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The Evolution of Diet

ChromeAeonium Re:put a label on it. (277 comments)

Actually, given that corn is a new world crop, humans didn't evolve to eat it at all. But yes, I'm sure that a legal attribute totally affects the digestibility. Humans can somehow digest thousands upon thousands of proteins from New World crops but one more, oh, too much. Right, that's how it works. And I can't imagine how improving food production will prevent hunger, that's like saying seat belts will make cars safer.

2 days ago
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China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

ChromeAeonium Re:Better to starve I guess? (150 comments)

Disrupting ecosystems due to unintended consequences could be far more destructive.

This is agriculture. We're producing food for billions of people on a very large chunk of the earth's land, I'd say the environmental disruption thing has already happened. The question is no longer about causing environmental harm, it is about minimizing it. Could Bt crops have negative environmental impacts? Wrong question, the issue is if they are superior to spraying insecticides.

Your hypothetical about gene transfer, if you were referring to a jump from a GE crop to related wild species, that is something that environmental impact studies (they are done!) considers on a case by case basis. It depends on the gene, the location, the species, the environment. If you were referring to a jump to non-related species, while technically possible, it is wildly implausible, and that GE is involved is no more reason to suspect it will happen than to suspect that, say, the gene for the insecticidal PA1b protein will jump from pea to lettuce.

These are not generally helped by increasing yields in the already-overproducing rich nations who can afford to buy GMOs.

Which is why technology transfer to developing countries so that they can work towards improving food security has always been a goal.

5 days ago
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China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

ChromeAeonium Re:Wow (150 comments)

The case where Schmeiser knowingly and intentionally selected for transgenic traits, pretended it was all a big coincidence, then got caught? The OSGATA case could have referenced the Schmeiser case if it actually demonstrated what they were claiming, but they could not because it does not. Again, no one got sued for cross pollination.

about a week ago
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China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

ChromeAeonium Re: Wow (150 comments)

But has this been tested on humans?

Nope, but neither have a lot of things that present no reason to be suspicious of. Show me a long term multi-generational study on Wi-Fi exposure. You probably can't. Does that implicate Wi-Fi as potentially dangerous? Not unless I can provide a legitimate reason as to why one would be necessary, which I can't. Yeah, people go 'Ahh, no human study and they're feeding it to us!' but you know what, that's grasping for straws, implying there is a difference that requires study where none exists. Now, you provide some compelling reason as to why it is necessary to go beyond animal studies, with some biologically plausible rational, then I might be concerned. Until then I've got no problems eating them.

But do like how you cannot grow unmodified corn in the us of Monsanto or pioneer

Totally false. Non-transgenic seed is not only readily available, in the case of Bt corn, you are required to plant a non-GE refuge area.

about a week ago
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China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

ChromeAeonium Re:Applaude (150 comments)

Right on schedule the moving goalpost away from 'genetically changing a plant is bad' to 'the way I don't like is different therefore bad'. If you note, you'll see that everything I mentioned are actually all quite different. Various types of somatic and induced mutations, selective breeding, biotech facilitate wide crossing/embryo rescue, artificial chromosome alteration...very different from genetic engineering, where a single well known gene is inserted. Why not lump genetic engineering in with everything else and select the chromosomal duplication to be the pariah? After all, that is also an entirely different thing, which I don't think is particularly meaningful, but means about as much as your argument. What I personally do is both more and less extreme than transgenics, depending on how you want to view it. The lumping of everything as 'conventional breeding' to make a dichotomy between it and genetic engineering is a very simplistic view.

without the slightest idea (or any way of finding out) what the effects will be in the long term.

Fallacy number two, the straw man. Do you really think the scientific community, which overwhelmingly supports GE crops (don't even try to deny this), does not pause to consider such things? Perhaps you could explain your long term fears in less vague terms?

But that doesn't matter, does it? To those whose only reality is profit, there is no future beyond the current quarter.

Sorry, the corporate card has no bearing on scientific topics. Save it for politics.

about a week ago
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China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

ChromeAeonium Re:Wow (150 comments)

That's referring to the OSGATA vs Monsanto case. It basically went like this:

Plaintiff: We want to sue Monsanto before they sue us over cross pollination.
Judge: Can you prove they do that?
Plaintiff: Well, no, but what does that matter?
Judge: Case dismissed.

about a week ago
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China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

ChromeAeonium Re:Nicatoids and bees (150 comments)

Not every GMO contains nicatoids

No GMO crop is modified to produce neonicotinoids, although some anti-GMO people have tried to conflate these separate issues because GMO crops, like non-GMO crops, may be sprayed with them.

