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Feeding the Future
GMOs Suffer Major Setback in China

One of the most promising developments in ensuring future food security is hitting a significant hurdle in one of the world’s most populous countries. Despite repeatedly being shown to be perfectly safe for human consumption, genetically modified crops have raised the hackles of consumers around the globe, and a growing number of Chinese citizens are snubbing GM products. Reuters reports:

The Chinese government says GM foods are as safe as conventional foods, but wealthier urban consumers are replacing soyoil with sunflower, peanut or sesame, all free of biotech raw materials.

A Nielsen survey last year showed about 70 percent of consumers in China limited or avoided at least some foods or ingredients, compared with a global average of 64 percent, with 57 percent naming GMOs as undesirable. […]

“Non-GMO oil is gradually replacing (soy oil),” said Johnny An, supply chain director at food-service firm Aramark, which serves meals in banks, government offices and schools in more than 60 Chinese cities. A few years ago, 10-20 percent of Aramark’s customers asked for GMO-free oil, he said. Now it’s more than half.

Let’s be clear: GM crops don’t have a safety problem, they have a PR problem. Study after study has cleared them of the charge that they’re somehow safe, but the public by and large remains wary of them as a food source. Much of this skepticism stems from a perception that they’re somehow “unnatural,” a feeling that’s hard to combat with data or scientific findings.

It’s vitally important that this emotional rejection of GMOs is fought, though, because if we’re going to feed our planet’s teeming billions in the coming years, we’re going to need the drought and pest resistance that they offer, and the increased crop yields they can provide. That’s going to be especially important as we adapt to our changing climate, which greens so often warn us is going to make life more difficult.

It’s ironic, then, that the same environmentalists that paint our apocalyptic future in such lurid detail are the ones that are spearheading the campaign against GMOs. The hypocrisy of greens who can criticize climate deniers for ignoring scientists while doing the exact same thing when they demonize GM crops is mind-boggling. It’s also dangerous—a group of 107 Nobel laureates penned a letter this past year in which they criticized Greenpeace for opposing GMOs. They ended that letter with a question: “How many poor people in the world must die before we consider this a ‘crime against humanity’?”

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  • Unelected Leader

    I’ve said it here before, and I’ll say it again now: What individual consumers with the luxury of choice do is one thing, but the primary issue has been the CCP rejecting GMO until they can get their hands on patent rights and tech.
    “We must boldly innovate the heights of GMO techniques, and we cannot let foreign companies dominate the GMO market.” ~ Xi Jinping
    Chu Xuping, a senior figure in the agency overseeing China’s state-owned enterprises, rejects foreign investment in grain, pharmaceutical and water treatment SOEs. The dog-whistle message to the public is unmistakable.
    “The main reason for China’s slow adoption of biotech grain crops isn’t that the government is swayed by public opinion. It’s that China doesn’t have leading, marketable biotechnologies..” ~ Shanghai JC Intelligence’s Li said

  • Andrew Allison

    Although GM food is safe, there is a downside to Roundup Readiness (the primary modification to soy plants) — just as with antibiotics, overuse is causing the weeds to become resistant. I’m a little dubious about the survey population — I suspect that it comprised relatively wealthy city-dwellers prepared to pay the 20% price premium for non-GMO soy oil and significantly higher premia for most of the alternatives. Given that China imports 86% of it’s soy, nearly all of it GM, any major shift in demand would significantly increase the premia.

    • FriendlyGoat

      Indeed, the question is not whether GMO’s are safe for people to eat. The questions are whether they negatively affect other parts of the ecosystem and whether patenting leads to questionable economic outcomes. That said, I’m a lefty who has NOT expanded his “leftiness” to include opposition to GMOs.

      • WeGotta

        Nothing “is safe”.
        Least of all a technique or a tool.

        “A knife is safe” is not a true statement. There exists situations where that is not true. You wouldn’t give a knife to a baby or a thief who just broke in your house. The knife would not be safe.

        You must also think about how a technique is used, where it’s used and why it’s used. How about access to the technique? Who gets to do what?
        Is there an accepted and effective technique already in use which accomplishes the same thing?

