Sunday, January 18, 2015

80% of Americans support mandatory labels on food containing DNA

A recent survey reports that 80.44% of Americans believe that there should be mandatory labels on food containing DNA [Food Demand Syrvay]. Slightly more (82.28%) think there should be mandatory labels of food produced with genetic engineering.


It's easy to mock the respondents for being scientifically illiterate but that's not fair. The real idiots are the people who asked the question.

Ilya Somin has been thinking about what should be said in this mandatory label [Over 80 percent of Americans support “mandatory labels on foods containing DNA”]. Here's one possibility ...
WARNING: This product contains deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). The Surgeon General has determined that DNA is linked to a variety of diseases in both animals and humans. In some configurations, it is a risk factor for cancer and heart disease. Pregnant women are at very high risk of passing on DNA to their children.
Can anyone think of foods that would not carry this warning? What do you eat if you want to avoid DNA?

Did you notice that 87% of Americans want labels on meat to identify the country of origin? Is that because they don't know where New Zealand lamb comes from? Or is it because they want to make sure they're getting genuine Canadian bacon?


36 comments :

  1. There have been reliable reports of Dihydrogen oxide in the food supply so best to label for that as well I think.

    With respect to the country of origin, there are geopolitical differences in how countries regulate their food manufacturing systems, the fairly recent revelation that animal foods from China were being adulterated with Melamine in order to spoof tests for protein content comes to mind.

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  2. Can anyone think of foods that would not carry this warning? What do you eat if you want to avoid DNA?

    Obviously eating things with a cellular structure will have DNA in them, so no meat or vegetables in unprocessed forms, but how much (if any) DNA gets into processed foods? Is there DNA in flour? How about milk (ignoring the genomes of bacteria probably living in it)?

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    1. Larry had a post earlier about lab exercises where they detected DNA in various processed foods (like crackers etc) using PCR. So yes, I suppose there would be DNA in just about everything. As for milk, in addition to bacterial DNA you will find cow DNA from the various cow cells that inevitably get shed into the milk.

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  3. I'd rather imagine that someone, completely fed-up with the anti-GMO stance of people, deliberately snuck that question in there, knowing most people wouldn't spot it, and who is now laughing his or her ass off. :)

    Deb

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  4. This is a good sign that we are living in the golden age of food woo. Between the glutenophobia, corn syrup bigotry, hatred of agroscience, and the latest fad of the "alkaline diet" we really will have nowhere to go but up pretty soon. But the Vani Hari's and Dr. Oz's of the world are getting very rich promoting this uniquely modern brand of irrationality and will fight their hardest to promote the ignorance that keeps their cash flowing.

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  5. The survey file says "A large majority (82%) support mandatory labels on GMOs, but curiously about the same amount (80%) also support mandatory labels on foods containing DNA." I would say that that is a pretty clear hint that ergaster's suggestion is correct. Otherwise how do we interpret "curiously"?

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  6. GET ALL OF THE CHEMICALS OUT OF OUR FOOD!!!! :-)

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    1. Absolutely! We don't want no chemical molecules in what we eat! I've been told that food and beverage companies put a lot of dihydrogen monoxide into practically all their products, especially drinks, without warning the consumers.

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    2. There are also nucleic acids in our food!

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  7. There is another absurdity in the survey results reported: the precision. (William Spearshake refers to measurement uncertainty in another current comment, and the point applies here.) To express a proportion as precisely as 80.44% you'd need a very large sample, of the order of 10 million people. If they had 1002 people in their sample (as I would guess), and 806 favoured the labelling, then that would have an uncertainty of the order of ±28 people, or 3%, so they should have written "about 80%".

    Taking the argument a bit further, the 82.28% who favoured a label on genetically engineered food comes to 824.4 people (a result that doesn't square too well with my guess that the sample size was 1002, but I won't worry now about that), and, adding a further guess that virtually all of the 80.44% were also part of the 82.28%, that suggests that only about 18 people realized the absurdity of the question about DNA. That is worrying in itself.

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  8. This post is an attempt to cover up a dramatic and disturbing fact -- of the people who get sick or die, 100% of them turn out to have DNA in their bodies.

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    1. Furthermore, every cancer has something to do with DNA... our marxist one- world-order government obviously wants to kill us all and bury our bodies in FEMA camps... or some variation of that.

