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tv   Genetically Modified Foods  CSPAN  March 28, 2017 8:23am-9:33am EDT

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this is just over an hour. [applause]
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>> thank you. i hope you will still talk to me after tonight. the panel is extremely esteemed. so, please, forgive me for reading. mark gold burg is the director of the seed institute which is a campus without walls housed at the university of california, los angeles. he is a plant molecular biologist who specializes in the area of plant genomics. then we have wes parsons who is the author of the book "how to read a french fry, how to pick a peach" book. he is a member of the james beard foundation and a winner of multiply general -- journalism
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awards. most of you probably know him as the former food editor and columnist in the los angeles times which was his home for 25 years. then we have ted parson. the professor of environmental law and the faculty co-director of the emmitt instustute on climate change and climate at ucla. his professional roles including serving as an advisor to institutions including the white house pascience and technology policy and the privy council office of the government of canada. welcome, gentlemen. [applause] >> thank you. >> so, you know, this topic isn't controversial or anything. but we are not here to discuss
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whether or not there should be gmos. the horses have been out of the barn for decades now. what i am interested in hearing is more about other technologies because gmos are such a small part. so the larger landscape and then of course some issues about ethics and larger cultural questions. but first i want to start with rus. if we were to talk to the supermarket, what are we likely to put in our carts that might have the gmos sprinkled through there? >> depending on how you shop either everything or nothing. if you are buying processed foods that include different grain oils, things that have
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cornstarch or corn products in them, the box part of the supermarket it is pretty hard to avoid. if you are buying produce and fresh fruits and vegetables and meat it t is hard. there are a few kind of zucchini and papaya. i think that is the limit of it. >> did any of you know papayas are genetically modified? if they were not you would not have any; right? okay. so, bob, you are the plant guy. tell us a little bit about what a gmo is and how it is defined
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in the context of larger technology work that is going on now with plants. >> you know that is a really great questions. those of us who do this think all plants are gmos because there is nothing you buy in the grocery stores whether organic or not that hasn't been genetically modified. everything you buy was modified meaning manipulating genes. and there is no difference between doing it the classical way by breeding because you are directing change by selecting traits you want or by adding a gene. in the modern context, of let's say the poplar context, gmo means having a gene in it that an individual wasn't born with.
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there are two extremes. genetic modification by breathing and the other is genetic modification by adding an additional gene or tweaking a gene by doing work in the cells and stuff. from the poplarization of gmos in this day and age, it is being born with the gene that one didn't have originally. i think most people would be really surprised that this technology is now 40 years old. you may also be surprised there are human beings walking around that are gmos. that is a fact. that are only alive because they have a gene in them that they didn't have when they were born because they were born with a lethal disease. most of you may be surprised that if you use insulin they are made in bacteria that were engineered in them. if you are wearing genes, the
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blue color is made in engineer jeans. from a plant point of view, those that try to improve agricultural, we would consider genetic modification the classical way by adding genes or tweaking them. haz what is so exciting. >> moderator: i will come back about more excitement. so, ted, the next natural question would be, i guess, has there been work and how do we know that these things are safe? >> well, you never know for sure because you can't prove the negative. scientist doesn't prove anything. and any time somebody demands scientific prove of something whether that is scientific proof humans are changing the climate
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or scientific proof gmos are safe you know they are using debating tactics and that is not something that can ever be provided. we have an awful lot of evidence -- if you think about i just have to say, i find it puzzling what intense controversies there are around gmos. it seems to be a strange place for people to have such passionate feelings and such acute political controversies. but if you think of the narrow way they are framed. concerns about healthy food and environmental impact. the fact that genetically modified organisms by modern techniques such as the distinction you drew nicely a moment ago, the fact we have 25-30 years of huge scale experience of things being planted and cultivated and eaten by essentially everybody and
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that there is no sign of any differ differential health impacts on americans relative to the europeans because they have very little that is an awful lot of basis for confidence that the narrow frames it will hurt you, harm your health to eat products from gmos. we have a lot of confidence that is not a problem. >> how much of a discomfortable with this subject do you think is a result of its acting like a proxy for pushback against an economy knows to respect ecological and ethical limits? >> is that one to me? >> i think the short of it, and speaking about the ecology, unfortunately there is nothing natural about agriculture.
