Social Question

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

How do you feel about genetically modified foods?

Asked by SquirrelEStuff (9168points) February 12th, 2010

I just finished watching The World According to Monsanto. Scary stuff indeed….
How do you feel about GMO’s?
Do you think there are any concerns about safety, what it may do to soil, and what it may do to us?
Would you be for the labeling of food, if it contains GMOs?

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94 Answers

cheebdragon's avatar

I don’t think about it. Ever.

Qingu's avatar

Every food we eat has been genetically modified by selective breeding. In order to even start farming, early humans had to “domesticate” wild plants, changing them to suit the needs of farmers. There is no such thing as purely “natural” crops that have not had their genes mucked with by humans.

Genetically modified food is simply more precise than selective breeding. There is nothing inherently wrong with it, just like there is nothing inherently wrong with breeding.

The problem comes when huge agribusinesses abuse their power and governments fail to sufficiently regulate new kinds of crops (including newly developed GMO’s).

I think if people want their GMO food labeled as such, it should be labeled. But if they used that label as a basis to avoid buying such food, they would be acting irrationally.

CMaz's avatar

I don’t think. I eat.

philosopher's avatar

I eat whole foods . I eat Organic or minimally processed chicken. I do not eat things that contain hormones. I eat Wild Fish not farmed. I try to eat food as close to it’s natural state as possible.
The reason why we have antibiotic resistance is partly because they are given to animals on the farms. I have know this for years and recently it has been in the news daily.
People can eat as they wish. I will not get out my books and start documenting the studies in favor of my lifestyle. That is not my job. I think the way I look compared to many other Americans is proof that my way works better. People have the right to do what they want.

shilolo's avatar

@Qingu Well said. The list of foods that we eat today that either weren’t in existence a few hundred years to a few thousand years ago is very long indeed.

@philosopher You are conflating multiple issues. We would still have an antibiotic resistance problem using outbred chickens or cattle because antibiotics are used to reduce disease, not because of inbreeding. Even your so-called whole foods are extensively genetically modified, just not directly by the insertion of a gene, but rather indirectly by thousands of generation of selective pressures for bigger ears of corn, or larger apples/tomatoes, etc.

Berserker's avatar

It’s scary, but only because I don’t really know what they’re doing with it. On the other hand people have been doing stuff to food forever, so it’s not like this is anything new. Humans are also very good at adapting to quick and sudden changes, so it’s probably not that bad, but sometimes you have to wonder how come cancer thrives so much…

Qingu's avatar

@Symbeline, genetically modifying foods causes no greater cancer risk than just breeding them the old fashion way.

philosopher's avatar

You are not worth arguing with. I am not going waste my time documenting things for you.
Eat your way. It is your life. My lifestyle keeps my family and I healthy.
You think you know everything.
Doctors push antibiotics for Viruses. They only work against bacterial infections.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar


Interesting. How did farmers“domesticate” plants?
You say that there is nothing wrong with genetically modified foods. Is there research done to back this up? Let me rephrase that….. Is there research done to back this up, besides the research done by the companies selling these products?
Also, a lot of the genetic modification, is to prevent things like insects and fungus. Most insects I know of depend on plants for life. Arent corporation sorta playing God by changing nature in that way?
Please post a link that GM food does not cause cancer more than non GM food.

Aren’t antibiotics used to reduce disease, mostly because of the poor conditions of most factory farms? Again, arent corporations trying to play God? Animals are treated as product, not living animals on most factory farms, and are subject to over crowding and poor diets, which causes disease. Of course they need to be pumped full of antibiotics to survive in these conditions.

shilolo's avatar

@Symbeline Cancer “thrives so much” because we outlive our body’s usefulness and defenses against mutations. Our lifespan has doubled in 150 years because of improved agriculture, public health and medicine. Two hundred years ago you were lucky to live to 40, now in Western countries many live to 80.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar


Didnt Noah live to 950?

Im curious to see what happens to the life expectancy in western culture over the next 30 years. You have to realize, even 50 years ago, we weren’t exposed to the amount of different toxins and chemicals that we are no exposed to constantly on a daily basis.
Majority of the people that live to 80 nowadays, have very little in common as far as diet and habit go, with your average 14–40, or even 50 year old.

Qingu's avatar

@chris6137, farmers didn’t domesticate plants. There was no farming, period, before hunter-gatherers domesticated plants.

None of the crops we farm exist in the wild. Corn, for example, does not grow wild. The wild ancestor of corn is called teosinte. Compare the difference:

Native American hunter-gatherers couldn’t just farm teosinte. They had to select specific teosinte plants and breed them—changing their genes until the plant resembled something with enough edible seeds to be worth planting. This is what was called “domestication” and it preceded any agriculture.

There is some debate as to whether domestication was intentional or not. Some scholars think that hunter-gatherers selected and bred wild plants “by accident,” just by being picky and depositing the “good seeds” around the waste dumps of their camps without realizing what they were doing. But there is no doubt that the genes of all crops we farm were extensively changed from their wild ancestors before we could even farm them.

As for research that “backs up” that there’s nothing wrong with GMO… this is a bit like asking “how can you prove you’re not beating your wife?” Saying “these foods cause cancer” is a positive assertion; the burden of proof is on you.

And I’m not even really sure what you’re asking for. How would research “prove” that genetically modifying crops isn’t inherently harmful? Obviously it can be harmful in specific cases, like if we inserted poison-producing genes in our tomatoes.

Qingu's avatar

Also, using genetic techniques to combat fungus and insects is generally a lot safer than, you know, having to spray them with chemical poisons, which tends to be the alternative in industrial agriculture. Accusations of “playing God” notwithstanding. (We’ve been playing God with our crops since the invention of agriculture)

Berserker's avatar

@shilolo—No I know lol, just being an idiot. XD But it does lead me to wonder, what causes cancers in younger people? (Besides things like tobacco.) I guess it also depends on the kind of cancer?

laureth's avatar

I wrote most of my opinions about this in the answers to this question.

In short: Bad all around.

Lightlyseared's avatar

@chris6137 According to the Qur’an Noah was 950 at the time of the flood not the time of his death. So which book of gods word is correct? or are both wrong?

Adagio's avatar

The way I feel about genetically modified foods causes me to veer away from them.

shilolo's avatar

@chris6137 A mythical figure “lived” 950 “years”. Even assuming he existed, we are to believe that the 365 day year that we know today is the same as “back then”? In any event, legitimate records from the 1850s point to an average lifespan of 35 years. We are now at ~75 years for men and 78 for women.

