GMO Food

New Research Shows the European Union's Anti-GMO Rules Are Ridiculously Bad

“Neither de facto [GMO] bans nor mandatory labeling can be justified.”

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An excellent new paper from a trio of Danish researchers, two of whom are based out of the University of Copenhagen, argues that the European Union's stance on farming with GMO crops is an untenable mess. The paper concludes that "neither de facto [GMO] bans nor mandatory labeling can be justified," and the researchers assert that current E.U. rules—which embrace both de facto bans and mandatory labeling of foods containing GMO ingredients—are backward and "hinder[] agricultural innovation."

In "Are current E.U. policies on GMOs justified?," published in the journal Transgenic Research, the researchers sought to determine whether the most common arguments for restricting GMOs justify the E.U.'s decidedly anti-GMO policies. The authors first explain the current E.U. GMO policies. They then turn to a discussion of the grounds for those policies, including risk mitigation and other stated non-risk justifications for restricting genetic modification or gene editing (such as their purported unnaturalness).

"It is… really difficult to construct a solid argument to the effect that the distinction between natural and unnatural can warrant stricter regulation of GMO's—even if we consider the best philosophical arguments for the value of nature and naturalness," says Andreas Christiansen, a postdoc at the University of Copenhagen and the lead author of the paper.

Farming with GMOs in Europe is a tough row to hoe, as the paper explains. The E.U.'s convoluted "pre-release authorization" process for getting a GMO crop (or food containing GMO ingredients) to market keeps those crops from ever getting there. Even if E.U. food-safety officials authorize a GMO crop as safe to market, the article details, another body, the European Commission, or E.C., can order up more research. If the E.C. ultimately likes what it sees, then it can, in turn, recommend to yet another body, made up of bureaucrats from the various E.U. member states, that they authorize the GMO crop.

That body, the article notes, "has never managed to… reject or approve" any GMO crop since the E.U. rules came into force in 2003. An appeals committee exists but, the paper notes, it too has never broken the deadlock. Though the E.C. ultimately can approve an application anyways, the paper says—and may even be "legally obliged" to do so—in practice that's only happened once.

Last year, the E.U.'s highest court, the Court of Justice of the European Union, ruled that crops produced using a process known as gene editing should be subject to the same overly burdensome rules the E.U. already requires GMO crops to follow.

The gene-editing case involves technology known as CRISPR, which uses a process known as mutagenesis—turning on or off specific DNA that's present naturally in an organism. GMO crops are produced by genetic modification, also known as transgenesis, which involves inserting DNA from one organism into another.

Unlike the E.U., the USDA announced last year that it won't impose any additional regulations on gene-edited crops or foods.

It is against the backdrop of this USDA decision and the widely panned EU. .ruling that the authors of the Transgenic Research article sought to take a critical look at whether those E.U. rules are justified in the first place. They conclude that even "the most popular and cogent arguments for restricting GMOs do not, in general, justify the types of restrictive policies that govern GMOs within the E.U."

In a 2018 piece I wrote for Reason on an awful set of proposed USDA rules intended to regulate GMO food labeling here in the U.S., I blasted the plan and wrote that "even good regulations [are unlikely to] to fully resolve contentious" debates over GMO foods. The USDA's rules, like those in the E.U., are not good regulations.

So just what should regulators do with GMOs? Ideally, very little. As I've stated many times (e.g., here), I care not a lick about GMOs. I am neither pro-GMO nor anti-GMO. I hope that someday governments worldwide will, as a rule, share my indifference.

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  1. duh – Who’d a thunk?

  2. Yes, the Euro-food-NAZIs are totally bonkers about ALL GMOs, and they set up a vast regulatory apparatus that does nothing, literally nothing!

    Before we North Americans fall all over ourselves congratulating ourselves (that we do have at least half-assed GMO freedom for plant-based foods), please note that we have VERY little food freedom in the animal-based flavor!

