Skip to main content

These days it's all genetic engineering and cloning and gene splicing and recombinant DNA. Our friends at Monsanto market the herbicide Roundup and, quelle surprise, have blanketed the nation's bread basket with fields of corn and soybeans genetically engineered to resist Roundup.

Weed plants, on their own through natural selection, are evolving to resist Roundup. Science Daily, in a 2009 article, discusses a Purdue study of Roundup resistance in weeds. The story's links examine some other pesticide resistances and the evolution of super weeds.

Let me repeat that. The weed plants are doing it on their own. Through sheer chance. Can't we do something like that? Methodically. Breed and crossbreed our plants for the traits and characteristics we want.

Whatever happened to good old-fashioned plant breeding and hybridization?

AG-HS-N.EWEB1_-591x1024 Do we have an N.E. Hansen in the house? N.E. who, you ask. His work in plant breeding earned him the nickname "Burbank of the Plains.

Niels Ebbesen Hansen became the first head of the horticulture department at South Dakota College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts (now South Dakota State University) in 1895 and served in that capacity until 1937. Hansen scoured the coldest, most remote regions of the globe to bring back hardy native species to cross with American varieties. He developed and introduced hundreds of varieties of alfalfa, forage grasses, fruits, and roses bred to thrive in the cold and dry conditions of the northern plains. This photo shows Hansen on his third trip to Siberia in 1908 and comes from the SDSU State alumni and friends magazine.

Born in Denmark in 1866, he came to America when he was seven. Hansen earned his master's degree in horticulture from Iowa Agricultural College (now Iowa State University) in Ames and was recruited shortly after to head up the hort program in South Dakota. Hansen's friend from Iowa State, James Wilson, became the United States Secretary of Agriculture and commissioned Hansen to be the USDA's first plant explorer in 1897. Wilson said of the appointment, "I have 12,000 men under me, but none who knows how to work like Hansen. There is only one Hansen."

Hansen's first expedition for the USDA lasted ten months and took him through Russia, Siberia, Crimea, Turkestan, and western China. He returned to South Dakota with five box carloads of plant materials. Among these were crested wheatgrass and Cossack alfalfa.

Medicago_sativa_Alfals006Alfalfa is a perennial legume with deep and spreading roots. The flowers are shades of purple to lavender in most cases but there are varieties with white or yellow flowers. It's widely grown for hay. Guess what. There's also Roundup Ready alfalfa. Details of Hansen's work in finding and testing varieties of alfalfa can be found in Cooperative tests of alfalfa from Siberia and European Russia. The South Dakota legislature appropriated $2,000 for the initial trials. Hansen offered ten plants to each of the first ten respondents from each county in the state. He wanted to test the alfalfas in all sorts of soils.

"The writer is a firm believer in the value of co-operative tests of any new plant, by the farmers themselves who are to make use of the plants on a large scale. A problem of so vast importance should not be reserved for any one man or for several men to solve. A better way is to ask the farmers to try a few plants, and then make up an opinion from their reports, giving my opinion only as a preliminary guide."
Hansen included numerous evaluations of the alfalfas from the farmers who participated in the testing.

Though he is probably best known for his alfalfa breeding, Hansen did extensive work with fruits and flowers. He crossed cherries and plums from Asia and Europe with native prairie  fruits to introduce varieties which thrive in South Dakota shelterbelts to this day. My favorite is the native sand cherry/purple plum cross. Sweet and juicy. My mother made the most delicious jelly from this fruit. Hansen introduced 72 varieties of hardy plums, cherries, and sandcherries.

lillian_gibson_rose Hansen did not coddle his plants. They lived under the prevailing conditions or they died. Here on the prairie, hybrid tea roses are annual plants. It takes determination, work, and just plain luck to bring them through the winter. Hansen developed 32 varieties of hardy roses able to grow and thrive on prairie homesteads. Here's my favorite, the Lillian Gibson rose.

Niels Ebbesen Hansen saw the need of farmers on small homesteads trying to survive in a harsh environment. He gave them the alfalfas and grasses to feed and fatten their cattle. He saw the desire for fruits and flowers on the prairie and hybridized varieties not identical to their eastern cousins but comparable.

We face similar needs today but instead of the lasting results of plant breeding and crossbreeding we get sterile genetic modifications. We need someone like N.E. Hansen. I feel our greatest challenge will come not from weeds resistant to herbicide. I believe it will come from the changing climate. Hansen searched the world for plant stock to breed for drought and cold hardiness. We will require plants able to grow and produce in extreme heat. Unfortunately, we no longer have extensive varieties of seed stock from which to breed the varieties capable of adapting to conditions. We've crowded them out with our GM monocultures. And of those that may yet thrive in remote corners ... what will a changing climate do to them?

From forage to flowers, Hansen changed the landscape of the Plains
N.E. Hansen papers
The Remarkable Dr. Niels Hansen
Niels Ebbesen Hansen biography
Reflections About N.E. Hansen and His Contributions to Alfalfa
Cooperative tests of alfalfa from Siberia and European Russia
New hybrid fruits originated in the department of horticulture

Originally posted to draghnfly on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 11:13 PM PDT.

Also republished by Headwaters and Community Spotlight.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  So crossbreeding is ok but genetic engineering is (4+ / 0-)

    evil? Why? It's the same thing.

    •  no, it's not the same thing (34+ / 0-)

      Genetic modification involves using genes from completely different and unrelated organisms. Like BT microbial genes used with soy. You could never cross these 2 in nature, only in a lab.

      Please note that the crossed breeds discussed in this diary are more hardy and more adapted to the environment. GMO plants are less hardy, and need more water. That's one reason why so much soy and corn are dead in the mid-west drought. We've planted our bread basket with GMO soy and corn mono-culture crops, and now we (not Mansanto) will pay the price.

      working for a world that works for everyone ...

      by USHomeopath on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 07:54:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What difference does it make what happens (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        in nature? Yes, in hybridization there is wholesale recombination and in genetic engineering only specific genes are inserted.  Your point is that hybrids are more robust is a good one since GM plants are not the product of evolution and thus are not as well adapted. But why is it impossible to further play with GM plants to make them more robust?