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so if you think about feeding people at one point in the united states we had the great plains and there were buffalos and grasses and the actual grasses and now there are farms that are feeding with corn, soybean and canola and the ecology of the area has been changed. so the question is can you in fact feed the nine billion people we will have have to double the food supply and make more food than ever in the history of mankind how we are going to go about doing that with minimum ecolological impact and i think the way that can be done is by good science. i think some of the gmo out there have helped the environment quite a bit rather than negative. it is very difficult in
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agricultural to do something in environmentally-friendly way. >> moderator: what would you say to people for example, "the new york times" article that came out recently and said that this is a fallacy that gmos are sold to the public all the time on this promise of higher yield and they did a study covering 30 years comparing canada and europe and in fact showed no higher yields. >> so, i think it is a little too technically complicated to go into the but an example based on the hawaiiian papaya. it was being wiped out because it was susceptible to a virus. the yield was dropping and nothing drops the yield more than insects, fungi, bacteria, viruses that wipe out crops.
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think about the irish famine that wiped out potatoes. think about locusts in the bible this goes deep because these things are at war with the plants they eat. so the hawaiian papaya was acceptable by a virus and was engineered by a slick technique i will not describe but it prevented the virus from infecting the papaya meaning if you had not genetically engineered it would not have been around. that genetic engineering increased the yield of the papaya. yield means grow more on less space. that is what yield means in
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agricultural sense. there is really no one gene that would be the yield gene and i don't think the gmos were sold on it basis of yield but sold more on the basis of we can do this without pesticides, we can do this without plowing the soil over. they were more an efficiency and economic point of view. in terms of increasing yield, we have not even packed the potential of what genetic modification can do in the molecular sense. but in the classical sense, think hybrid corn. that is the classical example. taking two different varieties of corn, growing them together and much taller and heartier and much better than the parents. if we can learn what those mechanisms are we can do that in the laboratory and then by able to think about increasing yield on a scale which you cannot even dream of today.
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>> i can see ted sitting on his hands. >> i would like to take on the broader implications. it strikes me when people express concern about opposition to gmos they are more motivated by a set of broader concerns about the character of the food and agricultural system. so, they are concerned about things -- let's back up a little and ask what kinds of things would you want out of an agriculture and food production system? it seems you might want healthy, good food, healthy safe food, produced in quantities enough to meet the needs of feeding people, in an environmentally sustainable way, and in a way that is consistent with safety and sustainable livelihood through the people involved in the production process.
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anybody woo turns attention to thinking about food and agricultural system is coming up with a similar thing. doing all those is really challenging and there a lot of concerns about our current way of organize and producing food that implicate all of those maybe the environmental ones more than the health and safety in terms of food. if you think that way, you are going to be concerned about thinks like agricultural practice broadly, you are going to be concerned about the scale and uniformity of agricultural production, you are going to be concerned about the c consonstration of ownership and enterprises involved and in intellectual property. and you will be concerned about conditions of safe employment. those are all really, really important and legitimate concerns. what puzzles me about the gmo debate is focusing on gmos is a lousy proxy for those concerns.
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it is a lousy proxy for any of them. a regulatory initiative that focus primarily on gmos is likely to be mistargeted. you will think about other dimensions of policy and regulation and antitrust and things like the breadth and cope and duration of intellectual property protection. you are going to think about environmental regulations and sort of the whole sweep of mechanisms we put in place to push agricultural and other enterprises. feeding seven billion people safely and sustanl stainable is going to be hard. it is going to be hard than getting off fossil fuel. it is coming down the pipe slower so i don't think we have fully embraced how severe it is. you are going to think about all the health and safety
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regulations. these concerns are porpt and indicate areas of public policy and gmos are a weird place to focus concern and attention and opposition. i am not saying there is no connection. but i am saying it is a thin connection. it as a strange place to have such intensity of conflict. -- is a. >> don't you think it is kind of natural given the introduction to most of us with these products, this process, was from a company who is a chemical company often known for, you know, agent orange, not monstano but one of the others, dow. >> one of them? a lot of these companies are chemical and feed companies and becoming intellectual property owners.
