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How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

ChromeAeonium Re: SO (377 comments)

Haste can only lead to trouble.

Says the one who isn't hungry.

about two weeks ago
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How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

ChromeAeonium Re:So, does water cost more? (377 comments)

I don't think you know what I mean when I say hybrid. I mean the offspring of two separate, inbred lines. Sure, wheat for instance is a hybrid between species, but modern day corn lines are hybrids of a different sort, between lines. Seed doesn't go bad after a year (most species anyway) but if you have a variety of genotype AB, and it produces pollen with either the A or B gene and eggs with either the A or B gene, a simple Punnett square will show you the offspring will be either AA or AB or BB, and in a 1:2:1 ratio. If AB is the best, that's a problem for you now that half your seed is no longer of that genotype, and if that same thing is happening in many traits, then its a real bugger.

Heterosis and the genetics behind it are what they are and they favor hybrid seed, with annual repurchasing. This isn't Big Ag mantra, it is a simple fact of genetics.

about two weeks ago
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How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

ChromeAeonium Re:Nope (377 comments)

So far it looks just like the same "Red Queen's Race" evolution has always provided.

Yes, that exactly. The Union of Concerned Scientists is, as usual, misleading. When we see hessian flies overcome conventionally bred resistances in wheat, where are the cries of superpest? When we see phytophthora overcome conventionally bred resistances in tomato, where are the activists saying that conventional breeding is flawed? Nowhere, and rightfully so, because saying that biotic factors can adapt, and therefore you should do nothing against them, is completely mind bogglingly daft. It's called resistance breakdown, it happens, its been around a lot longer than GMOs have, and as for herbicide tolerant weeds, the first of those showed up decades prior to the introduction of GE crops. And yet, when this very same thing occurs and GMOs are involved, suddenly all there are cries of superpest and superweed (horribly misleading terms) and people saying that basic facts of agriculture prove it worthless.

What I like most is how they try to have their cake and eat it too. GMOs have no benefits, but simultaneously, pests and weeds might adapt and take those benefits away. And the thing is, unless you actually know what you're looking at (which describes most people who work outside of agriculture), the cognitive dissonance is easy to miss and the whole thing sounds pretty convincing, but if you do understand, it is frustratingly biased.

about two weeks ago
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How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

ChromeAeonium Re:Lol (377 comments)

They're not. They're GMO denialists who recently made misleading claims about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation work in Africa. If you want a legitimate genetic resources organization, you want Biodiversity International. These guys are just professional activists who, rather than doing something worthwhile, are just looking for something to leech off.

about two weeks ago
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How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

ChromeAeonium Re:Insert free advert for GMO crops .. (377 comments)

not that the seeds get any weaker.

Imagine you have a crop with genetype AB. It produces pollen (male gametes) with gene A, and with gene B. It produces eggs (female gametes) of A and B as well. The means you get a 1:2:1 ration of AA:AB:BB in the progeny. Say you only want AB, as it is the best, and now imagine this same thing is happening is a dozen traits. Do you see why seed saving of hybrids is problematic?

Through over use, weeds are developing resistance to these chemicals, meaning that more of it has to be used.

And this is a problem because it threatens to diminish just how useful those crops are, and it highlights the need for resistances to multiple modes of action of herbicide to mitigate the development or resistant weeds.

about two weeks ago
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How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

ChromeAeonium Re: SO (377 comments)

Yes, you can't fix hunger without fixing the underlying social issues. Everyone knows that, stop stating the obvious like it is an actual argument. You want to end world hunger, fix corruption, poverty, income inequality, infrastructure, education, healthcare, social welfare, sexual inequality, and all those other ills. But that is easier said than done. Do you have a solution to all those social, economic, and political problems? Because you're smarter by far than me if you do. Ticktock, people are hungry, and every second counts. In the meantime, I don't know how anyone could say that improving the lot of impoverished farmers is a bad thing. It isn't a panacea, but look at the benefits Bt cotton has brought to India (the ignorant but oft repeated claims them causing suisides notwithstanding), or the promise of Bt eggplant in Bangladesh, and tell me you think its a bad thing.