    As a case in point, see…

    GMO food ANIMALS on the other hand, are so glacially slow in getting approved, that researchers are just flat-out throwing in the towel, and quitting. Research “enviro-pig”, for example. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enviropig … Would have been good for the environment, but over-regulation (literally) killed the pigs.

  3. Sloppy research. Those foolish Danes focused on feeding people; using logic, science, and reason.
    The purpose of the many committees, bureaus, etc is twofold; first to provide highly paid employment for friends of the elite, and secondly to control the population. Good and plentiful food has nothing t do with it.

  4. Bloomberg did an interview with Ethan Brown, the CEO of Beyond Meat, which had the biggest IPO pop since the tech boom from ten years ago.

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/foodanddrink/video/beyond-meat-has-exciting-future-ahead-ceo-says/vp-AAAOCth

    He made a number of statements that were fascinating, among them the huge environmental benefits of their plant based “meat” among them. For those of you who don’t know, their plant based burgers are indistinguishable from beef, but their meat uses 93% less land than is necessary for making an equivalent amount of beef. Their product uses a fraction of the water. They’ve won all sorts of awards from animal welfare groups, etc. So, you’d think that would be right up the Europeans’ alley, right?

    Wrong.

    In that interview, they mention that European farmers and European regulators are coming after them for using the term “meat” for their product. The CEO points out that the name of their product isn’t “meat”–it’s “Beyond Meat”, which should make it abundantly clear that the product is a meat substitute. Of course, the rent seekers don’t care about whether the labeling is confusing to consumers anywhere near as much as they care about rent seeking.

    Meanwhile, entrepreneurial farmers who supply them instead of raising cattle may have 93% more land to use for other profitable purposes. It’s not that this is even bad for the industry. They just want to fight change, “creative destruction”, whatever you want to call it. And isn’t that the legitimate purpose of government regulation–to stand in the way of progress and yell, “stop” through labeling requirements?

    1. So call it “beyond mheat” instead of “beyond meat”… Would that work? Are there laws, or would they make up new retroactive laws, against making up new words?

      1. I don’t think they want you using anything that sounds like meat.

        If you listen the CEO, he emphasizes how important it is for their business that their product is put in the meat section of the grocery rather than the specialty foods. They’re going after meat eaters, and he says in the interview that more than 90% of their customers also put meat in their carts in addition to their products.

        Here, check out the packaging as you see it in the grocery store:

        https://www.target.com/p/beyond-meat-burger-2pk-8oz-patties/-/A-53332974?

        It also says, “Plant Based Burger Patties” on the label.

        If they called it, the “Beyond Burger”, I bet they’d have the same problem. Logically, how are you supposed to offer consumers a new substitute for something without referencing the thing that you’re substituting? Of course, it isn’t about being rational. It’s about protecting the business interests of European beef farmers from competition.

        1. Thanks for the pic-link!

          Yes indeed, the label is totally obvious… Only a totally illiterate person could even momentarily mistake that for real “meat”.

          What a circus! Farmers (and others in general) have no conscience, and will stoop down below whale shit to protect their economic interests!

        2. Hmm, if its about truthiness in labeling, then hamburgers must be made from ham, right? (And yes, I know the word origin.)

        3. Isn’t every kind of food ultimately plant based?

          1. Yeah, in the same way that all energy is, at base, ‘solar’. But it’s hard to pack a lot of solar radiation into the gas tank of your car without the intermediation of a lot of plant life.

            1. Not true. Plenty of energy is non-solar in origin. Geothermal, for example, has rather little to do with the Sun, and rather a lot to do with gravitational collapse, radioactive decay, the Moon, and the rotation of the Earth.

              Now, lots of that has its origins in another star’s explosive death, but that would be stellar energy, not solar; there are many stars, but only one Sun.

        4. I can’t believe it’s not butter?

          I’m always borderline on this issue. Yes, ideally government would get out of the labeling business all together, and we could call milk without additives milk. But at the same time, if they’re already in it making people label substitutes clearly as substitutes so people are aware that they are buying a substitute and not the real thing is way on the bottom of the barrel of government evils.

