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Documentary: The Future of Food

Old 02-05-08, 11:48 AM
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Documentary: The Future of Food

I just finished watching this somewhat stirring documentary that concerns GMO foods. Half of the movie was good, but I became highly critical of the second half of the movie.

The first half of the movie concerns the development of agriculture, and acknowledges that many of the foods we eat are the product of centuries of genetic engineering. It also doesn't take too much of a firebrand approach against GMO. It simply acknowledges errors made by the GMO industry - such as selling food containing corn that was deemed unfit for human consumption. Kudos to them for educating the consumer. It does not outright imply that the entire GMO industry is flawed, however, due to the dangers of errors made by companies that produce GMO foods. It does take a cautionary approach to GMO foods, with many common arguments stated, but none of the data presenting alternative points of view. The first is the common argument of the dangers of cross-pollination from GMO foods into the wild. This has been thoroughly debunked, however, so I found its inclusion to be highly suspect. The second argument is that of the danger presented by the lack of biodiversity. Of course the mention the Irish potato blight. The third argument is the overuse of pesticide and how many GMO crops are simply unfit for human consumption. I will have to do research on these last two points to evaluate their validity.

Overall, the first half of the documentary was apolitical and motivated at stirring the consumer to seeking knowledge and making them aware of dangers that they would not have been aware of. This is good journalism.

However, the movie takes a bad turn through the second half. In acknowledging the dangers of GMO crops, the movie romanticizes societies which practice traditional farming, citing Mexico as a prime example of a culture that has superior food quality through variation of crops, and a more natural approach to farming. There are many shots meant to inspire the viewer, showing Mexican cantinas, farmers markets, and other idealized systems of food production. However, they fail to acknowledge the problems of poor farming practices in Mexico that have led to poor use of land, starvation, and the presence of food-borne illness. This is by far the greatest misstep the movie makes with regard to reporting on GMO foods.

The question basically posed to the viewer is whether GMO crops have really improved our standard of living, the quality of our food, and the health of our nation. The first part of the movie justifiably calls into question the safety of food, but the second half of the movie is a stilted, myopic view of another culture that is typical of anthropological work, romanticizing an old, better, nostalgic way of living.

Has anyone else seen this documentary?
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Old 02-05-08, 11:50 AM
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The whole GMO scare tactic is funded behind the scenes by the same people who charge tons extra for "organic" crops.
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Old 02-05-08, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Superboy
centuries of genetic engineering


That's not genetic engineering. It's cross breeding. The two things are not the same.
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Old 02-05-08, 11:53 AM
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Mexico relying on traditional crops must come as a surprise to this guy

There are certainly issues with how biotech crops will be handled, but the organic people are nuts to think that the net effects haven't been overwhelmingly positive.
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Old 02-05-08, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Superboy
the Irish potato blight.

Here is a list of the government laws that caused the Irish potato famine.


http://www.nde.state.ne.us/SS/irish/unit_1.html

Irish Famine

PENAL LAWS

"Professor Lecky, a Protestant of British blood and ardent British sympathy, says in his History of Ireland in the 18th Century that the object of the Penal Laws was threefold:

1. To deprive the Catholics of all civil life

2. To reduce them to a condition of most extreme and brutal ignorance

3. To dissociate them from the soil

He might, with absolute justice,
substituted Irish for Catholics-and added, (4) to expirate (cause to expire) the Race.

The Irish Catholic was forbidden the exercise of his religion.

He was forbidden to receive education,

He was forbidden to enter a profession.

He was forbidden to hold public office.

He was forbidden to engage in trade or commerce.

He was forbidden to live in a corporate town or within five miles thereof.

He was forbidden to own a horse of greater value than five pounds.

He was forbidden to purchase land.

He was forbidden to lease land.

He was forbidden to accept a mortgage on land in security for a loan.

He was forbidden to vote.

He was forbidden to keep any arms for his protection.

He was forbidden to hold a life annuity.

He was forbidden to buy land from a Protestant.

