Fear of the unknown blocks many from achieving great things. Worse than that is when we insist that something well-known is still unknown and we allow it to continue to frighten us. –Unknown
Before I start this debate I would like to set up the format of this debate. This debate is based on STOA Team Policy style debate. The voting criteria of this debate will be “net benefits” which means that if my case proves more harm than good you should vote for the negative team. If my case proves an outcome of good than harm you should vote for me. I implore the voters of this debate to remember my voting criteria when the fill out today’s ballot.
The Status Quo:
There has been 18 years of waiting for genetically modified salmon, with no end in sight.
AquaBounty began seeking American approval in 1995. "Eighteen-plus years" said AquaBounty's David Conley with a joyless chuckle. "It's a moving target. We just have no idea."AquaBounty has submitted all the scientific data the FDA has requested of it. And in significant preliminary findings last year, the FDA said approving the AquaBounty fish "would not have a significant effect on the quality of the human environment in the United States," or on American salmon stocks. But then it went and extended the public comment process all over again. The FDA's Theresa Eisenman said "it is not possible to predict a timeline for when these decisions will be made.”
Congress will enact and the president will sign the following mandates:
1) The Monday after an Affirmative ballot, the Food & Drug Administration approves AquaBounty salmon for sale in the United States.
2) AquaBounty GE salmon will be marked as GE in wholesale.
3) All Affirmative speeches may clarify the plan as needed.
Advantage 1: Reduced heart disease
Poor people would eat more fish. Availability of genetically modified salmon would lower the price and motivate lower-income people to eat more fish which is good for public health http://www.agbioforum.org/v15n3/v15n3a04-menozzi.htm
Acceptance of GM salmon might increase if consumers identify more personal benefits than benefits to the business sector. Human health benefits from improved nutrition may result from higher consumption of fish driven by a lower market price In particular, the price reduction could stimulate fresh (GM) salmon consumption in low-income households susceptible to conditions linked to poor nutrition thus, GM salmon consumption may have high marginal benefits to public health.
The Impact: Reduced deaths from heart disease. N-3 Fatty Acids from fish reduce cardiovascular death. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16841857
The results of prospective cohort studies indicate that consuming fish or fish oil containing n-3 fatty acids is associated with decreased cardiovascular death, the American Heart Association recommends that everyone eat oily fish twice per week.
Advantage 2: Environmental benefits. Genetically engineered fish promote sustainable fish supply http://ucanr.org/sites/sfs/files/122266.pdf
Wild-caught fish deplete the oceanic stocks and do not present a long-term, ecologically sustainable solution to rising global fish demand. One of the benefits associated with the development of GE fish for aquaculture may well be in helping to reduce recognized pressure on wild fish populations.
Approving AquAdvantage salmon would provide environmental and economic benefits http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-112shrg78022/html/CHRG-112shrg78022.htm
The United States currently imports more than 97 percent of the Atlantic salmon consumed from countries like Chile, Norway, Canada, Scotland, and the Faroe Islands. Conventional aquaculture produces Atlantic salmon in sea cages, a practice that has a variety of environmental, ecological, and economic consequences. The availability of a more rapidly growing Atlantic salmon, for example, the AquAdvantage salmon, could facilitate land-based cultivation of this species, much like trout, catfish, and tilapia, reducing the cost and environmental impact of transportation, as well as reducing the environmental consequences of sea cage cultivation. In sum, the AquAdvantage salmon, when approved, would in all likelihood, approve the sustainability of salmon aquaculture, reduce imports, and create an opportunity for economic development in the United States.
Advantage 3: New technologies. Approving GE salmon means we stop blocking the development of additional new technologies that would benefit mankind http://ucanr.org/sites/sfs/files/122266.pdf
The current regulatory approach in the United States, coupled with the unpredictable time frame, has stymied commercial investment in the development of GE animals for agricultural applications. The abuse of good-faith attempts to increase transparency and enable public participation in the GE animal regulatory process, coupled with political efforts to prohibit the FDA from regulating GE AquAdvantage salmon as it approaches the close of its protracted regulatory journey, are unlikely to have reassured potential investors. This outcome may jeopardize future access to improved genetic lines resulting from new technological developments (e.g., disease-resistant GE animals), with negative consequences on food security and other broadly supported societal goals, including improved human and animal health.
