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Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are a topic that can be wildly misrepresented by Republicans and science fiction writers.  

Here's a sample from Republicans--how can we forget the hybrids scare:

President Bush's State of the Union Address
....Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research: human cloning in all its forms; creating or implanting embryos for experiments; creating human-animal hybrids; and buying, selling or patenting human embryos....

Samples from science fiction writers abound.  Actually, I quite liked The White Plague back in the day.  But I am able to understand the difference between science fact and science fiction.

In addition, GMOs are wildly misrepresented by certain activists.  You may have been led to believe that all GMOs are from Monsanto, which is the spawn of all the evil in our food system.  And you may have been led to believe that all ur geenz and seeds are belong to us.  Both of these perspectives are flat-out false.  In addition, they are generating fear that a Karl Rove would be proud of--making debate impossible because your fear of being attacked by Monsanto GMOs is so great.  

In a recent diary we were told (incorrectly, again) that genetic modification is all worthless and corporate. There are plenty of examples of biotechnology-enhanced crops are feeding struggling African farmers and can help farmers who are already facing serious problems from climate change. These are only a couple of examples of worthy academic projects that you probably don't know about because of the haze generated by people who want you to think all genetic engineering is Monsanto.

Today I was reading about another GMO that may provide huge benefits to poor farmers.  The article is by Mark Tester, a researcher whose group has just published a paper on salt-tolerant plants. (I will mention, though, that this is not the only group working on this issue--this is just the one who wrote in the Guardian this week. There are probably several ways to address this problem that may arise from different research groups.)

Here's what a recent diary had to say on this topic:

Most of the time, this refers to promises of GM crops that are drought tolerant. An associated problem is salinity, which is especially a problem on irrigated land. Heinemann is doubtful that we will see stress tolerant GMOs in the future.

And here is the truth, from a researcher actively working on this topic:
GM crops are another tool in the struggle against poverty

Salty soils affect the growth of plants worldwide, particularly in irrigated land where one-third of the world's food is produced. It is estimated that one-fifth of irrigated land is salt-affected. And it is a problem that is only going to get worse as pressure to use more water increases and the quality of water decreases. Helping plants to withstand this salty onslaught would have a significant impact on world food production.....

We made a targeted genetic tweak so that Na+ is removed from the water flowing up the stem before it reaches the shoot – once out, it is stuck. The effect of this manipulation is to reduce the amount of toxic Na+ building up the shoot and so increase the plant's tolerance to salinity.

The control of the gene we manipulated is crucial. To be effective, it must be tuned up so that it works harder and produces more protein than it usually would specifically around the plant's water conducting tubes in the mature root. In doing this, we have enhanced a process used naturally by plants to minimise the movement of Na+ to the shoot. We have used genetic modification (GM) to amplify the process, helping plants to do what they already do – but to do it much better!

So here it is. Today.  And it was not done by Monsanto. It has nothing to do with buying expensive pesticides.

You may dislike the business practices of certain corporations.  Fine.  You may dislike the current patent laws.  Fine.  But stop letting people use your fears of your food to dismiss improvements in plants that could help to feed millions in times of increasing demand and climate change.  

Before you assault the developer of this salt-tolerance technology as being a tool of BigAg, read the whole article.  But here's a snip:

The motivation for my research is as an independent academic seeking knowledge and its application for public good. It is driven by the same imperatives that led me to be an active member of the UK Green party for nearly a decade. As such, I consider my funding sources to be irrelevant to my academic integrity. Nevertheless, I can declare that none of our research on salinity has been paid for by industry.

Before you assault me as being a tool of BigAg, I assure you that I do not now, nor have I ever, worked for Monsanto or any of the BigAg companies.  

I'll close with a great comment by Dr. Tester on this technology.  He summarizes what many progressive scientists feel on this matter--of hunger, poverty, and agriculture in the world in times of economic and climate crises.  

GM crops are not the answer to this shameful global situation, but I argue strongly that they provide another tool, another option to try to address the problem. And I do not think those of us sitting in comfortable wealth have a right to deny people the opportunity to improve their production of food. The technology is just that, a technology. Like nuclear technologies (radiotherapy or nuclear weapons) or mobile phones (communication or bomb triggers), how we use it is the main issue.

Please don't close your mind on this science and technology because you hate a corporation.  We need many silver BBs in the days ahead.  Let's not withhold any of them from anyone.

Originally posted to mem from somerville on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 01:04 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  And no (4+ / 0-)

    I don't think Obama is screwing the world's hungry. I was delighted to hear this administration supports many solutions to hunger:

    Attacking Hunger at Its Roots

    and one of the solutions is science.

    Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

    by mem from somerville on Sat Jul 11, 2009 at 01:09:40 PM PDT

    •  defintitely, science can help (6+ / 0-)

      Just found a couple of citations related to your topic:
      (1) Paper, "Plant seeds as bioreactors for recombinant protein production"
      (b) Paper, "Plants as bioreactors: Recent developments and emerging opportunities"

      Your pointing out of the knee-jerk "all corporations are bad, all GMO's are Frankenfood/Frankenstein monster" mindset is rather similar to the themes that both the New York Times and NPR are 100% irredeemable stealth-right wing media that has run/is running through DK in the past/present.  (OK, on NPR, Alicia Shepard sucks as an ombudsman, but I'm not stopping to listen to NPR because she sucks.)  Going back to biotech, it can be used wisely and is not automatically all bad, although given that humans aren't always good at "wise use", one has to be careful.

      "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

      by chingchongchinaman on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 01:19:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't have a problem with science going (4+ / 0-)

      anywhere, as long as they do it with thoughtful planning and the understanding of the limits of their knowledge. The problem is that with egos the size of ours, sometimes the limits are blurred.

      There is an analogy in capitalism here. Funny how that works. If we had let the banks that were failing fail, eventually good banks would have reaped the dividends of that collapse. Instead, we continue to prop up the banks and hope we are doing the right thing.

      Should areas that don't sustain life be tricked into sustaining life so we can continue our mad population boom? Does this not have the potential of making our ultimate demise much worse?

      Remember: it's not nice to fool mother nature. Seriously, not sure if we can in any sustainable way. And I am wary of the consequences any time we try.

      As if we could make things better without making them worse.

      by A Voice on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 01:52:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't see (10+ / 0-)

    a problem with genetic engineering or cloning as long as the scientists keep their heads about them and practice proper safety precautions.

    "We must fight their falsehood with our truth, but we must also fight falsehood in our truth." Niebuhr

    by Void Indigo on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 01:08:21 PM PDT

  •  Food supply is not the reason (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cedwyn, rubine

    for worldwide starvation. I am unimpressed by crop yields.

    "If I can't dance to it, it's not my revolution." — Emma Goldman

    by Jyrinx on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 01:10:33 PM PDT

  •  My father was a highly respected "breeder" (15+ / 0-)

    plant geneticist, known literally world-wide by those in his specialty.  He never worked for Monsanto.  He was a professor with a state university noted for its advancements in horticulture.
     Thank you for presenting this side of the argument, that not all biotech is evil.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 01:18:40 PM PDT

  •  It's all wonderful in theory (5+ / 0-)

    but ion practice, what ends up happening is wind-blown pollination of another farmer's crop by the GMO is detected, and the patent owner of the GMO crop brings an action against the farmer whose crops were so cross-pollinated is then utterly dispossessed as the farm lands are the only asset the farmer has.  And when champions of GMO fail to take this reality into account, it matters little who they work for or who they don't work for, by supporting the entire policy they enable this result.

    From whatever angle you approach it, the present offers no way out. This is not the least of its virtues. ~ The Coming Insurrection

    by ActivistGuy on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 01:21:20 PM PDT

    •  not GMO per se then, rather the patenting (8+ / 0-)

      which was allowed in an opinion written by Clarence Thomas, who had served as a lawyer for Monsanto (a point made in "Food, Inc."), and it is that patenting that gives Monsanto the legal big stick they use to intimidate farmers and others.

