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Genetically Modified Canola Spreads To Wild Plants

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the agricultural-melting-pot dept.

Biotech 414

eldavojohn writes "A research team conducting a survey has found that about 86% of wild canola plants in North Dakota have genetically modified genes in them, and 'two samples contained multiple genes from different species of genetically modified plants.' Canola usually has little competition when cultivated but does not fare well in the wild. The Roundup Ready and Liberty Link strains of genetically modified canola appear to be crossing over to wild plants and helping it survive. The University of Arkansas team claims that the ease in which genetically modified canola has 'escaped' into the wild should be noted by seed makers like Monsanto because this is proof that it will happen." Reader n4djs notes that Monsanto has been known to sue farmers for patent infringement when their crops unintentionally contain genetically modified plants.

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414 comments

Mansanto Took the Bees to Court (5, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#33179898)

For infringement of intellectual property. The judge put a restraining order on the bees to remain at least two hundred yards away from all Mansanto plants and fined them $2,320 for each unlicensed strand of DNA collected from Mansanto plants and distributed to a competing plant.

Re:Mansanto Took the Bees to Court (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33179920)

Mansanto = Monsanto

For pedantry's sake (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33180000)

Patent infringement is a civil cause of action for which damages (not fines) are awarded and injunctions (rather than restraining orders, which are a specific type of injunction unrelated to patent law) may be ordered.

But yeah, I wouldn't be surprised if Monsanto sued the bees. Or the nearest convenient beekeeper, for that matter.

Re:For pedantry's sake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33180258)

Patent infringement is a civil cause of action for which damages (not fines) are awarded ...

Offtopic, but tell that to the RIAA. However many thousand per downloaded song seem to be purely punitive to me.

Re:Mansanto Took the Bees to Court (3, Interesting)

Znork (31774) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180074)

You may have figured out the cause of colony collapse disorder. It's actually Monsanto enforcing restraining orders on the bees.

Frankly, I wouldn't put it past Monsanto to actually be behind something like CCD. If they wipe out natural bees, they could launch genetically modified bees that you'd have to buy from Monsanto every year.

That company needs to be shut down for the good of humankind.

Re:Mansanto Took the Bees to Court (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33180232)

Shut it down? No way. Nuke it from orbit, that's the only way to be sure.

Re:Mansanto Took the Bees to Court (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33180522)

If they wipe out natural bees, they could launch genetically modified bees that you'd have to buy from Monsanto every year.

Your idea seems on the one hand so utterly ridiculous that I want to laugh at the thought of going into a store and buying this season's latest bee model (packaged in a colorful box - "Monsanto Bees, now with 10% more pollination power!"), but on the other hand far too plausible when considering the lengths some corporations are willing to go to in order to turn a profit.

I can't even bring myself to make a "Sssh, don't give them any ideas!" joke, because they would believe, to the fullest extent, that this is an excellent idea.

Geez, what kind of world am I living in?

Re:Mansanto Took the Bees to Court (1)

GarryFre (886347) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180156)

In a monsanto world if you were hurt stealing from someone you could sue your victims. ... Wait!! Um we are in a monsanto world! Kill all the liars!!

Re:Mansanto Took the Bees to Court (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33180198)

Who is going to sue Monsanto for polluting the wild gene population, all the evidence is there that they willfully allowed this to happen by not making generation+1 infertile.

capitalism again. (5, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#33179900)

im repeating this over and over whenever similar nonsense comes up. there is no evading capitalism come to this point. from property rights, to ownership of ideas, to ownership of genes, and then to ownership of entire species. if you 'let businesses be', this happens.

this, has to be the point where the sane realizes that this does not work.

Re:capitalism again. (0, Offtopic)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 3 years ago | (#33179904)

God damn. Why do you haste the English language so much?

Re:capitalism again. (4, Insightful)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#33179928)

Note that there is a difference between capitalism, free market enterprise, and a completely broken patent process that allows plants to be patented. DNA is neither unique or new. Nor is cross-breeding (it's been going on for as long as we've had agriculture).

Re:capitalism again. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33180004)

There's a difference; Unfortunately there's substantial empirical support for the theory that free markets "breed" companies of increasing size which at some point gain enough power to change the rules in their favor, leading to the kind of monopoly support systems we have today (copyright, patents, bureaucratic requirements). Limiting the market power of a single company is seen as communist, anti-market behavior, yet it is the only way a healthy market can survive without creating the negative consequences and ultimately degenerating into a corporate dictatorship.

Re:capitalism again. (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180264)

If the time periods for patents and copyrights hadn't been mussed with over the years, it really wouldn't be so bad. Monsanto or who ever spends lots of $ over a period of years to figure out how to put a useful/desireable genetic change into whatever. Once it is done, I don't have a problem with them being the only ones to sell/create something - if it was a limit of 7 years, etc. as originally worded.

Re:capitalism again. (4, Interesting)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180496)

you have rinsed and repeated a shitty, old, make-believe self-fooling belief again, and you have been replied exceedingly well by another poster. i will just quote it here :

There's a difference; Unfortunately there's substantial empirical support for the theory that free markets "breed" companies of increasing size which at some point gain enough power to change the rules in their favor, leading to the kind of monopoly support systems we have today (copyright, patents, bureaucratic requirements). Limiting the market power of a single company is seen as communist, anti-market behavior, yet it is the only way a healthy market can survive without creating the negative consequences and ultimately degenerating into a corporate dictatorship.

it is as simple as this : it is social dynamics. if society itself does not collectively agree on and establish order and therefore limit the freedoms of each and all so that they wont infringe on others' freedoms, elements within society rise to power and establish order in that fashion. society doesnt like chaos. it ends up in order. whether the order is going to be one that is collectively decided, or, one that will be decided by minorities, is the choice.

