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08/05/2011

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Dave

Christopher,

I must commend you for first, keeping an open mind and second, your tenacity for making it through that marathon of a podcast! While I'm personally excited by the opportunities GM technology may provide, my greatest hope by raising this issue is to get vegans to stay objective on the topic of science and technology. GM technology, like any technology, isn't evil. It's all in the application and that's where we can come in. Ironically, by promoting fear on GM we may be raising the bar so high that only the largest corporations have the means to hurdle.

Thanks for this follow-up post. I think your attitude of "Something to think about, right? " is the way we should be doing it. It's not "GMO is evil!" and it's not "GMO is the best!". It all about critically thinking about the issue. Kudos for that, much appreciated.

BTW we're so excited here at Vegan Chicago to have Native Foods here. People have been raving about your food all week!

SkepticalVegan

This is a great post!
And great comments Dave!

Two resources I would highly suggest are Tomorrow's table: organic farming, genetics, and the future of food by Pamela C. Ronald, Raoul W.

and Just Food by James E. Mcwilliams

Everyone focuses on the big scary corporations but often ignores promising examples of genetic engineering like the GE bacteria used to make the B12 that fortifies nutritional yeast, and what vegan doesn't love their nooch? As mentioned by Dave GE technology has literally saved human and animal lives through new insulin production methods.

James

Wait, do you think that GMO corn does not also use traditional cross breeding (the more "dangerous" method)? This reads as is if you do. If so, wrong. GMO corn is bred like conventional corn, with the exception of one of the inbred parent lines has had the GMO trait inserted. The hybrid offspring contain the trait. Conventional (or classic) breeding is the background for all GMOs, so to suggest it is more dangerous and that therefore GMO is safer is poppycock. I didn't hear the interview, but am hoping that the molecular biologist from Florida didn't play up this fallacy. SOunds like he did - and he should be ashamed. Dr. Folta, you can't have a GMO variety without background breeding with all those messy "unpredictable results". You are smearing the last hundred years of brilliant classical plant breeding that have developed the most useful traits and characteristics we have. GMO traits alone might be fine (for some crops and some regions) but without classical breeding we truly starve. Bad science writing here. Awful in fact.

Ibis

Thanks for this post but evidence does suggest that GMO crops do wreak havoc on the environment.
Explain this:
"Rise of the Super Weeds" NY Times article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/04/business/energy-environment/04weed.html

Christopher Arnett

Thanks to everyone for responding.

Skeptical Vegan, thank you for the book suggestions! The more information, the merrier!

James, you really need to hear the podcast before you can make any reasonable response. If you had taken the time learn about the presentation you sought to criticize, you would have answered your own question. And as for "bad science writing", I can only assume you meant that comment for Dr. Folta, since I never claimed to be a scientist or to represent Dr. Folta. I'm simply providing information for those who are willing to engage it.

Ibis, thank you for the link. New information is always welcome. However, I cannot meet your demand to explain how that particular evidence contradicts what was presented in my blog. I am not obligated to do so since I never claimed to support GMO crops. I am simply gathering and processing information, and hopefully helping others along the way. And again, I am not a scientist, so I am in no position to argue either side of the issue.

And a special thanks to Dave for provding this informative podcast. It's inspiring to know that there are vegan groups willing to venture beyond their comfort zones to attain a true understanding of science and technology as it relates to a cruelty-free and environmentally sound lifestyle.

Whenever a controverial topic surfaces, I think we can all agree that supporters on both sides of the issue share a common goal: the attainment of truth. In order to achieve this, we all must be open to possibilities and think critically on each new piece of information that becomes available. And we must be willing to admit that our original viewpoints could be wrong.

Dave

Ibis, It seems like you're arguing that GM is so effective it's speeding up resistance. Resistance to pesticides and herbicides is a constant battle. For example, when using BT and other insecticides farmer use methods like refuge farming to slow resistance. This is not a GM issue. It's an agriculture issue. What specifically about transgenics is bad as compared to natural processes? In the podcast, Kevin Folta says that if he could find good evidence against the use of this technology, as a scientist he would reap great rewards.

Dave

Christopher,

BINGO! A truly open mind is one that's open to being wrong. :)

The greatest tools vegans can use (all people actually) is that of critical thinking. Carl Sagan's book: The Demon-Haunted World is one we've been promoting through Vegan Chicago's book club in the hopes of empowering our membership with the powerful tools of critical thinking. In the book it is called "the baloney detection kit" and we're working on a way to distill it into a single pamphlet. I hate to risk overburdening you further, but if there was one book that I would recommend, this would be the one. The ones Skeptical Vegan recommended are great in this issue of GMO.

But GMO isn't the real issue here especially when it comes to veganism. In matters of truth (science) it's best to leverage the benefits our society provides us. We are lucky to have people who specialize in these topics and we should regard their opinions. Not any one expert though, but consensus of such experts. In this sense, it's not enough that we should all be playing armchair scientist evaluating every study or article. Studies are often misreported, hard to parse and in the end it's only a single study. By replicating studies and having multiple experts assess those studies we get closer to the truth.

Science is the best tool we have for finding the truth. It behooves us to better understand how it works. I think most people have a distorted view of it. I know I did until very recently.

Puma Outlet

When school-camp ended, Ian rejoiced. He really just wants to play video games and draw pictures and hang out with me. A little computer time is fine, but he we can't let him play Plants vs. Zombies for six hours straight. To distract him from the computer, we keep on the move. He saw the Smurf movie with my mom. We went to Barnes and Noble, the swim club, and the nature center. We went to IKEA for breakfast this morning. After a quick shove out the front door, he always has fun, but sometimes it does take a shove to get moving.

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