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Robots: a Working Breed At the Dairy

crmarvin42 Re:Comon.. Really? Robots to move cows around? (65 comments)

Your inability to see a reason does not mean one does not exist. Although, I don't disagree regarding the daily contact. However, on the farms I've visited that use robots, their direct human contact is not appreciably lower, it is only the type of interaction that has changed.These cows milk themselves so they are not rushed in the parlor by a hired hand trying to get done with their shift or this particular chore faster, which is interaction the cows are probably better off without. Instead the herdsman has time to walk the pens while he and the cows are more relaxed.

These robots also come with all sorts of sensors and automatic flagging software to notify the producer of potential problems. The sensors in these machines can predict mastitis based changes in the composition of the milk before the cow exhibits any signs that the farmer could detect, they can track milk components on a daily basis per cow, and enable targeted feeding of extra nutrition during milking to supplement the TMR for the highest producing cows. For a modern, data driven dairy, these machines are a treasure trove of information about the cows to supplement the knowledge that comes from working with the cows on a daily basis

Also, keep in mind that robotic milkers don't really scale beyond 500 cow herds. These are a labor saving device for those farms that can least afford to hire another person. Each robot can handle about 60 cows depending on how productive they are. Above 500 cows (8 robots) and it becomes more cost effective to use a traditional parlor with full time employees to do the milking.

This robot, which does look more like a graduate student project than a commercial product, appears to work in an open field. That is a very different application from the moving gates you are referring to. Robots are generally built for a specific purpose, and those automated gates you describe wouldn't do much good for cows spread over several acres, whereas this one might in the future.

about 5 months ago
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Robots: a Working Breed At the Dairy

crmarvin42 Re:Comon.. Really? Robots to move cows around? (65 comments)

Very true, but I see this device as more of a proof-of-concept for robots to work beside livestock in general. Pastured dairy cows are usually pretty dosile due to frequent handling, but what about range fed beef cattle? What about a robot to empty a broiler house or load turkey's without spooking them and losing birds due to acities or damaged breast meat? I'm not saying all of this will come to pass, but the possibilities are intriging.

Also, this could potentially be used in conjuction with a robotic milking parlour to automate fetching cows on rotationally grazed pastures to automate the entire process.

about 5 months ago
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Robots: a Working Breed At the Dairy

crmarvin42 Re:How many humans does the farm require? (65 comments)

You are assuming that farm jobs are jobs people want. In areas where there are a lot of farm jobs available, there are usually a shortage of qualified individuals willing to do them. Ag work is long hours under an unpredictable range of environmental conditions in general, but animal work adds in the vageries that come with a thinking animal that is frequently stronger, bigger and more numerous than you are. Every farm job I've ever had was open for several months before it was I filled it. Many times I was the only person who had expressed any interest in the job at all. Even in lean economic times you can have a hard time finding anyone to do such work, or at least have a hard time finding someone who can do it well.

If machines like this can help keep a farm from closing down, then I welcome the technology.

Dairies less than 500 to 1,000 cows are already replacing people in the milking parlour to great effect for the cows and their human handlers. Instead of spending 6 hours a day coraling cows into a parlour and milking them you can let them be milked when they feel it is necessary (great for those higher producing cows that need to be milked more than 2x/d). That frees you up to work on other on-farm issues like estrus detection, sire selection, feed manufacture, etc. that normally have to be done in the time between milkings.