      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 01:25:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ok, you hate Monsanto, I get it. (4+ / 0-)

        Are you opposed to the technology in the hands of academics and researchers?

        Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

        by mem from somerville on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 01:33:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  did I say I hate Monsanto? (7+ / 0-)

          I have a problem with one company in any industry having the amount of control they do, and I have a problem with corporations using their deep pockets to force other people into their way of thinking, even if their legal actions lack merit - deep pockets can tilt the legal playing field, just as they distort the lawmaking process.

          And if a university was going to patent and profit the way Monsanto has done, I would have a similar objection.  In the movie they make a distinction between the development of public seeds by universities and what Monsanto has done.  

          I worry that all the necessities of life are being controlled by fewer and fewer hands -  we have seen this also with water supplies.  

          I am not averse to scientific advances.  But I also do not think all advances in science and technology are neutral - some have real negative consequences.  That we can do something should not by itself be a justification for doing it.  My sense of morality and ethics goes beyond that.

          do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

          by teacherken on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 01:58:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  But see, that's part of the point (5+ / 0-)

            many here have been led to believe that this technology is all Monsanto and all restricted.  That isn't the case as I demonstrate.  

            In fact, I think one of the best ways to ensure that they don't control everything is to train local plant scientists in the 3rd world to understand the technology and the issues and to create their own local solutions for their needs.

            However, some people want to block the aid that would do just that based on the Monsanto fallacy.

            Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

            by mem from somerville on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 02:09:24 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  The way you are responding (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          1BQ, wide eyed lib

          to comments here makes me think you are a public relations person for BigAg or even Monsanto.  Did teacherken say he hated Monsanto?  Sheesh.

          Speak softly and carry a big can of tuna.

          by Cat Whisperer on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 02:38:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The way you are responding (3+ / 0-)

            makes me think you didn't read the diary:

            Before you assault me as being a tool of BigAg, I assure you that I do not now, nor have I ever, worked for Monsanto or any of the BigAg companies.  

            Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

            by mem from somerville on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 02:45:43 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I did read it, and I think (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Larsstephens, wide eyed lib

              you make some good points, but I thought your respond to teacherken and a few others was a bit knee jerk.....I'll take your word for it that you don't work for Monsanto.  Let's be clear about Monsanto, however, it has a long history of unethical behavior not exactly in the interests of humanity.

              Speak softly and carry a big can of tuna.

              by Cat Whisperer on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 02:48:55 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Ok. You think Monsanto is unethical. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                kaolin, indubitably

                Are you opposed to the technology in the hands of academics and researchers?

                That is the point of this diary.

                Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

                by mem from somerville on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 02:54:39 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Whoops-there goes the native american chestnuts. (0+ / 0-)

                  No, just another example of well
                  intentioned science that left havoc in its wake.

                  I would like to see academics and researchers ply
                  their skills to even begin to try and honestly
                  assess the economical and bio spherical damage
                  caused by this one now almost foggy past incident
                  of whoops.

                  What is the difference between actual monsanto
                  employees and academics and researchers who are
                  almost exclusively funded by them and or their respective trade organisations?

                  I think most here will welcome any progress in
                  genetic understanding, and perhaps, its eventual
                  beneficial and responsible manipulation.
                  As others have noted, genetic change has been fostered
                  for centuries by selective breeding techniques.

                  Was it not this scientific field that led to the
                  theory of Eugenics? Now discredited? Or just waiting
                  for the fog of "irrational" fear to dissipate, and more
                  reasonable and more persuasive practitioners to
                  champion its re emergence and adoption?

                  And wouldn't we all be better off if all the
                  authoritarian technocrat apologists and their
                  totalitarian fear mongering dystopian cousins
                  not be allowed to breed, and or not reproduce,
                  except of course, only with each other?
                  Let us all see the academics and researchers
                  run the numbers on those equational scenarios.  

                  Splicing in bioluminescence just because you are able?
                  I am sure that if all the kids see it advertised
                  then they will pester their folks no end to have
                  "that cereal that glows in the dark", too.

                  To portray our institutions of "higher" learning
                  as being immune or otherwise isolated from all the
                  economic, social, ethical, moral, and political
                  concerns of the society in general seems somewhat
                  unscientific to me, at the very least.

                  The corporatists have every bit as much of an
                  economic influence in our universities as they
                  do in our government. With the very same short term
                  profit for private benefits over long term consequences
                  of public risks and eventual costs as its one central
                  and overwhelmingly dominant organizational tenet.

                  What is it in our educational system that leads
                  its so called "best" products to assume that they
                  are above and beyond the law in this, and so many other matters?

                  •  Ok, got it. (0+ / 0-)

                    No science has value because it is tainted by previous historical situations and it is all corporate.  Apparently we are "palling" with Hitler.

                    See, I'm trying to get government funding for agricultural science because it has been dramatically underfunded in the past 20 years.  Guess what happens in that kind of vacuum?  Industry steps in.

                    That is exactly what Jill will enable--and all of her minions--if we don't bring academics in.  And then she will be proved right, of course.  

                    It's win-win-win to be anti-science.  

                    Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

                    by mem from somerville on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 05:17:17 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Your objectification of "others" here (0+ / 0-)

                      may not well serve your academic funding requests.
                      Or lend the weight of any real evidence towards your
                      efforts at persuading others to adopt, or at least
                      tentatively consider, your points of view.

                      Are you saying you are proposing studies and
                      or research that is opposed by whom exactly?

                      Or that it has been rejected by your peers or
                      advisors as unsound? inhuman? unethical?

                      And then blaming it all on one blogger who has
                      only tried to show the nefarious efforts and effects
                      of corporate influence in this industry and our
                      government, and on our environment and health in general?

                      I oppose no research for any reason,
                      as I am curious about every manner of subject.
                      I do oppose its premature application in the form
                      of testing on non consenting individuals and or
                      populations without their own informed approval.

                      If this is the nature of what your own research entails,
                      you can rationally expect some considerable resistance,
                      no matter what the level of scientific education of
                      your proposed experiments subjects you may encounter.

                      For example, the petrochemical agribusiness efforts
                      of oh, say, the last century or so. It seems like
                      the only time studies and research are done is
                      after the side effects become impossible to ignore.

                      And when the good scientists finally prove
                      these theories with research and data.
                      You know, scientific evidence.

                      To reject this false hypothesis is not
                      "anti science", but anti "bad" science.
                      As you well should know, this is a
                      very common "industry" attack strategy
                      that is becoming less and less effective.
                      Especially against other scientists.

                      Do you believe that the physicists and
                      mathemeticians who fled the third reich
                      were anti science? Or just wise enough to
                      extrapolate that the theories being posited
                      would unavoidably lead to the ultimate destruction
                      of their homeland and their very own families,
                      if they had chosen to remain?

                      Everything is "tainted" by history. Unavoidably.
                      Are you arguing that past genetic expression has no
                      influence or bearing on future expression?

                      To be skeptical of a particular application or
                      theory of science may be necessary considering
                      some or even most of human history in this area.

                      Residents of Hiroshima may reject nuclear
                      technology. Especially in its weaponized forms.
                      And Eugenics was well disproved before Hitler,
                      in my opinion, from a purely theoretical and
                      humanistic viewpoint, if not empirically.
                      Although, on a still strictly scientific basis,
                      if from an admitably somewhat simplistic framing,
                      there is much data to support its morally flawed
                      and inhumane conclusions and applications.
                      Not so much anymore from the scientific communities.
                      Mostly from the religious or political "spheres".