It's such a strange claim, you know. I doubt any anti-GMO activist would reject improvements in, say, automobile safety and say that instead of a technological solution people should all just drive safer. But suddenly when you talk about agriculture, that sort of reasoning is valid, the only way forward is wait for someone to fix that myriad of human centric problems and hope that too many people don't go hungry in the meantime, but don't you dare touch the technological side of things. How utterly absurd it is.

about two weeks ago
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How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

ChromeAeonium Re:Alternative? (377 comments)

Why no labels? This is an issue that comes up again and again, and there are plenty of good reasons:

1) You irrationally single out a single aspect of crop improvement. Where are the labels for hybrids, open pollinated lines, crops developed with mutagenesis, crops developed with induced polyploidy, bud sports, crops produced with somaclonal variation, crops produced via embryo rescue or with wide crossing in their lineage, ect.? We don't label them. We don't label them because corn produced via a doubled haploid hybrid is still corn, an apple that is a bud sport is still an apple, and a zucchini that is genetically engineered is still a zucchini.

2) You tell the consumer nothing. I modified my computer; tell me what I did to it. If I say that a crop is genetically engineered, tell me what that means. Tell me what I did, why, what it means, what are the benefits. Is it insect resistant, herbicide tolerant (if so which one), virus resistant (if so which ones), drought tolerant, how do those genes work, why are they used, what are the benefits? Unless you already know what is what (see point 4), saying that something is GMO doesn't actually tell me anything, does it?

3) You do not correct any misinformation. People are afraid of GMOs. Unfortunate, not scientifically justified, but true. Non-GMO labels are everywhere, even on crops where there are no GMO varieties, as a marketing tool. I saw non-GMO labeled figs and non-GMO labeled basil the other day..there is no GMO figs or basil on the market, anywhere. Remember that old XKCD comic about marketing? Make no mistake, this is both marketing for the companies that convenient sell non-GMO crops, as well as ideology. Professional activists at Greenpeace and the Center for Food safety have made a career of denying science and spreading fear. A label does nothing to correct that and can very easily be taken as a sign there is something wrong with the food, when there really is nothing.

4) You can already tell what crops are and are not genetically engineered. Corn, soy, canola, cotton, alfalfa, sugar beet, summer squash, papaya. Learn about them, and you can know. Too hard for you? Too damned bad, this is your ritualistic impurity beliefs, you take responsibility for it. Just like Kosher or Halal, you can avoid what you find questionable, or buy specially labeled things.

So, you want to select one thing, tell nothing about it, and correct no deficiencies in public knowledge? That's not informing people, that's a lie of omission. It is no different from the 'Evolution is just a theory' labels. Yeah, it was technically true, but taken so far out of context that it was deceptive and everyone knows it. This labeling nonsense is politically motivated crap and everyone knows it.

about two weeks ago
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How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

ChromeAeonium Re:So, does water cost more? (377 comments)

We did that for millennia before switching to hybrid seed. Ever consider that there might be a reason why farmers would be willing to pay more for their seed? Over the past century hybrid seeds, as well as increased focus on plant breeding, have given massive yield gains. No one is saying that locally adapted traits shouldn't be used, of course they should, everyone including the companies selling they hybrid seeds know that, but hybrid vigor is a very real and very powerful thing, and there's no way around that.

about two weeks ago
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What Happens When Nobody Proofreads an Academic Paper

ChromeAeonium Re:What Happens When /. Headlines... (170 comments)

To their credit it does mention 'despite layers upon layers of editing, peer review, and proofreading' right in the summery, so I assume it must in TFA (which I, as per tradition, have no intention of actually reading), but as we all know /. editors sure as shit don't have any room to criticize other people's mistakes in editing.

about two weeks ago
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Rosetta Probe Reveals What a Comet Smells Like

ChromeAeonium Re:So, perfume? (53 comments)

If you like the smell of rotten eggs, horse urine, formaldehyde, bitter almonds, alcohol, vinegar with a hint of sweet ether,

If only. That would be an upgrade to those synthetic smelling nasal assaults the department stores generously call perfumes.

about a month ago
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Warner Brothers Announces 10 New DC Comics Movies

ChromeAeonium Re:Not just Aquaman (187 comments)

Before the movies cam out I'd say it was about the same for Marvel too. Spider-Man was, as far as I recall anyway, way more well known than Iron Man and Thor, but Marvel successfully popularized them. Marvel pulled off Guardians of the Galaxy pretty well and how many people, one year ago, had ever even heard of them? If DC promotes and makes their films well (Green Lantern was pretty awful IMO), I think they could successfully promote not only the characters listed here but also some of their other characters.