          Then again, if I ended up buying plant matter instead of real meat due to labeling, that would be a drive back to the store and return it situation. That happens a couple times and the stores would put up nice big signs about what folks are actually purchasing.

          1. At one time, it was against the law for butter substitute makers to refer to butter by name. So they settled for contrasting their products against the “higher priced spread.”

    2. “…their plant based burgers are indistinguishable from beef,…”

      If this is what’s being sold as “The Impossible Burger”, it is indistinguishable visually.
      Once it hits the tongue, you will never confuse it with beef.

      1. Impossible Burger” is not related to “Beyond Burger.” The Impossible isn’t bad, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the Beyond. (hmm, that last sentence sounds like something from a science-fiction novel).

        I don’t eat at Carl’s Junior, but if you do, and want to try an impossible patty on any of their burgers, it’s 2 bucks extra.

        1. Sorry again, not “impossible patty” but beyond meat patty

      2. They’re competitors. I think the Impossible Burger has more brand loyalty in the northeast. In the interview, they asked the CEO about reports that some specialty burger places ran out of Impossible Burgers, but offered customers Beyond Burgers instead, and the customers turned them down. I think that’s just about brand recognition. Impossible Burger has done enough advertising and word of mouth in the northeast, that people think if it isn’t Impossible Burger, it’s another shitty vegiburger.

        I suspect Beyond Meat will get a lot more attention nationally now that they just had that huge IPO the day before yesterday. Something about investment stories speaks to the American heart. Apple was started in a couple of hippies garage–and you can be a part of that! I suspect a lot of people first went online so they could try out Netscape Navigator to see what the fuss and the IPO were about. There’s something so fucking American about wanting to be in on the idea that’ll get you rich by putting all the old farts out of business. And if you can’t be in on the IPO, people still want to try the product just for that reason.

        Incidentally, Beyond Meat also does chicken and sausage. Or Beyond Chicken and Beyond Sausage, or something like that.

        1. My wife just made a jambalaya with Beyond Meat Sausage … it was really good. Their sausage is even better than their burger. Quite frankly, I would challenge anybody to say it isn’t “real.” 🙂

          1. It’s not a matter of not being real, so much as what it really is.

            Which isn’t meat.

            Now, that’s fine, they’re probably good enough that they’d make a fabulous filler for real meat hamburgers. (McDonalds burgers were actually better back when they had soy filler in them, I think it soaked up the meat juices that would otherwise end up on the grill.)

            1. Well of course it isn’t “meat.” By “real” I meant that the Beyond Sausage, in appearance, flavor, texture, even the smell of it when grilling, is very difficult to distinguish from meat sausage. For me, and a couple of other people I know who have tried them, the difference is simply not detectable. This is pretty unusual for plant-based foods which mimic foods which are traditionally meat-based.

              As far as calling it “sausage,” well, “veggie burgers” and “garden burgers” have been called “burgers” since forever. And yes, “soy milk” has been called “milk” even longer.

              As the OP noted, nobody who can read the label will fooled into thinking that they are meat-based. But then, I think you know what I meant by “real,” anyway 🙂

            2. My understanding is that they’re manufacturing pretty much the same proteins you find in meat but just from plant material. “Meat” isn’t on the periodic table. It’s made of proteins that are built from other amino acids (if I remember my biology correctly). They just found a cost competitive way to build the same proteins from plant sources. If it isn’t the following way now, it probably will be in the future: the difference between “meat” and these substitutes won’t be the final product itself but the means by which the final product was created.

              Imagine a “wooden” chair for which the material is indistinguishable from wood in every way–but was 3-D printed from non-organic sources. Certainly, a chair is a chair regardless of whether it 3-D printed or whether it was carved from logs by a carpenter. A thing is what it is regardless of how it was created.