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it would be great to talk about. i think those issues are issues that make having this discussion much more difficult because the corporate with all that comes with that idea that makes this safety and if it came to him another way. who is -- >> here the irony of that. in the beginning of bio technology, exactly what you said applies to the farming industry as well as agricultural. it is a similar kind of concern in terms of corporations, and patents. it is a parallel world. but the irony of it is back in the '80s in the old days, when
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plant genetic engineering was invented, there were scores of tiny companies that were just entrepreneurial and going around on different areas and exploring different niches. it was extremely exciting. and then the regulatory arm just dropped for better or worse. i will not take up that discussion right now. and what happened was is is that costs of getting these regulations became now hundreds of millions. so the irony of this is that although all of the original discoveries and plant engineering in the first gmos were done by private companies. not by the monsanto or dows or duponts. tiny. tay didn't have enough resources to get through the regulatory. it takes hundreds of millions of dollars to get drugs through the
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clinical trials. so in some respects we created these monsters because there is no place in our agricultural and biotechnology economy for little tiny startups because they won't have the capital to get through the whole thing because agricultural is very big. it is not so much making the gmo in the lab but it is making the billions of seeds that geographic to the farmers and that is -- go -- and where the cost is plus the regulatory costs. it is a very challenging issue. >> do you want to talk a little bit about intellectual property and patents? >> that is a great topic. >> it is a great topic. there is a lot of intellectual property in agricultural but it didn't come anew with gmos. seeds have been pat n -- patented for many years.
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patents on life forms were affirmed in the 1980s. there is intellectual property. patents don't last forever so there are limits to the system of intellectual property. i am not sure it makes sense to thing of intellectual property as the unique locus of the problems in the food and agricultural system anymore than it does to think about gmos being in the locus of -- i mean it is big complicated system that has to serve a diversity of societal ends. and that is very complicated. i have to say i found your observations fascinating there is a large partnership between . . . . . . . . on of ownership necessary to live with that system that elicits the
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suspicion even identified. it sounds like vicious circle. >> i would ask consumers what is ironic is that the gmos out there, let's say that you have as the processed food in corn or some soybean products. those have gone through 10-15 years of testing before approved by the epa and usda. great. but there is not one conventional variety of a crop. new varieties, new things made conventionally. there is a lot which kwlou you buy in the grocery store that is going through no regulatory. and an example, in my lab and this is the irony. in two weeks i would engineer a
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hypoallergenic peanut. people have done this. that is going to go through 10-15 years of testing before it is approved if it ever is. in another part of my laboratory, i could use classical breeding to breed a peanut with ten times the concentration and i could give it to the farmers without any regulation. in the panels i have been on in the national academy says you have are thinking about the final project and whether it is safe with respect to allergens and toxicity and we should focus
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on the product and now how it is made. >> i think from the consumer's point of view, i think a lot of the opposition i hear that becomes the vocal point, harkin back to an uneasy relationship with modernity. one of the reassuring things that happened in food and you know, farmers markets and all of that, and it kind of reinforces this idea of romantic we imagined happened to our parents and grandparents and that is just a romantic image. i think people who live on farms when you talk to them they could not -- it leaves everything to nature to take its course and it
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is the worst thing you could ever do. >> dying of small pox and it is natural. the interventions we tonight like i think they hold a mirror up to things we don't like about selves or our society. >> i think you have a very middle ground. you know, 25 years at the times
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covering what i covered along with the conjunction of agricultural and food. spent a lot of time talking to farmers and agriculture scientists. as a journalist when i publish a story two things i try to keep in mind and how do i think i know what i know and the other is what does the other side say and that doesn't mean what the other side says is right but it does mean i need to fully investigate that and find out whether what is valid and for me the journey started back in the '80s with organic movement. and the organic philosophy which seemed like such a wonderful thing but then again when the regulatory arms stepped in became a checklist of things
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that needed to be done and the flus philosophy went away and it got set in stone at the time that it was legislated. i would talk to people and i would go out and the image was either you were like buying stuff from baby jesus or you might as well be insecting or main lining agent orange. ....
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the reason all kinds of very organic techniques but because they were too ornery to go through the certification or because they reserve the right, they believed it was better to use some of these things that were outlawed and organic. and there are plenty of paradoxes and in the organic, chemicals that are derived in one way or are fine if they are derived in another way they are not. but generally, the needle has moved toward the middle on
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that. for example according to the last pesticide report, this will probably shock people, 50 percent by weight of all the pesticides used in california last year were organically approved. [laughter] people think organic means no chemicals. so anyway, questioning that led to questioning when gmo started coming up and it led me to have a think a little bit more of an open mind or more of a questioning mind. and the things i would hear, arguments against and i would begin to investigate them, they seemed to be made out of, they seemed to be fairly flimsy. >> one of the things that is really fascinating to me is, do you, inattentive research that you do, do you also interact
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with people who are doing research on - is not even how to describe it at this point. but on fertility of the soil. things that we might think of as being more quote - confessional. are there as much resources being poured into the other time, the more traditional kind of farming. because it seems like the people any more than one magic bullet. you need a million, right? and to think of this as political, do you remain on different sides of the aisle or do those of you who are in plant science but not in the genetic modification part of it, do you interact with one another? >> there is no question about that. i can give you an example. i'm on the board of agriculture and the national advisory of science which advises the president on policies.
