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Frankenfood: The implications for today and the future

 
 
Reply Mon 5 May, 2003 04:21 am
What if you were a vegetarian, and discovered that the tomato in your salad had actually been genetically engineered with animal DNA? Chances are you wouldn't find out, as there are currently no laws requiring labelling 'altered' food products. For me, there are several scary implications regarding genetically altered food:

1. No labelling laws, putting the consumer at the mercy of the supplier
2. No research regarding the long-term effects of eating 'Frankenfood'
3. Lack of sufficient subsidies for farming, forcing many to buy genetically altered seed to raise yields
4. How an idea originally (perhaps naively) intended to 'feed the world' turned into just another way to line the pockets of multi-nationals

Let's hear your opinions...
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 9,289 • Replies: 79
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Phoenix32890
 
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Reply Mon 5 May, 2003 05:30 am
Well, to tell you the truth, I must have been living in a cave for the last few years. I had never heard of "Frankenfood".

Did a quick check on "Google", and read a few articles. Here is one:

http://reason.com/bi/bi-gmf.shtml

I think that there are pluses and minuses, but being very new at this concept, I must reserve decision until I learn more about it!
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cavfancier
 
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Reply Mon 5 May, 2003 05:43 am
This is a pretty cut-and-dry impartial study done by the British govt. regarding Frankenfood, a good resource:

http://www.doh.gov.uk/cmo/gmfood.htm
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Phoenix32890
 
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Reply Mon 5 May, 2003 05:53 am
cavfancier- Great article- I think that the conclusion says it all:


Quote:
Conclusions

83. We have considered the processes used in genetic modification in relation to events occurring in nature and in conventional plant breeding and we conclude that there is no current evidence to suggest that the process of genetic modification is inherently harmful. Many of the issues raised by foods produced using genetic modification are equally applicable to foods produced by conventional means. We are reassured by the precautionary nature and rigour of the current procedures used to assess the safety of individual GM foods. Nevertheless, nothing can be absolutely certain in a field of rapid scientific and technological development. Genetic modification is a young science and there is a need to keep a close watch on developments and to continue to fund research to improve scientific understanding in this area. We welcome the recent moves to improve the openness of the regulatory procedures to public scrutiny and would encourage further such moves to help to inform public debate on the issues relating to the health implications of GM foods.


Like any new products, the scientists involved must monitor their work carefully, to ensure that the food has no seriously harmful effects!
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Walter Hinteler
 
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Reply Mon 5 May, 2003 05:56 am
I'm just wondering about the name "Franconian food".



Actually, in the EU this is regulated by different laws:
Biosafety Regulation in the European Union


Europeans don't like gen-manupaleted food as much as Americans do.
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Phoenix32890
 
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Reply Mon 5 May, 2003 05:59 am
Walter- It's "Frankenfood"." When I first saw the name of the thread, I thought that it might have something to do with boycotting French restaurants! Laughing
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Walter Hinteler
 
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Reply Mon 5 May, 2003 06:03 am
Well, Phoenix, "Franken" is "Franconian". (Frankenstein means "Franconian stone"). (Franconian < Franks, not 'French'!)
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Letty
 
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Reply Mon 5 May, 2003 06:17 am
Heh! heh! From food to etymology. I love this forum.

Cav, I watched a segment on CNN the other day that dealt with arsenic. I was surprised to learn that what we consider to be a deadly poison, resides quite naturally in the earth. When we lived in Virginia, our neighbors fertilized their soil with human excrement. Later, they discovered the most beautiful tomatoes emerged from the treatment. Laughing
They systemically destroyed the entire crop.

There is also a genetically altered catfish lovingly referred to as the Frankenfish. The damn thing actually arose from the pond and walked across the grass Shocked I have forgotten most of the details, but the fact that a fish came from the water and walked sorta captured my imagination.

I suppose that what I am trying to say is that our bodies will accommodate changes in our food if it's not done in too large a dose at one time.

After all, we eat snakes and snails, but I think that I might balk at puppy dog tails. Smile
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Phoenix32890
 
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Reply Mon 5 May, 2003 06:24 am
Walter- Aha! now I understand how they got the name- Frankenstein- Frankenfood! Laughing

I really wonder why there is such a flap about this. People are always so concerned about anything that is new, and they don't understand. Now, if people had been more concerned about McDonald's when they started selling their fatburgers, there may have not been so many portly people with hypertension today!
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gozmo
 
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Reply Mon 5 May, 2003 06:48 am
Strange! people will get into a flap about a virus like SARS but have no qualms about the genetic material in their food being altered. I don't think it occurs to them that genetic modification means exactly that. The genetic code in the food is altered, we would say mutated if it happened by route of radiation. We are being forced to eat this food now. Yes this is an experiment in which we are all rabbits. Lets hope it goes well. Who's the bunny if it doesn't?
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cavfancier
 
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Reply Mon 5 May, 2003 06:49 am
Personally, I think all processed and altered food could be classified as 'Frankenfood', and feel free to expand this thread to include that. However...getting back to genetically modified foods...let's take seed or grain, as an example, (will post the reference later) many huge suppliers of said products have another agenda....the products don't 'work' properly without buying other products from the same supplier....just 'food' for thought....especially if you are a farmer barely making a living as it is. Hmm...think I am having a 'Grapes of Wrath' moment...
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cavfancier
 
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Reply Mon 5 May, 2003 06:52 am
Also, Walter brings up a good point. The EU is far more strict about such things. What's up with the US? I think it might be that America's 'food tradition' is still really quite young...any thoughts?
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gozmo
 
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Reply Mon 5 May, 2003 07:07 am
As usual the motive is profit. GM foods are patented and that turns our food supply into someone's intellectual property. Anybody want a bite of an idea.

