educate yourself

gypsyladyJuly 14, 2004

I just want to post why I use heirloom produce. Everyone states the taste is why. but the real reasoning behind heirloom is to avoid what poisons have been added to our foods. hybrids bring up 200x's the amount of metals in the soil, than heirloom. metals accumulate and make us sick. also pesticide genes and fish genes are added. in no way do we benifit from any of these things. the media is filtered. other countries demand labeling and testing of these ge/hybrid foods. and in doing so they have discovered the pesticide gene accumulated and causes breast and prostate cancer. etc. canada is now about to use ge wheat. and japan and other countries are fighting it. but guess what not america. In fact I bet you didnt even know this war is going on. Its sad to think our government cares more for our global economy than our health. We are fed lies that its nessesary to feed the masses. thats funny cus I couldnt afford a tomato. here is a usefull link for more info

this site does not filter whats going on in the world with respect to our food. click on the kraft site and watch the genetically krafted movie. people need to educate ourselves and demand ge labeling and testing. a great book full of pictures is called: fatal harvest, the tragedy of industrial agriculture., cant recall the author. please forgive me if I seem a bit angry but my friends son who is 12 now has crohns disease. and the doctor said no hybrid or ge food. the poor kids cant eat anything. theres no labeling. he is withering away. and imagine he isnt the only one.

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opqdan(z5 NE OH)

There are many things that will probably kill you before the metals in the hybrid plants do (even if they do draw metals out of the soil, which I doubt). You should be more worried about eating fish, especially freshwater, due to the high levels of mercury contained in them.

Genetically engineered crops (such as rice and grain) are being grown in 3rd world countries where other crops wither will not grow at all or will not grow in ammounts large enough to feed the people. These crops keep millions of people from starving to death each year.

No ge vegetable on the market today contains fish genes (or any animal for that mater). They do contain genes from bacteria and viruses (as far as I know) but these genes by themselve mean nothing, and will not harm you in any way.

Also, I am not sure what you meant by "pesticide genes." Pesticides are made from chemicals. As chemicals are not living, they do not have genes. Some hybrids are given genes from other plants which have a tolerence to a specific disease or pest, these genes come from other plants and do not pose health hazards.

As for the Crohn's disease, I am sorry for you friend, and even sorrier for his son, I can only im agine what that must be like. I do not understand why the doctor would say he could not eat hybrid or ge foods. Most foods made today are hybrids of some form. Also, I can find no information that would lead me to believe that hybrid foods could cause a problem with Crohn's disease (although sometimes specific foods like grains containing gluten can aggravate gastrointestinal diseases, this has nothing to do with hybridization).
According to the National Institute of Health:
"No special diet has been proven effective for preventing or treating this disease. Some people find their symptoms are made worse by milk, alcohol, hot spices, or fiber. People are encouraged to follow a nutritious diet and avoid any foods that seem to worsen symptoms. But there are no consistent rules."

While hybrid foods do have risks (they can cross pollinate with non-hybrid crops). There have been no conclusive studies showing that they can cause any damage to the human body.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2004 at 9:29PM
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See what I mean everyone believes the lies. there is research that proves everything I said. Read up on it. Dont just believe the stuff. 3rd world thats a good one....

    Bookmark   July 18, 2004 at 9:16AM
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kasiaw(Z9 TX)

Hi, Maria,

So much misinformation, so little time...

That was my first reaction to reading your first posting. Then your second posting has raised my eyebrows. I happen to have some knowledge of hybrids, GMOs, and starvation rates in Third World, so here it goes.

First of all, I do not know where the idea that hybrids pull 200 times more heavy metals out of the soil than heirlooms has originated. Would you please provide a reference? It is true that gardeners who might be tempted to grow carrots on lead contaminated soils are advised against this because carrots and other root crops can accumulate heavy metals in their roots if those metals are abundant in the soil. This is not an issue of hybrids vs open pollinated varieties; it is an issue of genus and species of a plant.

