Sunday, November 17, 2013

It's all about Organic

CUTAG of the Week:



In the recent decade we have seen a movement toward organic, antibiotic-free, and non-GMO (among other qualities) products.  Do you assent with much of the biotechnology industry, which claims altering organisms for mass production is no more harmful (and possibly better) than artificial selection and traditional agricultural methods?  What type of studies would demonstrate the benefits of GMOs?  What are some potential consequences that GMO advocates need to account concerning introducing new organisms into our environment?

72 comments:

  1. To be honest, I do not know too much about the harms of genetically modified organisms and if they contain chemicals that can harm our bodies. I am assuming the cons to such a thing are interfering with natural processes and selection, as well as potential problems with how our bodies may react to whatever chemicals are used in them that we do not know about. GMO products seem to be beneficial on a financial level, as stated in the articles that conventional crops often require more water and pesticides. GMO foods seem to be helpful in aiding populations that are malnourished or subject to unfavorable weather conditions, or have certain health issues. I have heard that pesticides can be very harmful to the human body as well, so if there is some sort of proof that GMO foods produce less or no harm at all then that would be something to consider. A study that could demonstrate the benefits of GMO’s would be case studies/analyses, because in this way we can see the how beneficial and generalizable the outcomes are. I think maybe experimental studies across different countries where GMOs are produced as well as agricultural land that does not grow their crop using genetically modified organisms. Scientists could monitor this process from the start and then make observations over time as to how this affects people healthwise and financially. This might be an expensive way to go about it though. Some potential consequences that GMO advocates needs to be aware of are sudden, new studies regarding harm that GMO’s cause and they could also be labeled as people who do not want to better the health and lives of people in less fortunate areas. Not using GMO’s could create more disparities while they could be helping.

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  2. I would agrees that GMOs are not harmful and a way to produce food more efficiently and at a lower cost to consumers. However, there is not a lot of evidence about the effects of GMOs on health. A long term longitudinal study would help identify the effects of GMOs on health over a lifetime. . I know with my work at the MA State House that there are several lobby groups related to this issue that would like to see labeling, but labeling would in fact create more confuseion among consumers and only foster more misconceptions about GMOs. As long as GMOs are produced with health in mind, I don’tsee the need to label GMOs.

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  3. Like Rachel, I am not well-versed in the effects of GMO products. However, judging from the article, it does not seem like altering these organisms will cause major harm. The AAAS, WHO, and EU all agree that using GMOs is as safe as any other method of food production. That leads me to believe that there has not been sufficient scientific evidence to prove the harmful effects of using GMOs. To that extent, I would have to assent with the biotechnology industry, that GMOs are no more harmful than traditional agricultural methods.

    All these food production techniques lead to better products and higher yields. To me, that is a great thing. It is true that some people are worried about GMOs, but that should be less concerning than the food products we already consume. A lot of what we eat is processed food, and that is perhaps MUCH more harmful than these GMOs alone. Processed foods usually provide us with empty calories only, while GMO containing products could actually address our nutritional needs. Therefore, to me, the problem that should concern us most is not how to reduce the amount of GMOs in our diets, but rather, how to eliminate processed foods from our diets. The general public probably does not understand this concept, so labeling foods that have GMOs will only cause more confusion.

    In my opinion, GMOs actually seem to be more beneficial than harmful. Of course, that is not certain from the scope of scientific results we have at our current disposal. To study this further, we should conduct more cohort studies to study cause and association between GMOs and human health. These cohort studies could group individuals who have GMOs in their diets, and those who do not have GMOs in their diets. These studies could then identify whether one group is more prone to diseases than the other. This will help us determine whether GMOs are beneficial, harmful, or have no effect.

    Addressing human health is important, but we should not lose sight of environmental health. By introducing organisms into our world, we are inadvertently altering the “course of nature.” This, in itself, will have impacts on the world we live on. Therefore, it is important for researchers and scientists to consider the pros and cons of every action they take. With every technological advancement comes a potential harm. We are venturing into the unknown, so we have no idea what effects these GMOs will produce. If we develop a harmful organism that cannot be controlled, we will have a disastrous problem at hand. For all we know, this may put our entire food supply at risk. Therefore, while GMOs can potentially address nutritional deficiencies, we must keep in mind the potential risks of altering food products drastically. We have to be mindful of our actions, and must weigh all costs and benefits. With the issue of GMOs, a utilitarian approach would be beneficial: we should be bringing the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people.

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  4. LIke Helen and Rachel, I honestly do not know much about GMOs. I have never really given them much thought, and all though my family does try to buy organic foods, we have never discussed GMOs. I feel that if it is proven that there is no harm to using GMOs and they produce cheaper food, I don't see the bad in using them. If it is shown that over time, GMOs can cause harm to health, then I think we would need to step back and take a look at them and how the bad outweighs the good.
    From this article alone, it somewhat seemed (to me at least) that the bad does in fact outweigh the good, especially in areas like the Vitamin A deficiency they talked about. I think labeling food without making sure people had a proper knowledge of what exactly a GMO is would cause a lot of stress and confusion. Many people have no idea what exactly a GMO is, I for one was confused about it. Adding labels to foods may cause fear and confusion about what the person may be buying.
    I think more studies should be done on GMOs and the effect they may have on people before we go ahead and start labeling everything.

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  5. As others have stated previously, my background knowledge and research in GMOs is not extensive enough for me to make absolute comments on whether I think GMOs are harmful or beneficial to people. However, based on the article, and the existence of GMOs for so many years, I believe that GMOs are not more harmful than food grown by artificial selection and traditional methods. If well-established and reliable organizations such as WHO, the EU, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have agreed that GMOs are as safe as other foods, I would trust their statement. Like the article stated, people have been manipulating food for years before GMOs using artificial selection, and GMOs is simply another way this is done. Of course there are positive and negative factors with GMOs; for example food can be modified to contain vitamins that people are usually deficient in (like vitamin A, as stated in the article), but with genetic modifications we can never be sure of all the consequences associated with the modification (some consequences may show up years later).
    Epidemiological studies would be useful to demonstrate the benefits of GMOs. Perhaps following a population that primarily ate GMOs and comparing them against those who ate primarily organic foods would show the benefits (or harm) of GMOs. Studies involving controlling diets for a long period of time and following the effects over an extended period are of course difficult and likely expensive, but they would show the consequences of GMOs. GMO advocates would need to keep in mind the ecological impacts of introducing new organisms into the environment. The environment is in a delicate balance, and suddenly introducing a new species or organisms into the environment can upset this balance. For example, the modified organism could extract nutrients from the soil better than another species, endangering the survival of that species. These are consequences that must be taken into account when introducing a new organism into the environment.

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  6. Elisabeth BellissimoNovember 18, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    Similar to the previous posters, I did not know much about GMO's before reading this article, and have never really noticed labeling or taken it into account when buying food. I don't think that I necessarily agree wholeheartedly with genetically modifying organisms in order to make food last longer because the long-term effects of GMO remain to be seen. There is too much controversy surrounding the topic of GMO's for me to make a sound decision on whether I am an advocate or not. I do understand the cost benefits of making food last longer on the shelves, and that is extremely beneficial to most families in the world. However, I think that more studies need to be conducted that study the long term effects of GMO's on health. Relating back to the topic of nutrigenomics, it is important to explore how GMO's affect the genome and, in turn, cause (or do not cause) certain health problems. In regards to labeling GMO foods, I don't think it is necessary unless they are proven to cause harm. In general, most people choose not to buy GMO foods for reasons that have not been proven, so I think that labeling for GMO's will just confuse the public more and cause issues for food suppliers. But, like I said, if it ever becomes proven that GMO's have adverse effects on people, they definitely need to be labelled.

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  7. The term "GMO" does not sound like it would be healthy, but this article sets out to make it sound like it is fine. The fact that it uses less water and pesticides than conventional crops is interesting, and the decrease in price is obviously attractive. However, the industry is toying with nature, which makes me suspicious of their product. A study showing the long-term effects of ingesting GMOs would be beneficial. It would either make me feel better about buying GMOs or let me know to stay away. At this point, a slightly more expensive but conventional item seems better to me than a GMO. If, in the long run, GMOs cause some sort of disease, that will end up costing a lot more money. I like the idea of labeling because people deserve to know what they are putting into their bodies, even if it does not directly cause harm. Before consuming GMOs, I think it is important for people to think about what they are (biologically) supposed to consume and digest. GMOs do not fit into that category.

