It's been a strange few days in the world of genetically modified food. For the first time, a judge has ordered the destruction of a GMO crop, saying it was planted in violation of a previous ruling. Meanwhile, Vatican science advisers are urging support for GMO crops, saying scientists have a moral duty to help the world's poor.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White ordered the removal of genetically modified sugar beet stecklings from hundreds of acres of farm fields, saying the U.S. Department of Agriculture improperly gave permission for their planting. Sugar beet stecklings are planted in the fall, uprooted during the winter, and replanted to produce seed.
Last fall, White ruled the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) had violated the National Environmental Policy Act by allowing the plantings without analyzing their potential impacts on the environment and human health. This August, he said no more GMO beets could be planted until a NEPA review was done. But some stecklings were still planted in Arizona and Oregon, prompting the environmental law group Earthjustice and the Center for Food Safety to file suit in September. White's latest ruling answers that lawsuit and orders the GMO stecklings to be removed from the ground.
In 2010, 95 percent of the nation's sugar beets were genetically modified to tolerate glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup weed killer developed by St. Louis-based Monsanto Co. Half the nation's sugar comes from sugar beets, which are sliced and boiled into a syrupy mash. In January 2008, public interest groups sued to challenge the USDA's deregulation of the crop, starting a cascade of legal action that led to Tuesday's ruling.
Environmental groups note that the proliferation of herbicide-resistant plants has led to superweeds, that the use of chemicals can pollute land and water and that genetically modified crops have not been sufficiently studied. But Monsanto and other GM food advocates argue "Roundup Ready" beets and other crops allow farmers to avoid tilling their land to remove weeds, and that genetic modification in general can improve crop yields and provide tolerance to pests and drought.
The Vatican is apparently on their side. In a statement (PDF) this week, Vatican science advisers said opposition to GM crops in developed countries is unjustified. The Pontifical Academy expressed provisional support for GM crops 10 years ago, and the statement is the result of a week-long meeting in May 2009 at the Vatican, convened by a Swiss scientist who helped develop vitamin A-enhanced golden rice.
Academy member Peter Raven, immediate past president of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis (which has received funds from hometown firm Monsanto), told New Scientist although the global community will never have a unified official line on GM crops, "Our statement is about as close as you can get to one."
The 14-page document makes the case for GM crops as a way to feed the world, and says it's no more dangerous than evolution:
"The possible evolutionary risks of genetic engineering events cannot be greater than the risks of the natural process of biological evolution or of the application of chemical mutagenesis."
The academy even tackles the question of whether scientists are "playing God" by messing with nature, and the answer is no: "New human forms of intervention in the natural world should not be seen as contrary to the natural law that God has given to the Creation."
Vatican law or American law, this debate is far from over.
Holy subverted expectations Batman! This seems the opposite of what usually happens!
Also. Monsanto needs to go die in a ditch already.
without mansanto you won't have your fast food and groceries at cheap prices.
Without Monsanto there would be competition in the GM market, instead of an almost monopoly, driving prices down even further.
GMO organisms have prooved to the European Food Safety Authority to be save so far, and considering that the genomic transmission just exists in theory and that there are just isolated cases of allergy and rejection, it's ok for me.
I also have to say that Monsanto just has the monopoly of GMO plants so if it doesn't work we still have thousands of "acres" of crops with natural seeds, so even if the Safety Authoriy is wrong it wuldn't be a catastrophe.
If the Vatican really wanted to help poor people, they'd be distributing condoms, not food. Food will just encourage them to have more kids, and then they'll need even more food.
The Vatican doesn't care about starvation, all they care about is increasing the population of poor Catholics.
Didn't we learn anything from all the other times we try to mess with nature? There is nothing good for the earth that can come from this. I remember reading how asbestos was a "wonder" material in an old 1960's Popular type mag. How do you feel about it now?
Frankly jefro that comment is a joke. Literally, as in when tv show writers want to make a joke about ignorant people objecting to new technology they say exactly what you just said.
I'm not trying to be mean really but it's sad that ideas like that are still propagated. If we've learned anything in the history of mankind, it's that new things can be good or bad, but there will ALWAYS be new technology and advancements no matter if they're bad or not. Trying to say we shouldn't explore new technology because you're scared of the possibilities is just wrong.
You are an idiot!
Jefro has a very good point.
The world has been growing GMO crops in many places around the globe. They say it will feed the hungry, but as i see it thats a load of crap. They are preying on our emotions by saying that. Look around there are many people dying of hunger every minute, so far their GMO crops havent saved the world yet. I call bullshit. Most likely big pharmaceuticals stand to make a killing as people get sick from this food. The vatican inself probably benefits in some strange way as well.
Lets kill more bees and see how many people will die from hunger then.
ZAJHEIN OPEN YOUR EYES....GET A CLUE
I don't know why people get so wound up about GM crops. In a slower process humans have been doing the very same thing for centuries (sans the high tech lab) whenever they create any kind of fruit, veggie, or flower that's bigger or better than ever before.
Seriously, it's not a big deal.
On a side note, I wish the Vatican would stay out of things that really don't concern them. At least this time what they are saying makes a little sense.
@dontbother I don't think they are trying to increase the number of poor Catholics, I just think they comment about everything because they want to seem as though they are still relevant and necessary. Also, people don't have kids because they have food, it's just good natural fun to make babies with or without enough food to feed them. Now if they could just take the fun out of the process then... well that'll never happen.
