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Links With Your Coffee - Tuesday

Coffee Cup

Oh, I want one of these.

Science and technology have provided humans with many advances. Some have been very beneficial, some have been horribly destructive, with everything in between. Many advances have both positive and negative aspects, which can make discussing and implementing them really complicated. I’m not the first one to say that science is neutral, and humans are the ones that implement it in good or bad ways.

The various methods of generating electricity are a great example. Humans have become dependent on energy for so many things, some frivolous and some necessary (depending on your point of view). Unless we are all willing to forego electricity, we must find some way to power our lives. Current methods, including coal, have harmful unintended consequences that many of us would say outweigh the positives that we get from the electricity that is generated. Water power, once thought to be one of the cleanest methods of generating electricity, has been found to cause problems big and small. Nuclear has its own set of problems, as does wind.

Because each solution has positive and negative effects, the best we can do is examine each situation individually using the best science available and decide how to achieve the most positive effects while decreasing the negatives. Plant genetics is no different from power generation in this respect.

The lights are going out all over America — literally. Colorado Springs has made headlines with its desperate attempt to save money by turning off a third of its streetlights, but similar things are either happening or being contemplated across the nation, from Philadelphia to Fresno.

Meanwhile, a country that once amazed the world with its visionary investments in transportation, from the Erie Canal to the Interstate Highway System, is now in the process of unpaving itself: in a number of states, local governments are breaking up roads they can no longer afford to maintain, and returning them to gravel.


 

Comments

•Sharpie Liquid Pencil

Ditto

and half of theses

http://www.jetpens.com/

Another aspect of plants is that they are not passive beings as maybe we regard them.

Science writer Natalie Angier wrote a controversial article on "The Science of Plants" in the NY Times. Here is an interview with her about it, with the same title.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76k0TXFu2iE

Plants are more sophisticated than we may have thought and perhaps we should think more about it than manipulating them as we have.

What the hell, you make an argument I present evidence disproving it. I specifically ask you to respond and what do you do. You simply ignore it and move on to another article making a different point. Have you read the post by Anatasia B in today's links, tell me what you agree with and what you disagree with and why.

Of course we need to evaluate the evidence and make science based decisions, but yours is a dogmatic, genetic engineering is bad diatribe. You obviously aren't seeking the truth or examining the evidence, you just post another article. You need to do better or just not bother to leave comments.

I don't know why you get so excited about my posts. I gave what I think are credible critics of GMO's and you get on my case.

I add something to support, in a different way, someone opposed to GMO's, Anastasia B, and I get called dogmatic.

In fact, I support GMO research for medical purposes, but I oppose it for nutritive purposes.

Actually, I don't even oppose the research, just the hasty and largely independent untested commercialization: the substantially equivalent theory.

I think I'm in the "what's a pencil?" crowd in that link.

I think the "what's a pencil crowd" includes students in my classes (and the grad students aren't any better) who take no notes during lectures - and then seem surprised at exam questions drawn right from my lecture notes. They seem to think the lecture note outline I supply on the class web page is all they will need.

I think Andyo is more in the metaphysical "is it still a pencil if it uses ink" question.

Your students watched too much mister rogers.

I still know what a pen is. I think I can type faster than I can write though but I haven't tested how practical it is while taking notes in class.

I think a writing instrument would be much easier to take notes with when filling in the outline I provided here, but wth - I don't really care how they do it :)

Magnets are one of my favorite things.

I would take a lot of notes in that class.

"Plant genetics is no different from power generation in this respect."

This Analogy is asserted not proved, and indeed is faulty.

One might stop cutting off mountain tops for coal,and recover the land. One might install fish friendly pumps and ladders, increase flows and reduce the impact of hydro power plants on fish stock. On the other hand, when GE canola crosses with native plants, the cat's out of the bag, never to return. When resistant weeds drive increased rates of glyphosphate and other herbicides, and GE resistance leaves more pesticides in the surviving food products, more not less pesticide is used and consumed by our children. with adverse effects including endocrine disruption, neuropathy, breast and prostate cancer. Use of 2,4-D on soy rose by more than 2.6 fold from 2002 to 2006. he same period, glyphosate use on soy rose 43%. Clearly glyphosate is not displacing use of 2,4D and other dangerous pesticides, thereby disproving Monsanto's 'promise' that roundup ready GE crops are good for the environment.

You might say "but what about that "golden rice", wasn't that a good thing?" Well gee, betacarotine from daffodils does make the rice yellow, but, as even the developers admit, there has been no research to prove that this transgenic addition actually creates Vitamin A in human usable form.