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  8. I agree with the biotechnology industry. GMO’s are a more precise method for obtaining the results wanted with artificial selection and agricultural methods. The potential benefits for GMO’s definitely outweigh the costs. GMO can provide more nutritional food and make food more abundant. One harmful effect from GMO’s would be that the parasites and bacteria could mutate and destroy the crops because there is no genetic variability. However, this will most likely not happen for many years. Prospective cohort studies would be the best to study the effects of GMO food. Not much research has been conducted and many of the long-term effects could take years to occur.

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  9. I never considered the pro GMO arguments before reading this. I have also been pro organic naturally grown foods and assumed the only valid argument against this would be that organic is more expensive. To this I would reply that it is more important to be concerned of the quality and the price can be adjusted and managed if need be. After reading this I am certainly interested and on the surface I would say I am all for produce like the gold rice that has intact more tailored health benefits for people in the end. However, I still believe there is something to be said about eating natural foods that are not touched by any type of chemical enhancement. There's a reason why now a days people have more health issues then back in the day when the modified foods weren't available. I certainly now see a different side of GMO foods and feel what was stated in this article is 100% positive and one really can't argue with it; foods that help save child blindness is pretty convincing data. However, I would need to see a long term pilot study which implemented the foods in a community with a control and tested the overall health benefits, like wight, eyesight, heart health, BMI,,,etc, over a significant time period. This would see if when implemented the hypothesizes of GMO having benefits were intact valid and it would address any issues that could potentially arise over time. It could be discovered that the GMO foods are good to begin with but may have chronic longterm negative health effects. Therefore, before I am convinced I would need to see copious studies that offer significant p values to back up these wide claims.

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  10. “Labels for GMO Foods Are a Bad Idea” mostly presents one side to the issue surrounding GMO labels. With no previous knowledge, and after a quick read through of the article, my opinion is influenced to believe that altering organisms is no more harmful than artificial selection and traditional agricultural methods. The evidence seems overwhelming.

    For example, a test of whether genetically modified organisms are toxic or allergenic by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had negative results. Likewise, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the World Health Organization, and the European Union all found GMOs to be safe. Even somewhat shocking, is that 70 percent of processed food within the United States contain genetically modified ingredients. This idea of using genetics with food is not new - for years we have been breeding selectively; so the argument stands that altering organisms is not harmful to us.

    Although we do have this evidence, I believe that further studies are warranted to determine if there are any unknown potential consequences of the use of GMOs. A long-term prospective epidemiological study could be useful. It seems we know of the consequences at hand in the short-term, but for long term (such as the consumption of GMOs for 20 or so years) not much is known. Unfortunately this would be costly and take considerable time, with answers not being understood until a later date.

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  11. There seem to be legitimate concerns on both sides of the GMO argument. When introducing a new organism to the environment, there are lots of concerns one can have. How will that new organism interact with it's environment? Will it thrive? Can it disrupt development of other plant life? These are questions that need to be taken into consideration. Also, who knows what years and years of ingestion of GMO foods can do to a human being? It's a relatively new type of technology, and for those advocating it to shoot down concerns that are raised seems pretentious. Who knows how these things will mingle in your body after years and years of consumption. The FDA has been wrong before as well, what's to say they got this right? So an FDA approval isn't going to do it for me. Short-term studies won't cut it either, because it seems like this will be something that will affect people for years.

    On the other hand, this has the potential to be a breakthrough instrument for combating world hunger and disease. There are many avenues where this technology can fix serious issues, given that it's safe to consume as normal food. I think long terms studies need to be taken until the effects can be truly seen. Until then, I'm ok with the criticisms of GMO's and the concerns that are raised.

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  12. The people advocating GMOs are usually people who are paid spokesman to say these things. I believe that anything that has been messed with by man is usually less valuable nutritionally than it is in it's original state (i.e. High fructose corn syrup). Traditional agricultural methods may produce a surprise crop but that is the beauty of nature, you play around with it until you get it right. The idea of naturally selecting these crops is similar to how humans outlived the neanderthals (like in the movie family tree). Nature will play it's role and choose the best qualities for the plants as well. Once we start bringing in genetic tools to modify our crops in cheap ways, we produce plants that aren't really what we think they are.
    Clearly the studies that are funded by foundations that are apart of producing GMOs will demonstrate the benefits of GMOs and leave out all the negative aspects of it. But theres got to be something wrong with GMOs since the entire E.U. has gotten rid of them on the super market shelves and they seem to be doing great. I think the companies who generate the GMOs are trying to hold onto business for as long as possible and they will come up with any study possible to maintain their customer base. However, I think people need to use their right to knowledge and make informed decisions for themselves by taking the initiative.

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  13. Genetically modified foods do not pose a significant danger to us or the environment. The few examples where GMO's have caused environmental damage are drastically overplayed when compared to the benefits the of genetically modified food. In a sense, GMO's are not very different from artificial selection; one is acting on the genetic level while the other is acting on the phenotypic level. To test the effects of GMO's on humans, a cohort study could follow people and record which, if any, genetically modified organisms people consume and the quantity that they consume. The study could then look for trends in health outcomes. It is important for GMO advocates to have a proficient understanding of the ecosystem that they are planting their crops in and the genetics of the crops that they are planting. This will ensure the lowest possibility of a GMO negatively altering the environment.

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  14. While our society has been making strides in the direction of removing antibiotics from our livestock and pesticides from our crops, I do not personally agree with all of the animosity shown towards genetically modified organisms in relation to their inclusion in our agricultural arsenal. Granted that here in the United States we may not need to grow rice that has 100 times the natural amount of vitamin A per serving, but in many developing nations where vitamin A is hard to come by it is important to find new ways in which we can provide a balanced diet for all people. Genetically modifying an organism for a specific purpose is simply a more effective method of artificial selection and by choosing not to use these methods we in the first world are effectively sending a message to those in need that we do not care about their struggle to provide adequate nutrition to their families. Observational studies of childhood malnutrition and rates of blindness among children in Asia after the introduction of GMO crops into their diets would best demonstrate the benefits of GMOs. GMO advocates should be prepared to have to disclose the specific modifications that are being made to plants and animals to local governments and other organizations in order to keep their products on the market.

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  15. I am a supporter of genetically modified foods and don’t believe that they are as harmful as some people claim. There are so many advantages to GMO’s, as seen in the article about the “golden rice,” which is genetically modified to include vitamin A precursors to help solve the problem of illness as a result of vitamin deficiency. GMO’s have helped to lower costs of food and increase production, therefore allowing lower income people to have better access to nutritious foods. However, there are criticisms of GMO’s that need to be addressed. One of the major concerns is that introducing a gene into a plan can create a new allergen or some kind of harmful effect if for example, an antibiotic resistance gene were to be transferred. One of the strongest ways to address these issues would be to conduct a longitudinal study where we can monitor the health of individuals who are eating GMO’s and determine if they have had any illness. We can also utilize a case study to compare individuals eating GMO’s to those who have only eaten organic food, and compare their overall health.

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  16. I believe when it comes to GMO's many people fall prey to the "naturalistic fallacy". That is, whatever is "natural" is also "good for you". It is used in a variety of situations, from marijuana as a natural herb, to organic foods as a "healthier" alternative.
    For me, the problems with GMO's isn't because of the food itself, but the process in creating them. Pesticides and fertilizers are still used in mass quantities to help grow food, resulting in excess nitrogen and phosphorus. If there are better agricultural methods with GMO's I would be all for it.
    As far as I can tell the benefits of GMO's far outweigh the cons. The added nutritional value, easiness of growing crops, and lowering of food prices is extremely beneficial and what the United States desperately needs, especially with the growing obesity epidemic.
    The general public perceives the current deficit of proper nutrition due to "non-organic" foods. It has turned GMO's into the scapegoat, when the true culprit of today's ailments stems from poor education and proper nutrition, both of which require more funding. If GMOs succeed, they could revolutionary the food industry as we know it, and subsequently heal the United States with it.

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  17. I believe that genetically modified foods have attained a bad reputation in the last few years, especially with the growing popularity of 'organic' products. It has become the latest trend to steer clear of produce from normal supermarkets; if they can afford it, people usually want to buy the 100% organic fruits and veggies, without any sort of chemical modification. This makes sense from a consumer perspective, that the best product for good health would be free of artificial or modified additives. But this isn't always the case, which is evident, as Kayla said, with the golden rice mentioned in the article. It contains an adequate daily supplement of vitamin A, which would boost the diet of many vitamin-deficient consumers.

    I trust the judgement of our country's health commissions and administrations to approve what's safe to eat. If the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the World Health Organization, and the European Union have all agreed that GMOs are just as safe as other foods, and it increases farmers' yields, then I do not see a disadvantage for consuming such products. Financially, it makes more sense to buy and eat GMOs compared to '100% organic' products, which often are double the cost.

