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  • Leading environmental campaigners support nuclear and GM

    Leading environmental campaigners have performed a u-turn on two key technologies they have opposed for decades by openly calling for greater use of nuclear power and genetically modified crops to help the world tackle climate change.

For years they campaigned against nuclear power and genetically-modified food. But now some leading environmental campaigners have performed a U-turn and said that they got it wrong.

Stewart Brand, an American activist and former editor of Whole Earth Catalog, said: "I would like to see an environmental movement that says it turns out our fears about genetically engineered food crops were exaggerated and we are glad about that. It is a humble and modest stance to take to the real world.

"Environmentalists did harm by being ignorant and ideological and unwilling to change their mind based on actual evidence. As a result we have done harm and I regret it."

Patrick Moore, one of the founding members of environmental campaign group Greenpeace, added: "We were right that the nuclear industry had problems, but that didn't mean we should be against nuclear energy completely. "We have caused extra gigatons of greenhouse gases to be released into the atmosphere by being so precious about nuclear."


 

Comments

FYI: You might find this interesting -- an insiders look at an atomic fun house in good times and bad. "Rad Decision" is a novel -- but then it has to be to cover everything in a way that won't put the reader to sleep. We read and here a lot from "energy experts". How about something from a worker bee?

Rad Decision is free online (with no adverts or sponsors), as is also in paperback. And it's gotten good reviews (if not wide publicity). I like to think we'll make better decisions about our energy future if we first understand our energy present. http://RadDecision.blogspot.com Regards, James Aach (author)

"I'd like to see Rad Decision widely read" - STEWART BRAND, founder of The Whole Earth Catalog.

“I got to about page four and I was hooked, I couldn’t put it down… It was very easy to read, the characters were well described, and they were vibrant.” - DAVID LEVY, noted science author and comet discoverer.

See the website homepage comments for many more reviews.

i don't necessarily disagree about the u-turn on gmo, as my issues with that subject have been (and to some degree still are) less about environmental fears than the economic and legal concerns i have with their implementation. i seem to recall feeling like stewart brand's ted talk had what i thought were some considerable leaps in logic in it, but by and large i like the guy. that said, citing patrick moore makes the whole thing seem suspect to me. like, he strikes me as first and foremost an economic opportunist who may at one time have stood for something, but quickly figured out how he could cash in by turning his back on whatever he once held dear. so to me when he signs on it makes me question the whole cause. i can't help by think "wait, is this true, or did a lobbying firm just hire him to say it?"

If I recall correctly, not one decommisioned US nuclear reactor has been completely "decommisioned" in the sense that it's nuclear waste has been permanently disposed of. Until we finally decide what to do with the nuclear waste from our current reactors (not to mention the waste from Hanford, Oak Ridge, etc.), I can't get enthused about building more reactors.

Yeah, that nuclear arguement is silly. Yes folks were concerned about three mile island like events, but really its that no one has any real solution for the waste.

And current mining for fissionable material will come up dry in about 50 years, less if we build a lot more reactors.

New plants would just barely pay off the construction costs in that time.

On GMO, show me a bill with strong regulation with testing and reasonable and limited copywrite laws and I would endorse it in a minute.

Thing is companies are looking to avoid both of those.

On GMO, show me a bill with strong regulation with testing and reasonable and limited copywrite laws and I would endorse it in a minute.

Thing is companies are looking to avoid both of those.

Companies always have, and always will try to avoid regulation. The question isn't is it risk free it's is the possible risk greater than the benefit it provides. Those who say, in effect give me iron-clad guarantees, give me stronger regulation, are not applying a risk vs benefit standard but instead are setting the standards at a level that is not likely to happen and are using that as an excuse to attempt to ban those technologies. Most of the fears are not supported by the evidence as the National Academies of the Sciences has confirmed. If you demand a perfect system you are being disingenuous. You are simply looking for reasons to oppose it and cherry picking to do it. Do you have any good evidence at all that GM Corn, for instance, has harmed any human? It's been used for over ten years now. Do you have any evidence that GM Papaya has harmed a single human? As that ancient Wendy's commercial said, "where's the beef".

I haven't heard of a perfect system.

I would like a system similar to the FDA system for approving drugs that tests short term health effects, and includes some modest long term tracking of any theorized effects. As well as regular study of environmental impacts, particularly in the case insect resistant strians

Just because GM corn is safe, doesn't mean GM wheat will be.