Re:capitalism again. (5, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33179986)

if you 'let businesses be', this happens.

If you let business be you don't have a patent system. A patent system is a state-granted monopoly, the exact opposite of what the free market stands for.

Re:capitalism again. (4, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180014)

not to mention having lawmakers in the pockets of certain mega-corporations and billionaire elites isn't capitalism either, that's plutocracy and oligarchy.

Re:capitalism again. (4, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180022)

If you let business be you don't have a patent system. A patent system is a state-granted monopoly, the exact opposite of what the free market stands for.

I think this is absolutely correct. It's astounding how much of government is considered "business" and any fault blamed on capitalism (some more examples are bribery and corruption, state granted monopolies, and businesses, such as oil production, which are dominated by state enterprises). The problem here is that if we attempt to fix the perceived problem using the assumption that "capitalism" is at fault, we are likely to make the problem worse.

Re:capitalism again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33180040)

While your statement is correct, I wonder: are you saying that those who subvert are less evil than those who allow themselves to be subverted?

Re:capitalism again. (3, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180204)

if you 'let businesses be', this happens.

If you let business be you don't have a patent system. A patent system is a state-granted monopoly, the exact opposite of what the free market stands for.

Not really - even some of the most ardent free market advocates I've known acknowledge government has a role in providing a legal structure under which a free market can flourish. As one put it "we're not anarchists."

You're confusing a free market with looneytarianism.

Re:capitalism again. (4, Insightful)

medcalf (68293) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180240)

Yes, the government has a role in creating a legal environment in which a free market can flourish. For example, enforcing contracts is a key feature of a reasonable government. Yet, it is also true that patents are a government-granted monopoly. (We made the decision in the Constitution to deviate here from free-market principles for a practical purpose.) I would even argue that a sane patent system is a reasonable place for government action, to the extent that it can actually promote more inventions and creative works that can improve the lives and minds of the populace at large. The problem is not that there is a patent system, per se, but that the system we have is patently insane.

Re:capitalism again. (1)

KarrdeSW (996917) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180218)

If you let business be you don't have a patent system. A patent system is a state-granted monopoly, the exact opposite of what the free market stands for.

Yes you do. If you 'let business be' then they eventually grow large enough to influence the outcome of elections and lobby politicians to legislate in their favor. They even get large enough to lobby the government to increase its own power so that said business can redistribute more wealth to itself through monopolies, grants, and bail-outs.

This is exactly what happens when there aren't tight controls on business from the beginning

I believe businesses and corporations should only be allowed to lobby through their trade association, because then at least the legislation they gain favors all the companies within that sector of the economy, allowing them to still compete against each other. Even this system still has drawbacks, though.

Re:capitalism again. (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180402)

What if patents had to list inventors, and they were non-transferable from those individuals? And the same for copyright, whoever created the content retains exclusive rights, work for hire or no. Only content creators would be able to have rights to content.

Would that make the patent/copyright systems actually work?

Re:capitalism again. (2, Insightful)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180468)

No. They have to be able to license other people to do things with their work. Most authors aren't capable of, for example, filming a movie based on their book all by themselves. Or even just printing and distributing copies. Likewise, an inventor usually cannot single-handedly make pharmaceuticals in mass quantities. The problem would be worse given how many works and inventions rely upon other works and inventions, such as the score to a movie, or a patented chemical and the independently invented and patented process to make that chemical.

That's not viable; there would have to be licenses by the rights holder to allow third parties to do things with the protected material, without infringing. As a result, even if the rights were not transferred per se, there would just be licenses that closely approximated the same thing. In most cases, there probably would be no material difference.

Re:capitalism again. (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180524)

This is akin to saying that a house belongs to the people who build it. Ideas are a dime a dozen; the money to finance them and the ability to execute them are the valuable parts of a business. When a plant geneticist created the RoundUp Ready gene, he did it with Monsanto's money, in Monsanto's labs. Monsanto paid for the industrial scale-up of the idea. It belongs to the company. (They're still assholes, though.)

Re:capitalism again. (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180456)

If you let business be you don't have a patent system. A patent system is a state-granted monopoly, the exact opposite of what the free market stands for.

If you let businesses be at some point you end up with a single one that is really big, has a lot of guns and men to carry them around and no loyalty whatsoever to the people of whichever country it chooses to own.

