So could conventional breeding. If the risk is not significantly greater for changes via GMO than changes via conventional breeding, there isn't a compelling reason to treat them differently.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (2)

Ambassador Kosh (18352) | about 3 months ago | (#47239051)

Do you know what in ireland they actually developed a potato that was genetically engineered from a wild variant that was resistant to blight? However ANTI GMO groups effectively got that forbidden for usage. Instead we use the normal "organic" approach of controlling the blights. We spray heavy metals on the potatoes. We know 100% those are bad for you and we know that they end up concentrating in the potatoes. Now I doubt anyone could ever eat enough potatoes for that to be a problem but we developed a better potato that required none of that stuff. We would have also not had humans exposed to the heavy metals either.

If you want to scrutinize GMO you should be for scrutinizing all food. I don't care if you use genetic engineering, traditional cross breading, organic radiation mutation or organic chemical mutation they should ALL be checked. However saying that only the genetic engineering approach should face higher scrutiny is idiotic.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (5, Insightful)

khchung (462899) | about 3 months ago | (#47239259)

If you want to scrutinize GMO you should be for scrutinizing all food. I don't care if you use genetic engineering, traditional cross breading, organic radiation mutation or organic chemical mutation they should ALL be checked. However saying that only the genetic engineering approach should face higher scrutiny is idiotic.

I found this to be a very easy indicator to find out if I am talking to someone with real science knowledge, or someone who just sprout anti-whatever nonsense.

Those who are anti-GMO and anti-nuclear power share a common problem, they usually refuse to apply the same safety yardstick to the currently in-use alternatives. "Proven safe" is the term you often heard from these guys, yet is *anything* ever "proven safe"?

We know pollution from coal power is killing people, we know coal mines are killing people, yet those same anti-nuke guys rarely call for closing coal power plants when they call for closing nuclear power plants.

We know chemical pesticides are harmful, we know people have been using even less controllable approaches to alter the genes of plants (chemical or radiation), we know people are starving to death because they don't have crops that grow well in their region, and we know most staple food we eat every day come from plants that are already hugely modified from its natural ancestors. Yet anti-GMO crowd sweep all these under the rug when clamoring against GMO crops, calling for them to banned until "proven safe".

Claiming the splicing in genes is more dangerous than radiation is akin to saying modifying a program by replacing a subroutine with one from another program is more dangerous than randomly flipping bytes everywhere in the program binary. It can only sound plausible if you assumed the person doing to splicing is intending on doing harm.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (2)

williamhb (758070) | about 3 months ago | (#47239257)

... the rest of your reasonable argument about the need for genetic modifications to food staples to ensure an adequate global food supply in the 21st century.

We don't require GMO in order to ensure an adequate global food supply. It is somewhat more cost effective but certainly not required. Removing US agricultural subsidies, such that African farmers (and other countries) could stand a chance of becoming competitive and developing in a fairer market, would make a greater difference.

Likewise, removing mandatory requirements for bioethanol in petrol/gasoline in many countries. (Which have diverted grain production towards fuel rather than food.)

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47238957)

And the scientific consensus on GMO safety is as broad and overwhelming as the consensus that man is behind much of the current global warming.

Anti-GMO hysteria is anti-science, plain and simple. It is no different from insisting that CO2 doesn't drive global warming, and no different from saying that vaccines are dangerous because you heard that some kid got autism a few days after being vaccinated.

The EU, by taking this decidedly anti-science stance, is holding back important scientific advances that will be necessary to feed and supply an ever increasing global population.

We should hold anti-GMO zealots with the same disdain as we hold climate change deniers.

The scientific consensus on lowering the temperature at which bone meal in cattle feed was treated was also "broad and overwhelming" prior to the BSE crisis. Until "whoops, prions" and the entire British cattle industry was stuffed for a decade. "No scientific reason to believe it is unsafe" is entirely different from having proven itself safe, (NO unintended consequences, not just the ones we knew to test for over a relatively short period). As scientists, we're still even prevaricating and changing our minds over simple things like the efficacy of a low fat diet. And you're hoping the public will trust us to (via economic forces) turn agriculture into essentially a GMO monoculture based on what we're saying today. In the GMO case, where we could reasonably expect it to replace non-GMO crops almost entirely, it'd need to prove itself safe over a very long time indeed to ensure there's no catastrophic unintended consequences (at least a few generations -- much longer than science, which has a vested interest in bringing it to market, tends to conduct studies over). Until then, you're a snake oil salesman complaining that just showing the snake oil doesn't cause cancer (but who knows what else it might cause) hasn't convinced your customers to drink it instead of water.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 3 months ago | (#47238969)

Let's ponder.

Can we live without a planet?
Can we live without GMO plants?

So, let's assume we want to err on the safe side, what should we choose?

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47239071)

But the companies that sell GMO products are absolutely corrupt. There's more to GMOs than just safe or unsafe food, it's the ethics of the companies involved in them too.

BTW nice job you fucking shill.

Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (3, Insightful)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | about 3 months ago | (#47239211)

And the problem is, like anti-vaxxers, the GMO denialist is going to continue to adapt, shift goal posts, and develop new and misleading claims. The GMO denialists aren't anti-GMO, oh no, they're pro safe GMO, just like how Jenny McCarthy claims to be pro-safe vaccine, not anti-vaccine, but somehow manages to find flaw in every vaccine. Same thing is happening here, with every type of GMO crop, they are going to find a flaw in, even if they have to mislead or lie to make that point.

What irks me is that so few people have the understanding to see these people for what they really are. Which isn't surprising, because how many people are involved in agriculture anymore? So when someone says that Bt crops are unsustainable because they create superpests, people think they are bad. No one points to the same thing happening in conventionally bred crops and says conventional breeding is wrong, because they do not know about those examples, so those GMOs seem bad.