    There should be a longitudinal cohort study which examines the association between health and GMO consumption. Researchers could follow a control group and a group eating GMOs, to observe whether their health decreases over time. It could be difficult to isolate the confounding variables and strictly attribute a decline in health to the GMOs, but it's an idea to test the hypothesis.

    Scientists definitely need to consider exposure of new organisms to the environment when thinking about drug resistant bacteria, and the human immune system. It takes time for humans to adapt to new organisms, so the introduction of foreign substances should be done progressively.

    Overall, I don't think putting labels on foods would cause the GMO business to suffer; in fact, if people have enough knowledge about each product, they should be able to make an independent informed decision about what to consume based on their own health and comfort level with these foods, without the influence of the industry by means of a warning label.

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  18. Just as many others have admitted, I do not have much experience or knowledge revolving around genetically modified foods. Obviously, this article is a little biased and so it is difficult to agree with the biotechnologists without hearing the opposing argument. As stated in the article, there are a lot of health advantages to GMOs. For example, the genetically modified “golden rice” contains vitamin A precursors that will prevent illness due to vitamin deficiency. In addition, GMOs have increased social surplus by enabling farmers to produce more and therefore, sell more. Because of the increase in production, consumers are able to demand a lower price, and thus, household food costs are reduced.

    Despite these benefits, GMOs have faced scrutiny by anti-GMO groups. It’s important to directly address the concerns of these groups, which include the potential adverse health effects of consuming GMOs over an extended period of time. The most effective way to address this particular issue is to conduct a longitudinal study that evaluates the association between health and GMO consumption. The study should follow two distinct groups, one exposed to GMOs and one not exposed to GMOs (control). If confounding factors are accounted for, the study should reveal if GMOs are linked to any adverse health effects over time.

    Ultimately, I would like to see some further research done pertaining to the effects of GMOs. I cannot make a decision regarding whether or not GMOs should be used in the food industry; however, I don’t think labels should be placed on products until more studies can conclude that GMOs are harmful. As of right now, there is no need to cause hysteria among the population by introducing labels.

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  19. I have never thought too much about this topic, but i have always assumed that there has to be something about GMOs in food must cause harm to our bodies which is why there is so much backlash against them. I buy both organic, and foods containing GMOs but I always thought that though the organic, GMO-free food is more expensive, the quality outweighs this expense when it comes to some products. After reading this article, I would definitely want to do more research on the effect that GMOs and products made with antibiotics have on our body before I finitely pick a side of the pro- against GMO argument I am on.

    There are a lot more factors that go into this argument than I have considered. Like if it is so much more expensive to grow GMO free crops, what will this mean for people that can't afford these products. I think that it would be important to study European families and how much they spend on food (since their products are GMO free) and whether or not this change in crop style can make its way into America. There are surely benefits to adding certain things to our food, along the lines of adding vitamin A to a cereal mentioned in this article, so we have to weigh the benefits with the harms. However, I think we have to research more about the harms of modifying our food before we can make these comparisons. Also, Modifying our crops allows for a much higher volume of food to be produced. If we didn't use GMOs and other things in our food, we would have to alter the whole system of producing food in our country.

    As of now, I definitely think there should be more of a push for putting clearer labels on all foods in the markets because I think that people have the right to know what is contained in the ingredients and food that they are buying.

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  20. The research invested into studying and producing GMO’s has increased over the past decades due to the fast growing pace of our world and our dietary demands. The statement that organisms in mass production is no more harmful (and possibly better) than artificial selection and traditional agricultural methods is a wavering claim because not all of the facts and information are present for the consumer to make an informed decision. The effects of GMO’s have not been studied extensively because they are relatively new to the agricultural industry. As a result, we won’t be able to see or research the long-term effects until another half-century. There is no sure answer to the effects of GMO’s until we produce a longitudinal prospective cohort study in order to track the effects and follow these people that were exposed to these GMO’s. When introducing new organisms into our body and environment, we must take into consideration if we are harming them. The effects of mass production can have severe repercussions to the overall environment by depleting nutrients and sources. Mass production can also affect our bodies by producing artificial nutrients that our body cannot recognize, thus leading to mutations. We must carefully approach this topic and study with caution due to it’s sensitive nature and the unlimited possibilities and outcomes it can produce.

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  21. I think GMOs have gained a bad reputation over the years as going "all-organic" has become the new trend. I definitely can see how it seems that the all-natural label would be healthier. This isn't always the case. The article talks about how adding Vitamin A to rice eliminated the Vitamin A deficiency problem. Vitamin D is also always added to milk to eliminate Vitamin D deficiencies. I am a supporter of adding in vitamins and minerals when there is no other source and it is a simple fix to a large problem.

    Like many other students have said before, I do not know much about GMOs. And to be honest, I don't think anyone really does. I think that a longitudinal study is necessary to determine the exact long-term effects of the GMOs.

    I think labeling foods if they are GMOs would just confuse the public and make everyone worried about something that they don't need to be worried about. As someone stated above, if the WHO and EU have approved GMO consumption, we should trust that those organizations believe that they are safe to eat.

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  22. I would agrees that GMOs are most likely not harmful. They are a way to produce food food more efficiently and at a lower cost to us. Since there is not a lot of evidence about the effects of GMOs on human health, there should be more research done to help identify the effects of GMOs on health over a lifetime, so that consumers could have a better idea to what they are taking into their bodies.

    I don't think that labeling the foods as GMOs would be necessary if they are not harmful. It could just be confusing to the unaware consumer.

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  23. Evidence based information has shown that GMOs are not harmful, but rather are actually more efficient to produce, cheaper, and can have positive health outcomes by incorporating vitamins and other nutrients. Labeling of foods containing GMOs is an unfounded tactic to create hysteria and fear among the American public of these "unnatural" products. In order to really prove to those that are skeptical, there needs to be more longitudinal research into the long-term effects and possible health benefits of GMOs. Without a solid evidence base of the effects of GMOs, the anti-GMO movement will continue to gain speed and prevent the development of this technology and the introduction of these foods in many countries that could benefit from them.

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  24. I agree with the biotechnology industry that altering organisms for mass production is no more harmful (and potentially better) than artificial selection and traditional agricultural methods. In a world with advancing technology, it only seems natural for such progressions of technology in the food industry to occur. I can understand why some people are uncomfortable with labels of GMOs or eating modified foods and may push for labels on GMO products.

    However, many mainstream foods are already processed today (such as chips). Although this is a different method than technology in GMOs, there are not strict labels for other types of food processing and there should be extensive research on the consequences of GMOs before enforcing this. Epidemiological longitudinal studies comparing two groups (those exposed to GMOs and a control that is not) could show potential health benefits and risks. For example, the studies may look at how the nutritional content in GMOs compared to nutritional content in other food may change a person's health.

    Potential consequences that GMO advocates should be aware of are how these environmental changes can affect our health. Different exposures could lead to risk factors for different health conditions, such as with allergies or changing our body's physiology. However, there would need to be more research done to understand the consequences of GMOs before putting strict labels on products.

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  25. I agree with genetically modifying some foods. The example the article cited that increased food yield in India in order to decrease malnutrition is a benefit of GMOs that would unlikely be possible otherwise. As long as GMOs do not cause unnecessary harms and health consequences while significantly adding to society, I see no reason to discontinue their use. For this reason antibiotics should not be used. Other sources to modify organisms would need to be utilized.
    If labeling GMOs is to be implemented, it would need to be fully adopted by the food industry with clear, non-misleading messages. Consumer worry and confusion would not increase if it was a universal labeling was instituted. From this they would see that the majority of foods we consume have some component of genetic modification.
    Many organizations exist that wish to suppress the use of GMOs, but their benefit to increase production and ameliorate food insecurity is crucial. As long as the means to modification are well-tested to not cause significant harm then their use should not be stopped. Thorough longitudinal cohort studies would need to be instituted to understand the potential for genetic modifications and adverse health effects in humans with consumption of GMOs. More research needs to be done to ensure that GMOs are safe to consume and beneficial to society as a whole, but as of right now I see no reason why their use should be discontinued.

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  26. Do you assent with much of the biotechnology industry, which claims altering organisms for mass production is no more harmful (and possibly better) than artificial selection and traditional agricultural methods?

    I am extremely torn from everything we have learned about GMOs. On the one hand, I don't necessary oppose the idea of consuming foods with an altered genome on principle, but because the evidence is so inconclusive, I don't understand whether or not I should believe that GMOs cause many of the chronic diseases that exist today. I believe that making foods easier to produce and cheaper and more accessible is important, especially in third world countries, but I also believe that GMOs should only be engineered in ways that can positively impact health, meaning I would be against an alteration that increased taste but that removed any type of nutrient from the food.

