Genetically Engineered Foods Edge Closer To Dinner Plate, FDA To Develop GE Rules

FrankenChicken moved closer to your dinner table after the FDA announced they’re going to begin developing the procedures and guidelines that will allow farmers to genetically engineer animals to have more desirable traits and then sell them to you in the supermarket. For instance, featherless chicken or faster-growing fish. They will not require food to be labeled as genetically modified as long as there’s no change in the final product, a move Consumers Union called “incomprehensible.”

For dinner: Genetically altered ‘super chicken’ [AP]

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  1. NotYou007 says:

    Call it what you want. I will glady eat genetically engineered chicken or fish. The banana that so many people enjoy today didn’t happen just by accident and a lot of what we eat today is already genetically altered so I could care less. If it will help increase the food supply, lower prices and help feed the hungry then more power to them.

    • eekfuh says:

      @NotYou007: I see your point, but where does it say that the companies aren’t going to keep the extra profits.

    • Dobernala says:

      @NotYou007: Selection of desirable traits and selective breeding is not the same thing as genetic engineering.

      • B says:

        @Dobernala: How do you figure? The traits are genes and the selective breeding is engineering, just a much clumsier, more inexact version of it.

      • NotYou007 says:

        @Dobernala:

        That is why I said call it what you want. Why does a bird need to grow feathers if we are just going to eat it? Remove the feathers and that makes things go a lot faster. I can’t see how this would alter the taste of the bird. Same as for growing a seedless melon or grape. Things are still being altered. I understand what you are saying, I just don’t really care how it is done.

        Those that truly oppose it can still get their free range chickens and all that other stuff from their health food stores. Just don’t protest outside of my local food store with your stupid mask and pictuers and tell me it’s not natural cause I don’t care and it might help save millions of people one day, which it can do, even at this time I’m all for it. I’m not for the idiots that protest positive change though.

      • chrisjames says:

        @Dobernala: Well, they are more or less the same in that you end up with more desirable traits, but you may have introduced unknowns into the mix.

        Genetically engineered though? It just reminds me of Asimov’s populations eating only yeast and algae products. Science + food = sci-fi super sludge in my mind. Totally unreasonable connection, but Blegh anyway.

        FrankenChicken is the perfect name for a Japanese specialty restaurant. I’d eat there.

      • crashfrog says:

        @Dobernala: Selection of desirable traits and selective breeding is not the same thing as genetic engineering.

        In fact they’re exactly the same. DNA is DNA, and it doesn’t matter if it comes randomly through mutation or via exogenous sequences from another organism.

        Even in the wild gene transfer isn’t strictly vertical.

    • @NotYou007: But Kirk Cameron told me that the human hand was intelligently designed to fit the banana. How could we have had hands before the banana then?

      This reminds me of the old “”KFC” is called that b/c they don’t serve chicken, but instead a beak less gigantic breasted organism” myths/emails that were whizzing around the interwebs a few years back. What got me was people believed it was real. If this is nothing more than circumventing selective breeding, then I have no problem. If you start adding in stuff from other beasts, then I worry some, but until then, I’m cool.

    • BrianDaBrain says:

      “Incomprehensible” does not even begin to describe it. I like my food “natural” for lack of a better term, not “man-altered”.

      Where exactly did this not labeling stuff come from? The end result is not the same if the food is genetically modified, no matter how “small” that modification is.

      @NotYou007: There are a lot of practices that companies partake in that increase food supply, but do it at a cost. Consider the food that is given to cattle that are raised only to be slaughtered and fed to us. The food basically consists of whatever the folks working at the plant can find lying around, mostly old cow parts. It’s because of practices like this that we start to see things like mad cow disease.

      Who knows what can come up from genetic engineering of food? True, it could help solve the world hunger issue, but there are likely many downfalls that we haven’t even yet considered.

      • crashfrog says:

        @SkokieGuy:Why are you against providing information? The downside is?

        While we’re at it, produce should be labeled with the race of the person who harvested it. I mean, I’m no racist, but shouldn’t people have a right to know whether their lettuce was picked by some sweaty Mexican or a down-home, corn-fed, wholesome, caucasian Nebraska youth?

        Sure, it doesn’t make any difference to the end product, but how can the market be free if the consumer doesn’t have the information to avoid unwanted racial contact?

        Why are you against providing information? The downside is [what]?

        • I don’t fear altering food products, I fear creating unintended consequences. I honestly have less fear of modifying the genetic code of animals as I do injecting them with hormones. Eating a fish that’s been genetically modified to grow twice as fast isn’t going to affect me when it’s dead and cooked. Eating a fish pumped full of estrogen will give me manboobs.

          @crashfrog: This is the most patently stupid ad hominen attack I’ve read in a long while. This is The Consumerist, who here would be against supplying consumers with information?