Monsanto deserves a firey death for setting back non-psychopathic GMO's by 30 years or more.

I do not believe this is Monsanto's fault. The mainstream opposition to genetic engineering started with the Flavr Savr tomato, which was released before Monsanto released any GE crops. The blame lies with activist/interest groups like Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Navdanya, Organic Consumer's Association, ect. and other groups that saw genetic engineering as an opportunity to further their own social, political, or financial interests. Those 'psychopathic' GMOs you mention are insect resistant crops (reduced insecticide use), herbicide tolerant (sounds bad, actually results in lower environmental impact via the substitution of harsher herbicides and the promotion of no-till agriculture) and virus resistant crops, with drought tolerant corn recently approved (no independent data on its impact yet though).

Consider this; do you really think the same people who lie about university, NGO, and publicly developed GE crops are going to be honest about Monsanto? These anti-GMO groups aren't just opposing Monsanto's crops, they're opposing, vandalizing, and slandering all GE crops. Golden Rice, BioCassava, Bangladeshi Bt eggplant, Rainbow papaya, HoneySweet plum, CSIRO's low GI wheat (destroyed by anti-science thugs), INRA's disease resistant grape rootstock (also destroyed), Rothamsted's insect repelling wheat, VIB's cisgenic potatoes (also destroyed), ect. All publicly developed, all opposed (or destroyed) by anti-GMO groups. Put Monsanto's blame where it is due, but this one is not on them.

about a week ago
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China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

ChromeAeonium Re:Wow (150 comments)

It produces a poison in the same sense that chocolate and grapes are poisonous (don't feed those to your dog). The Bt protein has a very specific mode of action in certain insect pests, and does not impact humans. It is not a health concern, and has been used in organic food production for decades before suddenly becoming controversial once genetic engineering got involved.

Also, that a plant produces a poison is not an alarming thing. In fact, it is ubiquitous. Chemical defenses are found throughout the plant kingdom, including in crop plants. Things like solanine in potatoes, or glucosinolates in broccoli, or even caffeine in coffee and tea (note that they are produced respectively in the seeds and leaves, two things a plant might want to defend...that humans like them for it is kind of an evolutionary plot twist) all have insecticidal properties. Anti-GMO groups love to be alarmist over the fact that some GMOs produce an additional insecticide (yes, one more, even non-GMO corn is going to have things like maysin in it) but in and of itself is not alarming. It's just preying on the ignorance of those who do now know just how many natural pesticides we consume daily.

about a week ago
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China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

ChromeAeonium Re:Better to starve I guess? (150 comments)

And that really is annoying, because people assume that it is a case of herbicide tolerant GMOs vs some ideal hypothetical where weeds are never a problem, when in reality it is herbicide tolerant GMOs vs. other weed control methods, including harsher herbicides and soil damaging tillage. Giving the choice between the realistic options, I'll take the herbicide tolerant crops any day.

Then you see people point to herbicide resistant weeds as evidence that they are a bad thing, but that's trying to have your cake and eat it too. The resistant weeds are a big problem, you bet they certainty are a problem, because they threaten to diminish the benefits of the herbicide tolerant GE, but then people say there are no benefits, while also saying that the benefits are eroding. Then when you point that out you're apparently on Monsanto's payroll.

I get that facilitating the use of an agrochemical is not the sexiest possible application of biotechnology, but until someone comes up with something better it does not deserve bashing it always gets.

about a week ago
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China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

ChromeAeonium Re:Applaude (150 comments)

You mean like wheat, a hybrid of three species, and strawberries, another hybrid?

Or corn, bred to be so radically different from its ancestral teosinte that most people wouldn't even recognize it?

Or carrots, which were not orange until humans bred them to be that way?

Or cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, kale, and Brussel's sprouts, which are all the same species with various genetic mutations dramatically altering their form?

Or apples, which are selected from somatic mutations and grafted onto root stocks?

Or citrus, which is altered through selecting radiation induced mutations?

Or pluots, which had to have their embryos cut out of the parent plant and cultured in vitro because they would have never developed naturally?

Or seedless watermelons, which are bred from chemically induced chromosome doubled watermelons?

Or tomatoes, which have genes introgessed from other wild species?