    What type of studies would demonstrate the benefits of GMOs?

    Studies that prove that GMOs cannot cause chronic diseases, allergies, etc. would solidify the benefits of GMOs. However, if those studies were to find the opposite and actually conclude that GMOs are, indeed, harmful, I believe that GMOs should be removed from the US market as they have been in Europe, despite the economic stain this would cause.

    What are some potential consequences that GMO advocates need to account concerning introducing new organisms into our environment?

    GMO advocates need to acknowledge that completely independently from GMOs impacts on health, GMOs can harm the environment and the ecosystem. For example, introducing a crop into the environment that has the ability to kill any insect that tries to feed on it (such as the corn in the in-class movie shown on Thursday) can severely harm the insect population in the surrounding area. This eliminates a key part of the food chain and can have plenty of unintended and unpredictable consequences.

    Shanika Gilmour

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  27. I have a conflicted opinion about the implementation of genetically modified foods in the consumer market. On one hand, I understand the reasoning behind eat "all natural" or organic. It makes sense that you would want to consume only those foods that naturally occur in the environment without any added hormones, chemical, etc which technically should not be present in what we eat. On the other hand, I can see and understand the benefits of why foods are being genetically modified. Golden rice is a strong example of the benefits of using genetically modified foods. Especially in countries where people have certain vitamin or nutrient deficiencies, genetically modifying something like rice, a common staple food, is a great way to ensure that those people are receiving the most nutritious foods.

    However, I do not believe all of our foods should be genetically modified until a long term study that analyzes the impact of GMO foods on the health of humans, and even the environment, has been conducted and proved that GMOs are indeed safe or unsafe. Even though the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the World Health Organization, and the European Union have all stated that GMOs are safe, there is a reason why "it is virtually impossible to find GMOs in European supermarkets" and also a reason why Americans are in general more sick than their Western counterparts (as we learned about in the documentary in class today). I think consumers should be cautious about what they are consuming, especially when long term effects of GMO foods are still unknown, as they have only been around for a few decades.

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  28. Our class today was very insightful in uncovering the complexity underneath the GMO debate. Personally, I tend towards the optimistic side of GMO, that in the future, it has the benefit of significantly reducing global hunger, utilizing the elements of our environment more efficiently, and increasing the nutrition of existing foods. I have no doubt, however, that the technology is nowhere near perfected, and has the potential to cause harm to many different systems of our environment. The solution, though, is not to completely dismiss the possibility of GMOs ever working well. I found the documentary today to be overtly biased, and at times unscientific and unfounded, but underneath what I felt to be a conspiracy theorist perspective, I can understand where they are coming from.

    Any study that involves humans should, in theory, last for many decades to completely understand the risks involved. This is nearly impossible to do perfectly. I propose that the benefits and costs of GMO be objectively and neutrally weighed against each other (I am not sure how to go about doing this). If the benefits outweigh the costs, than we should proceed in creating and distributing GMOs, while subjecting them to more rigorous testing. In the future, we need to be proactive in understanding the effects of consuming GMOs, but we also need to be clear about the consequences that are truly attributable to GMO.

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  29. I think in theory GMOs sound like a perfect solution to hunger problems and every day issues that people experience with food going bad. However, I do not think that this theory is reflected in real life. There has not been enough scientific proof that GMOs will not later cause issues in humans who consume them. In fact, based on the documentary we watched in class, it seems that there has been valid proof against GMOs. I think there needs to be much more studies down about the potential harms of GMO before they are widely used, or at least, as the article stated, warnings of potential harm.

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  30. Genetically modified foods for mass production is not better than artificial selection and traditional agricultural methods. Having labels for GMO foods is not a bad idea. People have the right to know what they are buying at supermarkets so that they can decide whether they want foods that are altered or not. After watching the video in class, I am very concerned about the foods I have eaten in the past, especially those big, shiny apples and corns. I don’t want to eat something with pesticides that make bugs’ stomach bleed when they eat it. What will happen to humans if they eat those chemicals? Some potential consequences that GMO advocates need to consider are that people who eat GMO foods can create chronic diseases that might not be treatable. Also, these GM foods can mutate a person’s gene, which then can be passed on to their offspring and to future generations.

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  31. Until more research is done on GMOs, it would be difficult to conclude whether or not they are harmful or beneficial. These studies would have to show that GMOs do not lead to negative health effects and that they have positive impacts overall on health and the economy when compared to non-GMOs. Before new organisms are introduced into our environment, it is important for GMO advocates to really try to get the best information possible about whether or not there are any potential harms or consequences such as it’s long and short term health effects, negative environmental impacts, and confirm that GMO benefits outweigh the risks.

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  32. I disagree with the biotechnology industry, mainly because of the video we watched in class today. I didn’t understand how harmful pesticides and added chemicals are and now I am completely against them. The only time I can think of a GMO being beneficial is to keep something alive just to produce more; for instance- improving life of plants in order for them to keep growing, making more seeds, and producing more plants. The same goes for animals. However, even in that scenario, the new plants and animals will also be contaminated with the pesticide. Like the insect seen in the video today, when its stomach burst after chewing on a piece of corn, how do we know what won’t happen to us? It already is, through GI disorders and ulcers, but not as extreme. But who is to say that won’t happen eventually? I think it is an issue of a slippery slope and things will get less organic every single day and soon something equivalent to our stomachs bursting will happen.

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  33. Of course there are both negative and positive implications of GMOs but the article dismisses the negative aspects because they believe the good out weighs the bad. However, I disagree with this because like we mentioned in class, although there may be direct benefits from GMOs, we do not know the long term affects. The article seems bias because they do not address the negative affects of GMOs. These include possible longterm diseases in the GI tract and super organisms such as super weeds.

    Some experiments that can determine the benefits or risks of consuming GMOs can include a retrospective study showing diseases that were or were not developed in people eating GMOs. Or, scientists can use a cohort study to show on average the health in individuals that consume GMOs on a regular basis and compare them to people that do not.

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  34. In the recent decade we have seen a movement toward organic, antibiotic-free, and non-GMO (among other qualities) products. Do you assent with much of the biotechnology industry, which claims altering organisms for mass production is no more harmful (and possibly better) than artificial selection and traditional agricultural methods? What type of studies would demonstrate the benefits of GMOs? What are some potential consequences that GMO advocates need to account concerning introducing new organisms into our environment?

    I think that although there are certainly some positive aspects to GMOs, we do not ultimately know enough about the long term effects and possible current effects that are though to have a different cause. The information other companies such as Green Peace offer shows that there are potential very dangerous aspects to the way we are growing our food. The increased number of GI tract diseases and wheat allergies raises a red flag for me in terms of this food. If companies are so afraid to tell consumers what is in their food that they will take the GMOs out before putting labels on their food, then I believe there is something to be concerned about. I think a lot of additional research should be done on GMOs and then food companies should find a way to educate consumers in a way that they can understand without scare tactics.

    I agree with Theresa, that a retrospective study could be beneficial for additional research on this topic.

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  35. I don't think the concept GOMOs is as black and white as the articles we have read make it out to be. As with most decisions that are not no-brainers, we have to weigh the pros and the cons. I think it is a huge benefit to be providing food that is modified to give consumers more nutrition and promote better health. However, there is the issue that was discussed in class about resistance that comes as a result of genetic modification. As with MRSA and other resistant organisms our intervention makes them more prevalent and threatening. This comes from resistant weeds and other things. In addition, there are chemicals produced by these genetically modified plants designed to kill predators that could be an issue for humans. There should be studies to examine the effects of these chemicals in the human digestive system that examine any ill effects that can come as a result of GMOs. Another thing to keep in mind that was also discussed in class is that a lot of the nations suffering from lack of food are suffering because of poor legislation and distribution, not an inability to obtain food. There are reasons why GMOs are being debated both for and against, and we need to examine both arguments.

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  36. I know earlier this week I posted about how I didn’t know much about the potential harms for GMO’s. Well, after watching the documentaries that we did in class on Thursday I understood what the potential effects could be. I think the theory that chronic diseases could be attributed to genetically modified foods is very plausible. There definitely should be labels on genetically modified foods. People also need to know that the long-term effects of consuming these foods have not been identified yet, and that there could be significant long-term negative consequences. Even though GMO advocates say that it is very beneficial especially for communities that are impoverished or do not live in proper weather conditions for farming; however, these foods could actually be worsening the health of these people. No one knows for sure what kind of effects these foods have on our digestive system once it is broken down. GMO advocates need to be more careful to identify and research potential consequences of introducing new organisms to the environment because chemical reactions that pose harm to the environment and humans could occur. This shouldn’t be ignored.