Re:capitalism again. (3, Insightful)

medcalf (68293) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180024)

You are conflating capitalism and corruption, and then conflating that mess with free markets to conclude that free markets are corrupt. There are a few problems with these combinations. The first is that corruption is linked not to any particular economic system, but to power. There is corruption at the top levels of any human organization, from governments to corporations to local garden clubs, in precise proportion to the power the people at the top wield. The second error in your philosophy is that capitalism and free markets are not the same thing. Free markets are based on the idea that if you have something and I want it, we can come together to make an exchange without anyone else's permission or punishment. Capitalism, by contrast, is based on the regulation of individual exchanges to the benefit of the corporations and the governments. In a capitalist system, such as ours has been becoming since the 1890s, the corporations exchange money and other support with the government for the government's ability to protect the corporations from competition. (If you have more lawyers than I have employees, which of us is going to be able to handle the thousands of pages of new regulations coming down the pike?) Capitalism, in other words, depends on the bending of property rights to the service of State and corporate power, while free markets depend on the unfettered ownership of one's self and one's labor. Because in the end, property rights are nothing more and nothing less than the consequences of saying, "I own myself, and no one else does."

In fact (0)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180290)

Despite the level of corruption, you find that in generally free societies which are all capitalist based economies (they have varying levels of regulation, but a free market is always the basis) there is the least corruption of any system. Central economies tend to be the very worst. After all, when the people doing the watching are the people with control, well there is something of a conflict of interest, isn't there? It's not perfect, but it is the best we've yet come up with. Doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement or that vigilance and regulation aren't needed, but trying to say "Oh capitalism is the problem," shows a good deal of ignorance of history and current events. As power concentrates, corruption tends to go up and in command economies, you have a hell of a concentration of power.

Re:In fact (5, Informative)

ATMAvatar (648864) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180416)

Despite the level of corruption, you find that in generally free societies which are all capitalist based economies (they have varying levels of regulation, but a free market is always the basis) there is the least corruption of any system. Central economies tend to be the very worst. After all, when the people doing the watching are the people with control, well there is something of a conflict of interest, isn't there? It's not perfect, but it is the best we've yet come up with. Doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement or that vigilance and regulation aren't needed, but trying to say "Oh capitalism is the problem," shows a good deal of ignorance of history and current events. As power concentrates, corruption tends to go up and in command economies, you have a hell of a concentration of power.

A completely unregulated, free market tends towards consolidation of power into large companies and ultimately monopoly. This maximizes corruption every bit as effectively as a strong, centralized government.

Re:capitalism again. (4, Insightful)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180408)

Capitalism, by contrast, is based on the regulation of individual exchanges to the benefit of the corporations and the governments.

Capitalism is based on the private ownership of capital, nothing more or less. It has nothing to do with the presence or absence of regulation.

Because in the end, property rights are nothing more and nothing less than the consequences of saying, "I own myself, and no one else does."

If all that one "owns" is one's self and one's labor, then no goods can be produced. The creation of goods requires raw materials. Materials are derived from land. Land is only turned into property by an act of government. Ergo, all claims of objects as property rest on government action.

One's relationship with oneself should never be described as "ownership". It cheapens and distorts the nature of human beings, and suggests that you could be separated from yourself, the way that any of us can be separated from property. If you "own" yourself, this introduces the idea that someone else could "own" you. No. Human beings are not ownable.

Property is an artificial creation meant to help ensure certain fundamental rights of privacy and self-determination. It is not in itself a basic right; when the misapplication of the concept of property becomes destructive of basic human rights, it is property that must yield.

Re:capitalism again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33180486)

Have we had capitalism without corruption? Let me know when that happens and I'll continue with my post.

Re:capitalism again. (2, Funny)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180086)

this, has to be the point where the sane realizes that this does not work.

Your verb tense implies that there is only one "sane". I think *that* is the problem.

Also, nice Shatner comma after "this".

Re:capitalism again. (2, Insightful)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180110)

``im repeating this over and over whenever similar nonsense comes up. there is no evading capitalism come to this point. from property rights, to ownership of ideas, to ownership of genes, and then to ownership of entire species. if you 'let businesses be', this happens.''

Actually, I don't think any kind of property rights happen, unless there is also enforcement. Whether it's patents, copyright, land ownership, serfdom, slavery, the corn you grow or the pencil you bought, there is nothing that keeps these things, ideas, or people in your possession besides enforcement of essentially arbitrary rules. In our society, both the rules and the enforcement are put in place by the state: legislature, courts, police, etc. In other words, it's not laissez-faire that brings us the ownership you speak of, it's the government. Of course, the government ultimately cannot govern a people against the people's will ...

Re:capitalism again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33180132)

Correction, this is what happens when you have capitalism without libertarianism. According to the ideals of libertarianism, there is no such thing as intangible property. If I own pen and paper, I can write whatever I want on that paper, including a Harry Potter novel. To claim otherwise is to claim that I don't completely own that pen and paper, that my individual rights of ownership overlap with the rights of ownership of others to tell me how to use that pen and paper. When we get rid of involuntary governance, these problems won't exist. Free trade shouldn't be blamed for the failures of our broken political systems.

Re:capitalism again. (1)

Thiez (1281866) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180364)

You will never completely own that pen because you aren't allowed to stab people to death with it.

Re:capitalism again. (2, Insightful)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180138)

At risk to my karma and troll votes... I say the technology to manipulate the genetic make-up of food and enforcing controls such as patents and copyrights, then exporting this food with it's claimed "benefits", is one of the ways that the US companies will try to keep the US economy from totally sinking into oblivion*.

* You can't carry on borrowing money or printing it, even if you are the world's reserve currency.

Re:capitalism again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33180518)

Nevermind the fact that the U.S. government subsidizes a large percentage of food production already.