          • crashfrog says:

            @anonymousryan: This is The Consumerist, who here would be against supplying consumers with information?

            You tell me. Explain to me why the market should supply one kind of information and not the other, if in neither case it actually makes a difference in the food.

            Either way, it’s pandering to prejudice. I don’t think that’s something the government should require companies to do.

            • redxmagnum says:

              @crashfrog:

              Not wanting to consume food because it has had it’s genes altered is just like not wanting to consume food touched by a black guy.

              • crashfrog says:

                @anonymousryan: The FDA doesn’t regulate meat.

                They don’t have the budget to say whether or not the end product is truly the same as something that isn’t genetically modified so they rely on the company making the product to say so.

                But there’s no such thing as “not genetically modified.” Genes aren’t static, even in the wild. Every time two organisms mate, it’s another roll of the genetic dice, with a fair number of brand-new genes thrown in. You yourself have somewhere between 10 and 100 new DNA sequences that neither of your parents contributed; they come from random mutations.

                And they do have the budget. The EPA tests and regulates GMO crops and foods. The USDA does the same. There’s a vast wealth of scientific research supporting the safety of GMO foods, if you’d only bother to look it up.

                @Keter: Now ALL wheat contains the GMO gene, since it is a wind-pollinated crop. Even wild species are now poison to me.

                You have a gluten allergy, stupid. It has nothing to do with cuttlefish genes in wheat.

                The truth is that we don’t yet know what we are doing with this genetic fooling-around

                I’ll believe that you certainly don’t know. The scientific community doesn’t share your ignorance.

                @mmmsoap: Introducing frog DNA into the chicken to make it not have feathers? Have you never SEEN Jurassic Park?

                Were you under the impression that was a documentary, or something? Did it ever occur to you that Michael Crichton might have an agenda of his own?

                • PhoenixLE says:

                  @crashfrog: Actually, you can delineate a difference between selective breeding and genetic modification. While I absolutely agree that we have modified genetic composition of crops and animals for thousands of years, the process of exogenically altering foods greatly accelerates this process. The science to do this and to theorize and examine the results are there, but the science to completely understand everything happening is still on the horizon.

                  My point essentially is that going in and cleaving DNA, inserting large new genomic segments, and then resealing the new DNA in place is quite doable, but also alters the new products traits at a rate that our regulatory safety understanding MAY lag behind. Regardless of how funded the FDA is, do I trust them to fully understand GM products? Not really. Adding frog DNA to chicken? Possibly 100% safe. Opening all food markets to making whatever changes each company wants and then letting the FDA sort out if EACH change is safe? Possibly a recipe for disaster. Where do you draw a line?

                  • crashfrog says:

                    @PhoenixLE: While I absolutely agree that we have modified genetic composition of crops and animals for thousands of years, the process of exogenically altering foods greatly accelerates this process

                    Since we don’t need our own mutations to adapt to new DNA in the food we eat – digestive enzymes work just as well on all DNA – I’m not certain why this is a problem. As it is we spend about a decade in tests before we allow a new genetic addition out onto the market. The people calling for “more testing” are ignorant, I believe, of the vast burden of testing already (and reasonably) required.

                    Where do you draw a line?

                    The same place we’ve already drawn it – chemical toxicity to humans. And that’s where the regulation is – if you want your food organism to synthesize proteins or enzymes found in some other organism, you have to establish that those proteins are safe for human consumption.

                    What, in your view, doesn’t that cover? What new or unique risks does GM modification of food bring to the table that testing for toxicity doesn’t address?

                    • PhoenixLE says:

                      @crashfrog: In some cases, like GM modified bacteria to produce insulin, you make the change and the result is extremely evident and straightforward. It’s a simple system where you add a single new product. In higher order systems though, the complexity grows exponentially, and it can be very difficult to tell if new vectors you introduce are producing only a single new product. There has been ample recent research into the pathogenic effects of improperly folded proteins, prions, and protein aggregates. The end result of these can vary from things like Alzheimer’s to Scrapies/Mad Cow disease.

                      No, I’m not saying GM gives you mad cow disease, nor Alzheimers. But I am saying that finding new products in a plant or animal cell your DNA insertion is making is not always easy. If you don’t know what it is you’re looking for, it can be nearly impossible. And maybe 99.999 percent of GM alterations would be safe, but if that 100,000th product introduces a new protein based pathogen to our food supply, was it all worth it?

                      One GM product is fine. One hundred is fine. Our regulatory bodies do not have the capacity/funding to adequately test a full new market of potentially thousands of GM products though, in my opinion. Yes, I trust the FDA to find heavy metals in my food. No, I do not trust the FDA to find previously unknown harmful biologic products.