Your premise, it appears is that you think objection to GE food is irrational, "don't throw out the baby with the bath water, don't object if you haven't got scientific proof". And yet, though I must say I've raised these issues before, you have yet to respond to the concerns that: 1) Food safety tests performed by Bio tech companies and used by USDA to approve these GE foods is provided to the USDA, but protected from public or other disinterested scientific scrutiny by corporate confidentiality agreements and hence CANNOT BE assessed by peer or consumer review.

2) USDA decided not to collect pesticide use data anymore (as a 'cost saving' measure they say) hence we CANNOT prove that the trends of dramatic increases in herbicide and pesticide in our food are continuing.

3) Monsanto continues to fight tooth and nail against GE food labeling, hence there is NO WAY for us to pick and choose between GE products as you seem to want to do. How can you continue with this argument that we should rationally distinguish between the baby and bath when neither are labeled to allow us that discrimination?

Until food safety data public, and GE labeling is mandated, the ONLY option for those concerned with even a few of the myriad GE food crops, is to reject them all.

To my mind, it would be irrational to continue to believe everything Monsanto et al tells us, or to rely on USDA and FDA to oversee food safety issues with no public access to the data upon which they base their decisions, and no public oversight, and enormous lobbying influence on these agencies by biotech companies. It is irrational to object to labeling our food products.

re: "yours is a dogmatic, 'genetic engineering is bad' diatribe."

with all respect, to my mind Bernada's "perhaps we should think more about manipulating plants" hardly qualifies as a diatribe.

this post of mine, on the other hand, I admit might be considered a diatribe. sorry about that.

This Analogy is asserted not proved, and indeed is faulty.

One might stop cutting off mountain tops for coal,and recover the land. One might install fish friendly pumps and ladders, increase flows and reduce the impact of hydro power plants on fish stock. On the other hand, when GE canola crosses with native plants, the cat's out of the bag, never to return.

No analogy is perfect but as far analogies go this one is quite good. I wonder why it is that you left out nuclear in your attempt to discount the analogy. One nuclear accident and the possibility of some really nasty radioactive material escaping into the environment, with a half life in the thousands of years is real, the cat is indeed out of the bag. If you're going to attack an analogy you don't get to pick and choose only those parts that support your argument.

Well gee, betacarotine from daffodils does make the rice yellow, but, as even the developers admit, there has been no research to prove that this transgenic addition actually creates Vitamin A in human usable form.

Did you simply miss these links that I've posted more than once.

http://www.goldenrice.org/PDFs/ASNonGR.pdf

http://www.goldenrice.org/PDFs/BCMonGR.pdf

Manipulating plants is done both through various genetic engineering methods and a number of conventional methods. Some of the conventional methods actually create greater changes than some of the GE methods and yet the anti-GM crowd makes no distinction that is dogmatism.

I do agree it would be wrong to believe everything corporate America tells us. It has been demonstrated repeatedly that corporations will lie. It has also been demonstrated that the anti-GMO groups. Greenpeace, et al also lie that is why it is so important to look at the science as objectively as we can and understand that the question is not as black and white as either side makes it.

My discussion with Bernarda started out as one of his/her concern that Monsanto would try to claim ownership of the stray plants. As evidence I presented their statement that they wouldn't that was responded to with more of the Percy Schmeiser nonsense. I suggested that reading the Canadian Supreme Court Case and do I get an acknowledgement that he/she was wrong, or a counter argument of course not. I get what I always get from the true-believers a change of subject.

As to the question of labeling I wouldn't be opposed if we also label organic with all the possible so called "natural" pesticides that are allowed under the standard. As you know organic pesticides are not always better or safer than conventional ones. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100622175510.htm

The organic definition opposes anything made synthetically, but "natural" can also be toxic, "natural" can also be carcinogenic. If you want to label GE then the label on the organic also needs to make clear that it uses "natural pesticides" that may also be harmful. The organic movement wants it both ways.

There how's that for a diatribe.

The only problem with Anastasia's electricity analogy is that electricity -- and mountaintop removal and hydroelectricity and nuclear power plants, etc. -- were all here before we were born. By the time any of us learned about mountaintop removal, etc., we were already dependent on electricity, so stopping mountaintop removal, etc. is very difficult. We are not yet dependent on GMOs. We therefore have a unique opportunity to make sure than nothing analogous to mountaintop removal occurs with this relatively new technology. GMO advocates, by and large, are doing the equivalent of touting the benefits of air conditioning and microwave ovens without acknowledging the equivalent of mountaintop removal.

How about flood tolerant rice, precision bred using genetic engineering. I know you're not dependent on GMOs but how about those in parts of the world where it's not so certain. Or how about those in Africa who need drought resistant now not later, and genetic engineering can reach that goal more quickly than traditional breeding techniques.