The situation with Monsanto is largely a government-caused issue because they were too busy taking bribes while pulling the wool over the general U.S. population.

Re:capitalism again. (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180526)

im repeating this over and over whenever similar nonsense comes up. there is no evading capitalism come to this point. from property rights, to ownership of ideas, to ownership of genes, and then to ownership of entire species. if you 'let businesses be', this happens.

If you 'let government be', this happens. Fixed that for you. Let businesses control their own real, physical, tangible property, and nothing more.

Obvious (2, Informative)

bryonak (836632) | more than 3 years ago | (#33179902)

1. Enforce strong patent system
2. Spread patented genetic material all over domestic agriculture
3. Sue farmers
4. Profit!!!

Re:Obvious (4, Informative)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#33179938)

Monsanto is doing this, indeed it is and you're next.

Some background. Food inc. (5, Informative)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 3 years ago | (#33179944)

You might want to see the film Food inc. [foodincmovie.com] which will give some background about Monsato and the rest of the "modern" food industry. The funniest thing is that in their response to the film Monsato even directly admits they require farmers saving seed to provide "samples for testing". That's right; if you have nothing to do with Monsato, you still have a duty to provide them with samples of your seeds so that they can be sure you haven't "infringed their intellectual property rights".

I'm trying to find out what's 'bad' here. (2, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180226)

Is it bad that the plants have escaped or is it bad the some American corporation is going to make less money next year?

Re:I'm trying to find out what's 'bad' here. (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180308)

Is it bad that the plants have escaped or is it bad the some American corporation is going to make less money next year?

It's (potentially) bad that the genes escaped. The fact that Monsanto might make less money is Monsanto's problem. Their inability to do what they claim with their genetically modified plants is our problem.

Re:Some background. Food inc. (1)

arose (644256) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180254)

I'm no fan of Monsanto, but I'm no fan of manipulative propaganda from their critics either...

Re:Some background. Food inc. (4, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180294)

The funniest thing is that in their response to the film Monsato even directly admits they require farmers saving seed to provide "samples for testing".

In other words, we aren't an arm of government, we have no legal authority to "require" a private citizen to do anything whatsoever ... but if you don't we'll bankrupt you in court.

Face it, Monsanto is the BP of their particular sector of the economy. Both need to be taken down a few notches, if not outright disbanded and their assets sold off.

Prince "must prove anti-GM claim" (4, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 3 years ago | (#33179948)

Prince Charles must prove his claim that GM crops could cause a global environmental disaster [newstechnica.com] , Monsanto has challenged.

Cylon Number Six of Monsanto Public Relations said it was their "moral responsibility" to investigate whether genetically modified crops, fully owned and patented to the hilt by Monsanto, could help provide a suitably profitable solution to hunger in the developing world. Monsanto famously protect their hard work, having sued and won for patent violation when their seeds have blown onto another farmer's land.

"We see this as part of our Africa strategy," she said. "It's easy for those of us with plentiful food supplies to ignore the issue, but we have a responsibility to use science to get our hooks into the less well off where we can. We certainly wouldn't drive them off their land, they're too useful to us as labour. It's in their own best interest. I think of it as the 'Corporate Man's Burden.'"

Nestlé has also urged the European Union to review its opposition to GM. "People are starting to think Monsanto are a bigger bunch of bastards than we are, and we can't have such strikes against our public image go unchallenged."

Re:Prince "must prove anti-GM claim" (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180276)

Prince Charles? Hell, he's damn near a clone

Weeds? (3, Interesting)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 3 years ago | (#33179950)

So what's the risk of gene transfer giving us "Roundup Ready" kudzu, poison ivy, etc. in the near future?

Re:Weeds? (1)

Trebawa (1461025) | more than 3 years ago | (#33179974)

Not particularly high. This is just cross-pollination within a species, and a direct canola-kudzu hybrid is nearly impossible.

Re:Weeds? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33180058)

Luckily nature doesn't need direct hybridization to evolve toward "roundup ready" 'behaviour'. Large scale spraying over time leads to glyphosate resistance, be it in the coca plantations of Bogotá or the rapeseed fields of northern america. "Roundup Ready" kudzu does not have to be a direct canola-kudzu hybrid.

Re:Weeds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33180266)

100% Right.

Round-up ready everything is being selected for at the edge of every field, in runoff areas, on the side of the road where it is so steep they spray instead of mow.

It's usually tuff weeds just surviving but eventually(soon) they will thrive.

Re:Weeds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33180008)

Dunno. But if there was anyone on the ball - they'd be able to build a valid genetic pollution lawsuit against Monsanto and have the EPA tear into them for allowing this shit to get into the wild. But being that half the regulatory offices are revolving door corporate lapdogs, I doubt much can be made to happen on the behalf of the public and their right to an uncontaminated environment.

Re:Weeds? (1)

click2005 (921437) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180334)

The EPA will never go against Monsanto when their former executives have jobs there.

Re:Weeds? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180398)

genetic pollution

Ha, that term could be taken a lot of different ways. Anyway, as of right now I don't think the law has really caught up to what Monsanto and other companies involved in genetic modification are doing. If anything, they've been using the law rather successfully to promote their business model at the expense of anyone who happens to be in the vicinity.