            • @crashfrog: The question is whether the end product is really the same or not. The FDA has approved tainted meats, approved drugs that had horrible side effects, etc. They don’t have the budget to say whether or not the end product is truly the same as something that isn’t genetically modified so they rely on the company making the product to say so. The company making the product doesn’t want the stigma of genetically modified food so of course their answer is “No, it’s the same!” Then the consumer has no way of knowing. It might not even be people who are totally against GE food but people who are just wary, they should have a choice and not have to rely on the disclosure of the company producing the GE food. The FDA has hardly built any goodwill and trust lately (and they’ve been largely gutted by the Bush administration) so when these things first hit the consumer markets they should default toward informing the consumer NOT making it easier for the manufacturers/producers.

              • chrisjames says:

                @anonymousryan: Those tactics, unfortunately, are the kind that are used to slash startups. Recently, startups in produce and livestock have been the ones buoying the organic market. They’ve actually done all that in spite of labeling lobbies, which have on at least one occasion conspired to punish the organics industry. All of these rules, inspections, and certifications would play into the hands of the beefiest, most corn-fed producers that carry the most weight in Washington. That’s not underhanded politics, either. That’s just how business operates (don’t fool yourself, the hippie organophiles will do the same thing when they break the glass ceiling).

                Let’s not get too deeply into the asinine situation of the FDA relying “on the company making the product to say so,” the company not wanting “the stigma of genetically modified food” and saying no, and the FDA instead spearheading labeling laws in direct opposition to the companies it relies upon.

    • snkngshps says:

      @NotYou007: There is no problem with the food supply. In fact we have more than enough food to feed everyone on the planet. The problem is not quantity it’s distribution.

      Anyways, if they want to make GMOs and you want to eat it that’s fine. The big debate here is that it should be labeled as such. There’s no harm in putting a line by the nutrition info that says that the food is genetically modified. People (like yourself) will still eat it and those of us that choose not to eat it will have that option.

    • campredeye says:

      @NotYou007: Do you know how much blood was spilled over the banana?

  2. cerbie says:

    …OK, I was trying for a witty retort, but the irony in the posted text can’t be bested.

  3. Dobernala says:

    I guess I will have to switch to 100% organic food. (Organic labeling requires non-GM ingredients).

    • McKay says:

      @Dobernala: USDA’s Organic Certification program is a set of practices that farmers must use in order to qualify for the organic label. However, when it comes to GMOs (as opposed to, say, pesticides) it does not control the content of the food.

      There is no testing required to ensure the absence of GMOs in a “certified organic” food. And even if testing does reveal GMO content, the farmer can continue to use the “certified organic” label as long as USDA determines that he has taken “reasonable steps” to avoid contact with GMOs.

      So even if USDA is strictly enforcing this “reasonable steps” rule against organic farmers everywhere, GMO content can get into “certified organic” food unintentionally – through cross-pollination, for example – and the farmer can continue to use the organic label.

      Looking for a “USDA Certified Organic” label is not a reliable way of avoiding GMO content under the current system. Of course, it may be the best way available. But as a number of commenters here seem to be interested in knowing whether or not their food contains GMOs, you should be aware that the organic labeling program will not give you a solid answer.

  4. SkokieGuy says:

    Ben, everyone, Congressman Dennis Kucinich has introduced three bills that relate to GMO safety and labelling.

    [kucinich.us]

  5. eric says:

    I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who is not blindly afraid of all things genetically altered. Genetically altered food has saved more human lives than any other human invention in history. And the testing and regulations are already more strict than most people seem to assume.

  6. incognit000 says:

    On the one hand, I’m really strongly FOR GMO foods and crops. With exploding populations and limited crop space, not to mention the inherent difficulties in crop growing brought about by global warming, GMO seems to be the next step we need to take to keep from all starving to death.

    That being said, the government and food manufacturers have proven again and again that they have no real interest in protecting consumers from bad products. So long as most of the products are safe, they don’t care. Recalls of bad or dangerous products only occur once a bunch of people are sick and/or dead, and they are usually poorly executed even then.

    We can’t go ahead without fixing this.

    • @incognit000: I find some fault with your premise. Look at what happens when a recall/scare goes on. People flock away from that brand/store in droves, and rarely return. If you want to claim that people are greedy, then it would logically follow that they want to keep customers to make more money. Recalls/scares are horrible for a company.

  7. Apparently, the chickens in the photo have also been engineered to excrete buffalo wing sauce through their skin so they arrive pre-basted.

    Seriously though, I will consider it a success if I can go the rest of my life without ever seeing a featherless chicken ever, ever again.

    • friendlynerd says:

      @LastVigilante:
      I wish I could post a clip, but the Squidbillies episode “Wing Nut” is about that exact thing.

      “At last – the ultimate party platter. 50 flightless but delicious wings. Crisp legs of celery. Bowels BURSTING with blue cheese! Now, sublime creature, defecate your own to-go box!”