Right, we shouldn't have ever got into that electricity thing.

Yes, Norm, that's exactly what I'm talking about.

Wouldn't you folks like some air conditioning and a nice, shiny new microwave oven? Never mind those mountaintops over there. After all, seen one mountain, you've seen them all. Amirite? Sure.

The flood resistant/drought resistant crops & golden rice, etc. are the selling points meant to excuse cheap corn syrup and cattle feed and patented crops, etc.

We've been down this road before. Syngenta, Monsanto, et al want to make money off of patented crops. They are using the as yet unrealized potential of Golden Rice, drought resistant maize and flood resistant rice as a marketing device. In other words, they are offering air conditioning and microwave ovens because they want to sell more coal.

The flood resistant/drought resistant crops & golden rice, etc. are the selling points meant to excuse cheap corn syrup and cattle feed and patented crops, etc.

Those are real crops that produce much needed food in the case of the poor in Africa and Asia, and no Monsanto and Syngenta don't make money off them. You're so worried about someone getting a foot in the door that you're willing to forgo technologies that have real benefits for the poor. You've got yours and your desire to stick to the corporations is so strong, that you're willing to sacrifice others well-being.

Uh...no, that's not it, Norm.

This is me, remember? Stop acting like we've never discussed this before.

But for the sake of a refresher, here's a rundown of my position:

1.) As Michael Pollan and others have pointed out, there are entirely achievable non-GMO solutions to the various food crises around the globe.

2.) The GMO-based "solutions" such as Golden Rice, drought-resistant maize and flood-resistant rice have yet to fill many, if any, bellies.

3.) Despite the fact of number 2 above, GMO advocates continually use Golden Rice, etc. as poster children for the technology as part of a strategy to wear down resistance to GMOs.

4.) There is probably a role for GMOs in combating plant diseases or increasing nutrition, but only if the development of such crops is conducted by responsible scientists and not multinational corporations.

You're right that Monsanto & Syngenta don't profit directly from the crops in question, and that wasn't my assertion.

Wells Fargo doesn't profit directly from the low-cost housing in Minneapolis that they helped finance, but the profit indirectly from it by using it in their advertising. That's what Monsanto & Syngenta are doing. As I've noted many times before, Golden Rice, etc. is a MARKETING TOOL.

Say it with me, Norm. Marketing Tool. Feeding the poor is not the goal of Monsanto and Syngenta, et al, but the appearance of feeding the poor is a stepping stone towards their goal, which is the complete takeover of the global agribusiness industry.

I know you know what I'm saying. Why do you subordinate your normally healthy critical thinking skills whenever it comes to GMOs?

If you think I'm wrong about the way Monsanto et al are using Golden Rice, etc. as a marketing device, I'm happy to debate that issue. But I'm tired of the science/anti-science aspect of the argument.

I don't give a shit if they use it as a marketing tool, that's not a good enough reason to deprive people of a useful technology.

You act like Asians and Africans and others aren't smart enough to tell that Monsanto et al will use it for marketing. So Big Daddy has to protect the poor ignorant third world from the big bad corporation. I think they're smarter than you apparently do. I frankly don't think they'd appreciate your condescending attitude.

You mean these Asians?

In 2005, Monsanto paid $500,000 to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as a settlement for bribes paid to an Indonesian Environment Ministry official in 2002. Monsanto had spent $50,000 in bribes in an attempt to bypass a decree requiring an environmental assessment review for its genetically engineered cotton.

In exposing Monsanto's (nyse: MON - news - people ) illicit activities in Indonesia, U.S. investigators also discovered that, despite the bribe payment, the unfavorable decree was never revoked. Evidently, the Indonesian government couldn't even provide a consistent quality of service in its shakedowns.

Or these Africans (and Asians)?

"The Body Hunters" describes how the multinational pharmaceutical industry, in its quest to develop lucrative new drugs, has begun quietly exporting its clinical research business to the developing world, where ethical oversight is minimal, and desperate patients abundant. Faced with crumbling facilities, miniscule budgets and towering health crises, developing countries often encourage these very trials, even as they cause scarce resources to be diverted from providing care toward the business of servicing drug companies.

Based on several years of original research and reporting from Africa and Asia, "The Body Hunters" is a damning indictment of a new realm in the exploitation of the world’s poor. Tracing the checkered history of Western medical science in poor countries, it exposes the impossible choice being faced by many patients in the developing world—be experimented upon or die for lack of medicine.

It's irrelevant.