        •  Dr. Don Huber, Professor Emeritus of Plant (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FG, draghnfly

          Pathology, Purdue University explains some of the problems scientists are seeing in this video:

          working for a world that works for everyone ...

          by USHomeopath on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 04:20:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Just today we were wondering again (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FG, PaloAltoPixie

            when he's going to actually publish those claims. We don't consider Vimeo (or YouTube) to be peer review.

            “I apologise ...for not making myself clear. I should have said that this new age drivel is undermining the very fabric of our civilisation --@ProfBrianCox

            by mem from somerville on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 04:37:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  'Need more research' is one thing. 'This is evil (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mem from somerville

            abomination' which is what people like the diarist claim is smth completely different. You can always say that more research is needed. And I can put a suit on, talk about some stuff and put a video of it on YouTube. It means nothing.

            •  Please show me where (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              FG, Matilda, magnetics

              I said "evil abomination." I can't seem to find it.

              •  Sorry, it was an exaggeration. (0+ / 0-)
              •  In general, the problem you're referring to in (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                draghnfly, PaloAltoPixie

                the diary is mostly due to monoculture. But monocultures long predate any GM stuff. The way Monsansto handled GM wasn't the best but genetic engineering is simply a more precise way of doing the same manipulations on the plants that hybridization and selection do. You can use it to create more drought-resistant varieties of corn, for example. It's just a tool and saying that doing things the old-fashioned way is necessarily better is wrong. And genetic modifications are not sterile. I have no idea where you got that from.

              •  I will say 'evil abomination.' Why? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Because grain culture is the foundation of civilization, marking the switch from hunter-gatherer societies-- in which the whole tribe hunts and gathers to keep everyone fed,-- to societies with specialized farmer classes who feed everyone, freeing others to develop  crafts, such as wood-working and potting, not to mention metallurgy, decorative arts, and (unfortunately) politics.

                GMO grains cannot be confined -- they spread by cross pollination to non-GMO grains.  This amounts to a vast un-controlled experiment on the foundations of civilization.

                Beyond this, the conduct of Monsanto, in prosecuting non-GMO famers for patent violation, when traces of GMO organisms are found in their fields -- blown in from neighboring GMO farms -- is beyond revolting.  A famous case went all the  way to the Canadian supreme court.

                I write this as trained nucleic acid chemist, most of whose graduate-school and postdoctoral cohort went to work in biotech.

                Sign me

                Elmer Ph(u)d

                The hungry judges soon the sentence sign, And wretches hang, that jurymen may dine.

                by magnetics on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 12:09:15 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Huber presents an interesting assertion (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I'm not knowledgeable enough to evaluate it. He appears to have an impressive vitae so I'm inclined to believe there is substance to his claims.

          •  Has there been any recent evidence reported that (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            PaloAltoPixie, draghnfly

            lends support to Huber's startling claims?  My impression has been that he has none.

            Where are we, now that we need us most?

            by Frank Knarf on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 10:11:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Absolutely NOT! (12+ / 0-)

      Cross pollination takes place in the field.

      Breeding organisms together to produce offspring isn't the same as gene splicing or recombinant DNA.

    •  The difference is the process (9+ / 0-)

      Natural v. manipulated

      Crossbreeding is mating a horse and donkey to produce a mule. Mules are usually sterile because they're two different species, but in some respects they're superior to each of their parent. Additionally, the offspring exhibits "hybrid vigor" which I'm not knowledgeable enough about to describe coherently. Hybrid vigor is the result of crossbreeding within the same species as well. "Black baldies," the cross between hereford and angus cattle are desirable feedlot animals. Controlled crosses between breeds can produce new breeds.

      Genetic modification, on the other hand, would be inserting narwal or rhinoceros DNA into a horse's genes to produce a unicorn.

      •  "Hybrid vigor" is related to groups of genes (5+ / 0-)

        that are inherited along with the genes that encode the traits that are selected for hybrid breeding, whatever those might be (particular color, rate of growth, body size, whatever). These genes aren't necessarily visibly expressed in the individuals selected for hybrid parent stock, but, since they are admixed (heterozygous) in the hybrid offspring, they can "cover" less efficient or unexpressed genes from the parents and result in situations where hybrids have unexpectedly effective conversion of feed to body weight, or unexpected disease resistance, because the products of those genes present novel solutions to disease or environmental stress. Gene insertion can, obviously, impart specific desired traits to the offspring, but this generally happens in a fairly isolated fashion, and whatever positive or negative qualities exist in the rest of the genome are still there, unaltered.

        Your black cards can make you money, so you hide them when you're able; in the land of milk and honey, you must put them on the table - Steely Dan

        by OrdinaryIowan on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 10:51:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Natural? (6+ / 0-)

        First of all, let me thank you for a nice piece about Hansen--I'm a long time fan of his, and I think plant breeders don't get recognition remotely proportionate to their impact on people's lives. (That said, I am a plant breeder, so I have a considerable bias in this case).

        But it bugs me a lot to see the "it's unnatural" argument being made against transgenic crops. Crossing two species that otherwise would never have encountered each other (as Hansen and countless other breeders have done) is unnatural. Agriculture is unnatural. Domesticating animals, wearing clothes, and using the internet are all well outside of what the human species evolved to do in our natural habitat. Unless you are the most hardcore Luddite around, that doesn't inherently make any of those things bad. It doesn't make them good, either—one needs to look at the actual impacts of those things to look at those things.

        If one is going to make an argument against transgenic, in my opinion, it needs to be based on actual science around the impacts of that technology. I'm probably more comfortable than most people with it (though I don't use it in my work--I'm solely focused on traditional breeding), but there certainly are serious issues to consider around how transgenic technology is or could be used. And we absolutely should discuss those, and oppose those that pose real risks. But for me at least an argument that there is a certain moral sanctity to the genome just doesn't hold water, particularly when one is praising the creation of interspecific (and in a few cases with Hansen, intergeneric) hybrids whose genomes are far more different from any naturally occurring organism than any transgenic plant.

      •  Good idea. I want one. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Genetic modification, on the other hand, would be inserting narwal or rhinoceros DNA into a horse's genes to produce a unicorn.
        Just kidding.

        You can't make this stuff up.

        by David54 on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 05:36:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Monsanto ruined the field of GMOs (7+ / 0-)

      If you don't know that already, then I just can't help you.