    • PhoenixLE says:

      The problem as I see it is that GM food is still essentially experimental. While I would be tempted to say that it’s safe, there’s many questions I would have regarding it too. I’m a medical student, and my recent studies of genetics and protein folding and genetic modification lead me to question some aspects of GM foods. The process of remotely altering the genomic makeup of a product can result in desired traits, but there is also a good chance for genes to produce potentially hostile prions or have other yet unforeseen consequences.

      It might be totally safe… but do we really want to experiment on hundreds of millions of consumers at a time? I would say that this requires a decade or two of more testing before it gets put into mass use. The risk is just astronomically high given the vast number of potential consumers!

      • StarkRavingMan says:

        @PhoenixLE: “The problem as I see it is that GM food is still essentially experimental.”

        The same thing is true of non-GM agriculture. Where do you think the Mad Cow prions originated? Ag giants of all kinds subsidize massive experimental labs. Unfortunately, these experiments are not regulated nearly as well as GM labs.

        Does anybody realize that traditional agriculture has destroyed more habitat than all other industry combined? Does anybody remember that “The Fertile Crescent” wasn’t a desert until humans farmed the hell out of it? Farming needs to become less environmentally damaging, and GM is the most promising technology to do that.

        • PhoenixLE says:

          @StarkRavingMan: I absolutely agree. Ag giants have done all sorts of scary things, and continue to do so. Antibiotics in feed, mad cow, you name it. And yes, GM is far more regulated.

          However, we’re discussing loosening the regulations on GM food and introducing it to major food supplies. I suppose my concern is that we do not fully have the ability to identify safety in these products. The latent period for many of these ideas (take antibiotics in feed, pesticide use, and mad cow/scrapies for instance) can be years upon years before they’re felt. By the time we identify an unknown threat with any particular GM product, its conceivable millions of people will have consumed it.

          I’m not firmly against GM products, but I think erring on the side of caution would be highly advisable. I agree that farming needs to move to a more “green” approach, and that reductions in pesticides via GM and such is one avenue to do so.

          On a side note: if you get healthier crops with a greater yield via GM (suppose bugs don’t eat it anymore), you remove more product from the field. Wouldn’t this mean that on a per acre basis of farming in the US, there would be an increased demand for fertilizer, which is currently largely a petroleum derived product? My point is mostly that addressing some of the things GM products might focus on may not yield a net benefit for the environment. (More fertilizing would lead to greater phosphorus runoff into streams and lakes)

  8. SkokieGuy says:

    Eric, you are welcome to consume what you choose. I don’t have that choice, because the FDA doesn’t (currently) require labelling of lots of things:

    Irradiation of food
    Bovine growth hormone in milk and milk products
    Meat or milk from cloned animals
    GMO foods

    Many people confuse the argument of whether these products should be in our food supply with the separate argument of should foods be labelled.

    To have information about what we consume seems a rather basic consumer right.

    The separate issue of ‘are these types of food safe’ I don’t think can be resolved – yet. First of all science is often clouded by corporate interest, 2nd, these high-tech type of foods have not been in our food supply long enough. Let’s see what happens to the children of mothers who consumed cloned beef and foods with altered DNA. Let’s see what happens in 3 or 4 generations.

    How long did it take for science to realize that giving women hormone replacement therapy for menopause led to a rise in breast cancer. 20 years? 30 years?

    I think the jury is still out on high-tech foods, and labelling is just a basic right we should demand.

    • processfive says:

      @SkokieGuy: There’s little reason to demand labeling of the things that you mention. It’s a free market, and if there are enough people who *really want* non-GMO foods, some company will cater to them. As it is, a minority of people care about eating organic foods. And yet there are companies that sell clearly-labeled organic foods to the people who want them.

      When GMO foods become the norm, it’s a pretty safe bet that somebody will be there to cash in on people who are afraid of GMO foods. Those companies will clearly label their foods as NON-GMO so that you can easily spot them on the shelf, because they WANT YOUR MONEY.

      • SkokieGuy says:

        @processfive: You couldn’t be more wrong. Regular food sales are growing about 2% – 3% per year. Organic food sales are growing 17% – 20% per year. [www.msnbc.msn.com]

        And regarding labeling, there has been tremendous lobbying on behalf of corporations who fear labelling.
        [www.nytimes.com]

        There is lots of reason to demand labelling. If consumers do not know what they are buying, then the market is not free.

        GMO foods are already the norm. There are GMO ingredients in about 80% off all processed foods. But I guess you didn’t know that, BECAUSE THEY AREN”T LABELED.

        Why are you against providing information? The downside is?

  9. mike047 says:

    Does FrankenChicken taste more like Franken or more like Chicken? I’d protest, too, if it tastes like Franken.

    /shudder

  10. rodeo40 says:

    I’m not against altering food as long as it is clearly labeled. Then *I* will make the decision if I want to eat it.