It's too bad Young Justice got canceled by some suited shit for brains, that was a great introduction to the DC universe to wider audiences.

about a month ago
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Warner Brothers Announces 10 New DC Comics Movies

ChromeAeonium Re:To quote TBBT (187 comments)

Whoa there, have you actually seen any good Aquaman related material? I mean, besides some campy old cartoon from decades ago? Bulletproof, super strength, super speed, the standard suite of DC powers, along with some magical abilities, ruler of a kingdom, master of the seas...and yeah, command of marine life.

If you don't know much about Aquaman I suggest reading over this or this to understand. Aquaman kicks ass. The common kneejerk 'Aquaman sucks' thing is not accurate.

about a month ago
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Science Has a Sexual Assault Problem

ChromeAeonium Re:Is there a single field that doesn't? (460 comments)

At a recent professional meeting, a woman made suggestive sexual remarks to me about a computer program. If I had said the same thing to another woman, the second woman could have interpreted it as harassment under that definition.

That's basically the 2013 'Donglegate' controversy in a nutshell.

about 2 months ago
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Scientists Sequence Coffee Genome, Ponder Genetic Modification

ChromeAeonium Re:Apoplectic (167 comments)

That happened in Hawai'i. The University of Hawai'i was considering developing a GE variety, but the Kona coffee growers opposed it. I imagine not because they actually believe it was actually a bad thing, but because they target the high end market, which has a large cross-over with the hippie anti-science market that would flip out if they though their coffee was GMO. It doesn't even have to be since these types of people consider Facebook rumors to be fact checking, so the mere rumor would be enough to hurt the industry. As such, GE coffee on the Big Island got banned (also, GMO taro got banned at the same time because of political and religious reasons, which was absolute bullshit, but that's another topic). Now that the coffee berry borer is becoming increasingly problematic, I wonder if anyone is having second thoughts, although necessity has never mattered to the anti-GMO crowd, who still hate the papaya industry for being saved from total destruction by the Rainbow papaya. It is frustrating that ignorance is now considered a valid point of view.

about 3 months ago
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Scientists Sequence Coffee Genome, Ponder Genetic Modification

ChromeAeonium Re:Nothing is ever good enough (167 comments)

Yeah, no need to breed Typica or Yellow Caturra or all the varieties already developed from the wild, un-fucked with coffee. Sarcasm aside, it's already been fucked with, and if you like what you have now then you already agree that it has been for the best.

about 3 months ago
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Scientists Sequence Coffee Genome, Ponder Genetic Modification

ChromeAeonium Re:Le sigh.... (167 comments)

I think it is hubris to assume that we can tinker with genomes without unintended consequences.

Breeding macadamia nuts with easier to crack shells resulted in more insect damage. Breeding potatoes with more pest resistance made toxic potatoes. Breeding corn that was easier to produce hybrid seed from made disease susceptible corn. All that and more was conventional breeding. You know what I think is hubris? All the armchair agriculturists acting as if the people working on these things are wild eyed mad scientists who never stop to consider any secondary affects that may more most likely may not happen.

While that may not be advanced enough for you tastes, it works, and it improves [noun]. You do not have to [verb] to make improvements.

I turned your statement into anti-progress Mad-Libs. You could make that same argument against all progress, and you'd be wrong every time.

about 3 months ago
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Scientists Sequence Coffee Genome, Ponder Genetic Modification

ChromeAeonium Re:Le sigh.... (167 comments)

Sounds like Caveman Science Fiction. It's a good point though, all these people saying they don't want people messing with their food, when we already have. Corn, wheat, seedless bananas, strawberries, cauliflower, all of those are man made, and there are several different methods used for the genetic improvement . When you point this out, usually to people totally ignorant of the history and science of crop improvement, instead of admitting they were completely and utterly clueless and had their foot in their mouth, and that maybe changing the genetics of crops isn't an intrinsically bad thing, they move the goalpost and say they meant this type of genetic change, then maybe throw in a appeal to ignorance for good measure. Can't win.

