Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Deal of the Day - Pay What You Want for the Learn to Code Bundle, includes AngularJS, Python, HTML5, Ruby, and more. ×

Comment Re:Salmon's now on my "foods to avoid" list (Score 1) 513

"The fact that the cross-pollination takes hold, means that this could have occurred naturally, so we are just mimicking the natural process. On the other splicing the gene from one species of plant (or animal) to another, that could not otherwise occur in nature"....

Wrong. Please go back to school. GMO's are built by mimicking existing "natural" gene splicing processes, usually by mimicking the virus carrier method we observed in nature.

To manufacture a virus to insert a specific gene sequence into a specific species at a specific location is not a natural occurrence. Oh, it might use the same technique as a virus, probably why you chose the word "mimicking," but that doesn't mean it would have occurred naturally. Occurring in nature means that it could occur without human intervention.

Now, if you are saying that they found a naturally occurring virus that just happen to effect both species of fish involved and selects exactly the rich DNA sequence and transplants it into the other,well that is amazing indeed. I have no doubt that viri have played a role in evolution, but all of those viri occurred without human intervention. Put differently, if we have to manufacture the virus in question, then by definition, this could not have occurred in nature.

Comment Re: Why is /. so infested now with... (Score 1) 171

"Because /. is so full of Republicans. So full of Republicans."

Democrats used to do science too, remember. And they can once again.

Doing science and funding science are two different things. Unless they can increase their numbers in congress, it is unlikely that Democrats will be able to fund science anytime soon.

Comment Re:Salmon's now on my "foods to avoid" list (Score 1) 513

An orange grown from a orange tree that has been grafted onto the rootstock of another plant is genetically no different than an orange grown for an orange tree that has its own roots.

Irrelevant. I just want to know what I'm buying. I want to know if I'm buying an unnatural Franken-orange. Why are you supporting keeping that hidden from me?

See what I did there? You're partially right, but not entirely, about the genetics, by the way. While actual gene transfer from rootstock to scion shoot is, as far as I know, restricted to to point of tissue contact (although that does indeed happen), grafting has been shown to alter gene expression. Why or why not is that sufficient for labeling? And that's just one example of many I could use. Take bud sports for example, like Gale Gala and Autumn Gala, both naturally occurring somatic mutants of the original Gala apple. Not labeled, and even if they were, the average person has no idea what a bud sport is.

Orange trees are almost universally grafted. However, they are grafted onto -- orange roots and stems. It is my understanding that almost all oranges are hybrids because most orange trees are infertile. So, I guess you could be arguing that oranges that are grafted onto orange tree root stock should be labeled as such compared to oranges not grafted as such, but then again, the non-grafted ones don't exist, so all berries that we call oranges are grafted! However, I am not an expert on oranges, so maybe somebody else can chime in.

As for the apples, you mention. The fact that they are already differentiated as to type. Now, if they were all sold as plain Gala apples, that might be different. Then there are honey crisp apples that are relatively pricey because they are hand pollinated (or something like that). However, that information is readily available. It's not as if there are naturally occurring honey crisp apples and manipulated ones.

With the GMO salmon, however, there is no way to tell what type of salmon you are getting other than wild caught or farm raised. Obviously, the wild caught is not GMO, unless somebody starts releasing them, but the farm raised is still called salmon regardless of natural or modified. Now, if all GMO salmon were called some specific name, so there were differentiation as with apples, then it wouldn't be a problem.

We already do this with other livestock. So, what is so special about salmon to treat it differently?

Comment Re:Salmon's now on my "foods to avoid" list (Score 2) 513

I'm not categorically opposed to GMO food. However, I also know that just because we don't see a problem immediately does not mean there is a problem. There is a difference between cross-pollinating an apple to produce a different variant than to replacing specific genes. The fact that the cross-pollination takes hold, means that this could have occurred naturally, so we are just mimicking the natural process. On the other splicing the gene from one species of plant (or animal) to another, that could not otherwise occur in nature, "could" be problematic. It doesn't have to be, but without adequate research how does one know? And if adequate research has been completed and the results show it is harmless, then why not label it as such?

Of course, there will be some people who won't choose said product out of fear or ignorance. That is still their choice. However, we don't hide the contents of other products because people might object. When you go to get a vaccination, you are told what is in the vaccine. Yes there are people opposed to vaccinations, but not telling them what is in it won't change that and those who don't take the extreme anti-vaccination approach have the right to know.

If the government says we have the right to know what is in the vaccines that are injected into our arms, all the way down to the cell culture that created the vaccine, then why don't we have the right to know what or how the food we put in our mouths is made?

On a side note, the argument that the fish survive so it is okay is not a good one. First, it is to the best of our knowledge that they survive. Second, and more importantly, survival doesn't equate to no harm. Many people alive today survive even though they have some form of birth effect from some medication their mother took while pregnant -- often because we didn't know the side effects at the time. Survival, by itself, means just that, it survived, it doesn't equate to it being harmless (or harmful). There are many deformed frogs in Europe from all of the estrogen in the water. They, too, have survived and even reproduced. That doesn't mean the estrogen isn't a problem.

I am not actually arguing against GMO products. I am only questioning why the FDA would not have the products labeled? If they are afraid that the population won't accept the products and it will hurt big business, then big business should spend money to educate the public on the products. It's ironic that Monsanto has to tell the farmer that the corn they are buying is GMO and the farmer has to tell the wholesaler, but by the time it makes it to the consumer, we are told that we don't need to know.

It's not the FDAs job to protect the manufacturer. It is their job to protect the consumer. It is difficult to accept an argument that keeping the consumer in the dark about how their food is produced is beneficial to the consumer.