                      I didn't break Godwins Law, but I find it remarkable
                      that almost the entire science and technical elite
                      of Nazi Germany was imported wholesale into our
                      very own nations government, businesses, and universities.
                      Remember this. They were the undisputed leaders
                      in almost all areas of scientific research of their day.

                      But that did not save these "brilliant" minds from
                      accepting and helping to promulgate the "final solution".
                      Not to mention the effect of that whole mindset had
                      on our entire scientific and governmental and academic communities.
                      More progress through Fascism?

                      "Jill and her minions" may well indeed be proven
                      right ultimately, but it will be though the very
                      same processes with which you hope to feed the
                      world. Scientific evidence and research.

                      If she and her "minions" efforts succeed, then
                      perhaps we can all have clean safe healthy air
                      water and food, free of industrial process related
                      pollutants, and pathogens, that should not even have
                      ever been there if scientists had dared to ask the
                      right questions systematically at the beginning.

                      The corporatists won't ever. The fact that so much
                      of our entire common biospheres DNA is so similar
                      is very good reason to exercise all due caution and
                      restraint, not just in research and study protocols,
                      but in their hopefully beneficial utilization and application.

                      Seems like basic common sense and
                      a very worthy goal, in my opinion.

                      To suggest otherwise is to cast grave moral doubts
                      on your own ultimate motivations and objectives.
                      Both scientifically, and more importantly here, politically.

                      •  You think equating this to Eugenics (0+ / 0-)

                        isn't pulling a Godwin?  

                        As we keep pointing out over and over, good quality literature supports the safety and utility of these plants in reaching many of the goals you state: responsible water use, reduced chemical applications, reduced loss from pests, reduced energy use in no-till practices.  

                        These plants are heavily regulated. They go through far more rigorous processes than traditional breeding (which is probably more risky because it messes with so many more genes).

                        You know: there were evil presidents in the past. Shall we stop having presidents?

                        Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

                        by mem from somerville on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 10:06:17 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Honestly, No. I used Eugenics as an example (0+ / 0-)

                          along with the American Chestnut,
                          to show that good intentions are not
                          immune from disastrous results.
                          Incomplete research if you wish.
                          Coupled with bureaucratic and or
                          institutionalized momentum.

                          Yes, some will say that the Reich
                          adopted some of the methodologies,
                          but I counter that their goals were not
                          human perfection, or improvement, but
                          the implementation of industrial genocide
                          for tacit political purposes. Ethnic cleansing,
                          to use the more modern terminology. And quite
                          different in both its practice here and there.

                          A minor distinction to the victims
                          both here and there, but one that should
                          be kept uppermost by any who are interested
                          in any scientific endeavor or investigation.

                          I am sure a review of the literature of say,
                          Thalidomide, or Africanized bees, or Kudzu,
                          or,.. I mean this list is figuratively endless,
                          was of "good quality" for its own day and time, right?

                          This is really one technology that if wrongly
                          implementated, could lead to catastrophes not
                          unlike those it is most meant to address. That
                          many of these industries researchers fail to grasp
                          this most salient fact, or worse, choose to ignore
                          history and then some in the name of progress and
                          career growth or even just financial profit renders
                          their judgment skill sets lacking, and therefore
                          unsuitable to the task at hand.

                          I would be very interested in the journal or papers that proved:

                          "traditional breeding (which is probably more risky because it messes with so many more genes)."

                          As to your final thought of bad presidents, which
                          may or may not be so easily proven empirically,
                          and could be a thoughtful dialog on freedom and
                          governance, it might correlate to this discussion closer if we said:

                          "there were evil presidents in the past."

                          So let's risk having the worst possible ever in
                          the faint hope that everything will all turn out OK?

                          I know this may be goring your own professional ox,
                          but if you can't comprehend why so many are uneasy
                          about trusting some of the very same ideologies
                          that gave us any or all of the above, to "modify"
                          not just the foods we consume, but our own genome,
                          you have no ethical or moral business being anywhere near it.

                          •  I have presented that data before (0+ / 0-)

                            But I am currently on the road computer and don't have access to the bookmarks.  The Intitute of Medicine report on the safety of modified plants presented the example of the conventionally bred potato on Sweden that had to be pulled from the market because of natural toxicity.  In Jill's last diary murray also talked about the conventionally bred celery that caused allergies.

                            Were any of your examples GMO plants? No.  Is it possible that some of the strategies that the organic foodies want to send to Africa could cause similar problems? Sure.  I hope you will be sure to bring your thoughts over to those diaries in the future.  I don't think I remember seeing you there on that topic.

                            I am aware that people are being told all sorts of falsehoods about science today and that is what I am trying to counter with the diaries I have been doing on this.  People uses canards like your bioluminesence example to discredit the voluminous literature where that is used to learn amazing great stuff that was unable to be seen before.  You suggest it is a toy.  You are tragically wrong.  And if we can extrapolate that to making tragically wrong barriers to agricultural research in the third world (since you are so fond of extrapolations) people will die from hunger while they wait for their organic tomatoes.

                            Here's what I want: local researchers with the capacity and tools, studying and examining what will solve their problems.  That is why I so strongly advocate for this funding.  Plant research has been dramatically under-supported for decades.

                            If you can live with denying science training and technology to Africa, fine, you can hold that position. I think that is unconscionable and unethical.  Like saying that because antibiotics or AIDS medication can be misused that we shouldn't give them any.  How will that look in the decades to come?  

                            Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

                            by mem from somerville on Tue Jul 14, 2009 at 05:46:53 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                  •  Hey Lars, great news (0+ / 0-)

                    American chestnut may be saved:

                    UGA Researchers Could Help Restore Devastated American Chestnut

                    Thought you'd like to know.

                    Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

                    by mem from somerville on Thu Jul 16, 2009 at 04:54:33 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Yes, some good news, (0+ / 0-)

                      And some progress in bio fuels, too.

                      While I commend this scientists decades long efforts
                      to restore the chestnut, I would much prefer more
                      preventative rather than restorative measures.
                      An ounce of prevention and all that....

                      I am pretty sure that if I did just a bit of research
                      I might be able to find an example of some "flap" or
                      such from the GMO plant field as it it rapidly expanding,
                      and full of eager and motivated individuals
                      who may not be as conscientious as you or your peers.

                      That there are examples of naturally occurring toxins
                      genetically expressed by "traditional" husbandry should
                      not surprise anyone. Spuds are, after all, in the
                      nightshade family, right? This seems to me to be
                      every bit a "canard" as my use of bioluminesence,
                      which I will readily agree is of great use in research,
                      but my point was that a "novelty" like this
                      will be seen solely as a marketing feature by those
                      without your experience, foresight, or judgment.

                      And speaking of your judgment, conflating my or
                      anyones elses skepticism of "brave new foods" to that of

                      "denying science training and technology to Africa"

                      is exactly the sort of inflammatory rhetoric that
                      leads to the lack of funding, not just in the
                      biosciences specifically, but science in general.
                      And it also leads to an impasse in debate and
                      discussion, which I hope you would realize is
                      almost as important as your research efforts.

                      Hopefully, the present administration will soon reverse
                      some of these truly anti science research and funding
                      policies so that you can have what you want:

                      "local researchers with the capacity and tools, studying and examining what will solve their problems"

                      Laudable goals, which I agree with wholeheartedly.
                      However, if the application of your, or anyones research efforts
                      are applied without the informed consent of the general populace,
                      it simply becomes another paternalistic "for their own good,
                      but against their wishes" experiment in authoritarian futility.
                      Which may be correctly and vociferously opposed and resisted by
                      all of these interested parties as fundamentally undemocratic,
                      regardless of the scientific merits, and humanitarian motivations involved.

                      •  Well it is hard to do anything (0+ / 0-)

                        preventative on hobby gardeners from the 1890s at this point.  

