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Decaffeinated, Real Coffee

timothy posted more than 8 years ago | from the bacon-free-bacon dept.

Biotech 100

reeb writes "ABC News Australia reports that Brazilian scientists have discovered a naturally occurring but rare coffee plant, native to Ethiopia, that is 'almost free of caffeine.' Decaf without the genetic engineering?"

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100 comments

But why? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#9507766)

Isn't that defeating the purpose?

Eradicate the species before it has a chance to spread! :)

Oh, here we go (0, Redundant)

gazbo (517111) | more than 8 years ago | (#9507771)

Cue a host of teenagers racing to prove how cool they are by saying things like "If there's no caffeine there's no point ROR!"

Re:Oh, here we go (1)

Tr0mBoNe- (708581) | more than 8 years ago | (#9507947)

Flaimbait... didn't want to moderate you to that, but hey... who cares... oh.. wait... I drink coffee for the caffiene... there are a bunch of people who drink it for the taste and whatnot... a naturally caffiene defficent product would be a great hit and i know it will sell in my town... damn hippies.

Re:Oh, here we go (1)

CaptainCarrot (84625) | more than 8 years ago | (#9511263)

All the hippies I know drink their coffee heavily caffeinated. And I live in Santa Cruz County in California, so that's saying something.

Re:Oh, here we go (3, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#9509304)

> Cue a host of teenagers racing to prove how cool they are by saying things like "If there's no caffeine there's no point ROR!"

There's plenty of point to decaffeinated coffee.

I mean, once you get the caffeine out of the beans, you can grind the beans up and throw them in garbage bags marked "decaf", and people will buy them.

But more importantly, after processing a few tonnes of beans this way, you have a farking huge mountain of pure caffeine.

Which you can grind up and sprinkle in your coffee, or add to your Jolt, or Bawls, or just mainline the shit.

Re:Oh, here we go (1)

shane_rimmer (622400) | more than 8 years ago | (#9510523)

Opening another source of revenue: Sell it to people stuck in offices where the management thinks decaf is the way to go. :)

Re:Oh, here we go (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#9509760)

Coffee sucks, caffeine or not. How about those apples? Bitter, huh?

Re:Oh, here we go (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 9 years ago | (#9518615)

Dude, I'm not a teenager (mid 30's) and I can assure you, without that 1-2 pots of STRONG coffee I drink every day, I'd loose my job and or my 3yr old & the new baby would both die of neglect.

Now for the rant: I NEED my caffeine. I'm a junky -- I'll admit it. Hell, I have a couple of those ThinkGeek caffeine cups sitting on my desk at work. I also keep M&M's and/or choco covered coffee beans on my desk. Don't mess with my caffeine!

Re:Oh, here we go (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9523522)

Don't mess with my caffeine!

Who would even want to get within a mile of you?

Re:Oh, here we go (1)

Man of E (531031) | more than 9 years ago | (#9523824)

"If there's no caffeine there's no point ROR!"

What the hell is ROR? Is that what happens if you write LOL on a Dvorak keyboard? Is that how you say LOL in Japanese? Is it some teenage slang like "froody" or "clam" that I'm too old to understand? (that's what they say nowadays, isn't it...) Is it an acronym for Really Offtopic Response?

Re:Oh, here we go (1)

gazbo (517111) | more than 9 years ago | (#9525907)

You guessed right on your second go. Nothing like a bit of mild xenophobia to brighten one's day!

Yippee! (3, Interesting)

justanyone (308934) | more than 8 years ago | (#9507796)

Cross breeding may take a while, though, so maybe by the time I'm not allowed to have caffeine anymore (vis-a-vis old age restrictions on my cardiac function) I'll have that option.

Granted, I'm not 18 anymore, but I'm not 40 yet either.

Re:Yippee! (4, Insightful)

b-baggins (610215) | more than 8 years ago | (#9509906)

So. Genetic engineering by cross breeding for fifty years is good. Genetic engineering by gene insertion in the laboratory to produce the exact same result in 5 years is bad.

I see, now.

Re:Yippee! (3, Interesting)

Deagol (323173) | more than 8 years ago | (#9511390)

Not this again....

Yes, there are those of us who see these as two entirely different things. You (and the scientists) may think the end result is "the exact same result" but I'm sceptical. There's no such thing as a free lunch.

While by its very nature, DNA provides for some sanity checks on what's viable, artificial mingling of DNA in the lab hasn't been through as rigorous a Q&A procedure as good old natural reproduction. I don't care if the resulting "species" can continue to pro-create -- it cheated by skipping a few important steps to being with.

I'm not a Luddite, folks. I think the science is cool and promising. But I think we shouldn't "go there" until we know what the hell we're doing. Look at the panacea antibiotics once were, and now look at how royally screwed up the situation now is. Genetic fudgery can have far more catastrophic results fifty years from now.

Re:Yippee! (1)

mtcrowe (86952) | more than 8 years ago | (#9511706)

I agree that there's a lot still to learn about genetic engineering. However, a quote in a recent issue of Wired made a lot of sense to me. The geneticist (obviously a fan of genetic engineering) said "What's better? Transferring hundreds or thousands of genes unintentionally to get the one gene you want enabled or simply enabling it directly?"

More to the point, I think we don't know enough about how single genes act, interact, and co-exist to be confident in any type of genetic engineering, whether it be via laboratory manipulation or cross-breeding over several generations. Funny that I don't hear a Call to Arms to stop the practice of selective breeding for desired traits.

Re:Yippee! (3, Informative)

Deagol (323173) | more than 8 years ago | (#9512181)

Funny that I don't hear a Call to Arms to stop the practice of selective breeding for desired traits.

You're looking in the wrong crowd. :)

My wife is one such person. She used to groom dogs, and she worked at a pet shop and at a local chapter of the Humane Society. So she's familiar with the results of poor breeding.

It's not so much that breeding for a particular trait is bad, as much as doing so at the detriment of other important traits.

The AKC [akc.org] is pure evil. The fact that they have "specs" for registerable breeds and that they allow "line breeding" and inbreeding is proof (in my mind, at least). See this link [akc.org] for evidence. This can result in bad traits. Two well-known examples are that Dalmations are often deaf (though, to be fair, it's more common in any purebred dog than a mutt), and that German Shepherds often develop bad hips.

It may be an American (capitalistic make-money-fast) kind of thing. Appearently, the original shepherd lines from Germany were execllent dogs. It wasn't until they were bred for AKC specs that they went downhill. Again, German Angora rabbits are excellent dual-purpose meat and wool animals (we've researched this, as we raise own own rabbits for meat as well as wool), but the Americanized version -- the "show quality" one -- is lacking in both traits, but it looks prettier.

Silly breeders. :)

Re:Yippee! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9523428)

You ATE the tiny little bunnie wunnies?

Re:Yippee! (1)

TwP (149780) | more than 9 years ago | (#9521407)

The geneticist (obviously a fan of genetic engineering) said "What's better? Transferring hundreds or thousands of genes unintentionally to get the one gene you want enabled or simply enabling it directly?"

That's my approach to programming -- instead of using the API, I just directly call the underlying functions that I want. I'm way more productive and <sarcasm>my code is way more stable.</sarcasm>

Come'on folks, the API for DNA is there for a reason. Don't go mucking with the underlying stuff until you fully understand what you're doing.