Also, can you back up your statement about people today being exposed to more toxins? That flies in the face of decades of regulations to limit what can be dumped into rivers and oceans (i.e. toxic wastes/chemicals), placed into homes and buildings (i.e. asbestos/radon), or foods (sulfites, nitrites, bacterial pathogens). So many people bemoan technology without really understanding the enormous progress that has already been made.

@Symbeline Cancers of adolescence are due to a variety of factors, but are probably no more prevalent today than hundreds of years ago. We are much better at diagnosis and treatment now, so it may seem like more, but 300 years ago when a child died, it wasn’t such a surprise. Also, you are correct that many cancers are different, but childhood cancers in particular are due to bad genetics (like retinoblastoma) and bad luck.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

Thanks for that info on the corn. Im gonna do some more reading about where other veggies come from. It definitely seems interesting.

I just came across 2 very recent articles concerning GMO’s, Monsanto, and the FDA.
Former Former Monsanto Exec. Appointed to the Head of the F.D.A.!
Study Links GM Corn to Organ Damage

How can you be sure you are veering away from them? Do you drink anything that contains high fructose corn syrup? There is no way to be sure if the corn has been grown using these GMO’s and as long as an ex-Monsanto exec. is running the FDA, we will never be able to know. So much for “Change”.....

Qingu's avatar

@chris6137, you are not going to hear me dispute that Monsanto are a bunch of degenerate scumbags.

Monsanto’s corruption and abuse of power =/= Monsanto’s use of genetic engineering =/= genetic engineering in general.

I also don’t see why it’s even important to know if the foods we eat have been genetically engineered. If people want to know, they should be able to have that information—but like I said, there’s no rational reason why this information is even necessary to affect your food purchase decisions.

Also, your second source linking Monsanto corn to organ damage doesn’t show that the problem was due to genetic engineering. Perhaps @shihilo would probably know better, but I imagine that the organ damage more likely comes from the insecticides the stuff is designed to absorb. Unless the genetic engineering is actively inserting a poison into the genome of the plant, there’s simply no mechanism for the GM itself to cause this.

lilikoi's avatar

I liked that movie. You’ll probably also like Food, Inc. and The Future of Food, both documentaries.

On labeling…
People have the right to know what is in their food. Just as we have labeling laws for ingredients, so should we have labeling laws for GMOs.

On health issues…
It is incredibly hard to prove there are health implications associated with GMOs, much like it is hard to have a chemical classified officially as a known carcinogen or to trace the cause of someone’s cancer back to a specific product or company of which you could hold accountable. The potential effects of GMOs are broad and infinite. Which brings me to my next point.

On patent law…
Right now, it is legal to own genes, to own the building blocks of life itself. This is wrong on so many levels. I would like to see this decision reversed, as GMOs are not inventions, but discoveries and therefore should not be patentable. That Monsanto is able to harass small farmers and seed cleaners to the extent that they do is highly disturbing to me, and sets a dangerous precedent for the future of our food system.

Another issue you might be interested in is privatization of water. There are some decent documentaries made about that.

Qingu's avatar

To put it another way, the reasoning against GMO’s is similar to this:

A study shows that a specific car put together on a mechanized assembly line has safety issues.
Therefore, building cars on mechanized assembly lines is unsafe.

laureth's avatar

@Qingu – Someone who is allergic to tree nuts (one of the more common allergies) may wish to know if the soy product they’re eating is GMO, since they could have an allergic reaction. That’s one especially good reason to be concerned. It’s hard to avoid soy, though, since it’s in so many things, and since the vast majority of the soy crop is GMO.

shilolo's avatar

@chris6137 I’m a scientist. I tried to read that paper just now and my eyes nearly bugged out. It was so poorly written and done, it is hard to even fathom. Moreover, that journal, while ostensibly being peer-reviewed, is not what I would consider a top, medium or even lower tier journal. Until today, I had never heard of it before, and I’ve read a lot of journal articles.

lilikoi's avatar

@Qingu “If people want to know, they should be able to have that information”

The only way fathomable to me for people to have access to this information if they want to know, is to require this information to be printed on labels.

Qingu's avatar

@laureth, how would indicating such a crop is “GMO” indicate that it has tree nuts?

Qingu's avatar

@lilikoi, I agree, I just don’t think it’s rational to want that information in the first place, since whether or not a crop is genetically modified, in and of itself, has nothing to do with its safety or quality. And as it stands most people in America apparently don’t care.

laureth's avatar

@Qingu – GMO soy is generally that way because it has a Brazil nut gene making Brazil nut protein in it. Non-GMO doesn’t. People allergic to tree nuts can and often do react to GMO soy, hence the link.

philosopher's avatar

High fructose Corn syrup is one of the causes of the increase in Diabetics.
Simple sugars slow the metabolism down and also cause weight gain. Sugar is not a good thing especially in excess; but studies have show that simple sugars are worse.

shilolo's avatar

This goes back to what I have been saying for a long time. People just aren’t educated enough to understand that genetic modifications are highly prevalent in everything we eat, from rice, to vegetables, to meat and fish. Hundreds of thousands of genetic modifications have occurred over the past thousand years as humans have bent nature to their will. These genetically modified foods are just humans using directed techniques to expedite evolution rather than breeding thousands of plants to find one that is resistant to a pathogen.

Qingu's avatar

@laureth, wouldn’t it be more germane, then, to indicate “this product contains tree nut material”?

Presumably there are varieties of GM soy that don’t contain tree nut proteins that would be safe for such people to eat.

lilikoi's avatar

@Qingu The point is that you cannot be certain that GMOs are completely safe. And, for other people it is not about safety. It is about supporting the GMO industry as it currently stands. I don’t want to support this industry as it is – it is not about GMOs so much to me as it is about the fact that no one should be able to privately own life.

Qingu's avatar

@lilikoi, you can’t be certain that any crop is safe. The fact that something is genetically modified does not make it more or less safe. As we have said, repeatedly, all crops have been genetically modified in some way or another. There is no such thing as a non-genetically-modified crop.

There is no “GMO” industry. There is an agriculture industry that heavily uses GMO. But so does the UN food program with crops in developing nations. The Green Revolution, which effectively helped the third world avoid mass starvation, used GMO crops.