Anastasia makes some good points. Maybe she's coming around. ;~)

There's how a technology can be implemented, then there's how a technology is most likely to be implemented. So far, with the possible exception of the papaya ringspot virus (and even that, in a way) GMOs have benefited only a handful of corporations, yet the marketing rhetoric is all about feeding the hungry.

Thanks to Betty for her longer explanation, I am often too lazy to go into all those details.

A couple of sites by people who doubt the benefits of GMO's.

http://www.ucsusa.org/foodandagriculture/scienceandimpacts/impactsgeneticengineering/biotechnology-and-the-world.html

Maybe the Union of Concerned Scientists has some credibility.

"So far, there no reason to believe that genetic engineering would be markedly better than these more traditional technologies in improving crops. Early "gene dreams" were of nitrogen-fixing crops, higher intrinsic yield, and drought tolerance. But so far none of these seems realistic because most involve complex multigene traits. For the most part, genetically engineered crops are limited to one or two gene transfers and have relative few applications of use to hungry people. Those that are of use, such as insect resistance and virus tolerance, do not increase intrinsic yield and vary in effectiveness. In addition, they appear to be short lived due to the almost certain evolution of resistant pests.

Currently, there is no reason to believe that the limited resources for agricultural development would be better spent on producing genetically engineered crops rather than on applying breeding technologies."

http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0311/p14s01-sten.html

"Traditional corn, soybeans, and canola seeds available for sale to American farmers have a tiny percentage of genetically modified (GM) seeds mixed in with them, a new study shows. The finding poses immediate challenges for farmers and nations trying to keep their crops GM-free.

It also raises key questions as GM acreage continues to increase worldwide. If the genie is out of the bottle for GM seeds approved for human consumption, what's to prevent other experimental GM crops from moving into the food supply? Do consumers want genes meant to produce drugs, plastics, and vaccines hiding in their corn flakes?

"There is no reason to believe that the transgenes detected in this study are the only ones moving into the traditional seed supply," concludes the study, released Feb. 23 by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a watchdog group based in Cambridge, Mass."

The plant world is a complex ecosystem with both parasitic and symbiotic relationships. The lack of independent evaluation or peer review makes the introduction of exterior elements questionable. We have already seen the problem with just the introduction of natural species into new environments far from their origin.

Furthermore, there has not been much, if any, discussion of rBGH which is widely used in the U.S. on cows, but banned in many other countries.

No, the Union of Concerned Scientists is not necessarily credible, when they cite peer-reviewed studies from reputable sources then they are credible. They have an agenda that often gets in the way of good science.

There are scientists who think GMOs have problems, but the consensus is that on balance Genetic Engineering of Plants is a good thing. The consensus on this issue is as strong or stronger than that for Global warming.

Here is what you might find to be a rather fair commentary on the history of "golden rice".

It is not support for my views but I found it very informative in a number of ways. I hope you read it with an open mind like I did.

http://fbae.org/2009/FBAE/website/news_tough-lessons-from-golden-rice.html

"Tough Lessons from Golden Rice" At least it gives a description of the question for people who may wonder what it is all about.

I agree with you that it is a fair commentary.

You might find this article on GMOs and flood tolerant rice informative. http://pamelaronald.blogspot.com/2009/03/what-does-gmo-really-mean.html

That's a good one, Norm. Can I use that? Any time I start losing a debate, I'll just say, "irrelevant."

Norm is talking about science and you are talking about greed. You've been having the same argument over and over for months!

I spoke to that when I said, "If you think I'm wrong about the way Monsanto et al are using Golden Rice, etc. as a marketing device, I'm happy to debate that issue. But I'm tired of the science/anti-science aspect of the argument."

Read the thread.

You just can't seem to separate the issue between genetic engineering as a tool that can be used by anyone, and corporatism. You conflate them every time we discuss it. Corporate greed is irrelevant to whether genetic engineering is a good thing or a bad thing. The scientific consensus is that it is a useful tool used properly. We can discuss that and have an honest disagreement about whether in a specific case the benefits outweigh the negatives. You obviously think the negative of corporatism outweighs any benefits of genetically engineering plants even those in the public domain, I don't.

I get your point that they want to use it for PR so we should't use it. I simply don't find that a compelling reason to abandon genetically engineering crops.

I seem to recall that Pepsi donated water to the Katrina victims, I assume both for humanitarian concerns and yes for PR. Following your logic the victims should have turned it down.

Pepsi has also donated money to school districts on the condition that they put Pepsi machines in the hallways and lunchrooms. Did the schools benefit? Yes, at least in the short term. Did Pepsi contribute to its own bottom line and the nation's childhood obesity problem? Yes, in the long term. Does the second thing outweigh the first thing? Yes.