Here is a question for you: Do you also lament the switch from horse drawn carriage to automobile? The car put a lot of equine breeders, carriage manufacturers, and buggie whip manufacturers (my home town is nicknamed the "whip city" because of its importance as a center of buggy whip manufacture back in the day) out of business as well, but it appears to have turned out for the best. I think the root problem of such thinking is that jobs are a zero sum game. That for a robot to do a job is to replace a human with that job never to be replaced, but the robot is manufactured, marketed, maintained, re-sold, recycled, etc. and all of those jobs still require humans.

about 5 months ago
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Apple Blocks Lawrence Lessig's Comment On iOS 7 Wi-Fi Glitch

crmarvin42 Re: Pretty common support forums policies (326 comments)

I don't know for sure, that's why I indicated it was a presumption. In my experience hardware issues tend to fail more often than once a week. Could be hardware though. I'm taking a wait and see approach for now.

about 6 months ago
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Apple Blocks Lawrence Lessig's Comment On iOS 7 Wi-Fi Glitch

crmarvin42 Re:Pretty common support forums policies (326 comments)

Are you sure that is what they were objecting to? Honest question, BTW.

I've been having wifi issues since upgrading to iOS7, but only intermitently. I could not connect to wifi at all for the first 2 days, but now it connects most of the time. About once a week I have to power the phone off and on to get wifi working again. I saw a thread on the discussion pages during my first 2 day outage (maybe the same one, maybe not) that was telling everyone your wifi chip had physically been damaged by the update and to go to the Applestore for a new phone. Presumably my wifi chip hasn't been physically damaged because it works the vast majority of the time, and if they are telling everyone something that is demonstrably false (in Apple's opinion anyway), the I could see why Apple might intervene.

about 6 months ago
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The College-Loan Scandal

crmarvin42 Responsible consumption (827 comments)

As someone who has spent most of my adult life in college, I have disagree with the premise. An education is like any other consumer purchase. You need to balance the cost against the value received. One problem is that many people are buying too much education, or the wrong education for them. When spending that kind of money you should not assume that there won't need to be sacrifices outside of the sticker price, or hidden charges as in a new car or house. If you want to have a large family you probably should think twice about getting a phd or a degree in a field with notoriously low pay or employment rates. I managed a decade of college (PhD) and only paid full price for two of those years (junior and senior year of BS) and about half price for another two (community college for freshman and sophomore). The rest I was paid because I picked a field in which graduate research assistants are paid a stipend sufficient to live on (with a roommate).

I knew a lot of kids who didn't even know what they, or their parents, were paying and just assumed they'd be able to make it up in a 6 figure salary upon graduation (I don't even make 6 figures and I live in NJ). I was constantly looking for a way to get my education without bankrupting myself and have managed it so far. The problem is that the salesmen (politicians, college recruiters, arm chair economists) talk about education as though it were a panacea and a guarantee of success. It is a prerequisite in many fields, but by no means a guarantee and people need to be more skeptical when listening to people talk about how an education will improve everything for them. I know a lot of people with a BS in a filed that interested them, but had poor employment rates and are now working in a completely different field and struggling to keep afloat because that education is next to useless for them.

about 8 months ago
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Farm Workers Carry Drug-Resistant Staph Despite Partial FDA Antibiotics Ban

crmarvin42 Re: And this is kind of sad (120 comments)

Up to a 50% mortality rate in hospitals. [emphasis added]

Exactly! In hospitals, populated primarily by the immuno compromized such as the elderly, cancer patients, patients recovering from invasive procedures like surgery. Focusing on hospital data only is a textbook example of sampling bias (literally, it was mention in my stats textbook in grad school).

Also, how many of them contracted MRSA from the hospital? Banning antibiotics in livestock will do nothing to curtail Hospital acquired MRSA infections.

What about MRSA rates in the community at large. What percent of people at work today would test positive for MRSA right now? Mortality rate in the hospital is one part of the total virulence of a disease, but it can be a very small part for something that is widespread. Swine flu scared the crap out of everyone becuase those hospitalized by it were so sick, but when they got around to looking at the community at large they found much much higher numbers of people that didn't need to see a doctor or visit a hospital but had been infected by it. In the end it was not that much more virulent than other strains of the flu.

about 10 months ago
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Farm Workers Carry Drug-Resistant Staph Despite Partial FDA Antibiotics Ban

crmarvin42 Re: And this is kind of sad (120 comments)

Yes, because a google search is the equivalent of a critical review, and not a popularity contest subject to clever tricks such as search engine optimizat at all.

