Right now, pests and plant diseases currently destroy up to one-third of all crops grown. Theoretically, genetically engineering crops could solve this problem, and boost the world's food supply. Plant killers from insects to inferior soil could be thwarted by inserting resistance genes into plants.
In current practice, however, biotechnology is more often used to make crops resistant to herbicides, rather than to pests or diseases. This means that farmers can spray their fields, killing weeds without harming crops. Sometimes, the same companies that create herbicide-resistant crops also produce the herbicides farmers use to spray on their fields.
Do you think genetically engineered foods should be specially labeled?
Would you buy and eat them?
Do you think biotechnology will live up to its promise of feeding the world?
Yes, all genetically engineered foods should be laabeled. There will always be people who are against purchasing and eating them, and that is their right. Therefore, if they are to gain any acceptance, engineeered foods should be clearly labeled. I would purchase the engineered foods, if the engineering was not serving the purpose of increasing profit for the manufacturers of pesticides. If a real attempt was made to use the technology to make the plants more hearty, rather than resistant to the pestcides, then I believe that the products would gain more popularity. I do not think that biotechnology will live up to the promise of feeding the world. The major problem with food shortages today is not unavailability of food (in most cases), but poor methods of distribution. That problem can not be solved by increasing the amount of food in storage. Many other changes would have to occur before world hunger will be solved.
I think that consumers should be given as much information about what they are buying and eating as is possible. This includes information about what is in a food, how is was made, where and when it was made etc.. I do not, however, think that bioengineered foods should be regulated as having additives in them in the same was that dyes and flavors are regulated. I think that a lot of the concerns over these products are overblown and that the voices calling for labeling are misinformed.
I will buy and eat genetically engineered foods.
I was not aware that genetics were going to feed the world. We already have enough food to feed the world it is more a matter of poor allocation and politics that keeps people hungry. It actually raises interesting questions. Do we need to be pursuing genetic solutions? If we were to spend this energy working on problems of food policy in the political realm would we we be better served?
What do the rest of you think?
This is an interesting scenario. I was struck with the thought that for years we have used cross-breeding techniques to arrive at different varieties of food that will grow in certain conditions, can be transported with minimal damage, that will be pest resistant, etc. In only thinking about this a small amount it seems that genetic engineering isn't much different except that I'm just a little bit more nervous that some side effect might be present that no one has yet discovered because the process is so fast compared to cross-breeding! I suppose that until the technology is proven and that the entire process has become a science rather than an art it would be appropriate to label the food as genetically engineered for those of us who might not be close enough to the technology to understand the risks and the certainties involved.
I'm hoping that this list gets going with more comments. It seems rather quiet as yet (probably since it is new) but could really be a valuable resource to help us all sort out the complex moral issues that must be understood soon given the rapid pace of scientific development in this area.
Sincerely interested in learning!
Steve Henry Fort Collins, Colorado.
This is a hard one for me because I am trying to balance religious considerations with scientific and societal ones. I approve of research in this area. I am very supportive of humankind advancing our knowledge as much as we can. I am sometimes nervous about the reasons that certain products are created and do not always trust that the biotechnology folks, both researchers and corporations, have the good of the public as a primary consideration. I have read Cat's Cradle. Do you think genetically engineered foods should be specially labeled? Absolutely. I feel I have the right to all information I need to make a decision. Would you buy and eat them? Generally speaking, no. This is a personal decision and does not affect my support of the research. Do you think biotechnology will live up to its promise of feeding the world? What promise? I think biotechnology could probably do that if it wanted to and if the political climate supported it, but don't hold your breath. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Rose Falanga firstname.lastname@example.org Director, Library and Information Resources Exploratorium, San Francisco 415-528-4421 (VOICE) 415-528-4307 (FAX) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bill Lindsay writes: > > Bill Lindsay's comments: > It seems to me that there is no reason to label genetically en- > gineered foods since all of our food has been genetically en- > gineered wince the onset of the agricultural revolution. The > techniques of engineering the food are different: We are now > changing the genetic components of organisms and then selecting > in their favor. A couple of thousand years ago all we did was > select those genetic combination that we found favorable. Seems > pretty much the same thing - just a bit faster. I would certainly > buy and eat them. This, in spite of what Luddites like Jeremy > Rifken report. I wan't aware that biotechnology had promised to > feed the world. I seriously doubt that biotechnological advances > can provide sustenance to an infinitely large population of hu- > mans in a finite world. Unless we control our population growth, > there is not amount of technology, bio or otherwise that will > bail us out. > > Do you think genetically engineered foods should be specially la- > beled? NO > > Would you buy and eat them? YES > > Do you think biotechnology will live up to its promise of feeding > the world? NO > > Bill Lindsay's Occupation: I am a biology teacher > > Bill Lindsay's age: 51 to 60 > > Bill Lindsay's sex: Male