Comment Re:Salmon's now on my "foods to avoid" list (Score 1) 513

Just because something is labeled does not mean it is somehow worse than the non-labeled version. If I go to the store and purchase steak that is labeled hormone free or grass fed, I am not being told that the product is inferior. Granted, those aren't FDA mandated labels. But, even then, a lot of FDA mandated labeling is neutral. If I am told how many carbs or how much fiber my cereal has, it is neutral, because all other cereals have those ingredients.

It is just informational for the benefit of the consumer, so they know what they are purchasing, so they can make informed decisions about the food they eat. The same is true, or should be, with GMO products. Whether harmful or not, as a consumer, I should know where my food comes from. I'm told if I am buying fortified milk or enriched wheat. Why should I not be told if the food I am purchasing is genetically fortified or enriched?

Assuming the products are indeed safe (and I have no reason to suspect otherwise), shouldn't they be labeled like everything else and those companies wanting to produce them educate the population? After all, if they have nothing to hide with GMO, then why hide that it is GMO?

Comment Re:ObXKCD (Score 2) 90

It's all just mathematics at the end of the day.

While that is true, it also suffers from the failings of math. The hypothesis is that life is the transmission of information. Okay, then instead of asking how life began, the question becomes where did the information come from that is being transmitted?

In other words, if life is the transmission of information and there is no information to transmit, then there is no life. Since there is life, there must have been information to transmit, so where did it come from?

Comment Re:laws (Score 1) 90

If the universe recycles, the laws of nature will be the same, and will output the same universe, any idiot savant knows that information.

If what you say is true, then the universe must not recycle because according to physicists much smarter than me, the laws of nature did change from what they were at the moment the universe came into existence and what they are now (or even a few nanoseconds after it came into existence).

Comment Re:FIRST (Score 1) 90

We need to talk about your approach to information theory.

Well, if we can redefine the concept of life, from a chemical process to a mathematical process, we can surely redefine what the concept of "first" is, can we not?

Comment Re:Salmon's now on my "foods to avoid" list (Score 1) 513

That means they have something to hide, it means that they are automatically in the wrong.

And if they do label, it means there is something wrong with their product. This is a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.

Speaking of labels, I've never seen it labeled that oranges are often grafted into Poncitrus trifoliata rootstocks. Does that mean that all orange growers are also hiding something, or do I first have to start a movement convincing people that grafting causes cancer before the orange farmers must either put a scarlet letter on their fruit or become also in the wrong?

Labeling doesn't mean there is something wrong with their product. All it means is that the consumer knows what they are actually buying. As for oranges, your argument is a misdirect. An orange grown from a orange tree that has been grafted onto the rootstock of another plant is genetically no different than an orange grown for an orange tree that has its own roots. We don't eat the roots, nor is the DNA from the roots passed on to the fruit.

However, with GMO products, the same cannot be said, at least in most cases. The argument for these salmon are that everything in the GMO version comes from another salmon, so it really is "natural." Of course, they could have just crossbred those features, and probably tried, but something wasn't as good as the original salmon, so they went to engineering the features.

The problem with this approach is just because the parts are natural, doesn't mean the results are natural. Aspartame used to advertise that everything in it was found in bananas and milk. That is true. However, the human body behaves differently when eating a banana and drinking a glass of milk versus using the artificial sweetener..

Just because something is engineered from naturally occurring "parts," doesn't mean it is safe for consumption. It also doesn't mean that its not safe, either. We should just let the data speak for itself. I would assume that the FDA has reviewed the data and determined it is safe. Why, at a time when they are wanting food labels to have even more data so that consumers can be better informed, they chose to not have these salmon labeled accurately seems to be more about politics than public safety.

After all, if the United States truly believes in capitalism, shouldn't the product be accurately labeled and let the consumer decide? Isn't that how supply and demand is supposed to work?

Comment Re:Salmon's now on my "foods to avoid" list (Score 1) 513

So you aren't a big fan of science, then?

Science has made many things better for us. Food included.

One would argue that science hasn't done anything for us. Now, people have used science to make many things better for us. Of course, people have used science to make many things worse, too.

Comment Re:Salmon's now on my "foods to avoid" list (Score 0) 513

And what is so scary about GMO? Bad taste, fearmongerer, and a luddite, sheesh...

That's the point. Nobody knows what's scary about GMO. There isn't enough data. At one time, radium was used to treat all sorts of ailments. It was only stopped later, when there was data to show that it was indeed harmful. Same can be said about hormone and antibiotic laced cattle. At one time, it was said to be safe, not there is data showing otherwise.

So, where is the data regarding GMO salmon show it is safe?

Comment Re:Typical Liberal Thinking (Score 1) 109

If tax dollars are limited,

Tax dollars are indeed very limited in UK. Sometimes I wonder if you guys read further than subject line; in UK, we use Pounds for legal tender, our government is formed by the Conservative party, the Liberal Democrats are no longer in coalition government with them, and they would probably have been against these short-sighted plans to more or less abandon renewable energy and go for gas instead.

Just out of curiousity - is 'liberal' now the new 'communist' - ie. a word used as a derogatory epithet with no trace of understanding of what the word actually means?

It sounds like both sides of the Atlantic have bought into what's good for business is good for the people. What's the saying -- those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it -- or something like that? We've been down this path before and will suffer the same consequences before things normalize. But hey, at least on your side of the pond, the trains run on time!

Well, as you might have guessed, I'm from the other side of the pond and while I know that the UK uses pounds, tax pounds sounds awkward to me, so I just used generic language.

With regards to liberal being the new communist or at least socialist, well, it's been that way on this side of the pond for quite awhile. If you mention the doing something for the common good - you are a socialist. If you mention helping the poor, again, you are a socialist. If you mention helping millionaires and big business, you are a true red blooded American.

"Free markets select for winning solutions." -- Eric S. Raymond