        Who asked them to develop this in the first place?

        • FriendlyGoat

          I basically “wear myself out” being a left side guy on most issues. But under the theories of 1) See both sides, 2) Try to be balanced, 3) Put first things first, 4) Pick your battles, I have not found myself wanting to go out and protest GMOs at this time. Maybe someone could tell me why it is very, very important to do this. I haven’t been convinced yet against the full spectrum of other issues a liberal could be concerned about.

          As for “who asked them”? Possibly or probably no one. But good free enterprise works like that. You build a better mousetrap, somebody wants to buy it. Better produce? Higher yields? Why not?

  • Aldus du Flaperon

    The Chinese do not tend to trust their government when it comes to food. They might like GMOs more if they are officially banned.

  • WeGotta

    You can’t declare a tool “safe” and expect to be taken seriously.

    A hammer could never “be safe” except generally.
    A hammer is not safe near an MRI machine.

    A technique to manipulate the literal building blocks of life could be very unsafe.

    People still go around saying nuclear power “is safe” too. Yet Chernobyl is “not safe” for another 20,000 years and Fukushima is “not safe” for who knows how long.

    First step, face the truth.

    • J K Brown

      You are right. The storage silos and such for GMO food could burst under the load of the massive crop yields and the spilling soy, wheat, whatever could crush nearby workers

      • WeGotta

        If that crop was used to make junk food it might save more lives by getting ruined in such a way.

        I fail to see how using a tool to increase the availability of junk food qualifies as anything but stupid and greedy.

        • Damo

          I think you need to define what junk food is so we are all on the same page.

          Soy and wheat aren’t junk food.

          • WeGotta

            I don’t need to define it. Scientists and experts already have.
            You need to get on our page.

            Rubber and steel aren’t cars.

          • Damo

            Exactly. Rubber and steal aren’t cars and soy and wheat aren’t junk food.

            Where has junk food been defined by a scientist?

          • WeGotta

            Oh boy. Okay lil Damo. Grandma is gonna walk you through it step by step.

            Things are nuetral. They just are exactly what they are. Tools are neutral (let’s leave out factors regarding origins since I don’t want you to hurt yourself).

            Wheat, corn, soy, neutral.

            But use corn to make something and now we have the information needed to make some value judgement.

            Still with me lil sonny?

            GM is technology mostly used to increase the availability of things which are dangerous in excess.

            That’s a fact. We can make a value judgment now.

          • Damo

            “GM is technology mostly used to increase the availability of things which are dangerous in excess.”

            I would disagree with that, if not for the qualifier “mostly” but I expect that to change over the next decade as more and more GE derived traits are found in all kinds of food. However:

            So what. So is traditional breeding. This is a non-argument.

            That soy, corn, and wheat can also be used in their whole form.

            As for the rest of your argument “things are neutral” who is saying they aren’t? Not me. You are. You are the one putting a value on soy, wheat, and corn. If eating any of those things are bad for you in excess, don’t eat them in excess.

            Let’s go back to your hammer analogy that you like so much.

            A hammer is meant to drive nails. If you use that hammer to smash someone’s head in, does that somehow make all hammers bad? Can I put a value judgement on hammers now, since you smashed in someone’s head? Should no one be allowed to drive nails since you smashed in someone’s head with a hammer? Nonhammers can be used to smash heads as well.

            I know you think you are talking down to me, but you aren’t. You are just confidently demonstrating how you can’t think.

          • WeGotta

            No no lil Damo, don’t put that in your mouth!

            You don’t judge all hammers because sometimes they are used for “bad”.
            Just like we talked about before lil scooter. Remember?
            You don’t judge all hammers because sometimes they are used for “good”.

            Try and keep up now champ.

            Try this:
            Say an expert develops a tool that guarantees your mother will take “too much” aspirin. He studied your mother extensively and knows just how to manipulate her so that she does indeed take “too much”.

            Is the tool bad?
            What do you think about that expert? Is he doing “the right thing”?

          • Damo

            Wait. So the argument you use against GMOs is ok only for GMOs?