>I would purchase the engineered foods, if the engineering was not serving the >purpose of increasing profit for the manufacturers of pesticides. If a real >attempt was made to use the technology to make the plants more hearty, rather >than resistant to the pestcides, then I believe that the products would gain >more popularity. > Paul Coffin I agree with Paul Coffin. I wonder though, how will I know in the grocery store whether or not the profits are going to the pockets of people who manufacture pesticides? Any thoughts out there? Micah Garb Exploratorium Staff ____________________________________________________________________________
>I'm hoping that this list gets going with more comments. It seems rather >quiet as yet (probably since it is new) but could really be a valuable >resource to help us all sort out the complex moral issues that must be >understood soon given the rapid pace of scientific development in this >area. > >Sincerely interested in learning! > >Steve Henry >Fort Collins, Colorado. It is a new list and we are all hoping that things pick up a bit soon. If you have any issues of your own that you would like to raise feel free to send them along. We are fortunate to have Dr. William Atchley of the International Bioethics Institute as a member of the group. He will be lending his learned opinion from time to time. Here at the Exploratorium, we have an analog version of the group as well. On the museum floor visitors are writing their thoughts on cards that are displayed. We will soon be entering some of the comments on the cards into the mix. It is clear that lots of us are thinking about these issues so stay in touch everyone! Micah Garb Exploratorium Staff ____________________________________________________________________________
I strongly believe that genetically enginered foods should be labeled for those people who choose not to consume them. I would only buy and eat them if they were proven to be 100% safe to humans and to any animals that may be affected in any way. I must agree with Micah Garb that I do not believe it will feed the world. We already have enough food for the world's population, we only need to learn to distribute it more evenly.
Suzanne Keene writes: Is genetic engineering the same as 'natur- al' engineering? Suzanne Keene's comments: I don't think the argument that genetic engineering is the same as selective breeding holds up. Selective breeding is a much slower, incremental process of improvement, and there must be many more stages at which undesirable changes can be filtered out. What are our real concerns? Some must be: whether the food that is produced could be harmful to us or to animals etc.; and whether the plants or animals so produced could breed and pass on alterations to the world in an uncontrolled way. I don't believe either of these concerns have been addressed. Genetic engineering will not feed the world. We could feed the world now but we don't choose to. Do you think genetically engineered foods should be specially la- beled? YES Would you buy and eat them? NO Do you think biotechnology will live up to its promise of feeding the world? NO Suzanne Keene's Occupation: museum employee Suzanne Keene's age: 51 to 60 Suzanne Keene's sex: Female
>I strongly believe that genetically enginered foods >should be labeled for those people who choose >not to consume them. I would only buy and eat >them if they were proven to be 100% safe to >humans and to any animals that may be affected >in any way. I must agree with Micah Garb that >I do not believe it will feed the world. We >already have enough food for the world's population, >we only need to learn to distribute it more >evenly. What does it mean to prove something 100% safe. I think that it is a very difficult thing to do and if you hold your self to that standard you will soon be very hungry. I once read that the even the harmless raw potato can be fatal if you eat enough of them, organic, genetically engineered or otherwise. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how we might go about assertaining what "safe" is? What kind of tests should we be doing on genetically-engineered foods? How long should we wait before a new food is released onto the market? Is the FDA doing a good job right now? Micah Garb Exploratorium
Steve Evans writes: Re: Food labeling Steve Evans's comments: Should genetically engineered food be labelled? This is a very good question and one that cannot be answered with a simple yes or no...... If you agree with a food labelling system, how far do you think this system should go? Taking the case of genetically engineered tomatoes..... Do you label a pizza that contains it? Would you,then,label a pizza from a restaurant and how? How little or how much of a genetically en- gineered constituent should a food product contain before label- ling ceases/starts? Are there any cases where food labelling should have special consideration, eg, Where food contains a Copy of a human gene? I would be interested to hear your opinions on this, particularly from a religious point of view. Finally, would I eat G.E.F.? Yes I would. Will biotechnology live up to its promise of feeding the world? I don't think many people ever promised this! As many people have said, it is mainly a case of poor distribution and until biotech- nology ceases to be mainly in the 'control' of big companies then, no! Do you think genetically engineered foods should be specially la- beled? YES Would you buy and eat them? YES Do you think biotechnology will live up to its promise of feeding the world? NO Steve Evans's Occupation: Research student Steve Evans's age: 21 to 30 Steve Evans's sex: Male