Return To Top | Posted:
2014-02-23 04:50:11| Speak Round
I thank my opponent for opening her case.
I want to start by saying I love the taste of salmon. Nobody in this debate would like the benefits of eating salmon to be spread to the general population more than me. But my opponent's model does not achieve that.
By now salmon has been farmed for a very long time. Traditional breeders already can (and do) achieve the same results as GM salmon (GM salmon are quicker off the mark but the other salmon catch up so that they are both actually harvested after the same period of time - http://www.salmobreed.no/newsletters/en/newsletter_5_2011.pdf). GMO is an exciting technology, but it's not yet at the point where we can conclude we totally understand it will be useful and effective, even if it is indeed safe. This is a prime example of what I call "technowashing", where people say all kinds of strange sciency things in order to make people believe a problem is being solved that doesn't really exist.
I'll give you another, related example of technowashing to put this debate in perspective. Monsanto is a company that is pushing heavily for GMOs. They claim this technology allows them "to produce more food sustainably whilst using fewer resources; provide a healthier environment by saving on pesticides; decrease greenhouse gas emissions and increase crop yields substantially." When asked to present independent evidence any of these claims were true by the government of South Africa, however, they could not - Monsanto advertising was subsequently banned (http://www.globalresearch.ca/monsanto-ad-banned-in-south-africa-due-to-deceptive-gmo-messaging/5375221). But here's the important thing - Monsanto themselves are relying less on GMOs. While GE and chemical engineering were once the two main drivers of Monsanto's business model, Monsanto has now completely divested its chemical interests and now spends only 2% of their R&D investment on GMOs, focusing the remaining 98% on breeding.
Remember rBST? rBST was a growth hormone they used to sell to farmers of cows. Tons of repeated studies showed that it led to much better milk yield, and that the milk was perfectly safe for human consumption. The studies were all very careful and absolutely accurate, but today, rBST is banned in many countries. The reason? In a minority of cows, it causes horrible, typically deadly mutations. See, everyone was so concerned about whether rBST was safe for humans, that they forgot to check that rBST was perfectly safe for cows. Europe concluded rBST in cows causes "severe and unnecessary pain, suffering and distress" (http://ec.europa.eu/food/fs/sc/scah/out21_en.pdf).
Here's why that's relevant: there was once a time when nobody in the general public would have thought that of rBST. It came to light after massive international campaigns, largely by animal rights groups, to treat animals better (though particularly in the US, the fight is still ongoing). There was no shortage of milk production, just as there is no shortage today of farmed fish (the only fish issues are with wild caught populations). These problems were invented so that the companies selling rBST could produce their own agenda.
The fact is that there is no salmon shortage. In fact, we grow more salmon than ever before. I'll be the first to admit salmon is expensive, but that's because salmon are actually also more expensive to rear on farms. It's not as easy as sticking a cow in a paddock. That's why despite fishing quotas applying only to wild salmon, wild salmon are almost at the same price as farmed salmon. Time for a story a little closer to home. I can't afford to buy as much salmon as I eat mince. As a result, when I eat salmon, I eat slightly smaller portions of meat. But that doesn't stop me eating fish as part of a healthy balanced diet. My 300/g a week or so of fish may look on paper like much less than my chicken consumption. But it's still well over the American Heart Foundation's minimum fish eating recommendations. Apparently a bit under 100g of fish is enough to make a serving. That's tiny. You don't need a meal for that - you can get that eating salmon and cottage cheese on crackers as a snack. 100g of salmon costs about $6 where I live, and it's one of the cheapest meats supermarkets will sell you.
In the absence of some immediate problem that needs solving, the USA ought not to rush to judgement. As much as the FDA has stuffed up with not giving Aquabounty consistent demands in the past, they are now charged with helping secure America's food future. Right now, even if the risks inherent in accepting this motion are slim, there are risks, and they're not justified by any rewards. In my arguments, I intend to substantiate these facts.
