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Links With Your Coffee - Thursday


  • Nanodots breakthrough may lead to 'a library on one chip'
    A researcher at North Carolina State University has developed a computer chip that can store an unprecedented amount of data - enough to hold an entire library's worth of information on a single chip. The new chip stems from a breakthrough in the use of nanodots, or nanoscale magnets, and represents a significant advance in computer-memory technology.
    'We have created magnetic nanodots that store one bit of information on each nanodot, allowing us to store over one billion pages of information in a chip that is one square inch,' says Dr Jay Narayan, the John C. Fan Distinguished Chair Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at NC State and author of the research.

  • Leave English Out of It

  • Too Deliciously Ironic For Words: Gary Null Hoisted by his own Petard

  • The Powerful Judge Others More Harshly but Cheat More Themselves
    Last year, the UK press was abuzz with the so-called “expenses scandal”. In a time when the county was gripped by recession, we were told that Members of Parliament (MPs) were claiming for all sorts of ridiculous luxuries, all at the taxpayer’s expense. The revelations dominated the news, but the idea that people in positions of power often behave hypocritically isn’t new. It is said, after all, that power corrupts. Now, Joris Lammers from Tilburg University has found solid evidence for this.
    Through five compelling experiments, Lammers has shown that powerful people are more likely to behave immorally but paradoxically less likely to tolerate immorality in other people. Even thinking about the feeling of power can trigger these double standards.

  • New Frontiers in Peevology
  • Christian Counsellor Loses Court Fight Over Sacking
    Former Anglican archbishop intervenes but judge rebuffs man sacked for refusing to counsel homosexual couple

  • What Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini Got Wrong
  • You can stop here if you have no interest in GMOs

  • Genetically Engineered Crops Benefit Many Farmers, but the Technology Needs Proper Management to Remain Effective, Report Suggests
    The report provides the first comprehensive assessment of how GE crops are affecting all U.S. farmers, including those who grow conventional or organic crops.The new report follows several previous Research Council reports that examined the potential human health and environmental effects of GE crops.

    The study was funded by the National Research Council. The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies.

  • Attention Whole Foods Shoppers
  • A New Twist on Transgenes and Allergies
    When you bring up GE crops to people, one of the common objections is “Can’t these GMOs cause allergies?” Sure it is possible, as with any plant genetic modification (including breeding), which is why GE crops are tested for allergenicity according to regulations.

    But now, it seems, the opposite may be true. “Can’t we use GMOs to eliminate allergies?”

    The New Scientist reports that one Japanese researcher and his team are having some success with that possibility. 20% of Japanese citizens succumb to a harsh reaction to Japanese Cedar pollen. Proteins within the pollen cause the body to react as it would to an invading pathogen, which is what defines an allergy. Treatment currently requires pollen injections, which can be dangerous.

  • The Right to Know: Why GMO Labeling Law Isn't So Black and White



re: Leave English Out of It

OMG! I always pronounce the "t" in often. It's easier and more understandable for a non-native speaker, just like sounding it on mountain.

Re: Leave English Out of It

I very much enjoyed the line "English has been nouning verbs and verbing nouns since Chaucer was in grammar school ..."

He's a mischeevious fellow. (Go ahead, shun me. See if I care.)

Re: GE label laws.

What I want to know is how Monsanto/ADM can argue on the one hand that GE seed is so essentially the same as existing seed that FDA might presume it to be the same and hence PRESUME safety and allow propagation without supervision, testing, labeling or regulation.

While, on the other hand, Monsanto claims and (vigorously defends) patent rights for developing the processes and products that insert Herbicide resistance into the genomes of corn, soy, etc. etc. If it's the same, then where's the justification for the Patents?

If the process and product are so new as to permit patenting, then where's the justification for not testing, supervising and regulating?

How is it they get to have it both ways?


The article you posted regarding labeling, assumes (like FDA) that the product is safe. hence the "argument" for labeling is one of "consumer curiosity". Not.

FDA's decision to believe Monsanto when they said GE seed is essentially the same as seed from open source or hybridized seed and is, hence by definition "safe" was wrong. From that error flows the lack of supervision, regulation, labeling and testing.

The issue is not whether FDA (or USDA) should require labels just to satisfy consumer curiosity.

Here's the thing. Remember when the industry started adding Bovine Growth Hormone to increase milk production? They persuaded the FDA that the milk produced by animals treated thus was essentially the same and hence need not be labeled or tested. For the longest time they disallowed anyone from even saying they didn't add RBGH to their dairy animals (for fear that might imply disrespect for the 'science'.

We know better now.

The difference of course between RBGH and GE crops is that when we found out RBGH is not so good after all, we stopped shooting up the dairy herds with it, and only one generation of young girls will suffer the effects of early puberty as a result of our cavalier error.

The concern about GE is not one of crunchy granola anti-science bias. It is one of RISK MANAGEMENT. There is no way to back out of drift pollination. Maybe you are right and only benefits will flow from Monsanto and ADM. But how do you fix it if you are wrong? What if it turns out that altering the protein/carb balances in rice or inserting Herbicide resistant genes or altering corn genes to make it more efficient to produce ethanol from corn was short sighted, a BIG mistake and now we've messed up the food supply? What if it turns out, for instance, that the Herbicide residuals in Roundup Ready soy might be manageable by human bodies but is a cause of the colony collapse in the bee population? What do we do then?

It's kinda like that oil spill off Louisiana. You can't get that oil back under the ocean.

What worries me about GE crops is that ya can't get that genie back in the bottle. With GE, the worlds food supply is being contaminated with NO WAY BACK.

Questions always the questions with you granola cruchers :)

  1. Why are the patents justified if the end product is essentially equivalent?

I think it is primarily the process that is being patented. It is a complicated process finding exactly the right snippet of DNA you want to put into the new plant and the right promoter so that the trait is expressed the way you want it .

  1. Your second question is about drift pollination and recovering from disasters?

I think you're mistaken to think that there is no way back. Drift pollination exists whether the plants are GM or not and so you have the same problem in either case, bad traits can spread. As to a way back, you simply plant seeds without the traits you want to eliminate. Biodiversity within a crop is a problem whether they are GM or not. Farmers will use the seed that they think will get them the best crop. That's why it's so important for governments and the U.N. to maintain viable seed banks. It's my understanding that drift pollination is a relatively slow process and not that great a risk.

Here is a pretty good article explaining [Bt-Corn]

Now get back out there and get your chores done you slacker.


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