I also think there should be time and scope limitations to copywrite so 20 years down the line farmers don't need a series of genetic tests to see who to pay after they take seed off their own plants.

I am not looking for perfect but if industry can't support that those costs exist in the development of a new technology, I think we should focus on reduced meat consumption and other things as ways to reduce environmental impacts and maxing food supply.

I don't think those requirements are really that high, And I would wager that most all GM products ready for production have already met what I would think would be acceptable standards.

But yes, I am not excited about this product so I am not prone to cutting them slack. I think it is a technological bandaid, to our cultural problems.

GM Patents don't expire in 20 years like most everything else in the US?

If I am not mistaken the technology would be patented but the actual genetic code would be copyright. That could be 50-70 years.

But you continue to make my point. I am not saying anything too extreme for business to accept.

hmmmm... I'm surprised that would work in court. Has there been a case about it yet?

Norm posted an atricle last week. i have to admit I didn't read it.

yea, well, Stu Brandt was always enamored of new technology, and who didn't read Lucifer's Hammer back in the day. Nuclear power was the greatest latest thing back then, why not imagine it the savior of us all after Armageddon from the great Comet.

Heck, I don't care if Mr. Brandt and Greenpeace now want to take the blame for dirty coal plants.

But it seems to me that new dirty coal plants are built by folk who are allowed to build without air scrubbers, they've got nuthin' to do with folk who say no to Nuclear power generation what with it's 2% efficiency 98% highly toxic 10,000 year waste. We KNOW how to deal with dirty coal, all that's lacking is the will. We STILL DON'T know how to deal with dirty nuclear waste.

With respect to GE, from one perspective, 'better living through chemistry' with the Merry Pranksters and 'feed the world through Genetic Engineering' with Bill & friends are not terribly dissimilar.The glib response about GE, that transforming food plants into pesticide factories has been going on for 10 years, and there's no proof of any problem, does rather beg the more critical question. To wit, has the American population grown healthier during these last 10 years as captive consumers to Industrial Agribusiness 'food' production methods? I suggest that results are pretty much in on that one, and the answer is "no, nope, nada, not even close". Is environmental diversity, soil and water quality better for it? No. Not that either.

Loved the Whole Earth Catalog and Truck store. But Stu wasn't always right way back then either. Nostalgia doesn't make him right about this now.

The glib response about GE, that transforming food plants into pesticide factories has been going on for 10 years, and there's no proof of any problem, does rather beg the more critical question. To wit, has the American population grown healthier during these last 10 years as captive consumers to Industrial Agribusiness 'food' production methods? I suggest that results are pretty much in on that one, and the answer is "no, nope, nada, not even close". Is environmental diversity, soil and water quality better for it? No. Not that either.

You change the subject from does it cause harm to an entirely different question, that of nutrition in general. Yes BT Corn provides nutrients at the same level as non BT corn. So nice straw man, but no cigar. The discussion would also be better off without inflammatory language such as pesticide factory. It "poisons" the discussion, don't you think?

user-pic

Betty Jo,

your point about the American population not growing healthier because of "Industrial Agribusiness 'food' production methods" seems like post hoc reasoning. I don't see any reason why one should influence the other - the implication of your argument suggests a chronological correlation, but there are any number of reasons why people can be "unhealthy." It sounds like you're picking your own boogie man and blaming it for a problem that's not that easy to quantify.

And as Norm was saying, you poison the well a lot in your post. From what I've read on the subject of GMOs, the health-related fears/concerns seem vastly overrated.

The economic concerns are a whole different story, but even there I think the problems is poses are outweighed by the potential benefits.

So perhaps her comment is inflamatory and not helpful to the conversation.

But if this fellow can say that nothing bad has happened in 10 years shouldn't we be able to point at something good that has happened.

The whole arguement seems to be that GMO's are scientificly proven safe and they have a number of positive impacts on food prices, increased production, farmer income.

Dod those things happened in 10 years?

Reality seems to me that the cost of food is much closer tied to the cost of labor and fuel that production on a single acre.

