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Old 02-20-2011, 02:20 AM   #1
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Default "The GM genocide"

From a few years ago, but I still thought the article was worth sharing.

The Daily Mail UK, 3/11/08:

The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops | Mail Online

Quote:
Beguiled by the promise of future riches, he borrowed money in order to buy the GM seeds. But when the harvests failed, he was left with spiralling debts - and no income.
So Shankara became one of an estimated 125,000 farmers to take their own life as a result of the ruthless drive to use India as a testing ground for genetically modified crops.
Quote:
When crops failed in the past, farmers could still save seeds and replant them the following year.

But with GM seeds they cannot do this. That's because GM seeds contain so- called 'terminator technology', meaning that they have been genetically modified so that the resulting crops do not produce viable seeds of their own.

As a result, farmers have to buy new seeds each year at the same punitive prices. For some, that means the difference between life and death.
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Old 02-20-2011, 06:35 AM   #2
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A recipe for tragedy: greed, over-population and drought.
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Old 02-20-2011, 11:35 AM   #3
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As usual the GM seed sellers disclaim responsibility for the climate,debt, and culture behind these crop failures and subsequent suicides.

The following link has a lot of good info.

India Together: Agriculture - news articles, reports, opinions and analysis - Homepage
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Old 02-20-2011, 12:33 PM   #4
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Yesterday, a pro-GM guest just laughed off the NPR host's factual statements and the GM community clearly takes NO responsibility for anything. This is going to be a tough nut to crack.
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Old 02-20-2011, 02:04 PM   #5
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This issue has bothered me for some time. It proves that GMO is not sustainable. When a farmer selects best plants for seed saving, those seed should grow into plants best suited for the microclimate. Poor farmers can't survive on buying more seed if a crop fails.

The same thing is going on in the United States with some of the new laws being passed for "food safety". Monopolys on food supply, food processing, and seed are dangerous. Those laws don't help the small farmer.
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Old 02-22-2011, 01:48 PM   #6
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Some news on the GM crop front that actually sounds promising, from Genetic engineering brings cloned crops closer : Nature News -

“Genetic engineering brings cloned crops closer. Seeds genetically identical to parent plant could revolutionize agriculture.”

"By combining mutations that abolish the shuffling of genes during sexual reproduction, researchers have found a way to force sexually reproducing plants to clone themselves through seeds."

The key here is that it "...could allow farmers to propagate their own crops, rather than buying seed each year. It would also speed up the time it takes for companies to generate new plant breeds."
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Old 02-22-2011, 08:26 PM   #7
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Don't we depend on genetic diversity to limit exposure to disease?
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Old 02-22-2011, 08:52 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benj1 View Post
Don't we depend on genetic diversity to limit exposure to disease?
Indeed. It would be foolhardy to overlook that fact; hopefully, the proponents of this cloning procedure would take that into account and plan accordingly.
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Old 02-22-2011, 09:17 PM   #9
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Just so this place is not an echo chamber... here goes.

1) this is the Daily Mail we are talking about here. The Mail is the epitome of scumbag journolism. I know this looks like a weak argument to start off with; but the Daily Mail is really the lowest of the worst of the scummy bottom feeding journalism out there. Everything you read in the Mail can be safely ignored more or less.

2) It's clearly scandalous that farmers are being sold crops that are not going to be able to be grown the following year assuming they have not been told this. I do not know if this is the case or not, but ethically this would be reprehensible. It's also very bad business. I know about these terminator genes, they are something people have spent large amounts of time on.
BUT, they do not mean that GM crops are unsustainable. It means that Terminator genes in crops that are sold to people who cannot pay for them the following season are not sustainable. Or, if the company goes out of business and cannot provide more seed they are not sustainable.

Note, they bought these crops for a reason. Presumably they bought them because they were in some way expected to be better than the other crops (again whether they actually were is another matter).

Also, note that the terminator stuff is an add on to an existing modification that improves some aspect of the crop. It is not an integral part of it. If the company had no buyers the next season, then they may want to review their business, and possibly remove this gene allowing the growers to harvest viable seed.

Finally, the whole GM is bad thing. GM is not bad. It's simply silly to say this. Everything on the planet, throughout the history of time is genetically modified from something else. Genetics are modified every single time sexual reproduction happens. Very pointed GMs occurred when the Egyptians etc picked the best looking grain and planted only that. Labs are now using computers to look for genes with certain traits, and trying to splice these genes into genomes.
Big deal. It's genetics. It's all genetics.
Trust in evolution, trust evolution works, and has been working for as long as time has existed. Life on this planet is brutally good at doing what it does, it's genomes are not fragile things. If there is a real pressure that exists, trust evolution has seen it, and adapted to it.
The pressures we are putting on these genomes now (better crops etc) do not matter in the grand scheme of things. They only matter to us. They will only go wild and not vanish if there is a pressure that continues to exist, which it almost certainly wont.
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Old 02-22-2011, 11:08 PM   #10
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Yikes, didn't mean to bring in something from an disreputable paper-- I just followed links through, and didn't double-check the source. My apologies to everyone, and lesson learned.

I am still curious about the terminator gene, though.

It seems like such a two-edged sword. On one hand, it reduces the chance of release into the wild (for example, if any of the bt crops were to escape, it could have unintended effects on butterflies). On the other hand, it prevents farmers from saving seed, so it creates economic hardship.

How do they grow the seed?

What if pollen from a terminator-gene crop inadvertently pollinates a non-terminator-gene field?
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