            Then you add another unsupported argument? Which would only make sense if the same person making the GE tech was also the person running the ad campaign for a product 3 or 4 times removed from the tech itself. While failing to realize that many people consume products derived from that tech without overindulging?

            Oh my, you continue to demonstrate how dumb you are.

          • WeGotta

            No no Damo.
            Stay away from the sharp scissors.
            Scissors are not safe in your hands.

          • Damo

            You make no sense, again.

    • RobertWager

      Let look at your examples. Chernobyl was a direct result of pushing the reactor far far above specification limits. Fukosima was a results of a tidal wave destroying all power to the water pumps that cooled the reactor, the reactor withstood the earthquake just fine. So don’t push technology far beyond design limits and ensure self-contained power generation at all nuclear power site. As for you continued attempts to paint GE crops in a dangerous light, well twenty years of commercial crops, trillions of meals consumed from those crops and nada safety issues documented. But you please keep up with your efforts as I enjoy showing the public what the anti-GMO industry are up to.

      • WeGotta

        Oh, how easy. Just don’t push it too hard and make sure critical components don’t break.
        Why didn’t they think of that before the accidents?
        Oh, well. I’m sure all the unanticipated things have been solved now. Too bad for huge areas of our planet now off limits for thousands of years.

        You don’t get it.
        Tools cannot be universally blessed as “safe”.
        Especially if humans are involved in any way.

        Who asked you to develop this technology? You want to change all of the planets food so you can make some money and you don’t need our consent first?

        I’ll avoid your not safe junk just for that reason alone.

        • Jason

          I totally agree. We should all just go back to hunting, gathering & heating/ lighting our homes with wood & whale oil. We’d all be much safer.

          • WeGotta

            Oh Jason.
            What a drama queen.

            How about we start by just facing basic facts.

            Facts:
            1. Technology is neutral. Humans make them “bad” or “good”.
            The “usefulness” of a tool is not an inherent quality.

            2. The assurances of every expert scientist in the world is no assurance of actual safety for any of us.

          • Jason

            Yah… better to just not use any of it. Ya know… safety and all.

          • WeGotta

            Better to face basic facts about ourselves based on evidence.

            Going back to old technology won’t help any more than wishing there was something new.

            The human race shows no capacity to use even our innate ability in sane ways. So why do we expect our tools will change that?

          • Jason

            What? But technology can be used in bad ways! I dunno… best to just go back to the old ways. Things were so much better then. Yah… sure… world hunger was a heck of a lot worse, but at least we didn’t have corn syrup to worry about!

          • WeGotta

            You’re obviously confused.

            It’s you who heard
            “let’s use evidence to discover important, relevant information about ourselves so we can use our technology more effectively in order to reach common goals”
            and thought to yourself
            “go back in time and use older technology”.

            Which is exactly what I’m saying. Humans are suffering from mass delusion. We need to hide the sharp scissors until we figure out some stuff first.

          • Jason

            Yah… I’ve probably confused you with the other “WeGotta” that I’ve had 137 similar conversations with in the past. I blame technology for enabling it.

          • WeGotta

            Okay Damo.

          • Damo

            Sorry, you must be confused again. Easy to see why, you don’t know how to think. “Technology is neither good nor bad” then you claim that we shouldn’t use it. Your conclusions aren’t even backed up your arguments or premise.

            I know, I know. This is another example of me saying “I know you are but what am I” even though you are the one who tried to accuse me of not being able to think critically after I pointed out that you lack the ability to do so.

            You project, you don’t think logically, you can’t appropriately judge evidence–but those developing new technologies are the stupid ones. Sure.

          • WeGotta

            You sure are a one trick pony.

            Why is it that a person get’s a background check to purchase a gun, doctors get licensed before they can treat patients and restaurants get inspected for safety but some nobody with no background check, no license and no inspection process can sit in a lab messing around with DNA just so they can find profitable ways of changing the food we all eat?

            Nobody asked them to do this. They didn’t get our consent.

          • Damo

            Really, I am a one trick pony? Would that trick happen to be being educated about rules and regulations regarding allowing GE derived foods versus traditional breeding methods? Because that is probably a trick you should learn.