My $0.02

Re:Yippee! (1)

the_mad_poster (640772) | more than 9 years ago | (#9531434)

Bearing in mind that computer APIs and DNA structures are entirely unrelated, of course.... and you still get 1:1000 bugs:lines when you use the API.... and if you knew how to use the underlying functions, your apps would be smaller, faster, and much more stable... and that to learn how to do that you have to experiment, even if you burn your disk platter....

Yes, bad things can happen when you do experiments and something doesn't work like you thought it would. Christ, Newton tasted his damn chemicals. I'm sure THAT didn't do him any good. Does that mean he should have never done his experiments?

We have the insight. It's time to play. If we play carefully, we should be alright. If we goof up, oops. Chalk another failure up to science, just don't act like it's some new thing that when stuff goes wrong in the lab bad things can happen. The best way to learn how to do something right is to survive the firsthand results of doing it wrong. It's called progress. It can be painful. Deal with it.

Re:Yippee! (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 9 years ago | (#9514846)


While by its very nature, DNA provides for some sanity checks on what's viable


And why is what's viable "good", and what's not viable "bad"? Bufotoxin and anthrax will kill you dead, though they're completely natural and organic. What survives in its own environment has nothing to do with if it's good or bad for you. Evolution doesn't produce "good", it produces what survives.


Look at the panacea antibiotics once were, and now look at how royally screwed up the situation now is.

So we never should have developed anti-biotics? The problem with anti-biotics is they're over prescribed and put in animal feed, not that we "don't understand what's going on". They still really are a panacea, it's not as if they've become useless. There's some problems with resistant strains of TB, etc, but it's not really a catastrophe.

Re:Yippee! (0)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 9 years ago | (#9514220)

So. Genetic engineering by cross breeding for fifty years is good. Genetic engineering by gene insertion in the laboratory to produce the exact same result in 5 years is bad.

Correct. Because genetic engineering by crossbreeding modifies the whole environment whereas generic engineering in a laboratory *doesn't*.

It's the same reason you shouldn't just pick up a plant or animal from one isolated environment and drop it into another one - *because you don't know what will happen*. History is riddled with the disastrous affects of introduced species - hasn't anyone been paying attention ?

Re:Yippee! (2, Insightful)

Chris_Jefferson (581445) | more than 9 years ago | (#9516054)

I would have expected geeks to be some of the people most against genetic engineering.

We've all had the problem that changing one line of code in a program has huge unexpected consequences in a totally different part of the program, and there is good reason to imagine this problem will be even worse in DNA.

It is possible that there is a number of safeguards when it comes to cross breading. Maybe there isn't, but at the moment we understand very, very little about what most DNA actually does and how it interacts, so I'd perfer to do it the "natural" way in things I want to eat and drink until scientists have a better understanding of exactly what is going on.

Re:Yippee! (1)

bpatterson (554715) | more than 9 years ago | (#9519794)

This is the exact reason why we NEED genetic engineering - to fix these kinds of horrible naturally occuring problems. If we let this mutant decaf species breed with the caffeinated ones, and the caffeine gene turns out to be recessive, we'll all have to get our caffeine from chocolate. Imagine a world where every woman weighs 40 lbs. more than they do right now, a world where most coders and geeks are the size of small pickup trucks, and where Hershey bars and M&M's are priced higher than gasoline in California.... this is a crisis in the making, people. Go buy stock in Genentech and if you EVER see a decaf coffee plant, kick its ass.

Re:Yippee! (1)

mousse-man (632412) | more than 9 years ago | (#9535864)

With 'normal' cross-breeding, at least, you can't pull the rug under your feet so quickly, and usually QA is much better than with genetic engineering.

The problem with genetically engineered stuff is that no one has a real clue what repercussions snipping around on a gene has until it rears it's ugly head. With cross-breeding, at least, you can see what's coming....

Appalling (5, Funny)

PD (9577) | more than 8 years ago | (#9508090)

This is appalling news. We must write our congress people to tell them we want a war against the lack of drugs. This heretical coffee plant must be wiped out. Coffee should have caffeine!

Re:Appalling (3, Funny)

jc42 (318812) | more than 8 years ago | (#9509296)

This is appalling news. ... Coffee should have caffeine!

Don't worry. The marketers will quickly come up with a coffee drink based on this new coffee, with caffeine added. Just as they have done with most soft drinks. Citrus fruit don't contain caffeine, but most commercial citrus drinks do.

Re:Appalling (1)

SnoBall (778388) | more than 8 years ago | (#9510894)

This is appalling news. ... Coffee should have caffeine!

Or, just buy some jolt, and mix that in with your coffee. And even if that coffee costs more than regular coffee, you'd be getting more bang for your buck.

Or we can just do a daring commando raid on the factory, I'll bring the rubber bands.. ;)

Re:Appalling (1)

forii (49445) | more than 8 years ago | (#9512230)

Just as they have done with most soft drinks.

In the same way that Coca-Cola removed the most interesting stuff from the extract of the coca plant.

Re:Appalling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9521651)

On the contrary, most clear sodas like Sprite and 7-up are caffeine-free.

Re:Appalling (1)

bluGill (862) | more than 9 years ago | (#9524119)

Well that used to be true. 7-UP has caffeine, at least in some incarnations. Most of the versions I've seen lately do have caffeine, but I don't know if they have gotten rid of the caffeine free versions, so just are promoting the version with caffeine.

Doesn't really matter, soda is bad for a lot of things health wise. Combine that with my inability to stand carbonated water and I don't drink much so I don't care. (though when I must I go for caffeine free pops)

Re:Appalling (1)

foidulus (743482) | more than 9 years ago | (#9526191)

Well that used to be true. 7-UP has caffeine, at least in some incarnations.
7Up used to have lithium in it to....originally it was served to mental patients...

Re:Appalling (1)

the_mad_poster (640772) | more than 9 years ago | (#9531534)

There used to be lithium in several soft drinks. I don't think, however, that 7 UP was originally served specifically to mental patients as a result, and I'd imagine that it probably still is served to mental patients from time to time.

In fact, IIRC, 7-UP originally had an abominably long name that made it difficult to order when it first came out, suggesting that it was originally sold in stores, not served in asylums.

Decaf without the genetic engineering? (4, Informative)

A Big Gnu Thrush (12795) | more than 8 years ago | (#9508109)

Decaf without the genetic engineering?


From www.kraftfoods.com/maxwellhouse/mh_decaff.html [kraftfoods.com]


The Maxwell House® Family of naturally decaffeinated coffees offers the full-flavored taste of regular coffee, without the caffeine. Maxwell House® decaffeinates its coffees using pure water and natural effervescence. The effervescence gently draws the caffeine out of the beans, preserving their delicate coffee flavor.

I don't touch decaf, but who would genetically engineer decaf beans?

Re:Decaf without the genetic engineering? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#9508178)

I just posted a comment saying that caffeine is taken out with 'supercritical fluid extraction' using CO2 as a solvent. Apparently there are more ways than one to decaffeinate the coffee, which is interesting to know.

Anyway, it has nothing to do with genetic engineering.

Re:Decaf without the genetic engineering? (1)

justkarl (775856) | more than 8 years ago | (#9511367)

Having worked at Starbucks for a few years, I happen to know a bit about decaffeination...

The most popular method is by a chemical process, which removes about 75% of the caffiene from the beans. A newer method(as described in parent) is the Swiss Water method...I'm no coffee scientist, but the caffeine is removed chemical-free. After decaffeination, the caffeine is sold to companies like Coke, etc. There's no genetic engineering about it.