You probably don't want to outlaw such activities outright, kneejerk-style, because much good can come from them. That's certainly true in medicine and other fields, and in any event no matter what we do other countries will do as they please. On the other hand, you don't want to give outfits like Monsanto free reign either. It all comes down to a reasonable regulation, I suppose ... not that I trust any of our governments to be capable of that any longer.

That's the real problem, when you get right down to it: the concept of a truly "free" market is fundamentally unworkable because it depends upon those humans at the top of the corporate food chain having a certain level of ethics. By and large, that's never been the case, which is one reason why we still need the institution of government. Unfortunately, once said government comes under the sway of the very corporations it is supposed to be regulating, bad things invariably happen.

Re:Weeds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33180018)

Guess we don't know yet, but one day it may hit us right in the face. The ecosystem has evolved over a long time and the organisms are tuned towards eachother. It might actually not be a good idea to disrupt that. Drastic changes might lead to some drastic 'unpleasant' outcome. The current way to deal with that risk seems to be: 'Let's just do it and see, what happens.'

Re:Weeds? (4, Insightful)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180084)

So what's the risk of gene transfer giving us "Roundup Ready" kudzu, poison ivy, etc. in the near future?

The most honest answer to that question is "we don't know".

Re:Weeds? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33180380)

Quite indeed, we don't now.
One of the reasons to oppose GM food is that even though we have all our "advanced science" that allows us to insert a certain gene into the DNA, we don't have the science to control what other genes come along by accident and afaik the effort to determine the actual outcome is not profitable or not done, all they look for is if they have the gene they wanted, not what freeriders came along.

Re:Weeds? (5, Insightful)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180168)

For starters: if weedkiller-resistance gives these species only a slight advantage over their natural cousins, it could be just a matter of time until those natural cousins are wiped out - entirely, forever. Regardless of effects I would equate that to ongoing, irreversible environmental pollution on a massive scale (and ideally the business forces behind it should cough up massive damages a la BP oil spill - too bad the mighty $$$ will probably win out). While you may not think much of those natural occurring species, for example they may have a much more varied genetic makeup than the weedkiller-resistant species that are replacing them. Once replaced, that genetic variety could be gone, and that is never a good thing. What's worse: we may never know what was lost, in the same way we won't know what's lost when you clear a large area of rain forest.

Secondly, what's product on one field, is weed on another. Harder-to-kill weed, which means you'd have to spray more / nastier chemicals, or have reduced yields on such a field. Thus the easier-to-grow canola may equate to harder-to-grow agricultural products elsewhere. That's cold, hard, cash losses (which farmers won't be able to claim back from those responsible).

Genes that spread from GM-crops to wild canola might spread to other species as well? If so, effects are hard to predict but (given time) likely world-wide. If not: are you sure about that? Can we afford the risk? Should we?

Re:Weeds? (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180278)

Main problem: Even if there was no genetic modification, even if you bred crops for this by the fully natural approach of exposing them to higher levels of toxins and selecting those which were least effected by it.
Whatever genes they evolve which give them extra resistance would still cross into the wild population.

The only substantial difference I can think of is that single genes being transferred by a virus to another species is probably more likely.

Species which have been manipulated have caused problems for the enviroment in the past but I rarely see calls to fine all the worlds housecat breeders or the descendent of whoever pushed animal husbandry into the mainstream in medieval times.

Re:Weeds? (3, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180442)

If not: are you sure about that? Can we afford the risk? Should we?

All good points, and I'm not really disputing any. But there is the fact that much of the world is starving, and GM crops could offer them some hope. The issue is not as clear-cut as some people would like to make it.

Having said that, we really don't know enough to be certain of the long-term effects. Much more research needs to be done, but companies like Monsanto are forging ahead now, and from what I can tell, with little regard for consequence.

Re:Weeds? (1)

tbuskey (135499) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180284)

In the southern US, some weeds have already developed a resistance to weeds.

The techniques those farmers currently use for large scale farming need to be changed.

Evolution in action (2, Interesting)

vegge (184413) | more than 3 years ago | (#33179994)

The NPR story (first link) was a real whitewash compared to the U. Arkansas press release (second link). The NPO story does not mention the fact that in some places where the roadsides are sprayed the genetically modified canola was the only thing left growing. And it downplays the risk of the genes spreading to other plants.

Didn't this all start when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33179998)

...their wealthier cousins from LA came a-visiting, enhanced and all.

Can't be true (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33180012)

It's a good thing this absolutely positively can NOT happen. It's what we were promised. It's what Monsanto told the FDA and it's what the US is telling every-which nation they're trying to push GM foods to.

Nothing to see here. It's not possible. LALALALALA

My problem with GM crops (5, Insightful)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180016)

My problem has always been this. If a pharma company releases a drug that is later proven to be a bad idea then you can do a recall and destroy all known stocks. With GM crops you can't do this as once it is in the wild it is in the wild. The TFA has proved my basic point.

I also have the feeling that less time has been spent trialing GM crops compared with drugs.

Re:My problem with GM crops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33180100)

This has absolutely no bearing on your point, which I think is a good one, but I have to say it because it's gonna bug me otherwise.

"The TFA" is redundant.

Re:My problem with GM crops (1, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180184)

If a pharma company releases a drug that is later proven to be a bad idea then you can do a recall and destroy all known stocks. With GM crops you can't do this as once it is in the wild it is in the wild

A GM plant is one that has received genes that came from other plants the wild. What Monsanto does is what living beings have been doing ever since sex came about, only in a purposeful way rather than at random.