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we get together five times a year in washington. and we have traditional, agricultural economists, you name it, people who are involved in the whole system of agriculture. we are always interacting and trying to say how is this piece and that piece together and trying to get the best kinds of recommendations so that you look at the agriculture as a whole. so i think you're absolutely correct.we do not have, i do not have as much chance at ucla because we do not have a negative culture of college.i did, and i frequent about that. but the thing is that riverside or berkeley, these scientists are doing miraculous things. , all of these things to find the best type of culture, the most environmentally sustainable with as little ãas it can possibly do. >> another one of the great
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ironies and the anti-gmo movement are there ready crops. one of the hot topics is no fill. it does all of the script instrument you cannot do that. it is very difficult to do that because you're going to be plowing and that is the point of no till. so when you, i do not think it is accurate to think of all of these things as being the tools strictly of degrading soil or degrading the planet. there is great promise for developing or increasing sustainability. >> is interesting if you read, they no till in this bizarre
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strange world that using roundup ready feeds, etc. give them the opportunity to do that for the first time. which is kind of odd. that would be lester's harvest and they sprayed some round up ready for the seeds emerge and that is it. then they leave it again. all the soil has been saved on times and tons of soil. it has been quite dramatic change in agriculture. >> when you were in that room in washington and there is that you are in washington, just allocation and monopoly worried people? >> i think in some respects it is a little bit of a mix. there are literally thousands and thousands of speech is a that our doing what they need to do to make the best seats for local environments. and i think that when you think about consolidation, for
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example university of california. if we do anything that is significant in agriculture, let's say we have some intellectual property or some patent embedded in anything that we might license to big companies, the fact that you have to get a royalty-free license to any small company in the developing world, people need it, to be able to grow food locally, in a developing type world. self monsanto and dupont and dow , they do give this in the developing world. so it is not a black and white world in terms of these people have this and they have intellectual property. what's really important agriculture is not the one gene that you would add to the sea. it's really important is the whole series of genes which we call the germ by some that make the seed.and most of that is
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based on classical breeding. it is done by thousands of little companies whether it is in india or bangladesh or south america. and you just hear about the big companies. >> what you do here when monsanto says something about the seeds it will sell in 2050 will have 14 stacked traits. >> yes. >> from where the culture has brought us now and what we accept now, which is would have seemed insane. looking ahead to godliness frightening. for a lot of people. it can be. on the other hand. who are the consumers of the seeds? the consumers are the fathers. there is a limit seeds that they will have to buy. the farmers have adopted the technology. faster than any technology and agricultural history. they do their business people. in addition grow their crops
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cheaper and more efficiently and get my benefit from yourself in some respects i'm not here to think that it is that the farmers are godliness and the farmers are going actually to say this is great technology because we need this to be able to make our profits that we make. and if we had this conversation and aims aisle or someplace in columbus ohio, they would really be surprised by that. what's also i think been a surprise to everyone is that in the added value, that is the value that you get when you use a gmo, is a monetary amount. the united nations and cultural economist a lot of studies on this. 75 percent of the added value that is the money that comes back goes to the small farmers
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and not to the monsanto or the dow. so most of the increase in economic value is really going back to the farmers. not to the corporations that have developed the technology. sure, they get a little cut but not that. >> monopoly is bad but not all production at large concentrated scale is monopoly. and also, we have a kind of set we have a kind of legal principal that is we allow or even grant monopolies one time in one place where the government grants monopolies is in the area of patents because you want to encourage invasion and what patents do is grant a monopoly in return for somebody doing innovative useful things. and i don't think you can fairly consider one side of this without thinking about the other. goodness knows it's like
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invasion and food production to advance all of the values we have been talking about are good things with harms that need -- you know, associated harmed needing regulations when they come up. >> i want you to surprise and excite us. what are you working on that is like a love project, something you're excited about and you feel the idealism about that you must have felt. >> i always feel excited every day of the week about what we do. that's the fun thing about science. it changes every day. the goal of all of us i think is to make a healthy food supply that is sustainable and minimizes chemicals, minimizes the use of water, minimizes bla whatever we need to do to grow