Communities are finally getting hip to this ploy and booting Pepsi (and Coke) out of the schools. So Pepsi is responding with their "Pepsi Refresh Project." Will a few people eventually benefit from the Pepsi Refresh Project? Probably. But that's not Pepsi's point, is it? Pepsi's point is to repair its image. Examples of this approach are endless. Right after the movie "Supersize Me" came out, McDonald's ended their "Supersize it" promotion. Of course, they said the decision had nothing to do with the movie. The state of California recently ruled that Wells Fargo has to pay back $200 million in fraudulently collected overdraft charges resulting from their "high-to-low" check debit scheme. I'll bet you a case of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale that Wells Fargo will soon launch some heavily advertised community rebuilding project in California. Of course, that doesn't mean some po folks won't get something, but the purpose will be to repair Wells Fargo's image.

Step one: Years of abuse. (Patenting crops, false advertising, emergence of superweeds, suing farmers, etc.)

Step two: Teeny tiny comeuppance for the abuse. (New York and France sue Monsanto for falsely claiming Roundup is biodegradable, SEC fines Monsanto for bribing Indonesian officials, bad press about superweeds, etc.)

Step three: Image repair by helping or pretending to help the victims. (Golden Rice, flood-resistant rice, Haiti donations, etc.)

Monsanto & Syngenta et al are merely following a well established tradition.

Also,

You just can't seem to separate the issue between genetic engineering as a tool that can be used by anyone, and corporatism.

I addressed that issue when I wrote:

There is probably a role for GMOs in combating plant diseases or increasing nutrition, but only if the development of such crops is conducted by responsible scientists and not multinational corporations.

Plus, genetic engineering is a tool that can be used by anyone in the same way that a fusion reactor is a tool that can be used by anyone. I don't know how to genetically engineer a plant, do you? I know how to go to the local garden store and buy seeds and I know how to put them in the ground, just as (to continue Anatasia's electricity analogy) I know how to turn on a light. But I have no control over where those seeds came from or how they were developed, just as I have no control over which power plant supplies my electricity. Here in my relatively liberal, mostly college educated community, there are probably non-GMO seeds available, but in many farming communities, as we have discussed before, the local Feed-n-Seed is owned or controlled by Monsanto, and there is no choice.

BigDaddyMalcontent makes an appropriate point on buying seeds. Just another example, Monsanto bought another seed company for a billion in cash a few years ago. It owns dozens of others.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6863641/

Monsanto pretended back then that it was interested in healthier diets, but,

"With competition continuing to erode Monsanto's dominance in herbicides, the maker of Roundup has increasingly focused on seeds, including genetically modified offerings able to withstand weeds, insects and disease seeds, for future profits."

I see no reason to trust Monsanto.

Now for clearly an anti-golden rice article which talks about the science. It is also good to read the link(a bit repetitive) "The Golden Rice Scandal unfolds".

"The Golden Rice - An Exercise in How Not to Science".

http://www.i-sis.org.uk/rice.php

Now for clearly an anti-golden rice article which talks about the science. It is also good to read the link(a bit repetitive) "The Golden Rice Scandal unfolds".

"The Golden Rice - An Exercise in How Not to Science".

http://www.i-sis.org.uk/rice.php

Do you even look at the links I post. Obviously not, which is why you continue to post outdated crap from sources known for their anti-GMO bias. Just one example will suffice, in your article it makes the point that the vitamin A is not usable, and refers to "studies" back in 2004 and 2008. Why not look at the recent research. I've posted these links at least three times and probably more, including the current discussion, and It's my bet that you've ignored them bent on your quest to be a good little member of the dogmatic anti-gmo crowd. You really ought to be embarrassed, but I know you're not. You'll go on reading one side of the issue and ignoring the science, or if you do read it and discover that the vitamin A is usable, will you acknowledge it, probably not, like all the others you'll skip to the next argument.

http://www.goldenrice.org/PDFs/USDA_GR2_2010.pdf http://www.goldenrice.org/PDFs/BCMonGR.pdf

I have read all the links you have put up and even mentioned once the doubtfulness of one. But that is neither here nor there. Even if I hadn't read them, that has nothing to do with the truthfulness or not of the sites I have mentioned. So yours is just an ad hominem criticism.

The link that I did not post, but suggested one click at the link given, was dated 2009. Anyway, most of the techniques are still the same. Oh, they have replaced daffodils with something else, but what else.

http://www.i-sis.org.uk/goldenRiceScandal.php

The problem of the instability of the modified plants is still there. In fact the links give a rather detailed explanation of the techniques used.

