What makes GMO plants scary?

Thie Brazil nut story is an example of the anti-GMO urban legends that have been around for 20 years and will not go away. Aniti-GMO activism depends on this type of disinformation and people with a less than high school level of knowledge about biology who believe “Terminator” seeds are being sold (They never were, but they should be) and that “GMO plants make Roundup” (facepalm)…

Contradict someone and they howl you are being mean.

It will not go away because:

  1. It appeals to the conspiracy theory subculture of the right
  2. It also reaches the anti-intellectual subculture on the left (the right has it too) such as the anti-vaxxers
  3. Some people are just trolls
  4. Greenpeace has been making money on this without updating their material for 30 years
  5. It’s a convenient handle for people to attack corporations even if they don’t know what the companies do
  6. It certainly doesn’t hurt organic farmers to have these stories out there

I am opposed to GMO foods because the tactics that the corporations have used to essentially force farmers to grow them destroys their trustworthiness in regards to testing these crops for the safety of consumers. Why should we trust our health an environment to those who have demonstrated disinterest in our well being, and have lobbied to deceive us rather than come clean about which products contain their ‘safe’ technology. If it is so safe, what is there to hide? It is also dangerous that the pollen from these GMO plants have already contaminated not only non-GMO crops, but native varieties a well. Instead of investing in single variety GMOs we should be working towards greater diversity of crops in our fields and diets.


‘Nut proteins in GMO soy’ is not an urban legend. Look up ‘Pioneer Hi-Bred’.

But it should be presented as an example of how GMOs were done right. The company tested for allergens, found them, and never released the product. It’s a win for the industry. You’re right that the anti-GMO crowd is inflating these stories in an attempt to scare people away from GMO foods anyway they can.


Actually plants seem to cross species line pretty frequently, they are able to handle massive rearrangements of their genomes under the influence of natural viruses, and most crop plants have doubled or tripled (or more) their chromosome numbers. These are events that happen over the span of a couple years or maybe a couple thousand.

Also there seems to have been natural horizontal transfer where plants get large numbers of genes from other plants, bacteria, or fungi in pretty much every plant where we’ve bothered to look.

And, no, crop plants did not evolve along with us, they were developed in the last 7,000 years and mostly much more recently, just like your Pomeranian dog.


It’s a fairy tale and there doesn’t seem to be an expiration date because this thing that never happened didn’t happen 20 years ago, but anti-GMO activists are still out there fighting the good fight over this imaginary incident.

No it doesn’t. I went to a seminar, back when the state of PA tried to outlaw the labeling of milk as containing “no bovine growth hormone” (as they’ve semi-outlawed raw milk) and there were many anti-GMO people there who were intelligent, knowledgeable, and highly educated. There was no shortage of advanced degrees in biological and natural history fields - in fact I was invited there by an entomologist and an analytical chemist, both of whom work in a biological research institution.

Sadly, as with many other theaters of activism, some of the loudest people are the least worth listening too. But don’t assume I have “less than a high school level of knowledge about biology” just because I want to be able to choose whether or not I eat GMOs. You’ll be much mistaken.

The only reasons to oppose labeling are greed or a desire to engage in deceit.


Are we all OK with the rodent hairs (and worse) in the peanut butter? The salmonella peanut butter from the filthy factory actually killed people, but nobody much seems care about those dead people or the other 5,000 or so people killed by contaminated food in this country every year.


From Wikipedia: Profiteering is a pejorative term for the act of making a profit by methods considered unethical.

For me, the crossover to unethical means is the energy spent forcing out non-GMO competitors with spurious lawsuits against seed sorters and their customers (as an example). While I have misgivings about crops whose main competitive advantage is it’s immunity to herbicide, I understand it’s appeal to farmers. Suing a farmer for the presence of your GMO seed in a miniscule proportion to the overall field crosses the line from profiting from the sale of a useful product to profiteering on the back of an enormous, bullying, legal team.

Hope that’s coherent. Gosh, I even hope it’s convincing.


Oh come on.

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Not to conflate the issues, but raw milk is another whole set of conspiracy theories from people who believe that drinking nonsterile milk from a cow barn is some sort of miracle cure. being snatched away by a mysterious cabal.

If you took out the screamers without high school biology (and I’m including the people who took it and have forgotten every word of it), 95% of the anti-GMO movement would vanish.

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…and the roughly 100,000 that are hospitalized every year from food contaminated with bacteria and viruses, IIRC

There was a time when farmers could plant their fields, bring some to seed and use that seed to grow the following year. Thanks to GMOs, this practice is now illegal. Farmers MUST buy their seed from one of the large suppliers, Cargill or Monsanto, and can no longer be self-sufficient when it comes to producing their own seed. Why, because their own seed has already been contaminate by GMO pollen an growing it is considered an IP infringement.

GMOs are not about improving yields or promoting health, but about large corporations controlling the food supply. It is certainly possible that this is not the real intent of the agri-businesses, but it is the effect or their practices. These may sound like grandiose conspiracy theories, and as outlandish as it sounds the scary part is that it is true.

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Humans have bigger hands, feet and noses than they did 7,000 years ago, so the idea that we have not evolved during that time span fails the sniff test. But let’s not get bogged down in off-topic minutiae.

Today I can create a new crop in a single growing season and have it distributed over the entire world in less than a year - if I am a giant amoral corporation and not a small breeder integrated with his community. That’s not as comparable to Luther Burbank convincing people to eat garden nightshade as you’re making it sound.

When I read a statement like that, I just think God should just erase the human race and start over with the monkeys because homo sapiens is a dead end.

No, you’re propagandizing again. I want to buy and drink raw milk because it tastes good to me, and because my ancestors drank it for thousands of years without issues. It is a part of my cultural heritage, and while it may indeed be good for me, I personally want it because I like the taste. But we should drop that one too, you are correct to call me out for being off-topic and we’ve both stated our positions anyway.

So now you’re saying that nobody cares about 105,000 deaths a year? I repeat, come on!

At least their mothers care, even if nobody else does.

And if that were an issue for activists they would be saying "OMG calrose rice is radioactive!!! and various EU countries would be banning it and ships would be turned back because of trace contamination yadda yadda yadda

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They drank it and they died from a variety of diseases as a result.

Then we should oppose ‘Reckless GMO run by corporations that aren’t behaving responsibly and don’t have the long term best interests of the people of the world in mind’ It needs to keep that context.


The big mystery is why do feel people entitled to go on rants about biology despite not having a high school level knowledge of the topic but they don’t go on a tear about the minutia of network security or physics or some other field where they don’t know anything either? What is that makes biology unique? I’m not going to go troll a forum about electrical engineering, because I would assume people would mock and ridicule me. Actually, I’m not going to do it because it would never occur to me, but you get my drift.