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food. in this area yes, we have the sequence and yes i could sequence the gee gnome. it is being applied to agriculture. there is no plant on this earth that doesn't grow in some environment, without water, combats insects or fungi or bacteria. we are learning about all of the ge genes that do this because they do it naturally in their lant body, so to speak. with the tools that now exist the thing we are talking about are really that do this a model t ford. think about some little wild tomato growing in the mountains of the andys. let's say it is resistant to some bug that the domesticated
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tomato growing in the midwest will be destroyed by. we can find that gene in that little tiny tomato and we know what it is. we can go into a domesticated tomato and change it, very simple change. we don't have to add anything. now we can make that domesticated toe moe tomato resistant to that. so we can find out what makes them different? what makes them grow on the s santa monica beach and we can
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use it and tweak the things that we go agriculturally and make them better and make a really great agriculture. i look at it as a nafarmers dre. 50 years from now i doubt we'll be flooding the fields with water because we are understanding the processes. that's what excites me. [ applause ] >> pretty exciting. i have a ask you a question. do you cook? >> my wife is better than i am. >> what's your dish? >> i leave steamed vegetables, particularly broccoli and nice wild rice. >> do you cook? >> not much. [ laughter ] >> not much and not well. >> okay. >> i like raw fruits and
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vegetables. >> you look like you like raw fruits and vegetables. you look very healthy. >> i have been genetically modified. >> me too. >> what is the most interesting thing you have eaten lately? >> i don't know. most interesting thing. this is totally off topic, but i'm working on a book with somebody who is one of these kind of very advanced chefs, advanced not -- advanced -- he is advanced in that weird perfection way. he is the coach for the american which is a big cooking competition that takes place. he finished second. he is the coach this year. >> gavin?
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>> no. it is phil. so i was up there watching them sharpen carrots so that every carrot was exactly the same size and then using the glue together the skin of a chicken breast and it was very weird and in its own way gm o exciting. [ laughter ]
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>> and this is a different can of worms, when you were talking about the papaya, you described what -- you said inoculate. is that how we should think about this like vaccinations for plants? >> it was an immunization even know plants don't have an immunization per se. it was used to reject viruses, yes. >> how often is that done? >> it depends on the plant. in papaya and squash they are the only two it has been done. it can be done -- >> are you working on one long -- >> no. but that's a big problem, obviously. we work on soybeans, tofu. >> are we ready?
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>> yeah. >> let the flood gates open. >> we now have time to take questions from all of you. there are two of us going around with microphones. please raise your hands and we'll come to you. if you could please say your first and last name before asking you question we would greatly appreciate it. it is being recorded on our web site and also by cspan to be broadcast at a later date. >> i'm alexander sun. i'm under the impression there are no gmo organic vegetables. is there an upside or downside to having gmo organics? >> it would be a regulatory decision of what falls within the category. the interesting way of understanding it is would there be gm modifications with aims of
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organics? my guess without a lot of specific knowledge is it would be. it could be environmentally ben offici eficial. >> it is. >> one of our biologists, she has written a great book with her husband who is the director of the uc davis student organic farm and is a former member of the california organic certification board. i think there's tremendous promise there, it's getting
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across the political hurdle. >> if that married couple can sit together at dinner -- >> they with write a book together. it is called -- yes. thank you. and it's wonderful. >> next question is on your left. >> i was wondering, how long will it be like crops like hard red white will be able to accomplish nitrogen fixation. >>. >> bacteria fixed nitrogen. >> and soil in. >> from the air and soil and associate it with the roots and give that nitrogen in different form of the plants. it involves literally hundreds and hundreds of genes on the bacteria side and on the plant side. and so it is going to be quite
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some time until someone's going to be able to engineer hundreds and hundreds of genes at a particular point in a crop in order to be able to do it if it can be done because that's lot of energy requirements and things like that that might not be so suitable. it is off more complicated problem than one could have ever imagined in the beginning of this science. >>. >> next question is on your right. >> my question has to do with is the nutritional value of organic food and non-organic food the same? the egg part of that question is will i become ill if i eat nonorganic food and b, will i be healthier if i eat organic food?