      Here in California, we've put a initiative on the ballot to force those motherfuckers to LABEL their GMO ingredients. They're fighting tooth and nail with unlimited cash, but I'm confident we'll win.

      "Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth." — Chris Hedges

      by Crider on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 12:12:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  One problem with gm crops is that it is part of (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, draghnfly, Ocelopotamus

      the problem with massive corporations driven by Wall Street profits to produce effects that are not necessarily sustainable. Monsanto has the power to squash opposition and competition.
      Massive, massive acreages of farmland in the midwest are being given over to monocultures that are dependent on the petroleum industry and that are susceptible to the vagaries of the stock market.
      Another recession or depression or radical rises in fuel prices could have catastrophic effects on the production of food, which could lead to massive global famine.

      Then you could also have an unforeseen disaster as a result of gm experimentation that would make the BP spill seem like a "Bounty" commercial.

      You can't make this stuff up.

      by David54 on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 01:58:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why do people think (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        draghnfly, Mote Dai, PaloAltoPixie

        that would be different with conventional breeding?

        • Did monocultures exist before GMO? Yes.
        • Would conventional herbicide tolerance (or any other trait) have the same issues? Yes.
        • Do people use GMO as a proxy for other stuff they dislike, without actually understanding the issues? Yes.

        “I apologise ...for not making myself clear. I should have said that this new age drivel is undermining the very fabric of our civilisation --@ProfBrianCox

        by mem from somerville on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 02:17:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hypothetically, some day, we may be able to safely (0+ / 0-)

          and gently create gmo crops that don't pose risks and aren't part of the larger problem with Wall Street, Monsanto, big oil, the interconnectedness of food with global markets, etc.

          I don't trust Monsanto even a little bit right now, and until we've wiped out the last vestiges of the Bush influence in the regulatory structures, I don't trust the regulators.

          Conventional horticulture products potentially prone to some of the same risks as gmo products, but the "timeline" for "evolution" of gmo products is so radically accelerated, we are playing russian roulette, as far as I'm concerned. Eventually, these technologies will be in the hands of Pakistanis and Iran, etc., as well as just slimey corporate interests who just don't care, and that will be dangerous.
          There is also the related issue of the "patenting" of species and the attempts to "own" species and suppress the conservation of natural species. That sucks.

          You can't make this stuff up.

          by David54 on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 04:32:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Please (0+ / 0-)

            present some data on this radical evolution claim. I need to see a model about how herbicide-tolerant GMO is different from conventional GMO. And don't be afraid to go with math and science on that, I can take it.

            And as I said below, if you have problems with patents that is not unique to GMOs, and stop using it as a proxy for your problems.

            “I apologise ...for not making myself clear. I should have said that this new age drivel is undermining the very fabric of our civilisation --@ProfBrianCox

            by mem from somerville on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 04:39:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You don't think plugging microbe dna into (0+ / 0-)

              plant dna so that it can kill bugs that would normally eat it isn't a radical speeding up of the evolutionary process which usually takes many generations of survival and incremental mutation to adapt?

              Or how a herbicide tolerance is produced so that millions more tons of herbicide (which is toxic to humans and other critters in the ecosystem) can be sprayed with the resulting runoff into the water system, etc.

              Maybe these examples are not in themselves a threat, however, one of these days, if we're not extremely careful, somebody will "try something" that has disastrous consequences.

              No, I'm not an expert on gmo crops. That doesn't mean I don't have a say in how my world is permanently changed, and that my worries are irrelevant.
              I don't like  your insulting attitude, considering I've said nothing insulting to you or about you.  

              You can't make this stuff up.

              by David54 on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 04:52:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Tell me this: (0+ / 0-)

                1. A plant released with a bacterial gene is resistant to RoundUp.

                2. A plant is release with conventional resistance to RoundUp.

                Why are these different and radical to the nearby plants? C'mon--it's your claim. Show me the math and the details.

                It could be that the one with conventional resistance might introgress more because it's more "like" others. But I don't know--defend your claim and let's see.

                If you re-read this, you'll see I am only doing what we do in science. Ask for evidence. I can't help it. If you take it personally, well, that's your personal problem.

                “I apologise ...for not making myself clear. I should have said that this new age drivel is undermining the very fabric of our civilisation --@ProfBrianCox

                by mem from somerville on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 05:03:16 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Bt engineered corn isn't necessarily resistant to (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Expat Okie, RonV, draghnfly

                  roundup. It's resistant to the corn rootworm ( I think).

                  The issue with the roundup resistant plant is that they want to be able to spray a lot more roundup on a lot more crops.

                  Now, you may eat roundup on your morning cereal, but I don't want to.

                  I've actually already answered this.

                  You can't make this stuff up.

                  by David54 on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 05:32:52 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You have not answered. (0+ / 0-)

                    This diary was about why we don't have conventional herbicide resistance.

                    Your claim was

                    the "timeline" for "evolution" of gmo products is so radically accelerated
                    It remains a bullshit claim, and saying that you answered this is also BS and doesn't make it true.

                    But it's funny.


                    “I apologise ...for not making myself clear. I should have said that this new age drivel is undermining the very fabric of our civilisation --@ProfBrianCox

                    by mem from somerville on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 06:19:56 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  What's bullshit about it? (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      Some jackass scientist with a god-conceit can conceivably create a human/ jackass hybrid in the fraction of the time it would take natural selection to do that.
                      Or in the time a "conventional hybridizer could do that".
                      I'd call that an accelerated timeline.

                      I'm just a layman. I'm not a member of the "certified scientist" clergy. Who should be allowed to do as they please as they are so much more enlightened than the rest of us.

                      I respect science. I reject superstition. However, science is a tool. It doesn't substitute for wisdom.
                      Make your argument about the values of genetic modification and give some kind of convincing evidence that it can be done without being corrupted by the forces that corrupt everything else. Wall Street, profit, greed, etc.
                      You've condescended to just about every commentor you've replied to, with a special lack of respect for anyone who wasn't a scientist.
                      I do not have any particular fear of genetic modification itself. I have a fear of the human animal and the capacity for self-delusion and corruption of that species.


                      You can't make this stuff up.

                      by David54 on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 07:13:59 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  You have not explained (0+ / 0-)

                        the radical evolutionary consequences between GMO Roundup and conventional Roundup. Or any other trait--pick any one.

