Saturday, December 18, 1999, 1:34:58 PM, you wrote:
CB> ... There is basic information on GMO foods that should be much
CB> more readily accessible to people --... simple, ... and technical
CB> versions ... including the nature of the gene construct, where new
CB> genes came from, what is known about their function, marker genes,
CB> promoter(s) used, what is known about placement in the genome of
CB> the transformed crop.
My point was that by the time so much attention has been given to the
issue that the need for making this kind of info available to the
public (in supermarkets, yet) is recognized, that same attention will
have seen through the fallacy behind and obviated the presence of
GMO's in the marketplace.
Recombinant gene technologies' only valid use is in correcting
congenital pathologies and their presence in the food supply and on
the open market simply demonstrates a lack of criteria that is not
gratuitous, but rather fomented.
I believe that the will to do as you and wytz suggests is simply not
CB> Most of this information is publicly available in various places
CB> -- EPA documents, USDA or FDA applications -- but it is hard to
CB> get at and often hard to interpret. Regardless of how labeling
CB> unfolds, the use of "Material Safety" data sheets for GMOs is a
CB> good idea.
Yes, but unfortunately one that will not be implemented in the near
future. Science is one thing and the market is another. There are
vested interests involved that protect those interests. Take
medications: All have counter indications, adverse reactions and side
effects that are well documented and often potentially serious. Yet
how many patients receive the benefit of that information? And how
many read the monographs of the medications they take? (or know what a
mongraph is, for that matter)?It's all let George do it, where George
is an MD. who gets his by prescribing all this. And we are talking
about possibly lethal reactions!
The problem is cultural, and the culture is cultivated by the vested
interests. The Internet is a powerful tool capable of reverting that,
but this too is now being made bland by commercial interests. In
short, I can't share your optimism. It will take making a better and
distinct alternative readily available - a parallel and clearly
superior set of products accessible to the public, in terms of both
access and cost. Organic foods are not there yet but are certainly a
forerunner of what's needed.
CB> Government should work to define common formats and get caught up
CB> with foods already in commerce. Over time, the content and formats
CB> will evolve.
It will take lighting a fire under them, and many answers will
originate in private settings.
CB> Providing information such as the above should be seen as an
CB> essential component of an overall consumer education program on
CB> GMO foods, of which labeling is another core component.
Agreed. But when will this happen and what will trigger that? The
culture level required for this is still underdeveloped.
CB> Non-commercial, non-spun Information readily accessible to
CB> consumers is a key component of effective labeling because it
CB> heightens the chance the concerned consumer will become better
CB> able to make their own informed choices. It seems most everyone
CB> accepts this as a valid goal. Having learned more, some will
CB> decide there is no reason to shun GMO foods and some will decide
CB> otherwise. That is how open markets are supposed to work.
There is a tacit assumption here that no real and present danger
exists from releasing these organisms to the environment. No precedent
exists supporting that conclusion.
CB> Solutions will seem harder to reach and will, in the end prove
CB> more costly in lots of ways if the biotech industry and government
CB> continue to argue that there is nothing risky or different with
CB> GMO foods -- a position that most members of the public reject for
CB> a variety of reasons, including several valid ones. Those who
CB> think education or PR campaigns can convince people that moving
CB> genes around and changing their expression as now done with
CB> biotechnology is "normal" have some rough years ahead.
Here we agree. This is a gut level issue that can be supported by
facts and more information should be made available. But for now, that
data isn't readily available, nor have definitive conclusions been
reached. Are enough studies of this type being funded?
CB> Information and choice and openness are the only ways for the ag
CB> biotech industry to move forward now.
Yes, but either this has not been recognized or attempts to minimize
the importance of it and stifle it's progress are consciously being
I would say that "Information and choice and openness are the only
ways" for an *alternative* to the ag biotech industry to move forward.
CB> If they continue as they have in the past, the multiple costs of
CB> doing business will go up and will more than erode any potential
CB> commercial advantage, rendering the technologies uneconomical, and
CB> doing things like eroding stock value.
That is what's happening all right, and it's kind of amusing to
watch. This time things will take their proper course. The question
is, who will do the charting of that course!
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