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  9. Here's another question from another poll which I think is worth pondering. 88% of eminent evolutionary biologists repsonding to a survey by Graffing (2004) answered "no" to the statement:
    "I believe that there is something, not known to science, in human beings that lives on after the body dies."
    The list of biologists and paleontologists that received the survey is rather extensive (it was based on members of the NAS which listed evolution as a research interest - no Larry, but Joe is on there).
    Now, the answer is obviously stupid. If we read the question as written, giving the opinion that there is nothing not known to science that lives on in human beings after the body dies means that one thinks that we have an exhaustive knowledge of gut bacteria (which of course live on at least for a while after their host expires). And the lists did include Dawkins and Williams who of course make a big point about the potential immortality of genes, which can live on in descendants. And I doubt we know all alleles in the human population...
    But since the survey was about religious and philosophical beliefs I'm sure that at least 88% of respondents weren't thinking about gut bacteria - they were thinking about theological constructs like souls. And in fact the research does not interpret the 9% yes answers as making a nitpicky point about microbial life in the small intestine, but as professing a belief in a soul in the sense of the abrahamic religions.

    So when 80% of people click the "mandatory labels on food containing DNA" option, that does not necessarily mean that they are unaware that there's DNA in all eucaryotes. It more likely than not means that they translated this statement into the more sensible "mandatory labels on GMOs". A clickable survey generally doesn't allow you to clarify points.

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    1. I may have been on the distribution list for that question, but I have no recollection of actually noticing it, and I certainly was not one of those responding.

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    2. Only about half of those asked returned the survey and the only people for whom participation can be confirmed are those that agreed to a post-survey interview: Richard Dawkins, George C. Williams, Richard C. Lewontin, John Maynard Smith, Ernst Mayr, John M. Thoday, Tom Eisner, James Crow, John T. Bonner, Edward B. Lewis, Henry Harpending and Tim Clutton-Brock.
      The list didn't include anybody who wouldn't be able to make the point about gut bacteria and my point here is simply that when faced with a survey people do interpret questions before they answer them, rather than taking them at face value.

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  10. Of coarse the people meant they wanted warnings about chemicals. they thought dna meant human created chemicals and trusted otherwise the question would not be saying a obvious thing.
    So the questionnaires either were up to no good or are the dumb ones.
    Upon reflection most people would correct themselves.
    by the way that means that 50%, i think, who accept evolution as true or mostly true ALSO ask for dna labeling.

    Of coarse there is a fear of third world worlds and so labeling that would be desired by the public.

    Evolutionism should be labeled for misusing DNA as a proof of evolution by a reasoning that it could only be so. A creator couldn't possible think it a good idea to have basic structures in biology using a single program. A common law if you will in genetics as in physics as a option.

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    1. Robert says

      Evolutionism should be labeled for misusing DNA as a proof of evolution by a reasoning that it could only be so. A creator couldn't possible think it a good idea to have basic structures in biology using a single program. A common law if you will in genetics as in physics as a option.

      Now Robert, pretend someone else wrote those words and deduce whether any sense at all can be made of them.

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    2. SRM
      i'm just making the point that evolutiondom uses DNA likeness as proof of common descent. When in fact common design equally predicts and welcomes like dna in biology because of a creators simple idea of basic laws.
      So we all, mammals etc, have DNA points for our eyeballs but it would be that way from a common design principal. Its not EVIDENCE for common descent of some eyeballish common ancestor.
      So we need labeling.

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    3. @Robert Byers

      I'm curious about this designer. Why did he/she/it make human DNA more similar to chimp DNA than to gorilla DNA? And why is human DNA even less similar to orangutan DNA? Can you explian why the differences between human DNA and chimpanzee DNA correspond so closely to what is predicted from the mutation rate and the estimated time of divergence based on the fossil record.

      Is that something you would predict based on the idea of a common design principle? Is it EVIDENCE for Intelligent Design Creationism? Please explain how you interpret this data, which seems to be powerful evidence for common ancestry.

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    4. Re Lawrence Moran

      We might also ask Booby to explain the curious fact that, virtually alone amongst the mammals, humans and the great apes have a broken gene for vitamin C if they were created separately. Is the creator trying to fool us by making it appear that apes and humans have a common ancestor? Is the creator a trickster?

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    5. If we're imagining an all-powerful creator, he/she/it certainly could have chosen relatively recently to design the world (and the universe) so that it seems old and living things as if they evolved. Personally, I figure that if a creator went to all that trouble, I really should respect and accept the illusion. If, as I do not expect, I survive my death and the creator tells me it was all a trick, I'll have to say "You sure fooled me!" and I expect we'll both get a chuckle out of it.