Most salmon are farmed under the status quo in huge ponds, cages or tanks. Wild caught salmon are rare as most countries regulate that to promote sustainability, but farm populations can be more easily managed and controlled. For example, 1,433,708 tonnes of Atlantic salmon were farmed last year, compared to only 2,989 tonnes harvested (overall, 80% of all salmon today caught is from a farm). As with all intensive agriculture, there are risks inherent in intensive aquaculture - notably, the fact that when you put heaps of organisms together like that, disease can spread very quickly. These are generally treated with antibiotics, which humans eat along with the fish. Although antibiotics do not directly affect humans, there are flow-on health consequences, such as how these antibiotics increase bacteria's resistance to antibiotics in the human body. This eventually leads to new bacterial strains that are more resistant to antibiotics.
Ponds are no better (and often worse) than oceans. While in oceans the cage may get dirty, for example, at least you can use copper to prevent the growth of algae and such. In ponds, you can't do that because there is no cage. You actually have to deal with that stuff by throwing cleaning agents and fish medicines into the pond regularly. The more fish you raise, the more fish excrement there is to clean. The faster fish grow, the faster the rate of excretion, the more chemicals you have to use at once.
When scientists make claims about the health benefits of eating fish, they're typically talking about wild fish. Salmon from a farm, for example, is naturally white, so farmers need to add red dye to the salmon's feed. Nutrient concentrations for farmed fish have been consistently shown to be lower than wild fish. And the environmental impact - well, as one expert put it, "It is simply not possible to produce fish on an industrial scale in a sustainable way" (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/27/world/americas/27salmon.html?hp&_r=0).
All of these negative impacts are made worse by GMO. GMO requires the use of redundant containment tanks to prevent contamination. While I'm sure tank designs are reasonably secure, all the problems with keeping salmon in tanks are amplified when there are additional tanks to maintain. This is in addition to vetting suppliers constantly to ensure compliance. If you add all that up, the added costs of producing GM salmon certainly will outweigh the non-existent savings. The more of these checks are required, the lower the competitiveness of the salmon compared to regular salmon anyway. There is much greater potential for economic development in the US in farming non-GE salmon on land than there is in farming GE salmon on land.
Remember that this is all assuming, still, that everything goes to plan. If something fails, the consequences would be disastrous. It's like with nuclear power - perfectly safe until something goes wrong. Given the government incompetence in not giving a consistent framework for FDA approval, it is unreasonable to assume that that same agency will have any proper oversight over the industry. If you can't trust the FDA, then that voids all the legitimacy of the US government to approve any particularly dangerous farming tool. Remember, this is the same organisation that repeatedly affirms to this day that there is no problem with rBST.
The more like a farm and less like an ocean these conditions are, the more these things hold true. For example, salmon in most types of farms cannot be fed their natural diet of krill or sprats, which is where all those good fatty acids in salmon come from. The more of the artificial feed required at once (due to early stages of heavy growth) the less nutritional value the fish will have when caught. Not all salmon fillets are created equal. The ultimate economic effect of this model, if implemented successfully, would be lower-quality (on average) fish meat sold at exactly the same price.
In conclusion, one month per argument is a ridiculously long period of time.
Return To Top | Posted:
2014-03-26 23:42:21| Speak Round
I thank my opponent for his rebuttal! And I would love to open with a snazzy analogy, but alas, analogies are like potatoes, they just don’t work. On a more serious note in my next round I will be showing the problems with the negative mindset and rebut his arguments.
Salmon has been traditionally farmed for a long time, a long enough time to get to the point of overfishing. In my model I will be helping the environment, helping the economy, and helping the common man.
My opponent has brought up on various accounts something called “technowashing”, where people say there is a problem and claim to solve it with the use of GMO’s. But I would like to remind you there is actually a problem. (http://www.fishwatch.gov/seafood_profiles/species/salmon/species_pages/atlantic_salmon.htm) A well-known type of salmon called the Atlantic salmon has been commercially farmed in the US to a point that it cannot be used for commercial fishing any longer. Because salmon are overfished it takes a toll on the environment as with the economy. Because commercial salmon fishing is banned we need to go to the next best thing which is fish farming. If a style of fish farming is safe it should be legalized so that more fish can be farmed.