If you don’t want to support corrupt businesses like Monsanto, don’t support them. But don’t confuse Monsanto and their business practices with the process of genetic engineering in general. That’s un-nuanced and reactionary. If a small-scale local farmer who treats his animals well and doesn’t pollute uses genetically modified crops there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

lilikoi's avatar

@philosopher Have you seen the advertisements being run on TV now that say there is nothing wrong with HFCS? I just thought that it was interesting.

@shilolo Perhaps in the short term I am willing to concede there is reasonable evidence indicating no health effects, but in the long term, we are tampering with the evolutionary process (not that we haven’t done this in other ways for hundreds of years) and I do wonder what will come of it. Are we putting ourselves in a better position for the future, or by ‘playing God’ are we cheating ourselves out of new, better things that nature would have created if not for our intervention? But beyond the health issue. I don’t care to debate this endlessly (I think it is a rather pointless exercise). The more pressing issue is that you are now allowed to own these genetic modifications. This is my main beef w/ GMOs. Monsanto should not be allowed to sue a farmer for contamination of his field w/ GMOs when the farmer’s only “crime” was being located in proximity to someone else planting GMOs. On the contrary, the farmer should be able to sue Monsanto for contaminating his field with an unwanted product.

@Qingu I’m not confusing the two. The point is that there is no way of differentiating a crop that uses Monsanto’s seed from one that does not. If one was not allowed to own genes, I would have no problem with GMOs.

laureth's avatar

@Qingu – No tree nuts were harmed in the making of those products, though. :) Technically, they contain soy, not tree nuts. And admitting that it’s GMO soy would be economic suicide, hence the override of the “health and safety” concern of allergens with the “we gotta sell more product!” concern of the company.

Qingu's avatar

I agree that allergens, even those present only in the genetic material of food, should be indicated on labels.

I agree that genetic material should not be allowed to be copyrighted.

I am not a fan of Monsanto, or HFCS.

However, I am pretty disturbed by the reactionary attitude against GMO crops in general. It’s a tool. It’s no more or less safe, inherently, than selective breeding that we’ve been using for 10,000+ years. And if it turns out—as it likely will—that genetic engineering is the only way for us to produce enough food to feed our growing population, people are going to need to get over their unfounded opposition to the technique.

lilikoi's avatar

Oooh, I highly disagree that genetic engineering will be the only way to feed our growing population. Economics is a larger driver of food shortage and starvation than agriculture. And secondly, we cannot let our population continue to grow and grow and grow if we want to survive. There is a finite amount of land and water on this planet so there must be a limit to population (although we are likely no where near it), such that no technology would be able to enable an infinite population growth.

For me, I have bigger things to worry about than the current reaction to GMOs in general. My reaction is pretty much in line with this reaction, despite different underlying reasons. If people were overwhelmingly accepting of GMOs, it would be a bigger problem to me.

I agree there is nothing inherently wrong with GMO. However, Monsanto is just the major player in this gene-owning scheme. The law applies to everyone. Cross contamination of fields is inevitable, and it is not unreasonable to think that someday in the near future all seeds with GM alternatives will be cross-contaminated. What then? Will Monsanto and the like be allowed to challenge all farmers in court for patent infringement? Will all people be paying a fee just to eat? This is the direction that we are headed.

I have heard the argument that there is nothing inherently different between GM and non GM, and therefore there should be no labeling requirement. Perhaps there should be a label created to identify GM crops or products containing GM crops that are patented, like how we differentiate Microsoft products from open-source. But frankly, if you go through the trouble of creating a GM crop, why wouldn’t you patent it? This is why I support a general label that differentiates GM crops from non.

Further, one major problem with GM crops is that seeds can be widely disbursed and carried from one field to the next by wind, birds, ground animals, people’s shoes, cars, etc. It is becoming increasingly hard to prevent non GM seeds from being “contaminated”. Regardless of whether there are no (or no known) adverse health effects resulting from GM crops or not, we should take into consideration what the public wants in general. Is the public-at-large okay with eating crops that have all been GM in the future or not? If not, we should be taking a hard look at implementation of GM crops, because once they are out there you cannot go back. In a “free country”, it is fair to expect to have a choice as to what you eat – GM or not, organic or not, fair trade or not. Once you introduce GM crops to the environment, you are effectively slowly eroding this choice away until everyone is forced to eat GM crops. It would be different if GM crops were stringently required to be contained, but this is not the case at all.

There is also a difference between copyright and patent.

BhacSsylan's avatar

Unfortunately, I do not have time to read all the responses right now, but I wanted to put my two sense in now and come back for a full read later. First, I suggest you read this old thread, which is along similar lines: Do genetically-modified foods have a negative effect on human health?

In short, GMO’s have one and only one concern: that they are unnatural addition to the ecology and may have an effect on it, see gypsy moths. This could be an issue, but if proper care is taken, should not be. It really is a small issue, as every living this is constantly evolving, and so changing in a similar, if slower, way to GM crops. A new species can usually be adapted to, should a problem occur. However, even this is unusual, as a GM crop is rarely so new or so resilient to displace a normal ecology, they are usually small changes to an exisiting strain, a la a faster version of the centuries old selective breeding.

As for the popular myth that GM crops will cause cancer or somehow mess with our genes, this is a total and complete myth, 100%. This is coming from a guy whose job it is to do gene splicing, so trust me, I know what I’m talking about. Genetically modified crops have absolutely no greater ability to change or be changed genetically then any other crop. After the splicing takes place, they are indistinguishable from any other species on that front.

So, that’s about all I have time for, sorry if I repeated anyone here, but I wanted to get an edge in, as a large part of my job involves genetic splicing, and I wanted to represent my job fairly.

Jack79's avatar

I know this may sound sloppy, but I generally eat stuff, even if I know it’s GM. One of the reasons is that modifying food is not an unhealthy thing per se, and has been done for centuries (all bananas since 1900 are GM for example). The biggest concern for me is biodiversity. The second reason is that I figure it’s not my job to check whether a food is good enough (I do the same with tap water) and that I (should) trust the proper authorities to make sure there is nothing harmful in what I eat or drink. Luckily the rules in the EU are fairly strict and I haven’t heard of anyone dying because of GM food (yet).

