GENTECH archive

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Recalling GMOs, Labelling and safety



>Roberto Verzola
>....... None of the
>scientists I've asked, including you Dr. Roush, have replied
>satisfactorily to my question: if we realize in the future that the
>harm the GMOs pose is unacceptable, how do you propose to recall them?
>

Regrettably, time does not allow me to answer every question posed on this
server. There are several of you posing them.

In the case of Bt cotton, maize and even Round-up Ready soybeans, recall is
easy. Monsanto controls the contracts for planting each year, but even if
they didn't, these crops don't maintain themselves, not can they spread
pollen to wild relatives in any of the areas in which they are or are
planned to commercialised.  Stop supply of the seed and the transgenic
varieties will disappear.

I won't defend all GMOs. I am not keen about insect resistant forest trees
for example.  I will defend the ones that clearly provide an environmental
advantage. In terms of advantages to humans and the environment, the
important one is Bt cotton, and it can clearly be recalled.  Could you live
with just Bt cotton or would you continue to oppose even that?

If not, until I see some valid arguments that actually apply to cotton, I
have to assume that people's objections are first and foremost a bias
against GMOS, period.

Mark Ritchie wrote
>Some of us who support labeling do so in order to enable our right to
>choose, not to enable Rick's right to choose for us what should or should
>not be labeled.Perhaps this is a fundamental difference among us.

Mark, I have no influence over any one who would choose for you or anyone
else.   However, if you all are so keen to choose and concerned about your
food, why  don't I see some protests about all of the other things
happening to foods, like the use of non-digestable starches, labelling for
pesticide use history, etc?

Or is it still just an anti-GMO thing?



Adrian Valls wrote:
>I wonder if the molecular composition of GE and non GE cotton seed oil is
>really identical.

Adrian, with Bt cotton, it is absolutely identical. Not "substantially
equivalent".  When I look at a bag of corn chips, it just says "vegetable
oil" or perhaps "canola, soy or cotton seed oil".  People aren't now even
labelling the crop species that produced the oil!  If you ever go to a
cotton gin, you will see why segregating cotton seed oil will be very
complicated, far more than for soybeans or corn.  It is a matter of dumping
seed into two piles, you would have to completely clean the gin after each
batch. Ginners won't accept this, and will put pressure on growers to stick
with non-transgenic seed.

I do appreciate people's right to choose (I'd like it labeled so that I
could choose the GE because I would know that there was less chance of
pesticide contamination and the crop had been grown more safely).  However,
since no test can distinguish the oils, there will have to be absolute
segregation.  Not only does this allow fraud, but it will inhibit people
growing the safer Bt varieties (which is certainly the aim of some people
promoting the labelling even of oils and sugars which are not in themselves
GE foods even if produced by GE plants).  Are you prepared to face the farm
worker who has headaches or gets cancer so that you can feel more
comfortable when you were never at risk in the first place?  I have worked
in the fields, and was probably poisoned at least once myself.  I am not
prepared to ever again face cotton farm workers, or poor people of color
living next to the fields, without knowing that I did all I could to stop
their exposure, not with platitudes about organic cotton farming, but with
a real solution that is available now.

I don't agree with everyone's comments about the need for humans over rat
feeding trials, but I can accept your point when there is a difference.
For Bt and herbicide resistance, I'll even volunteer to be a test subject.
But would you deny farm people access to Bt cotton until those studies are
done on cotton seed oil even when there are no differences?  Where is the
morality there? Will you insist on the "right to know" in labelling even
when other people are paying the price?  When is the right to know simply
selfishness?



>Herve wrote:
>I've learnt recently that the coding sequence inserted is not
>exactly the very same as the one in the natural Bt (i've not
>put quotes around natural !).

Herve: The protein produced is exactly the same as by the bacteria; that
is, the amino acid sequence is exactly the same.  In any case, again for Bt
cotton, there is no Bt or DNA in the oil, nor any difference in the
composition of the oil.


Bye,

Rick

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Richard T. Roush
Associate Professor and Director          Phone +61 8 8303-6590
Centre for Weed Management Systems        FAX   +61 8 8303-7125
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