Messages posted to thread:

Sonia13-Jan-03 06:32 PM EST 3   
Chris14-Jan-03 01:04 PM EST 5a   
Susan14-Jan-03 02:10 PM EST 6a   
Sonia14-Jan-03 03:14 PM EST   
primarose14-Jan-03 07:18 PM EST 5b   
JoanneS23-Jan-03 01:29 PM EST 3a   
Dan24-Jan-03 10:16 AM EST   
JoanneS24-Jan-03 02:27 PM EST 3a   
Nancy24-Jan-03 04:00 PM EST 5   
JoanneS27-Jan-03 03:53 PM EST 3a   
Susan27-Jan-03 04:38 PM EST 6a   
Chris29-Jan-03 12:49 PM EST 5a   
DAVE30-Jan-03 07:30 AM EST   
JoanneS11-Feb-03 04:37 PM EST 3a   

Subject: G.M O.'s
From: Sonia
Zone: 3
Date: 13-Jan-03 06:32 PM EST

SO WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? I don't think mother nature ever intended a plant to be crossed with....say a pig! But that what they're doing. GMOs are created by taking genetic material from one organism and inserting it into another, often unrelated organism. Bacterial, viral, insect or animal genes have been inserted into plants to make a completely new life form that would not be found in nature. I think as gardeners we should be very, very concerned.

Health and environmental risks associated with GMOs include …

• the development of antibiotic resistance • allergic reactions • the creation of new toxins • the development of superweeds and superpests resistant to agricultural chemicals • genetic contamination of wild plants and traditional crops • increased pesticide use • harm to beneficial insects and other animals, and • loss of biodiversity.

I urge you to contact the following people and let them know that you demand food that has no GMOs. You have a right to choose foods you know are safe. When you write to any govt member, it's free. Lyle Vanclief. Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Sir John Carling Building 930 Carling Avenue Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0C5

Anne McLellan Minister of Health Canada Brooke Claxton Bldg., Tunney's Pasture P.L. 0906C Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K9

Jean Chretien Office of the Prime Minister 80 Wellington Street Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A2

If anyone is interested in viewing products in Canada that already contain GMO, go to

Subject: RE: G.MO.'s
From: Chris
Zone: 5a
Date: 14-Jan-03 01:04 PM EST

GMO discussions generate a lot of energy, sometimes it seems more heat than light! I am no expert in the area, and would like to hear the views of those who are.

Surely all the possible problems listed above could also occur through natural evolution? Also, GMOs have real benefits which their opponents fail to acknowledge, including the ability to produce more food faster and less expensively from less land - not a bad global benefit surely? And this "more from less" aspect allows marginal farmland to be returned to bush or woodland - a process which is going on actively today in Canada, I believe. There have always been fears expressed about advances in technology, and often they prove to be exaggerated or unfounded. Caution is needed, but we have to balance the benefits and drawbacks, real and possible, before passing judgement.

Subject: RE: G.MO.'s
From: Susan
Zone: 6a
Date: 14-Jan-03 02:10 PM EST

Chris, I'm in general agreement that we need to keep both an open mind and proceed with great caution. We need to solve problems but not create monsters unwittingly. It's a very narrow, sharp sword edge to walk on!

(I notice that your e-mail address indicates you work for the government - does the nr stand for research at all? - which means your views will probably be scoffed at automatically by the negative sceptics....)

Subject: RE: G.MO.'s
From: Sonia
Date: 14-Jan-03 03:14 PM EST

Chris, I'm no scientist but, I don't believe that through "natural evolution" you would ever get a fish gene into a plant. We have to remember that this is totally different than a plant naturally mutating and creating a new variety. Since we are part of the food chain I think caution is necessary. After all, we are what we eat!

Subject: RE: G.MO.'s
From: primarose
Zone: 5b
Date: 14-Jan-03 07:18 PM EST

i agree with you Sonia and Susan. It is better to err on the side of caution--we will not be able to put the genie back in the bottle

Subject: RE: G.MO.'s
From: JoanneS (
Zone: 3a
Date: 23-Jan-03 01:29 PM EST

First of all, I don't know a lot about GMOs, but I know this. Mother nature continually modifies plants through cross-polination, mutation, etc. New varieties of plants are always occuring naturally; however, I think the thing that raises concern is using animal matter to modify plant matter.

Extreme caution should be taken, because once something is "out there" in nature, you cannot effectively control it. Monsanto has been trying to control their round-up ready canola seed for years, but you cannot stop a bumble bee from going field to field.

The onus has been placed on the detractors to prove something is unsafe; however, I would much rather see the onus on the promoters to prove it is safe, prior to putting these things on our grocery shelves or into our food chain. Also, I would like these items clearly labelled in my grocery store, so that I can decide whether I want to feed these products to my children. I am suspicious of the reluctance to label GMO foods. If it is as safe as the claims, then why not clearly label these foods.

Primarose is correct. Unless they can prove it is safe, extreme caution should be used.