                        But I do hope you'll bring your concerns to the organic farming diaries as well.  They are just as valid there.  

                        Perhaps you aren't familiar with the legislation Jill is working to block.  This:

                        "denying science training and technology to Africa"

                        is not inflammatory rhetoric but the fact.  And preventing that funding will ensure there isn't local capacity to understand or tackle these issues.  It will essentially be like a Bush-era gag rule on abortion.  Yes--that technology exists, but we aren't allowed to talk to you about that.  It is just as repulsive on the left as it was on the right.  I'm glad to hear that you aren't opposed to this.

                        I ask you to consider whether the opinions of middle-class American foodies on what subsistence farmers need or should be allowed to use would be an example of "paternalistic" behavior. I think that answer is pretty clear as well.

                        What I want is the best solution for local scientists and farmers to meet the needs of their community.  Whatever that is, without a gag rule.

                        You asked for evidence of conventionally bred plants that were harmful to eat and had to be withdrawn from the market.  You got it.  Another fact. That has nothing to do with trivialized examples of the technology.

                        Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

                        by mem from somerville on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 11:21:03 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Perhaps I am mistaken, but I believe (0+ / 0-)

                          there was some economic and or scientific
                          reasoning surrounding the importation of the
                          Asian species, along with the accidental fungal blight.

                          I cannot fault generations past in this regard too much,
                          but given the accumulated scientific history of various
                          invasive species such as this, and others, like the
                          zebra mussel, the aforementioned kudzu, etc., we now
                          know that the full implications of such one time
                          innocent and well intentioned actions can be anything but,
                          and are not to be taken lightly. This was my intent in
                          using the chestnut as an example of the law of
                          unintended consequences, as it applied to the
                          specific area of science we were discussing.

                          If Jill is indeed attempting to block legislation,
                          it would be my assumption that a global corporate
                          concern is its primary benefactee and or sponsor.
                          And so might not have the real and true interests of
                          "subsistence" farmers uppermost in its mind.
                          And yes, I would most certainly trust middle class
                          "foodies" to make a  more "just" and less paternalistic
                          decision than someone who has a vested economic interest.

                          By your additional comment that just now popped up,
                          it is clear that this is about our tax dollars
                          being used to further GM research by whom, and for
                          whom, which, I suppose, to give you the benefit
                          of the doubt, the author of your blockquote leaves
                          a little less than clear. More information, as to
                          the authors and or sponsors of the bill, and the
                          related industry donations received by same, would
                          offer the most insightful, if not decisive illumination.
                          Would the research being funded be subject to the
                          same bio ethical and safety criteria in a foreign
                          sovereignty as in the U.S.?

                          "U.S. agribusiness is unlikely
                          to be a direct beneficiary of localized innovations."

                          Ahhh, nothing like the unmistakeable odor of mendacious
                          corporate speak thinly disguised as noble selfless altruism.

                          When it comes to world hunger, are specific agricultural
                          techniques really the critically decisive issue?
                          Might there not be some political, cultural,
                          economic, and ethnic or religious considerations?

                          All the innovations in the world may not be able
                          to defeat the ancient human traits of greed and
                          intolerance, ignorance, and ethnic hatred and violence.

                          "strengthening the local capacity
                          of research institutions"

                          Once again, who could possibly oppose that?
                          But you have not clearly demonstrated that the
                          particular legislation in question would achieve
                          the desired goals. If anything, you have convinced
                          me just the opposite, and that I should visit
                          Jills place to further educate myself from a source
                          that does not have a direct vested interest in this
                          matter, as you apparently do. Nothing personal.

                          •  Well, lars (0+ / 0-)

                            your standards are funny.  I am neither selling a book nor driving traffic to a web site from which I benefit.  But if you trust that perspective more, that's your choice.  If you can't accept that she might be wrong in her zealous pursuit "monsantos" under the bed then there's probably nothing I could offer in terms of facts and data that would matter.

                            And if you think shipping US organic practices to Africa doesn't also include the possibility of affecting their ecosystems then you have no understanding of ecosystems.  

                            Further, if you think that there isn't an organic industry that stands to benefit from this then you aren't really thinking very deeply about it.

                            I think it is clear that you have no interest in hearing from me or from researchers like Tester that I talked about here.  If you think that people who have studied biology for decades are less trustworthy than Jill we will probably never agree.  

                            I'm sorry you dislike my vested interest in feeding the hungry and educating third world scientists.  I don't know how I'll live with myself....

                            Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

                            by mem from somerville on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 05:06:26 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Well, I am certainly not surprised (0+ / 0-)

                            that you find my standards "funny".
                            I, for some reason, subscribed to your
                            diaries at one time. And all I got
                            was this lousy comment thread on my t-shirt.

                            You have made it clear that you expect
                            government funds to further your research.
                            And have advocated for legislation towards this goal.
                            Jills web site and books sales may benefit indirectly
                            from her advocacy for or against any bill.

                            Would this legislation, if it were to become law,
                            financially benefit yourself, or your present employer,
                            or future employers, directly in the form of funds?

                            Whether you work in your top secret basement lab,
                            or a globalized chain of franchised strip labs,
                            this is how you expect to be paid.
                            Think you might have all the answers?
                            Write your own book.
                            Start your own blog.
                            I may even read it.
                            Hey, it will get you away from the centrifuges
                            and spectrum analyzers for a while.

                            But if it insults my very basic and admittedly
                            somewhat uneducated intelligence with negative
                            attacks on others who have been more successful
                            at proposing solutions that I happen to find rational
                            and historically scientifically proven over time,
                            to the health and social and economic issues
                            that are right here, right now, in our own land,
                            Please forgive my ultimate rejection of it.

                            Jill is not stopping you in any way that I can
                            perceive from pursuing and or achieving any or
                            all of your goals.

                            I don't have a problem with you advocating
                            anything in this regard. But bear in mind,
                            if you cannot convince me with your writing,
                            what makes you think that the "less educated"
                            will be more easily persuaded?

                            What makes you think that Africa is,
                            not capable of feeding her populations?
                            Isn't she, genetically speaking, the
                            mother of all humanity? Africa may indeed
                            wisely import some or all common western
                            industrialised agricultural practices.
                            But people have been living, and at times,
                            even thriving there for centuries.

                            No organics?
                            If you insist, as I am sure that subsistence farmers
                             may not see any meaningful difference in the way
                            they have always grown things and certain so called
                            organic methods and techniques.
                            Absolutely no GMOs, save in their more traditional forms,
                            no fertilizers and pesticides except for those that
                            presented themselves by emerging into the natural
                            environments. Growing and gathering food. Hunting. For eras.
                            Perhaps we should import some of their practices?
                            Quid pro quo? Can they import our agricultural
                            successes without the industrial environmental
                            pollution costs and risks we so enjoy?

                            Which is the worst death? Having your child die of
                            malnutrition or hunger related illness, or having
                            your child die from industrial food process related
                            bacterial or viral infection in fast food?

                            Yes there are famines, but almost all have to do
                            with civil and tribal and ethnic and religious conflicts
                            over the usual territorial and natural resources
                            that are the vestiges of centuries of colonialist
                            triangulation of local competing interests that
                            are in many instances still occurring. Giving each
                            family and or tribe their own little piece of real
                            estate to grow food on, rather than having some
                            stockholder driven managerial corporate overseer
                            wring every last molecule from it and the "help"
                            by whatever means necessary, just seems more humane.

                            Plus I guess the natural consequences of our empire
                            driven technocratic impulses, say with weapons of
                            every imaginable kind, has preceded your scientific
                            safari by many decades. When they see the soldiers
                            forcing the locals to plant at the bayonet point,
                            for the benefit of absentee investors, they will
                            figure it out soon enough. And they won't forget.