Now, this is true that scientists in Switzerland (if my memory serves me right) have created a genetically engineered plant that is designed to extract heavy metals from soils. The plant is a common weed and it is not meant to be eaten. It is, however, meant to be used in phytoremediation of contaminated soils.

I think I know what a pesticide gene is. It is Bt gene, or actually a group of genes from Bacillus thuringensis, a relatively common bacterium. Plants containing a Bt gene are toxic to insects that eat them. Bt is not toxic to humans. There are valid concerns about widespread use of Bt proteins, such as possibility that the pest insects will become resistant to the toxin, toxicity to other insects, possibility of pollen escape, etc, and there are solutions that address most of those concerns. Bt technology is slowly becoming outdated because of its relative crudeness.

As for your comment on the Third World countries... well, I am nothing short of appalled at your total lack of sensitivity. It is easy to protect GMOs when one has always had enough to eat. It's the wealthy of this world, the Americans, the Canadians, the Europeans, who are up in arms. African and Asian nations are embracing those so-called Frankenfoods. African scientists are actively working on rice and other staples to make them more resistant to drought (most farming in the world is done without irrigation) and diseases, and to make them more nutritious. And not just so that subsistence farmers can reliably feed their families and sell the surplus in the market.

Scripps Institute has been working for years on alternative forms of vaccines to be used in areas that lack refrigeration. Conventional vaccines do require refrigeration, which is unfortunate, since most of the developing world lives without it. But Scripps folks may have a solution: GE banana. Bananas that are designed to synthesise a protein that constitutes a vaccine. So instead lugging a small fridge and pricking each kid with a needle, a health worker in Africa or remote areas of Asia can simply hand each kid a banana. Who doesn't like bananas? Of course a banana is heavier than a single vaccine vial, so this creates a vaccine portability problem...

Then there is golden rice, a rice that has been engineered to produce beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A. Several thousand kids in Asia go blind every year because of vitamin A deficiency in their diets. Rice is the staple of what they eat. Golden rice has been developed especially for those areas of Asia. Farmers can grow it every year and save seeds for the next season. They don't have to buy seeds from a company. There are no exclusivity agreements and no contracts to sign.

In the two cases above, I can't see how one would possibly call this technology evil. What's wrong with providing subsistence farmers with more nutritious crops to grow? What's wrong with providing vaccination to children?

And for the record: I grow a mixture of heilroom and hybrid vegetables in an organic garden. I do not grow GMOs, but I wouldn't be against trying them.


    Bookmark   July 18, 2004 at 11:22PM
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Your taking what I say wrong. So I wont say anymore. Get out the book and read for yourself. its the ge plants that have up to 2oo'x metal intake. we dont feed most 3rd world counties like one thinks. in fact most dont want ge foods. read about it. thats not a small book I recomended. My final comment, dont take my word for it, read for yourself.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2004 at 11:43AM
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Raymondo(Armidale, NSW)

I hate to point this out, but heirlooms were hybrids once themselves (either deliberate or accidental), or the result of a spontaneous genetic mutation.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2004 at 1:44PM
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gypsylady -- I'm sorry you won't say anymore. While I will check out the book you recommend I never take simply one source as gospel.

It seems both Kasiaw and opqdan raised valid counterpoints -- do you think they're wrong? And why? I always like to see people support their positions with facts, and I'd like to see your supporting evidence.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2004 at 2:50PM
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Dudleya(CA z8 mendocino)

Her words are simple fear mongering. She won't defend her own claims or provide sources, as in "educate yourself" and runs off when the blind support will not appear. Why post this at all if you are not willing to discuss it and learn from others not yet cowed by fear.
P.S. We all have to die of something.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2004 at 10:15PM
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what are you talking about. I gave a link and a book.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2004 at 1:02PM
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Dudleya(CA z8 mendocino)

I have read Fatal Harvest. Useless subjective stumping. The website is also not a balanced provider of un-spun checkable reproducable facts. When someone asks you to cite your source they are looking for page numbers at the very least. You must do some homework to support your claims in these types of debates. Basic high school stuff here.
If you have used these two sources to the exclusion of others then you can hardly claim to have sufficiantly educated yourself.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2004 at 1:36PM
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kasiaw(Z9 TX)

Hi, Maria, its me again.