GE salmon has been tested for 18 years! It has had one of the longest safety and health assessments in history. AquaBounty and the FDA has produced a 171-page health and safety briefing, 84-page environmental assessment proving they will not hurt the environment or damage health, and independent reviews by veterinarians and scientists. As the FDA has studied the AquaAdvantage salmon for 18 years they have shown their safety and health time and time again but one last thing stands, approving it.
If there is no salmon shortage it does not mean a company should be blocked from producing it. America doesn’t grow most of its salmon, as I have shown before it imports more than 97 percent of salmon consumed from other countries. If we let our American companies farm salmon then we will have less need for imports.
In my opponent’s first point regarding the cleanliness of cages and ponds his citation and evidence is from a New York Times journalist named Alexei Barrionuevo who normally writes a real estate news column. The piece of evidence is about ponds and fisheries in Chile and how they are unhealthy and the chemicals effect people. Now if the negative side can bring up a more credible piece of evidence about how AquaBounty is producing their AquaAdvantage salmon the same way the fisheries in Chile are producing theirs we can address this argument, but for now it is invalid. Furthermore, we can bring forth a “Turn” from this argument (a Turn is using a piece of evidence the other side brought up and showing how it’s bad for their own case), if Chile’s fish are bad for human consumption and we are importing fish from Chile due to lack of American farms then the best thing to do would be to my plan, put safer fish into the market, and have need of less imports.
“Remember that this is all assuming, still, that everything goes to plan. If something fails, the consequences would be disastrous. It's like with nuclear power - perfectly safe until something goes wrong.” The negative side has not substantially shown that something will go wrong; he has said that in the past we have been unneeded pain in our cows due to lack of inspection on cow’s health (which as I may remind you has been checked and briefed by the FDA and scientists), and that the means of fish farming in Chile sucks (which has nothing to do with the lack of AquaBounty’s capabilities but with that of Chile.
Now I will show you the harms of negative mindset.
1) Precautionary Panic:
“European legislation: The Precautionary Principle. Is the complete opposite of the United States’ stance. Using the precautionary principle, genetically modified food is considered unsafe until it can be effectively proven that there are no risks involved. Any applicant seeking to produce genetically modified food must convince the European Union that the product will be safe before it can even be marketed, based on part by an independent assessment from a third party of the food’s possible risks and rewards.”
Now that doesn’t seem unreasonable but looking further into it it’s unnecessary which links me to the point that society is worse off than before from when we apply the
Precautionary Principle because of lost innovation, trade, and technology. We end up less safe by this over-concern with safety.
“The problems with the PP are imposing real harms on society—by delaying beneficial technologies; disrupting world trade; and perhaps most importantly impeding economic, social, nutritional, and safety progress in developing nations. Indeed the PP, as has often been pointed out, fails its own test of being better safe than sorry.”
2. World hunger.
Blocking GMOs increases risk of starvation
The problem is, if we don't allow genetic engineering of food, we will give rise to risks of starvation; because there's some hope, speculative to be sure, that genetic engineering of food can deliver safe and nutritious and inexpensive food to countries where this is literally lifesaving. A ban on genetic engineering of food is literally dangerous to people who have a great deal to gain from genetic modification. So my suggestion is that the precautionary principle forbids genetic modification of food because it gives rise to risk, but the precautionary principle also forbids forbidding of genetic engineering of food because forbidding genetic engineering of food gives rise to risk.
Blocking new food technologies is bad because they are essential to feeding millions of hungry people
“PP helps us to more consciously strive for such a deliberate and balanced approach to precaution, that might be its most positive legacy. But for the millions of people who are lacking adequate nutrition today, and the many millions more who will suffer as a result of the growing food demand-supply gap projected over the next few decades, the PP does more harm than good. New technologies of many different types that can produce safer, more abundant foods, and wider distribution of those technologies, are crucial to decreasing the number of hungry and undernourished people in the world now and in the future.”