Trillian's avatar

@Jack79 Moo. ~
Just kidding! I don’t know enough about the issue. When I first heard the term, I thought of an old sci fi movie I saw with Russell Johnson. I think there were giant grasshoppers or ants. I can’t remember all of it, but I think I remember the vegetables being really big but when one cut into them they were either all black and yucky, or like…flesh I guess. Maybe I’m mixing my crappy sci fi movies up.
Anyway. this is an interesting thread, with some great links. Thanks to all you brains..

laureth's avatar

@Qingu – that’s the thing, though. It’s not as safe as the sort of selective breeding that we’ve done forever. It’s not like it at all. I mean, people have kids with people for generation after generation, and the result is people – different from the parents in subtle ways, yes, taller or smarter than they used to be, yes, but still recognizably human. Genetic manipulation of people to make us have (for example) vermicides in our blood or so we produce peanut protein in our muscles is very different from the sort of things that would happen just by normal breeding. It’s an entirely new thing in the world.

Also, if genetic manipulation is all about feeding the world, two things would occur: farmers would be allowed to save their seed, so they won’t go broke trying to buy Monsanto’s seeds, and there would be a concentration on greater biodiversity instead of the sort of monocrops that this sort of farming favors. (In other words, things that produce results, instead of profits only for the seed companies.) GMOs are not at all some kind of humanitarian effort to feed the world. It’s in their talking points—but not in their actions. And actions are what I look at.

Once again, I would ask that anyone interested in this matter (pro or con) watch The Future of Food (link goes to Hulu movie). It’s a complex issue and the arguments don’t fit well in the small space allotted here. These folks have done the research.

laureth's avatar

@Jack79 – GMOs were not around then. However, bananas have been reproduced by cuttings of the plant (rather than by seed) for ages. People often confuse selective breeding and GMO as if they were the same thing, or equal. They are not.

Cruiser's avatar

For the record I hate the concept start to finish but it is a necessary evil….if we are to feed all the people that need to be fed in this world we will need to squeeze every kernel we can out of every acre and growing season we can. Sure it is all about profits but there is also an increasing issue over available water to grow the food we need which will hit a critical point way before we wake up to the crisis in time to do something about it.

laureth's avatar

@Cruiser – Like I said, it’s not about feeding the population. We make a surplus of food right now, actually. There are also better, more efficient ways of farming that would go a long way towards water conservation, without changing the food we eat so drastically.

cheebdragon's avatar

Because always stressing out about what you eat, will add years to your life, I’m sure…..~

Cruiser's avatar

@laureth not sure what farm production you are talking about but our country depends on export of that excess grain or we loose a major export commodity as well as supporting domestic grain commerce that we can ill afford at this fragile time in our countries prospects for renewed economic stability. To forgo developing our ability to farm more efficiently would be cutting our nose off to spite our face.

laureth's avatar

Off the top of my head, building soil. When you use something like a “roundup ready” variety, all you have to do is douse your field in weedkiller and plant. However, that also makes your soil relatively inert powder after a while since nothing much (microbes, etc.) can live in it. So you don’t have a lot of organic matter in the soil, and when the rain comes, rather than soaking in and feeding the plants, it runs off, taking dirt and fertilizer runoff with it. Not so good for the future of the farm. “Organic” methods that feed the soil work better, and organic yields have caught up to conventional.

Also, for other crops, smaller farms turn out more produce per acre than the same number of acres in a large farm. Are you interested in this sort of talk? I could recommend books.

lilikoi's avatar

@Cruiser What you’re saying is that efficiency of crop production is driven by profit not by hunger. I think that’s what @laureth is saying also. Large scale monocropping is short-sighted. It is reaping the benefits of short-term efficiency at the expense of long-term production and efficiency.

I agree here with @laureth. And let’s not forget the taste! I can actually taste the difference in organic or fresh produce vs the opposite.

lilikoi's avatar

@BhacSsylan I would appreciate it if you would go back through the thread history here and read my post about patent law and GMOs, as health issues surely are not the only issues surrounding GMOs – and I would argue they are also not the most important, just the most hotly debated.

lilikoi's avatar

@Jack79 I resent your attitude. If you eat food, it is your responsibility to know if it is safe. To go through life depending on others is to live a life of ignorance and excuses.

Cruiser's avatar

@lilikoi If you are so conscious and concerned you can always pay way more for that taste and privilege of Organic foods and allow me and others the “choice” to have a decent meal for the best price our market can produce.

lilikoi's avatar

@Cruiser I do. You have that choice. And likewise, we should all be able to choose whether or not to support the GM industry, but we can’t because there is no way of knowing whether or not the crop or product we purchase is made from GM seed. Hence why I support labeling. I am all for choice, informed decisions, and voting with your dollar. It is also worth noting that the USDA organic certification is being diluted under industry pressure, and that there are major issues surrounding the use of certain words like “natural”, which is not FDA regulated. But this is all a whole different, though related, issue.

laureth's avatar

Back to GMOs, does anyone have any idea why there’s such a big fight (on the corporate side) against labeling GMO foods as such? What could the motive be?

(I suspect the motive is profit, as usual. People are likely to not buy as much of the product if it is GMO, so they’d rather keep us in the dark. If anyone can think of another motive, I’d like to hear what it is.)

lilikoi's avatar

I think they think that the very act of labeling a product GMO or non-GMO implies that one is better than the other, one is safer, one is healthier, etc. And their position has always been there is no difference, therefore there is no need for a label that calls out a difference. Problem is, the difference is the industry itself.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I don’t like the idea.It could lead to unintended consequences…you are what eat.

Cruiser's avatar

@lilikoi I see your point and do share that concern but again you do have that choice to buy or not to buy organic and pay a whole lot more for your food…it’s that simple. Nobody is forcing you to consume GM foods and you can research GM free foods. Not a big to do.

Cruiser's avatar

deleted by me

Steve_A's avatar

In the pursuit of science, I say continue.

Like anyone plans to really stop it anyways so why should I bother now?

thriftymaid's avatar

Unless you buy heritage seeds and grow your own food, that’s exactly what you are buying at the grocery store, and even the farmer market. Have you ever had heritage vegetables? Purple carrots and pink tomatoes.

Qingu's avatar

@laureth, genetically engineered food is “unnatural” but crops that have been irreversibly modified from their wild ancestors are not?

My point is that none of the food we grow is “natural.” All of it, regardless of whether it’s a GMO, is the result of human mingling. I think too many people look at the idea of “natural” foods as this Garden of Eden type thing, which is the problem—it’s a myth.