http://www.abc.net.au/rural/sa/stories/s820417.htm

Meanwhile there are further words of warning from environmental movement Greenpeace about the introduction of genetically modified food crops into Australia. Greenpeace asserts that there is no logical rationale for tinkering with the food production system and clearly no need to produce more food in world where there is oversupply. The organisation has sponsored an Australian visit by the Co-Director of the US Institute for Food and Development Policy, Anuradha Mittal. She warns that like in the US Government policy supporting GM, introduction here is effectively like putting corporate profit ahead of national interest. Anuradha Mittal warns that for farmers this effectively means a loss of control over how they farm. "Our real concern is that through intellectual property rights, companies such as Monsanto are basically gaining control over a food system. We have seen around the world that farmers have been forced to sign contracts whereby they're signing away all their rights and handing them over to corporations such as Monsanto. Basically the winners are the corporations, they have everything to win, and the losers are family farmers who are losing their voice."
Anuradha Mittal: Co-Director, US Institute for Food & Development Policy
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Letty
 
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Reply Mon 5 May, 2003 07:13 am
Welcome to A2K, gozmo. Loved your phrase; "Anyone want a bite of an idea." You are right on target. Follow the money trail.
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Walter Hinteler
 
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Reply Mon 5 May, 2003 07:17 am
It's really a money trail: when firms were forced by law (like it is done in the EU) to note, their products are gen-manupulated, suddenly the "old stuff" can be produced again (because nobody buys 'Frankenfood').
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gozmo
 
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Reply Mon 5 May, 2003 07:22 am
Phoenix,

I don't want to upset you but compare this English article with the comfy one.

July 17, 2002

New Research Questions GM Food Safety
New evidence from British scientists has been published which raises serious questions about the safety of GM food.

The research, published by the UK's Food Standards Agency, showed for the first time that genes inserted in GM crops are finding their way into human gut bacteria. Many GM crops have antibiotic-resistant marker genes inserted in them, and there are fears that if material from these marker genes passes into humans, peopleĀ¹s ability to fight infections may be reduced.

Researchers at the University of Newcastle gave human volunteers a single meal containing GM soya. Three of the seven people studied were found to have bacteria in their intestines containing a gene from the GM soya. However, researchers suggested that the presence of bacteria containing GM material could have "reflected previous exposure" to GM food already in our diet.

Adrian Bebb, GM food campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said:

"This research should set alarm bells ringing. Industry scientists and Government advisors have always played down the risk of this ever happening, but the very first time when scientists looked for it they found it."

Given the new research results, Friends of the Earth will press for the immediate withdrawel of GM food containing antibiotic-resistant markers from the market. Further research must be commissioned as a matter of urgency.

http://www.foe.org.au/mr/mr_17_7_02.htm
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gozmo
 
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Reply Mon 5 May, 2003 07:26 am
Walter that Frank talk is appropriate we must become Frankish Knights and fight a crusade to recover our sacred food.
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cavfancier
 
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Reply Mon 5 May, 2003 08:16 am
In this day and age of 'virus scare of the week' I have serious concerns about not only GM foods, and gozmo's link is pretty straightforward on that matter, but also of all the 'antibacterial' crap that is being pushed down our throats. Stop using it! Our immune systems need practice!

As a chef, I wonder sometimes if people think that our stringent opposal to GM or processed foods is some sort of 'pooh pooh' snobbery at the expense of the 'common man'. Well, I can tell you, that is way off. It comes down to a matter of trust between chef and client: Serving strangers food is perhaps more intimate an act than having sex with them (at least from some tales I have heard Very Happy), and a chef needs to be responsible about what they ask someone to take into their body. Obviously, organic and local is always best, but the laws regarding what can be labelled 'organic' are still somewhat loose, except maybe in California.
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Thomas
 
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Reply Mon 5 May, 2003 08:20 am
Quote:
What if you were a vegetarian, and discovered that the tomato in your salad had actually been genetically engineered with animal DNA?


Speaking as a former vegetarian, I'd say this would strike me as a non-problem that's unlikely to happen. Non-problem because the tomato in my salad would still be harvested from a plant, unlikely to happen because animal genes are unlikely to be valuable in plants.

Quote:
1. No labelling laws, putting the consumer at the mercy of the supplier


Sorry, I don't see how this is scary. If the value of labelling to consumers is greater than the cost for producers to provide it, producers should find it profitable to provide labeling and charge a higher price for their products. Mandatory labelling only makes a difference if its benefit to consumers is smaller than the cost to producers. It thus makes no difference at best and imposes a net cost on society as a whole at worst. Either way, government shouldn't legislate mandatory labelling.

Quote:
2. No research regarding the long-term effects of eating 'Frankenfood'


True, but the research that is available thoroughly debunks the scare stories about allergies etc. that have been circulating about genetically modified food, while research on food additives has revealed a huge load of adverse effects. Why genetically modified food scares people while additives don't remains a mystery to me.

Quote:
3. Lack of sufficient subsidies for farming, forcing many to buy genetically altered seed to raise yields


I know I'm repeating myself, but insofar as genetical modification causes more harm to consumers than benefits to producers, producers can make a profit by producing unmodified food and charge a higher price for it. If this happens rarely, that's strong empirical evidence that consumers don't care much about their food being genetically modified. So why bother? Subsidies would only distort the incentives on either side.

Quote:
4. How an idea originally (perhaps naively) intended to 'feed the world' turned into just another way to line the pockets of multi-nationals


Nobody is forced to pay money to multi-nationals, so I don't see what's wrong with their pockets being full of money. Why do you?

Confused

-- Thomas
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 May, 2003 08:22 am
Thomas- Welcome to Able2Know. I know that you will enjoy it here! Very Happy
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