These are the same claims Jeffrey Smith made in his really terrible book Genetic Roulette. I'll take the world of the National Academy of the Sciences who says the technology is safe, over groups whose agenda is a flat there are no good genetically engineered foods.

The arguments your article makes are the same claims Jeffrey Smith made in his really terrible book Genetic Roulette. http://academicsreview.org/reviewed-content/genetic-roulette/ Here is an article refuting them one by one. Have fun reading.

Well Hell. I was willin' to let ya take the field after your "how's that for a diatribe" post, just to be nice. But now I hear you out prowling around again staring folk down in a decidedly ornry "ought to be embarrassed??" way. Do I feel embarrassed? Not exactly. I'm kinda more like feeling "no more Mr. Niceguy. Fair warning. There will be blood.

re: "I wonder why it is that you left out nuclear in your attempt to discount the analogy. One nuclear accident and the possibility of some really nasty radioactive material escaping into the environment, with a half life in the thousands of years is real, the cat is indeed out of the bag. If you're going to attack an analogy you don't get to pick and choose only those parts that support your argument."

Leaving out nuclear was a simple oversight, not an attempt at obfuscation. What can I say. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

So as I understand your point, you ask the question, 'is nuclear energy even worse than Genetically engineered food or not?'For if it's worse, then the power generation analogy holds, and if it's better, then the power generation analogy fails.

Now THERE IS A QUESTION FOR OUR TIMES if there ever was one. Which is worse? Nuclear energy or Genetically engineered food? Man, that could be a tough one for someone like me who opposes both. Well no, actually it isn't. Between those two bad things, I say unlabeled Genetically engineered food is worse. Here is why. The bad things about Nuclear energy are twofold. First, when IT IS WORKING AS EXPECTED, highly toxic waste products are produced. Further, they are produced by an enormously INEFFICIENT process.

After about 5 percent of a nuclear fuel rod has reacted inside a nuclear reactor that rod is no longer able to be used as fuel. So 95% of the input comes out of the process as highly toxic waste we still don't know how to store or deal with safely. Second, When the nuclear power plant suffers catastrophic failure, we might expect 10,000 years before recovery and that is a really long time.

I'd say Genetically engineered food is even worse than that because when IT IS WORKING AS EXPECTED, targeted insect and plant species respond with self-created resistance, rendering the GE product useless, and requiring more and more lethal biochemical solutions. It DOESN'T EVEN REQUIRE CATASTROPHIC FAILURE to create issues for which even 10,000 years might not be enough to solve. Hence I stand by my assertion that the power generation analogy is faulty.

re: "Did you simply miss these links that I've posted more than once. http://www.goldenrice.org/PDFs/ASNonGR.pdf http://www.goldenrice.org/PDFs/BCMonGR.pdf."

yup. I did miss them. My bad. Thanks for repeating these two press releases touting the 2009 study by our friends at ASCN. I have now perused the underlying research, available on line at no cost at (www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/89/6/1776#TBL2).

I'm sure you all recall the American Society for Clinical Nutrition. These folks tout their Sustaining Membership list as "RECOGNIZED NUTRITION INDUSTRY COMPANIES WITH THE HIGHEST LEVEL OF COMMITMENT TO THE NUTRITION PROFESSION." Sounds good to me.

One of these nutrition industry sustaining members is the Sugar Association, who themselves claim, "THE MISSION OF THE SUGAR ASSOCIATION IS TO PROMOTE THE CONSUMPTION OF SUGAR AS PART OF A HEALTHY DIET AND LIFESTYLE THROUGH THE USE OF SOUND SCIENCE AND RESEARCH." (www.sugar.org/aboutus/). Other sustaining members of the ASCN include Mars, Inc, William Wrigley Jr.Company, Pepsico, Nestle USA, Procter and Gamble, Kraft Foods, Martex Biosciences Corp, the Dannon Company, Eli Lilly and Company, Unilever and, of course MONSANTO.

Well sure, Sugar, candy bars, chewing gum, soda pop, Velveeta cheese, icecream and naplam are just the first things I think of too when considering nutrition.

But lets do look at this actual research on Golden Rice.

Note for starters that our researchers appear to have used the newer 2004 Golden Rice 2, rather than the year 2000 Golden Rice 1

which has received such mixed reviews. Turns out the Golden Rice 1 version (using Daffodil genes for beta carotene expression yielded but 1.6 micrograms of carotenoids per gram of dry rice tested, whereas Golden Rice 2 (which replaces daffodil genes with maize genes) is supposed to create up to 35 micrograms beta carotene per gram of dry rice.
(www.newscientist.com/article/dn7196--new-golden-rice-carries-far-more-vitamin.html).