Oh, you're just referring to the thing you knew was unnatural, not all the things you were utterly clueless about. Well, since it would be such a bother to admit your initial premise and driving belief are completely inane, I'll wait while you move the goalpost to attempt to justify your irrationality.

about a week ago
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China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

ChromeAeonium Re:Better to starve I guess? (150 comments)

It produces Bt, which is toxic to certain orders of insects, not to humans. And before someone comes along and says that it is still toxic, remember that gapes and chocolate are toxic to dogs, and dogs are a lot more closely related to humans than lepidopterans.

Oh, and every plant produces insecticides anyway. It's only alarming if you don't know much about plant biochemistry. Give something that can't swat back at the trillions of things out there trying to eat them a few hundred million years to come up with defenses and they develop things chemical defenses, like caffeine (yep, it has insecticidal properties, ever wonder why coffee evolved to have it right in it's seeds?), piperine (a yummy insecticide, turns out black pepper's original plan was to not have things eat its offspring), maysin (found even in your non-GMO corn) solanine (tomatoes and potatoes, don't eat this) and falcarinol (found in carrot a neurotoxin in high enough quantities).

about a week ago
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China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

ChromeAeonium Re:Wow (150 comments)

patented genes that spread to neighboring fields

All genes do. If you are referring to the 'people getting sued' over it thing, look into it further. No one has ever been sued for simply being cross pollinated, and give China's general stance on IP of any kind, I highly doubt any company would have a chance of successfully suing in China.

genes that provide restitence to weed-killers spreading to wild species

To my knowledge there has never been any documented example of the herbicide tolerant gene jumping between GMO crops and weeds. There has, however, been selective pressure on weed populations that has resulted in the emergence of herbicide tolerant lines (by for example having a mutation at the binding site of the enzyme the herbicide targets). The key context here is that, one, this is due to over-reliance on the glyphosate herbicide (the main one of the two herbicides that crops are resistant to) instead of using herbicides of multiple modes of action, two, the problem here is that these weeds will diminish the benefits already provided by herbicide tolerant crops. The ideal would be rotating through multiple modes of action to mitigate resistance, however, due to the benefits of these crops, there has been too much reliance on them, which is why there is now more of a push to diversify the herbicides, although no doubt in the future glyphosate will still be preferred. I also fee it must be said that herbicide resistant weeds predate GMO crops by a few decades; although the case with GMOs is particularly problematic due to the gains that are at risk, this is not a new problem. There's a lot of hatred for the herbicide tolerant crops, and on the surface that makes sense, but I find people rarely have the background context and complete story.

modifications that hinder the production of viable seeds, so the farmers have to buy new GM seed from the producers rather than growing part of their harvest on next year

That doesn't exist outside labs. Anti-GMO people love to talk about that one but they lie. What is out there is hybrid seed, which has been in use since the 30's, which has better yields, more hardy, ect. the first year but subsequent progeny is so genetically variable that it makes economic sense to continue to purchase hybrid seed. Think of it like this, you cross AA with BB to get AB, which could be the best, but when you cross the AB and AB offspring you get AA, AB, and BB, which doesn't work out so well. Corporations didn't do this, genetic engineering didn't do this, its just basic genetics.

I'm sure GM would be welcome in most countries if it was not for the companies producing them. Another thing is that the Chinese are fully capable of developing or buying the technology themselves - so why should they allow in American companies that are only intent on siphoning off as much profit as possible to their share holders?

Well, you're wrong. They are Chinese developed varieties, the rice developed by Huazhong Agricultural University and the corn was developed by Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences' Biotechnology Research Institute in Beijing. Contrary to popular believe, more than just corporations are using technology. They're just the only ones able to jump through the scientifically unjustifiable regulations. There's cool GE plants sitting in university labs around the world, but the agriculture and plant science departments just don't have the funding necessary to bring them to market like the big corporations do. And to give your notion that non-corporate GMOs would be welcome another counterpoint, note that China does not accept shipments of the Rainbow papaya, developed by the University of Hawai'i, not a corporation.

The movement against GMOs likes to hide behind anti-corporatism, but so much as scratch the surface and you'll find they are just anti-science. Look at the controversy over Golden Rice developed by an NGO. Look at the opposition to Arctic apples developed by a small company. Look at the vandalism of CSIRO's low GI wheat. Every single genetically engineered crop that gains any notability is opposed. No exceptions. You can't call that opposition to some big company. TFA indicates the government may have decided not to pursue the technology further with so much public controversy and as they have been boosting food production without other means. I don't know when China started to care about Greenpeace and other science denialists (as a plant scientist I put them right with anti-vaxxers and young earth creationists). This is sad and frustrating news.

about a week ago
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Greenpeace: Amazon Fire Burns More Coal and Gas Than It Should

ChromeAeonium Re:It's a shame (288 comments)

It's a shame with all this hostility towards environmentalists.