I don't know where this Dr. Morris works within the FDA, but it is not within the center for veterinary medicine (CVM). The group responsible for regulating drugs in animal feed. The officials within CVM are prohibited by law from revoking the approval of a product without sufficient evidence of danger. Studies like the one above don't prove anything, they are all just correllation. And as we all know on /., Correlation is not proof of Causation!

I have several ideas for trial designs that might show stronger support, one way or the other, but instead of coming up with better designs they keep just repeating the same designs.

Idea #1: Find two demographically similar communities (preferably both having similar farm populations and production levels), one with a hospital and the other without and look at community MRSA rates. If I'm right, the town with the hospital will have much higher MRSA levels within the community if not, there will be no difference.

Idea #2: Similar approach, but without hospitals and with farms under opposing antibiotic use rules. In the US there are several university farms that have gone without antibiotics for decades, or a US community could be comparied to an EU community. If I'm wrong, then there would be higher MRSA rates in the community with higher drug use on swine farms. If I'm right there will be no difference.

I'm willing to conced the point if someone will show me something more rigorous than "We tested a bunch of people in a sub group without any control and found MRSA" because all people have some exposure to both potential sources of MRSA. As I said before, it is in my personal best interest for sub-theraputic antibiotics to be banned becuase I support a sales force that sells allternatives to antibiotics. I'd just like to see the science done right instead of having the decision based on crap correlations.

about 10 months ago
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Farm Workers Carry Drug-Resistant Staph Despite Partial FDA Antibiotics Ban

crmarvin42 Re: And this is kind of sad (120 comments)

Actually, the average is 83 per year for the US from 1990 to 2006, but your point is a valid one. However, we still allow antibiotics in animal feed in the US so we don't know what the rate would be if we banned them, and Salmonella was only one example of a food borne pathogen currently controlled by antibiotics in feed. There are studies looking at carcass contamination with various microbes with and without antibiotic use in livestock and the data shows increased risk. Furthermore, I was trying to draw attention to the fact that MRSA is not especially virulent among the healthy.

about 10 months ago
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Farm Workers Carry Drug-Resistant Staph Despite Partial FDA Antibiotics Ban

crmarvin42 Re:Who says they aren't? (120 comments)

You cannot safely make such a broad generalization here.

Many farms, in my addmitedly anecdotal experience "most", only use antibiotics in a targeted way becuase of the cost associated with their use. Swine farms routinely administer them via feed or water to nursery pigs, but outside of the first month post-weaning, using is dramatically curtailed. Piglets in first couple of weeks post-weaning are very prone to clinical disease outbreaks (which require much higher antibiotic doses to treat), higher mortalities (as a result of disease challenge normally), and yes slower growth.

Sub-theraputic antibiotics can help with all three of these, but the growth factor is actually the least important, becuase by the end of the 2nd month post-weaning any differences disappear into the normal variability in animal performance. It is more about keeping more pigs alive and healthy through the stress of weaning than it is about performance. After they've made it through the most difficult period the value proposition for antibiotics is dramatically reduced, which is why sub-theraputic doses are not as common there. Bascially, they are not worth the cost to many farmers later

about 10 months ago
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Farm Workers Carry Drug-Resistant Staph Despite Partial FDA Antibiotics Ban

crmarvin42 Re: And this is kind of sad (120 comments)

Who says we are applying them randomly to livestock? Antibiotics cost money and animal producers have to deal with a boom bust cycle of profitabilitlity that means unnecessary expenses must be cut whenever possible. They are VERY deliberate in their decisions regarding any feed ingredient becuase feed accounts for 60 to 80% of the cost of bringing their prouduct to market. A 5% savings in total feed costs could spell the difference between losing money and making money.