Subject: RE: G.MO.'s
From: Dan (
Date: 24-Jan-03 10:16 AM EST

Going a bit off the GMO topic for a moment. I'm intrigued by the possibility that marginal farmland might be allowed to return to bush or woodland as Chris suggests. I suppose this allows prime farmland to be returned to housing developments such as around Oakville, Orleans or just about any other city? (Not a comment directed at Chris, just a sour view of what we are doing to ourselves.) Re GMO's: I think JoanneS has the right of it. None of us ( I think none of us) get into too much of an uproar about new cultivars being developed that have an outside chance of being developed naturally. Deliberate pollination and cloning are accepted practices and encouraged. (Look at daylilies) It is the introduction of animal matter into the plant kingdom, what some folks label as transgenics, that should be cause for concern. I'm not prepared to say it is morally or ethically wrong, I am willing to say it has a frightening potential to cause irreparable damage to our ecology. I would suggest though that we not get ourselves into such a tizzy that we become ineffective. For better or worse, science has headed down this path and it will inexorably continue. Those of us who are concerned about this issue, and others such as "ornamental" pesticides, need to educate ourselves about the sciences involved. It sounds awesome but chemistry, biology, botany, geology and even physics will be areas in which we need to be familiar in order to be effective, either by ourselves or with professionals in their field. We need to develop partnerships with the folks that are exploring these possibilities, set up joint committees that look at procedures, regulations, safeguards etc. This way we can moderate science's trip down this path much more effectively. If we don't, then we are left with the sad possibility that the only thing we can say is , "I told you so."

Subject: RE: G.MO.'s
From: JoanneS (
Zone: 3a
Date: 24-Jan-03 02:27 PM EST

Me again, Not related exclusively to GMOs, but we are so often told that things are "okay" only to find out later that there was a problem. And the onus is always on the detractors to prove something is unsafe.

My 12-year old daughter has been working on a project for her school's science fair. She has been watering scarlet runner beans with dissolved, over-the-counter pain relievers, some with a high dosage per liter, and some with a lower dosage per liter. Most research says these pain medications have no side effects and are essentially harmless. I also believe these medicines are harmless as I have grown up with taking them. My daughter wanted to see if these medications affected the plants because as we get older, more and more people take these medicines and pass them into our water source when they flush.

She has just started her research last fall, and it will take a few years before she has any really good data, but she can already see a difference in the rate of germination and how vigorously the plants grow.

Again, her research has made me a bit more cautious in how I take and dispose of these medicines, although I still believe they are okay.

I think "caution" is a good thing.

Subject: RE: G.MO.'s
From: Nancy
Zone: 5
Date: 24-Jan-03 04:00 PM EST


Sounds like your daughter has quite an interesting and ambitious project going. A few points she might want to consider......

Firstly, she may be interested to see that Health Canada is now starting to work on the issue of what happens if the drugs we take wind up in the environment (as when we flush expired medication down the toilet). If she'd like to read about what's happening on this she should check out the website at Some of the background information may be useful to her.

Secondly, she should also be aware that many, if not most, of the drugs we take are metabolized in our livers, then excreted as different compounds in urine. So what goes through us isn't likely to be the same as what she's watering the plants with.

She can probably come up with some better recommendations as to how to get rid of our out-of-date medicines.

Subject: RE: G.MO.'s
From: JoanneS (
Zone: 3a
Date: 27-Jan-03 03:53 PM EST

Nancy, thanks very much. Good information and I know she can use it.

Subject: RE: G.MO.'s
From: Susan
Zone: 6a
Date: 27-Jan-03 04:38 PM EST

Joanne - it's obviously the season for science fairs! A friend's 12 year old is doing a project now too.... Further to Nancy's comments, if the over-the-counter pain reliever is ASA, what your daughter might be seeing is the effect of various degrees of acidity on plant growth/health. As we all know, acidity is an important issue for many plants. Your daughter might want to test the pH of the solutions she is making. If the acidity varies much from one to the other, it would be difficult to conclude than any effects she is observing are not just the effect of acidity. To determine if some factor other than acidity is at play, she might have to run parallel tests using something like vinegar, for example, to duplicate the acidity level of the pain reliever solution and then see if those plants react differently than the plants watered with the pain reliever solution. Science can be complicated at times....!

Subject: RE: G.MO.'s
From: Chris
Zone: 5a
Date: 29-Jan-03 12:49 PM EST

And ASA is a natural product (from willow bark?), and 17 known carcinogens have been identified in a cup of coffee. Makes you afraid to take a breath!

Seriously though, thalidomide showed all too clearly the dangers if we are not careful. But the world would be in much worse shape today were it not for disinfectants, antibiotics and all the other natural and synthetic materials science has brought us. I for one would not be alive and life for most of us would be "nasty, brutish and short."

Dan is absolutely right; we need educated, informed critics to keep an eye on the activities of governments and corporations. Unfortunately we often hear from special interest groups who use fear-mongering and partial truths to push their agendas.

Subject: RE: G.MO.'s
From: DAVE
Date: 30-Jan-03 07:30 AM EST

What may seem safe in theory is not always safe in the real world. Experimental GMO corn that was to be destroyed after one crop, wasn't. (Company was trying to save the cost of destroying the crop). The gene's were passed onto other corn crops growing in the area. The 'normal' corn seed was then sold for human consumption. The error was discovered by accident when checking the 'normal' corn seed. Another example of real world being different than theory is that birth control chemicals flushed down our sewers effects the fish in the great lakes. Who knows what long term effects all our medicines will have on the enviroment?

Subject: RE: G.MO.'s
From: JoanneS (
Zone: 3a
Date: 11-Feb-03 04:37 PM EST

Susan, thank you for the interest and for the information. My daughter placed 6th in her school science fair and is off to the regionals in April. Very interesting about the acidity. I will definitely pass this information on to her as it is another aspect of the question that should be noted.

I guess that is what makes "proving" anything scientifically so difficult. So many factors can affect research results, and interpreting those results can become mind boggling.

Thanks to you and to Nancy for your help.

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