Anyway, our researcher's Golden rice was cultivated in a chemical stew comprised of the following: potassium nitrate (KNO3), monopotassium phosphite (KH2PO4), calcium nitrate(Ca(NO3)2), magnesium sulfate (MgSO4), silicate(K2SiO4), calcium chloride(CaCL2), boric acid(H3BO3), manganese sulfate(MnSo4), copper sulfate(CuSO4), molybdic acid(H2MoO4), nickel sulfate(NiSO4), n hydroxyethyl-ethylendiamine triacetic acid (Fe(III)HEDTA), 2-(N-morpholino)ethanesulfonic acid (MES buffer) adjusted with potassium hydroxide. About 7 days after flowering, deuterium (heavy water)(2H2O) was added and the plants placed in a clear tent which maintained an elevated deuterium concentration in the gas atmosphere surrounding the plants. we're told this heavy water was added "to achieve a target peak enrichment for the Golden Rice Beta carotene."

I recognize a few of these as synthetic chemicals analogous to some of the naturally occurring stuff reported in my soil tests, however most of them I don't have a clue about. Further, I don't know what the actual soil and water composition of the southeast Asian rice fields where this product is purportedly targeted is. Maybe this growing medium is a reasonable laboratory replica of the targeted destination. Although, I'm kinda doubting that the final plan is to tent all those poor peasant's rice paddies and dose all their rice crops with deuterium to raise beta carotene levels in the rice.... One might then ask if this is actually a representative rice sample.

Be that as it may, lets move on.

Our researchers selected five subjects for their trial, ages 62, 60, 60, 70, and 41. Since the Golden Rice product is promoted as a cure for Vitamin A deficiency in third world children, one might ask why senior and near-senior citizen subjects were selected. But never mind that.

Each of FIVE subjects were fed EITHER one serving of 130 grams of cooked golden rice mixed with 70 g cooked white rice containing 99 mg beta carotene (no, we don't know the source of this added beta carotene) OR the subject was fed 200 g cooked golden rice.

Cooked rice varies in weight, basmati, long grain and other rices vary. Some people use equvalencies of approximately 232 grams of white cooked rice = 1 cup so we might surmise that ONE serving of something under about 1 cup of rice was fed to each subject, and some subjects received only Golden rice in this cup.

Then, ONE SUBJECT's circulating retinol was CALCULATED based on labeled B-carotene from Golden rice. We aren't told if this subject got all Golden rice in their 1 cup serving, or got some Golden rice and some white rice otherwise fortified with outsourced beta carotene. However, Figure 6 of our study shows a graph indicating that close to 20 nanomoles of circulating retinol was calculated as coming to come from the golden rice fed to ONE of our subjects.

OK then! 20 nanomoles is real. It's a REALLY little bit but it's real. The study must surely then be a SUCCESS.

Now I'm just a crunchy granola superstitious Organic farmer, not a scientist. However the Granddaughter who just aced her AP Statistics class assures me that "MODREN" science has NOT, in fact, abandoned the notion of STATISTICAL SIGNIFICANCE. Hence I'll go out on a limb and assert that a calculated quantity of 6 nanomoles from One senior citizen's feeding of about ONE cup of rice. just maybe doesn't reach a supportable level of statistical significance.

SO THERE.

RE: "The organic definition opposes anything made synthetically, but "natural" can also be toxic, "natural" can also be carcinogenic."

re: "Synthetic"

"On December 21, 2000, the Secretary established, within the NOP [7 CFR part 205], the National List regulations §§ 205.600 through 205.607. This National List identifies the synthetic substances that may be used and the nonsynthetic (natural) substances that may not be used in organic production. The National List also identifies synthetic, nonsynthetic nonagricultural and nonorganic agricultural substances that may be used in organic handling. The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA), as amended, (7 U.S.C. 6501et seq.), and NOP regulations, in § 205.105, specifically prohibit the use of any synthetic substance for organic production and handling unless the synthetic substance is on the National List. Section 205.105 also requires that any nonorganic agricultural and any nonsynthetic nonagricultural substance used in organic handling be on the National List."

A number of synthetic inputs are permitted. Many of these are permitted only under restricted use (such as: only after other alternatives have been attempted and found wanting, and only then as an emergency intervention not standard practice.) The decision to use these restricted products must be documented and defensible against independent review and audit by a licensed Organic auditor/certifier.

You are thus in error when you say the National Organic Program 'opposes' synthetic inputs. However, you are correct in your implied understanding that Organic practice is big on considering the entire life cycle of all inputs. We think this essential to environmental sustainability. All costs of production and waste disposal for an input must be weighed against any potential benefits from its use.