The problem in discussing genetically engineered crops with those who are philosophically opposed is that they almost always conflate two different questions. They imply that the crops are unsafe for human consumption with no evidence, but then they shift into the bigger discussion of the evils of industrial farming. They are different questions and it is not helpful to conflate them in the way they do. Furthermore they imply that they are less nutritious, again with no evidence. The whole discussion in then bundled up into the general question of bad eating habits and nutrition. Someone can eat nothing but organically grown food and still not eat healthy.

My motto:

Nuke the whales.

GE them to be nuke proof first.

LOL !

That's what we need - GE produce which alters our genes to the extent that they will be resistant to radioactivity or some such thing. Leave it to the corporations to convince us that such a thing is possible.

Didn't Jesus say "The Radiation resistant whales shall inhertit the earth."

re: Norm: The discussion would also be better off without inflammatory language such as pesticide factory.

Did you ever see The Transformers movies? Great stuff. So here's how I see it.

Once upon a time, Imagine this sweet patch of corn, nestled amid unrelated species, producing green stalks for livestock and grain for humans, shade for neighboring plants, food and shelter for all manner of birds.

Our pesticide production companies devise a different delivery vehicle for their products and introduce YieldGard, with the Bt toxin gene CrylAc. Tissue that produces the pollen is leaf, pollen, tassel, silk, and kernel. Toxin level is high in leaves, pollen, tassel, silk and kernel full season. YieldGard was developed by Monsanto and Northrup King (Novartis) and is marketed by Pioneer Hi-Bred, Cargil, DeKalb, and Golden Harvest. Genetic event name: Mon 810 and Bt 11.

YieldGard VT Triple® hybrids protect against: Western Corn Rootworms • Northern Corn Rootworms • Mexican Corn Rootworms • European Corn Borers • Southwestern Corn Borers • Black Cutworms • Sugarcane Borers • Stalk Borers • Wireworms • White Grubs • Seed Corn Maggots • Early Flea Beetles • Corn Earworms.

We are assured that this product is substantially equivalent to all corn that passed before it. Oh yea, with one minor exception. To wit, this GMO corn variety is lethal to "Western Corn Rootworms • Northern Corn Rootworms • Mexican Corn Rootworms • European Corn Borers • Southwestern Corn Borers • Black Cutworms • Sugarcane Borers • Stalk Borers • Wireworms • White Grubs • Seed Corn Maggots Early Flea Beetles • Corn Earworms"

My sweet corn plant has been TRANSFORMED into a creature emitting death and destruction from every pore - leaf pollen, tassel, silk and kernel ALL SEASON LONG. Fully 13 separate species wiped out. Guaranteed.

OMG! Megatron!

Sounds to me like the difference between Heirloom corn and Yield Guard is the genetic transformation from food into a cunning little pesticide factory that can also be eaten.

Further, I submit that anyone who's got those many pests in their corn, oughta be giving some serious attention to cultivation practices, before they choose instead, to kill off every critter on God's Green Earth while pretending that's a good modern scientific way to go.

Much as you may wish it not so, GMO and Industrial Agriculture go hand in hand. And that is why Organic practice rejects it. I know you think it reasonable to suggest that Organic farmer's ought to treat GMO as just another pliers in the toolbox. You find it's rejection illogically exclusive.

But you see, our goal is to produce food in a way that sustains the greatest possible healthy diversity. Whereas, the goal of "Yield Guard" creators, is to produce a food product that kills worms with highly targeted pesticides.

Much as you try for reasoned syncretism, it's not possible to blur this edge to the point of fusion.

Much as you may wish it not so, GMO and Industrial Agriculture go hand in hand. And that is why Organic practice rejects it.

And that is one of the more non-sensical reasons to reject it. Need I point out that Industrial Agriculture goes hand in hand with tractors, water, and sunshine, and yet I don't see Organic practice rejecting any of those.

The argument is absurd on the face of it. It is indeed a tool that "Organic practice" rejects. They will reject plants that use genetic engineering to biofortify the plants with such things as vitamin A, they will reject genetically engineered plants that are designed to be drought resistant, using less water the the holy grail heritage seeds that slurp up water like there was no limit.

Forgive me if I feel more compassion for a child starving than for a European Corn Borer who suffers no harm unless he eats the child's dinner. In your perfect world where everyone farms as you do, you can have it both ways, in the real world it just isn't going to happen.

Is the European Corn Borer an endangered species?