                        Your philosophical objections to how it's done are your own--like any religion. But what I need are the details about how it's different on the farm.

                        Some people don't like stem cells because of their philosophical objections. That doesn't make them scientifically correct either.

                        And I happen to think that people's philosophical problems with a method are not the best basis for decision making. But if you had any shred of evidence for your claims--which you don't seem to be capable of offering--I would be delighted to look at them.

                        A lot of people confuse science fiction (and cartoons) with real life. You aren't the first, and you won't be the last. Some people also confuse the bible for evidence. I'm just trying to help you think more clearly about it. I'd do the same thing in any discussion on stem cells, or vaccines, climate, or any other science policy topic.

                        “I apologise ...for not making myself clear. I should have said that this new age drivel is undermining the very fabric of our civilisation --@ProfBrianCox

                        by mem from somerville on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 07:59:02 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I never suggested a radical evolutionary (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:


                          Evolution is the process of mutation leading to a change in the species.
                          Dropping gene segments into a species is a radically accelerated form of "evolution".
                          That's what I was talking about.

                          What claims? I made no claims.

                          Some people mistake science for real life. Science isn't real life. It's just a tool humans use.

                          You can't make this stuff up.

                          by David54 on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 08:25:53 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                    •  I also have this to say: This was a pretty (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      interesting diary. There was a lot of good comments from all directions, as well. I learned a lot.
                      However, you fundamentally smeared feces throughout the comment section with your attitude.
                      Thanks a lot.

                      You can't make this stuff up.

                      by David54 on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 07:22:45 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

    •  Not by a long country mile. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Two species of grain, or two varieties of apple, etc., may cross-pollinate and exchange genetic material.  This happens in nature, and it's also the basis of traditional cross-breeding.

      A tomato and a mackeral?  Never in a billion years will they exchange genetic material by any natural process.  Yet this is essentially the type of exchange that is performed in bio-tech labs.

      I trained (as a nucleic acid biochemist) with these people; and  I know them.  Most of my old educational cohort work in biotech.  I do not.

      Just sign me

      Elmer Ph(u)d

      The hungry judges soon the sentence sign, And wretches hang, that jurymen may dine.

      by magnetics on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 10:15:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Enjoyed this diary! (15+ / 0-)

    I like stories of those plant breeders  and no, plant breeding is not genetic breeding.

    We brought back some chili seeds from Oaxaca to try to grow them in So Oregon and so far they are doing pretty nicely - on the same idea that if we have increasing hot weather maybe the things that grow well in hot regions will do fine in our hotting weather. I don't know how to cross breed - probably never will. But, a little adventurous growing is up my street.

    Thanks, draghnfly

    Everybody knows it already

    by redstella on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 06:01:13 AM PDT

  •  I would love to rec this because of the work (8+ / 0-)

    you did on a part of ag history, but I can't because your conclusions aren't based on the same type of rigorous science Hansen engaged in.

    Along with Hansen, you might look into the career of Bent Skovmand, wheat and triticale breeder and creative force behind the international seed bank. Even though Skovmand spent his career breeding, by hand, superior varieties of wheat, he was in favor of GMO technology, but was quite strongly opposed to privatization of genetic resources.

    I hear what you're saying about future challenges and I wholeheartedly agree, we need crops that will handle drought and flood, heat and cold. Quite a tall order. Aspects often missed is how those older varieties were complemented by other crops and how resilient societies were to bad harvests. There are examples of GMO flood resistant rice that saved harvests in the Philippines recently as well as work to breed crops just as you describe using conventional breeding augmented with genetic technology.

    It's going to be a rough ride ahead, those most willing to adapt to a changing diet and changing techniques in ag will do best.

    Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

    by the fan man on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 06:11:35 AM PDT

    •  Being in favor of GMO tech isn't the same as (14+ / 0-)

      forcing GMO technology on people who don't want it, by falsely advertising it, or by *REFUSING to label foods that contain GMOs so people can choose to buy it or choose to buy something else.

      It isn't just about Science here, it's about a lack of ethics practices by large corporations that have bullied farmers and consumers who wanted to eat NonGMOs. A perfectly understandable decision that Monsanto and other companies have no business trying to manipulate via the sin of omission or outright lies.

      I am not necessarily against the idea of GMOs.

      I am against forcing people to embrace that, I am against corporate bullies, and I am against lying to people about the efficacy of these products and their effects on our agricultural system [i.e., superweeds].

      So I will REC it for bringing that up.

      •  That's NOT what the diarist appears to be saying. (5+ / 0-)

        There is a presumption that breeding the "old fashioned way" breeds superior varieties to modern breeding techniques. That's what I am objecting to. That could be correct, but there's no evidence provided. GMOs do not equal monoculture, industrial ag usually does.

        Most GMO scientists would agree on most points you've raised re business.

        Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

        by the fan man on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 09:47:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Point taken (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sagesource, bnasley, the fan man, PeterHug

          Again, I am not a scientist.

        •  The extreme measures taken by these GMO (5+ / 0-)

          agribusinesses seem to also suggest that old fashioned plant breeding might be superior.

          Otherwise, what's to fear?

          •  Huh? (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            draghnfly, the fan man, ladelfina

            They are protecting their source of profits. That's where most extreme measures come from, in any field. Superior, equal, inferior.... if they're not making money from it, they're going to be down on it. That's one of the inherent defects of a market economy.

            "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

            by sagesource on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 10:24:39 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Did you watch the video? I think the scientist (0+ / 0-)

            answers the question.

            Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

            by the fan man on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 02:20:30 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Didn't you hear me? You can turn your own brain (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              off--there is someone else to think for you now!

              Geeze Fan Man, did you ever stop to think about how your statements might look to others who have their own independent  identity and thoughts?

              I am not a science skeptic, but I am always on guard when profit is at stake.

              And yep, they are protecting their profits by trying to bully consumers into buying their product. Whether it's through seizing crops that were pollinated by their transgenic crap, or by refusing to label food that contains transgenic material.

              They are afraid that people will consistently choose nonGMO products, and that this will lead to a loss of profit and in doing so threaten all the money spent on research and development of these new genomes.

              And I cannot say that I blame them.

              Given a choice I would choose NonGMO materials.

              And I quite frankly am pissed that they can sue farmers because GMO pollen hits the wind and pollinates other standing crops. If anything we should be suing them for transgenic pollution.