Padraig Hart, Ph.D. writes: Plant Biotechnology Padraig Hart, Ph.D.'s comments: Plants which have been genetically engineered should be clearly labelled in order that the consumer can make their own choice. (It should be an informed choice, however). I'm a molecular biologist myself, but I must admit that even I think twice about purchasing genetically-altered products, and to date, I have not. Maybe that's just a normal "wait and see what happens to every- one else that eats them" attitude, but really I think that they are as safe as any pesticide-sprayed fruit or synthetic TV dinner. I should probably give a better example to my friends and buy one or two...... Biotechnology will ultimately meet its goal of feeding the world unless the world gets very much bigger. It's just a question of time, realy. Do you think genetically engineered foods should be specially la- beled? YES Would you buy and eat them? YES Do you think biotechnology will live up to its promise of feeding the world? YES Padraig Hart, Ph.D.'s Occupation: Research Scientist Padraig Hart, Ph.D.'s age: 21 to 30 Padraig Hart, Ph.D.'s sex: Male
Vince Hamner writes: Future Foods Vince Hamner's comments: Regarding genetically engineered veggies (and other edibles)... 1. Should they be labeled? YES 2. Would I buy and eat them? UNSURE. The optimum case would be to allow others to be the "guinea pigs" for a few years. I'd wait and see how things turned out. However, a patron at a res- taurant could be eating an engineered tomato in that tasty salad and not even realize it. Thus, I would be hesitant to purchase such foods; however, I would probably consume them sooner or later anyway (perhaps unknowingly). 3. Will Biotech live up to its promise of feeding the world? I didn't know that any such promise had been made (or assumed)! I'm sure that many researchers have made those sorts of promises when applying for research funding, but will they really be able to deliver the goods??? I really doubt it. Biotech is going to be especially good at one thing: MAKING MONEY for those who are successful in their endeavors. Biotech Vince Hamner's Occupation: Research Scientist Vince Hamner's age: 21 to 30 Vince Hamner's sex: Male
>occupation: criminal lawyer > > age: 45 > > sex: Female > Regarding genetically engineered veggies (and other edibles)... 1. Should they be labeled? YES 2. Would I buy and eat them? Yes, sure, why the hell not? 3. Will Biotech live up to its promise of feeding the world? I didn't know . I agree with Vince Hamner that "Biotech is going to be especially good at one thing: MAKING MONEY"
simon vink writes: simon vink's comments: Genetically rearranged agricultural organisms may be of somehelp in reatining a more sustainable form of agriculture and may0e of some help to overcome pests and diseases...Maybe, but the0uture results and blessings are highly exaggerated. So research0n this field should be combined with ecological, fysiological and0ocio- economical research. Also technology assesment research and0isk evaluation is important.0 don't think farmers ever wille be able to bring down the per0entage of losses to zero percent. nature is far too clever and will find0ew unexpected answers to all our strategies. Scientifically,0 think biotechnology can help us to understand what life is all0bout, but will not give the ultimate answer.0 only want to be sure that the food I purchase is safe; how0ts produced does not interest me that much, unless animals have been0reated badly, or entire rainforests were chopped, but thats not on the label Do you think genetically engineered foods should be specially la- beled? NO Would you buy and eat them? YES Do you think biotechnology will live up to its promise of feeding the world? NO simon vink's Occupation: simon vink's age: 41 to 50 simon vink's sex: Male
writes: Re: Genetics scenario #2 Gene manipulation is a totally untested science. There is no way that any of these methods of plant protection can be guaranteed to be safe for humans or any other life. You only have to look at the problems with DDT, 24-D, non-biodegradable detergents and ozone-harmful sprays to realise that mankind has a naive, short- sighted and irresponsible 'fix-it' nature to its problems. There is no way I would eat these products - I would prefer natural breeding methods to put these 'desirable' properties into the plants themselves. And what are these so-called desirable quali- ties? Packagability, good looks, transportability, and ease of picking! Not health, nutrition, cost and quality! And the very statement that the poison companies themselves are making poison-resistant plants smacks of capitalism to its ultimate de- gree. Not that I'm a socialist mind you but I do not believe in sacrificing quality for quantity. Paul Wayper a.k.a. you've touched a very sensetive subject. Do you think genetically engineered foods should be specially la- beled? YES Would you buy and eat them? NO Do you think biotechnology will live up to its promise of feeding the world? NO
Paula Newcomb writes: Genetically Engineered Food Paula Newcomb's comments: I feel that the new genetically engineered foods are not that different from the varieties arrived at by cross pollenization of different species. It's just another route for getting new and different genes into the pool. Do you think genetically engineered foods should be specially la- beled? YES Would you buy and eat them? YES Do you think biotechnology will live up to its promise of feeding the world? NO Paula Newcomb's Occupation: Programmer Analyst Paula Newcomb's age: 51 to 60 Paula Newcomb's sex: Female