WWL>Topics>>5-19-14 12:10pm Garland: on genetically-modified foods

5-19-14 12:10pm Garland: on genetically-modified foods

May 19, 2014|

Garland talks with Doug Gurian-Sherman of the Union of Concerned Scientists about the dangers of genetically-modified foods.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

Armadillo welcome back -- -- think about to a genetically. Multiple. Organisms fell backwards at a acronym is or NG. Only god. In that sell a lot of persons ahead and respond when you've been saying Jim beautiful wife did -- -- Bloomberg concerned. And emails can be about -- it's one. Of the information from a bruised rewarded. Atlantic magazines and replacing approved formation and sure enough they big reports it. What to -- repute is genetically multiply it and talked about it cross the -- for a mean big gross through movement. When we go up more support in in demand from jumbled and 84 builds in with the United States. But it Atlantic magazine and their appliances. If only -- had science. On its. And maneuvered through no widely accepted science reports -- moser inherently dangerous. Public it's overwhelming scientific consensus. Based on hundreds of independent. On it and responded pure reviewed the long range that is the -- motors says -- And that and noticed they've been in place for a couple of decades since you know. Have always been from a fraud did hold an expert understand both sides -- this doctor green sure meant to audiences at this point. Senior scientist for Union of Concerned Scientists. Doug thank you for the call appreciate Burnham. Greta do. It did talk to me I have no basic understanding of -- most bad thing good thing somewhere in between. Well. You know like like most complicated issues I think there's a lot of gray areas and and a lot of misconceptions. All around. About GM. Essentially what they are is. -- advances in molecular genetics over the last year for decades. We've developed that ability to take. Genes you know. Pretty much any -- we want. From any organism we want to bacterium that lives in the soil or virus sort of plant -- animal. In inserted into the genetic material in the permanent way. A completely different kind of organism where. Except for re here. Evolutionary. Events you know the program millions of years would never happen normally. Through you know the way. Organisms generally from reproduce which is new breeding and so just like -- yet. Made it dog with the court and play it obviously. You normally can't get dot genes into corn plants that you could. -- corn dogs. Good point yeah which the -- -- at the like that he can't get yeah I mean you really can't get dot genes into the corn plants unless he is something like genetic engineering to -- the concern is. The process itself and part of the concern is. Our ability now to take -- from organisms that were never in the food supply and then put them into the food supply what the consequences. That might have for human health or the environment. BAA if functioned correctly -- almost have been around for decades in sixty. To 70% process movements. Contained GO most dude do we have the science that the ports to this very long history a view mode is that says. It causes obesity. It yes. History he needs to be taken with a big race itself and so far there really move the. Essentially two types of lightly commercially successful. GM so genes. There's a couple versions of each one essentially. One makes plants immune to that herbicide roundup. And the other. Couple variations. Cost plans to produce around and it's. Insect Paxton. It kills certain number of insect pests that Korea and cordoned patent and few other plants. And so and so release of the technology has not been successful and in some ways is that from my perspective in and the failure. Yet bringing forward -- -- valuable. Traits that would also mean in terms. Potential good car. -- is -- we only have a tiny spectrum. The types of changes that might be made in the future. If genetic engineering -- is as successful summit that's promoters. -- hope it will be so. One victim that virtually all of -- has -- accepted is that. This potential benefits or harm from again then engineered crops depend not surprisingly. On the particular types of genes. You know castor bean plant has. Lots of genes that kind of do it everyday housework that would be completely harmless. But if you you know for some stupid reason for the rights and gene into corn plant that would kill so. Or the genes that produce -- in that nobody would do normally. But. There's a lot of genes we hear the potential health and environmental consequences and that nearly -- clear -- something like rice and or that we would go would be clear -- benign. And therefore we need a good regulatory system to be able to do the testing just like we do for drugs or pesticides or food additives. To be able to tell us whether. Anyone who's. New gene -- and many of feel that the yet systems that adequate at this point but especially. On that food that part of the FDA which has the meaning of the war the to regulate these crap doesn't completely voluntary basis. Which is based in the in the tests that are done are done by the companies and decided by the company's. Because. Twenty. Plus years ago was decided. That these would be regulated under the weakest part of our food laws that -- drug has Medicare. On the USDA there again there -- no particular required tests to show. That these crops are safe for the environment in India. Particular regulations they -- -- very -- I can go into the details about why that there. They were again does not part part of the decision in the bush and Reagan administrations to regulate these -- that's the first Bush Administration. To regulate these crops under existing laws that would never really designed for them. And so there's -- real flaws and weaknesses yet in those in the regulations. But it my -- one of the other thing about this idea that we've been eating them. The only way you really can whether. You know eating something is. Harmful in terms of long term. That. It's wet is if you do what we call epidemiological studies indicate that kind of thing you hear about for you know saturated after smoking would dapper. We can do toxicological studies in the -- of that -- ultimately in the human population we need to actively. Do tasks or -- follow populations to determine whether something that opinion negative effect and it's never been done for genetic engineering so. Yes if genetic engineering -- harmful enough that people would be dying. Kind of like. Poisoning you know dropping in the streets. -- you know any kind of regularity. We get to the -- pretty quickly. But of genetic engineering Wisconsin. You know -- term effects. And I'm not suggesting it does which has yet to put data and more can't make that can -- it was causing. Parkinson parkinson's like effects after twenty years sort cancer an increase of cancers are right it's have been like yeah. You would never detected. What