For an MD, however, the incentives are all stacked in favor of reckless use. Malpractice insurance forces MD's to side on the side of overprescription becuase they don't want to be sued for witholding antibiotics that turn out to have been necessary. Patients come in expecting to be prescribed something, and if they aren't they are more than willing to make another appointment with a doctor who will prescribe them what they want. Currently all of the negatives of antibiotic resistance development can be blamed on Agriculture (even in the EU which is rediculous considering the bans), so why risk malpractice or disgruntled patients to prevent a negative outcome no one will blame you for anyway?

I believe that use in animals does contribute. I stated as such in my post. However, it is my opinion that the relative impact of animal vs. human prescribing on the resistance problem are orders of magnitude different and banning in livestock will only make marginal improvements at best. That may be good for human medicine, but I believe that a cost-benefit analysis will show that the benefit to human medicine will be far outstriped by the cost to human food security from both a supply and sanitation perspective. I base this opinion not on my own vested interest (I'm responsible for supporting a sales force that sells antibiotic alternatives to livestock producers, so ban is good for me personally), but on attempts I've seen to model antibiotic resistance development.

Also, at the risk of sounding callous we need to keep in mind that most resistant infections are not fatal. No one said that these farmers with MRSA were dying. Only that they had MRSA present. As long as their immune system is not dramatically compromized they are capable of fighting off MRSA, becuase MRSA is not immune to antibodies, macrophages, or any other part of the acue phase response. They are only resistant to a single supportive therapy that most people don't actually need. That doesn't reduce the importance in the immunocompromized (Very young, elderly, those with other immune compromizing conditions, etc.). But it's not like MRSA is Ebola.

MRSA isn't even as bad as Salmonella, which can actually make an otherwise healthy person sick, is endogenous to poultry, and can be controlled via antibiotics in poultry feed. By banning sub-theraputic doses of antibiotics in poultry you increase the risk of food-borne salmonella infections which can kill the perfectly healthy among us... Unlike MRSA! This is why the decision to ban should have been based on a holistic cost-benefit analysis instead of the regressive "Precautionary Principle" which is motivated more by irrational fear than evidence.

about 10 months ago
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Farm Workers Carry Drug-Resistant Staph Despite Partial FDA Antibiotics Ban

crmarvin42 Re: And this is kind of sad (120 comments)

The EU did ban them for almost no reason. Here is an alternative explanation for the same data. Farm workers are people (no duh right!) and like all other people they go to hospitals (visiting others, actual illness/injury, etc) those banned antibiotics are still used with reckless abandon in hospitals and MRSA is endemic to hospitals as a result. Therefore, which is more likely? That the farm workers got their MRSA from a hospital where the drugs and MRSA are both already known to be present, or on a farm animals where there is no reason for either to be present? Everyone wants to believe the second, but the US has (so far) not banned them because of the lack of any way to determine if the infections come from either of the two possible sources. I personally believe it is both, but with a greater proportion being laid at the feet of hospitals since every human in the US goes to a hospital at somepoint, but only about 1 percent of Americans work on farms of any kind.

about 10 months ago
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Supreme Court Rules For Monsanto In Patent Case

crmarvin42 Re:This is disgusting!! (579 comments)

From the USTPO website:

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the Federal agency for granting U.S. patents and registering trademarks. In doing this, the USPTO fulfills the mandate of Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, of the Constitution that the legislative branch "promote the progress of science and the useful arts by securing for limited times to inventors the exclusive right to their respective discoveries."

That the patent on round-up ready resistance "Promote[d] the progress of science and the useful arts" is not really debatable. We now have crops which require far fewer input costs in time, labor, fuel, and herbicides than would ever have been possible otherwise. If that isn't "useful" then I don't know what is, and the high uptake of the technology by farmers despite the higher upfront costs is the best endorsement I can think of. That the patent under discussion expires next year is right in line with the second half of their mandate "...by securing for limited times to inventors the exclusive right to their respective discoveries". Starting next year ANYONE will be able to add glyphosate resistance to their corn without having to pay Monsanto a dime in licensing. This is the system operating as designed for once. You may not like the system, but to get worked up over the company for playing by the rules is not really appropriate. Instead you should address what you see as flaws in the system.