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  37. It seems to me like this article is overwhelmingly in favor of GMOs and only lists the pros of the argument. I think that more research needs to be done on the long-term effects of GMOs not only on humans but also on the environment as a whole. As others above me have already stated, I think putting labels on foods from GMOs are important so that people can know exactly what they are putting into their bodies. I also think that although GMOs may not be any different scientifically than artificial selection and other similar processes, I do think that the effects of GMOs in our diets are much more pervasive and can effect us more personally that other similar scientific techniques. Therefore, more research is needed on the negative long-term effects of GMOs and labeling should be made mandatory on foods.

    Studies that can show the positive effects of GMOs would be to compare the overall health and wellness of someone on a GMO diet and someone who isn't and to see the differences.

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  38. Like many, I also do not know the harms of genetically modified organisms or even heard of it as much. However, I have read somewhere in the past where certain genetically modified food have been modified to include certain vitamins to benefit our diet. As a result, we are living healthier, stronger, and growing faster. Although I am unsure if these two are considered the same thing, I still believe that there needs to be more research on GMOs. Therefore I am leaning towards the biotechnology industry, which claims altering organisms for mass production is no more harmful and possibly better than traditional agricultural methods. Studies that focus on the actual harms and benefits could definitely help us understand GMOs. I’m not completely for or against GMOs, but I also do support the people in the article that are pushing for GMO labels. I don’t think it would hurt to put GMO labels in the market. Despite the potential consequences of new diseases being introduced through possible consumption of GMOs, I still believe that with more research and advances in science will make GMOs much better.

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  39. I read this article in the beginning of the week, somewhat unsure about GMOs and how I felt about them. So I decided to think about it some more and wait to respond. After our class yesterday I feel that I have a better understanding of GMOs but I can see both the benefits and the harms in them. I see the more optimistic view of GMOs and the fact that they can reduce global hunger, increase nutritional value, and more effectively use resources in our environment. However, although these direct benefits seem reasonable, I do not think these benefits outweigh the possibility for harm. The problem with GMOs is that as of now we do not fully understand their effect. There is more research and testing that must be done to determine whether they are truly harmful to people or not. Studies have shown that GMOs possibly cause longterm GI tract disease and can lead to the creation of “superweeds”. This article does not mention these negative aspects because they focus on the positive outcomes of GMOs and they believe the benefits outweigh the risks. I do not believe that GMOs should be banished, but however I do believe there needs to be a proper label visible on the product. In recent years there has been a large movement to use organic foods here in the US in an attempt to eat healthier and have better lifestyles. All foods that are organic have a label on them that says organic or they are found in an organic grocery store or in a certain section of a grocery store. I think that the only way to solve the debate of GMOs is to label every item that is genetically manufactured, notifying individuals that they are purchasing an item that could potentially be harmful to their health. In the future, once more research has been conducted and more is known about the benefits and risks of GMOs, we can determine whether these products should be removed from production or not.

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  40. GMOs are clearly a highly debated topic. I believe that if enough scientific testing is done, then GMOs will be a big help all around the world in the future. For example, the genetically modified rice that is fortified with vitamin A is helping to diminish childhood blindness in less fortunate countries. This is an excellent example of how GMOs are positive.

    In terms of studies, I think multiple prospective cohort studies would really showcase the positives/negative of GMOs. While it is speculated that GMOs are mostly very healthy, GMO advocates need to account for potential health complications as time goes on. While there may not be any immediate health problems, some could arise as members of the cohort grow older.

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  41. The biggest issue with GMOs is that there has not been enough studies on them to fully determine whether they are actually not harmful. There have not been any studies done that show longterm effects of GMOs on humans. For all we know they could cause some very serious diseases later in life. The price decrease is obviously enticing for individuals trying to save money on food but we just do not simply know enough about GMOs to say they are not harmful. To me, I think that spending a little extra money on a product that I know will not affect my health seems to make more sense. Like Nicole said, in the long run, even though GMOs may be cheaper now, they could end up costing us more money because of the diseases they could bring to us. I think that people should consider the potentially dangerous effects of GMOs before blindly consuming them.

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  42. It is difficult to say whether or not I concur with the claims of the biotechnology industry regarding GMOs. More research, especially prospective studies, needs to be done on the costs and benefits of GMO products. There is a great deal of information out there about this matter, but there seems to be a lot of disagreement and tension regarding GMOs in the scientific community. It is hard to draw my own opinions when there is potential for misinformation on both the sides of GMO advocates and opponents.

    Some studies could be run to demonstrate the benefits of GMOs. These include running studies testing the benefits of giving people certain crops that have been engineered with vitamins and minerals that will help prevent disease. For example, a study could be run on whether eating corn with 169-fold the typical amount of beta-carotene is truly protective against blindness in children. This same study could be run on the benefits of cassava and whether it is protective against disease.

    When you start modifying Mother Nature for short-term benefits, there is often a downside, but sometimes the negative side of things doesn’t present itself until years after the initial introduction of change. There are potential consequences that GMO advocates need to consider when introducing new organisms into our environment. One consequence is that insects could possibly develop resistance to pesticide-producing genetically modified crops if GMs are introduced into the environment. There is also a potential link between GM foods and chronic diseases and a change in gut permeability, which may be associated with autism, asthma and allergies. Another consideration is that babies can be negatively affected by their mother’s consumption of genetically modified foods for the rest of their lives. If a mother eats genetically modified foods while pregnant, adverse health effects could occur to her baby. This is not yet proven, but the medical community has a growing concern with this particular issue.

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  43. Like many others have said, I do not have a thorough understanding of the long-term health effect of GMOs. This article clearly argues for the safety of them, and is very convincing. However, I do not think that I know enough to say with confidence that GMOs are no more harmful than traditional agricultural methods. Long-term longitudinal studies would really be the only way of demonstrating the long-term health effects of GMOs. I do not feel that labeling them is necessary, as people who are completely against them can choose organic products. I think that GMO advocates really need to think about the long-term consequences that can come with introducing new organisms to our environment. Specifically, I think a focus on how a mother’s consumption while pregnant could affect her future child is really important.

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  44. At this point in time I don’t know if there is enough evidence to condemn GMOs as a whole. The fact that the medical community has concerns about possible long-term effects of these products is alarming but long-term studies need to be long term studies need to be conducted to confirm these concerns. There does seem to be a distinction between traditional agricultural methods and genetically modified organisms, which is why its understandable that people are unsure about possible problems with them. I think it is reasonable for these products to be labeled just so that those who wish to avoid them can do so. A label doesn’t necessarily mean there is something harmful inside it just allows consumers to be informed. I will be interested to see what future scientific studies find about GMOs and whether they are actually harmful to our health.

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  45. I think it is important to note that for most of the article the topic of labels for GMOs was not being addressed and rather the efficacy of GMO was being supported. I thought it made more sense when at the end of the article there was a note saying “This article was originally published with the title Fight the GM Food Scare” which is quite a different title than “Labels for GMO Foods Are a Bad Idea.” The fight for labeling foods with GMOs is such a small segment of the “GMO fight” and it merely ensures that people will be able to make an informed decision.
    The article talks about how the EU has transitioned away from GMOs after the mandatory labeling was set into place. The article also talks about all of the great bad doom that will fall on this earth if something similar were to happen in the US. However, they then did not mention any real harms that have occurred since the EU transitioned. Longitudinal observational studies looking at health outcomes for those who eat GMOs and those who do not eat GMOs would be one study design to test their efficacy, and taking the EU vs US would be where I would suggest starting.
    The article also discusses the use of GMOs for developing nations. Don’t get me wrong, I think that the work being implemented by organizations such as GAIN for improved nutrition is great and I acknowledge the GMOs do play a role in their efforts. However, the article also points out a lot of other uses for GMOs in developing nations. Take, for example, cassava, which I will discuss the use of in Western Africa. Because GMOs often require patents for the specific gene, and because the seeds to such plants are specifically manufactured to be sterile, farmers who use them end up in contracts with these giant companies such as Monsanto. These contracts often will make it so small farmers cannot continue to thrive as they have to continuously buy new seeds and pesticides, both of which are subject to price increases. The article did not even touch upon this.
    All in all, though, I think that it is important to remember the title of this article and what it should be addressing – labeling GMO foods, not to have GMO foods or not.