Despite all this, the discovery of this rare plant is an atrocity, and I hope that they rid the planet of it.

Re:Decaf without the genetic engineering? (1)

Nephilium (684559) | more than 9 years ago | (#9518444)

The Swiss Water method works as follows:

1) Take beans, and let them soak in water, this leaches out the caffeine and the oils (the good parts)
2) Remove those beans and compost them... no good will come from them.
3) Remove the caffeine from the water, but leave the tasty oils.
4) Put new coffee beans into the water, the caffeine will be leached out, but the oils won't because the water is already saturated with them

So... what you get (supposedly) is coffee that still has all of the flavor, but none of the caffeine...

Still blasphemous though...

Nephilium
"The loose-tooth factor, by the way, relates to the fact that it is human nature to indulge in one's own pain. Even though it hurts, we all play with our loose teeth. Even though Al Gore is a giant toothache of a human being, the Democratic party cannot stop fiddling with him. " -- Jonah Goldberg

Re:Decaf without the genetic engineering? (2, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | more than 8 years ago | (#9512826)

I don't touch decaf, but who would genetically engineer decaf beans?

The Maxwell House web site has some puffery to it. When you take out the caffeine, you also take some of the other coffee flavor compounds. A "knockout" coffee plant (which was genetically identical to regular coffee except for lacking the caffeine gene) would taste more like caffeinated coffee than water-process decaffeination.

Of course you'd lose the caffeine taste, which in its pure form is very bitter but in coffee is pleasant, but you wouldn't stay up all night staring at the ceiling, either, and it would still taste pretty good.

Decaf coffee is not genetically modified!!! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#9508126)

This is important because the headline/blurb is misleading.

Decaffeination is done through a process called 'supercritical fluid extraction' with carbon dioxide as a solvent. Turns out, with enough pressure and temperature, a substance can go 'supercritical', where it has the simultaneous properties of a gas, liquid, and solid. By fine tuning the temperature and pressure, it can act as a very selective solvent, only leeching out the caffeine and leaving in all the other delicious coffee flavors. The caffeine is then recovered and sold in pills or other products.

Not that you should drink decaf. Caffeine is the primary reason to drink coffee.

Re:Decaf coffee is not genetically modified!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9514517)

"Delicious coffee flavors"....what the hell are those? WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE PEOPLE! Coffee tastes terrible whether it's Joe's Truckstop Brand or Froo-Froo Yuppie Belgian Mocha Frappacrappachino Roast Private Reserve with a shot of goatsmilk and baby bat piss. In this day and age of caffeinated water and readily available cocaine why the hell is this godawful beverage still around on every fucking street corner stinking up the air with a "refreshing" mixture of textures reminiscent of a combination of sweaty garlic-chewin' fat guy's armpit and an enema from a 104-year-old with halitosis out both ends?

Re:Decaf coffee is not genetically modified!!! (1)

epine (68316) | more than 9 years ago | (#9514715)


In the phase diagram, this is refered to as the triple point, the point where the three phase boundaries meet. Meaningful and easily comprehended.

The original meaning of "supercritical" was "oh my god, I can write grant applications on this discovery for the rest of my career". In the humanities camp the angel of narcisistic relevance is pronounced "postmodern", as if the arrow of time was in need of a gentle directional prod to regain its bearings: "oh yes, past toward future, now I remember". It offends me at some deep level to see a glaze factor six term like "supercritical" bandied about in relation to mental stimulants.

Returning to Joe, there are hundreds of alkaloids in coffee, and I highly doubt that the pschyo-active effects of coffee end with caffeine.

There are certain mental effects (flattening) I get from decaf just as much as regular coffee. What I don't get from decaf is the pleasant buzz.

Whether a decaf processed coffee or a low caffeine cultivated source is preferable depends heavily on the fate (and desirability) of all these other alkaloids.

If the coffee has less caffeine (e.g. half as much), you can drink a lot more--if it still tasted good, I probably would. But then my body doesn't need all the extra acid either, so it's probably a wash.

What we really need is to discover a variety of green tea with a coffee flavour gene.

Re:Decaf coffee is not genetically modified!!! (1)

jaoswald (63789) | more than 9 years ago | (#9518678)

Actually, the critical point is the "upper right" end of the liquid-gas phase boundary. The solid phase does not exist at the critical point.

The triple point is where all three phases meet, but it is at lower temperatures where the substance can freeze. For water, for instance, the triple point is at 0.01 C, at a pressure of 4.5 torr. The critical point of water, by contrast, is at 374 C, and 165467 torr.

Triple points are useful because they are single points in the phase plane that are relatively easy to realize. In fact, several triple points are used to define the international temperature scale [its-90.com].

The reason the critical point is interesting theoretically is that it means you can manipulate temperature and pressure to go around the critical point, going from liquid to gas and back without crossing a phase transition line; this is possible because the liquid and gas actually have the same symmetry. In fact, the transition AT the critical point tends to take place very slowly; theoretically, this is known as "critical slowing", and experimentally, this is seen as "critical opalescence." Studies and measurements at the critical point are made difficult by this slowing: it is very hard to be sure your sample is at equilibrium. This is in contrast to the triple point, which is relatively easy to verify.

From an industrial perspective (such as decaffeination), the critical point is interesting because that phase transition line is what causes disruptive effects such as surface tension and boiling. If you can maneuver around that point without crossing the line, you can, for instance, vaporize liquid to dry something out without destroying the delicate structures that were wet.

Why are you afraid? (3, Insightful)

Tom7 (102298) | more than 8 years ago | (#9508293)

What is the problem with "genetic engineering"? We've been doing it for ages with breeding, as has "nature."

Re:Why are you afraid? (2, Interesting)

cgreuter (82182) | more than 8 years ago | (#9509332)

What is the problem with "genetic engineering"? We've been doing it for ages with breeding, as has "nature."

What we traditionally call "genetic engineering" is different from breeding or natural selection because it adds genes that weren't there before while breeding just juggles them about. And the problem with it is that we don't yet understand this sort of DNA manipulation or its consequences well enough to know what will happen when we dump it into the ecosystem. And yet we--or at least Monsanto's customers--are.

I don't agree with the thinking behind a lot of the anti-GM groups but I think that, for the moment anyway, I agree with their goals.

Re:Why are you afraid? (4, Interesting)

SEE (7681) | more than 8 years ago | (#9510147)

What we traditionally call "genetic engineering" is different from breeding or natural selection because it adds genes that weren't there before while breeding just juggles them about.

False. Selective beeding and natural selection both involve the addition (through "natural" radiation, "natural" chemical mutagens, and "natural" retroviruses) of geners that weren't there before.

For example, there's a specific DNA sequence that, oddly enough, occurs in both certain breeds of cattle and the rattlesnakes that live in the region where that variety of cattle originated. It's probably the result of a retrovirus that was in the snake population, and was transferred to an ancestral cow by a snakebite. This natural inter-species gene transfer, of course, is identical to a standard method of interspecies genetic engineering -- except in deliberate genetic engineering we have some idea what the gene we're transferring does, and we know to keep an eye on the recipient of the genes. The natural version moves random genes, and we don't even know that it occured.