I mean, compare “natural” corn, GMO corn, and corn’s wild ancestor, teosinte.

Now, it’s probably a mistake to say that GMO’s are the only thing standing between us and mass starvation. But they were extremely important in the green revolution, which really did help solve hunger for millions of people. I agree that we should limit the population—but in the mid-term future, that’s not going to happen. And neither are perfect economic solutions.

We should avoid pollution. We should not allow corps to patent genes. We should regulate food for safety. But there’s no reason to avoid GMO’s if they satisfy all of these things. And it’s no more difficult for GMO’s to satisfy these things than for regular crops.

laureth's avatar

@Qingu – When I think about what is “natural,” I think about things that could happen in nature, even with humans helping it along. For example, if I want a blue-eyed baby, I could mate with a blue-eyed man and hope. Or, I could have lab scientists modify my DNA in a tube and come up with not just blue, but sparkling aqua eyes that glow in the dark. That’s the difference I see here. Sure, you could say that both resulting babies are “natural,” but one of them definitely wouldn’t occur in nature without some very unnatural help.

If you see all of those things as “natural,” may I ask what, to you, is unnatural?

The Green Revolution looked very very good when it happened, but what people don’t realize is that it’s not so good any more. One of the things that it did was make traditional farmers in poor countries heavily reliant on chemical additives to grow the new crops – additives that are too expensive for many of them to afford, yet when they try to go back to farming their old way, the ground (which has been doused with chemicals) doesn’t grow food nearly as well as before they mucked it up for a few years’ worth of stellar harvests. Instead of a somewhat modest (yet perpetually sustainable) return, it’s as if they mined the land’s fertility, pumped out a few years’ or a decade’s worth of grain, and now it’s less useful than it was before – especially in the absence of continued input. It was a short-term solution to a long-term problem.

Also ironically, while the Green Revolution may have temporarily increased the sheer number of carbohydrate-based calories available, it did so that the expense of actual nutrition. The pesticides required to grow so much extra rice kill off the fish and frogs that also lived in rice paddies and which provided protein for rice-eating people. Then there’s that famous “golden rice” with more vitamin A that was supposed to help groups with vitamin A deficiency, but the reason they suddenly had that deficiency was because the Green Revolution was that they could no longer grow the traditional “weeds” and vegetables that were harvested with the rice that provided the vitamin A, since they too were killed off by the pesticides or cleared away with the need to grow more cash crop rice. (Why cash crops instead of nutritional crops? Because they were caught up in the rat race of having to buy more seed and chemical every year.) The Green Revolution, as measured some years after it happened, has meant (on the whole) less protein, fewer vegetables, and overall poorer nutrition for the indigenous farmers around the world. (If you are interested in reading more, I recommend this book.)

Bubbles happen. Like the tech bubble of the 90s and the recent housing bubble, they inflate dramatically making people think they’re always going to get awesome returns, but the Green Revolution was like an agricultural bubble. And when it bursts (as it’s doing for people around the world who can’t afford the chemicals, or don’t have the subsidies like American farmers do, or whose traditional farmers of foods like millet have been shut out by cheap American grain imports, or who lost their land because they owed too much money for the Green revolution’s inputs), it means that we’re worse off than we were before the Revolution. It’s not sustainable, not in the long term.

One last point. You are in favor of GMOs, but you think that genes should not be “owned.” If Monsanto and similar companies can’t patent their GMO seeds, they can’t make money from them. And if they can’t make money, they’re not going to keep making the GMOs. They’re not humanitarian efforts, they’re businesses. Having the genes be owned and patented is key to the innovation process, but it’s also what drives the poorer farmers further into poverty. We can’t have it both ways.

One way that Monsanto can enforce their patents (and make sure farmers can’t save their seeds, denying Monsanto their royalties) is by introducing yet another modification – the terminator gene that renders the resulting soybeans and other seed sterile. (Do you find this natural, too?) However, as other genes from GMOs have spread on pollen in the wind and infected nearby non-GMO crops (as has happened to Canada’s canola oil industry – there’s no non-GMO canola left there), one is left to wonder what would happen if the Terminator gene drifted and rendered sterile other seeds, from other crops and even landraces (indigenous plants whose genes are continually needed for purposes of innovation and diversity). Even plain genetic drift from GMOs to landraces is a potential disaster; the terminator gene is a worst-case scenario, and you can’t control bees or the wind.

I know this is long; I thank you for your time. It’s hard to fit all of my passion about this subject into a Fluther quip. I’m not just some hippy yokel who loves her organics. I really see this as one of the major threats to the world’s ability to feed itself in the future.

JLeslie's avatar

I think Honey Crisp apples are the best apples sold in America today, and they were created in Minnesota, so I guess I am ok with genetically engineered food. But, I don’t like altering animals. I don’t like the idea that chickens can barely stand up because they have been bred to have huge breasts, because Americans prefer breast meat. I also don’t like when combining to different animals means they’re offspring is infertile, because to me that means nature is not very fond of this combination.

laureth's avatar

@JLeslieHoneycrisp apples are an example of cross-breeding, not a GMO.

JLeslie's avatar

@laureth I see. Thanks. I guess I am not clear on the definition.

JLeslie's avatar

@shilolo Isn’t there a problem with that stat about living to 40? I have heard that is a mean average that takes into account quite a bit of infant mortality? I, of course agree that medicine, especially the discovery of antibiotics, and vaccines like Polio and Small Pox, greatly improves or ability to live longer and healthier lives, but I have heard that it is not that most people only made it to 40, but that there were many deaths at young ages, but there were still people who lived well into their 60’s and 70’s.

Sophief's avatar

I don’t eat it, I eat proper food, don’t care what anybody else eats.

laureth's avatar

@JLeslie – Cross-breeding is what farmers have done for ages, breeding one kind of apple with another kind of apple to get a different apple that hopefully has better qualities. GMOs are plants that are modified on the genetic level in a lab, where they insert a gene from, say, a fish, into the genes of a tomato, to get a tomato that can be harvested green and flavorless and shipped more easily to market that way. (See Flavr-Savr tomato).

JLeslie's avatar

@laureth Oh I see. I am very ignorant to these things. I understand there is genetic stuff being done to food, but no little about the details. Thank you very much :). I think I don’t like it, moving the genes around like that, but I need to know more to really have an opinion. Thanks again.

philosopher's avatar

You may want to read a book called Ultra Metabolism by Doctor Mark Hyman.
He is not a G-d ;but this book clarified many issues in my head.