about 3 months ago
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Scientists Sequence Coffee Genome, Ponder Genetic Modification

ChromeAeonium Re:Motherfuckers (167 comments)

Define perfect. You do realize that if someone adds in, say, a defensin or chintinase gene for fungal resistance, it will not impact the flavor, but might cut down on fungicide use.

about 3 months ago
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Scientists Sequence Coffee Genome, Ponder Genetic Modification

ChromeAeonium Re:Yeah, because that's a good idea. (167 comments)

And the problem with those arguments is that, while they do sound good, with a bit more context and information you realize they are actually vary poor anti-GMO talking pieces. If you did those exact same things with conventional breeding, no one would care.

they make plants that produce chemicals to kill pests, with possibly unknown health effects

All plants do this. Plants cannot fight insects, so they produce insecticides. Caffeine in coffee is actually one of them; why do you think the plant produces it right in its seed, its offspring? Not so something can eat it, although by a twist of fate that wound up being what we consume it for. Adding an additional insecticide is not, in and of itself, concerning, and in the case of GMOs, the one added comes from Bacillus thuringiensis, which has been sprayed on organic crops for years with no ill effects. We know how it works and its mode of action. It does not affect mammals. I previously stated that no one would care about this if GMOs were not involved; how do you think pest resistance is bred conventionally? There is work breeding high maysin (a natural pesticide in corn) lines of corn, and no one cares. That's because the arguments against GMOs always follow the conclusion, not the other way around (that's why even things like Golden Rice and Arctic apples have arguments against them; don't be surprised that these have opposition arguments cooked up too).

they make plants that are resistant to herbicides, which promotes the use of these herbicides, which promotes the development of superweeds

They make plants resistant to certain herbicides, specifically glyphosate and glufosinate. This allows a shift in weed management practices away from harsher herbicide, and soil damaging energy intensive tillage, toward more benign, selected herbicides. I'd rather farmers spray glyphosate than atrazine or use tillage. And again, no one complains about Clearfield wheat, a conventionally bred herbicide resistant line, and no one complained about the herbicide resistant weeds that have been appearing since the 70's (and please, they are not 'superweeds' any more than the GMOs themselves are Supercrops). Furthermore, if the herbicide resistant GMOs offered no benefit, why would weeds resisting their herbicides be such a bad thing? The anti-GMO movement is trying to have its cake and eat it too, saying there are no benefits to herbicide resistant crops (there are) AND the herbicide resistant weeds are threatening to take away their benefits. Unfortunately, it seems like no one calls them out on this logical inconsistency.

they patent everything and engage in licensing schemes that are really harmful to small farmers

Of course they patent everything. Those of us who work in plant improvement have a right to make a living. Lots of non-GMO crops have been patented since the plant patent acts passed in the 30's and 70's, and rightfully so. Do you work for free? I'll bet not. So why should plant breeders and genetic engineered? If you don't want to use those patented crops, don't. Ever had a pluot? Did you know they are patented? They took decades to develop, is it any wonder the breeders would like to maybe not go bankrupt and continue to produce something valued by society? Furthermore, Monsanto's first GMO soybean goes off patent this year and will be able to be freely planted in to 2015 season. Isn't that how it is supposed to work, develop something, make money, it goes to the public domain? I fail to see the problem. As for it hurting small farmers, that is false, they use GMO crops too. They don't have to, but they also get benefits from it. Why would new technology hurt small businesses?

about 3 months ago
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Is There a Creativity Deficit In Science?

ChromeAeonium Re:Is there a science deficit in creativity? (203 comments)

Hollywood has turned against scientists again

It irks me that so often science is make out the be the monster maker. I get that a movie called 'Another boring day in a genetic engineering lab where noting unusual happens' isn't going to be a big hit so they need to get their Frankenstein's monster somehow, but still, I don't like it.

I really hate when there's some smug asshole in the movie who spends the first half of the film whining about playing God and 'toying with things you don't understand' and whatnot, and then gets vindicated when the monster inevitably attacks. I wonder if that influences movie goers' perceptions about science and scientists. The movie Contagion did a very good job at a positive portrayal of scientists, which I won't spoil, but if you haven't seen it you should.

about 3 months 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 3 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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