Amazon.com Widgets

« Race in America | Main | Can Monkeys Talk »

Links With Your Coffee - Tuesday

coffee.gif

If it turns out to be true should I rename my daily links to "Improved Cognitive Function With Your Coffee."

via Butterfiles and Wheels

It may true that I link to nearly every post Jerry Coyne makes. I have no intention of stopping because I think the quality of what he posts is that consistently good. You can continue to click through or you could make him a regular stop on your perusal of the internet like I do.

They wouldn't want to use something like GMOs to increase production, no they'll just use more of others resources.

The independent Research Centre OPERA* presented today (Tuesday 11th May 2010) in Brussels, a new research report that warns that the European Union must encourage agricultural innovation and productivity increases to avoid charges of territorial "land grabbing".

Authors of the study are Professor Harald von Witzke of the Humboldt University of Berlin and Steffen Noleppa of agripol - network for policy advice. The research details the development of EU agricultural trade between 1999 and 2008 and quantifies the substantial acreage cultivated in other countries to fulfil Europe's demand for food, animal feed and biofuels. It shows that in 2007/2008 almost 35 million hectares of land beyond European borders was used for the benefit of Europeans, with the EU the world.s largest importer of agricultural products.

Only 57% of Americans and 36% of Europeans are aware that ordinary tomatoes contain genes.(Hallman et al. 2003,Gaskell,Allum and Stares 2003

And other Limey expressions.


 

Comments

re: "The research details the development of EU agricultural trade between 1999 and 2008 and quantifies the substantial acreage cultivated in other countries to fulfill Europe's demand for food, animal feed and biofuels."...

"They wouldn't want to use something like GMOs to increase production, no they'll just use more of others resources."

Now now...

Our own US imports of food have increased dramatically in the last decade. see http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/FAU/2009/08Aug/FAU125/FAU125.pdf

DESPITE the fact that our own Food Production regulatory environment has been WIDE OPEN to GMO for over a decade, then I've gotta ask Dear,

"and you point?"

First I wouldn't say wide open since many GM crops have been delayed or not used at all since export markets won't buy GM products, world markets are significant and there is ample evidence that it has slowed or stopped the production of GM crops. (If you'd like to see the evidence I'll dig it up)

I'm not sure what imports have increased dramatically, are they products we can't grow here?

It's not just GMOs that help increase production, methods using synthetic fertilizers, and other so called green revolution methods increase production. Arable land is limited and so moving more towards land intensive solutions doesn't seem the best course of action. Europe is moving more and more toward organic farming methods with the lower yields they provide. I was wrong to paint it entirely as a GMO non-GMO issue, that is obviously only part of the picture, and I'm sure I'm leaving out other factors as well. Thanks for calling me on it.

The point is the entire western world uses the resources of others and that is not usually a good thing, and that Europe is one of the worst offenders.

That's hillarious... Europe is about 4,000,000 sq. miles, and USA 9,160,000 (more than twice as much). The 35 mil hectares of 'grabbed land' is 135,000 sq miles, or just about 3.2% of the DIFFERENCE in the size of Europe and USA. I won't even get into how much 'land grabbing' USA does... Now, combine that with the fact that Europe has MORE people than the USA, and tell me who is the bigger land grabber? Or should Europe follow the US lead and just conquer the parts it needs so it wouldn't be 'land-grabing' but 'good politics'?

Also, what about all the people who get paid to grow food for Europe? Besides, a LOT of food is imported from the US - do you really want Europe to stop buying your products?

As long as GMO can be pattented, it should NOT be used. We don't need seed supply turning into another oil scheme where big corps will rule the world by controlling the seed supply.

re: "I'm not sure what imports have increased dramatically, are they products we can't grow here?"

The referenced study lists them, including areas such as fish, fish products, fruit, fruit juices, fresh, canned and frozen vegetables.

Much of the shrimp in the market is sourced in Indonesia and Vietnam. A great many fruits and veggies come across from Mexico and the rest of the Western Hemisphere. Not saying this is necessarily bad. T'would be nice to have complete food security within our borders, but then we'd probably have to abandon bananas in our breakfast cereal and cantaloupes in January. But then, since some clever fellow has decided that lacing bananas with hepatitis vaccine via GE is a cool idea, guess banana's are going off the table anyhow since I don't really need a continuous source of Hep. vaccine thanks anyway. Wonder how they plan to do the field trials for that one! Are they including safe dosage trials for the dozen or so other critters who like bananas? How much human hepatitis vaccine is safe for a baby monkey I wonder.

re: productivity. As you know, I do not believe that Organic farming with non-synthetic nitrogen sources need be "less productive". That Univ. of Leeds study you quoted a while back only looked at winter wheat crops, the purpose of the study was not yield measurement but landscape effects on biodiversity, hence the productivity numbers they cited were anecdotal, at least one of the reported yields from conventional farms in their study was WAY above the standard yield expectations in the England, Scotland and Europe, and even exceeded the 'highest' reported winter wheat yields in the the US (some Idaho dry farm holds that record).