                            Because we have lived in a time when hunger
                            is more a political and governmental policy
                            issue, the questions of logistics and funding
                            and organization, not to mention the whole
                            land ownership thing and economic justice,
                            become much more important.

                            I can accept that Jill may be "wrong" about any
                            number of things, as she is a human. What I fail
                            to understand is that as a scientist, your writing
                            refuses to acknowledge this same commonality in
                            yourself and your chosen pursuit. The disdain and
                            arrogant disrespect that you have personally
                            expressed for those who disagree with you is sadly
                            clear to me, and sadly, too common amongst some
                            of your fellow humans.
                            But, thankfully, not to all biologists or scientists.

                            Both you and Jill are passionate about your concerns.
                            Hers is food. Yours may be genetic bio engineering.
                            I don't have a particular problem with either, per se.

                            In the old idea biz, each and every one is
                            attempting to grow and prosper, competing for
                            scant resources and attention. Suffering from
                            rejection and often times neglect and indifference.
                            Do you believe ideas, concepts, hypothesis and
                            theories are exempt from evolutionary pressures?

                            To my knowledge, though, Jill has never portrayed
                            herself as a stifled savior and teacher of humanity,
                            even though, in a very simplistic way, she could  be.
                            Which you have done, whereas your true motivation
                            appears to be, at least to my own understanding of
                            what you choose to write in making your case, which
                            is really all I have to judge by, the satisfaction
                            of your scientific curiosity. Not that there is
                            anything wrong with that. As they are the words
                            and ideas you have chosen, do expect to be
                            challenged and opposed because of them.  

                          •  If you could figure out (0+ / 0-)

                            how I could make money off this I'd be willing to listen.  I don't see it.  I would consider joining up for something like the science peace corps that I talked about in a previous diary.  But I don't anticipate that would be a financial win in any way....Do people get rich in the peace corps?

                            And I think you are misunderstanding something: I am not opposed to organic practices.  I have said this over and over in these discussions.  I want sustainable techniques, with reduced pesticide and reduced water usage, and with reduced losses to pests and other crop damage.  Unlike some people I just don't think there is only one way to achieve all these needs.  All I'm asking is: let's use all the appropriate tools we have to defeat hunger and increase capacity of local farmers everywhere.  However: bringing in non-local organic strategies may have risks of their own.  

                            I will continue to believe that it is unethical to withhold biotech research and training from Africans, no matter how much you want to impugn me for that.

                            And you don't think writing a book called Recipe for America is offering yourself as a teacher of humanity?  Huh.  We are certainly not understanding her the same way.

                            Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

                            by mem from somerville on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 11:59:13 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I can see you are struggling (0+ / 0-)

                            with some of the very ethical
                            and moral implications of these issues.

                            "Do people get rich in the peace corps?"

                            Is this honestly your true ultimate goal
                            and motivation? I am not so sure that
                            this was JFKs intent in creating the Peace Corps.

                            I am sorry you can not see the opportunities
                            that may be present in your nascent field of research.
                            Let us splice some of that bioluminesence gene to
                            highlight the business plan portion of it for
                            further examination and consideration.

                            We could contrast or compare to Jills or
                            any other site that serves a similar purpose.

                            But you must do the basic research here.
                            And please don't feel as if you have to show
                            me all the links here and now, save them for
                            another time. This is to be your show.

                            Which is the foremost website for your field?
                            I assume there is more than one.
                            What is its nature? Pure academic research?
                            News and overviews of recent abstracts, papers
                            conferences and symposiums?
                            Governmental and legislative advocacy?
                            Industry market valuations, prices, activity
                            news and reportage.
                            What do you like about it?
                            What could be better about it?
                            How is it funded? Industry advertisements?
                            Public or private donations?
                            Who is your target demographic,
                            and what are the sizes of various
                            possible overlapping markets?

                            See where this is going?
                            It will take some considerable time
                            and effort to research and assemble
                            all of this into something that might
                            appeal to insiders, peers, or the general public,
                            all who may have a different focus, perhaps
                            critical or oppositional, in their interests.

                            You may decide that it is not worth the work.
                            Hey, some actually do science, some teach about it,
                            and others write about it. Its all good.
                            And ultimately up to you as to how and where
                            you devote your own time and financial resources.

                            And I won't address the actual financial
                            and technical demands of the technology
                            to host and or make your site possible,
                            as there are many others who know of this
                            much better than I. Get your google on.

                            Because of the "newness" of your field,
                            the demo numbers may not presently support
                            you hopes of richness. But maybe enough to
                            survive. It's definitely a growth field, of
                            extremely wide public interest, due to
                            the enormously exponentiality of rewards
                            and risks implied by its basic concepts and fundamental scientific theories.

                            The higher or lower the taxonomy you are focused
                            on would have an natural inverse proportionality
                            to that of your possible audience market.

                            Somewhere on the internet, there should already be
                            scientists and researchers debating many of these
                            social, moral, ethical, issues that are implicit
                            in all of their respective fields.
                            Someone who could tell that story
                            well in laymen terms might prove
                            popular with a wide audience.

                            Some, or most, of these same criteria
                            or themes could also apply to any book ideas.

                            I do not misunderstand your acceptance
                            of any principles, organic or otherwise.
                            That you have repeatedly warned me of the
                            dangers of what basically are ancient
                            farming and garden practices, our crude
                            human natural science history, if you like,
                            carried by foot and raft around the world over
                            tens of thousands of centuries has implicit
                            relevance in the age of global trade.

                            Obviously, different physical environments,
                            perhaps even to the cellular and genetic levels,
                            require different adaptations, and so show different
                            expressions, mutations, ev and devolutions,
                            manifesting in actual traits, survival strengths
                            and potential adaptive capabilities, among many others.

                            Which scientists today, and ancient peoples
                            understood and learned over the course of time,
                            at perhaps a more visceral and intuitive level, by
                            the same time honored process of observation,
                            experimentaion, and reasoning of the results,
                            but now with newer and ever more useful interpretations.
                            And the casual applications of what our primitive
                            ancestors would consider alchemy or ritual magic.
                               
                            So yeah, all organisms and that includes us,
                            and everything else we might care to find, grow,
                            or chase and eat, react and are presumably
                            hopefully adapted to their particular environments.

                            That applies to certain agricultural and husbandry
                            techniques and practices that vary by region and
                            topography, and the other local and even more
                            specific biosphereical residents,
                            you've met the twins, Flora and Fauna,
                            once again also to the widest levels and
                            depths of our collective modern technical perceptions.

                            But in my book, our improperly called
                            primitive ancestors knew and understood
                            perhaps with less detail, but fundamentally
                            the same basic empirical science in practice.
                            In other words, they know this already in Africa.
                            And maybe on the internets too.

                            Basically, if a plant grew somewhere,
                            and people liked it enough, they saved the seeds
                            and or offspring, and raised it somewhere else,
                            where ever they might have been.

                            If it prospered and helped in their surthrival, or
                            offered some other undisclosed traits with benefits
                            and subsequent progenerative success, great.
                            If not, well, what is that over there?
                            Can we eat it or burn it?

                            I think omnivores have used and adapted this trait
                            to the point in some instances as to cause systemic
                            instability. Human ecosystem destruction is a very
                            ancient problem, which ironically may be a survival
                            trait to insure migration and thus propagation, but
                            the cultures that have survived the longest with
                            the most systemic balance and stability might have
                            something valuable to teach us all.

                            The debate and struggle over who owns the common
                            "genetics" of humanity, both individually and those
                            we share with all living organisms is the story
                            of our age. I am not ceding my claim on our combined
                            heritage, and will not tolerate the attempts of
                            private organisations to strip mine it for their
                            own narrow purposes and profit.