she did epidemiology. And those tests have never been done that's why -- believe. Mentioned ideas that we've been eating that's for twenty years and therefore it's safe. Really has no basis in science. An injustice mentioned also that the studies. He talked about there's a lot of debate about. The value of those studies many of those hundreds of studies looked at closely really had nothing to do safety testing they were. Testing protocols they were looking at livestock. Weight gain and many other things that really aren't that insightful that safety. Well you. -- been in just do that injured raises in interest in court. One we often have on the show in this -- -- time of voluminous. Information who do you trust. A look in the National Academy of Sciences. American medical solutions and world health organs and you can Royal Society European Commission center for science in the public interest. They all -- -- there's no evidence they're dangerous who were pitchers sitting is whether they're not doing the right to strike. In part. And if you look a little bit more closely it's not quite so clear that it. I think some proponents of that has put together this kind of. A package of talking points and it really does not entirely really accurately represented. What was out there so for example the American Medical Association. You know on the one hand has said that it is you know no reason to to be. Overly concerned about these crops but on the other hand. Has said that -- field FDA's casting machine is -- -- in should be that should be mandatory testing machine. So how did it puzzles me how you could square. He commented these are you know inherently safe. Would do with the with the request or demand. That there should be a better and better safety testing there would be no need to make it in the hand of peace these scraps were. You know squeaky clean safe. And same center for science in the public interest I was actually at work here ten years ago -- and help them develop the policies. Days you know also. Say demand that there should be mandatory. Safety testing regime FDA -- you know that statement released square. IE you know was involved as a -- -- several of those national academies reports I know most of the -- -- -- all of them carefully. -- and through. By and large with these days is there. And this is just unequivocal I mean I can and you have to show a clip this genuinely -- the that parts the unit citations. They say that some of these crops could be harmful. And could be quite harmful. And others to be safe and I absolutely agree with that I think many of them perhaps the large majority could be quite safety. The question is if we had some harmful varieties of them. How we make sure that they don't get to the public. You know how do we make sure that those 22 particular combinations of genes and crops. That I don't get that sort of word cute and and they're aware -- me. I -- portion of world Orleans often. Been. Answer. And question. A lot of people in this series don't like for a acting. Don't like everything goes long -- the -- And always stated that the immune with the there's a simple Wednesday to meet the school -- -- -- buying the stock stop using the product. Everything our breed says the genetically modified seeds. Account for 80% record 93%. Soybeans. Do we stop using it in two weeks ago with the roots. Or -- -- And if we do. Would be like two point stop buying energy stock and stop buying the product wouldn't the prices -- That they got a great question and. And it's kind of the flip side of the coin I think -- hit hit -- had. You know that really needs to be gas. No. That the technology is not by any means essential. We've done several very careful studies reviewing scientific literature. About the productivity. Contributions of genetic engineering in the US this that we focus WS. Now where I think we -- about 40% of of these crops globally aware of the biggest. You know grower of genetically engineered crops. So we've looked yet. Its contribution to productivity in the US drought tolerance you know which is important for adaptation to climate change. And and nitrogen deficiency which sounds kind of obscure that in these folks that are you know quite familiar with the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Which has contributed. Unfortunately. It. You know -- nitrogen from our friends in the midwest. You know because they you know they want to but you know it's part of our farming practices. So these are all things that. Important to be addressed so you know let's talk about productivity. That you have to remember that cropped pants. Let's say 20/20 5030000. Genes and the genes that are added to genetic engineering the one -- two genes. Don't make crop to crop corn crop in the vast majority of its productivity its past resistance. You know protein production charge for -- that's been. Our packaging and Rory in genetic engineering just is that small and and there doesn't mean that any particular genes -- coupled genes couldn't have a big effect. But you can't. That he shouldn't start out assumptions and when you look at it closely and carefully spear that what we found is that one of the types of genes do. The one that protects crops from insects. Increases productivity. We found by about three or 4%. Overall. And others have found you know 8588%. That you know if the same time bleeding conventional breeding and others. And agricultural technologies -- in the period between when it was commercialized in the mid ninety's and. You know -- 2009. When we did this study. Other means of increasing productivity in court increased its productivity by close to 30%. So you know. -- -- -- Paula get -- for new drugs told you can lose thirty minutes. Allowed to move on our one very quick question that suits the bases are the only your. Very quickly. What do you think the the companies -- fighting this labeling from a series it would lead to higher food prices but -- labeled and everything -- these. And that's. -- well I think they're worried consumers were rejected because really there is no major value for consumers or the environment or anything else so far from the crops. So they want to keep it in the dark. And passes but clearly you know USDA for example looked at the value. For example of the box of corn flakes of the corn and it's only a one or 2%. So it. Unlikely that one that changes in productions. Suggested are going to change the cost. Of production very much at all if we if we get -- attacked the technology. Erica I get a break for use on would have loved to have you back when you have more time very complicated -- very important and we get to back label. Sure that you so much great talking to be done during Sugarman he's senior scientist with the union of concerned side. Shoot me when we come back quit asking for a double BO privilege or opinion bowl. Should there be a bit in -- -- genetically modified organism for foods sub campers and abused a saloon league yeah. We call 260. --