  11. ok, I’m not against altering food, but the featherless chickens are sad. That’s just cruel. I know we’re going to eat them eventually, but birds have feathers for reasons other than flying. Their feathers keep them warm and cool, they keep them protected from other birds, etc. This goes too far!!

  12. ogremustcrush says:

    I’m all for genetically engineering foods, much as I am for irradiating meats. Despite this, I still figure it can’t hurt if it the products are labeled as such. Frankly I would probably specifically try to choose them over the unlabeled products.

  13. BigFoot_Pete says:

    Having been on a research team in this exact field for the USDA, I can vouch for how thoroughly the GMO crop sources are tested before they are ever allowed to be commercially used.

    But that’s not the point here, from what I gather; the point isn’t that GMO are wrong at all (as well pointed out already to all fruit eaters, insulin users, environmental cleanup supporters, etc…)but moreover that they should be labeled as such. But again, that would mean that almost anything that you can buy in a supermarket needs some kind of tag on it. Everything has been selectively bread for our consumption up to this point. There is nothing we eat that hasn’t been, including your precious heirloom anything or organic anything.

    An example is organic corn: You think that’s the corn that natives were planting hundreds of years ago in the US?

    I’m all for safety, I’m all for intelligent labeling, but the alarmists that clamor about these issues needlessly are wasting a lot of breath for no real reason.

  14. snkngshps says:

    I meant to provide a source with my above comment: [www.who.int]

  15. AD8BC says:

    If you want to know what is in your food…

    …grow it yourself.

    Plant a garden, raise some chickens… if you live in the city, form a co-op and buy a small piece of land somewhere and share the duties.

    Now I’m on my way home to a dinner of chicken and mushrooms made with what I bought at Wal*Mart (excuse me, I meant Walmart*) last night.

  16. redxmagnum says:

    God, look at those chickens. LOOK AT THOSE CHICKENS. Their meat can only taste like sadness.

  17. EricLecarde says:

    I’m for this. I just hope my chicken still has the nutritional value and hormones it had before GE.

  18. purplesun says:

    I detest genetically modified foods. The very concept disgusts me.

    A GMO potato known as New Leaf that was used to make french fries in the 90’s is classified by our government as a pesticide. Franken-farmers are throwing GM wheat into their fields, with herbicides and pesticides built into their genetic coding, uncaring of the fact that plants, grasses in particular, can crossbreed insanely easily, thus putting native plants at huge risk. Modifying other vegetables to fight off bacteria and fungus has only lead to the creation of superbugs which are killing more and more people every year.

    Don’t get me started on the animals. Bad enough chickens are currently stuffed four to a cage, their beaks torn off so they don’t kill each other, and stacked 10-20 cages high. Now they want to make them naked, with even more freakishly large legs and thighs so that every minute that they are alive is pure pain and torture. Oh, and I bet they can do even more amazing things with cows stuffed into feedlots.

    *shudders*

    I am not a vegetarian. But, I am a consumer. It is my right to choose which companies to support, based on how well they interpret my values and morals. I should have the right to know which companies are destroying the environment, poisoning the gene pool with unstable aberrations, and torturing livings things to line their own pockets.

    The only reason this has not happened yet is because of Big Food. If you think these companies are looking out for anybody but their own pockets, you are delusional. They don’t want to feed the world. They want to profit off of it. Quite frankly, if their franken-food kills you, poisons the water you drink, and results in strange and horrifying complications due to mishandled genetic engineering, they’ll still laugh all the way to the bank, not caring one bit about what they’ve done.

    So, until our government and Big Food stop lying in the same bed, it’s farmers’ markets and local farms for me.

    • NotYou007 says:

      @purplesun:

      A chicken lives just over 40 days before it’s killed and made into food for us. Why does a chicken need feathers for 40 plus days when it is only going to become food? Everytime you consume chicken you are pretty much eating a baby chicken. A chicken is able to live a good 15 to 20yrs but we give them a whooping 40 plus days, then off to the chopping block.

  19. picardia says:

    I am not opposed to genetic modification in theory, but as others have pointed out, some earlier efforts in this area have been dubious at best. And yeah, large agribusiness is not looking out for your personal health any more than Chef Boyardee is. I buy organic/free range when I can anyway, so this is just one more reason to keep that up.

  20. MyPetFly says:

    That picture is plucked up, man.

  21. snoop-blog says:

    I would have no problem eating cloned meat. In fact, I can’t wait for them to do it so I could actually afford a good steak. It seems lately it’s either tough, or fatty.

  22. Murdermonkey says:

    Most of the arguments have been made. Selective breeding is simply a chaotic clusterfuck of random gene swapping. Good thing selective breeding has never bitten us in the ass cough*killerbees*cough. Keep in mind that as societies advance in science life spans increase this includes our food practices. Before the Industrial Revolution, the average life span was about thirty-five to forty years, so if your against progress and the possibility we may get cancer at 40 from a genetically modified chicken go eat your scrawny disease ridden chicken and leave me the super nutritious honey bbq lactating featherless uber-chicken.