You know, I often wonder what kind of bountiful yields of fresh vegetables we could produce here in this country (yes, even organically) if we plowed under a small fraction of our acres of wine grapes to plant real food. Or, if we considered food production potential of land before we paved it over for subdivisions.

Maybe a great many small intensively cultivated Organic community gardens in every neighborhood could do more for improving the diet of our population than more fancy artificial fertilizers and GE crops.

Just sayin'...

It would seem a modification to a banana that would provide a vaccine wouldn't be a food but a medicine and regulated as a medicine. Do you have a source for that, oh I'll just google it.

I can't do without bananas so that's definitely a no go.

I often wonder what kind of bountiful yields of fresh vegetables we could produce here in this country (yes, even organically) if we plowed under a small fraction of our acres of wine grapes to plant real food.

I'm with you on that one I don't see much use for alcohol beverages, but would the Chardonnay crowd give up their wine for more organically grown veggies. Somehow I don't think so.

It's my understanding that organic farming doesn't scale very well, so although a farm like one I know off in Northern California that produces fantastic amounts of everything, that model wouldn't work on a national scale. Besides there aren't nearly enough cow names to handle the increase.

While yes, I'm planning on catching up on the reading material floating around about Bt/GMO crops, I feel it's safe at this point to be very concerned with the money cycle involved with such crops. The money cycle is fueled by really bad patent law precedent, and I think that countries around the globe need to seriously consider what happens to our economy - if not our food supply and medicinal practices - if large corporations control life forms (often just portions of life forms) that are studied and developed daily by various cultures, schools, vocations.

I doubt I'll come up with the conclusion that Bt in and of itself is evil. However, I am concerned about the time I'll be spending scrutinizing every sentence and conclusion wondering how much they were skewed by money. The current picture I have is grimly shaded and finished by money money money.

I too am concerned with corporatism, but take a more pragmatic view of things. I'll do what I can to reign in the corporations, but it's not as simple as corporation = bad. I don't see anyone declining a life saving drug because a corporation makes money from it.

In the case of GMOs I can live quite well without them, it's not a life and death issue. I don't think it's the same in Africa where they were bypassed by the green revolution unlike most of the rest of the world, and something like a drought resistant crop could be of great benefit. You can breed drought resistance into plants using conventional breeding in fact it's being done all the time, but it is much more time consuming than genetically engineering drought resistance. The problem is that when you combine to plants one that is resistant to drought and the other that works well in non-drought conditions. You might very well get a plant that performs well in droughts but not so well in good times. It is more of a shotgun method with many more intermediate steps. Once you've identified a specific gene that provides drought resistance you can inject that gene snippet into a plant that performs well in other environments. It is a long process by either method, but GE can cut the times substantially. Reducing times from 20 years to 10 years for example.

But the organic only mentality one that is strong in the U.S. and even stronger in Europe tries to impose the no-GMO view on countries that haven't reached our level of food security. It's a luxury they simply can't afford. I don't have objections or organic farming in general there are many methods used by organic farmers that are beneficial to farmers in general, but the no-GMO stand is I believe irrational.

I see your points in helping out geographical areas in need. I do think that a number of approaches should be taken, not just GM, but certainly GM crops can provide assistance at least until people can get back on their feet. The drought resistant crops are still a work in progress, as you noted.

I don't see anyone declining a life saving drug because a corporation makes money from it.

My reference to medicinal practices has to do with patents on human genes and gene fragments. This article includes sections on patenting parts of human makeup, arguments for and against such patents, and other information. My concern with the money is discussed in the against section. There are other, often related arguments stated, but consider this:

Patents could impede the development of diagnostics and therapeutics by third parties because of the costs associated with using patented research data.

Patent stacking (allowing a single genomic sequence to be patented in several ways such as an EST, a gene, and a SNP) may discourage product development because of high royalty costs owed to all patent owners of that sequence; these are costs that will likely be passed on to the consumer.