Current food supplies are stretched to the limit and getting worse
“By 2050, when the global population is projected to surpass 9 billion people, the demand for agricultural products will double. Yet, agricultural systems are already stretched to their limits by constraints on water, volatile weather patterns and price volatility, raising the risk of production shortfalls. In fact, the price volatility that has existed across the global economy since 2007 is likely to intensify, constricting global food supplies.”
Starving people and riots in the streets!!!
“Prices of main food crops such as wheat and maize are now close to those that sparked riots in 25 countries in 2008. That 870 million people are malnourished and the food crisis is growing in the Middle East and Africa. One of the world's leading environmentalists issued a warning that the global food supply system could collapse at any point, leaving hundreds of millions more people hungry, sparking widespread riots and bringing down governments.”
3. Market Manipulation & Rent Seeking:
The effort to ban modified salmon is really an attempt by some politicians to artificially block competition in the salmon fishing industry. Alaskan fishermen want laws that will help them gain an edge in the marketplace, instead of having to compete. They don’t really care about the science of whether the fish are safe.
Alaska politicians oppose all farmed salmon because they compete with Alaskan salmon
[Alaska Senator Lisa] “Murkowski, backed by Alaska fishing organizations, has repeatedly tried to stop such approval by tying the agency up in red tape. She said again and again she thought a more thorough scientific review of the biotechnology was in order. But she sort of let slip on Friday that the demand for better science was really more of a smokescreen for efforts to simply kill the idea. That view is shared by many Alaska fishermen, especially commercial fishermen who fear genetically modified salmon could provide yet more competition for Alaska wild salmon in markets already dominated by farmed fish. As technology has improved, fish farmers in Norway, Canada and Chile, in particular, have begun to dominate the markets. Alaska produces no farmed fish. The 49th state's politically powerful commercial fishing industry convinced lawmakers to ban salmon farming in Alaska in 1989. "They didn’t want economic competition from farmed fish,'' University of Alaska Anchorage economics professor Gunnar Knapp noted a decade ago in a study.”
This behavior - using government to block competition for certain businesses - is called “rent seeking”.
“Instead of offering better products or better service at lower prices, rent seekers hire lawyers and lobbyists to influence politicians and regulators to pass laws, write regulations and collect taxes that block competition. The process of getting the government to give out these favors is rent-seeking.”
Rent seeking kills industries. The “protected” businesses go bankrupt eventually because they never learn to compete. And consumers harmed. Prices are raised artificially by industries that are protected from competition
“The U.S. auto industry is a textbook case of rent seeking behavior. In 1981 unable to compete with
the quality and price of Japanese cars, the domestic car companies convinced the U.S. government
to restrict the import of “foreign” cars. The result? Americans paid an extra $5 billion for cars.
Japan overcame these barriers by using their import quotas to ship high-end, high-margin luxury
cars, establishing manufacturing plants in the U.S. for high-volume lower cost cars and by
continuing to innovate. In contrast, U.S. car manufacturers raised prices, pocketed the profits,
bought off the unions with unsustainable contracts, ran inefficient factories and stopped innovating.
The bill came due two decades later as the American auto industry spiraled into bankruptcy and its
market share plummeted from 75% in 1981 to 45% in 2012.”
In conclusion, one month per argument is a ridiculously amazing period of time.
Return To Top | Posted:
2014-04-23 22:14:34| Speak Round
I'd like to begin by agreeing that overfishing in the ocean is a problem. What I've been saying in this debate is that the solution to overfishing is breeding, as humanity is already doing. In the sea, nature controls how many fish their are, while on the farm, for the most part, people do. If it were not for fish farms, and we caught as much salmon as we do today, every single salmon in the ocean would be eaten by people within a few years. The more fish are reared on farms, the less need to be caught in the wild. This principle of conservation through aquaculture is thus already effective. Some salmon farms even actively restock the wild populations to allow fishers to have something to catch in the wild (http://www.mtcookalpinesalmon.com/eco-sustainability.aspx). Of course this would not be possible with GMOs, but in general, all fish farming resolves overfishing problems, and since we both support fish farming, that is not at issue in this debate.