  23. Ingenium says:

    I don’t think you folks realize that humans have been genetically engineering for thousands of years. That cow wasn’t always the same cow we know today, and that sheep wasn’t always the sheep we know of today. That is how the term “artificial selection” comes into play. We humans have allowed for cows to breed with the desirable traits that we want in order for them to be so delicious and succulent.

    Genetically produce is just a step above that, we are actually modifying its DNA in order to have even more desirable traits for our consumption. Is it strait up evolution? I don’t know, that is a question for an evolutionary biologist to answer.

    for more information on how artificial selection works, search “Carl Sagan evolution” on youtube

  24. BeeBoo says:

    Those chickens are absolutely adorable!!!! Do they have to use sunscreen? Can they be housebroken???

    I CAN HAS NEKKID CHIKIN!!!! ME WANTS!!

  25. snoop-blog says:

    @Ingenium: I love Sagan! I watched all of the cosmos. I wonder if they have put the cosmos on dvd yet?

  26. Corporate_guy says:

    Bananas are already cloned, plants have been genetically engineered since the 7,000-9,000BC, animals have genetically engineered themselves since they began choosing mates. Getting upset over this is like getting upset because animals since the beginning of time have killed each other to determine who is the strongest and gets to mate.
    I wonder how many people complaining about this would happily take a vaccine that alters your DNA to cure Alzheimers or cancer or any other disease?

  27. crazydavythe1st says:

    Define “no change in the final product”. Mystery meat can taste like chicken, look like chicken, and smell like chicken and also have some mysterious “harmless” chemical that later causes a mass (insert horrible disease) outbreak. And come on people, do you honestly think it is going to LOWER prices significantly??? 99% of any cost savings will boost their profit margins, either by raising the cost of natural food in response to demand for real food, or by maximizing the costs of GM food as to still elict demand from the people who really don’t care.

  28. antirem says:

    Call it what you want. Im glad to be vegetarian.

    • NotYou007 says:

      @antirem Call it what you want. Im glad to be vegetarian. :

      I have a friend who has a shirt that reads this.

      Vegetarian, old Indian word for poor hunter.

      @Urusuru Birds like pretty feathers otherwise they wouldn’t have them. :

      Most birds have feathers so they can fly which allows them to catch pray and escape pray. Most birds do not have them because they think they are pretty. Only a few birds have pretty feathers which are used to attract a mate.

      I will also say this again. Most chickens live just past 40 days before they become food for us. They will never need those feathers for anything, nada, zippo.

      • mmmsoap says:

        @NotYou007: Selectively breeding a chicken to not have feathers? I’m all for it.

        Introducing frog DNA into the chicken to make it not have feathers? Have you never SEEN Jurassic Park? (And, yes, that’s what genetic engineering is…introducing DNA from completely foreign organisms.)

        There are a lot of things we’ve done to our food supply that seem safe when we do them, and come to regret. DDT anyone? Um, Mad Cow disease?

        There just haven’t been enough long term studies about the effects of this kind of thing on both the food supply chain, and our own bodies for me to be comfortable, and I’m not interested in being anyone’s guinea pig. If you’re willing to take the chance, awesome. But why shouldn’t I be able to make an informed decision?

        Maybe I’ll just buy Kosher meats instead.

  29. Urusuru says:

    We should respect the lives of the creatures we end up eating. Anyone who has pets will tell you they have emotions. . Birds like pretty feathers otherwise they wouldn’t have them. Lets let them live well and with dignity. They aren’t machines. They give up there lives for us.

  30. Urusuru says:

    Sorry their not there.

  31. ElizabethD says:

    That photo is … disturbing.

  32. tinyrobot says:

    As a scientist, skeptic and consumer, I think we all need to take a deep breath…

    …and remember that humans have been genetically modifiying food, both crop plants and livestock, for thousands of years. No exaggeration. Domestication, hybridization and breeding are all modes of artificial selection. We managed to get a Chihuahua out of a wolf, so getting a gross-looking nakers chicken like the one above is really less of a feat than getting a Pluot (when did Apricots and Plums ever have sex normally?).

    A bird that resists this or that disease will be just as benign when roasted and served up, and won’t need to be pumped full of antibiotics. True it can make for some grostesque looking critters, but honestly, and I mean REALLY honestly, when was the last time any American was fully aware of what they ate looks like alive? What the butchering/cleaning process entails? How sausage is made? We’re not out to eat beautiful, natural, graceful animals here, we want meat, we want nice plump fruits and veggies, and aesthetics and irrational knee-jerking only cloud the debate on this issue.

    Don’t like genetic modification/engineering? Then stay away from the entire produce aisle, and certainly the meat case, even the USDA Organic stuff. We’ve been tinkering every since we learned how to grow and domesticate – none of the organisms we eat look like they did two centuries ago, and in some cases even two decades ago.

