I'm starting this thread here because I don't know much about gmo foods and the impact of them on our world. I'm hoping David McCleod will have something to say, since I imagine that his gardening knowledge and studies will pertain.

I get that there are business and economic impacts and potential dangers. Similarly, but not unrelated, environmental dangers for local and broader cultures.

Having heard Vedana Shiva speak a month ago, I was sensitized to a lot of risk and loss, which would be putting it mildly by her sensibilities to the issues.

I also have some scientific and belief ambivalence around the small questions of nutritional benefits of gmo vs more native.

As with so many issues in this complex world, there are romantic renderings, emotionally charged beliefs, and vested interests on all sides. I was a bit romanticized by the passion and the storyline presented by Verdana Shiva (a link to one of her organizations is below.)

Immediately below is a link to a report that came out today, apparently along with some supporting data, by the US national academy of science regarding their research to sort out some of the science from allegedly less founded beliefs. The summary in a phrase is that gmo foods are mostly safe.

OK, though I may not get to studying this almost esoterically detailed field, I suspect that the research, as with most scientific study, is narrow in its parameters, whereas generalizations often become glibly inferred and implied. I suspect that at the extent to which Vedana Shiva and others are considering the impacts, there may be great dangers for peoples that don't have to do with simple digestion, assimilation, nutritionally functional utilization within a body.

David and anyone have a good overview, maybe with some postmetaphysically integrated insights than answer these questions?

http://www.nap.edu/catalog/23395/genetically-engineered-crops-exper...

http://www.navdanya.org

Views: 72

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Here is the more general link for the national academy of science regarding the study.
http://nas-sites.org/ge-crops/
At a fairly quick skim through the video presentation, which at that level of perusal looked quite rational and with good intent, I found myself within the spell of some of those views.

One issue that stood out for me that Vedana Shiva presented in her study and method looking at small farms in India had to do with higher water requirements for non-indigenous varieties. She said that water tables, most disturbingly in quasi drought areas, lowered dramatically with gmo strains, and I believe she said that when the old strains were returned, so did the higher water tables.

As I think about this now, I wonder about the tightness of the science to conclude that. I am not doubting in a heavy way, since her good will, her strikingly intelligent grasp of issues, and her integrity seemed to me to be fine if not wonderful. But questions and a general wanting to reconcile the apparent conflicts within this huge topic.
Hopefully without branching too far afield from the central topic of this thread, India is having a severe drought, perhaps related to long term climate change. This makes the water issue of gmo foods, to the extent that Vedana's claims are accurate, very relevant.
Here is a BBC news item that speaks to it - at this link there are other drought story links.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-36311845



Ambo Suno said:
At a fairly quick skim through the video presentation, which at that level of perusal looked quite rational and with good intent, I found myself within the spell of some of those views.

One issue that stood out for me that Vedana Shiva presented in her study and method looking at small farms in India had to do with higher water requirements for non-indigenous varieties. She said that water tables, most disturbingly in quasi drought areas, lowered dramatically with gmo strains, and I believe she said that when the old strains were returned, so did the higher water tables.

As I think about this now, I wonder about the tightness of the science to conclude that. I am not doubting in a heavy way, since her good will, her strikingly intelligent grasp of issues, and her integrity seemed to me to be fine if not wonderful. But questions and a general wanting to reconcile the apparent conflicts within this huge topic.

Hi Ambo,

I'm sorry, I don't have any special knowledge about this complex issue. Having given some attention to both Vandana Shiva's presentation and the argument and some of the science from the other side, you've delved deeper than I have.

My personal, mostly un-researched perspective: I personally tend to avoid GMOs as much as possible and have concerns about their proliferation. To me they represent yet another manifestation of hubris and greed and generally ignoring the precautionary principle. Once GMOs are established, it's very difficult if not impossible to reverse course.  

GMOs transfer easily into fields that are intent on remaining GMO free.

Nutritional Science, and soil science, digestive science is just now learning that these systems are much more complex and interrelated and teaming with microbial activity than previously thought. It seems to me that GMOs could cause many unknown and unforeseen disruptions and mutations.

Nature has been working for billions of years on maximizing its systems and systemic processes. We need to work with nature, not against it, rather than trying to maximize a yield from one aspect of the system in monoculture environments, to the possible detriment of the system as a whole.  

Ambo,

The Organic Consumers Association (an organization already against GMOs) has what I think is a helpful page that brings their perspective on the recent NAS report:

https://www.organicconsumers.org/essays/three-take-aways-nas-study-...

Including this statement:

"Media spin aside, here’s how the Washington Post summed up the NAS findings on whether or not GMOs are safe:

No "substantiated" evidence exists that genetically engineered crops have caused health problems in humans or damaged the environment, but it’s too soon to be making broad statements, positive or negative, about laboratory-based manipulations of crop genomes, an elite panel of scientists concluded in a report Tuesday.