            GMOs are tested, non-GMO are not. No GMO that has made it to market has been pulled for being unsafe. The same cannot be said for non-GMO.

          • WeGotta

            Hammers are tested, non-hammers are not. No hammer that has made it to market has been pulled for being unsafe. The same cannot be said for non-hammer.

            You’re educated about rules and regulations?

          • Jason

            Actually, I’m pretty sure hammer aren’t tested, but many of the things in the “non-hammer” category actually are.
            Your examples could use a little work. They tend to be pretty far off target.

          • WeGotta

            It’s not an example. It’s gibberish like his statement before that.

            Here’s more gibberish:
            Unexploded land mines are safe.
            Rattlesnakes are safe.
            Little puppies are safe.
            Going to the bathroom is safe.
            A book about how to make molotov cocktail is safe.
            Kittens are safe.
            gmo is safe.

          • Jason

            Alllllrighty, then

          • Damo

            I think I have it figured out. She wants to undermine the argument that gmo is safe by claiming that there is no such thing is safe.

            However, that also undermines the argument that gmo is unsafe–since everything would be unsafe. She can’t seem to come up with one good reason why someone can’t use GMO, except it is “stupid.”

          • Jason

            Yup… circular logic at it’s finest.

          • Damo

            What? That doesn’t even make sense. Your metaphor doesn’t make sense–there are actual foods pulled from the market for being unsafe. I don’t know what nonhammers (whatever that even means) have to do with anything.

          • WeGotta

            Its not a metaphor.

            It’s a core principle of critical thinking. Consistency.

          • Damo

            No, you are not being consistent. Hammers are not GMO.

          • JoeFarmer

            “What a drama queen.”

            And irony meters around the world just shattered!

          • J K Brown

            Yeah, that wouldn’t be a negative impact on the environment.

            Amusing fact, coal was the original alternative fuel that saved thousands of forests.

        • J K Brown

          What do you mean “who asked”? Do you know how many distasteful foods I had to eat because “there are starving children in China”? So we grew up and some fixed that problem so no longer would American children be forced to eat foods they didn’t like just because the socialist methods of production in China couldn’t supply enough food for Chinese kids to eat.

          • WeGotta

            I think I’m seeing how it works now.
            Americans choose the “gmo version” of corn chips and HFCS so that people in other countries get fed.

            Science sure does move in mysterious ways!

          • Damo

            What do Americans choice of the end product have to do with the breeding method of growing crops for said product?

          • WeGotta

            That depends how much one has to do with the other of course.

            So how is “our choice” connected to GM?

            List the ways and we can decide what it means.

          • Damo

            List the ways? Now you want me to conduct your arguments for you?

          • WeGotta

            Aw, can’t do it. Poor lil guy.

          • Damo

            Of course I can’t. It is your argument. How dumb are you?

          • J K Brown

            No mystery. There was a problem, starving children. A solution was found to grow more food. A large portion of that research was done in America by Americans.

            Now, the only problem is people who would rather starve, but that is their choice. Oh and well-fed people who would rather other, poorer, people starve than see technology advance.

          • WeGotta

            The “only problem” is people who would rather starve?

            What about people who want to see technology advance, even if it means more people starve and become poorer?

          • Damo

            My mother said the same thing to me. What she was hiding at the time was that we were poor and if I didn’t eat my dinner then and there, she couldn’t guarantee when I would eat again. Of course, thanks to American farmers, today’s American poor don’t have the same issue. And I would say even then (we are talking pre-gmo tech, in the early to mid eighties) what I and the rest of the poor ate would be classified as junk.

    • Damo

      Nope, you are wrong. A hammer is safe, when used appropriately.

      • WeGotta

        Hahaha!
        Classic Damo.

        Tell me I’m wrong and use the exact same thing I said as proof that I am wrong.

        Ya, no sh!t. A hammer is safe ONLY when used “appropriately”. I just said that.

        • Damo

          Not what you said. You said a hammer could not be safe except generally.

          I said it is safe when used appropriately, as in specific situations in which the hammer was meant to be used.

          The exact opposite of what you said.

          Classic WeGotta, not understanding language, argument, or even her own thoughts.