JLeslie's avatar

@philosopher Also, about your comment about high frutose corn syrup, I don’t buy into it at all. I do think too much “sugar” is bad, refined sugar, easily and quickly absorbed. But, I don’t think high frustose corn syrup is any worse than sugar, especially in a liquid form like soft drinks or iced tea.

JLeslie's avatar

@laureth I’ve read similar articles, and I have also read articles that go along with what I have said that the body breaks it down in the much the same way. Your article sites obesity going up since HFCS was put in soda, but the thing it ignores is that soda consumption has gone way up in general, along with packaged foods in general. So the question is, if all these foods and drink were made with can and beet sugar would all still be as fat, because we simply are making poor food choices and eating too much in general, and eating high calorie foods too much in general. I have never seen a study that took a group of people, took a vlood test for fasting sugar level, then had them drink HFCS water and looked at their glucose and insulin level for maybe 10 days in a row, and then did the same thing giving them sugar water 10 days in a row, to see if there is any difference. That would really mean something to me.

laureth's avatar

I agree that we eat too much crap.

JLeslie's avatar

@laureth And, it is also the same time that computers began to hit the scene, at least in the 80’s that was starting with Atari and others, and more stranger danger fears (A few years back I read some article that said that something like 80% of children walked to school 50 years ago, and now it is 25%, or something like that, I don’t remember the exact numbers) and more single parent and both parent working homes, which I figure must have some correlation to more packaged and restaurant food in the home. Too many factors to say there is a causative link to HFCS and obesity. Well, I believe it is part of the cause, but not exactly for reasons that are being touted.

laureth's avatar

@JLeslie – I will admit that HFCS isn’t one of my expert topics, but I have done some of the reading and I tend to believe more when the study isn’t sponsored by the industry trying to promote itself. The obesity epidemic is clearly caused by multiple things, but if HFCS reacts with the body differently than regular sugar, it’s something worth looking into.

Adagio's avatar

@JLeslie I think you would find The Future of Food very interesting and enlightening, it’s compelling viewing and rather disturbing.

JLeslie's avatar

@Adagio Oh, I think that was the movie they were talking about on Oprah a couple of weeks ago.

Don’t get me wrong, I think food is a racket. I am, and have been, against subsidising the corn industry. I hate the ethanol push, it has been a farce in my opinion. I am not trying to say that corn is just fine, stop complaining, don’t confuse my question about HFCS claims with not being upset about what is going on in other parts of the food industry; I think there is horrible corruption, backroom deals, and good ol’ boy style handshakes going on.

I prefer to buy cage free, in fact I am slowly eating less and less meat. I have vegetarians in my family mostly for animal reasons, one strictly for health reasons. Like I said above, I hate that chickens have breasts so big they can barely stand. I am disgusted that cows and other animals are kept pregnant. That cows are never allowed to let their milk dry up, but lactate for years on end. The slaughter process is inhumane for the most part, and as I get older I am less able to ignore it. I have not eaten veal for over 20 years. I just seem to be a little slow and going all the way.

Thanks for the youtube :).

Qingu's avatar

@laureth, you make good points.

Re: natural/unnatural, I think we could get into a very interesting philosophical question here. The short answer, for me, is that “natural” in this context refers to something that evolves through biological evolution, while “unnatural” means something that evolves through cultural evolution. The development of plant domestication and agriculture was, at most, a mixture of cultural and biological evolution; our modern (non-GMO) bananas, grapes, wheat, and everything else we eat simply would never in a million years ever evolve without human culture helping it along.

And you are right to point out the dark side of the Green Revolution. Like industrialized agriculture (and the GR was basically spreading industrialized ag techniques to poor countries), its lingering effects have been very harmful. However, I think Norman Borlaug’s counterargument has a lot of merit. It’s all well and good to worry about social and environmental effects when you’re not starving. But having enough food to avoid starving to death is a prerequisite. I’m certainly not opposed to reforming the type of agriculture brought about by the Green Revolution to be more sustainable and socially aware; my point in bringing it up was that the GMO seeds we developed during the GR really did have the immediate effect of warding off starvation for many people. The yields increase were huge.

As for patents/GMOs, I mean, this is a very basic and widespread problem for our society right now. It’s the same problem facing copyright-holders: how do you reward innovation in a world where it is trivial to duplicate another’s work (be it digital content or gene patterns?) There isn’t an easy answer, but I don’t htink it’s as either/or as you are making it out. There is, for example, a vibrant open-source movement in the digital realm. Perhaps a similar “open-source genetic engineering” movement could take root among farmers—particularly sustainable farmers. THat would also have great ramifications for safety and quality, since if the genes are open, people can transparently check them.

laureth's avatar

@Qingu – The Green Revolution increased yields dramatically – true – but only for a short time. So I see it as being a good thing – for a short time. It has become a bad thing. When short term profits are made at the expense of long term sustainability, well, you get schemes like Bernie Madoff made famous. What I’m trying to say is that I think the GR was like that. It only saved people from starvation for a little while, relatively speaking, and now they’re right back there. And the key to having them not starve is not importing more technology, it’s getting back to what they’d been doing sustainably for a long long time.

You make a good point about natural vs unnatural. I guess, using that definition, that while modern ag is unnatural, there are degrees of unnatural: some kind that’s not bad, like Honeycrisp apples, for instance, where the unnatural part involved pollen from one tree, flowers from another tree, and a farmer with a paintbrush. The human digestive system (and bees, etc.) have dealt with random pollination of just about everything for ages. But inserting a fish gene in a tomato is not something that would happen without a lab, you’re right. It’s thoroughly unnatural, whereas the apples are only a little unnatural. And if one causes harm and the other not, that’s the division I see – not natural vs unnatural.

I think of the great genetic melting pot that has been with us for ages and ages (before GMOs) as being a sort of lab that sorted itself out based on what worked. Fish genes work really well in fish, tomato in tomato, etc. Very stable. And one apple gene pollinating another apple – still very stable. This stuff we’re doing now – it’s not been tested for the same millions of years. It’s not natural selection, and it’s not even Mendelian style inheritance helped along by a paintbrush. To satisfy me, it would have to be tested a lot, lot longer. It would have to be shown to not drift to other species – which seems impossible. It’s letting a creature out in the world that may be friendly, but may be very unfriendly. That’s the issue, for me. We might know what the fish gene does in the tomato, but we don’t know what it can do if it jumps. And when it leave a GMO crop and leaps into “the wild,” nature hasn’t had enough time to stabilize it into something relatively harmless.