              •  I am not demanding that you agree with (0+ / 0-)

                me or the guy on the video, I did ask if you looked at it since it addresses something you wrote.

                Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

                by the fan man on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 09:40:17 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  The still from the video (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          maybeeso in michigan, blueoasis, RonV

          misleads the viewer. It exploits the viewer's confusion about the terms "genetically modified," "genetically engineered," and "transgenic."

          Corn evolved from the tiny example ear on the left to something very similar to the robust ear on the right through selective plant breeding which is genetic modification in that offspring are selected for desired traits. Over successive generations the genetic material for undesirable traits is eliminated. So, evolution is genetic modification.

          The video points out the importance of selective breeding. Folta makes good points but I can't wholeheartedly agree with his premise.

          •  You've exposed the nub of some objections to (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mem from somerville, draghnfly

            GMOs. "Nature" supposedly guides selection in benign ways while genetic engineering, by taking one gene modification, is creating something nature never intended and is therefore problematic. Foley addresses some of this in the video. I encourage you to research further. GM technology is pretty much out there, I think it's better to object to factual concerns, not hypothetical suppositions. There's some evidence to support the idea that conventional selective breeding, by carrying over many genes at once, produces more robust offspring than a GMO single gene transfer. On the other hand, I read a book about wheat allergies which claimed the increase in wheat allergies was due to conventional selective breeding (no genetic engineering) which resulted in many new gluten proteins being expressed by plants. Real? Who knows? Interesting idea, huh?

            Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

            by the fan man on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 02:31:29 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  So basically we should give up because the genie (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              is out of the bottle?

              I don't think so. I grow my own garden and I purchase seed from certified, organic, heirloom companies and this is in part a protest against GMO pollution of my food chain.

              Everyday that I am forced to contend with their crap without the ability to make an informed choice, my anger at them grows a bit more and energizes me and others no doubt to do what they can to thwart these people who think they are so goddamed godlike that they know best for everyone.

              A little fucking courtesy on their part, and grasping the history of such corporate arrogance historically speaking would go a long goddamn way in my book.

              As a woman, I used to people telling me to NOT WORRY MY PERTY LITTLE HEAD about this or that. It's okay little lady there is a MAN here to think for you now!

              Oh it lights a fire under my ass everytime, I don't care if it's coming from the Catholic Church, Monsanto or Mitt Romney.

              •  No GrMo, it's out as in it is being researched (0+ / 0-)

                and applied everywhere from Kenya to the Philippines. It doesn't take multi-millions of dollars for a lab to do this work, and it will need to be done, with or without us getting involved. I'd rather we are. I'd rather work on liberating GMO work from the corporate yoke of privatized genetics. That's what I mean. I know you're in the middle (I think you are anyway) of Monsantoland, so I get where you're coming from. I want this to be a science  for the people, as it already is in some parts of the world.

                Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

                by the fan man on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 08:53:24 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I would feel better about it if they would control (0+ / 0-)

                  their goddamn pollen for starters.

                  I think GMOs would be excellent for space travel and terraforming, or even artificial satellites.

                  But that doesn't mean we have to fuck up our food chain, trying to perfect something that wasn't meant for this planet to begin with.

                  •  Rice and wheat are self pollinators, that's (0+ / 0-)

                    where we'll need the expertise most. UG99 is pretty nasty stuff. I'm also interested in the Land Institute's work on perennial grain crops. They won't be GMOs, but genetic technology is being used to see if genes have made it into the selected crops. Could be a revolution as big as anything we've seen for centuries.

                    Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

                    by the fan man on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 09:21:54 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  You mean science for the Indian Farmers who (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  lost everything to a Monsanto Scheme?

                  That kind of lovin' we could all do without.

                  If these agribusinesses are busy killing off our pollinators, outlawing seedsaving, and absconding with crops because the company cannot control it's genome [see pollen], then it's not FOR THE PEOPLE!

                  They are trying to abscond and profit from Native species--for profit. WOW--


                  Over the years, Monsanto has managed to push through government policies for its own good. They also illegitimately charge huge royalty from Indian seed companies which keeps seeds prices high in the country. In some cases, the royalty is around 200 per cent of the seed cost, while worldover it is just five-eight per cent," said G V Ramanjaneyulu, executive director of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Hyderabad. He said Monsanto as a company has repeatedly violated India's bio-safety and bio-diversity laws over the years.
                  Mexico, India, America, --Globally?

                  It is so bad in India, ruined farmers who were victims of Monsanto's GM cotton are killing themselves.

                  So they cannot yet FORCE us to eat their crap, so they use their pollen to destroy the quality of the competitors, while simultaneously kicking our butterfly and bee populations in the teeth.

                  Because Organic relies on Pollinators and pollen. DUH.

                  So where is this FOR the people? I don't see it! Monsanto's drought resistant corn FAILED in the US. The farmers would have been better off getting hybridized seed from indigenous peoples in the southwest.

                  GM technology is not being used For The People. It is being used to deprive us of options and to deprive our food web of genetic diversity in the hopes of fixing a constant profit due to monopolization.

                  The fact that our own fucking government cannot seem to see that, well they get paid not to see it.

                  Anyone else with an ounce of intelligence can see where this is heading, and those with some backbone are going to fight tooth and nail.

                  1. Old fashioned hybridization is not GMO it does not happen in a petri dish, it is not combining the genes of two organisms that could not otherwise reproduce together in nature and produce viable offspring.

                  2. The corporatists already own this crap and they are intent on removing any and all competition, by any means necessary.

                  3. By producing GMO corn crops in Mexico in the Yucatan Peninsula, they essentially are going to pollute the mother source of domesticated Maize in the world. The farming practices should be a world heritage site, but instead it will be ground zero for "Science" for our own good of course!

                  Haitian Farmers vow to burn Monsanto GMO Seed!

                  But but, this is the wave of the future--all our troubles will be solved by their awesome godlike powers of gene manipulation! Those Haitians! They just don't know what's good for em.

                  What Monsanto does with pesticide resistant plants is no different than what happens to populations that use too much antibiotics, incorrectly and too often. Resistance develops and before you know it, both are dealing with Superbugs, and/or Superweeds.

                  Monsanto being the master's of the genomic universe, which base their whole science on the notion of artificial selection [in a lab] should know better than most of us mere peons what's at stake.