I think you have a tendency to veer back into the insulting with reference to the Dunning-Kruger delusion

No insult intended. As proof I offer this nugget of self incrimination: I myself suffered from a Dunning-Kruger delusion regarding Anthropogenic Global Warming for several years. I though I knew better than the climatologists precisely BECAUSE I had no training in that area. I have since corrected this by acquiring enough information to finally see that I was dramatically over-estimating my own competence in this area. I accuse you of nothing for which I have not been guilty myself.

Monsanto may add value (frankly I don't know enough to tell for sure) but it is certainly open for debate

Not really. If they did not add value, then no one would have any reason to by GM seeds. The value has been determined in numerous research papers, and by many thousands of farmers purchasing decisions. Their product would have been a blip to the market which sees thousands of new seed varieties added to the market every season. Instead they have come to achieve greater than 90% market penetration (after adding in licensees such as DeKalb, Syngenta, and others).

...the question of whether or not the subject of the patents can be practically used freely after expiry ...

I have not even seen a hint to suggest that the subject of this patent will be somehow restricted after the patent expires next year. The gene is too prevelant (and has been since day 1 on the market) for Monsanto to keep the technology out of the hands of competitors, even if they wanted to. The fact that they've licensed the technology to their competitors means that the gene is already in Non-monsanto seeds. The only difference in 2014 will be that Monsanto will no longer be receiving licensing fees for the those seeds.

about a year ago
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Supreme Court Rules For Monsanto In Patent Case

crmarvin42 Re:This is disgusting!! (579 comments)

I've already addressed some of these issues in an earlier post, so here is the short version with links:

1. Seed breeders don't do their work willy-nilly in an open field. They use controlled conditions to prevent accidental pollinization. See here

2. Pollinization with from a neighboring GM field is not counted against you by the USDA who is responsible for the National Organics List. See here

about a year ago
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Supreme Court Rules For Monsanto In Patent Case

crmarvin42 Re:This is disgusting!! (579 comments)

Whatever hubris I posses should not be replaced with a group hubris to be invoked by specialists of all kinds merely because they are specialists. That is incredibly dangerous, speaks more to monopoly than civic virtue and communication, and is particularly vexing where it applies to the law, moral obligations, and how we wish to develop as a society.

I believe the general thrust of your argument here is that you don't trust specialists, and this lack of trust is based largely on your personal objections to the status quo in many areas of modern life such as the law and morality. Is that a fair assessment? If so, that is fair enough. The people of a society must make value judgements collectively about the type of society they want to be. However, those value judgements really should be based on the best available evidence. That evidence is going to need to be generated, usually by someone specializing in that field of study, and interpreted so that society can be reasonably sure that their value judgement will have the intended consequence. Specialists should be an integral part of that process, and the non-specialists should at least have an open mind when discussing these issues with them. My intent is not to denegrate the non-specialist for being interested and wanting a say in how their society evolves. Far from it! My intention is to point out closeminded rhetoric that is divorced from reality so that those willing can better equip themselves to make those decisions.

Incidentally, the common law certainly expects you to interpret it, since the "average" mechanic you just mentioned has to follow it, and the "average" police officer must enforce it, and it's clear that you have a form of hubris in referring to an "average" mechanic

I am not sure what your point is here, or why you keep quoting the word "average". The topic under discussion is, for most observers, a rather esoteric section of patent and contract law. These are complicated issues, arguably more complicated than they need to be, but I don't personally believe that you or I have the necessary understanding to say what the appropriate fixes are. What we ARE qualified to do is to tell the experts (Lawyers and Legislators primarily) what we believe the problem to be, and ask them to suggest ways to address our concerns. However, they should also give us their best approximation of what the ancillary effects of any recommended change will be so that we can try to ensure that the "fix" does not cause more or worse problems.