Re:Why are you afraid? (1, Insightful)

cgreuter (82182) | more than 8 years ago | (#9511987)

False. Selective beeding and natural selection both involve the addition (through "natural" radiation, "natural" chemical mutagens, and "natural" retroviruses) of genes that weren't there before.

Okay, granted. Various natural things do cause mutation and cross-species gene travel and yes, selective breeding (both natural and 'man-made) do bring those to dominance, but that's still different from genetic engineering.

Natural processes are random, which means that most natural mutations either immediately kill the recipient or cause it to be less successful, therefore removing themselves from the gene pool. The chances of a mutation staying in the gene pool are pretty low. This means that the rate at which we get new species is slow, to the point where you almost never see it happen.

In contrast, engineered species are already immediately viable and, because they're useful to people, will stay in the ecosystem for some time. We know the ecosystem can handle normal evolution reasonably well but we have no idea what this sort of rapid change will do.

I'm not opposed to genetic engineering, BTW. It's just that what the big corps are doing right now strikes me as the biological equivalent of a programmer slapping some code together, testing it a couple of times to make sure it doesn't crash and then installing it on the fly-by-wire system of every airliner in the world.

Re:Why are you afraid? (1)

SEE (7681) | more than 8 years ago | (#9512897)

That's a position I have the utmost respect for.

I don't agree, but it's on grounds of unprovables (how vulnerable is nature?) and probably a differing tempermental tolerance for risk.

Re:Why are you afraid? (1)

Sgt York (591446) | more than 9 years ago | (#9515809)

the biological equivalent of a programmer slapping some code together, testing it a couple of times to make sure it doesn't crash and then installing it on the fly-by-wire system of every airliner in the world.

Not really. This is not the wholesale production of a new life form, de novo. What you see in GM crops is more like a patch. It is a couple of genes. To extend the analogy, it's a few lines of code added to an OS. To keep the perspective clear, the wheat genome is roughly the same size as ours, if not bigger (the number isn't firm yet). So it's about 35,000 genes, give or take. Compared to 3M lines in the linux kernel, it's like adding 85 lines to it, at most. In that case, all you really need to do is a few tests and ship it.

However, the tests on GM crops have been a lot more extensive. I linked in another post a set of articles from Nature that go over the studies.

In short, these are not new species. They are variant forms of existing species.

Re:Why are you afraid? (1)

Cryect (603197) | more than 9 years ago | (#9525729)

Hehe imagine what the right 85 lines could do to the linux kernel though. But if someone is going to be malicious I don't think laws or telling them its not ethical is going to stop them :-P

Re:Why are you afraid? (1)

slashjames (789070) | more than 9 years ago | (#9520261)

Just remember this thie next time you see products advertised as "all natural": cyanide and arsenic are "all natural" too.

No. Not Insightful. (1, Insightful)

Red Rocket (473003) | more than 8 years ago | (#9509422)


What is the problem with "genetic engineering"? We've been doing it for ages with breeding, as has "nature."

That's about as insightful as if people started plowing their SUVs though other peoples' yards and living rooms and then saying, "What's the problem with driving? People have been driving cars for a hundred years."

The difference is we've been driving mostly on roads. And we've been breeding plants and animals using natural methods and reproductive techniques and only being selective about which individuals bred with one another. (Oh, btw, I like the way you put "nature" in quotes. You can almost see the sneer on your face when you typed it. What are you afraid of?)

Genetic engineering removes the guardrails and lets the SUVs into the living rooms. Tinkering with the knobs of life is dangerous when you don't know exactly how it works in the first place. "Hey let's see what happens when we turn on this gene! Ooops. Plague! Who knew? Hey, don't blame us. We were just twiddling the knobs."
There's a reason fish don't breed with strawberries in the natural world. It might not be a good idea to discover exactly what that reason is until we know a whole lot more about the way DNA works.

Re:No. Not Insightful. (2, Insightful)

PD (9577) | more than 8 years ago | (#9509546)

Argument by analogy is not persuasive. And car analogies are the most annoying. Besides the analogy, the only other point you seem to make is that there is a "normal" mode of genetic change. If I am misunderstanding you, let me know.

But, you haven't done two things, which would have bolstered your argument:

1) You didn't define what and why a certain mode of genetic change is normal. Is it because it's done by nature and not by man? (what's the difference?) Is it because the genetic changes are imprecise? (what about precise changes to DNA that a natural virus causes?)

2) You didn't explain exactly why a natural change in DNA is good, but an artificial one is bad. Your example of "plague" is a red herring. The issue at hand is not about harmful products of genetic change, it's about the mode of the genetic change itself. We've already seen that both natural and artificial genetic changes can arrive at dangerous conclusions, so the argument that artificial genetic changes should be avoided because of that is irrelevant.

Re:No. Not Insightful. (0, Flamebait)

Red Rocket (473003) | more than 8 years ago | (#9510124)


Argument by analogy is not persuasive. And car analogies are the most annoying.

And antiseptic argument by pedantism is even more annoying.

1) You didn't define what and why a certain mode of genetic change is normal. Is it because it's done by nature and not by man? (what's the difference?) Is it because the genetic changes are imprecise? (what about precise changes to DNA that a natural virus causes?)

The reason is that the natural mode of genetic propagation is the mode that created absolutely every living thing that came to be on this planet for millennia. For a fairly clever ape to jump up and say, "Hey, I can make changes in a completely different way -- damn the consequences" is the ultimate in hubris and recklessness.

2) You didn't explain exactly why a natural change in DNA is good, but an artificial one is bad.

That's because I don't know whether the consequences of artificial change will be good or bad or horrendously tragic, and neither do you. That's what makes it so dangerous.

Your example of "plague" is a red herring.

You sound pretty sure of yourself, there, cowboy. Can you really say that a plague won't result from fiddling with something's DNA?

The issue at hand is not about harmful products of genetic change, it's about the mode of the genetic change itself. We've already seen that both natural and artificial genetic changes can arrive at dangerous conclusions, so the argument that artificial genetic changes should be avoided because of that is irrelevant.

Hey, call it faith if you want to, but I'd rather take my chances with the natural forces that my body has evolved to cope with over eons than risk everything on the whim of some DNA hacker in a lab coat.

I'm beginning to believe that you're a paid PR flack for a biotech firm. It's well known that they troll discussion boards to inject corporate propaganda into the stream of consciousness. You're response was just a little too quick and prepared, if you know what I mean.

Re:No. Not Insightful. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#9510645)

I'm beginning to believe that you're a reactionary moron.

Re:No. Not Insightful. (1)

PD (9577) | more than 8 years ago | (#9510770)

And antiseptic argument by pedantism is even more annoying.

But, it's correct. You've got to be logical, and show your logic.

The reason is that the natural mode of genetic propagation is the mode that created absolutely every living thing that came to be on this planet for millennia. For a fairly clever ape to jump up and say, "Hey, I can make changes in a completely different way -- damn the consequences" is the ultimate in hubris and recklessness.

The argument that the "natural" mode is the proper one, because it's always done that way is not persuasive. And, while we are indeed clever apes, the judgement that tinkering with DNA molecules is hubris is a cultural and moral value. Hardly absolute, and completely unsupported. You're in essence arguing that yours is the only right and moral way to do something. Hardly a position to be distinguishing hubris from.

That's because I don't know whether the consequences of artificial change will be good or bad or horrendously tragic, and neither do you. That's what makes it so dangerous.