                  But no.

                  They ruin our genetic diversity through poor corporate practices.

                  They ruin subsistance farming to make way for corporate ag--the destruction of hectares of land for chemically intense monocropping.

                  They kill our pollinators.

                  They pollute our heirloom and conventional genomes with uncontrolled pollen releases.

                  They create super pests that eat not only their crops, but ours, and that probably out-compete normal pests and predators.

                  They corrupt entire governments with huge wads of cash, undermining things like democracy, sovereignty, as well as the ability to make individual, informed choices about sources and kinds of food and seed.

                  And their Drought Tolerant Corn tanked during this massive drought in the US, which begs the question [much like the water greedy BT cotton] Where is the pay off? It's not food. It's not production--so apparently the only people getting paid are Monsanto and some government turncoats.

                  Gee that sounds like a swell deal for all.

                  Tell me again why GM is so great? Because I can see the evidence all around me. [note sarcasm]

                  •  GMO rice in the Phillipines, Nepal and India has (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    BEEN EAGERLY ACCEPTED by smallholder farmers. NO patents.
                    'Submarine' rice survives storms 'Quiel' and 'Pedring'
                     I understand you can't separate the science from the business because of abuses by business. Too bad, but it sounds like you don't like the science either. As far as some of the points you brought up:

                    India's farm suicides debunked link to Monsanto. More to do with 100% interest rates from loan sharks (local banks) and drought:Indian farmer suicides not GM related, says study
                    Honest articles will say when farmers switched to new industrial techniques that MAY OR MAY NOT include GMOs w/o resources and money to back them, they could end up broke in one year.

                    Mexico is similarly complex, small farmers are being taken down by cheap US corn, but it would just as cheap were it hybrid or GMO. When first introduced Mexican farmers tried to cross breed their own native corn w/Monsanto's. THEY LIKED THE ATTRIBUTES.
                    Mexico farmers quietly plant banned GM corn
                    Read last chapter:Lords Of The Harvest: Biotech, Big Money, And The Future Of Food

                    If drought resistant corn isn't worthwhile, farmers won't buy it. No gun to their heads. Same with Bt corn. If it didn't produce as expected, farmers would dump it. By the way, who turns in farmers who don't renew their license for Monsanto's corn? Other farmers who don't want to compete against growers who ain't paying the freight.

                    Superweeds? There are three times as many weeds resistant to atrizine as there are glyphosate. Use a chemical too much you get resistance.
                    Weed Science

                    If you by chance read Lords of the Harvest, you will find real reasons to hate Monsanto (they do suck in my opinion) and get some surprising insight into what went on in the eighties and nineties.

                    I want end by saying I find you a keen observer and good writer. I look forward to your diaries on wildlife and more recently, drought. Believe it or not, we're almost on the same page on many ag related themes. This just ain't one of them.

                    Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

                    by the fan man on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 04:20:47 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  California's Proposition 37. (6+ / 0-)

        Proposition 37, a citizen’s initiative that would mandate clear labeling of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients on food packages, is on the November 6th California ballot. Funds to fight Proposition 37 have already reached over $23 million with Monsanto donating $4.2 million and Pepsico and Coca Cola donating more than a $1 million. Numerous agribusiness which own “natural” and “organic” brands are also donating to fight against Proposition 37. For more information I recommend the article at Cornucopia Institute.

    •  "flood resistant rice"? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Can you provide a link or citation, please.

      Sorry, I do not accept your word for it.

      Rice has been grown for millenia in flooded paddies, has it not?  So why the need for "flood resisant" rice?  Over those same millenia, have not indigenous farmers developed their own flood resistant rice strains?  Please explain.

      I don't know, but I suspect that expamination of this story might well reveal that the Phillipino farmers had been enticed away from their traditional varieties and sold some new, improved shallow rooted rice which then washed away in the first typhoon.

    •  I did not offer scientific conclusions (5+ / 0-)

      I gave my opinions and feelings.

      Yes, I agree with you. Change is coming. The practice of agriculture has changed dramatically over my lifetime. My dad farmed three quarters (That's 3/4 of a square mile or 480 acres) of land with a little 650 International tractor. He planted wheat, rye, oats, and flax. He also rotated his crops and left some land fallow each year.

      Now farmers in the area grow continuous miles of corn or soybeans. Their operating loans are in the multimillions. It's a whole new game.

      My gut says "no" to GMO but my brain isn't ready to make a blanket condemnation of the practice.

      Here's an interesting talk on seed banks.

      •  Well, you know about Svarlbard then-- (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        the fan man, PeterHug

        How come you don't seem to know about all the other seed banks and genetic repositories?

        Unfortunately, we no longer have extensive varieties of seed stock from which to breed the varieties capable of adapting to conditions.
        This is unsourced hand-waving and just false. Just the other day I was  looking at over 100,000 rice accessions at the USDA. Check out the National Small Grains collection, which is just one of many. I can also offer you thousands of other accessions of other plants and many other genebanks.

        Here's the EURISCO catalog:

        The EURISCO Catalogue contains passport data on almost 1.1 million samples of crop diversity representing 5,586 genera and 36,356 species (genus-species combinations including synonyms and spelling variants) from 43 countries (updated May 2012).
        Luckily plant scientists are working hard to maintain these despite people trash-talking them all the time.

        “I apologise ...for not making myself clear. I should have said that this new age drivel is undermining the very fabric of our civilisation --@ProfBrianCox

        by mem from somerville on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 11:56:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We have seed banks BECAUSE (0+ / 0-)

          we're losing varieties.

          •  No. (0+ / 0-)

            We had them before GMOs.

            Can you show me any evidence that the average farmer (or scientist) had more access to more varieties than they could now, with a single email to IRRI for example?

            “I apologise ...for not making myself clear. I should have said that this new age drivel is undermining the very fabric of our civilisation --@ProfBrianCox

            by mem from somerville on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 05:20:23 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I did not say (0+ / 0-)

              that GMOs caused a loss of biological diversity. The mere fact that so many find it important -- nay, crucial -- to preserve these seeds indicates that they, as well as I, feel we're in danger of losing them forever.

              What kind of clairvoyance do you have that you know so clearly what's in my mind and the extent of my knowledge base? You have repeatedly argued to statements I did not make.