That we have devolved this to a political and lawyer class who have made a set of ivory towers, is a problem to be fixed, and yet your post appeals to its acceleration, to allow the very laws which govern us to be set by the unjust in pursuit of selfish goals.

I don't know that I made any appeals to accelerate anything, or allow anything of the sort. I made a plea to the uninformed to seek better information before passing (usually vocal) judgement on a complicated issue requiring specialized information to truely understand. I don't think that is an unreasonable request.

The idea that anyone needs to devote their life to a field before being able to reason about it is preposterous - after all, are you not a lawyer specialising in Agricultural Law either. Many fields are subject to some understanding of at least where the issues come from, and even experts can communicate the basis of their thinking.

I never claimed that they needed to, only that they should consult those who had before passing judgment. Agriculture is different from many other professions becuase everyone's life is affected by agriculture, but most don't know anyone directly involved in it. I knew many engineers, construction workers, medical professionals, lawyers, mechanics, and even a few physicist growing up, but I didn't meet my first member of the agriculture profession until I was in college. I know many people who's only direct connection to agriculture is ME. This is very serious disconnect and (I say this with no hyperbole) it breeds misunderstandings that can literally spell the difference between life and death for some people.

Putting experts on a pedestal also ignores where they will fall short - for example, how well versed in statistics are researchers across different fields?

This is a huge pet peeve of mine. Much medical research is conducted by MD's only, with no formal training in research. Formal training which would included several courses in statistical analysis. The solution here would be to require a statistician (a specialist) be involved in the design, analysis and interpretation of all trial data. However, MD's are frequently so ignorant of statistics that they are fall victim to the Dunning-Kruger Delusion, and concluded that a statistician is unnecessary. BTW, this is a good example of why we SHOULD consult specialists.

Specialism does not override the fact that banning seed replanting, and introducing a new patented variant years before the patent expiry can be construed as a wilful attempt to subvert the goal of having patent law in the first place, and that a condition of granting the patent in the first place should have been that a seed bank be made available to the public on its expiry

Monsanto's patent on round-up ready corn expires next year. Gene patents are not subject to the patent-continuation creep of drug patents. The gene is what it is, well characterized, and easily sequenced from any seeds bought on the open market. Even if Monsanto handn't licensed the technology far and wide, taking their patent and developing your own round-up ready seeds would be trivially simple after 30 years on the market.

At the end of 2014 anyone will be able to incorporate their technology for free. I'd argue that this is EXACTLY the scenario that patent law was designed to foster. They developed a truely novel technology, marketed it, made back their investment and subsidized further investment, and now in about a year the technology will enter the public domain for the benefit of all.

Specialism does not override that the formation and maintenance of companies that seek only to intermediate themselves rather than add value year-on-year, is classic rent-seeking behavior.

Here is an example of your own Dunning-Kruger Dilusion. Monsanto DOES add value year-on-year. Ask anyone who buys their seeds. Since Monsanto has licensed glyphosate resistance technology to just about anyone interested, for a fee of course, you don't need Monsanto brand seeds to get that trait. Therefore, Monsanto must make the same annual improvements in other, non-GM traits that producers use to decide which seeds to buy every year.

about a year ago
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Supreme Court Rules For Monsanto In Patent Case

crmarvin42 Re:This is disgusting!! (579 comments)

Indeed, since this is the function of the legislature, which should do so on the people's behalf, and lawyers must still argue their case where the law admits clarification or interpretation. There is no justification for the law being impenetrable to an informed citizen, nor and the processes surrounding it adorned with theatre simply to disenfranchise the people from understanding it, shaping it, and keeping to it.