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>> this is a topic of some controversy. it's been studied, there have been survey studies that have come down on kind of on the margin of each argument. there have been survey studies that take a look at all of the literature -- all of the studies that have been done and kind of lumping them up. some say yes there is marginal benefit to eating organic food. some say there's no benefit what so ever. nutritionally -- i mean from my point of view, nutritionally the food that is conventionally grown, what we are talking about is 1 or 2% more in thescenarios. so to avoid conventionally grown food because you'll get a 1 or 2% gain in vitamin k seems
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shortsighted to me. >> and also a very privileged place to be. >> yes. >> super pri ledged place to be. i think a lot of times it's good to remember that because boy do we live in a series of concentric bubbles. >> and organics have to be more expensive because the yields are so low. it depends on growing area and crop. the average is 20% reduced yield. if a farmer will be able to make his rent he has to charge 20% more. so the equations keep complicatcomplicat complicated rather than simpl y simplifying. >> so it makes no difference.
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>> so eat vegetables. >> thank you for having such a mature conversation. [ applause ] i am a little excited. i have been working on a documentary. we just premiered and we will be coming to movie theaters around the country in 2017. we are so honored to have neil as our narrater and we are trying to have the same mature conversation you all are having. i can't wait to have drinks. i'll be tackling all of you. i have to go to -- it's only been touched on a little bit. evan, i would love to hear you talk about it and thank you, evan for doing this because we
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know that to a lot of people you represent organic, local. you asked how did we come to -- if gmo's were brought to us it made it very difficult. i ask everybody in this room, how did they first hear about gmo's. it was from somebody interpr
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interpreting. >> you shouldn't guarantee. you should have an open mind. >> my bad. i complimented you on that and i failed. my question is are we going to ask some in the natural foods industry to stop fear amomonger and say eat your vegetables, please? >> i don't know. you want me to answer that? i can't answer that. >> are you afraid of gmo's? >> am i afraid? no. i am not afraid. i don't eat from that part of the super market. i'm a cook. i take raw foods and i transform them in the privacy of my own kitchen. have i ever had a dorito?
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sure. have i gone to taco bell? yes. >> taco bell? >> yes. >> oh, evan. >> i just don't eat a lot of processed food. you know, if -- for example, when i was in washington and oregon in the spring and i was eating blackberries as big as my head it wouldn't have bothered me at all. i was just happy to put that gorgeous juicy fabulous blackberry into my mouth. it wasn't the gmo. for me it's a much bigger conversation, and for me the first time i heard about anything genetically modified would be the flavor toe mmato. >> it didn't taste very good either. >> no. and we are from california so we
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didn't need no. >> but there was no controversy. >> can i respond to two points? one is natural versus unnatural is a lousy proxy. good for you, good for the environment. the other is we expect interchiezs, special interests to kind of advance their interests. one of the audties of this debate is people perceive a bunch of commercial enterprises and they perceive a bunch of others as virtuous. i don't want to cast dispersions on any individual enterprise but i think both of those are kind of suspect. they are both doing what they do, which is try to innovate and sell products that people want to adopt and there by make money. neither of them is set up or kind of organized in their
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gnome. fls a lot of natural stuff that is bad and a lot of stuff that is really good, in my opinion. >> yeah. >> next question. >> next question is on your right. >> hi. lona henderson. you made a great case for gmo's and you said the most exciting
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advancements are in tomatoes, per se. you have seeds that are being sold to produce more and it's taking over the diversity and it might yet hold some promise. how do you balance those two things? >> i think in terms of mono culture it's kind of an overused word. and so there's a tremendous amount of genetic diversity within any of these crops that one would think this is a thing which it isn't. there's as much diversity in these crop that is are grown as
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there are in this room. it's not like they are all the same. they are very very very very different. i think the key is that if you go to the grocery store you're going to see this rich bountiful store of plenty where you have all kinds of different vegetables and different crops that are grown. it is not simply corn and soybean. i think where the monoculture comes in is we have a meat based society. that's where your soybean and corn is going. it's not going to us. we are not even eating the kind of corn being fed to cows and chickens and everything else. so until you sort of change the way of which we do things rather than going from meat-based then you won't have the rich different crops and plants you perceive to be less of a
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monoculture. >> i mean what is it, 70%? >> 70% of all of those crops are being fed to livestock. >> yeah. >> so if we stop eating so much livestock we'll have less monocrops. >> and one of the reasons is because these are very low margin crops. >> exactly. >> you need to grow a lot of them. it's not like tomato where you get a high return.