Saying there’s no evidence that GMOs harm human health or the environment isn’t the same thing as saying GMOs are safe, a fact the committee chair admitted at a press briefing, according to a UPI report:

"Absence of evidence is not absence of effect," Dr. Fred Gould, a professor at North Carolina State University and chair of the Committee on Genetically Engineered Crops, told UPI. "We're very clear to point out that with very subtle long-term health effects, it's really difficult to point out such a thing."

What the report actually says is that it’s too soon to make that determination. Maybe that wouldn’t be the case, if GMOs had been required to undergo pre-market safety testing 20 years ago. Instead, they were unleashed, untested, into the environment, and into the food stream, on the basis of proprietary industry-funded testing that U.S. regulatory agencies accepted at face value."

Thanks, David - that brief article sounds good to me and plenty accurately reflects my sense of the study.

When listening to the video on the report, I got the sense, as I said, that those committee chair people who I heard were trying towards an ethical and unbiased assessment. Their conclusions sounded quite modest to me, though their study was certainly inadequate and incomplete in scope. As we say, huge topic. The news medias and those who have investments in this industry do skew the headlines and takeaways to powerful and unhealthy effects.

Yes, as you mention, much more attention to the importance of the super complex micro-biomic world is needed. The importance of soil and dirt as much more than just a structural medium to hold a seed and growing plant. Agricultural-industrial science's understanding of soil being "alive" seems usually to be egregiously ignorant and unsubtle.

There is much percolating in me around this topic itself (it is much more important than I give attention to) and as an example of how we view and live in life as shown in many other disturbing examples, especially in the modern world. I feel a bit like a dilettante just saying as much, really as little, as I have said.

As you allude, Vandana Shiva has also said so much about living soils, bio-ecosystems and human systems.

Maybe more study later.



DavidM58 said:

Ambo,

The Organic Consumers Association (an organization already against GMOs) has what I think is a helpful page that brings their perspective on the recent NAS report:

https://www.organicconsumers.org/essays/three-take-aways-nas-study-...

Including this statement:

"Media spin aside, here’s how the Washington Post summed up the NAS findings on whether or not GMOs are safe:

No "substantiated" evidence exists that genetically engineered crops have caused health problems in humans or damaged the environment, but it’s too soon to be making broad statements, positive or negative, about laboratory-based manipulations of crop genomes, an elite panel of scientists concluded in a report Tuesday.

Saying there’s no evidence that GMOs harm human health or the environment isn’t the same thing as saying GMOs are safe, a fact the committee chair admitted at a press briefing, according to a UPI report:

"Absence of evidence is not absence of effect," Dr. Fred Gould, a professor at North Carolina State University and chair of the Committee on Genetically Engineered Crops, told UPI. "We're very clear to point out that with very subtle long-term health effects, it's really difficult to point out such a thing."

What the report actually says is that it’s too soon to make that determination. Maybe that wouldn’t be the case, if GMOs had been required to undergo pre-market safety testing 20 years ago. Instead, they were unleashed, untested, into the environment, and into the food stream, on the basis of proprietary industry-funded testing that U.S. regulatory agencies accepted at face value."

David - I'm going to go on a small tangent because I think you'll enjoy knowing about this man and his work, if you don't know already.

The filamentous pro-forma tie-in with gmo will be that Pearl uses no pesticides or herbicides, he celebrates insect and bird bio-diversity, and apparently uses sound, basic sometimes intuitively-based horticultural principles for maintaining his *decorative* topiary garden.

I just watched the library DVD of "A Man Named Pearl." Have you seen it?

This documentary is an unexpected feel-good story about a son of an African-American sharecropper who becomes moved with hugely increasing energy and creativity that started as beautifying his yard.

In a rather organic, integral, relatively unselfconscious way, he brings into his life an emphasis on important values for self, for inclusion of others, for a transformed community, for body-mind-spirit. His philosophy and religion are honestly expressed and are strong in simple beauty, goodness, and truth, simple in a good way, I say.

You can find more online about him and his horticulture, but watching the video is maybe the richest way. Here is a link to a website about him. Within that are photo galleries and a movie trailer.

http://pearlfryar.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article...

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=a+man+named+pearl&iax=1&ia=images

Reply to Discussion

RSS

What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

Notice to Visitors

At the moment, this site is at full membership capacity and we are not admitting new members.  We are still getting new membership applications, however, so I am considering upgrading to the next level, which will allow for more members to join.  In the meantime, all discussions are open for viewing and we hope you will read and enjoy the content here.

© 2017   Created by Balder.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service