                            The promise of these new found wisdoms are thrilling.
                            If one could engineer bacteria to help ameliorate
                            some or all of the environmental damages of the
                            industrial era, feed and heal humans and other
                            creatures sustainably with less or no side effects,
                            and power our future discoveries and endeavors is a
                            remarkable achievement, for which one might expect
                            to be rightfully and richly rewarded.

                            Just remember, in this age and time of real anthrax
                            attacks on public officials and private citizens,
                            in the very same social culture that has produced
                            Frankenstein, Cats Cradle, Jurassic Park, okay,
                            all of Chrichton, in very creative and entertaining
                            attempts at the popular examination of these very same
                            moral and ethical themes, can't afford and won't
                            tolerate any mistakes. I don't believe having the
                            botanical equivalent of Ice-nine named for
                            your creation are exactly the riches you were
                            seeking. Or the legacy you wish to leave behind.
                            Is there a scientific law that states
                            "Humans are not immune to extinction?"
                            The archeological records indicate that we are not
                            as a species, tribe, regional culture, or nation state.

                            For some reason, I find myself very interested in
                            the natural bio chemical processes we have witnessed
                            and or discovered in nature, that we have adapted
                            and widely use to preserve and utilize our present foods.
                            Salting, curing, drying, smoking. Fermentation,
                            Nixtamalization, freezing, canning, etc.
                            These were among humanities first forays into
                            what we now call the science of chemistry.
                            They are time honored survival strategies
                            with a proven track record of success.

                            I haven't perused Jills book yet, but I imagine
                            it seeks to refocus our nations attention to
                            some of these only recently discarded techniques.
                            most widely used for centuries, if not longer,
                            The political and economic and cultural impact
                            of corporate industrial food production has
                            costs and benefits. Monoculture makes sense
                            only from a very large scale economically
                            stratified and morally and ethically unjust
                            and myopic viewpoint. In a time of energy
                            scarcity, widely decentralized food production
                            is just common sense. Not poisoning your immediate
                            surroundings and or future generations for the short
                            term maximumization of production and profit
                            for the very few is just common sense.

                            I don't believe I have read Jills take on this
                            proposed legislation, but in general, I have
                            not noticed overt anti science screeds or the like.
                            I find her focus to be mainly on the health related
                            and political and economic justice areas of this.
                            And there are many biologists, bio ethicists,
                            writers farmers, etc., who echo her views.

                            Just curious, have you ever read Michael Pollan?
                            I find his and Jills rejection of industrial agricultural
                            models to be extremely resonant with my very
                            own not far from immigrant peasant farmer roots.

                            If you were somehow able to use this new and
                            promising science to pry the fingers and hands
                            of the fascist global corporate elitocracy from
                            around the collective throats of all of us humans,
                            we would make you a hero. Mythic songs, statues,
                            whatever your heart should so desire, would be yours.

                            And finally, read more carefully.
                            I wrote "stifled" before the word teacher.
                            as in choked, suffocated, or more specifically,
                            prevented by circumstances, surroundings or
                            other individuals and or influences from acting.
                            I actually claimed the exact opposite.

                            I don't believe this to be true for anyone.
                            But you certainly implied that a certain
                            bloggers advocacy was. Not so much anyone can
                            do if that is what you truly choose to believe.

                      •  Here is what the bill's author says (0+ / 0-)

                        about the bill's funding:

                        The only provision that mentions GM technology simply says that research on biotechnology, including GM, would be eligible for U.S. assistance. Because the bill advocates strengthening the local capacity of research institutions, U.S. agribusiness is unlikely to be a direct beneficiary of localized innovations.

                        See--"strengthening the local capacity of research institutions" is something I will continue to advocate.  I just can't help myself.

                        Des Moines Register has put the original doc behind their firewall now but you can pull up the cache here:

                        http://74.125.93.132/...

                        Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

                        by mem from somerville on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 12:51:42 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

        •  Why shouldn't we? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Larsstephens, wide eyed lib

          For fuck's sake, your whole diary is about how we shouldn't automatically hate GMO tech. Now we're also not allowed to hate the assholes who abuse it?

          "If I can't dance to it, it's not my revolution." — Emma Goldman

          by Jyrinx on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 03:32:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Who has lost organic certification over this? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW, skohayes, kaolin, indubitably

      You may be referring to the case of Percy Schmeiser, and I'll direct you to this commentary on that situation.  

      But if you could be specific about the other cases I'm happy to discuss them.  Many of the situations are misrepresented.  But let's look at them. Do share.

      Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

      by mem from somerville on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 01:29:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for another fact filled (5+ / 0-)

    diary on the subject.

  •  GMO's (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SomeStones, indubitably

    are a subject that is 'wildly misrepresented" by Democrats too!

  •  The problems with GMOs isn't the science... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kaolin, Jyrinx, Laurdet, wide eyed lib

    it is the application of science by corporate capitalists.  They are nasty sociopaths who can take anything and make it evil.

    The ekpyrotic theory hypothesizes that the origin of the observable universe occurred when two parallel branes collided.

    by rubine on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 02:11:15 PM PDT

  •  Something that I read in Dark Star Safari (0+ / 0-)

    by Paul Theroux which worried me.

    The farmers in Africa used to save part of their seed crop to plant the next year, but with GMO, they can not (it is not viable) and they may have to pay a lot and not even be able to get the new seeds to plant.

    So for small farmers?

    Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 02:29:48 PM PDT

    •  Well, that's not quite the case (5+ / 0-)

      in all situations.  

      *Some seeds are GMOs and are patented and do need to be repurchased the following year.  

      *But some seeds are hybrids with better yields that will not breed the following year.  But that is a standard fact of conventionally bred hybrid seeds, nothing to do with a given company.  

      *Some of these projects being developed by academics are not subject to any of that constraint.

      Also, some of the seeds currently in use are not the best ones for the farmers.  There's a whole separate issue of seed distribution and education.  

      There are many infrastructure and technology pieces that need to come together to help small farmers.  Better yielding plants on a smaller area with less loss to pests would help them a lot--but are not the only issues.

      Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

      by mem from somerville on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 02:44:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for sanity (4+ / 0-)

    You've said many of the things that have gone through my head when reading a diary by one of the food police.  

    At times some on the left are just as anti-science as the Bushies.  

    Just to rile folks up, Monsanto isn't evil (though their lawyers may be), just a company making useful products that farmers want.  No one forces farmers to buy GMO's, they do so because they work.  

    p.s. I don't work for Monsanto.  

    •  Yeah, I keep swinging (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chingchongchinaman, kaolin

      yet am often drowned out by I hate Monsanto screams.

      But if there were creationists here, I wouldn't walk away from that either.  Or climate deniers.  Or if there are anti-vaxxers (and there are sometimes), I will do the same thing there--bring the science and the data.  

      Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

      by mem from somerville on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 05:54:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  *sigh* (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    emmasnacker, Larsstephens

    why is this debate always muddled by equating the manipulation of genes/mechanism inherent to the organism with splicing fish genes into strawberries?  i mean, fuck...mendel and others like him have been doing the former for centuries.  the latter is crazy unchartered territory.

    policy shifts could affect the same geopolitical food relief without the risks of GMOs.  that's the crux of it, i think.  there are 1,000 other things we could do to rectify the situation, but i guess they're not sexy like GMOs are.

    Quit posting non-sequitur "replies" just so your comment will be high up in the thread. It's effin' douchey. ♥

    by Cedwyn on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 04:54:04 PM PDT

    •  "geopolitical food relief" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chingchongchinaman, kaolin

      restructuring that would be fine.  But I would prefer that local farmers have the best plants to grow their own crops for their own food security.  

      There are a lot of other aspects of this problem that I want solved as well.  I fully support those too.  I think Ejeta's testimony (PDF) is a nice blueprint for many of the aspects that need assistance.  He testified at that S.384 hearing. As someone who had deep knowledge of Africa and plants he seems trustworthy to me.

      Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

      by mem from somerville on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 05:04:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is not a one-sided issue (0+ / 0-)

    Some GMOs may, in fact, be harmful. Some deals for GMO producers may be terrible from several aspects.

    The fact is that GMOs have been around for some time. Genentech's use of E. coli to make human insulin in 1978 comes to mind.

    In the future we can expect to see more innovative use of genetic engineering, whether it comes from the US or elsewhere around the globe. Hopefully those innovations will be benign at worst and generally positive.  Just because a group of US politicians decide to make something illegal or limited in scope will have little effect on the course of this technology.

    I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps himself in the Constitution than someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps himself in the flag!

    by SomeStones on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 06:57:32 PM PDT

  •  Fine. GMOs are fine and dandy. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens

    So say you, and a number of scientists, doctors, etc. Fine. And I'm sure there are some applications that are just fine.

    I happen not to want that shit in my food chain. But I am forced to eat the shit, unknowingly, if I buy anything in the grocery store, as there is no labeling, and not likely to be any any time soon, thanks to the e.v.i.l corporations lobbying success.
    What about the rights of those who don't want to eat it?
    I guess we can crawl back into our caves, and just eat deer we kill with our bows and arrows.
    Oh . Wait.  Is the FS planting gmo in grazing areas? Guess it's tubers and roots for me, eh?

    •  You may choose organic (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chingchongchinaman, indubitably

      and that standard means that there are no GMOs.  Voilà!

      But if you want to kill deer that's fine.  I personally am a vegetarian partly because I think meat eating is a burden on the environment.  But not everyone needs to make that choice :)

      Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

      by mem from somerville on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 08:36:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'll tell the dozens of deer that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Larsstephens

        eat my pasture every day that you won't come and kill them. They are a burden on my environment.

        As far as organic goes, I do as I am able to afford when buying. I try to grow most of what I eat.

        Gene flow also causes a so-called "genetic contamination" of non-genetically engineered crops. This is a special concern for organic farmers. More organic farmers are reporting traces of genetically modified organisms in their crops.

        Albert Straus, owner of the Straus Family Creamery in the small northern California town of Marshall, decided to test the feed that he gives his 1,600 cows last year and was alarmed to find that nearly 6% of the organic corn feed he received from suppliers was "contaminated" by genetically modified (GM) organisms.

        Voilà!

        •  OK, despite the scientific evidence (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          indubitably

          you want a special label.  And I'm actually fine with that.  You and your leaders (Jill can be your high priestess) can create a quasi-religious designation of purity--like Kosher--and you create the standards and the inspections and the testing and all.  For the human and the animal feeds.

          I don't have a problem with that.  I just don't see any need to pay for your beliefs.

          Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

          by mem from somerville on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 05:10:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I expected as much from you. (0+ / 0-)

            From now on, I'll just try to skip over your comments.
            Must be fun being you, knowing everything about everybody who comments here. Pfft.

          •  This has gone too far. You two need to talk. (0+ / 0-)

            I see in other posts of yours calls to discuss the data, to get to a consensus on what the facts are before discussing analyses amd methodologies, never mind vetting conclusions and policy implications.

            I hear you. That's the approach to take.

            Perhaps Jill and yourself might consider an offline correspondence? I know you both.. okay, not super-well, but we've all been around DKOS for years now. We all know the ropes, know the local customs.

            We all know when it's gone a bit too far.

            You two need to talk.
            __

            The future - in part - will be shaped (and saved) by genetics. The future - in part - will be shaped (and saved) by conservation.

            Those solutions do not have to involve either of you. Any of you, really, who are egging this pie fight on. On both sides.

            Ask yourself if these comments and diaries will be part of your respective CVs. If the answer is "probably not", that's data a scientist needs to be taking into account and PR that a policy advocate doesn't need.

            •  No. I don't see any need to hide this. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              chingchongchinaman

              She is publicly calling for people to act against science and funding food aid for the third world, using fear and distortion to do it.  I stand by all of that and have the evidence to show it.  I am going to raise my opposition to that in the same way she raises the issue.  I would do the same with any creationist or antivaxxer.

              Are you not understanding the mechanism of blogging?

              I have published several diaries on this topic that she chooses not to engage in.  Why would I expect any better from a back channel?  And back channel is not transparent.  I think this should be out in the open. I favor light and transparency on these issues.

              I stand by all of what I write and I source it.  And if she wants to be a public figure and author she has to as well.  

              Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

              by mem from somerville on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 05:26:44 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  On the topic of data (0+ / 0-)

                Where might a person wading a bit too deeply into the debate (waves) go to start getting caught up on the literature?

                •  Well, there are lots of sources (0+ / 0-)

                  one of the ones that is probably really good at laying out the issues is that Institute of Medicine review book.  As I mentioned above I am on my road computer and don't have the direct link here.  I think both murray and I referred to that in Jill's last diary.  

                  The book is free online.  I'll go back to that other thread and see if I can find it, but this teeny computer crashes on big threads.

                  Another good one is not free, called Tomorrow's Table.  The author's blog is here: http://pamelaronald.blogspot.com/  She is married to an organic gardener and they teamed up on the book. She covers many of the technical, institutional, and social aspects of the topic.  

                  However, some of the stuff (like this salt tolerant plant) is coming out now.  Similarly, increased nutrition Golden Rice data just came out recently.  It is hard for people who aren't in the field to know that.  

                  Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

                  by mem from somerville on Tue Jul 14, 2009 at 06:08:39 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I was in Europe after GM became a 4-ltr word (0+ / 0-)

                    The point about Europe's split on global warming versus genetic engineering has occurred to me also.

                    In the past I've wondered whether or not the chief driver is the lack of transparency of microscopic and molecular-level phenomena.

                    The net impact of industrialization is easy to decry - you can see its effects when they are pointed out at all levels of analysis. Some are good, some are not. We have after two centuries of progress on this front a sense of the good and bad of this kind of development policy. We know we have lots of damage to repair...and it's still hard to push for reforms.

                    The same is not quite so in the case of genetics and other sciences where phenomena are greatly above or below the scale of human experience. This is independent of the merits of arguments for and against work in these fields. In the case of genetics, the knowledge is relatively new, practical applications are even newer and there is (rightly or wrongly) a hesitation borne of earlier lessons.

                    Now, as for me, I've written on this a bit. We can't extend human life (or quality of life) much further without significant investment in genetics. We can't extend these benefits to a wider group of persons without using these techniques to save resources or generate resources from previously inaccessible sources. To clean up toxins, to generate fresh water, to process seawater into needful minerals, to repair and modify living tissue, to make youth something that lasts for 97 years and senescence something that lasts for three, for starters. To obviate the need for steroids, for pharmaceuticals, for pesticides, for herbicides, to relax pressure on cutting down rain forests by making semi-arid regions productive, thus cutting down length and risk of long transport chains.

                    And none of these good things will be greatly delayed by debate, by vetting of methods, by independent confirmation of test results.

                    We have time, surely, to discuss the many possibilities of genetics for improving life on Earth, even greatly extending its bounty. And to make certain we have chosen the courses toward such progress wisely.

                    •  I reject several of the issues here (0+ / 0-)

                      The same is not quite so in the case of genetics and other sciences where phenomena are greatly above or below the scale of human experience....In the case of genetics, the knowledge is relatively new, practical applications are even newer and there is (rightly or wrongly) a hesitation borne of earlier lessons.

                      I am not entirely certain what this means, but if you are saying that humans and farmers haven't been acutely aware of the biological realities of genetics and ecosystems for a long time I would completely disagree with that.  Our terminology and precision has improved lately (as is always the progress of science) but NOTHING that we are suggesting here is any sort of complete break with the past.  That is not the way the process works.