Therefore the line "Salmon has been traditionally farmed for a long time, a long enough time to get to the point of overfishing" makes absolutely no sense. Her model is to allow to establishment of a line of GM fish to be exclusively put into fish farms, so she supports fish farms as much as I do. Fish farms reduce overfishing by giving fishing companies a sustainable source for their fish.
I thank my opponent for continuing her case.
My opponent has to show some tangible benefit from her specific model that cannot be achieved if her model is not implemented. That comes from the fact that she has the BOP. In this round I intend to continue to demonstrate that she has yet to do so.
She tries to claim that overfishing in the wild has been a problem with farming. In fact if you read her own source, it clearly states wild fishing is now largely banned, and most salmon are farmed specifically because farmed salmon cannot really be overfished. Moreover, my opponent's own model is also farming, in fact more intensively so than regular farming, so that's not a problem she has demonstrated. Bred salmon achieve the same results as GM salmon, and don't require all those extra redundant containment pools and such.
Next she claims that "If a style of fish farming is safe it should be legalized so that more fish can be farmed." This does not follow. There is no limit to how many salmon farms can be built using one particular style. If a lack of salmon farms is the problem (and it isn't really a problem - there's plenty of salmon farms in the world, and more are already being opened all the time under the status quo), then legalizing specific forms of currently illegal farming is not the answer - it is simply to open more farms. Then we'll have lots of salmon farms, none of the risks and all of the benefits. There's also nothing stopping America expanding its number of salmon farms without approving this policy. If a lack of specifically American salmon farms is the issue, then the solution would be simply to build more salmon farms, not to make that contingent upon the introduction of a potentially problematic new technology that doesn't fulfill any need that we have today.
Finally the third problem she claims is a turn on my Chile evidence. First she does an ad hominum fallacy against the author of the article. Next she says it isn't credible, and that it must be unique to Chile. Both are not true. Here's a Scottish report to the same effect: http://www.robedwards.com/2013/02/farmed-salmon-killed-by-disease-leaps-to-85-million.html . In fact the problems I cited happen with all farmed salmon, whether American or non-American. If she had read my analysis, she would have found that I further demonstrated why this would particularly be the case for GM farmed salmon, among the other problems - most of which (such as a higher cost of production) my opponent doesn't even respond to. Disease exists in fish everywhere, all fish excrete, etc etc etc - these are not uniquely Chilean problems.
Note that I do not have to show that something will go wrong - I merely have to show things would be more dangerous if they did. The threat of a harm is itself a harm even if the harm never eventuates. No conservationist should have to live in fear, for example, of a salmon having breached its containment tank from a GE salmon farm. This is particularly problematic for my opponent since she ignored so much of my case.
My opponent claims that this general mindset stifles progress towards solving real problems, but she cannot tell us what problems this salmon actually solves. Research into GE salmon can still and should definitely continue, but until GE salmon can demonstrably outperform existing offerings, the precautionary principle serves us well since what we are cautioning against has literally zero marginal benefit. The US doesn't end up with less of anything as a result of not approving these salmon, since there's nothing useful these salmon can do that conventionally bred salmon cannot.
GE food in general is irrelevant to the argument of salmon specifically. Salmon is a poor food source for combating world hunger as it has a poor yield for how much space the farms require (this is also the case with meat-based foods in general). GE plant research (like wheat and maize) is far more valuable for this kind of thing - but even there, most of the largest companies (as I demonstrated last round) have already given up on GE research because breeding just works so much better. If my opponent thinks she can make salmon cheaper than foods like rice, she's very much mistaken.
Also irrelevant is the intention of various politicians. My argument against my opponent's model holds true even if the intention of other groups opposing the model is problematic. I'm at odds with them over the fact that in my case and counter-model I've always been a strong supporter of salmon farming, so rebutting their arguments does absolutely nothing to rebut mine.
My case remains almost wholly unopposed. The resolution is negated.
Have a happy month everybody!
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2014-05-21 17:15:36| Speak Round
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2014-07-19 01:17:01| Speak Round
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2014-08-16 01:17:01| Speak Round