Completely sidestepped the question. You claimed that natural change is good, and artificial change is bad. Now, support that claim. Your statement above is an argument from ignorance. When something is not known, there is no logical support to draw a conclusion from.

You sound pretty sure of yourself, there, cowboy. Can you really say that a plague won't result from fiddling with something's DNA?

I'm not making a claim, you are. The burden of proof is yours. Either back up your assertion that artificial change is somehow worse than natural change, or admit that you're speculating. And speculation is just another word for 'imagining.' And, I am not a cowboy.

Hey, call it faith if you want to, but I'd rather take my chances with the natural forces that my body has evolved to cope with over eons than risk everything on the whim of some DNA hacker in a lab coat.

Faith? First you make some ridiculous claims, and I ask you to explain yourself. That's the natural way things work. Either you can explain yourself, or you have to admit that you haven't thought out your position.

I'm beginning to believe that you're a paid PR flack for a biotech firm. It's well known that they troll discussion boards to inject corporate propaganda into the stream of consciousness. You're response was just a little too quick and prepared, if you know what I mean.

Ad hominem attack. I'm a computer programmer at IBM. And, a person who knows how to argue logically. Though I need not prove anything, check my web page, and you'll see that I am nothing of what you imagine.

Re:No. Not Insightful. (1)

Red Rocket (473003) | more than 8 years ago | (#9511309)



The argument that the "natural" mode is the proper one, because it's always done that way is not persuasive.

I never said it was the "proper" mode (straw man). My claim is that it's the prudent one.

You're in essence arguing that yours is the only right and moral way to do something. Hardly a position to be distinguishing hubris from.

What makes you think that I've laid claim to the methods of natural reproduction? They're not my methods. They're nature's methods. Your position is that it's OK to deviate from those methods. That's an extreme deviation and one that requires extreme proof of safety. I just don't think we're at the point in our knowledge where that's possible.

Completely sidestepped the question.

How so?

You claimed that natural change is good, and artificial change is bad. Now, support that claim.

That's a lie. I did not say that. (That was another straw man. Do you notice how your hypocrisy over argument techniques is piling up?) My claim is that we should not be fiddling with things we don't fully understand and that easily have the potential to destroy us. My argument is based purely on self-preservation.

When something is not known, there is no logical support to draw a conclusion from.

My point exactly. The something that is not known is how DNA combines to make life work. The illogical conclusion is that we should proceed full-steam-ahead with development and production of genetically engineered life forms.

The burden of proof is yours.

That's funny, because I'm not the one proposing that we make changes to the way life works. It seems logical to me that those who propose to change things bear the burden of proof. My argument is that we go slowly and carefully because we're in uncharted territory and there's no great threat to humanity that warrants taking great risks. That's sound strategy that already has plenty of proof to back it up.

Faith? First you make some ridiculous claims, and I ask you to explain yourself. That's the natural way things work. Either you can explain yourself, or you have to admit that you haven't thought out your position.

Wow. That's just verbal bullying. You keep trying to back me into a corner of your own creation. I owe you no explanations. I'm making sound arguments. If you don't like them then make your own arguments.

Ad hominem attack. I'm a computer programmer at IBM.

Not ad hominem -- just speculation. If I'm wrong then I'm wrong. I just know that I wouldn't argue for corporations unless they were paying me.

And, a person who knows how to argue logically.

Well, I just put the lie to that statement multiple times, now, didn't I?

Re:No. Not Insightful. (1)

PD (9577) | more than 8 years ago | (#9512244)

OK, let's go back to my first message. Basically, I explained why your argument wasn't persuasive. I outlined very specifically two reasons (numbered helpfully 1 and 2).

If you can address those reasons directly and effectively, then you may persuade me. But, what you chose to do is interpret my questions as an attack, ignore the problems that I helpfully outlined to you, and attack me.

You're assuming all sorts of things about me that are pretty amusing from my standpoint. Yes, that's right, I'm snickering at you. But, if you explain yourself you can wipe that smile right off my face. As I mentioned above, I clearly outlined my two enumerated objections, and it's a simple matter to just address those objections.

Can you do that? If you can, then we will both be happy.

Re:No. Not Insightful. (1)

Red Rocket (473003) | more than 8 years ago | (#9512676)


OK, let's go back to my first message. Basically, I explained why your argument wasn't persuasive. I outlined very specifically two reasons (numbered helpfully 1 and 2). If you can address those reasons directly and effectively, then you may persuade me.

If you would like the answers then go back up the thread four levels and reread my post. I don't know what was unclear or indirect about my answers except maybe that you couldn't twist my words to fit your argument. I can't hold your hand through this and I'm really not interested in persuading you. (You replied to me, remember?)

Re:No. Not Insightful. (1)

PD (9577) | more than 9 years ago | (#9517761)

Not everyone who asks you a question is an opponent. I haven't made an argument at all. Go back and reread.

What you have done here is attacked someone who simply asked for a further justification. But more than that, you've failed to persuade someone who could have been convinced with a logical argument.

You were the positive claimant, and I was the questioner. Therefore the burden of proof lies with you, and your logic must be supported to the satisfaction of the questioner.

But instead of realizing that I was just asking questions, asking you to further explain your position, you assumed that I was taking an adversarial stance. That was wrong.

Something for you to think about...

Re:No. Not Insightful. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#9511114)

I'm beginning to believe that you're a paid PR flack for a biotech firm. It's well known that they troll discussion boards to inject corporate propaganda into the stream of consciousness. You're response was just a little too quick and prepared, if you know what I mean.

Yes, a guy with a 4 digit ID is a shill. He's been hanging out on /. since its inception for precisely this moment, to slander your good name.

Re:No. Not Insightful. (1)

nyrk (779328) | more than 8 years ago | (#9509737)

There's a reason fish don't breed with strawberries in the natural world. It might not be a good idea to discover exactly what that reason is until we know a whole lot more about the way DNA works.

I agree with part of this, we need to know more about how DNA works. One of the best ways to *really* understand how things work is by experimentation. And that involves doing GM research, and making GM plants and animals. Anything else is just theory.

Re:No. Not Insightful. (1)

Red Rocket (473003) | more than 8 years ago | (#9511495)


One of the best ways to *really* understand how things work is by experimentation. And that involves doing GM research, and making GM plants and animals.

Experimentation is fine. They just need to keep the products well isolated from the rest of the environment. They aren't doing that. Millions of acres of land are populated by their living, breeding experiments as we debate.

Re:No. Not Insightful. (1)

SEE (7681) | more than 8 years ago | (#9509862)

Let's explain how selective breeding works, shall we?

You take a plant. You randomly mutate it through radiation and chemicals. If the result has a property you like, you breed it into the food supply willy-nilly.

Now, you might be using "natural" radiation (but many "organic" foods were derived from strains deliberately mutated by human-created radiation) and "natural"ly-occuring mutagenic chemicals (but many "organic" foods were derived from strains deliberately mutated by human-created mutagenic chemicals), but the fact is the process is entirely random.

Now, compared to that process, you call delibrate induction of specifically chosen alterations, with multi-layered saftey testing on environmental and health grounds, the equivalent of randomly "twiddling the knobs" of life. A queer belief, no?

"Nature" is in quotes above not because of fear, but because it is a basically religious concept. On a strictly scientific basis, there's no distiction in the "natural"ness of a dandelion spreading its seed and humans operating a steel mill; both are the actions of "natural" organisms. The declaration of the works of the human brain as somehow non-natural requires a fundamentally religious distinction between body and soul.