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  46. As discussed in class, I think that in order to efficiently assess the effectiveness of genetically modified foods, we need to weigh the benefits with the risks on an individual basis. I think the use of GMOs has great potential in developing countries, where people die of starvation on a daily basis. Having the ability to produce foods in larger quantities while providing more nutrient dense foods, is a benefit that far outweighs the risks of GMOs in developing countries. I think that one of the reasons there is so much contention about the use of GMOs in industrialized nations is because most people can afford to even have a choice. They have the financial means to opt for the option they deem more healthful, whereas individuals who are starving and have their life on the line would opt for anything and everything. I don’t think there has been enough research to solidify a causative relationship between GMOs and adverse health outcomes, merely correlative findings. Therefore I don’t think it’s fair to say that genetically modifying foods is no more harmful than traditional agricultural methods.

    More funding needs to be put into researching the health consequences of GMOs rather than increasing the production of GMOs without really knowing the effects. Some dangers to consider in terms of introducing new organisms to our environment include just that, unintentional consequences. Some people may not react favorably to the change, and they could develop unfavorable mutations that can be passed onto offspring. As described in another article featured on the website, GMOs could lead to accidents of evolution (Frazer, 2013).

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  47. I personally am very against GMO foods. I quickly mentioned it in class, but I have developed celiac disease along with other unknown auto-immune issues including new allergies and intolerances. I can only blame such things on the food that I ate growing up. I do not believe that in one of the most developed countries in the world, we should be using genetically modified organisms in our food supply. There are definitely benefits for those in underserved worlds who must rely on such technology to feed themselves and make money for their families. However, why would this be necessary in the US? It is also incredibly shameful that companies refuse to put labels on their products if they use GMO's. If GMO's were thought to be all that they advocate for, why would they hide using them? I am sure there are some GMO's that are not harmful but for most others, I truly believe that there has not been enough research to prove their safety. We have seen such occasions over and over throughout our history; we release products into the public that are said to be safe and next thing we know, they were not.
    I am personally an advocate for 100% organic eating. With the limits I already have on food, I want to make sure that what I can eat is safe. I believe that we should enjoy food that is natural and good for our bodies. I will not risk any further GI issues by choosing artificial over beneficial. I hope that our country will be able to pass a bill that requires GMO labeling.

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  48. After reading the article, I acknowledge the benefits that GMO's can provide. if we are looking at an economical perspective GMO's confer more money saving attributes than artificial selction methods. Some of these money saving attributes include better pest resistance, less water to survive, etc. GMO's can also be produced with a higher/specified nutritional value which can be beneficial for people living in developing countries with dangerous vitamin deficiencies. However, if it wasnt obvious enough, the article is biased to the good of GMOs. What about the negative effects of GMOs? Just because the USFDA says "GMOs aren't toxic or allergenic", does this completely dismiss all controversy surrounding genetically modified organisms/foods?

    The methodology needed to demonstrate the absolute safety of GMO's would be a randomized control trial spanning several years. Participants chosen will all have to have relatively the same baseline health status and family medical history. Participants in one group will eat only genetically modified produce and participants in another group will consume only organic foods (non-GMO foods). After certain time points, participants will be brought in for check ups to analyze their health from baseline.

    Overall, advocates of GMO's need to take into account the principle of every action having a reaction. That if they put a new organism into the environment, how will it effect the insects, how will it effect populations of bacteria like agrobacterium tumefaciens, how will it effect the soil and run-off to water sources, how will it effect the GI tract of human's eating the food, how will it effect the epigenome of humans and thus the future generations of humans (will we create an even more obese population?)... many things need to be taken into account.

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  49. As many of my peers have already mentioned, I too am not very familiar with the process of GMOs and the accuracy of the pros and cons that are being advertised about them. I don’t know how much about the different ways they provide benefits to our society. Without much knowledge on this issue, I would not really be able to give an educated opinion about whether or not the biotech companies’ claims are accurate. However, I did read about a study that indicated many children living in impoverished areas are more likely to have night blindness due to a significant vitamin A deficiency. Children in these areas have a much higher risk of becoming blind before reaching the age of 12 because of this. GMOs like Golden rice have been shown to provide sufficient amounts of vitamin A which reduces the risk of blindness As we scanned through articles in class about GMOs, I came across an article where a South African man was against GMOs because it wasn’t natural and it did not solve the problem of a dwindling food source for impoverished nations. He stated that the government regulations played a more significant role in this matter and that GMOs (which can produce more crops, which are larger in size, in shorter time) do not necessarily provide any help. Overall, I think that GMOs may prove to have their benefits but at the same time, we should be cautious about their overuse.

    I think long term cohort studies (i.e. a prospective cohort study) can be used to study the benefits of GMOs. For example, a study conducted by a researcher at Tufts University studied the GMO “golden rice” to see if the modified rice did indeed decrease the chances of blindness in young children living in underprivileged areas of China. Studies like these could help to show the potential benefits that GMOs have. There is potential for negative effects with GMOs, Advocates need to be aware of this before moving forward with introduction of more and more GMOs into our diet. For example, we aren’t quite sure of the long term effects of some of the GMOs that we have. We know that they can grow bigger and faster, but we don’t know if they might have a detrimental effect on our health. Another thing to be worried about is the strength of parasites in crops. The strength of pesticides that is used on our crops has been increasing over the years. However, the strength of the parasites has been increasing as well. If we continue to use pesticides at such alarming strengths, we might hit a breaking point where we aren’t able to prevent the growth of pesticide-resistant organisms which could negatively impact our food production.

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  50. I believe that the use of GMO foods still needs to be assessed and prospective cohort studies need to be done in order to see if GMO foods really do cause an issue of concern. If the FDA and WHO consider GMO foods to be fine for us then I think as a nation we need to believe in them, however as a nation we should have the option to eat them or not. Labeling the food allows us to know what we are eating and we can be aware and in control of our diet if we feel the need. In a country like the United States and in Europe having GMO food should always be an option, it has the potential to give some of the lower class the vitamins they need if they cannot afford to buy the expensive organic food. If we look at GMO food in this way, as a way to help the underprivileged I think GMO food should be kept around. In underdeveloped countries, I believe that these foods are a necessity. They cannot get all the nutrients they need in order to have a balanced diet and if GMO food can give them that, without hurting them in the end then these foods need and should be available to them.
    There are of course consequences when introducing new organisms into our food and diets. They most often can react differently in everyone so before we start creating more food with GMO, more studies need to be done to assess the effectiveness of these foods so people can trust the food they are eating. In a time when obesity is on the rise, perhaps GMO is a better option for some families though. Instead of buying the cheaper, processed sugar foods, they can buy the vegetables that will actually help them. It is hard to tell now whether or not we are suffering from GMO foods, not enough time has passed since they have been around and not enough studies have been done. I think if scientists put more money into that, people will not need a label to tell them if it is safe, we will already know.

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  51. Like many of my fellow classmates, I did not have much previous knowledge of GMOs. Therefore, I am still unsure of where I stand in the GMO debate. The film we watched in class left me believing that GMOs are truly bad for your health. However, after reading this article, my thoughts have shifted to a more neutral stance. Since this debate is relatively new, it is difficult to find solid evidence supporting one side entirely.
    In my opinion, I don’t think all GMOs are necessarily bad. Since genetically modifying foods can have possible negative effects, I’m sure there are ways to modify with positive health benefits as well. I don’t think we should be so quick to point an accusatory finger until more research and studies have been done. It is easy for anti GMO advocates to claim that GMO’s lead to health problems; a vast majority of people in the U.S. has problematic health conditions. Yes, people eat genetically modified foods, but many Americans have unhealthy diets to begin with. Therefore, it is hard to pinpoint the true cause of these health conditions.

    Epidemiological studies would be useful to accurately evaluate the health implications of GM foods as opposed to non GM. Feeding one group of people GM food, and the other non GM or organic, would provide more straightforward evidence of the health effects, both positive and negative.

    As for now, the media has a tendency to twist and exaggerate information, so it is important to be aware of who is presenting the information and how valid their sources are. Personally, I will take what I hear and read with a bit of skepticism until more research has been done.

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  52. GMO is something that I am not very familiar with. Upon leaving the classroom after watching the video on GMO, I had a very negative view of genetically modified food. It raised different questions like are companies altering the plant gene for the consumer benefit or their own profitable gain (more food = more money). At that point I thought it was very deceiving how they would allow stores to sell genetically modified food that may have potential harmful effects to our health and not even label it on the food. However, after reading this article, I can also understand how genetically modified foods are not labeled. Not only this cause hassle, it may also bring unnecessary worries to consumers. What if, like they mention in the last paragraph, they genetically modified foods so that we can benefit them more, such as modifying them so they may contain more nutrients that can only be obtain by consumption. Consumer choice is very important, and everyone does have the right to know what they are putting in their bodies. I think there just needs to be stricter regulation on how they should genetically modify products. This stricter regulation would give the consumers a piece of mind knowing that if anything, genetically modified foods are beneficial and there's nothing to worry about. Unfortunately this is not the case since some use this knowledge and instead of modifying the food for the better, they deprive of it of nutrients and make it un-digestable so that people would buy more of their products. I do believe that this biotechnological knowledge can be used for the better. This is especially useful in studies such as fulfilling certain nutrient deficiencies present in communities in both the modern and under-developed countries.

