#GMO fear-mongering: let’s all try to not to do it, okes? Via the #senapath @ksenapathy

Oh yay! Time to wade into the GMO debate! Via FB.

Originally posted to Kavin Senapathy’s page was this:

Senapath: Just wondering, who’s reason, who’s evidence, and who’s scientific method you would be referring to. I seem to remember if you followed the corporate reason, evidence, and scientific methods of the time, these products would be safe and effective…….DDT, PCBs, Agent Orange, and recombinant bovine somatotropin, to name a few. Today, if I purchase most any food item, the law requires that all ingredients be labeled, sensible right! Just label GMO’s, end of story……It seems to me, you and the corporations have decided to take us out of the equation, and by proxy, make decisions individuals should be able to make on their own. How would labeling GMO ingredients affect you in any negative way, clearly you would prefer to eat these products, so with labeling you could feel secure in knowing what you are getting. And for me, I would be able to avoid what I do not want……A winner for us both…….

Of course, I felt compelled to respond:

Dear Ross

Labelling “GM ingredients” would (and I would say already does) confuse people unnecessarily. How would you write in your ingredients list that the wheat flour used in your hot dog rolls had had inserted or activated, at point XYZ in its genome, gene/gene complex ABC? People barely know what half the things on ingredients lists are already – and as fearmongers like Food Babe have demonstrated, people are already easily scared of many of them for no good reason beyond their syllable count or their presence in other materials (which is often misunderstood or misrepresented). Even if you didn’t describe the GM process used in the product in question, just putting a “GMO inside” sticker on it would be just as confusing (and fear-inducing). Either way, people would be confused and scared for no reason, and no better informed.

The point is that genetic modification is nothing to be feared. People get all paranoid about “animal genes in corn” and talk about GMOs like campfire horror stories, but first: that’s an unfounded exaggeration and second: every mouthful you eat is already a mix of countless millions of genes and DNA fragments from the living or formerly-living things you’re consuming. Recombinant DNA techniques, aka “splicing” (to name just one), are a re-ordering of the DNA molecule which leaves the chemical structure of the molecule unchanged. RDNA and DNA are chemically identical and are processed by the body in the same way.

But if you’re truly worried about animal genes in your vegetables, maybe you should step away from that ham sandwich or that bolognese sauce. Facetiousness aside, if you’re vego/vegan or simply object to the presence of animal genes in vegetable matter, please consider the facts that 1) a pig gene does not equal pork and 2) animals and non-animals already share a great many genes due to the common ancestry of all living organisms (as I write this, you and I are 50% banana). RDNA techniques are often little more than “swtiching on” an extant gene or gene complex within a food organism, or simply substituting the identical gene or gene complex from another organism to achieve a desired result. Either way, its impact on you, once consumed, is nil.

Please note that no DNA in any food you consume is incorporated into your own genome in any way. Processing foods denatures DNA, as does any cooking process, and the digestive process is entirely about breaking food down at the molecular level into proteins, fats, sugars and other nutrients. Even when you eat raw, living food straight off the vine, your digestive process quickly dismantles any DNA once the cells of the fruit/vegetable are breached. Some DNA fragments may remain in your system, but this is true of all you consume, and none of the DNA leftovers have any effect. They’re waste and are treated as such.

Finally, conflating GMOs with DDT and Agent Orange is grossly inappropriate. It mightn’t have been the intention, but far too many people are all too happy to do so overtly. There’s already far too much hyperbole and fearmongering regarding GM food and I think it’s encumbent on all of us who are prepared to discuss the subject honestly not to contribute to it.

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