Farmers have been selecting the best seeds since agriculture was invented, a corn plant would be just like grass if it weren't for selective breeding by human farmers.

I don't think there's something inherently wrong in creating GM plants. What I'm worried about aren't the Monsanto scientists, I'm worried about the Monsanto lawyers and finance managers.
   

Well two things (4, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180186)

1) They do a hell of a lot of trials on GM plants. They do a hell of a lot of trials on plants period, but more on GM plants because additional agencies are involved in oversight.

2) We've always been modifying plants for a long time.

If you think the foods you get in the store are "natural" as in "The state in which they exist without human involvement," then you are wrong. We've been doing crude genetic engineering for hundreds of years. It started as simply using plants that were more desirable. If a particular plant was more desirable than others, its seeds got more use. It got refined a bit when Gregor Mendel helped everyone understand how genetic traits work. People got better at cross pollinating plants to get desired traits, and doing things like grafting (cutting off a part of a desired plant and fusing it to another).

As an example, go look up a wild banana. They are not what you find in the supermarket, they are squat, thick, and full of hard seeds. That is how bananas were in the wild. They were engineered by humans, though various means, to be easier to hold and have no seeds. There wasn't any direct genetic manipulation, they were created before that, but it was selective engineering of their genetics going on.

What is going on now is just a further refinement of that. Now there is more direct control over the desired genes, and there is less chance undesired traits make it in. No, it is not 100% risk free. Nothing in the world is. However it is pretty safe over all. You may notice that people are not dying from this, we haven't had an epidemic of many people becoming ill or dying because a genetically engineered food was introduced that had adverse side effects.

Caution is needed, of course, as with anything we do. However fear is unwarranted is is basically just Luddism, just fearing things because they are new.

Re:Well two things (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33180324)

There's a difference between cross pollinating compatible species and injecting genetic traits from animals or non compatible species directly into the plants DNA

Re:Well two things (5, Insightful)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180370)

2) We've always been modifying plants for a long time.

By selective breeding. Not by directly grafting in genes from other species.

Whether selective breeding is automatically safer "because it is natural" may be dubious but it is inherently slow and incremental.

Bananas and pigs took many, many years to breed to their current state - now we can splice banana genes into pigs overnight just because we think it should be easier to get the rind off bacon..

No, it is not 100% risk free.

...but unless you're a Monsanto shareholder you get 100% of that risk and 0% of any benefit.

Re:Well two things (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33180470)

There have been studies in animals fed only genetically modified food where organs were severely damaged.

While it's not clear that these results extend to humans, only long term tests of humans eating only gm foods will show the truth.

Would you like to sign up?

Re:Well two things (1)

Yaa 101 (664725) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180476)

Uhm, the banana and a lot of other eatable plants are just one plant, bananas like mandarins were not engineered but cuttings of that one plant that was eatable and nice tasting.

Re:My problem with GM crops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33180196)

So it's like the Streisand Effect of the plant world.
Yet, Slashdot groupthink condones the Streisand Effect.
Quite the quandry we have here...

We knew about this years ago (2)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180038)

Monsanto failed in making the genetic material specific, now the mutating
monster is loose and a mono culture is upon us. They should be taken out and shot,
ALL of them. It is too late, but I would get some satisfaction if all Monsanto
board members, past and present, and All workers for Monsanto were removed from
the gene pool. Bad or terrible karma?? Who cares when most slashdotters are morons.

It's AOL fault! (3, Funny)

luder (923306) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180050)

So AOL lost 86% of its customers since 2001 [slashdot.org] and now 86% of wild canola contain genetically modified genes? Something fishy is going on!

Re:It's AOL fault! (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180256)

Wild canola is AOL people!

unintentionally? (4, Interesting)

cperciva (102828) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180094)

Reader n4djs notes that Monsanto has been known to sue farmers for patent infringement when their crops unintentionally contain genetically modified plants.

This might have happened, but the Percy Schmeiser case is not such a case. The Supreme Court of Canada found that Schmeiser deliberately harvested and planted his field with seed which he knew had Monsanto's genetic modifications.

It rather scares me that one of the leading anti-GMO spokesmen is someone who deliberately planted his field with genetically modified seed and then lied about it when he got caught.

Re:unintentionally? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33180252)

The decision against Schmeiser was partially reversed and effectively nullified on appeal. See Schmeiser's web site.

Re:unintentionally? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33180424)

See Schmeiser's web site.

Which is certain to contain objective reporting concerning the court opinion and the state of the case against him when he settled.

It shouldn't surprise you (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180338)

If you've looked at it, you've probably seen that most anti-GMO rhetoric is scare tactics and wild "what if" scenarios. There is very little serious criticism along the lines of "This is a good idea but we need to be more careful, additional safeguards are needed," or "This is a bad idea and here's the scientific evidence as to why." It is mostly knee-jerk scare crap.

As such it shouldn't be a surprise that many who are drawn to it are in it for the wrong reasons. It isn't logic informing their decision. Thus it isn't surprising that some people involved might have an axe to grind, rather than legitimate concern.

Re: unintentionally? (2, Interesting)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180406)

Schmeiser deliberately harvested and planted his field with seed which he knew had Monsanto's genetic modifications.