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  53. The article does provide a good point. Technically there hasn't been evidence for a direct correlation between GMOs and poor health outcomes. BUT the experiment that will give us the data needed for this sort of analysis is ongoing right now. WE are the experiment. The generation that has only known GMO foods will have to be examined in regards to their disease development, new allergies, age of death, etc. And obviously our lives are significant so I think companies need to think about us. They're no evidence against GMOs but that doesn't mean they're inherently good.

    I understand that genetic engineering can allow plants to live longer or grow larger, to last extreme temperatures, and even to not go bad so quickly. But having corn that produces its own insecticide doesn't sound safe to consume. I feel that if companies were't money driven, and were just worried about getting food to feed the world GMOs would be much better. I'm sure most genetic modifications will have no repercussions but I also have no doubt that companies are just looking for ways to cut corners and make maximum profit. I feel that this is what may lead to bringing about negative health effects. Each type of modification should be studied before used on consumer goods.

    As for labeling, I think it would be nearly impossible since everything nowadays is a GMO. BUT! I do think the FDA can come up with a percentage or amount of ingredients that are GMO in a food that will call for it to have a GMO label.

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  54. I completely agree with Josh Rivera. He brings up a good point about labeling and how it should be done by a percentage rather than just a label that says contains GMO because EVERYTHING contains GMOs.

    I do not think there is enough evidence to say that GMOs are good or bad so I do not agree with the biotechnology industry. We cannot know the consequences until we see how if affects generations upon generations. Also how can they say that GMOs are better than traditional agricultural methods when traditional methods have been working perfectly fine for years.

    GMO advocates need to examine the potential for food allergies and gene transfer before they start saying that this stuff is harmless.

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  55. The most important sentence in this article is as follows; “Greenpeace and other anti-GMO organizations have used misinformation and hysteria to delay the introduction of Golden Rice to the Philippines, India and China.” All valid studies show that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are no more dangerous to humans than non-GMOs. There are a handful of studies arriving at contrary conclusions but articles presenting their findings were refuted by legitimate, responsible, peer-reviewed journals. It is an unfounded claim that GMOs are more harmful. Why would the World Health Organization, devoid of influence from corporations like Monsanto, make this claim? All legitimate studies that have not been determined dubious and invalid show that GMOs are no more harmful than their already somewhat harmful non-GM counterparts.

    The problem is that the best known GMO, corn, is the basis for the awful diet that many Americans have. A diet containing large amounts of corn syrup and fructose contributes to poor health. This is why soft drinks have been so strongly linked to obesity in the US. It is not as if corn syrup from non-GM corn is any better or even different. You cannot buy non-GMO based soda and assume that adverse consequences of soft drink consumption have been avoided. The soda will be just as destructive.

    The fact that some crops have their genes modified with special techniques means nothing for our health. It is an unhealthy product from the start. Assuming the contrary is like saying, “it’s not all cocaine that kills you, it’s that ‘franken-cocaine’ in the lab. That is what makes the cocaine unhealthy, the genetic modification.” No. No. No, no, no. We have an unhealthy food supply to start off with. It is bad that Monsanto is able to push so many corn-based food products into our food supply, not the fact that those corn-based products are from genetically modified corn. That doesn’t worsen the already unhealthy supply.

    We are going after the wrong issue. We need to eat better food with less fructose and corn syrup. Not food with the same corn syrup from non-GM corn.

    On the subject of negative health outcomes in the US, there is a notion that celiac disease is more prevalent in the American population due to the strong presence of GMOs in their diet. The prevalence of celiac disease is about 1% globally. The prevalence in the United States is the same, about 1%. Not only that but non-hispanic whites, a population that tends to have greater access to “organic” non-GMOs and better nutrition in general, reportedly have a higher prevalence than other demographics in the US.

    We erroneously perceive celiac disease to be more prevalent in this country because of the success of the gluten-free food industry. That success is fueled by the fact that too many people assume gluten-free foods are healthier than gluten-containing foods. That’s like thinking you’ll be healthier by avoiding peanut butter because some people are allergic to it, regardless of whether or not you’re allergic yourself. The gluten-free food industry makes extra profit from selling their products to people without gluten intolerance and allergies.

    Furthermore, celiac disease is genetically inherited. Its equal prevalence takes away from the already poorly based claim that GMO exposure epigenetically alters our genome to adversely affect our health. The US population is not being diagnosed with this genetic disorder by any significantly greater number than anywhere else in the world.

    (continued in next post)

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  56. I do not advocate for GMOs and certainly not for companies with great financial interest in them and little public health or environmental concern. I believe in healthy eating and labels that transparently identify the contents of our food. However, I cannot support those who propagate butchered science, often intentionally, solely to advance their own agenda. This is especially deplorable when done so by scaring the public. A panic like this is not what the American public needs, a population already ravaged with adverse stress. Some may believe these false claims. It’s easy for an intelligent, scientifically literate person to be fooled, it happens all the time. The anti-GMO outcry is almost no different from the once convincing anti-vaccine movement stirred by fabricated, invalid, cherry-picked data. It leaves a paranoid stench over the public that is hard to cleanse.

    It is encouraging that people want to see longitudinal studies. But the past 20 years of GMO consumption have shown no observable effects. If you have fallen victim to the disingenuous claims of abused science, then of course you would believe that the past 2o years have shown GMO-influenced adverse health outcomes. But the data is there. Nothing is different. The faulty data has been refuted, just like the anti-vaccine data. The video we viewed in class was disappointing as it claimed the causal association between GMOs and autism. This was the go-to disorder for anti-vaccine propagandists. The rat studies cited in the video are among the dubious, disingenuous experiments used to make such claims.

    TEDx, a branch of TED Conferences that grants licenses to third parties to hold TED-like events recently sent out a letter advising to avoid or be extra scrutinous of speakers proposing topics from a given list on the grounds that they “tend to attract pseudo-scientists.” The very first topic and type of speaker on the list included “GMO food and anti GMO foodists.” The second item on the list was, “[f]ood as medicine, especially to treat a specific condition: Autism and ADHD, especially causes of and cures for autism”. This is exactly what anti-GMO scientists and physicians claim: that they can cure and prevent autism with a non-GMO diet.

    The letter goes on to say that, “[b]ecause of the sad history of hoaxes with deadly consequences in the field of autism research, really look into the background of any autism-related talk. If you hear anything that sounds remotely like, ‘Vaccines are related to autism,’ — RUN AWAY.”


    Perhaps there will be effects found in 50-year longitudinal studies but the fact that there is no evidence of negative health outcomes now doesn’t help the anti-GMO argument. It is based not in fact, but sheer paranoia.

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  57. I do not know if there is enough evidence regarding GMOs. Because of this, I am not sure if labeling them should be necessary. I feel that labeling food would create confusion from the consumers, since they may not know exactly what GMOs mean. I think there should be more long-term research so that we can figure out if GMOs are more harmful than agriculture methods. If the research shows that GMOs are not more harmful and they produce cheaper food, then I do not see a problem in using them.

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  58. As many have mentioned, there is not enough scientific evididence to support claims that GMOs are no more harmful or better than artificial selection and traditional agricultural methods. GMOs have proven to be more cost efficient in producing and effective at stimulting growth with fewer pesticides and less water. However, this does not offer much information on possible long term effects such as natural selection and the introduction of new diseases in the environment. An case control study that observed the effects of GMOs among multiple populations who consumed foods that contained GMOs versus those who did not consume foods that contained GMOs would be a good way to measure the possible advantages of GMOs beyond being cost effective. This study however would take many generations of the same population to generate results that would show any significance.

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  59. I can see the point that "Labels for GMO Foods are a Bad Idea" makes because one of the benefits includes the ability to grow crops in normally infertile areas because of genetic changes to plants, but I feel that the potential risks of genetically modififed organism (GMO) foods are too great to be ignored. We have yet to see whether there are negative effects over the lifetime, which is why I think that there should be prospective cohort studies that can study the effects of GMO's over people's lifespans to see if there are any adverse effects that can be attributed to the food that they ate.

    I think one of the biggest concerns that GMO advocates should have is whether new organisms that eat plants and other GMO's will evolve and be immune to normal pesticides, but also the effects that pigs and cows eating foods with antibiotics because that could lead to bacteria that are immune to our medicines, which is leading to super bacteria that we cannot cure.