              1. In the Beyond Meat burger patties, the major ingredients are pea protein isolate, expeller-pressed coconut oil, and canola oil. Some of the other ingredients (each at less than 2%), include bamboo, potato starch, maltodextrin, yeast, and other stuff…. including beet juice.

                The idea seems to be to combine various existing flavors and textures to mimic meat. The sausages are based on fava beans, and share some of the other ingredients with the burger patties.

                One reason it tastes “real” is that the burger patties are about 60% fat. Which is also why they “cook up” similar to hamburger.

                1. Until they make a zero-carb version this entire discussion is pointless, and the concept is irrelevant (to me at least).

                  1. And I fully support you in whatever you wish to eat. Or not eat. Really.

    3. “For those of you who don’t know, their plant based burgers are indistinguishable from beef,”

      This is quite simply, false. They appear to be meat. The smell and the chew are noticeably different. Not necessarily in a bad way, but it is obvious.

    4. They just want to fight change, “creative destruction”, whatever you want to call it. And isn’t that the legitimate purpose of government regulation–to stand in the way of progress and yell, “stop” through labeling requirements?

      In their defense, Beyond Meat is marketing and capitalizing on an anti-GHG, environmental impact message much the same way carbon has been trashed and taxed over the last several decades only to subsidize and make way for more “renewable” sources of meat, I mean, energy.

  5. I have never read anything good about the EU bureaucracy. The structure itself is so convoluted as to make the brain hurt. There’s an elected parliament which has no effective power, unelected national representatives who have some veto power, and plain old bureaucrats who have all the real power. The national parliaments can be dictated to by the bureaucrats. The bureaucrats can levy billion euro fines which can only be appealed to other bureaucrats. Or something. It made my head spin. The only thing I really remember is that there’s precious little democracy, to the point that people rebel by voting for Trump-lite populists, which just freaks the shit out of the unelected bureaucrats.

    As for their food rules …. France started it with their glorification of farmers as the only real people in the country, including taxpayer support of them almost like they are zoo exhibits or native Disney attractions. “Come to the country and see …. farmers!”

    Eventually the EU rules are going to strictify the whole area so badly that they will erupt in nationalism and break apart. I doubt it will end in war. But it will end in breaking apart the EU, not a day too soon.

    1. “I have never read anything good about the EU bureaucracy.”

      Again recommending one of my fave books: “Post War”, Judt.
      By the EU rules, a particular section of any country can declare itself ‘needy’, and apply to the EU for benefits, bypassing the government of the country of which it is part.
      The result is a whole lobbying industry made up of “The French/Italian District of You and Me” groups, each begging for rent from the EU.

      1. $1.99 on kindle, bought it. Looks interesting. Thanks for the lead.

        1. I think you recommended “Mindfulness”? An important book, but written in a style which suggests why TED talks are to be avoided.
          I read all of it, happy for the knowledge and sorry I had to read his (or his committee’s) writing it to get it.
          Anyhow, Judt is a writer sort of like Manchester; nowhere near a ‘capitalist tool’, but too honest to convincingly pitch what seems to be his agenda.

    2. Give the Euros a break. They have millennia of tribal wars, inter- and intra-guild conflicts, and just plain argumentative personalities. Sensiblity, cooperation, and reason are probably beyond their capacity.

    3. I lived in the UK for eleven years. We left a few years before the Brexit referendum. I strongly agree that there is nothing good about the EU bureaucracy. A lot of the poorer EU countries have suffered fiercely under the Euro — Greece, obviously, and Spain come to mind. It was nice, I suppose, that you could pack up and move to any other EU country relatively easily, or buy tobacco or booze in very large quantities from countries where it was significantly cheaper than it was in the UK. Ultimately, the pros never made up for the innumerable cons. Glad to be gone, but not thrilled to be back in the States if that makes sense.

      1. The Euro problems are very specific to the Euro — individual countries could fuck up their budgets and screw over the other Euro countries with no consequences. It’s true the EU bureaucracy made that possible, but I don’t think a more accountable bureaucracy would inevitably have done better.