  33. gliscameria says:

    WHOA. I want to know if what I’m eating was grown Akira style in a lab. I just want a label *Enhanced* will do.

    I’d try to avoid faster grown, more meat, less fat type GMO foods, but I’d kill for a hybrid cow/potato that has a milk reservior full of butter or caffienated apples…

  34. Keter says:

    Considering that I was over 40 years old when I “suddenly” developed a serious wheat allergy (not gluten, a very specific allergy to wheat itself) directly after having had the only anaphylactic reaction to a food I’ve ever had in my life – to cuttlefish served at a highbrow event, so I definitely see the connection between GMO fooling around and turning food into poison. You see, they started putting cuttlefish genes into wheat to make it more resistant to freeze damage, so they can plant the first crop earlier in the year and get an extra crop on a field. Now ALL wheat contains the GMO gene, since it is a wind-pollinated crop. Even wild species are now poison to me. And they’ve started putting the same gene in some varieties of corn, so now I’m rolling the dice if I eat corn and that will probably be off my menu entirely soon, as it is also wind-pollinated.

    Cuttlefish, BTW, is not a critter that should ever have been in the human food chain so we are NOT adapted to eating it; it is a deep coldwater squid that has copper-based blood, and until recently, it was a “bycatch” that was used only for that bone you hang in your birdcage to give them calcium.

    Most of the genes that are being spliced into foods are not from other foods, but from things you’d never consider eating. Insects, bacteria, slugs. Yuck, and NOT FOOD.

    The truth is that we don’t yet know what we are doing with this genetic fooling-around, and the distinct possibility exists that we could end up seriously poisoning ourselves and our future food supplies, even if no shortcuts or cheats are performed (yeah, like big agriculture never cheats or lies).

    I predict a resurgence of the community farm as more is learned about how corporate agriculture is making us sick.

    • TACP says:

      @Keter:Bacteria is what makes cheese, beer, wine, etc. Some cultures eat insects and even slugs. Who decides what is food and what isn’t?

    • PhoenixLE says:

      @Keter: Sorry Keter, but you’re just plain wrong. I don’t even know where to start exactly… but EVEN if by magic every grain of wheat now did have a gene from the cuttlefish, the odds that that gene code for the cellular receptors to which your immune system responds are astronomically low. Your theory might sound like a slam dunk as it’s easy to blame GMO’s, and they MIGHT be unsafe for other reasons, but your deductions here have very very poor scientific basis.

  35. BiZarRroBALlmeR says:

    I’ll never eat chicken again

  36. nerdychaz says:

    would you like frankenfries with that?

  37. cienocrisis says:

    I don’t understand what is so bad about labeling GMO food. To the commenter that said “While we’re at it produce should be labeled with the race of the person who harvested it. I mean, I’m no racist, but shouldn’t people have a right to know whether their lettuce was picked by some sweaty Mexican or a down-home, corn-fed, wholesome, caucasian Nebraska youth”, I think that you are unfairly twisting the purpose of an informed consumer. You are assuming that informed consumers would just use prejudice (racism, or fear of the frankencorn) would reduce business for companies that are selling otherwise good stuff. I don’t think race is important, but I think that knowing the supply chain is pretty important. In my ideal world, we would know where everything came from, so we can vote ethically with our wallets. International trade is cool, but why the heck do we concentrate grain production in what… 4-5 countries to feed the rest of the world? Where is the sense in that?

    For me, the reason why I want GMO foods labeled is because of two personal reasons. (1)Personal choice health reasons (2) Potential Allergy Tracing. If I rather eat expensive wiry chicken than the superGMO chicken that I am not too sure what the health effects are of, that’s MY choice. If you don’t tell me which is which, how can I vote with my wallet? It’s my choice to support a new technological development or not, I don’t want it to be shoved under my noise without my consent.

    While I am not completely anti-GMO, there are big problems that GMOs bring up.
    (1) Patent on life that’s self-reproducing? WHAT?
    [en.wikipedia.org]
    (2) Risk to biodiversity. I’d be cool if GMO plants grew in labs and in tubes. But nope, they grow in open air where they can proliferate in wide open spaces, and potentially choke off existing local plant life! What’s wrong with preserving wildlife diversity for its sake?
    (3) Again, the health risks. This is a completely different level from conventional crossbreeding, because we can change so many aspects of a plant in so little time, without the time to test out on whether it’s good or not before it’s sent out to the market. Seriously, who’s monitoring? The FDA doesn’t have enough backbone these days.

    Please, I am not against the development of GMOs. I just want them labeled, and I want the biodiversity of local wildlife to be preserved, and I want that patent issue addressed ASAP because patenting life is seriously a topic we should all talk about. Technological progress is awesome, but we need to admit that the human race isn’t perfect and we should keep a careful eye on GMOs.