That may be a valid point when Monsanto-supplied GM crops are grown on 'isolated' fields, and those genetic traits are easily told apart from your own saved seeds and/or naturally occurring ones.

But how about when those modified genes are 'everywhere'? When your own saved seeds include them, even if you would not select at all? When it becomes impossible to find naturally occurring varieties without those genes? Should Monsanto still have a right to sue when it becomes impossible to avoid using crop with their genes in it? When their modified genes have spread so wide that naturally occurring species all have those genes? When selecting crops based on weedkiller-resistance is no different from weighing one naturally occurring species against another naturally occurring one (on whatever selection criteria a farmer may use) ?

Perhaps that would be a short-term fix to problems like these: patent any gene you want, but once it gets out in the wild, lose any protection. That would be a big incentive for companies to keep tabs on where their GM stuff is going. And thus, avoid polluting neighbor fields or roadsides with GM-modified crop (which as we know, is impossible to prevent in the 1st place).

Re:unintentionally? (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180414)

On the plus side, there is now a defense precedent which could make it a little harder (expensive) for Monsanto to prove at a jury trial that there was "theft." What if a farmer saves only a third of his crop to reseed and mixes it in with other seed?

That could work both ways, but generally expense isn't something a company likes to see in a product.

Re:unintentionally? (5, Insightful)

$pace6host (865145) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180440)

Reader n4djs notes that Monsanto has been known to sue farmers for patent infringement when their crops unintentionally contain genetically modified plants.

This might have happened, but the Percy Schmeiser case is not such a case. The Supreme Court of Canada found that Schmeiser deliberately harvested and planted his field with seed which he knew had Monsanto's genetic modifications.

It rather scares me that one of the leading anti-GMO spokesmen is someone who deliberately planted his field with genetically modified seed and then lied about it when he got caught.

I wasn't familiar with the case, and maybe others not involved in the GMO/anti-GMO fight aren't either. There's a little info on the Percy Schmeiser [wikipedia.org] wikipedia page, which at least serves as a starting point of more info.

When you say "deliberately harvested and planted his field with seed which he knew had Monsanto's genetic modifications," it sounds like he stole Monsanto seed and planted it in his field. From reading the wiki page, it sounds more like he collected seeds from his own fields that had been pollinated with Monsanto GM naturally. In the former case, I'd say Monsanto should win - stealing their seeds is wrong. But if his fields had been naturally pollinated, why should he be responsible for Monsanto's inability to contain their pollen? In fact, if he was in the business of selling non-GMO, the contamination of his fields could cost him value, customers, or even entire markets. If Monsanto can modify the GM in their plants, couldn't they have made the pollen incompatible with regular crops? And if not, perhaps they shouldn't have planted it if they couldn't control it?

I'm not one of the "all GMO is evil!!" crowd. I think there is great potential for good in GMO, even though there are risks. I just think it's ridiculous to make a self-propagating piece of "property", and then claim that when it self-propagates, someone else is responsible for that, but you aren't.

Slashdaughters, let us avoid... (2, Insightful)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180102)

Slashdaughters, let us avoid the tendency to take the focused ruling in a specific legal case and spread it over our most elaborate paranoid fantasies. We need to force our enemies to do that. They won't be able to enforce the legal rulings in their favor over more than a few isolated cases. Each new case will make their overall position appear more extreme and convince more undecided people that they are a lost cause. We have successfully used this tactic on the record industry; now the farmers can use it on the bio-engineered seed industry.

We need these news items to bring attention to the real problems in agriculture. The biggest problem is that it is over-dependent on fossil fuel for the supplementary necessities of large crop yields. Mainly fertilizer, but also for farm machinery use and post-harvest transportation of food (which has a short period between being ready-for-harvest and losing its nutritional value). Any disruption in the oil delivery process would not only disrupt our transportation, it would disrupt our food supply. Our food depends on these clowns in the Middle-East and psychopathic oil companies, not on Monsanto bullying poor farmers.

  We can't feed our population without the oil to make the fertilizer, run the harvesters, and truck the produce. If oil goes to $250 a barrel, then a few months later gas goes to $7 a gallon, and ramen goes to $1 a packet. People, and that includes people like you, will start shoplifting, then start looting, then start shooting. Monsanto employees will be doing the same thing, too. Nobody will have much use for any kind of intellectual-property horseshit when their real property starts going up in flames.

    At the present, keep up with the seed-bank bio-diversity people. Don't get distracted by lawyers and sensationalism-mongering journalists. Keep it real and only use fools for cheap entertainment.

Re:Slashdaughters, let us avoid... (1)

ccady (569355) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180298)

First

Slashdaughters, let us avoid the tendency to take the focused ruling in a specific legal case and spread it over our most elaborate paranoid fantasies.

then

People, and that includes people like you, will start shoplifting, then start looting, then start shooting. Monsanto employees will be doing the same thing, too. Nobody will have much use for any kind of intellectual-property horseshit when their real property starts going up in flames.

Good troll!

Re:Slashdaughters, let us avoid... (2, Funny)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180322)

Are you kidding? I've got enough fat reserves to last at least a year before I turn to Anarchy.

You people on those "Eat 5 times a day" diets are screwed though.

Re:Slashdaughters, let us avoid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33180432)

actually gas prices in germany are much higher than in the US; around $8 a gallon. still food is much cheaper here afaik. 1kg of deep frozen chicken legs cost around $0.80 for example and that is despite the law against chicken imports from the US.