While I agree that open-source GMOs like you’re talking about would be more cooks stirring the pot than just Monsanto (and therefore good, as far as the not-for-profit aspect goes), do you really think that would lead to enough study to make sure they’re safe in ways we can’t even know about yet? Do we know that genes like the Terminator gene are not so dominant that they could effectively render many species’ seeds sterile? Do we know what it will do to the bees, who are critical for pollination? There’s too many unknowns for me to be happy opening this Pandora’s box.

BhacSsylan's avatar

So, this is certainly too involved for me to jump in fully fledged, but one small comment about your last post:“It would have to be shown to not drift to other species” and “We might know what the fish gene does in the tomato, but we don’t know what it can do if it jumps.” This was the sort of argument I was trying to head off in my other post. Ecological effects of GMOs, well, they’re incredible hard to predict, and you and Quingu can argue that better then I probably, but a transplanted gene cannot jump. It is simply impossible.

There are only two ways this could possibly happen: One, some bacteria (like E.Coli) can subsume ‘plasmids’ (small rings of DNA) from external sources and use them. However, this only works with plasmids, which are only really found in other bacteria. So a GMO plant would pose no threat, as a stable GMO would have it directly implanted into the genome, not as a plasmid.

The second, is I or someone like me uses a huge suite of enzymes from quite a few different organisms (i could think of needing at least 3 different proteins, most likely all from different organisms), and using very specific temperatures and solutions to get them to work properly, in order to have a chance of getting a new product. This would simply not happen in nature, and, more importantly, doesn’t happen in nature. Pretty much ever. Making a GMO crop in no way increases the organism’s ability to give or take DNA from another source. Also, once the organism grows on it’s own, those enzymes are lost. They usually only last several hours in the best of situations, and will not be replicated by further generations, as they are never native to the organism of interest.

I hope I helped this in some way, this is an interesting debate.

laureth's avatar

@BhacSsylan – So this is utter bollocks?

Also, we already know that pollen from soybeans that carry a GMO trait can pollinate another soybean that is not GMO, with the resulting seed being an infringement on Monsanto’s roundup ready patent. Is this what you’re telling me is impossible?

BhacSsylan's avatar

That article is bullocks, yes. I’ll get back to you on specifics. They’re saying that new gene combinations suddenly allow for added stability and infectious qualities. This is not the case. If it were, my job would be a hell of a lot easier. Nucleic acids have an array of very interesting properties, but they are not capable of infection on thier own. There is a reason viruses exist as they do: not as isolated nucleic acids, but as complex combinations of NAs and proteins specifically built for infection.

As to your second question, this is not the same thing. This is the same species cross, and can happen. It’s like the cross-breeding of dogs. Unless the GMO actually changes the chromosome number (in which case it would actually be a new species), cross breeding can occur. However, inter-species mixing, such as a tomato to a fish, cannot happen without extensive, unnatural help.

BhacSsylan's avatar

In general, that site is sketchy. Several articles they link do not exist, and does not seem to be a typical peer-reviewed journal. But, I’ll have to take a day to get back to you, sorry.

BhacSsylan's avatar

From the site, point by point:

1. Transgenic DNA is designed to jump into genomes, often through viral or bacterial plasmid vectors that can integrate into genomes.

They even say it: Through viral or bacterial plasmids. It cannot jump on it’s own, and viral vectors would not be self-replicating, as real viruses are, as it need only work once to do it’s job. You’d take a viral shell, put in your genome. It would splice in, then die, as it doesn’t have instructions to continue. Plasmids, on their own, simply cannot insert themselves into the genome, and only bacteria really propagate plasmids, as that is what the bacterial genome is made of. Genetic code of ‘higher’ creatures is almost exclusively linear in chromosomes. We can use plasmids, but not propagate them.

2. Transgenic DNA tends to be structurally unstable and hence prone to break and rejoin, giving rise to numerous deletions, duplications, and other rearrangements during the transformation process

DNA can break, sure, but do not rejoin. This requires special proteins, known as ligases, and requires energy to do so. This is simply not a spontaneous process. Also, most mutations like they talk about would be fixed by the modified cell, as all organisms have large amounts of error-checking for their genome.

3. The mechanisms that enable transgenic constructs to jump into the genome enable them to jump out again and reinsert at another site or into another genome.

Nope. As I’ve said, these are not persistent complexes, and break down in a matter of hours under normal circumstances. And most living cells have mechanisms to break down unknown proteins even faster.

4. The borders of the most commonly used vector for transgenic plants, the T-DNA of Agrobacterium, are recombination hotspots (sites that tend to break and join). In addition, a recombination hotspot is also associated with the cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) promoter and many transcription terminators, which means that the whole or parts of the integrated DNA will have an increased propensity for secondary horizontal gene transfer and recombination (see main text).

Uh, this just frankly doesn’t make much sense. One thing looks like another that has some things on it? Seriously, this paragraph simply does not make sense.

5. The Agrobacterium vector remaining in transgenic plants may be a vehicle for gene escape and can transfer genes widely to many bacteria as well as into human cells (see main text).

Again, they’re using the same crazy logic as above.

6. Transgenic constructs tend to integrate at recombination hotspots in the genome, which again, would tend to increase the chances that they will disintegrate and transfer horizontally [8].

Same problem as said in 2 above, simply restated. Same problem.

7. Transgenic DNA often has other genetic signals, such as the origin of replication left over from the plasmid vector. These are also recombination hotspots, and in addition, can enable the transgenic DNA to be replicated independently as a plasmid that is readily transferred horizontally among bacteria and other cells.

Everything is a hotspot! A transcription vector could not evolve as a so-called hotspot, if they existed. Would not be evolutionarily sensible. And transcription leads to linear RNA, not to plasmids. We don’t make plasmids!

8. The metabolic stress on the host organism due to the continuous over-expression of transgenes linked to aggressive promoters such as the CaMV 35S will also increase the instability of the transgenic DNA, thereby facilitating horizontal gene transfer

A GMO would not over-express a certain gene. And if it did, it would die, as it’s homeostasis is broken and it kills itself.