That you are in grips of such a religious conviction is obvious from your assignment of "a reason" why fish don't breed with strawberries; those who do not accept your religious belief in a "nature" distinguishable from the non-natural simply accept that it's because of evolutionary divergence.

Your religious belief in "nature" also explains why you consider guided, directed, and deliberate genetic engineering "twiddling the knobs", while you trust the random product of mutations, when mere logic would result in opposite conclusions.

Re:No. Not Insightful. (1)

Red Rocket (473003) | more than 8 years ago | (#9510426)


Let's explain how selective breeding works, shall we?

Oh, thank you, Oh Wise One, for bestowing your most holy wisdom upon me. Would that I could only SEE how my mind is clouded and yours is clear. :-)

You take a plant. You randomly mutate it through radiation and chemicals. If the result has a property you like, you breed it into the food supply willy-nilly.

What???? That's not like any of the selective breeding I've learned about. Selective breeding involves nothing more than choosing the traits you'd prefer to see in the offspring and then breeding a pair of individuals that posses those traits in the hope that they will be passed on to an improved generation. Using radiation and chemistry in selective breeding is a little "queer." (to use your word)

Now, you might be using "natural" radiation (but many "organic" foods were derived from strains deliberately mutated by human-created radiation) and "natural"ly-occuring mutagenic chemicals (but many "organic" foods were derived from strains deliberately mutated by human-created mutagenic chemicals), but the fact is the process is entirely random.

If that's true (and I'd like to see your sources on that) then I would say that those products are complete shams and are mislabeled, to say the least. I would call that genetic engineering, albeit a clumsy and primitive version.

"Nature" is in quotes above not because of fear, but because it is a basically religious concept.

How do you know what the poster's intent was for using quotes, Kreskin? Once again, you make a statement that has no basis in fact.

On a strictly scientific basis, there's no distiction in the "natural"ness of a dandelion spreading its seed and humans operating a steel mill; both are the actions of "natural" organisms. The declaration of the works of the human brain as somehow non-natural requires a fundamentally religious distinction between body and soul.

No. I call bullshit on that. Industrialism is a deviation from natural processes because it is clearly unsustainable in that it relies on the perpetual consumption of natural resources. If we insist on continuing, eventually, the resources will be consumed and we will cease to exist. Now, you may say that even that is a natural process but then your argument becomes "religion." My argument is purely practical in that it is based on survival. I don't want to die because some lab dork spliced a gene into a strand of DNA somewhere that wiped us all out. The proof of safety should rest solely on the shoulders of those who wish to deviate from natural tradition. As far as I'm concerned, that proof has yet to be provided.
I won't comment on the rest of your statements because they're rooted in straw man arguments.

Re:No. Not Insightful. (1)

SEE (7681) | more than 8 years ago | (#9512115)

That's not like any of the selective breeding I've learned about. Selective breeding involves nothing more than choosing the traits you'd prefer to see in the offspring and then breeding a pair of individuals that posses those traits in the hope that they will be passed on to an improved generation.

And where do you think the variations of genes within a species -- the "natural" variety between individuals your selective breeding is taking advantage of -- comes from?

If there were no natural mutation, there would be nothing to select from. Mutation is a critical step in both evolution by natural selection and selective breeding. It's caused by natural radiation (solar, mostly, but also uranium and thorium in the crust) and natural mutagens (usually evolved by organisms as defensive poisons).

How do you know what the poster's intent was for using quotes, Kreskin

I was describing my use of quotes around nature, not that of the person you were responding to. If you re-read my post, you'll notice them.

Industrialism is a deviation from natural processes because it is clearly unsustainable

Nature is full of instabilities und unsustainable phenomena. Industrialism being doomed to a collapse no more makes it non-noatural than the unsustainable population explosions that happen to rabbits, resulting in mass die-offs.

Either the human organism, including the mind, is the natural product of nature's laws, or it is not. If it is, then its actions are as natural as those of ants or grass. If it is not the natural product of nature's laws, then it the product of a non-natural event -- gods or souls or some other supernatural phenomena. And thus the claim that anything is unnatural is inherently a religious claim.

Re:No. Not Insightful. (2, Insightful)

Sgt York (591446) | more than 8 years ago | (#9510243)

I hate to break it to you, but we have been doing genetic engineering in the lab for quite some time now. No one has made plague. No one has made either Pinky or the Brain. No one has made a sqaudron of atomic mutant basketball players to challenge the Globetrotters. The most we have managed is a few things that are resistant to certain diseases, and a lot of things that get funky diseases. And we know that's all it is in many cases, because these animals, plants, and bugs have been monitored for nearly 100 generations in some cases.

It is on the shoulders of this research that groups like Monsato stand. I may disagree with their politics and economics, but I can find little fault in their science. It's nothing revolutionary.

Saying things like "Oops! Plague!" is simply inflammatory and only serves to reveal (and attempt to instill) a visceral fear of the subject. The invocation of the feared demon, Suv the Unimaginable, further demonstrates a need for a visceral reaction ("SUV's and GM are joining forces to destroy Gaia! Come to her aid!"). If you are going to oppose GM, at least use logical arguments and not absurd analogies that try to tie GM with something you may consider the Epitome of Evil.

And by the way, there no rules about interbreeding except the laws of genetics and physics. You can read that as, if it's possible for two species to swap genes, they will. Genes can even flow accross species (Google for lateral or horizontal transfer). Furthermore, there have been thousands of times that a wholly new gene was introduced into an animal, done by nature. Subtract the number of genes in the human genome from the number in a bacillus. That's a tiny fraction of the number of brand new genes that have been introduced. Or do you think that the thing that popped out of the primordial ooze had billions of genes in it, that were divided up amongst its progeny?

Re:No. Not Insightful. (1)

Red Rocket (473003) | more than 8 years ago | (#9510655)


I hate to break it to you, but we have been doing genetic engineering in the lab for quite some time now. No one has made plague. No one has made either Pinky or the Brain. No one has made a sqaudron of atomic mutant basketball players to challenge the Globetrotters. The most we have managed is a few things that are resistant to certain diseases, and a lot of things that get funky diseases. And we know that's all it is in many cases, because these animals, plants, and bugs have been monitored for nearly 100 generations in some cases.

So just because it hasn't happened means that it can't happen? Sorry, that's not a good argument. "I hate to break it to you."

("SUV's and GM are joining forces to destroy Gaia! Come to her aid!") If you are going to oppose GM, at least use logical arguments and not absurd analogies that try to tie GM with something you may consider the Epitome of Evil.

Conversely, if you are going to debate me, please do so honestly. You quoted something that I never said or intended. Then compounded that by debating a point that I never made or implied. That was a total straw man and doesn't deserve any kind of defense or explanation from me.

And by the way, there no rules about interbreeding except the laws of genetics and physics.

I never said there were. (straw man, again) But there is common sense, prudence, and a desire for survival. You might have faith that these laboratories will do only good things. I would think the profit motive would drive them to take risks. You have to put your faith in one method or the other since the future is unknown. I think that nature's way is much more proven and not motivated by profit.

Re:No. Not Insightful. (1)

Sgt York (591446) | more than 8 years ago | (#9510956)

So just because it hasn't happened means that it can't happen? Sorry, that's not a good argument.