        1. It was a condition for countries like France to support the reunification of Germany. Countries like France wanted to be able to spend like crazy knowing that the German central bank would control inflation and Germany would largely bear the burden of that. Relatively fiscally conservative countries like the UK and Sweden stayed out of the Euro for that reason.

          If there’s a dirty secret to any of this, it’s that the rest of the EU watering down the Euro with their overspending is a terrific help to Germany’s export driven economy. If Germany’s currency were traded in line with their fiscal conservatism and anti-inflation stance, they wouldn’t have enjoyed the kind of export driven growth they’ve enjoyed.

  6. Speaking of word confusion, “progressives” are generally anti-progress. “Reactionary Conservatives” would be a much better term for them, if those words weren’t already taken.

    1. Pinker calls them progressophobics.

    2. Regressives…

  7. “Farming with GMOs in Europe is a tough row to hoe…”

    FIRED

  8. a jobs program for regulators

  9. It’s truly amazing that it’s perfectly legal to expose plants in a lab to artificial ionizing radiation to literally blast their chromosomes apart, crossbreed the resulting random mutants to maximize expression of any of the artificially-induced traits you see in the resulting plants, and then sell the crops grown from the resulting crossbred mutant seed as “organic”.

    But if you actually sit down and carefully choose what changes to make to a plant, carefully make only those changes, and try to sell the results, then you’re a Frankenfood-shilling monster.

    1. Amen DRM!!! It’s like, knowledge is EVIL!!! It is EVIL to know what you are doing!!! Randomness good; deliberate planning bad!!!

  10. San Francisco sues Trump administration over new conscience rights rule –

    “The rule would require institutions that receive money from federal programs to certify that they comply with some 25 federal laws protecting conscience and religious rights.

    “(City Attorney David) Herrera said San Francisco could lose nearly $1 billion in federal funding for health care programs such as Medicaid and Medicare.

    “He said the regulation prioritizes religious beliefs over patient care and undermines access to birth control, abortion, HIV treatment and other medical services.”

    https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/may/2/san-francisco-sues-donald-trump-over-conscience-ri/

    1. “(City Attorney David) Herrera said San Francisco could lose nearly $1 billion in federal funding for health care programs such as Medicaid and Medicare.”

      Herrara is but one more media whore, willing to spend my money in the hopes he gets another ‘serious’ mug shot wherever lefty asshole photos are published.

    2. I was curious about that but the articles are very low on specifics on what the law actually means. In general if you do not offer a specific procedure or service nobody forces you to. Nobody forces the hospital to do knee replacements for example. If it did and refused knee replacements for gay patients you can expect a lawsuit.

      I found these examples in one article on npr.
      “The group has dozens of stories on its website of health care providers who say they were punished because of their religious or conscience objections, including an OB-GYN whose malpractice insurance company said it wouldn’t cover her if she refused to inseminate a lesbian and an anesthesiologist who refused to participate in an abortion and objected to referring a patient seeking one to another doctor when he refused to participate.”

      In the first case I can see why the malpractice company is spooked. If she was performing inseminations but not for the lesbian this is not something they want to defend in court. It is not the sort of thing they get involved in. They do malpractice. Just don’t do inseminations at all then problem solved.

      In the second case the problem I see is that the anesthesiologist would not refer her to another doctor. That is a big deal in medicine because once you see the patient you have legal and ethical obligations. You may elect not to do something or maybe you can’t but you have to provide an alternative. Otherwise it is abandonment and you are liable.

      It is not the whole picture and I am unclear on the specifics.

      1. Starting back in the reactionary (/sarc) 70s, Congress began passing laws the there should be no federal funding of abortions, and that federally-funded institutions can’t discriminate against doctors and nurses who refuse to do abortions, sterilizations, or other borderline practices which formerly were not considered medical procedures at all – in fact quite the reverse.