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  60. I agree with what many people have already said in that I do not exactly understand the long-term health effects of GMOs. Even though this article is arguing for the safety of GMOs, I do not believe that the article has enough solid evidence for me to with confidence say that GMOs are no more harmful than the traditional agriculture. The fact that the medical community isn't convinced and is worried about the long term effects is something that should be a red flag to everyone. I do think it is fair that all GMO products are labelled incase there are people would lief to avoid them. A label will not necessarily turn people away from the product seeing as more and more labels are now required on food products to tell you an assortment different things regarding the product. I believe more studies on GMOs are definitely needed to confirm one way or the other if products with GMOS are safe or harmful.

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  61. Genetically modifying the food we eat has the potential to save lives, but results need to be carefully monitored. Genetic modification like cross breeding and preferential selection have been practiced long before molecular cloning techniques were developed to produce agricultural crops with idealized traits. I feel that there is often an initial negative reaction to technology-induced alterations in nature found supported by spurious associations and general ignorance. That being said genetic modification should not be thought as inherently healthy or good-intentioned as the filed of GMO-food is currently driven by the profit seeking Monsanto corporation who is just as happy to create concentrated versions of Round-Up to be sprayed on Colombian and Bolivian coca plants and their farmers as they in producing "super" foods. More tests need to be done to verify the safety of all GMO foods, and results from the FDA cannot be considered purely valid due to Monsanto's influence on the governing agency as well as other corporations influences in addition to the short-fallings of the agency due to underfunding and constrained budgets.

    Studies can show that GMOs can be developed to produce drought resistant crops to be used in arid regions that otherwise would not benefit from agriculture. GMOs can be fortified with essential nutrients to improve diet and reduce diseases caused by nutritional deficiencies. However, it is important to carefully look at the GMOs that produce pesticides and antibiotics to target pests and bacteria to ensure they do not cause increased toxicity inside humans and that they do not contribute to antibiotic resistance in pathogenic bacteria.

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  62. Genetic Modified Organisms is something that should be carefully assed and discussed. I don't think they are all bas but as everyone discussed we should weigh the positives to the negatives. I believe the studies that demonstrates the benefits of having GMO's is doing research studies and do a case control study. Some things that needs to be considered for GMO advocates is whether or not it will cause immune diseases and cause allergies that never existed. We also need to consider on whether or not GMO's will evolve and be immune to normal pesticides which is very dangerous.

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  63. Vanessa Merta

    Like most of my classmates, I do not have much knowledge when it comes to genetically modified foods. I don't think that anyone knows that much about them, because there hasn't been much research done yet. Because this subject is so political and controversial, all that the public sees is advertisements showing the polar opposite ends of each side. Some of the public has no idea what foods have genetic modifications, and they are completely oblivious to the possible dangers of GMO. Others, though, are on the opposite side the of the spectrum and they think they know everything about how terrible these foods can be. My opinion would be that we need to do more research on the effects of these foods. Once we knew for sure how our bodies react to these foods, we can make educated decisions about whether or not we want to eat them. Until there is more information, I think that labeling genetically modified foods would only cause more confusion. No one would really know what these labels actually mean, so someone could be spending an unnecessary amount of money on organic foods when there really might not be any health benefits. Once there is definitive proof either supporting GMOs or showing their detrimental effects on human health, I don't think we can make any real decisions yet on this topic.

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  64. Though studies have been used to prove that GMOs are beneficial in many ways, I think that they can still be unsafe in many ways. For example, it has been proven that even with vitamins and nutrients, too much can also be a problem. Consumers need to know what they are getting even if it is considered "good". Also, it is worrisome how these GMOs will be digested in humans and animals until they are thoroughly tested.

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  65. I strongly disagree with the biotechnology industry's claim that altering organisms for mass productions is no more harmful (and possibly better) than artificial selection and traditional agricultural methods. While there may be an economical incentive to produce less expensive GMO foods, or perhaps a scientific/technological inventive to expand our ability to produce larger, pest-resistant, more nutritious, and longer lasting food products only, these reasons do not outweigh the risks associated with GMO foods. Not only have GMO foods been found to contribute to several environmental hazards, the number of health hazards directly linked to GMO foods is overwhelming. In my opinion, no monetary or scientific incentive should override the safety and well-being of any human or animal in this country.

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  66. I don’t completely agree that altering organism for mass production is no more harmful than traditional agricultural methods. Although GMO foods has been around for a while, I don’t think there is enough scientific data on its effect on people to make an informed decision on whether or not GMOs are harmful. A lot of data is misconstrued as scientific and blurs the lines of what is scientific and what is not. However there seems to be some data suggesting that it is correlated with increased G.I irritation but this could be from a variety of things and cannot be used as the sole source of information.
    Studies testing whether the rate of people who are starving has decreased in the developing countries where GMOs have been introduced (as they claim that it benefits developing countries). GMO advocates need to be concerned about altering natural selection to the point where it’s not very natural anymore. Intervening in such a natural process (and essentially “speed” it up) has caused problems already. For example: super bugs (killer bees), antibiotic resistant bacteria, and others.

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  67. If GMO foods were manufactured to optimize nutrient absorption upon consumption, I could perhaps agree with their statement. However, many of these products do they exact opposite. These products may gain a longer shelf-life, but in terms of the length and quality of life that those who consume them can expect to have, humans are getting the short end of that stick. The focus on cost effectiveness and methods of mass production is costing the US many of it's own citizen's lives. I cannot condone any of their statements, nor can I bring myself to take any of their "scientific" evidence seriously.

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  68. No, I do not assent with the biotechnology industry which claims altering organisms for mass production is no more harmful than artificial selection and traditional methods such as the use of pesticides. America has so many diseases (gastric/ inflammatory wise) that other countries do not have. I believe this is due to the GMOs that we ingest so readily. Despite this opinion that I have, I do believe that GMOs do benefit countries (or even people in America) in the world in which there are vitamin deficient. GMO advocates need to be mindful that the lack of using pesticides can influence the pest community and that may affect the natural cycle of the food chain. In addition if somehow pest are able to ingest the GMO food, then it could cause them to evolve as well. It is definitely something to think about. We need to be aware of what we casually accept.

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  69. As many have noted before, I believe there needs to be more research done on the long term effects of regularly consuming GMOs before I can make a judgment call. From my point of view both sides make sense. On the pro-GMO side, there are the arguments that it could help increase food supplies by growing crops in previously infertile areas, make foods that stay fresh/do not rot for longer, and make those crops more resilient against weather. On the side against GMOs people argue that we do not know how these new organisms will interact in our bodies or with our DNA and that the effects are still widely unknown. While I understand both sides, I do not think we, as public health professionals, can make an official decision without further research.

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  70. One of the things about this article that really struck me as misleading and off-putting was that it cited the requirement of labeling GMOs in Europe as the reason why GMOs are extremely hard to find in Europe. In reality, it is illegal in most European countries to sell GMOs. The author of this article lost my trust and in general it does not sound professional. The article tries to point out a couple reasons why GMOs may be good and uses the Europe example to show why labeling GMOs may be bad. If GMOs are truly not bad, there should be no reason not to label them as GMOs. If GMOs are truly not harmful, it would not hurt to label them as GMOs. Similar to the thoughts of many others, more research needs to be conducted to see if GMOs have a negative impact on health.

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  71. I believe that labeling GM foods as well as questioning whether or not GM foods are in fact harmful to our health is extremely important. There is a strong argument made for GM foods in this particular article, such as nutrition and longevity, but we must also consider the adverse affects GM foods can have on our health.

    Europe, like many other countries, have actually banned GM foods. I would like to understand the reasons behind this other than the scientific claim of whether or not GM food is harmful to our health. It is a bit suspicious that GM foods are not harmful to our health and Scientific American passes this as a fact when this is the most debated topic regarding our personal health.

    This article does point out one interesting thing to me and that is the financial aspect with GM foods. I believe that GM foods are in fact beneficial to our society but at the same time why isn't the public more informed about its "safety" and why aren't labels being placed on GM foods? This also draws more suspicion on this topic if the scientists claims of whether GM food is actually harmful to us then I do not see the harm in labeling foods as genetically modified.

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  72. I believe that the GMO’s are a better method for obtaining our agricultural needs than artificial selection and agricultural methods. GMO’s tend to be at a lower costs, so the benefits are very dominant, such as increased nutients and a large abundance of much needed foods. GMO’s are not perfect yet by any means. When we look at the ability of bacteria to mutate and possibly destroy crops through lack of variability, it seems that GMO’s could be a problem. Long studies that follow the entire process are needed. We would need to see every step from ground to human, and then track these individuals over a long period of time. It’s very important to make sure that there is no danger to human, even after many years.

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