Monsanto clean up? (2, Interesting)

prestwich (123353) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180128)

Sounds like someone should send them a bill for cleaning it up.

What? (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180190)

Why didn't Monsanto or whoever the designer was make the plants unable to breed with wild crops? There are many, many ways they could have accomplished this.

Being genetically altered... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180192)

Now we know the real story behind honey production being down (or so it seems in stores) http://tinyurl.com/23hmznl [tinyurl.com] ...its probably not good to get a genetic alteration overload via ...honey intake... just leave it to the bees, corporate and crops... to genetically alter us all.

I'm more worried about the reverse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33180222)

Turns out wild rapeseed (pre-canola varieties) are toxic to humans. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canola [wikipedia.org]

Better to have domestic, edible cultivars leaking genes to the wild than the reverse. Or maybe we should eliminate wile rapeseed unless Greenpeace can prove the genes will never transfer and are of no harm.

Monsanto scares me (5, Insightful)

Bayoudegradeable (1003768) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180260)

Really. I am no tin foil haberdasher, but Monsanto steamrolls through farm country like a nasty hay-seed (pun intended) Napoleon. And if you think they don't have numerous rural Congress folks in their pockets, please think again. Your food chain is far scarier than most know. I can't say I have some terrible fear of some horrid mutated crop gone wrong, but I can say I fear the corruption of democracy and our food supply that Monsanto perpetuates.

Re:Monsanto scares me (4, Interesting)

rotide (1015173) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180388)

What scares me is, what happens if/when all of Monsanto's crops spread to nearly _every_ field and there is nothing you can do about it? Say every (insert vegetable here) is now of Monsanto patented variety and some grows in your field/garden. Will Monsanto still be able to sue you into the ground? Will the government ever realize that plants are plants and _especially_ if they are able to reproduce on their own, they can't possibly be considered "property" of anyone that doesn't own the land they happen to grow on? Imagine a grass seed company selling a patented seed that can't be used for commercial reasons without paying them. I'd assume selling your house with a nice lawn would be considered as such. If the grass is spreading all on its own, is it still _legal_ to claim it as property of the grass company? I don't know, this whole, releasing patented crops essentially into the wild and then suing anyone caught "growing" it is absolutely absurd.

There is no such thing as CANOLA plant! (2, Informative)

VFA (1064176) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180286)

There is no such thing! There is such a things as CANOLA oil, which is made from rapeseed. CANOLA is a word made up of Canada Oil. It is not a particularly good oil for huma consumption to begin with, let alone GMO version. The thing is it's cheap and plenty and it's hard to find food that does not contain it. Do some research on Canola oil and you will not want to eat it in the first place.

Puzzling questions (4, Interesting)

rotide (1015173) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180296)

Say I'm in my basement (well, I'm always there so that's a given) and I "create" a dandelion that is resistant to all known forms of weed killer and I release it with a giggle into my back yard, obviously in a few months/years every dandelion in the neighborhood is of my variety. Is this illegal?

How about if I only like to look at grass that is purple (ignoring the fact that purple grass would probably just up and die, but for arguments sake lets say it thrives) and I release that into the wild, maybe by throwing a few seeds along all the borders of my property with the intent that it will cross the property line? How about if I didn't mean for it to do so? Is that illegal?

Now say I run a company that makes weed killer and I release a variant that is _only_ susceptible to my weed killer? Is this illegal?

I'm not arguing for or against what Monsanto is doing and merely questioning the legality of releasing modified plants into the wild, of which can reproduce on their own for my personal benefit (monetarily or asthetically). I'm honestly curious here.

Whats next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33180312)

Whats going to happen next? Copyrights on marijuana strains?

Oh the irony......... (2, Interesting)

dakohli (1442929) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180368)

So, does anyone else taste the deliciously sweet irony?

Canola was created by man by selectively breeding varieties of rapeseed to produce an edible oil product. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canola)

So Monsanto genetically modified it, to promote the use of Round-UP (tm) - not to improve individual plant yields/nutrition, but to make it easier to control weeds. 80%+ farmers have planted it, and now it has escaped into the wild.

NPR reported on this, not a huge threat (3, Informative)

Munden (681257) | more than 3 years ago | (#33180420)

Here is the story NPR did on this a few days ago - http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129010499 [npr.org]

"Wilkinson says that just because the plants are genetically modified, doesn't mean they'll be more successful than wild plants. In this particular case, herbicide resistance will provide little edge to plants growing in areas that, almost by definition, don't receive many herbicides. "It's very difficult for either of these transgene types to give much of an advantage, if any, in the habitats that they're in," he says, referring to the genetically modified canola."

I hate Monsanto and GM because of their legal views and actions on DNA patents. I also hate how their products require tons of chemicals to grow and how it gets into the environment. I hate it how it promotes growing "all one type of plant" which turns niche problems and pests into giant clusterfucks because of the lack of biodiversity that would have naturally kept the problem in check. Google "pig weed" which is now ultra resistant to all known herbacides thanks to GM/Monsanto. The list goes on and on.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33180436)

There is no such thing as a canola plant. Canola is an acronym for "Canadian Oil Low Acid". Canola oil is derived from the seeds of the rape plant.

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