No, but because it hasn't happened in a long time is a good argument that it is unlikely. Simply replying "Just because it hasn't happened doesn't mean it won't!" doesn't hold much water with me; monkeys just might fly out of my butt. Just because it hasn't happened.....

As for the SUV quote, I think the satire was obvious. It did detract from the point, but I like to intersperse a little humor here and there, even if it's not all that good. It keeps discussions more friendly. If you didn't get the joke, sorry. I like to intersperse humor, but I'm not very skilled.

If you didn't mean to imply that there were natural rules in place for transfer of genetic material, then what did you mean when you said:

Genetic engineering removes the guardrails and lets the SUVs into the living rooms.

What are the gaurdrails that were removed?

I don't doubt that many are motivated by profit. I never said that there aren't unscrupulous firms, I just said that in this case, the science is good. Their profit mongering has reared its head in other areas. I have looked at what much of what has been done, and I do understand it all (IAAMB). Yes, the activity is motivated by profit, and the morals are a bit lacking in the implementation of the technology. However, the science is quite good. The danger has been minimized from every angle. You seemed to avoid that point. And the one about lateral transfer. And about new genes arising spontaneously. I would also like to hear why scores of generations of GM organisms without severe consequences is not bolstering to the safety of GM.

As for motive, nature is "motivated" (quotes to denote humanizing) by profit. Survival of the fittest means that the one with most kids, wins. Wealth is measured differently in different systems. I don't have faith in the companies. I have faith in data and observation. I know the tools they used, and recognize the technologies they used. Any good molecular biologist could recognize what they did (and so can I). Like I said, I looked at the science, understood it, and I agree that they have done a good faith job.

What specific risk do you foresee? What gene that they introduced will interact with another to cause a detrimental effect? No wild speculation, what gene lacks the proper safegaurds? Do you even know what the safegaurds are? Do you even know what the genes might be? Do you know how they are introduced, what they do, and how they do it? It is known. It's not a mystery.

Re:No. Not Insightful. (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 9 years ago | (#9514242)

I hate to break it to you, but we have been doing genetic engineering in the lab for quite some time now. No one has made plague.

So what are these "biological weapons" thingamajigs I keep hearing about on the news ?

Saying things like "Oops! Plague!" is simply inflammatory [...]

So is whispering "it's all right" without really knowing what's going to happen.

Re:No. Not Insightful. (1)

Sgt York (591446) | more than 9 years ago | (#9514491)

So what are these "biological weapons" thingamajigs I keep hearing about on the news ?

Dig in the ground. Find some Anthrax spores. Do a little selection for the most virulent strain. Grow it, mill it, put it in a good delivery vehicle. No genetic engineering needed. Same with smallpox or any other bug. These are natural bugs that are delivered in a particularly harmful way. It's engineering, but not the genetic variety. Besides, the original argument was that someone would do this accidentally, not intentionally.

So is whispering "it's all right" without really knowing what's going to happen.

No, that would be patronizing.

Within all reasonable consideration, there is no foreseeable problem. The arguement that "we need to know more" is kind of pointless, as that the only way to know more is to do more. I have yet to see a single proposed mechanism by which this could cause the kind of wholesale destruction that people keep talking about. Name one specific consequence of the science that is detrimental (science, not the policy of its application, but the science). Describe the mechanism by which this would take place. Deomstrate that you at least know the science you are denouncing. Then I'll listen.

Re:No. Not Insightful. (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 9 years ago | (#9515453)

Dig in the ground. Find some Anthrax spores. Do a little selection for the most virulent strain. Grow it, mill it, put it in a good delivery vehicle. No genetic engineering needed. Same with smallpox or any other bug. These are natural bugs that are delivered in a particularly harmful way. It's engineering, but not the genetic variety. Besides, the original argument was that someone would do this accidentally, not intentionally.

Firstly, that is a basic form of a genetic engineering, as the "it's just like selective breeding" crowd likes to tell us.

Secondly, I'd be amazed if cutting edge bioweapon research hadn't progress just a tad beyond selective breeding.

Thirdly, if the shit hits the fan, whether or not it was thrown dilberately or not is fairly moot.

Within all reasonable consideration, there is no foreseeable problem.

The problem, and the thing people like me are concerned about, is that the "forseeing" is hardly ever being done past next year's financial report and even more rarely done past a lifetime. I'm not worried about the havoc genetic engineering might wreak next week, I'm worried about the havoc it might wreak on my grandchildren.

The arguement that "we need to know more" is kind of pointless, as that the only way to know more is to do more.

If the "doing more" part was carefully controlled and contained research, I'd be all for it. As it stands, it's not.

I have yet to see a single proposed mechanism by which this could cause the kind of wholesale destruction that people keep talking about. Name one specific consequence of the science that is detrimental (science, not the policy of its application, but the science). Describe the mechanism by which this would take place. Deomstrate that you at least know the science you are denouncing. Then I'll listen.

Science can't even predict what the weather is going to do more than a few days in advance and you want me to believe it can accurately predict what effect isolated, non-evolutionary, non-natural, highly accelerated genetic engineering is going to have on the even more complex system of of the natural environment in a timescale on the order of decades and centuries ?

Not Fucking Likely. History is littered with failed biological experiments that were going to work "just fine".

Re:No. Not Insightful. (2, Informative)

Sgt York (591446) | more than 9 years ago | (#9515757)

Most anti-GM's argue that selective breeding is not genetic engineering. If selective breeding is genetic engineering, then we have been engaged in genetic engineering for thousands of years.

You claim that the foreseeing is not done past next week/year/whatever. What is the basis of this claim? I have seen computer model studies investigating the impact of introduced genes and species spreading over dozens of generations. You claim simply that it is not done. I have seen it done, and I have read the reports that came out of those studies. Have you done the same?

Have you read the studies done over the past decade on the effects of GM crops? In case you haven't, here's the rundown: The primary impact is on biodiversity inside the farmland itself (and not always a reduction, it depends on the crop type). The studies independently concluded that the same effect would result from an advance in conventional herbicide technology. Basically, the species that have begun to thrive secondary to agriculture no longer get the benefit of that agriculture, while other species do get a benefit. But even that is only is some cases. Corn and wheat crops have no significant effect on supplementary populations. The overall impact is about the same as introducing agriculture into an area.

Carefully controlled and contained research? Like the stuff we've been doing in labs and experimental farms for the past 20 years? Read the research, not the propaganda. Go to PubMed, not the Drudge report.

You still have not proposed one mechanism. Not one scenario. Not even one gene. Show that you speak about GM technology from anything other than ignorance. People tend to fear what they do not understand. It's not that hard to understand, either. Go read about it. And read the real science. Start with Mendel and work up from there. Read the case studies that have been done, but no one seems to notice.

History is littered with failed biological experiments that were going to work "just fine".

I note a distinct lack of examples. Don't just shoot me an experiment that gave an unexpected result, give me one that had a detrimental result of the scale you speak of here.

Good set of links from a research journal [nature.com] on the subject of GM. It has links to some of the studies I mentioned.

Re:No. Not Insightful. (3, Funny)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 8 years ago | (#9510479)

There's a reason fish don't breed with strawberries in the natural world. It might not be a good idea to discover exactly what that reason is until we know a whole lot more about the way DNA works.
Not entirely sure why you were modded flamebait, especially as many of the responses to yours seemed to be responding to an entirely different argument.

Whatever though, the reason why fish do not breed with strawberries is because fishberries would taste absolutely disgusting. I thought I better let you know that.