For example, many synthetic inputs, are generally considered relatively benign in and of themselves. You may well ask 'Why then restrict use of a generally deemed benign synthetic?' Being you, you might well consider this irrational or at the very least silly.

But I see this differently. Many such 'benign synthetics' require for their synthesis (chemical manufacture), highly toxic reagents, and that manufacturing process creates highly toxic waste disposal requirements. That's part of the cost of using them. Buying the stuff from abroad just hides these costs by polluting someone else's health and back yard. It doesn't make the costs go away.

I think thoughtful consideration of alternatives with lower toxic production/disposal costs, and defensible documentation of that

decision process is an ever so modern and sensible approach that I applaud the NOSB for supporting.

re: "natural".

Of course poison occurs in nature. I did read about Socrates and his hemlock back in the day. duh. You appear to assume that Organic farmers use any old thing they want in food production, as long as it's 'natural' when in fact, there are a great 'natural' elements that are prohibited or restricted. With respect to pest management (whether invertebrate, insect or herb), what Organic practice asserts instead, is that the least invasive and least toxic management technique possible is the best management practice. Thus trapping instead of poison, beneficial predator habitat instead of poison, weeding instead of poison. Thus with respect to the "allowed but restricted" use of BT in Organic practice, this naturally produced insecticide is allowed in limited emergency use when no other technique has worked. Surely you see that this is VERY DIFFERENT than GE BT corn where the insecticide is expressed IN THE PLANT, AT ALL TIMES, FROM PLANTING TO EATING, for EVERY PLANT in the FIELD. The GE BT Corn then, by rendering the insecticide ubiquitous, has already created resistance in the target insect.

re: "I wouldn't be opposed if we also label organic with all the possible so called "natural" pesticides that are allowed under the standard."

yeah! for I am happy to inform you that all so called 'natural' pesticides that are allowed under the standards are already

published and available online for perusal by anyone. Further the National Organic Standards Program rules are administered by the NOSB (National Organic Standards Board) to which public comment on proposed rulings and public representation on the board is actively solicited. ANYTIME you want to know if a given natural or synthetic input is permitted, you can check it out. ANYTIME you want to know which agricultural practices are encouraged, required or prohibited, you can look at the published Organic System Plan formats from Organic Certifiers (such as CCOF.ORG) to see just what we are obliged to document and defend at annual independent audits.

I'm sure you can see that is quite a different rule making methodology than GE corporate confidentially controls preventing public disclosure of the un-audited corporate "studies" with which GE food manufacturers are allowed to persuade FDA and EPA and USDA to approve unlabeled GE product release into the general food market under the guise of a "substantial equivalency" fiction.

Hence might I now count on your support for law requiring the labeling of Genetically Engineered foods?

re: "No, the Union of Concerned Scientists is not necessarily credible, when they cite peer-reviewed studies from reputable sources then they are credible. They have an agenda that often gets in the way of good science."

So... would you think Union of Concerned Scientists is credible if they cite studies from the American Society of Nutrition?

just asking....

Now THAT'S what I call a DIATRIBE.

So you're telling me that a study accepted for publication in a reputable peer reviewed journal that arrives at the conclusion

Conclusions: β-Carotene derived from Golden Rice is effectively converted to vitamin A in humans

is published even though the results are not, according to you statistically significant, I find that difficult to believe. Do you think those who reviewed would approve of a study the results of which are not statistically significant. Is it possible that you need a refresher in statistics?

You have an odd view of how an analogy works. There are no perfect analogies, but on a scale of 1-10 this is at least a 9. It parallels the original really quite well. So I give you Chernoybal, will you give me an example of genetic engineering of plants that exceeds that in terms of a disaster with long term consequences.

I'm sure you all recall the American Society for Clinical Nutrition. These folks tout their Sustaining Membership list as "RECOGNIZED NUTRITION INDUSTRY COMPANIES WITH THE HIGHEST LEVEL OF COMMITMENT TO THE NUTRITION PROFESSION." Sounds good to me. One of these nutrition industry sustaining members is the Sugar Association, who themselves claim, "THE MISSION OF THE SUGAR ASSOCIATION IS TO PROMOTE THE CONSUMPTION OF SUGAR AS PART OF A HEALTHY DIET AND LIFESTYLE THROUGH THE USE OF SOUND SCIENCE AND RESEARCH.

You need to show how that has compromised the integrity of the studies. I could point out that Wal-Mart has an interest in promoting organic foods. Does that reflect on the organic food industry. Besides the research was one at major universities not corporations. Shame shame no evidence of hanky panky just guilt by association however remote.

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