I assume from this that you have some experience writing or interpreting the law? No? Then forgive me if I believe you to be guilty of the same kind of hubris as the OP. Things may well be complicated because the issue being legislated is complicated. Have you every read a law? I have. In point of fact, I've been reading the federal register several times a week for the last month because I'm involved in several regulatory filings at work. I know just enough about the law to have a inkling of just how little I truly know. Based on what you've written, I suspect that you don't yet even have that much knowledge. (Clarification: I don't view the word "ignorant" as an insult. I freely admit my own ignorance on many topics without shame, and I intend no insult when labeling someone else that way. It is merely the most accurate word in my vocabulary)

Not all teachers are great teachers, and to discharge their responsibility to their children, many parents look for indications as to how an education is progressing, and they will exercise their judgment to the extent that knowledge and common sense can support.

Determining that someone is not doing a good job is not the same thing as presuming to tell them how to do their job. If the students don't learn, then you can make a case that the teacher is not doing their job. However, your average mechanic is probably not qualified to tell an underperforming teach what, specifically, they are doing wrong. Or at least they are far less qualified than another teacher. That is the point I was making and you appear to have missed.

Similarly, I have questioned experts in various fields in the past - justifiably and fruitfully.

Questioning I have no objection to. In fact, I encourage it. However, the OP was not really asking questions in the pursuit of knowledge. They were expressing an extreme opinion based on, from my perspective, a position of ignorance. That I emphatically do NOT support.

Perhaps you just can't, perhaps are over-passive, or perhaps you have no capacity for deduction.

Perhaps I can't what?

You are the first person to have every accused me of being over-passive in my life. The more you learn about a topic, the more accurate a picture you achieve of your own ignorance. I refrain from telling other specialist how to do their jobs not because I am passive, but because I have decided to extend the courtesy of not presuming that their area of expertise is any simpler or easier to truly understand than my own is. At the end of my post I was making an impassioned plea for the OP to do me and my colleagues the same courtesy.

I'm a trained scientific researcher. I'ver earned a PhD in my field and been an invited speaker at prestigious conferences focused on my area of expertise. My capacity for deduction is just fine. What is in doubt is your level of humility when discussing an area about which you have not devoted your life to studying

Of course, I simply don't know you well enough to tell, but since you did not apply the courtesy of separating assumption from fact in your comment, we can at least draw the conclusion that you lack integrity.

Take that willingness to admit that you don't know me well enough to pass judgement (although you did anyway) and apply it to agriculture, something far more complicated than I am and maybe you'll see the point I was trying to make.

If you care to continue this conversation sans further insults and character assassinations (try to insult me again and I am done), I'd be interested to know exactly you are taking umbrage with in my response to the OP. I never stooped to calling him names, and I based my assessment of his knowledge on more than just the single post I was responding to. I clicked through and read all of his other posts on this thread before coming to my conclusions regarding his ignorance. I admit that I inferred the source of his animosity based on my personal experiences arguing with vocal yet ignorant critics of agriculture in the past, but I interpret the OPs lack of response as a confirmation of sorts.

about a year ago
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Supreme Court Rules For Monsanto In Patent Case

crmarvin42 Re:This is disgusting!! (579 comments)

I took a fair amount of genetics in college, and it is my understanding that obfuscated genes (which is what I ready your description as) is not really possible due to the rapidly decreasing time and cost associated with whole genome sequencing, or all that relevant due to the self-replicating nature of seeds.

The issue is not with Syngenta, for example, copying Monsanto's genes. They could do that very easily without gene patents, and with gene patents they simply license them at agreed upon terms. The issue here is that if there are no patent protections, then Monsanto has to make back their entire decades long investment in a single season, off of the backs of the "early adopters" since everyone would legally be able to buy the seeds from the early adopters and plant them the next year without paying Monsanto a penny. I believe that Monsanto would rather get out of the GM business due to high cost, impossibility of profitability, and the poor consumer perception of the technology.