Then the anti-biotech crowd points to herbicide resistant crops, and hey, doesn't a plant designed to withstand a chemical sound bad? But they conveniently neglect to mention that this enables a switch from less environmentally damaging weed control methods like soil degrading tillage. Instead, they harp on how the herbicides that go with those crops are increasing in usage, but don't seem to care to mention that they are replacing harsher herbicides.

Hit those points and they shift to the anti-corporate angle, which sounds reasonable enough by comparison.Naturally, they don't mention that the opposition to GMOs started with the Flavr Savr tomato, produced by a small company, or that there is also strong opposition to Golden Rice, which was developed by the International Rice Research Institute and could be saving the lives of countless children in developing countries. They even attack the Rainbow papaya, developed by the University of Hawai'i, that saved the Hawaiian papaya industry, and Greenpeace has a creationism grade stupid denial of it's success on their site. In Australia and France, GMO low GI wheat and virus resistant grapes developed by CSIRO and INRA (government bodies) was destroyed. You can't claim to be merely anti-corporate while also opposing all GMO work done by universities, NGOs, governments, and small companies. I've seen people oppose the Arctic Apple (non-browning apple developed by a Canadian company) on the basis of cross pollination (apples are asexually propagated), and GMO taro got banned in Hawai'i because of local politics.

My point is, change the developer, change the trait, change the gene, change whatever, and the opposition still stands. This is not logical by any sense. Let's call it what it is, a symptom of anti-science sentiment and a shift to pre-enlightenment naturalism. As it stands, of all the potential applications of GE crops, we only have a few traits in use due to the overly strict regulatory burden keeping out publicly developed GE crops, and that's absurd. No one is saying there aren't legitimate problems or issues, but you're sure as shit not going to get anything even remotely resembling an accurate picture from any anti-GMO group I've ever heard of. The parent poster is right. It's time we called this movement out for what it is, and threw it in the rubbish pile next to the denial of climate change, vaccinations, and evolution.

Disclaimer, I work with a publicly funded crop breeding program, so if you believe that there is a vast world wide conspiracy among virtually every agricultural researcher and plant scientist on earth to hide the secret dangerous truth about GMOs that you were clever enough to discover at by reading nonsensical bullshit and speculating on your couch (though strangely we shop at the same stores and eat the same foods as everyone else), you might want to disregard this post, but you were going to do that anyway.

Science (2)

Kohath (38547) | about 3 months ago | (#47238709)

Does it matter that the consensus of scientists and scientific studies is that GMOs are safe? Or is "science" just a rhetorical tool -- a line in a script that the players must speak when they're performing for the crowd, forgotten the next day because there's a new script with new villains?

Personally, I'd say it doesn't matter any more or less for GMOs than for anything else. I support GMOs in general because I support technological progress and individual choice. If individuals or farmers choose GMOs because they think they'll be better off, governments shouldn't stand in the way unless there's a compelling non-FUD, non-bogeyman, non-witch-hunt reason. Same for anything else.

Re:Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47238829)

If the 'scientists' are all company employees and benefactors at large universities, then it very well could. A lot of independent and unbiased government testing is being blocked or they don't want to know since more food = more tax dollars.

Then again, consumers aren't the brightest and probably aren't concerned about eating pesticides and fungicides if the food looks good and is cheap.

Re:Science (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47239271)

I love the conspiracy theory that biotech is somehow able to keep a stranglehold on science all while ignoring the fact that oil/gas, which is several times larger as an industry than biotech, is unable to keep a lid on climate scientists and global warming theories.

How do you propose that an industry with a fraction of the money and influence of the oil and gas industry is able to accomplish such feats of conspiracy?

Re:Science (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47239275)

If the 'scientists' are all company employees and benefactors at large universities, then it very well could. A lot of independent and unbiased government testing is being blocked or they don't want to know since more food = more tax dollars.

Then again, consumers aren't the brightest and probably aren't concerned about eating pesticides and fungicides if the food looks good and is cheap.

So the alternatives to reading the results of knowledgeable people doing research paid by organizations with the money, is to listen to people without any knowledge at all?

With all the donations these anti-GMO groups got, why don't they fund some research of their own?

If someone can devout his life to campaigning against GMO, why can't he spend the time to educate himself so he can do the research to actually prove all other scientist wrong?

Okay now I'm angry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47238767)

On my mobile, in landscape mode, I only have about 3 inches of height. Not great but not too bad. So what does slashdot do? Slashdot shows a giant ad on the bottom of the screen. For some antivirus crap that I would never buy (haven't used windows in years. Thought you'd know that with all the tracking you've done). But anyway, this ad gives me only about two inches of screen space to navigate, and it makes it a pain to scroll without hitting the damn ad. And there's no waynto make the ad go away either. And don't tell me I'm using my device wrong by holding it in landscape mode. I'm laying in bed and this is more comfortable, so deal with it.

So slashdot, I know you want to make money from ads, but when your ads make me go download AdAway, you should try to fix the problem. Thank you for reading this.

Re:Okay now I'm angry (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 3 months ago | (#47239087)

Duh, just hit the down arrown, page down or the space bar, or use the scroll wheel.

TAFTA (1)

John.Banister (1291556) | about 3 months ago | (#47239133)

I have to think that this is someone's idea for an end run around USA agribusiness lobbyists in TAFTA negotiations.

What so bad about GMO? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47239139)

With all the current knowledge we have about GMO foods, is there anything at all wrong with it?

I'm not expert or knowledgeable in that area and I figured perhaps someone who knows this industry would be able to answer this burning question of my. Thank you very much!

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