He was forbidden to receive a gift of land from a Protestant.

He was forbidden to inherit land from a Protestant.

He was forbidden to inherit anything from a Protestant.

He was forbidden to rent any land that was worth more than thirty shillings a year.

He was forbidden to reap from his land any profit exceeding a third of the rent.

He could not be guardian to a child.

He could not, when dying, leave his infant children under Catholic guardianship.

He could not attend Catholic worship.

He was compelled by law to attend Protestant worship.

He could not himself educate his child.

He could not send his child to a Catholic teacher.

He could not employ a Catholic teacher to come to his child.

He could not send his child abroad to receive education.

MacManus, Seamus, Story of the Irish Race, Devin-Adair Co., Grenwich, Connecticut, 1979 p.458-459
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Old 02-05-08, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Groucho
The whole GMO scare tactic is funded behind the scenes by the same people who charge tons extra for "organic" crops.
I don't know about that. Take my wife's two young cousins. One was raised pretty much on store bought food and is almost six feet at 13 and had her period before she was 10. The other, raised almost entirely on organic foods, was almost 14 before she did and is pretty much average in size.

Genetics, I'm not so sure of since no one in her family is particularly tall and neither her mother or three aunts developed like that.

Just one case study of course, not scientific, but there might be something to it.
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Old 02-05-08, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by grundle
That's not genetic engineering. It's cross breeding. The two things are not the same.
I was using it in the strictest sense of the word. The documentary does not compare GMO to cross breeding though, it merely states that mankind has been selectively breeding crops for centuries. However, it does emphasize that the degree of control has now been exponentially raised.

This is yet another argument I disagree with. You'd think scientific progress would be measured in an increased degree of control of the expected outcome, not less.
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Old 02-05-08, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by DVD Josh
I don't know about that. Take my wife's two young cousins. One was raised pretty much on store bought food and is almost six feet at 13 and had her period before she was 10. The other, raised almost entirely on organic foods, was almost 14 before she did and is pretty much average in size.

Genetics, I'm not so sure of since no one in her family is particularly tall and neither her mother or three aunts developed like that.

Just one case study of course, not scientific, but there might be something to it.
How tall was the mailman?
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Old 02-05-08, 12:33 PM
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Next time I see one my wife's teenage relatives I'll be sure to ask when they got their period.
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Old 02-05-08, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Groucho
Next time I see one my wife's teenage relatives I'll be sure to ask when they got their period.
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Old 02-05-08, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by DVD Josh
I don't know about that. Take my wife's two young cousins. One was raised pretty much on store bought food and is almost six feet at 13 and had her period before she was 10. The other, raised almost entirely on organic foods, was almost 14 before she did and is pretty much average in size.

Genetics, I'm not so sure of since no one in her family is particularly tall and neither her mother or three aunts developed like that.

Just one case study of course, not scientific, but there might be something to it.
Studies have shown increased consumption of fatty foods by children has led to early puberty and increased growth, but also an increased risk of hearth disease and obesity.
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Old 02-05-08, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by grundle
Here is a list of the government laws that caused the Irish potato famine.
So you're saying potato blight had nothing to do with it? Fascinating.
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Old 02-05-08, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Groucho
Next time I see one my wife's teenage relatives I'll be sure to ask when they got their period.
LOL. The topic came up since my FIL loves to talk about news and my MIL hates to. So whenever my wife and I are down there, he brings up things like GMO and we have a lively discussion. The information was VOLUNTEERED, not sought (by her mother in fact, not her, I'm sure she'd be mortified if she knew)
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Old 02-05-08, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Vandelay_Inds
There was a study by Amartya Sen that showed most, if not all, modern famines were man-made, the result of misguided policies such as those cited by grundle.
<a href = "http://www.bowbrick.org.uk/Senpapers/academics_contest_amartya_sen.htm">Academics contest Amartya Sen's "facts" on famine</a>