It's hard to discuss things with you since you do not appear to be willing to discuss anything. You have rebuked arguments brought forth by several posters with one sentence. You are not presenting anything to support your claims. You just point us to and Fatal Harvest. That is not enough to be taken seriously.

Your original post had many bungled notions some of which I found to be a bit outlandish  and that takes some doing since my comfort zone is quite wide. You have commingled hybrids and GMOs, mentioned fish genes in plants and linked eating hybrids to CrohnÂs disease. When two people presented counterarguments, you just criticized them as brainwashed. I donÂt think we are.

I have checked the organic consumers website and I assure you, there are things in there with which I agree, and many with which I can sympathize. I have not read "Fatal Harvest" but because of my family background and current profession I am familiar with ills of modern industrial agriculture  but also with its benefits. We canÂt all go back to homesteading, can we now? This forum is used by people who are interested in growing heirloom plants and vegetables, but even the most enthusiastic gardeners appreciate the existence of the local supermarket.

So once again, can you provide a citation or citations (author, journal, year of publication and page, or the author and title as the bare minimum) of the claims that hybrids absorb hundredfold more heavy metals from soil than heirlooms? Can you provide a citation or citations that demonstrate use of fish or animal genes being used to modify plants? I would welcome an opportunity to read more on this topic.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2004 at 4:56PM
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mistercross(z6b Ozarks)

I'm certainly all for labeling and testing, and I'm not overwhelmed with confidence by company assurances. However, even has this quote from the abstract of an article: "No direct evidence that genetically modified (GM) food may
represent a possible danger for health has been reported so far; however,
the scientific literature in this field is still quite poor."

But that quote is down in the text. What do their headlines say about the article on one study mice fed on GM soybeans? Do they only draw conclusions about these soybeans, or do they expand it to all GM foods? The page title is "Study suggests GE food damages structure & function of liver" Then two blurbs follow: "GM crops alter structure and function of liver, new research shows" and "The article below is a valuable article. It shows eating GM crops alters
structure and function of the liver." - Prof Joe Cummins

In other words, from one study of mice eating soybeans they conclude that it applies no matter what gene is added to any food. That's the same problem I see with the "metal intake" statistic you give. How could the same fact apply no matter which vegetable is being used, and no matter what genetic modification is done? I'm sure the number you give came from somewhere (although I did some searching and couldn't find a source), but I bet it was something they overstated.

Also, what's the problem with hybrids? A standard hybrid is only going to inherit the traits of it's parents. A hardy strawberry is crossed with a tastier variety. Or a disease-resistant variety is bred with a high-yielding type. Of course, things may not go as planned, as in the case of the Africanized "killer" bees. But the problem there was that a visiting researcher removed "queen guards" from some hives when one was ready to swarm, defeating safety measures. The hybrids still inherited the traits of their parents.

I'm sure your friend is doing research on Crohn's disease and advocacy groups already, but here is a link:
Searching for "crohn's" brought up 15 ongoing clinical trials in the U.S. You can look at a map and see how many are active in each state.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2004 at 6:56AM
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zootjs(zone 5 MA)

Speaking as an editor, with over fifty books (mostly, by academics) to my credit, I can say definitively that you should never believe what you read. Certainly, you should try to avoid making life/death decisions based on it. Anyone can write a book and spin facts in any way that they like. You can even do that in hard-cover books, with big words, written by a team of experts in the field.

Crackpots love to write. It makes them feel connected and important. Why, I myself have ghost-written four books on subjects that I really know practically nothing about, and am hoping that my subject-matter experts have an inkling of a clue what they are talking about, and that they carefully read the book that I wrote under their name, and fact-checked my every educated guess, as they were supposed to. In truth, I have my doubts....