9. Transgenic DNA is typically a mosaic of DNA sequences copied from many different species and their genetic parasites; these homologies mean that it will be more prone to recombine with, and successfully transfer to the genomes of many species and their genetic parasites. Homologous recombination typically occurs at one thousand to one million times the frequency of non-homologous recombination, and short homologous sequences could act as anchors for acquiring non-homologous sequences (see main text).

This is just plain wrong. At the very least, in order for maximum stability, a good 50 base pairs between two strands must be made. Guess how many bp are in the human genome. 3.4 billion. I“m rather sure i could find a 50 bp homologue for any gene you care to name with something in the human genome. Mosaic sequences would not confer extra ability to bind, plain and simple. Oh, and keep in mind we don’t even have the largest genome. Many other organisms have similar or larger ones.

And… that’s their main point. I’ve never heard of the journal anywhere, and that’s a bad sign in and of itself. So, yeah, I wouldn’t trust this so far. Find a similar article on PubMed or Science or Journal of Molecular Biology, I’ll give it a good read.

BhacSsylan's avatar

Oh, and any evidence for ‘hotspots’ they link to in point 2 are the broken links. They both give an error and “It is in a queue and will be available in March 2008” when you try and access them. And that was almost a year ago, and is the evidence most of those points are built on. Sooo, yeah.

BhacSsylan's avatar

A last note. A run down of ‘New Postings” on that site’s home page reads like a tabloid. Specifically:

“UK Chief Scientist Misrepresented Over GM
Is it possible that Prof. Beddington’s staff – at the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs perhaps – are much keener on GM than he is, and wrote a speech for him that was leaked ahead of time to The Guardian? Could it be that Prof. Beddington, after seeing the prepared speech, changed it out of all recognition?”

“Swine Flu a “Faked Pandemic”
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe agree to launch enquiry amid revelations of gross conflicts of interest among experts advising the WHO to declare the swine flu pandemic”

And a few others. Frankly, I’s trust this site about as far as I could throw them.

EDIT: And sorry for the repeat posting. Just kept getting drawn back by my curiosity. Damn cats.

laureth's avatar

@BhacSsylan – Thank you very much for your detailled work. It gives me something to think about. I know that the soy example is same-species swap, but it’s also something that is maddening, especially if you want to farm without GMOs. Until we can guarantee that not happening (how? don’t know), I will probably be opposed.

laureth's avatar

(Also, for the record, I’d never been to that site before. It’s just one I Googled up for this debate.)

BhacSsylan's avatar

Okay, that’s good to know. I even looked up ‘Transgenic Hotspots”, a term they use constantly, and it just doesn’t appear anywhere else. It’s an unfortunate myth that people use a lot to scare people into thinking GM foods will make us into monsters or something. It’s really, really annoying to people like me that actually work with this stuff. Residual from comic book superheroes, i suppose, just bad. There’s enough legitimate issues on GM foods, especially copyrights and ecology. But, people who are fiercely opposed and probably a little phobic will always try to turn it into some kind of horror story.

As for the same-species mixing, you’re right, that would be far more difficult to control. There are potentially ways, but require more GM work, such as modifying a soy plant to not spread pollen naturally and be dependent on the paintbrush method, or mixing with pea plants and making them self-pollinating. However, the first will make them much harder to propagate (and so lose some of the effectiveness of the original GM), and the second doesn’t fully work, as pea plants do exchange pollen, just slowly. So, shrug, it’s possible, but the more changes you make, the harder it is to keep going, because eventually you’re going to cause enough changes your plant will just fail and die out of confusion.

laureth's avatar

@BhacSsylan re “the more changes you make, the harder it is to keep going”

I totally agree. It’s almost as though someone thought one day, “Hey, why not take all these chemicals left from WWII and put them on fields and see what it does,” and it grew better so it started the GR. And once you have people dependent on that, you invent GMOs such as roundup ready. And then you just build and build thinking that the next answer to something is surely man made. But each one of these innovations is totally dependent on 1) the infrastructure we have now, and 2) cheap fossil fuels. If you add “having to micromanage the pollination,” the whole thing is just so manmade – when regular, traditional ag wasn’t doing that poorly in the first place.

Again, like I said to @Qingu – I’m not a stick-in-the-mud organic snob hippie who lives in fear. I’ve done reading, I worked over a decade in the natural (or “natural”) food industry, and I garden. And when I was Googling for this, I even learned something – tha tthe “Bt corn pollen killing the butterflies via milkweed” wasn’t from the pollen crossing with milkweed, it was just windblown on there. So I am reading to learn, not just barking crazy.

BhacSsylan's avatar

Well, I had hoped as much, but it’s nice to know for sure :-). The only reasons I responded somewhat harshly is that that sort of argument, that GM foods will make us all get cancer or something, pops up surprisingly often, and it’s really annoying, especially since it is so persistent. But my main point is this: ingesting GM foods carry little to no harm for us, and the only potential harm is that of a foreign protein or something that would mess with our systems, if they do the GM badly. And that would be about as bad as what would happen if you went out and started eating weeds in your garden, you’d probably get a stomach ache and maybe throw up. And even that won’t be an issue once it’s passed by the FDA.

Past that, I’ll have to leave the discussion to far better read people, such as you and Quigu.

oh, and I meant the comment to mean that as you make genetic modifications, it becomes harder to make more without killing the organism. But, i admit your interpretation works well, too.

philosopher's avatar

I have seen those commercials the people that believe those lies are the same people that believe Politicians and every other scam.
I eat natural food. I do not consume additives or chemicals that slow the metabolism. I do not wish to be Monsanto’s Lab Rat. The truth is that No long term studies have been done and No one knows the long term affects of GM food.
I do know that some mutations in the human Geno are beneficial and others have divesting affects. Autism is a negative mutation. Which is probably caused by many things. Environment, diet and other factors all are believed to contribute.
The drug companies still use Mercury as a preservative in large batches of vaccines. Despite that Mercury is a known toxic. The researcher who said, it pushed some developing brains toward autism was discredited. Bush made the pending law suits illegal. I believe that they covered up that Mercury harms some developing brains. The drug companies control the Politicians. No further research is being done. Reseachers are to fearful. I only trust documentation. They have never provided any to me.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t worry in the least about it. I don’t worry about germs, either. It’s all hype and scare.

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