          • WeGotta

            Oh my god.
            Now I’m to blame for your inability to understand the written language?

            I know you are but what am I!!!!
            I know you are but what am I!!!

          • Damo

            Once again, if it seems that I am saying I know you are but what am I, it is only because you are projecting your own failings on me. Look up the definition of general.

            Don’t be an idiot.

  • J K Brown

    The current season of ‘The Americans’ has GMO-food as a plot device this season. The spies are investigating whether America is developing weapons to destroy the Soviet wheat, which has failed again. They even kill a guy who works in a lab breeding pests. Only to discover the lab isn’t developing a superbug, but rather working on developing pest resistant wheat. They even, but only in passing, mention the “profit motive”. So the Communists have their agents steal some seedlings.

    Now the big change in China is that there is enough food to eat that people feel comfortable to reject food the government promotes. When I was a kid in the ’70s and rejected eating the turnip greens or something, I got lectured about the starving kids in China. I had to eat a lot of distasteful vegetables because the “socialist methods of production” caused starvation among the comrades.

  • Bob Phelps

    Once lost, trust in the food supply takes a long time to restore. After the melamine milk contamination scandal that maimed and killed Chinese children (in one child families), Chinese shoppers are very food risk averse. Mad cow disease and foot and mouth, which the British government lied about, did the same to their shoppers, and Europe followed. Making false promises that GM crops have not, and cannot, deliver does the same. GM is not: “going to feed our planet’s teeming billions,” and the claims that: “we’re going to need the drought and pest resistance that they offer, and the increased crop yields they can provide,” are spin. These multi-genic traits rely on many genes interacting but genetic manipulation techniques can only be used to cut-and-paste single genes. That is why, after nearly 30 years of expensive R&D, most GM broad-acre soy, corn, canola, cotton and sugarbeet seeds contain only the single gene herbicide tolerance (mostly Roundup) and Bt insect toxin traits. The new GM techniques (CRISPR; ZFN; and Talen) are also unlikely to greatly alter GM’s capacity to deliver new crop traits. Tried and true conventional breeding, using Genetic Marker Assistance and plant genome information, is a better bet for future food security and deserves our support. Moreover, allowing mega-companies – Bayer/Monsanto, Dow/Dupont, Sinochem/Syngenta and BASF – to own and control a majority of the world’s seed and agrichemicals by the end of this year is foolhardy and we should all oppose it.

  • Bob Phelps

    Once lost, trust in the food supply takes a long time to restore. After the melamine milk contamination scandal that maimed and killed Chinese children (in one child families), Chinese shoppers are very food risk averse. Mad cow disease and foot and mouth, which the British government lied about, did the same to their shoppers, and Europe followed. Making false promises that GM crops have not, and cannot, deliver does the same. GM is not: “going to feed our planet’s teeming billions,” and the claims that: “we’re going to need the drought and pest resistance that they offer, and the increased crop yields they can provide,” are spin. These multi-genic traits rely on many genes interacting but genetic manipulation techniques can only be used to cut-and-paste single genes. That is why, after nearly 30 years of expensive R&D, most GM broad-acre soy, corn, canola, cotton and sugarbeet seeds contain only the single gene herbicide tolerance (mostly Roundup) and Bt insect toxin traits. The new GM techniques (CRISPR; ZFN; and Talen) are also unlikely to greatly alter GM’s capacity to deliver new crop traits. Tried and true conventional breeding, using Genetic Marker Assistance and plant genome information, is a better bet for future food security and deserves our support. Moreover, allowing mega-companies – Bayer/Monsanto, Dow/Dupont, Sinochem/Syngenta and BASF – to own and control around 70% of the world’s seed and agrichemicals by the end of this year is foolhardy and we should all oppose it.

    • RobertWager

      Hi Bob, long time. I actually agree the GE technologies will not (alone) solve world food issues. We need the best of every ag technology if we are going to produce more food on the same or less land more sustainably. You know the quickest way to reduce the multi-nationals from controling the GE crop market? reduce the regulations(high costs of commercialization) to those commensurate with the documented risks (twenty plus years of commercial GE crops and zero unique risks or harm)

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