              Yes, I know about seed banks. Does that require that I mention every one by name? And where did I trash talk scientists?

      •  It is the breeders of modern varieties of (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mem from somerville

        crops that came up with this project. In addition, Skovmond spent years traversing Asia talking to small farmers and collecting hundreds and hundreds of samples of varieties of wheat and rice.

        Again, scientists like Hansen and Skovmand and Bourlag are to be honored. On that, we're all in agreement. None of them were anti-GMO technology. Neither Bourlag or Skovmond were anti-GMO, that should tell you something.

        Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

        by the fan man on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 01:11:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Ya know (0+ / 0-)

      I was looking at some old posts about the Zaiger team (who are wicked cool, may I add). Found this post:

      Txchnical Improvements: Onward, Cherry Development!

      45 years. 99% fail. One cherry.

      “It took 45 years of sorting through the junk offspring to find the seedlings that took us where we wanted to go,” says Gardner. “Ninety-nine percent of them didn’t have the qualities we were looking for.”
      Can we afford that? Personally, I think we can and should move faster than that.

      “I apologise ...for not making myself clear. I should have said that this new age drivel is undermining the very fabric of our civilisation --@ProfBrianCox

      by mem from somerville on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 05:29:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  not all GMO seeds are sterile, it's just that (4+ / 0-)

    using them can infringe on patents or something. Not all genetic engineering is done for roundup resistance also.

    Thai and other scientists working at various universities have developed rice strains with more nutrients and resistant to flooding. All seeds are free. There has also been a concerted effort to collect the hundreds of different variety which the isolated "hill tribes" people have developed so to insure they aren't lost as people adopt the better varieties.

    Typically Lao rice farmers (brother and sister in law and their kids) not only produce for sale but also eat rice. The flood resistant and varieties with extra nutrients affect the malnutrition and eyesight of my nieces and nephews. Just because something is new, or made by large companies, doesn't make it bad.

    Most of the world needs food. GMOs aren't the Frankenstein they are often made out to be.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 08:39:33 AM PDT

  •  The challenge is more economic than genetic. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    draghnfly, sagesource, bnasley

       There are still plenty of public plant breeding programs out there as well as gene banks holding vast germplasm collections. Multinational corporations are using every available genetic resource to come up with the best products for the world marketplace. Farmers are going to buy products that get them the best return for their investment.
        There is nothing stopping a plant breeder from doing as Hansen did, making crosses and then growing and selecting progeny that perform the best. As long as they haven't selected for or inadvertently included a patented biotech gene they are free to market or give away their products.
        Economically, corn is king. High performing hybrid seed
    commands a huge share of the market and the gamble is that it will also return the highest profit. There used to be lots of Mom & Pop hybrid seed producers selling locally adapted varieties but they just can't compete on the scale of a multinational.  

    •  You've stated one of my major complaints (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bnasley, OrdinaryIowan

      The patented biotech is everywhere. Pollen infiltrates non-biotech crops.

      A Google search brings up scads of information. Here is one.

      •  That was thrown out (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Judge Dismisses Organic Farmers' Case Against Monsanto

        Instead, the judge found that plaintiffs' allegations were "unsubstantiated ... given that not one single plaintiff claims to have been so threatened." The ruling also found that the plaintiffs had "overstate[d] the magnitude of [Monsanto's] patent enforcement."
        Did you do any research on this topic at all besides things you wanted to believe?

        “I apologise ...for not making myself clear. I should have said that this new age drivel is undermining the very fabric of our civilisation --@ProfBrianCox

        by mem from somerville on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 12:04:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Court - "contamination" is "inevitable" (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ladelfina, draghnfly, martinjedlicka

          The suit was dismissed because the court decided it didn't have subject matter jurisdiction. The "unsubstantiated" threat the court was referring to was the threat of being sued by Monsanto if the plaintiffs' crops became contaminated, not the threat of contamination. In fact, in the "Pre-Suit Facts" section of the court's Memorandum and Order, the court states:

          [S]ome unlicensed -- and unintended -- use of transgenic seeds is inevitable. Like any other seeds, transgenic seeds may contaminate non-transgenic crops through a variety of means, including seed drift or scatter, crosspollination, and commingling via tainted equipment during harvest or post-harvest activities, processing, transportation, and storage. Seed businesses and farmers may, at some expense, test their seeds and crops to ensure that no contamination has occurred, and non-transgenic farmers may establish buffer zones between themselves and farmers using transgenic seed in order to reduce the risk of cross- transmission.
          Please note the court's use of the word "inevitable." Perhaps you are the one who should have done more research before citing this case as support for your position.
          •  None of these issues (0+ / 0-)

            are any different from your favorite heirloom tomato. And yet--in the next paragraph beyond what you cite:

            No plaintiffs claim that contamination has yet occurred in any crops they have grown or seed they have sold.
            Isn't it odd that after all these years not one of these folks could be found--especially in a self-selected group like this collection of plaintiffs?  Hmm...

            “I apologise ...for not making myself clear. I should have said that this new age drivel is undermining the very fabric of our civilisation --@ProfBrianCox

            by mem from somerville on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 04:47:17 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  It is truly a pity that Monsanto (3+ / 0-)

        didn't put the Roundup-Ready gene into the mitochondrial genome rather than the nuclear one.

        (no mitochondria in pollen)

      •  A Breeder can usually handle cross pollination. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

           For self pollinated crops like beans, or mostly selfed like wheat outcrossing is rare. Breeders usually do controlled pollinations from known starting material anyway. Even corn breeders do controlled pollinations most of the way through. You have to to maintain an inbred and then to make the final cross for hybrid seed production. It's really easy to confirm you don't have a Roundup ready gene in your breeding stock. Spray a few plants and if they don't die you've inadvertently picked up the gene. Of course if you go out to a field that's been sprayed with round-up and pick plants that lived you are asking for trouble. BT is a little harder to detect since you need a protein test but for anybody doing this commercially there are test strips available.  
            Now for somebody who wants to develop a new open pollinated land race of corn the pollen question could get a whole lot trickier, but you are going to need a Hansen, Burbank and Borlaug all rolled into one to come up with one of those that is economically competitive with today's hybrid varieties.
            That said, the corn belt may have pushed the limits for where it will ever be grown. Climate change and depleted aquifers will push it back to places with reliable rainfall. The gamblers who bet the limit on corn every year are likely to find themselves "busted, flat broke" much sooner than W predicted SS would be if we didn't privatize it.  