The European Corn Borer is a non-native species brought to the US around 1915. It's favorite food is corn - another non-native species bred by hungry humans over several hundred years. If it's harmony with nature we want, get rid of the John Deere. We'll go back to picking berries, digging roots, and hunting with rocks. Most of us will starve to death, but it'll be a natural death.

re: Syngas "get rid of the John Deere. We'll go back to picking berries, digging roots, and hunting with rocks. Most of us will starve to death, but it'll be a natural death."

comment 1: My point is that there are other, less destructive methods for growing corn and other food for humans without naming every other critter on the planet a pest, then killing it as efficiently as we can. I find that to be a mad mindset.

comment 2: first tool I bought when I started farming was a scythe. Second tool was a gas powered weed whacker. I love farm equipment. I sometimes think that the Great Mechanical Age of farm equipment represents the high point of American ingenuity. (well, ok, the internet is good too). "Built to last" hardly does justice to a tool like an 80 year old hay-rake that only asks for some grease in it's zerts and then keeps on trucking. Then, have you ever seen an old baler at work? That machine is just too fine. It picks up blades of grass off the windrow, cuts and mashes them together, forming neat bales, then threads twine about them, ties a knot, cuts the string and then dumps the bale out the back. Year after year after year. What's not to love. Making hay is such fun.I imagine I'm walking behind a giant red chicken that goes "ker chunk ker chunk" then drops giant green eggs, one after another. Finally far as I'm concerned, keep the diamonds, a Tractor is a girl's best friend.

Yeah, I liked that song for a while too. KFKF played the hell out of it to the point I change the channel now.

re: Norm: "The argument is absurd on the face of it. ... Forgive me if I feel more compassion for a child starving than for a European Corn Borer who suffers no harm unless he eats the child's dinner."

comment: Sheesh Norm. I give you the TRANSFORMATION of that little sweetie Corn into one of MEGATROID's DECEPTICONS! and you talk compassion for starving children. Good grief. Don't I even get a point or two for the exquisite use of the term "syncretism"? I thought it a quite perfect word (I just learned it).

Oh yea - that Golden Rice Vitamin A. The Sales/Marketing program for it started when? a decade ago? Course, they found the daffodil/rice mix didn't actually work at producing convertible beta carotene. The latest 2009 rice/soil bacteria/maize genes version had to be grown under a tent gassed with deuterium to produce 20 nanomoles of retinol (discernible by a mass spec).

The reality is that with very few exceptions, today's GMO food crops are intended to (and do) produce increased levels of pesticide and herbicide use. Resistance was expected to develop in a decade. It has.

Micro optimization for a particular trait through genetic manipulation misses the big picture. We don't know the effects of nutritional changes in plant food - for ourselves, or for all the other creatures in the food chain

Did you know that In the 11-year period of 1992 to 2002, the USDA spent approximately $1.8 billion on biotechnology research and approximately $18 million on risk-related research.

11 YEARS: 1.8 BILLION on biotech research. 18 MILLION on research on risks of engineered products.

Where's the evidence of harm you ask? You do know, that FDA oversees GE foods under a voluntary consultation program in which companies decide whether or not to consult on safety matters and what data, if any, to submit. If data is submitted, it's of course cloaked with corporate confidentiality, denying any independent oversight.

I think it's called "Don't Look, Don't Find."

I do understand that Generic glyphosate dumping from China has had an effect on their Round-up market, and Monsanto and others are moving rapidly into other aspects of food, pharma and chemical creation. I am not heartened by this move, for the new generations of products-crops engineered to produce drugs, industrial chemicals and engineered to alter regulatory and metabolic pathways offer far more numerous traits, for which our weak regulation is even more inadequate.

I do have more compassion for a hungry child than a corn borer. I just don't see how visions of some future biotech goodness is the best way to feed her now and tomorrow.

Okay, points for "syncretism" a dandy word that I didn't know, but thanks to you now do. I'll add it to my arsenal, though I'm pretty sure someone has been stealing from said arsenal. My favorite recent word is doddle, it's informal Bristish for something easily accomplished.

I do have more compassion for a hungry child than a corn borer. I just don't see how visions of some future biotech goodness is the best way to feed her now and tomorrow.

