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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 two weeks 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 a month 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 a month 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 a month 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 a month 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 a month 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 a month 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 a month ago
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The Evolution of Diet

ChromeAeonium Re:put a label on it. (281 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.

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

ChromeAeonium Re:Better to starve I guess? (152 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.

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

ChromeAeonium Re:Wow (152 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 month ago
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China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

ChromeAeonium Re: Wow (152 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 month ago
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China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

ChromeAeonium Re:Applaude (152 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 month ago
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China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

ChromeAeonium Re:Wow (152 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 month ago
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China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

ChromeAeonium Re:Nicatoids and bees (152 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 month ago
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China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

ChromeAeonium Re:Wow (152 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 month ago
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China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

ChromeAeonium Re:Better to starve I guess? (152 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 month ago
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China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

ChromeAeonium Re:Applaude (152 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 month 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  |  about 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."
Link to Original Source

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