Personally, I like heirloom plants for the names. :) "Sops of Wine," for example. And also to connect with history. And, yes, in some cases, for specific flavors, smells, and appearances. And I grow a lot of non-heirloom plants for the same reasons.


    Bookmark   July 28, 2004 at 7:30PM
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carriein(z5 NW. IN)

This has been very intersting and civilized!

I last read about GMOs a while ago in the Seed Savers Catalogs.

It seems like the main concern is contamination of non GMO crops.

Is this an issue with anything besides corn?

Another reservation that I have is that this technology hasn't been around long enough to know the true consequences. Are the risks being carefully considered?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2004 at 10:02AM
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carolb_w_fl(zone 9/10)

**I can say definitively that you should never believe what you read.**


While GL's 1st msg is filled w/hyperbole & high emotion, I think that if you can get beyond it, she may have some good points.

IOW, don't throw the baby out w/ the bathwater.....?

FWIW, buying certified organically grown foods( & perhaps some seeds too?Try a search for 'mexican maize'.) is currently the best way to avoid GE DNA.GL's friend may want to look @ nutritional & alt. health info for more info on Crohn's as well.Dr.s don't know everything.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2004 at 10:51AM
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"While GL's 1st msg is filled w/hyperbole & high emotion, I think that if you can get beyond it, she may have some good points." HUH

so, let me get this straight, I have two tomato plants one Heirloom one hybrid in the same soil, it is loaded with heavymetals

so, I should eat the tomatoes from the heirloom and not the hybrid , I feel much safer now

    Bookmark   August 1, 2004 at 11:21PM
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opqdan(z5 NE OH)

I did a little more research and from what I've been reading, aparently the only problem with GE crops is cross-pollination with non-GE crops. Since GE crops are proprietary (patented by the companies that produced them), a lot of the time farmers can't save seed, but must purchase new seed from the company. Also, I found instances mentioned about a GE crop being planted next to a field of non-GE plants. XP occured and the company told the farmer that they could not use the seed from their plants (even though they themselves weren't proprietary) because it contained GE material.

Of course, even though I found these stories mentioned in a couple places I couldn't find any data on whether it actualy happens. So far it seems to be heresay.

Also, just a word of advice, never make a decision without researching both sides of an issue extensively. It is esecially important that you look at the side that you are not taking so that you know all of the information. It is easy to convince yourself of something that you already believe in.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2004 at 9:42AM
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carriein(z5 NW. IN)

There is no doubt that cross pollination occurs with GEcorn and there have been lawsuits over it. I just don't know about other crops.

And hybrids are something that happens in nature so I don't see how hybrid produce could be a problem. Unless its allergy related but I don't really see that as a possiblity either.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2004 at 12:36PM
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zootjs(zone 5 MA)

There are definitely some trouble aspects of the whole GE thing. The lack of testing is troubling, particularly in light of stories such as the one about the corn that was toxic to monarch butterflies.

Another aspect of it that I find troubling is that it's illegal to save the seeds from the crop, for reasons of patent control. That's a Frankenstein sort of "controlling life" aspect, and it is a way that growers will become dependent on corporations, where they used to be self sufficient. (Particularly growers in the third world, who have been saving seeds for centuries.)

Finally, the whole GM thing goes against biodiversity. The theory is that we're going to generate new generations of superior plants. That leads to a grey world, vulnerable to devastating famines, when that one pest figures out the way to attack the supercrop. Then, vast regions of crops are vulnerable.

I think it's likely that most GM products are safe, in the short term. I'd like to see research into them persued, alongside research into other types of farming that might benefit a larger ecosystem, rather than leading towards a small group of commercially viable products.


    Bookmark   August 2, 2004 at 9:10PM
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angelinaW(z9 Sunset 14CA)

I don't care how many people feel comfortable with genetically engineered food, I'm not going to be comfortable with it. It goes against what I consider a healthy way to eat and to farm.