                      To suggest that only organic farmers and activists understand this situation is exactly like homeopaths and anti-vaxxers suggesting that we aren't looking at vaccine improvement and safety.  

                      And none of these good things will be greatly delayed by debate, by vetting of methods, by independent confirmation of test results.

                      Two points here:  To suggest that these issues are new and not under discussion for years among the people in the field is either incredibly naïve or disingenuous.  And I don't mean naïve in a bad way--just in the way of there's no way you could know the decades of research, discussion, and interest groups/international congresses that have taken us to where we are today.  I know there are some people who do know better and are being actively deceitful about the state of things (and I don't mean Jill is being actively deceitful).  

                      Second point:  This work takes much longer than a lot of other science.  Fruit fly generations are about a week.  Plant field research takes a year or more. (The Rodale transition to organic corn took 5 years before they started counting their yields--be sure to check that out.) Simply establishing research relationships and providing appropriate training so that third world researchers can understand the state of the field may take years.  

                      We have time, surely, to discuss the many possibilities of genetics for improving life on Earth, even greatly extending its bounty.

                      I completely disagree on this.  But I believe climate change is real and already impacting people.  There are many points in this article, but let's just examine one because it is relevant to the work in my diary: The water in the Ganges is already becoming more saline, as sea water reaches further inland.

                      I think it is obvious that the clock is ticking. But you may dispute that.  I will close with this comment from the scientist in the Guardian:

                      And I do not think those of us sitting in comfortable wealth have a right to deny people the opportunity to improve their production of food.

                      Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

                      by mem from somerville on Wed Jul 15, 2009 at 06:04:43 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I certainly do appreciate the response (0+ / 0-)

                        I am not entirely certain what this means

                        Uh oh this is not good...

                        ... but if you are saying that humans and farmers haven't been acutely aware of the biological realities of genetics and ecosystems for a long time ...

                        I'm not saying that. Or am I? Perhaps I have my timeline of scientific progress transposed.

                        Remind me how long DNA has been known about, its structure understood, its particulars mapped. Ballpark figure - less than or greater than the time for which we've understood the management of steam power,  electric turbines and the consumption of fossil fuels to generate the first to product the second to justify expansion of the third?

                        If genetics has been understood to a bioinformatics level of sophistication since the Bronze Age.. more or less...then my bad.

                        However, if the difference between Sumerian understanding of plant heredity and that of a contemporary gene bank is one of speed and degree, then that means traditional knowledge of biota and crop strains by your own comment would and should and ultimately will be taken much more seriously.

                        Maybe it's just me, but advocating a paradigm shift - that contemporary understanding of genetics is several paradigm shifts separated from the workbench of Gregor Mendel, never mind farming folk wisdom, actually favors advocacy for GMO work.

                        Just sayin' you don't really want to win this particular point of debate. To win this point gravely undermines your larger position.

                        I would completely disagree with that.

                        Since I did not say such a thing, we have no dispute. Also, I think after reconsideration you don't agree with your own speculation, as it is damaging to advocacy of fast-tracking implementation of GMO applications in developing world settings.

                        Our terminology and precision has improved lately (as is always the progress of science) but NOTHING that we are suggesting here is any sort of complete break with the past.  That is not the way the process works.

                        So, persons without instrumentation to observe, never mind manipulate, events at the molecular level, in living systems...had a connection with later persons who had the background and technology to observe and manipulate moleculal-level events within living systems?

                        A parallel experiment - did persons who without instrumentation to observe radiation outside the visibile spectrum have a connection with later persons who could modulate radio waves, cook with microwaves, detect gamma radiation and take x-ray photographs?

                        I'd like to hear more about that, as I am of the general view that persons ignorant of phenomena are very impaired in their understanding of indirect effects and prone to mythological or magical or simply erroneous understandings of the mechanisms, workings, effects, utilities and risk of same.

                        People can be ignorant, of course, in many fashions. We hold open discussion to gather data and learn from one another. And, of course to teach.

                        And I am enjoying learning here.

                        To suggest that only organic farmers and activists understand this situation

                        Since I suggested nothing of the sort, again we are in accord. The statement above is no more accurate than saying only agricorps and lobbyists understand the situation. Surely, we can concur that both claims have no place in rational discourse.

                        is exactly like homeopaths and anti-vaxxers suggesting that we aren't looking at vaccine improvement and safety.

                        This is the first time I have received a definition of this term "anti-vaxxers". I was imagining it meant persons hostile to VAX mainframes, a reference to some ancient IT pie war. Thank you for the education.

                        Regrettably I have to close down this comment; have a meeting at 7PM here and must get to it.

                        I'll respond to the rest of your comment, in detail, as soon as I am able.

                        Oh, so you recognize that others, too, recognize the urgency in genetics research, to make up for lost time...

                        I just ran a comment search for your benefit.

                        •  Yeah, we are not connecting I think (0+ / 0-)

                          I am certain that plant breeding has gone on for thousands of years.  I don't have the original data for that--my bad.  I did take a hieroglyphics class once, but I can't remember the top journals of that time.  I can only remember how to write "the daughter of the scribe" I'm afraid. Oh, and ankh udja seneb.

                          What I am saying is that the fear and drama that some people are bringing to this are disproportionate to the reality.  

                          The work was more crude before.  It is more precise now, as I said.  And genetics was used before DNA was discovered.  I don't understand why you think that works against advocacy of for GMOs.  

                          Here's something funny: there is a transposon(a naturally occurring agent of mutagensis) that disrupted a gene in the pathway affected by Roundup creating a roundup-resistant corn.  So there was roundup-ready corn LONG before Monsanto.  And the specific molecular details did not have to be known to take advantage of these "natural" types of accidents.  Even by farmers without bioinformatics.

                          traditional knowledge of biota and crop strains by your own comment would and should and ultimately will be taken much more seriously

                          Did you miss my diary on that?  I am a strong advocate of genebanks and biodiversity.  I want more regional scientists trained in the techniques of genebanking (which includes biotechnology these days).  I want people to retain that knowledge and share it.  That's exactly why research and training for third world scientists is so crucial.  And exactly why I think it is unethical to not provide agricultural research dollars.

                          ankh udja seneb csk.
                          ankh udja seneb for everyone is what I want.

                          Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

                          by mem from somerville on Wed Jul 15, 2009 at 05:10:04 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                •  Here is the one (0+ / 0-)

                  http://books.nap.edu/... from IOM.

                  I actually think the IAASTD report isn't too bad.  http://www.agassessment.org/  But the problem with it is the sources.  Many of the things they cite in the text (which makes it look scientific) are crappy reports from activist organizations and not peer reviewed literature. So just because something is cited in the text does not mean it carries actual weight.  On the other hand, they also do cite real literature some of the time so there are decent references sometimes with real data.

                  But that is 600 pages :)  

                  Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

                  by mem from somerville on Tue Jul 14, 2009 at 06:22:58 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  btw: thanks for trying to understand (0+ / 0-)

                  the issues.  

                  I will be offline for a while. I'm lecturing at the University of Montreal today.  Scientists seem to be interested in what I have to say :)

                  But I won't be around to answer questions as I also have to travel home.  I'm not ignoring you.  Just can't reply for a while.  But I am happy to answer questions or find other stuff on the topics you may need.

                  Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

                  by mem from somerville on Tue Jul 14, 2009 at 07:29:54 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Here's another good source (0+ / 0-)

                  The Nuffield Council.  I had forgotten about it until I saw Stewart Brand's presentation today.

                  Nuffield: http://www.nuffieldbioethics.org/...  

                  Brand: http://www.youtube.com/...

                  Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

                  by mem from somerville on Wed Jul 15, 2009 at 04:45:04 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

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