Genetic engineering vs breeding (2, Insightful)

vg30e (779871) | more than 8 years ago | (#9509542)

There are some serious implications to directly manipulating genes as opposed to just going through the natural breeding process. Previously, people just grew and harvested stuff until it had the best of the properties that they wanted, now we are starting to get genes from other places and just kind of force the plant to make it. Until now, it wasn't possible to cross a fish or a spider and a plant that grows corn. This is the danger with trying GMO's as opposed to just planting the seeds of the tallest corn stalk and eating the rest of the corn until all the corn grew tall.

Re:Genetic engineering vs breeding (1)

Tom7 (102298) | more than 8 years ago | (#9510569)

There are some serious implications ... ... Until now, it wasn't possible to cross a fish or a spider and a plant that grows corn. This is the danger with trying GMO's as ...

This is precisely the kind of non-argument that I constantly hear. What are the implications? What is the danger? You say there is one but you don't say what it is.

Re:Genetic engineering vs breeding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9519820)

This is precisely the kind of non-argument that I constantly hear. What are the implications? What is the danger? You say there is one but you don't say what it is.

The danger is that we may not know the implications until many years after the damage has been done. People have been eating natural foods for ages and it has worked out fairly well. Let's stick with what works and not eat mutant food that may or may not give us health problems later on.

Re:Genetic engineering vs breeding (1)

vg30e (779871) | more than 9 years ago | (#9557071)

Well,

The thing is, scientists have started creating organisms (plants that is) to produce chemicals that are found in animals, or bacteria for defense. The difference between spraying bacteria onto a field to kill off insects and creating plants that manufacture the same toxin is that you are creating a strain of ... corn lets say that is full of natural pesticide with every bite.

No offence intended, we just don't have long term studies in a controlled environment to see what that can do to animals or people who eat the finished product. Also, a GMO strain may interbreed with some wild strain releasing your Modified genetics to the wild. IF something bad is discovered later on, it would be too late.

There are many pests in the Continental US that were brought in for some research and "accidentaly" released and are running around wild. We now have the unprecedented possibility of creating a new "gypsy moth", "dandelion", "tiger mosquito", "killer bee" that is genetically strengthened to handle anything we can throw at it.

Re:Why are you afraid? (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 9 years ago | (#9514157)

What is the problem with "genetic engineering"? We've been doing it for ages with breeding, as has "nature."

1. Nature does a lot more QA.

2. Nature is unaffected by the odd species being wiped out here or there.

it's not 'decaffeinated' (4, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 8 years ago | (#9508350)

..it never had any caffeine to start with.

it's cafeine free.. with the same taste apparently.

why would you drink coffee just for the taste is beyond me though when you could be drinking it with caffeine ;)

Well I can now see why there is so much awful... (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 8 years ago | (#9508598)

...tasting coffee around. Just look at the hordes of /.ers showing off how they only care about the caffeine and not the taste.

Re:Well I can now see why there is so much awful.. (1)

Mopatop (690958) | more than 8 years ago | (#9509373)

I've only ever had one cup of coffee, and that was purely for the caffeine. I much prefer a good cup of tea. Part of my routine is Yorkshire Gold to send me up in the morning, and a big mug of South African Rooibos (naturally caffeine-free, I might add) to bring me down at night. ..that and a good seven or eight pints of Yorkshire throughout the day :-)

Could be useful (3, Interesting)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 8 years ago | (#9508748)

I don't think I'm alone in preferring big cups of very strong coffee (made with an espresso machine), but I'm not always interested in the huge shot of caffine that a large, dense cup of espresso gives me. I get jittery, post unwise things online, and generally have to pace for a while before the peak buzz wears off and I can get real work done. So if this stuff could be bred with some of the really tasty beans to produce a delicious coffee that has, say 20% of the caffine, that's the stuff I'd be buying. (As long as FairTrade growers grew it.)

Re:Could be useful (1)

dk.r*nger (460754) | more than 8 years ago | (#9508985)

Well, then you should really reconsider your brewing methods. A properly made shot of espresso contains virtually no caffeine.

Granted.. this is definatly more true for high-pressure café-brewers than (relatively) low pressure homemacines...

Re:Could be useful (1)

Rostin (691447) | more than 8 years ago | (#9512174)

Moderately priced home machines (that have pumps) achieve the ideal pressure of 9 bar (if this guy is really drinking it by the mug full I doubt he is preparing it properly, but that's beside the point). And properly prepared espresso typically has far more caffeine by mass/volume than drip-brewed coffee.

Caffeine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9534721)

I might be the only person in my shoes, but I've never noticed that coffee does anything for me. I'm a bit OCD, so my brain might not be wired quite right, but I can start my day without coffee, and I could have three big cups right before I go to bed, and there's no difference. I just like the taste of the caffeinated stuff better.

genetic engineering? (1, Interesting)

Goldsmith (561202) | more than 8 years ago | (#9509386)

Decaf coffee is (or at least can be) produced from "real" coffee by soaking it in supercritical carbon dioxide. Last I checked, that was relatively cheap, effective, environmentally friendly and has nothing to do with genetic engineering.

There will be flavour loss (4, Insightful)

dnamaners (770001) | more than 8 years ago | (#9509440)

Unfortunately there will be flavor loss in caffeine free or decaffeinated coffee. it is inevitable as one of the major flavor compounds is the caffeine itself. caffeine has a strong acid (sour) flavor and is quite distinctive as a coffee component. just bite on a caffeine pill some time and compare it to a cup of standard starbucks black roast. i personally prefer a slightly sour (perhaps acrid) coffee with a slight fruity nose. of course decaffeination will not affect the flavor of the average low grade truck stop/diner coffee as that is already very nasty.

Coffee beans without caffeine... (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 8 years ago | (#9510055)

... is like going on a date alone.

Sure, you can do it, but what's the point?

Honest Question (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#9511111)

I always thought hybridization constituted genetic engineering. Is this not the case?

If that is the case, then this is probably a result of engineering.

But does God approve? (1)

CaptainCarrot (84625) | more than 8 years ago | (#9511322)

According to the usual account [selamta.net] of the discovery of coffee, the first major users were Ethiopian monks, who thought highly of it precisely because it would keep them awake for their lengthy services.

God obviously made this version of the plant rare for a reason. So let's not get needlessly heretical here or anything.

Re:But does God approve? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9522338)

Which god are you talking about? Zeus? Odin? Allah? Yahweh?

And how is it obvious that this plant was created by a supernatural being?

Of course He does... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9523658)

How do you think He was able to create everything in 7 days straight? Oh, you are talking about decaffeinated coffee... never mind.

File This One... (4, Funny)

Ann Elk (668880) | more than 8 years ago | (#9511728)

...under "Products Least Likely To Be Sold By Think Geek...

I want my genertically modified caffeinated corn! (1)

wsanders (114993) | more than 9 years ago | (#9523503)

Well, if they can engineer resistance to Roundup, they can engineer CAFFEINATED CORN!

Time to deploy the weedkiller ... (1)

Dark$ide (732508) | more than 9 years ago | (#9518546)

Why would anyone want coffee without the caffeine?
That's the whole point of drinking the foul muck.

All you people (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 9 years ago | (#9519006)

All you people did not see the most obvious use for this new coffee bean:

Surreptitious replacement of the caffeinated coffee brewed by your PHB.
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