  38. sam-i-am says:

    The FDA has GE rules. GE food is one of the most regulated sources of food in existence.

    At least according to Penn and Teller’s “Bullshit.”

  39. StarkRavingMan says:

    People, all the hysteria over GM food is based on nothing more than a scare campaign by agricultural giants with investments in non-GM foods. Don’t be fooled by these jerks. There is absolutely nothing wrong – nothing – with GM food. Furthermore, virtually all major agricultural crops are far more genetically modified than the ones produced through genetic engineering. There is nothing in nature that remotely resembles the modern hybrid corn plant.

    It’s astonishing to me that so many people are still afraid of GM food after all these years of research showing that there’s no problem anywhere.

  40. StarkRavingMan says:

    @ Keter – Sorry to hear about your wheat allergy. Sounds unpleasant. Happily, you can be sure that GM wheat had nothing to do with it. GM wheat exists in the lab, but it has never been grown commercially. You are allergic to plain old-fashioned non-GM wheat.

    GM wheat might be better for you, actually. It would require far less pesticide, so there would be less chemical residue.

  41. StarkRavingMan says:

    @anonymousryan – Crashfrog is right, and you are wrong. Why should those of us who know there’s absolutely no scientific basis for GM labeling have to pay for a federal program to provide information that is absolutely useless?

    The fact is that the push for labeling is nothing more than a PR campaign by non-GM agricultural interests trying to pressure retailers to refuse to carry food produced by competitors. It is every bit as stupid and prejudicial as requiring labels for food touched by blacks or Mexicans.

    So there.

  42. provolone says:

    Can’t they just genetically engineer people to not be gluttons.

  43. frankthefink says:

    I have a question: just what techniques are we actually considering genetic modification? I have a feeling that this line is being drawn willy-nilly by a group of us who have no scientific training.

    Oh and somewhere back there somebody mentioned seedless grapes. I’d just like to chime in and say that seedless grapes have been around since about 1890.

    • PhoenixLE says:

      @frankthefink: The general concept is to identify a desirable gene from a donor organism. Plant, bacteria, animal, whatever. Hell, it could even be a virus, it’s really irrelevant. Following that you isolate sequences on either side where it can be excised, seperated, replicated, and then through a variety of techniques, spliced into the new host organism. These delivery methods can vary from viral transport to test tube type splicing where they identify matching regions on the host organism to where they cut on the donor, and splice the new DNA into it. In Eukaryotic cells things are more complicated as many factors must go along with that gene such as activating sites, LCR sites, etc that typeically go with the gene to regulate its expression.

      Bottom line is that in animals and plants, it is in fact a very complex process that is used for direct exogenic gene splicing.

      If anyone would like to correct anything I said, please be my guest. I’m mostly just aiming to give a brief overview here.

  44. mariospants says:

    Call me unparanoid, but I trust the FDA-type scientists to develop up-to-the minute lowest acceptable levels of exposure to harmful ingredients and that the levels in food that is sold to us is checked by the FDA to ensure that levels of said ingredients never exceed the lowest allowable levels.

    So whatever they do to my food, be it preserve it, clean it, irradiate it, modify it etc. as long as it meets the levels best known to research, I’ll consider it safe and I’ll eat it. I’ll do my own research regarding carbohydrate, fat and other intake matters.

    On the other hand, I DON’T automatically trust that organic food producers: a) care about the consumer any more than the FDA does and b) actually have a safer product. There is plenty of evidence that organic food can also contain heavy metals, for example, and enough recalls of organic produce to make one extra-cautious when preparing and washing organic vegetables and fruit. When I was a kid, you hardly ever heard of anybody dying of eating carrots and spinach. Now it seems like every other week that this is happening. Frankly, I’d rather die at 85 instead of 87 because I happened to ingest a lot of aspertame in my life (actually, I doubt it will have any impact but it’s an example) than die an excruciating death due to salmonella poisoning at 38.

  45. provolone says:

    Don’t believe anything bad you hear about this, it’s all Plucker’s Union lies…..

  46. vladthepaler says:

    Quite scary, if they’re planning to do this without labeling it.

  47. ordendelfai says:

    Um, whoever thinks that Genetic Modification is a step above selective breeding plants and animals is sadly mistaken.

    All we have done is figured out how to use viruses to do the work. Viruses people..

    • crashfrog says:

      @ordendelfai: Retrovirus vectors are only one way of introducing exogenous sequences, and it’s not actually that commonly used.

      The bio gun approach is still pretty common – tungsten nano-sized particles are coated in DNA sequences and fired (from an airgun or even a shotgun) at plant tissues.

  48. henrygates says:

    If only we can engineer them without a head. Then no one can complain about their suffering.

  49. mrearly2 says:

    The FDA is not interested in a healthy nation, only enriching the drug companies and food controllers.