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>> we need to remember they are already in the hole. >> and there's fewer and fewer of them. >> yes. >> what's ironic is in 1930, believe it or not, there were 29,000 farms in los angeles county. los angeles county from 1950 to 1954 is the largest producing county in the united states, not simply in california and about 50% of the work force was in agriculture. there is no farms and no one works in agriculture. things change. >> one thing i would like you to bring up, i think because we have been focusing on this very modern aspect of agriculture. i think some times people get fixed in their mind they are going this way or going this way.
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we are in a golden age of agriculture. for people like us the perfect shape, we can get those lettuces at the farmers market. they are there for us if we want them. they can get very safe food at price that is food is no longer a barrier to health. so in a way we have to be to remember that we can do both of these things at once. one doesn't -- it's not a zero sum game and one doesn't drive out the other. [ applause ]
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>> next question is on your left. >> i think my question is how is it being evaluated? who would be funding that research? how many generations would be required for evaluation to be able to justify the truth behind that statement? for me i guess i would like to understand the meat and potatoes of justifying that there is no evidence that gmo's are harmful. the other question is aren't they categorized some what? isn't that some what different
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in terms of how a human's system would work with that even over multiple generations if you take a pig gene. now we have cross species and much more different -- anyway. >> go ahead. >> i think -- you first. >> well, first of all i'll take the second part first. >> that's the easy one. >> a gene is a gene is a gene. how many you think you ate today? >> quite a few. they for the most part when you eat things they get digested down to all of these things and eventually they get reutilized
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or you poop them out. from that point of view what are you most concerned about with food? one, are you allergic to it? okay. that's what's really important. you don't want to have an allergic reaction that's put in your food supply and secondly, is it toxic? is it going to harm you in any way? those are the things the fda looks at in terms of approving the very few somethings that have been proved that happened genetically modified. there is only eight and most of them are not consumed directly. it is indirectly. in the case of indirect -- >> meaning an animal eats it and we eat the animal. >> or you get oils from a plant and it is processed so it does away with any proteins that went in because the process is destroying everything there is.
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so there's very few crops that you're eating except for maybe squa squash and papaya. in terms of who is doing the studies, that's a really good question. it gets on a couple of different things. let me just answer it directly. the studies are done for a long period of time. there are very set protocols in terms of toxicity studies, all kinds of things people look for, whether these will be harmful or not. those studies, just like clinical trials and pharmaceutical companies carry out drug tiles. these are generally carried out by people trying to develop those seeds. in the case of gmo's they have been independently validated by
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hundred of labs that have been funded by governmental agencies. the best study that has been done has been by the european food and health safety organization and spread it out through labs through europe asking that exact question. after ten years of study with governmental money of doing the best kinds of studies they could ever do they came to the conclusion they are no different than conventionally grown crops. it is essentially what has been the conclusion of any study that's ever been done. can you ever prove the negative? no. over the last 20 years there's never been one documented case. in the cases that are out there they appear to be safe. now, would another one be just as safe? we don't know. it has to be tested on a case by case basis with best scientific
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ability that we can do. all of these things have been independently validated by government sponsored agenesis and labs. >> so if the reason gmo's are not accepted in europe a pr problem? >> it has nothing to do because gmo's were first on the market in europe. those were the first gmo's. i think it is a political issue and has nothing to do with si scientific issue. >> and if you ask farmers it's not monolific. there are farmers who would like to try it to see for themselves.
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>> and we'll like to thank our co-presenter ucla for making this up our discussion. i would like to thank mocha for joining us. i invite you to yojoin us in th reception right upstairs where you entered in mocha. thank you to our wonderful panelists for sharing their thoughts and incites with us tonight. [ applause ] coming up in 30 minutes the senate judiciary hearing holds -- we'll hear from former
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gymnasts and a representative from the u.s. olympic committee. it is live right here on cspan-3. in the afternoon the ways and means committee considers legislation that would require the treasury secretary to provide president trump's tax returns and other financial information from 2006 to 2015. that's live at 4:00 p.m. eastern on cspan-3 as well. before we take you to capitol hill we'll show you a keynote address from a program yesterday where we heard from british minister for internet safety and security joanna shields. let's watch. good afternoon everyone.


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