While good in theory, current examples show that open source is not the panacea you hope it to be. Open source GMO's exist now and they are being slammed by the same anti-science fear mongering rhetoric as those GMO's from for-profit companies like Monsanto. Golden Rice is such an open source GMO. The rice has been modified to produce extra Vitamin E. Vitamin E deficiency is very common in some of the poorer nations where rice is a staple. Children not receiving enough vitamin E will frequently develop blindness which IIRC is permanent. As it is now, people in those countries must use other products fortified with Vitamin E synthesized from fossil fuels, which is incredibly complicated and has a high technological and financial barrier to entry (The company I work for is one of the few global vitamin E manufacturers). This current opposition results in a greater level of suffering of children despite no greedy corporation having developed or profited from it.

I think one important thing that everyone loses site of when talking about GMO patents is the relatively short duration of those patents. IIRC, gene patents are only good for 30 years from the date of the patent filing (possibly approval). Some of the patent time gets burned while bringing the technology to market, which means maybe 25 years of selling the trait before the patent expires. That seems like a lot to you and me, but on a "Big Picture" timescale it really isn't. Monsanto's glyphosate resistance patent expires next year. After that time anyone who wants to use the round-up ready resistance element in their seeds will be freely able to do so.

about a year ago
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Supreme Court Rules For Monsanto In Patent Case

crmarvin42 Re:This is disgusting!! (579 comments)

The problem with this argument is that pests evolve to adjust to the chemicals in use. It is, in large part, Monsanto's fault that insects are resistant to older pesticides; they created the disease and now they're trying to sell the cure.

This is nonsensical. Crops have ALWAYS been the targets of pests, be it fungus, insects, birds, weeds, etc. Remember the Potatoe Famine? While among the worst in recent memory in the US and Europe, Famine was the RULE not the exception prior to the development of pesticides and herbicides.

If Glyphosate resistant crops had never been developed by Monsanto, we would still need to spray to control pests. The differences are:

1. Glyphosate is a broadspectrum herbicide. Spray once, kill everything other than the GM crop. Organic herbicides are targeted at specific weeds. That means spraying several different compounds to attack the many different weeds growing on your field. That means more pressure to develop resistance and more potential for the residues that scare everyone so much.

2. Contrary to popular opinion, Glyphosate is one of the safest herbicides for a human to ingest based on numerous toxicology studies. By contrast, most organic herbicides are far more toxic pound for pound (or acre for acre). Combine this with point one and you get an increased potential for accidental human poisoning from the use of organic herbicides.

Essentially, reality and common perception of GM crops and Monsanto in particular are diametrically opposed to each other. Much as the global warming deniers and the evidence on global warming, or the anti-jab activists and all the data on the safety of vaccines. Do you really want to be thrown into the same camp with them as deniers of evidence in favor of emotional bullshit?

about a year ago
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Supreme Court Rules For Monsanto In Patent Case

crmarvin42 Re:This is disgusting!! (579 comments)

I've run into this argument already today, so here goes an abbreviated description of why this isn't relevant.

1. No one breeds replacement seeds in the open. The whole point of a breeding program is control and that is achieved in a green house. Look here
2. Having your production field pollinated by GM corn on your neighbors field does not make your crop non-organic. Look here.

about a year ago
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Engineering the $325,000 Burger

crmarvin42 Re: I dont want to live on this planet anymore (353 comments)

You don't even know how long it takes to get a PhD in nutrition and you are trying (badly) to argue nutritional science with me? Unbelievable! For the record, a MS traditionally takes 2 years and the PhD traditionally takes an additional 4 years, for (stay with me now) 6 years.

as to your baseless assertion that my degree is pseudo science, I received my degrees from Purdue University, which is nationally recognized for its nutritional science programs. It is the antithesis of pseudo-science, unlike your appeals to "common sense"

your right, there is no point in continuing. You are convinced, in the absence of any evidence, that you know the truth and no amount of evidence to the contrary will be adequate to force even a kernel of doubt into you. I've asked for evidence repeatedly and the best you've come up with is "Because I said so".

good day

about a year ago

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