Greenpeace is not an environmentalist group.

But use cleaner and more expensive energy?! Fuck no!

Right there, that's your problem. Better has to come at a cost. It's like a religion, and you have to pay for your sin. We could have nuclear, but nope. We have to convince people to live, as you put it, 'simpler and deeper,' change their lifestyles to match what you find aesthetic, rather than improve the means of production.

Cheaper cars, lower fuel expenses, no cable bill, no expensive cell phone bills because I don't have a smart phone, cheaper electricity because I don't have a TV in every room or any other energy sucking toys.

Found that guy. Okay, you like that, fine, do your own thing. Acknowledge that not everyone wants to live the same way.

I walk to local stores - they're less than half a mile away. See, being "green" also saves money on exercise. Why pay hundreds of dollars and get locked into a shitty gym contract when walking and carrying packages is great exercise?

Unless you've been working all day, you're tired, it could rain at any moment, you have more to carry than you can, ect. Then your activity becomes a privilege, which as it turns out is one of the main criticisms of the pseudo-environmentalism movement. Ever lived like that by necessity? I have, it sucks.

things would clean up on their own because we would spend time doing important things instead of wasting it on shit doing shit.

And of course, you know what the important things are. Have you ever considered that, maybe, the reason people dismiss environmentalists is because so many people who take up the mantle of 'environmentalist' are only using pseudo-environmentalist ideas to justify their own sanctimonious self righteous superiority. A different approach is needed.

about a month ago
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Greenpeace: Amazon Fire Burns More Coal and Gas Than It Should

ChromeAeonium Re:Greenpeace Blecchhh (288 comments)

Yep. I see them blatantly lying about my field (plant science) all the time, sometimes even attacking research, and their efforts have helped set it back by at least a decade. I have a very hard time trusting them about anything else when they so readily disregard facts to drum up controversy.

about a month ago
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Greenpeace: Amazon Fire Burns More Coal and Gas Than It Should

ChromeAeonium Re:As soon as greenpeace touches it (288 comments)

Do you realize how stupid that is?

No. Let's just say you have someone who you know lies, and lies often. The last thing the said was a blatant lie, the thing they said before that was also a lie. Now they make a new claim. Do you run out and put time and effort investigating the claim, or just assume that, given the history of falsehoods and deceit, this is also likely a lie. Greenpeace lies. A lot.

Now, you're right, what they say here could be truthful, they could very well be right, but I see no reason to assume this is anything but yet another hit piece in a long line of deception, and as such, I'm going to default to making the safe assumption that this is not true. It's a boy who cried wolf situation. I'm not going to evaluate every questionable claim biased and frequently unscientific organizations like Greenpeace make. If someone with an ounce of credibility supports these claims, then maybe this will be worth thinking about. In the meantime, it's just Greenpeace being Greenpeace.

about a month ago
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Exhibit On Real Johnny Appleseed To Hit the Road

ChromeAeonium Re:He was anti GMO (71 comments)

That's close, but not entirely true. Some apple trees are triploid, like Gravenstein and Jonagold, but most are diploid, so not really polyploid. Apple seeds will grow just fine, but the reason they are grafted is because they are very heterozygous, and as such, any seedlings will not have the same genetic characteristics as the original parent apples, and in all likelihood will be inferior. When people breed apple trees, they can go through thousands of seedlings only to find one tree with superior fruit. By grafting, you keep the superior genetics of an exceptional fruit, like Honeycrisp. Most fruit crops are reproduced asexually in some way for this reason, with the exception of cantaloupe, watermelon, and papaya, which have much shorter lifespans, and as such are much easier to work with. Trees are also grafted because, by using mature plant material, the tree will come to bearing faster, and you can select rootstock that offers dwarfing and disease resistance traits, which are useful.