        Naturally, the prior administration interpreted these laws narrowly, so as to go as far as possible in pressuring nurses, etc. to cooperate in abortions and sterilizations. The current regulation, as I understand it, says that these laws will be enforced vigorously again, like with other civil rights laws. Just as the feds shouldn’t go out of their way making excuses for federally-funded institutions to illegally discriminate based on race, likewise there should be no excuses for a hospital, etc. to suck off the federal teat while ignoring other non-discrimination requirements of federal aid.

        1. I saw a reference to HIV treatment, but no actual examples of medical personnel with conscientious scruples against treating HIV-infected persons.

      2. I am personally aware of a lawsuit against a Catholic hospital in CA which sought damages for not performing a non-medically-necessary abortion. The hospital won the lawsuit, since they have never performed such. I believe the case ended up in the CA Supreme Court.

        Regarding HIV treatments, there was a insurance provider who refused to fund a late-stage HIV patient (he could no longer work, had lost his insurance, and had no way to pay for the medications he needed. He appealed. He never did get the meds. The insurance provider who refused? Medicaid. This person was a client of my wife’s. This was about 2006. (For those worried about “death courts,” they have been with us for a long time.)

      3. Quite a while ago, I was advising a fertility clinic. Historically, they only treated married couples, but had recently (with some discomfort) started treating unmarried male-female couples after it had been pointed out that they could not guarantee that a married pair wouldn’t divorce. They took the position that they would treat *medical* problems creating infertility (and there are lots of them, including having an infertile male partner who requires donor semen or female partner requiring donor eggs), but that they would not treat *social* problems, such as the lack of a male (or female!) partner (whether or not the patient lacking the partner was gay or was hetero and without a a partner by choice or by misfortune).

        While doctors certainly ought to be able to stick to solving medical problems, I had to advise them that their position would certainly be portrayed as having discriminatory animus in court. Even in the days of pre-Twitter mob, they opted to avoid the hassle.

  11. pretty much onboard with Baylen here. spot on. I am consistently amazed by how much support anti-GMO mania gets, especially when no one alive has eaten non-GMO food. scientists have been irradiating or chemically stressing seed stock for over 100 years to force mutation and accelerate hybridization.

    1. It is a religious POV; data is wasted here.

  12. Related:
    “10 Million North Koreans Face Food Shortages After Bleak Harvest”
    […]
    “About 10 million North Koreans — 40 percent of the population — are in urgent need of food assistance after heat and drought crippled last year’s harvest, according to the United Nations.
    […]”
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-05-03/10-million-north-koreans-face-food-shortages-after-bleak-harvest

    Yeah, it was the weather, which seems to land on NK and not SK.
    NK has been starving since the ’90s; and if you ship in food, you know where it goes (not the starving population).
    It’s a Bloomberg article; there is absolutely no mention of the NK dictatorhip’s policies having anything to do with the issue. Can’t remember the proper credit, but you could start by pointing out that the only product NK has to offer on the international wholesale export market is lies.
    As it happens, a recent dinner had me seated next to a long-term DoS official; NK came up as a subject. My suggestion that an offer of immunity and a nice villa above Lake Geneva was likely get Kim out of there with the least loss of life got a polite reference to the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko; if a government wants you dead, you’re probably gonna get dead. And Kim probably knows that.

    1. BTW, not only knows that, but had his half-brother murdered by two simpletons in the Singapore airport as I recall.

  13. Doesn’t Evolution Genetically Modify Organisms? Which is why I’m an intelligent hominid sitting at a computer connected to global communications network instead of a single celled lifeform languishing in a primeval ocean.

    1. “I’m pro-tozoan, not anti-zoan, LOL. I can’t wait for insects to evolve so I can say, waiter, there’s a fly in my primordial soup! I’d listen for applause, but I don’t have ears and y’all don’t have hands.”