I'm OK with everyone eating GE foods as long as I have a choice. If the majority of people are indifferent to GE then it won't hurt the companies who produce it if they are required to put the information on their labels. So let each individual retain the right to make that choice.

I am not against hybrids (for reasons a couple of people have mentioned above- it's happens naturally in nature anyway, and most of the heirlooms I love were once hybrids) but I am attracted to the heirlooms because it seems that fewer of them were bred for shelf-life and shipping, so quite a few of them are superior in flavor. And anyway, I love the variety they offer.

I choose to eat non-GE foods.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2004 at 2:24PM
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mistercross(z6b Ozarks)

The worry about hybrids has to be the possibility that commercial sources might have been accidentally cross-pollinated by a GE plant. Of course commercial sources also sell some popular heirloom varieties, like Brandywine Tomatoes and even these could be contaminated.

Even "real heirlooms," seed handed down from your grandmother, will likely someday be exposed to some GE pollen. To be safer you could grow something with recessive genes to use as a marker. For the time being the commercial sources will probably only make nice red tomatoes. If you grew white tomatoes you could quickly spot any contamination. Something red or pink has been contaminated by outside pollen.

If you wanted to be even more cautious you could save seed for two years. Save seed from a number of tomatoes. Grow a number of samples from each tomato. If they are not all white, then discard that whole batch. Batches that pass can be used as the seed source in subsequent years.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2004 at 5:48AM
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rhodie_chick(z7 NY)

the difference b/w genetically engineered food and hybridized is that one is pollinated ( artificially or naturally) and the other is a man manipulated genome. As we are technially dealing with a "black box (although we know more all the time) we don't know the impact of maniputlating the genome. The main concern is losing diversification and, hence, lack of robustness of the genteic pool. The stated fear of gentically engineered food is that, if the the ge plants produce fertile seeds, they could overtake other types and then the diversity might decline (and make the crops more susceptible to disease). The Monsanto group said that they made sure they had made geneticllay engineered foods that would produce sterile seeds but some information suggests this is not true. The main beauty of heirlooms is that they continue to maintain genetic diversity. Many heirloom varieties are not popular with commercial growers because they do not ship well or they have a short shelf life-taste has been bred out in favor of tough skins, etc. As far as the gene implantng goes, there is s "trout" gene that has been used in plants for its antifreeze properties. You can take animal genes and use them in plant genomes-its just dna-no real big deal. just a cuopla introns differnece b/w us and the apes afterall.

I think the only concern is that with our lack of understanding for the nuances of the entire genome, if we excise certain exxon or non-important dna in favor of expressing some aspect that makes the plant drought resisitant, we may lose some subtle but significant information

    Bookmark   August 21, 2004 at 7:51PM
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Gipsylady's post confused hybrids and genetically engineered - hybrids pre-date GE plants by a century or more. And she is also confusing hybrids and GE with organically grown - it is possible to grow hybrids and heirlooms organically and it is certainly possible to grow hybrids with the use of chemicals - I'm doing that myself when I side dress my Cherokee Purple with 5-10-5. Whether or not one believes that GE foods are harmful (like most people in this country I'm eating them whether I like it or not - in corn flakes, triscuits and bread - and so far haven't noticed any deleterious effects and it's a bit late to die young LOL) it's essential to apply a little straight thinking to the subject rather than mix up a half dozen poorly understood concepts. Speaking for myself, I'm more concerned about the PCB's in fish taken from the Hudson River than the Round-up Ready corn Monsanto's peddling. I do appreciate the flavor and variety of heirlooms which is why I grow them but that doesn't mean passing up SE sweet corn at the local farmer's market.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2004 at 2:06AM
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Raymondo(Armidale, NSW)

hybrids pre-date GE plants by a century or more

If, like me, you define hybrid to mean any cross, whether man-made or not, then hybrids pre-date GE plants by as long as flowering plants have been around - how long's that? - more than 140 million years!

    Bookmark   September 7, 2004 at 9:19AM
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