    •  But wait-- (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PeterHug, draghnfly

      plant breeders doing non-GMO work get patents. One example I love Floyd Zaiger--he's been breeding all sorts of new fruits and patenting them.

      Floyd Zaiger a fruit innovator to the world

      I have no problems with Zaigers carrying IP protection for their hard work. Go ahead and search the USPTO for Zaiger.

      Just like herbicide-tolerance, aiming at GMOs because of patents is aiming at the wrong thing. If you hate patents, fine, but it's not unique to GMOs.

      “I apologise ...for not making myself clear. I should have said that this new age drivel is undermining the very fabric of our civilisation --@ProfBrianCox

      by mem from somerville on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 11:42:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Does the plant patent prevent crossing work? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

          If there is another N.E. out there who wants to breed adapted varieties for thier community, could they legally grow out the progeny of a protected plant and cross it with progeny from some other source? Let's say this is with a fruit tree. The resulting cossed progeny could then be grafted onto an existing tree, just like Burbank did. Any grafted branch that produces a superior product could then be cut up and grafted on to rootstocks and sold. It seems to me this is covered under the plant breeders code of ethics as fair use.

        •  Let's see what USPTO says (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          What is a plant patent?

          A plant patent is granted by the Government to an inventor (or the inventor's heirs or assigns) who has invented or discovered and asexually reproduced a distinct and new variety of plant, other than a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state. The grant, which lasts for 20 years from the date of filing the application, protects the inventor's right to exclude others from asexually reproducing, selling, or using the plant so reproduced.
          Seems to me that from this the inventor has the right to exclude other uses. Whether they enforce that--or how--I don't know. It might depend on the quality of the legal team.

          Have you seen Zaiger trees used as you describe? And they make the legal cut?

          “I apologise ...for not making myself clear. I should have said that this new age drivel is undermining the very fabric of our civilisation --@ProfBrianCox

          by mem from somerville on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 04:59:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I've only seen the fruit in the grocery store. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

               I'd have a hard time getting up to 50,000 crosses a year like he has but as times get tougher I'd like to think there might be 50,000 backyard breeders doing their best. Sounds to me like I could not legally buy and use the tree for the 1st cross but I could grow the seeds, graft them and cross them and select an adapted progeny.
                Most posts sound like we are all so helpless in the face of big corporations but it's only when we play on their terms. I like to think we are coming to a future where Small is Beautiful and locavores rule.

            •  I wouldn't stop you (0+ / 0-)

              from doing anything you choose. But I happen to think 45 years and 99% failure rate is not the way I want to proceed in times of changing climate.

              Good luck with your strategies.

              “I apologise ...for not making myself clear. I should have said that this new age drivel is undermining the very fabric of our civilisation --@ProfBrianCox

              by mem from somerville on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 06:40:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Cloning is fun! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    draghnfly, PeterHug

    Why, just last spring I cloned 80 apple trees, and this year I cloned 100 more!*

    *(If you want a specific apple variety, propagation is done the old-fashioned way: through cloning.)

  •  It's so cute (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TFinSF, PeterHug, furi kuri

    when people who have no grasp of the field tell plant scientists what they ought to be doing.

    In fact, we've got plenty of herbicide-tolerant plants that are from conventional breeding strategies. Check out Clearfield varieties of wheat, rice, sunflowers, even lentils (also canola and corn, btw).

    And further good news: because everyone is mis-aiming at GMOs, the companies are now going to make sure you can't complain about them by developing even more plants that meet your desires:

    Firm developing non-GMO herbicide-resistant varieties

    So very soon you'll have plenty of conventional herbicide-tolerant plants that have no regulatory hurdles at all to meet.

    Talk about unintended consequences....

    “I apologise ...for not making myself clear. I should have said that this new age drivel is undermining the very fabric of our civilisation --@ProfBrianCox

    by mem from somerville on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 11:38:28 AM PDT

  •  A bit of clarification (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Expat Okie

    And expansion on my post.

    I can see where what I wrote could validly be interpreted as natural=good and science=bad.

    We need only look at domesticated dogs to see that "natural" selective breeding can also do great harm. Some breeds have hip problems. Others have skulls too small for their brains. The list goes on and on. It extends to virtually every domesticated animal or cultivated plant.

    My parents raised registered Hereford cattle so I grew up observing selective breeding and learned a modicum of genetic theory. The Hereford industry at that time, late '50s into early '60s, was winding down its purge of animals suspected of carrying the gene for dwarfism. The dwarfism was caused by a recessive gene traced back to a single bull. Recessive genes manifest when paired. Whole bloodlines were ruthlessly culled and dwarfism eliminated from the breed.

    Selective breeding can enhance a specific trait or eliminate it. The process takes time. Many generations. Many years. Sometimes a breeder may not be totally cognizant of the cumulative result of decisions.

    My parents' original herd was made up of cows who readily bred, produced healthy calves without intervention, and provided enough milk to support those calves until weaning. My mother was a tender soul. As they bought more cows and increased the herd some cows didn't breed and some didn't produce enough milk. Rather than culling these animals Mom gave them another chance. And kept their daughters and granddaughters. Eventually a good percentage of the herd was made up of cows who took a year off from work every now and then or required help to deliver their calves or couldn't produce enough milk to support them.

    We can find many examples of bad results from selective breeding as we can for genetically engineered plants or animals. We can also find many good examples of both.

    I find Hansen's work quite admirable. What appeals to me most  is, for lack of a better word, his holistic approach. Cold hardiness was a starting point but not the sole goal. Hansen's report on the tests of his Russian alfalfas makes this clear. He trusted the end users of the plants to make evaluations. In doing this on the scale that he did he opened up those evaluations to any number of criteria he might not have considered. Undesirable traits were noted and addressed.

    What I find objectionable about genetic modification, and, yes, some selective breeding, is that it focuses on single traits at the expense of the whole. Gosh, how many examples come to mind. Tasteless grocery store produce bred for shipping and shelf life over taste and nutrition.

    I'm not a total luddite. I just wish we could see the forest for the trees. Technology and science should not be the end unto themselves.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site