  14. Thou writest as if that is a great discovery, rather than the expected.

  15. It’s easy to justify mandatory labeling. However safe it may be to eat GMO crops, the technology used to support growing them is arguably responsible for an ongoing ecological catastrophe. Arguments to prove that are already strong, and getting stronger. There is no earthly reason to allow policy to take out of the marketplace consumers’ desires to make purchasing decisions based on their own opinions about what constitutes sound ecological practice.

    1. Seriously, how out-of-touch are you? Pesticides and artificial fertilizer rain on GMO and non-GMO crops alike. There is no difference in the technology used to grow GMO and non-GMO crops. The way wheat is grown on commercial farms is “unsustainable” despite the fact that no commercially-grown wheat on Earth is GMO.

      The fact that ignorant dolts like you actually think that there’s an ecological difference between the farming used for GMO and non-GMO crops is, if anything, a reason to prohibit the labels that allow you to stupidly act on your idiotic misapprehension of reality.

      1. There is no difference in the technology used to grow GMO and non-GMO crops.

        Then how come GMO seeds are the patented intellectual property of the companies which engineer them? You aren’t supposed to be able to get a patent unless you can show both that your invention is novel, and non-obvious to an expert in the relevant field of technology. Those GMO patents are strong evidence that what I quoted from you above is mistaken.

        More specifically, it’s hard to believe that anyone willing rudely to denounce a GMO critic for ignorance would be unaware of the dominant role of herbicide resistance in the GMO marketing scheme. It’s easier to believe, however, that you might not be well enough educated, or sufficiently acquainted with the natural world, to understand other issues. For instance, issues such as what to expect from insect diversity and profusion after GMO-related-herbicides kill off plants which insects rely on for reproduction and food. Or that you would know what to expect in turn, after remnant plants no longer find insect pollinators.

        Studies conducted recently have shown insect numbers and diversity down sharply. If you think that is tolerable now, or anything less than potentially catastrophic for humans if it proves a continuing trend, then you are ill-informed. It is untenable to suppose most species, including humans, would go unaffected following a lasting decline among insects.

        Present GMO farming methods invite ecological catastrophe. Perhaps better ones could be developed. But given a need for realistic management of ecological consequences, no one should suppose that would be accomplished inexpensively or quickly, nor accomplished at all if the industry’s present slighting disregard for ecological dynamics is permitted to continue.

        1. You know, if you are really interested in convincing people, you might want to post links some of those studies you mention, and their connection to GMOs. ALL herbicides reduce the local population of insects, by reducing their food supply. Insects will develop resistance to pesticides, natural or otherwise. Plants will develop resistance to herbicides, naturally-occurring or otherwise. This is hardly news.

          I would think, since modern farming practices result in less and less land being used for farming, and therefore impacting less of the “natural world,” that most people might embrace it.

          1. Albert, your second paragraph is far from obvious, and likely mistaken in many instances. Modern farming practices mean less and less land is needed for equivalent yields, not necessarily that less land is used. Depending on site-specific economics, those more-efficient practices may pay off by increasing yields on the same acreage, or by putting previously sub-marginal acres newly into production, or both.

            1. The reduction of the number of acres “under the plow” is an ongoing phenomena. Sadly, of course, much of the land “saved” from farming has made way for new human habitat.

              In 2000, there were 945,000,000 acres under the plow in the USA.

              In 2018. there were 899,500,000.
              That is a reduction of 2.5 million acres per year.

              https://www.statista.com/statistics/196104/total-area-of-land-in-farms-in-the-us-since-2000/

        2. Those GMO patents are strong evidence that what I quoted from you above is mistaken.

          No, they aren’t. They’re evidence that the seeds themselves are different, not that the technology used to grow them is different. No more than a patent on a car engine is strong evidence that it uses different gasoline than the rest of the cars on the road.

          Studies conducted recently have shown insect numbers and diversity down sharply.

          And if the decline in that metastudy published in February was linked in place or severity to regions where Roundup-ready soy, maize, canola, sugar beets, cotton, and alfalfa were grown, then you wouldn’t deserve to be called ignorant for linking it to GMOs and herbicides.