Here is food for thought. All of our food items are not natural. Human's have been breading new grain, vegi's, tree's, flowers for thousands of years now. The only new thing that has happened in the last 20 years is that we've been able to add/change the plant DNA at a selective level then with a breeding program. With this data we've been able to make some superfoods that are helping many people around the world. Don't forget about golden rice that is helping people by using less land to produce more food that is better for you.
liz-get a grip-zajhein is correct-go hide under your rock-the rest of the world will move on-for better or worse-rants like yours are not helpful in understanding the good from the bad and of course, taking advantage of the good and limiting the bad
I have a GMO wolf in my back yard. She's a specially modified and mutated wolf brand called a Beagle as certified by the head commity for wolf genetic modification in the US - the AKC.
Monty isn't the only company creating gylp-based pesticide/plant mixes (Bayer does the same thing). Also, since Monty no longer has a patent on gylp-ies, their RR ready seed is there cash cow. You think they don't go to lengths to keep them from going feral? Do you know how hard they sue people trying to rip off their seed? You would rather drive a combine up your back door.
The worries of GMO are based in fear and misunderstanding. Modify the DNA of food all you want. All that changes is the plant with the modified DNA. It is only the changes that matter, not the DNA.
So, DNA that say, fixes arscenic in tomatoes would be bad for you. DNA that makes a tomatoe the size of a watermelon, however, would not. You do not pick up DNA from the food you eat - you digest it - breaking it down into the exact four components of unmodified DNA.
any decent christian would call this heresy for messing with gods divine creation, and I have to say, if its not broke don't fix it. I recently became allergic to a lot of common foods, and people say there are no adverse effects.
catfish I think you meant "If it isnt good enough, make it better." Right?
This is clearly a set-up.
1. The Vatican sort of has a University.
2. GM crops lack support.
3. GM companies have heaps of money.
4. So a lot of people get payed to promote GM cropsm, and some of them became active in that Vatican Academy, and produced seminars with their own people (their real-African spokespeople are usually not genuine grassroots) and press releases claiming the world needs GM crops, with the Vatican letterhead.
5. Some news outings such as popsci will see the letterhead and assume The Vatican is pro-GM.
So they managed to spread their misinformation again.
Beside this section, the Vatican also has working groups on food and hunger. This working group is not so sure about GE.
Read more on Catholic News Service:
"Vatican has not endorsed genetically modified food, official says" (December 1 2010)
I have covered this topic, gmo in agriculture, for over 15 years and it never ceases to amaze me how misinformed people can be. Especially people who care about science and technology. The industry has done a superb job of cloaking both the flaws in the technology and their motives. Getting the blessing of the Catholic Church is just one of many ways they try to put a moral gloss on their commercial technology.
For anyone who is interested in the science on this topic, it is easy to find peer-reviewed papers from credible academics showing that gmo crops are LESS productive, cause more environmental problems than conventional crops and worse, in my opinion, take away the fundamental right of farmers and growers to save seed and breed locally adapted crops. That is what we will need as climate changes, not patented legally restricted commercial products that are bred to create dependence.
If you care about hunger, or the environment, or how technology has gone wrong, I encourage you to research these issues, especially the lie that this is the same as traditional plant breeding. GM technology can not work without inserting novel traits and genetic vectors and switches randomly into the genome. The only reason it appears to work in annual crops is that they find the one lucky accident out of millions and clone it and harvest it every reproductive cycle. Just wait for the fish, trees, insects and you will see how life will change when these experiments are released!
If increasing production was the answer to hunger, the whole world would be well fed now as there is more than enough food for the entire population and more. Hunger and poverty are political issues and the holders of this patented ($$$) technology and not people, farmers or governments have the power for change and moral action. But of course, the Catholic Church is in the same position as Monsanto, holding itself out at the arbiter of what is right and good.
Think about it. Study it. Then continue the discussion, it is very important that we do not give up the fundamental right to feed ourselves.
I don't like the fact that chemicals are put on foods I eat.Gmo is ruining lots of other plants by cross pollinating..They become no longer heirloom seeds.who know what will happen to the people 30 years down the road who have ingested it all their lives.no one does not enough research,
what in the world would the vatican know about biology and genetics? The vatican just acknowledged that Copernicus and Gallileo were not Satan! The vatican should stick to getting priests to keep their pants on first, and then maybe reconciling science with god if thats possible and i am not sure it is. Because science is about creating whatever can be created, and God has commandments about what is good and what is evil. Jesus added some common sense to the whole thing, but there is no certainty about whether an invention will have positive or negative repercussions so blessing things one way or the other seems to just add confusion. Why is an herbacidal proof seed good, but organic agriculture not better? we are going to have to make people roundup proof in the end,and thats a long ways off since these pesticides are neurotoxic. How about if the vatican doesnt have an opinion about whether something is good or bad, but rather how it is used is for good or bad.
the point is we dont know if a gmo is good or not. its an experiment set free in the world without checking first for its safety. The vatican giving it the stamp of approval is insane. Its like Citibank sponsoring each touchdown made in a game. there is no rhyme or reason for it but self promotion. This is shameless and fraudulent. It creates an aura of God supporting man created changes. Yet homosexuality is according to the bible man created and catholicism condemns it. Its just hypocracy and creepy. But in a way the craziness of it all makes perfect sense cause humanity is crazy and we cant help it cause we are lost, clueless, and confused, thinking we are on the path to somewhere. And where are we headed?