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    6. Isn't this a typical example of David vs Goliath? I have nothing against Rob who seems like an honest and maybe a bit confused YEC. Having said that I don't think professor Moran would challenge another creationist with the same questions. I hope I'm wrong but I don't believe Quest would have been challenged the same way Bobby has been. While absolutely couldn't stand Quest and his vulgar language I kind of "miss" his input in situation like that. I was kind of waiting for his response and then I found Cubist's post that Quest got banned on this blog. I didn't even know it could be done. I looked in my blog settings and could it find this option.

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    7. Johnny,
      There is no challenging Quest. Quest is a troll who spouts nonsense for nonsense's sake. Robert is at least sincere, seemingly decent, and worthy of being asked to defend his views because such views are shared by many people, and it provides insight, of some sort, into the religious mind. Quest, at least as he presents himself on this blog, has no personal views that are worthy of elaboration.

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    8. @Colnago80
      "Is the creator a trickster?"

      I would like to know how guinea pigs managed to piss the creator off to end up with a broken vitamin C gene... My daughter says they're so cute.
      I mean we humans got it because Eve ate an apple, right? Did a guinea pig eat a bit of the same apple and the creator spoke 'henceforth thou shalt have a defective vitamin C gene'?
      Or is the guinea pig an example of a Monday morning design?

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    9. Geez Robert, you must be a shill for a portable goal-post company.

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    10. Professer Moran
      The original APE is what human bodies were a copy of. We have this ape body and so it should be DNA alike, however the present primates are just variations on the Ape kind which came off the ark.
      So it might be that the chimp is more like the original one or the chimp in changing from the primate couple off the ark simply repeats the dna sequences as it got smaller.
      The big primates are ones that look more different from us and so more dNA difference.
      A common design prediction would be that the closer we look like apes the more the dna is the same since the dna is the source of the looks.
      Common design explauins very well common dna at basic levels and less basic levels. its was a unfounded presumption to say ONLY like dna or dna that is close in structures to each other EQUALS evidence for common descent.
      They are using a line of reasoning for drawing the conclusion because they never thought of an alternative option.
      There is another option and also therefore it nullify's dna as demanding evidence for common descent.
      Its just a hunch. its not demonstrated by sci bio evidence.

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    11. colnago80
      Why not have this vit c issue? For the reason reason primates do. not from common descent but from a common problem back in the day that effected these type of bodies equally.
      In fact I think i can say creationism would predict these things.
      We should, as a option , have like problems in these like bodies types.
      In short most likely apes etc and people got this issue at the same time because of like response to something.
      its not evidence that it shows common descent. its only a option. Another option, better and truer, is like reaction to like interference.
      Common design predicts this just as well. after the fall of coarse.

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    12. Mr Byers wrote:
      "The original APE is what human bodies were a copy of"

      Wow... not special creation, but copied from a chimp... Mr. Byers I would like to recommend to you, do NOT repeat this in a creationist forum/ blog, you'll be banned quicker than it takes for Bolt to finish a 100 meter run.

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    13. ED
      They wouldn't mind as long as Adam/Eve were created and not born.
      It has been a error to hide from the apeness of our bodies.
      in fact it should of been the first conclusion. since we , uniquely are made in gods image, then we couldn't possibly have a body of our own , while still in the biological blueprint of nature. Our unique identity could not possibly be represented by a unique body. So we are renting one. We are the only creature that has the same body as a other creature. no one else.
      It could only be this way. so this YEC wants us to have 99% or better likeness with apes. not trying to squeeze dna numbers down as creationists still do.

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    14. SRM,

      " Quest, at least as he presents himself on this blog, has no personal views that are worthy of elaboration

      I tend to agree with you. He criticized both evolutionists and creationists at least on this blog. At the same time I thought he tried to cover his real identity
      One thing though, I always wondered if he ever was going to write more details about how the, Designer used quantum mechanics in the creation process. I seriously thought the man was mad

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  11. Slightly related to the matter of DNA in foods, processed or otherwise: ecologists, for example, often determine the diet of animals by using PCR to detect prey DNA in the feces of the animal. Only relatively short stretches of DNA are required for this to work of course, but I must admit that I am surprised that DNA makes it through the digestive tract in detectable quantities given the host enzymes and the enzymes from the huge number of bacteria in the intestinal tract - yet it does. I suppose, therefore, we shouldnt be surprised that a lot of DNA remains intact even in heavily processed foods (we could call feces a heavily processed food, no?).

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  12. The survey questions start with “Do you support or oppose the following government policies?”

    I read that as implying that these are already government policy, not some wild-eyed proposal. That's bound to skew the results.

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    1. I'm not certain there's a clear distinction. I think more than 20 percent of a random sample would oppose mandatory food labeling just on principle. So I am skeptical of this result.

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  13. I suspect the joke's on us. 80% of Americans wouldn't know what DNA is.

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