I know "one size fits all" explanations are all the rage here, but they are usually bullshit.
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Old 02-05-08, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Superboy
Studies have shown increased consumption of fatty foods by children has led to early puberty and increased growth, but also an increased risk of hearth disease and obesity.
Our inability to produce the next generation of chimney sweeps is really going to doom this country.
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Old 02-05-08, 01:39 PM
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I eagerly await the time when the Brawndo Corporation owns all food stuffs.
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Old 02-05-08, 01:47 PM
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The 1841 census showed a population of just over eight million. Two-thirds of those depended on agriculture for their survival, but they rarely received a working wage. They had to work for their landlords in return for the patch of land they needed, in order to grow enough food for their own families. This was the system which forced Ireland and its peasantry into monoculture, as only the potato could be grown in sufficient quantity. The rights to a plot of land in Ireland could mean the difference between life and death in the early 19th century.

Records show Irish lands exported food, even during the worst years of the Famine. When Ireland experienced a famine in 1782-83, ports were closed to keep Irish-grown food in Ireland to feed the Irish. Local food prices promptly dropped. Merchants lobbied against the export ban, but government in the 1780s overrode their protests; that export ban did not happen in the 1840s.

Ireland remained a net exporter of food throughout most of the five-year famine.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_P...ine_(1845-1849)

Blight created the famine but the change of government export policy exacerbated its effect on the Irish.
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Old 02-05-08, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by wishbon3
Blight created the famine but the change of government export policy exacerbated its effect on the Irish.
Thank you.
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Old 02-05-08, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by grundle
That's not genetic engineering. It's cross breeding. The two things are not the same.
pretty much every plant we eat today is vastly different than it was 10000 years ago when agriculture first started

i forgot all the details, but apples were 1/2 to 1/3 the size they are today. and all of our varities of apples today is one example of engineering. like the Red Delicious apple thread we had a while back.

same thing with all domesticated animals none of which existed 10000 years ago.
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Old 02-05-08, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Groucho
The whole GMO scare tactic is funded behind the scenes by the same people who charge tons extra for "organic" crops.
probably since most organic food you find these days is not very different than it's non-organic versions. it's pretty much all processed. only difference is that organic foods won't have corn syrup most times, but that will probably change.

i noticed Whole Foods removed high fructose corn syrup from it's list of banned ingredients and lately they've had a lot of farmed seafood from Asia
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Old 02-05-08, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by wishbon3
the change of government export policy exacerbated its effect on the Irish.
What do you mean?
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Old 02-05-08, 04:55 PM
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if you are allowed to export potatoes, the merchants will pay higher prices and there won't be enough for local consumption
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Old 02-05-08, 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Numanoid
What do you mean?
Irish peasants subsisted on a diet consisting largely of potatoes, since a farmer could grow triple the amount of potatoes as grain on the same plot of land. A single acre of potatoes could support a family for a year. About half of Ireland's population depended on potatoes for subsistence.

Far from being a natural disaster, many Irish were convinced that the famine was a direct outgrowth of British colonial policies. In support of this contention, they noted that during the famine's worst years, many Anglo-Irish estates continued to export grain and livestock to England.
http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/his...ato_famine.cfm
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Old 02-05-08, 05:03 PM
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I hate most all these documentaries. Watch one last night about "What happens when we run out of oil?" Same old stuff. Terror, disease, lawlessness, fighting, poverty, and war.

Ever watch a show like these when where everything looks pretty good? Nope!

FUD is the expression, I believe.
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Old 02-05-08, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
I hate most all these documentaries. Watch one last night about "What happens when we run out of oil?" Same old stuff. Terror, disease, lawlessness, fighting, poverty, and war.

Ever watch a show like these when where everything looks pretty good? Nope!

FUD is the expression, I believe.
I caught part of one show that postulated what would happen if humans were no longer around, i.e. tall buildings becoming lightning rods setting cities ablaze, insect and animal populations that would swell, and so on. It kinda reminded me of 12 Monkeys.

They guessed that the dams would break and burst in ~10,000 yrs. but that Mt. Rushmore may still be standing at that time. Woohoo! USA!
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