          But, in fact, most of the decline in the metastudy comes from European studies, ones like the study that showed a 75% decline in insect biomass in 63 protected areas in Germany. To blame a massive decline in insects in Europe on the use of herbicides on fields of GMOs in the Americas is obviously and blatantly ridiculous.

          The charitable interpretation is that you were ignorant of the details that made your claims ridiculous and went and pontificated anyway. The uncharitable is that you were aware that you were deliberately spreading lies. If you find the charitable interpretation insulting, perhaps you should stop opining on things of which you are clearly ignorant.

          1. I wasn’t referencing your European study.

            I have been complaining about insect declines for decades. Just an hour ago, I heard a Mexican scientist on TV, pointing anew to the very first evidence I discussed myself, decades ago, when I first wrote on this topic:

            When we were kids, our parents took us for drives in the country, and had to stop every hour or so to wash bug splats off the windshield, to let them see to drive again. There aren’t many places where that happens anymore. That should scare the crap out of everyone.

            If you spend any time outdoors, you won’t need studies. It’s easy to do your own. Just pick yourself some nice little patch of woodsy habitat, adjacent to water. Look for something unkempt, tangled, and overgrown—which shows it has been left alone for a while. The best sites are close enough to the suburbs to draw complaints about bugs. That’s what you are looking for.

            Note all the birds, reptiles and amphibians which show up, while you dodge the swarms of bugs. You may encounter bird species you never saw before, and don’t even recognize, because those are less widespread now than decades ago, when bugs swarmed everywhere.

            After you find a good site, go back every few weeks during spring and summer, and get familiar. Before too long—most likely—some administrator will get complaints from neighbors about the bugs. The administrator will order your site sprayed. That’s when you see what happens. Within a week or two, almost every bird, reptile, and amphibian will be gone, either dead, fled, or dormantly waiting for better times. The first time I saw that happen, I understood instantly and viscerally what Rachael Carson meant by titling her book, “Silent Spring.” The initial, shocking impression of silence was the first thing I noticed amiss when I arrived.

            So yeah, maybe the European study didn’t record the effects of herbicides, maybe there it was insecticides. So what?

            Nobody begins to know enough ecology to pretend to engineer genetics in the wild. Swallows are made of bugs. Humans will be ready to start doing GMO safely when you can give a GMO engineer a pound of bugs, and he can use them to deliver you a fully functioning swallow. Until then, it’s all hubris and folly.

            1. 1) You claim GMO labeling is important because GMO farming is particularly destructive to the environment.

              2) I point out that’s nonsense, that commercial farming methods are indistinguishable in their environmental effects regardless of whether the seed is GMO.

              3) You point to insect decline as evidence that GMOs are environmentally destructive.

              4) I point out that the widely-reported worldwide insect decline is completely unlinked to GMOs.

              5) You admit that insect decline is entirely unlinked to GMOs.

              I now point out that you agree that your initial justification for GMO labeling is nonsense. Avoiding GMOs does literally nothing to avoid the environmental damage you’re worried about, so GMO labeling can’t help avert the damage. It is instead a perfect example of “We must do something, and this is something, therefore we must do it” irrationality.

              Not that I expect you to understand that.

              1. DRM, you assert that dousing a few thousands acres of cropland with herbicide produces the same effects ecologically as not dousing it? Your credibility is gone.

                Nor does “point out” equate to “ideologically assert.” Go get yourself some outdoor experience and we can talk.

  16. Tell everyone with anti-GMO hysteria that they can’t eat corn. Believe it or not, corn is a GMO in its so called “natural” form. Teosinte was cross bred and genetically modified into the corn we know today.

  17. […] More reports have come out which have shown that the EU’s stance on farming with GMO crops is an untenable mess. The current EU rules, which embrace both de facto bans and mandatory labeling of foods containing GMO ingredients, are backward and hinder agricultural innovation. […]

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