Costs increase not only for paying for patent licensing but also for determining what patents apply and who has rights to downstream products.

Private biotechs who own certain patents can monopolize certain gene test markets.

No matter how sound the science is, the financial repercussions pave the slippery slope of patenting life forms.

I will say that I just watched The Future of Food. I am guessing that the North Dakota farmer Nelson is the one you referred to in an earlier thread - was it his lawsuit was bogus. I'll check back on the particulars to see if he were the plaintiff in question. I do think that the decision against the Canadian farmer - Schmeiser - gave Monsanto a victory over patented seeds that is not farmer friendly, and perhaps Nelson (or whoever) tried to cash in once caught.

That being said, i was pleased to find information this morning that may mean we're on a better path. The first thing I checked into was the patent on the breast cancer gene. I was pretty busy when the decision was made, but at the end of March, the district court in Salt Lake City ruled for the plaintiffs represented by the ACLU against Myriad Genetics's patent on BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, mutations of which responsible for most hereditary breast and ovarian cancers. (since this was local to you, you may have already referenced this decision; sorry if I missed it)

The patents, which Myriad has actively enforced, grant the company the exclusive right to perform diagnostic tests on the two genes. The company charges over $3,000 for its BRACAnalysis test. In 2009, Myriad's revenues from molecular diagnostics grew by 47% to $326.5 million. BRACAnalysis accounts for the lion's share of those revenues.

Those profits benefit the company with the patent, and the costs are passed on to patients.

Experts expect the company, Myriad Genetics, which together with the University of Utah Research Foundation had seven patents named in the case, to challenge the ruling.

It was interesting to read that Monsanto will allow an essentially generic version of its Roundup ready 1 soy seed to be sold once its patent expires in 2014.

Roundup Ready seed can cost as much as $75 an acre compared with $30 to $35 for soybean seeds that are not genetically modified, according to James Beuerlein, a soybean specialist at Ohio State University. The difference in price is thought to reflect mainly royalties paid to Monsanto.

Personally, i am not a big fan of the chemical applications that are involved with certain crops. Spraying if you must should be the mantra, and you can argue that it is, but once you have issues with pest control or super weeds, you "must" spray more to save your crops. appetizing.

Sure, let's go with GM crops, and it's not either or GMO and organic. I feel that we truly need those who farm for diversification, without Bt and chemicals. In really rough times, those are the farmers whose seeds we'll want to regenerate crops in various locations. Unless of course a corporation with seed patents will so kindly sell us their selections to save a harvest. Be prepared to dig deeply, and I don't mean into the soil.

It was Schmeiser I talked about in the other thread. The court decision and summary was quite interesting reading not quite the way "The Future of Food" portrayed it, but given the way it painted the Schmeiser case I'm suspicious. Correct me if I'm wrong it's been a while since I watched TFOF but don't they say the court said that if any at all was found on his land he was guilty and responsible. If that's what they said then how would they explain his suit against Monsanto for exactly that, some seed that had spread to the outside edges of his property from an adjoining farm. A case that Monsanto settled with him paying for cleanup. If the other case was true, they could just have cited that as precedent and not paid him at all.

There is no question that Monsanto is a bit of a bully, but I think it has been exaggerated in the various documentaries that love a David and Goliath hook in their stories. The bigger corporations get the more problematic they become.

The pesticide issue is interesting. It is the one area where GM and other crops dramatically outperform organic in terms of yields. The advantage of Bt over traditional application of a pesticide is twofold, it doesn't leave a residue on the plant which in turn only affects the pest its designed for and doesn't hurt other possibly beneficial insects that don't eat the crop.

But plants will always evolve to meet whatever method we choose to use to control them. I imagine that they even develop defenses to being pulled after all the weeds that survive a pulling would be the ones that are more difficult to pull, making the next generations even more difficult to remove by that method.

The so called superweed is also intersting, it's a misnomer of sorts these weeds adapted to the roundup through traditional methods they didn't acquire the roundup ready gene, though that is technically possible it is highly unlikely. Particularly if they use the product correctly by including refuge rows where it's not sprayed.

There are a myriad of seeds that are not patented and available, but availability for commercial production can vanish in the short run because of lack of demand. If all the farmers are buying one or two seeds, GM or not, other seeds will become less available.

I see your points in helping out geographical areas in need. I do think that a number of approaches should be taken, not just GM, but certainly GM crops can provide assistance at least until people can get back on their feet. The drought resistant crops are still a work in progress, as you noted.