You are right that he was against grafting though, proclaiming that it was wicked, damaging, and against the will of God. Unfortunately, judging by the modern opposition to GMOs, humanity did not learn anything from his silliness. Today, we have opposition to the Arctic apples, which hopefully will be released soon, which have the relatively simple trait of non-browning. Anti-GMO people claim they are worried that GMO apples will cross pollinate other apples, despite the simple fact that apples are asexually propagated. That's right, these folks don't know the first, most basic things about apple biology, but damn it they're going to pound in their stupid point anyway no matter how wrong they are. Ridiculous.

about a month ago
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Public To Vote On Names For Exoplanets

ChromeAeonium Re:Smart move... (127 comments)

Maybe they'll split the difference and go with Vader Did Nothing Wrong.

about a month and a half ago
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The Least They Could Do: Amazon Charges 1 Cent To Meet French Free Shipping Ban

ChromeAeonium Re:Not France vs US (309 comments)

I can get wanting to protect something, but legally blocking something is just clinging to the past. I'll bet there used to be dozens of small buggy whip makers throughout France; too bad for them. It wasn't big business that killed them, it was technological progress. Now, if the people want to preserve the small shops, that's fine, they should shop at the small local shops. I sure do. I don't want to see video stores go extinct due to Netflix so I shop at mine, and I don't want to see book stores go away so I shop at my local bookstore. Just bought a book from them to start reading soon. But I'm not about to block anyone else from doing anything. The justification is understandable, but not sufficient. If the people of France really do not want free shipping, they can continue to shop at the small stores. If they do not, well, then I guess that shows what they really want.

about a month and a half ago

Submissions

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Publicly funded GMO research facing destruction

ChromeAeonium ChromeAeonium writes  |  more than 2 years ago

ChromeAeonium (1026952) writes "Shortly after the events in Rothamsted Research in the UK, where a publicly funded trial of wheat genetically engineered to repel aphids was threatened by activists with destruction and required police protection, another publicly funded experiment involving genetically engineered crops faces possible destruction (original in Italian). The trial, which is being conducted by researchers at the University of Tuscia in Italy on cherries, olives, and kiwis genetically engineered to have traits such as fungal disease resistance, started three decades ago. When field research of GE plants was banned in Italy in 2002, the trial received an extension to avoid being declared illegal, but was denied another in 2008, and following a complaint from the Genetic Rights Foundation, now faces destruction on June 12th, despite appeals from scientists. The researchers claim that the destruction is scientifically unjustifiable (only the male kiwis produce transgenic pollen and their flowers are removed) and wish to gather more information from the long running experiment."
Link to Original Source
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New study confirms safety of GE crops

ChromeAeonium ChromeAeonium writes  |  more than 2 years ago

ChromeAeonium (1026952) writes "Much like vaccines and evolution, there exists a great disparity between the scientific consensus and the public perceptions of the safety of genetically engineered crops. A previous study from France, which was later dismissed by the EFSA, FSANZ, and the French High Council of Biotechnologies, claiming to have found abnormalities in the organs of animals fed GE diets by analyzing three previous studies was discussed on Slashdot. However, now a new study, also out of France, claims the opposite is true, that GE crops are unlikely to pose health risks (translation). Looking at 24 long term and multi-generational studies on insect resistant and herbicide tolerant plants, the study states, 'The studies reviewed present evidence to show that GM plants are nutritionally equivalent to their non-GM counterparts and can be safely used in food and feed.' Although it is impossible to prove a negative, and while every GE crop must be individually evaluated as genetic engineering is a process not a product, perhaps this study will help to ease the fears of genetically engineered food and foster a more scientific discussion on the role of agricultural biotechnology."
Link to Original Source
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Greenpeace destroys CSIRO scientific GMO trial

ChromeAeonium ChromeAeonium writes  |  more than 2 years ago

ChromeAeonium (1026952) writes "Greenpeace activists wearing theatrical hazmat suits have destroyed a test field of genetically modified wheat run by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) that represented a year's worth of work and $300,000. The wheat, which was designed to benefit consumers by having a lower glycemic index and higher fiber content, was accused of being unsafe by Greenpeace (although it was noticed they say the same thing about other GM crops), however experts dismissed these claims, saying that the risk was negligible and noting that such tests are how safety is ultimately judged, that Greenpeace breached containment protocol in their attack, and calling Greenpeace anti-science. Greenpeace was also accused of hypocrisy for demanding action based on climate change consensus while denying scientific consensus on genetic engineering. Taking a page out of Jenny McCarthy's book, one of the vandals claims to be have done it for her children, despite the safety record of genetic engineering. This was just one in a series of recent attacks on agricultural science, following an attack on government funded GM potatoes in Germany and before possible eco-terrorism hit papaya farmers in Hawaii, spreading fear throughout the farmers there. Given the attacks against GM potatoes earlier this year, and on GM grapes before that (both government funded), it looks like freedom of inquiry in agricultural research is increasingly limited to whatever won't get destroyed."
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