Perhaps I didn't make myself clear, what I object to in your argument is the blanket condemnation of ANY genetically modified crop currently available or available in the future. I think you'll find that there is less pesticide use as a result of GMOs if the criteria is toxicity. Roundup replaced some really nasty stuff. Let me also point out that pests will adapt to ANY method used to control them, not just pesticides.

re: Syngas: "Yeah, I liked that song for a while too. KFKF played the hell out of it to the point I change the channel now."

comment: thanks for the link. I'd never heard the song before. We don't get radio (or cell) service out here. Good thing for small aperture satellite dishes, or I'd be out of luck for the football games on TV too. We actually lasted 4 years on dial-up internet before high speed satellite network service arrived. (at which point husband's E-Bay purchased old fishing book collection began to grow exponentially).

11/14/10

re:Norm: "what I object to in your argument is the blanket condemnation of ANY genetically modified crop currently available or available in the future."

comment: well shucks. I may be well endowed with risk aversion, but I do have an imagination and can conceive a GMO crop that might be available in the future that would not deserve blanket condemnation. Here's what it would look like.

  1. 10% of every taxpayer research dollar in bio tech is devoted to learning somthin' about human and animal nutrition and the interaction of plant genes with reference to particular nutritional components and their GE manipulation, as well as effects of transgenic promoters and antibiotic resistant carriers.

  2. Both corporate and government safety studies and data are subject to a sunshine clause prior to regulatory approval with mandatory corporate cooperation.

  3. Point of consumer purchase labeling of all cysgenic and transgenic food products is required by regulation.

When these three little items are in place, I'll be happy to look at drought resistant maize. Meanwhile, I'll stick to drip irrigation and heavy mulch.

re: " I think you'll find that there is less pesticide use as a result of GMOs if the criteria is toxicity."

comment: guess it depends on what "toxicity" means. One interpretation includes as "toxic" a view of farming that thinks in terms of pests and pesticide.

re: "Let me also point out that pests will adapt to ANY method used to control them, not just pesticides. "

comment: Well, thing is, "pest" by any other name is "food" for somethin'. Food appears, predators follow. If bugs appear on the beans, twitter birds move in to the shelter of corn. when gnats hatch, fish, birds and spiders feast. A quail or ground squirrel population explosion is followed by more fox, hawks or eagels. Careless chickens lose their heads. Careless farmers lose their chickens. Some systems crash. Then the cycle begins again.

Organic farming uses this fact of life to, (for example), clean pastures of bovine parasites by a 120 day "rest" from cattle during which time the parasites die from want of a host. We find this preferable to pouring parasiticides all over cows headed for our table.

Biology at the macro level informs Organic practice, just as biology at the micro level informs GE. It's just science after all, and can be put to any use.

0% of every taxpayer research dollar in bio tech is devoted to learning somthin' about human and animal nutrition and the interaction of plant genes with reference to particular nutritional components and their GE manipulation, as well as effects of transgenic promoters and antibiotic resistant carriers. Both corporate and government safety studies and data are subject to a sunshine clause prior to regulatory approval with mandatory corporate cooperation. Point of consumer purchase labeling of all cysgenic and transgenic food products is required by regulation.

Exactly a de-facto standard that will now and always prohibit genetically engineered crops. You may as well say I am now and will always be opposed to genetically engineered crops because that's what your position amounts too.

re: Norm: "Exactly a de-facto standard that will now and always prohibit genetically engineered crops. You may as well say I am now and will always be opposed to genetically engineered crops because that's what your position amounts too."

comment: Why do you say that? Do you have so little faith in GE that you can not imagine them producing a product they are proud enough of to label? Don't you agree that as a nation we are woefully ignorant about nutrition and the effects of manipulating, say Omega 3 production in plants that never had any before? Are you happy with food products hitting the shelves with no independent scientific review of safety trials? Big Pharma clearly sees advantages to direct marketing of drugs on the TV even with the obligation to identify risks associated with the medication. And with drugs, of course, consumers have a choice, physicians have a record of prescription such that, (as happens pretty often), if a problem occurs the patients can be notified and the medication withdrawn. There is NOTHING like that with GE food.

Seems to me that if we're counting on GE Food to save the world, that worthy objective ought be worth the trouble of implementing a few regulations. Gotta say, seems to me it would be lot easier to promote a specific product (like drought resistant maize or fungus resistant plums) than it is to promote a pig in a poke.

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