I agree it will take a number of approaches, but the colonial Europeans through the influence of NGO from such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace put pressure on them only to use organic, not synthetic fertilizers, no GM, in some cases some of these organizations have spent more on providing Africans with tools to detect GM than aid to help them. It's like they're selling a religion to the "poor ignorant" natives. A little too much projection, we like our organic crops and you will too. That's not to say that organic methods don't have there place as well, but that alone, like GM alone won't come close to solving the problem.

I don't see anyone declining a life saving drug because a corporation makes money from it.

But we have seen many instances of people taking life-threatening drugs they assumed were safe because they were fast-tracked by the FDA. Vioxx is a good example. The regulatory process that brought us Vioxx appears to be at work with GMOs, with former executives working in the regulating agencies and with regulating agencies relying on industry-funded studies.

The concern amongst GMO opponents isn't simply that some company will make a profit; the concern is that profit is the only consideration.

Correct me if I'm wrong it's been a while since I watched TFOF but don't they say the court said that if any at all was found on his land he was guilty and responsible. If that's what they said then how would they explain his suit against Monsanto for exactly that, some seed that had spread to the outside edges of his property from an adjoining farm. A case that Monsanto settled with him paying for cleanup. If the other case was true, they could just have cited that as precedent and not paid him at all.

In the movie, the court does make that ruling, but that ruling was in response to Schmeiser's case. Schmeiser's case was that seed blew onto his property from any variety of sources: other farms, blowing off trucks (a neighbor said he saw that). Thus, to make it clear that the decision was completely in favor of Monsanto, it had to be that no matter how the seed got on his property, Schmeiser was responsible.

This decision would render Nelson's case moot.

So, is there information that the Canadian did in fact abuse the seed patent, and was just putting forth a bogus argument?

From the court documents

Schmeiser never purchased Roundup Ready Canola nor did he obtain a licence to plant it. Yet, in 1998, tests revealed that 95 to 98 percent of his 1,000 acres of canola crop was made up of Roundup Ready plants. The origin of the plants is unclear. They may have been derived from Roundup Ready seed that blew onto or near Schmeiser’s land, and was then collected from plants that survived after Schmeiser sprayed Roundup herbicide around the power poles and in the ditches along the roadway bordering four of his fields. The fact that these plants survived the spraying indicated that they contained the patented gene and cell. The trial judge found that “none of the suggested sources [proposed by Schmeiser] could reasonably explain the concentration or extent of Roundup Ready canola of a commercial quality” ultimately present in Schmeiser’s crop ((2001), 202 F.T.R. 78, at para. 118).

thanks Norm. Can you get these from the LOC, or other places?

Wikipedia manages to sum up things well, and even the opening paragraphs show that Schmeiser, at the least, should ahve known better:

In 1997, Percy Schmeiser, a canola breeder and grower in Bruno, Saskatchewan, discovered that a section of one of his fields contained canola that was resistant to herbicide Roundup. A farmhand later harvested and saved the seed from this area, this seed was used to replant in 1998. That harvest was sold for feed. During 1998, over 95% of Schmeiser's canola crop of approximately 1,000 acres (4 km²) was identified as the Roundup Ready variety.

Can you get these from the LOC, or other places?

or... from the same google search (schmeiser v monsanto) that included Wiki, Judgements of the Supreme Court of Canada. Don't know if that's what you did, but the internets can be a fountain of information.

Links to the court records are on the monsanto site. I read the bit about the 95-98% on the monsanto site and then followed the link there to the court ducment to make sure they were quoting it accurately.

http://www.monsanto.com/monsanto_today/for_the_record/percy_schmeiser.asp http://scc.lexum.umontreal.ca/en/2004/2004scc34/2004scc34.html

The part about the 95 to 98% is down in the section II Salient facts.

Monsanto has some links to some of the other suits but I don't think I saw one on Nelson so who knows what the story is there. It's still in the courts I understand so we'll eventually get the whole story. I'm sure Monsanto is not blameless in all these cases but the picture painted by the documentaries is one-sided and not always accurate.

There are some anti-trust cases being investigated against Monsanto I hope they cut them down to size.

Navigation

Support this site

Google Ads


Powered by Movable Type Pro

Copyright © 2002-2017 Norman Jenson

Contact


Commenting Policy

note: non-authenticated comments are moderated, you can avoid the delay by registering.

Random Quotation

Individual Archives

Monthly Archives