Carping Comment on Farming

I’ve added an update to the “Rules” tab up top (since I guess it wasn’t clear enough before that being polite is a major requirement…)

So in response to my saying, in essence: “The evidence for bad effects from GMOs has reached a level where it is prudent to avoid them, and due to stupid laws in the USA the only decent way to do that ‘avoiding’ is to buy organic labeled foods” we have someone deciding that the best course of action is to be insulting and attack the messenger. (Worse, he tosses mud at “all you people”):

greg copeland

Submitted on 2012/07/10 at 4:49 pm

I really do feel sorry for all you people. You run around scared of everything, even your own shadow. You think that all pesticides are bad and we should ban them all. Let me tell you something. If, there were no pesticides, there would be no food supply. Also without gm plants we will never feed the ever increasing population of the world. I have been farming for about 50 years.
You people just have no clue.

Dear Greg:

First off, read the “RULES” tab up top. It matters. Here’s the link:

https://chiefio.wordpress.com/posting-rules/

Second, take your fake sympathy, feeling “sorry”, and stuff it.

Not needed as I’m doing fine, thank you very much.

Third, I’m not “scared of everything”. I do have a deeper understanding of the risks of GMOs than you demonstrate. I am taking prudent actions to protect myself from the manifest risks. As someone with a metabolic tendency to develop food allergies, it IS very important to me when some protein that is demonstrated to induce food allergies starts to be inserted into the genomes of damn near every major food crop. Bt toxin is, first and foremost, a TOXIN. It mostly kills bugs, but in large amounts has causes sensitivities in many cases. Not a problem if used sparingly and if it can be washed off (as in Organic farmers using Bt as a spray, it being a natural bacteria) but a major problem when it is in orders of magnitude higher quantities embedded in every single cell of most major food crops. (Not there yet, but headed there rapidly, with corn and cotton already done and others WIP.)

It is not being “scared” to recognize a real threat and take protective actions against it. It has already been demonstrated that migrant workers spraying Bt sprays can become sensitized. Yes, I’m one of the minority of people prone to allergies. ( It is protective against parasites, so helps in areas with endemic Malaria, like Europe of ancient times).

Would it be thought “scared” or paranoid to be just a tiny bit aware that breathing a lot of dust from latex gloves or wearing them daily could kill you or make you sick?

http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/info:doi/10.1289/ehp.5811

All of this is predicated on the notion that a food is a well-defined package of proteins and other constituents that can be easily characterized. However, we know that this is not the case. The experience with latex allergy in the United States illustrates the complexity of allergens in plant products. After universal precautions were instituted in 1986, there began an epidemic of allergic reactions and deaths associated with sensitization to a number of proteins in natural rubber products derived from latex of the Hevea brasiliensis tree (Hev b 1-Hev b 13). Use and exposure to latex in medical gloves was one major risk factor for latex allergen sensitization; sensitization was documented among 7% of health care workers and up to 50% of children with spina bifida. Cross-reactivity between latex proteins and certain food allergens was one of the factors that helped to identify latex-allergic individuals. Some of the common foods with defined cross-reactivity to latex are avocado, banana, chestnut, kiwi, raw potato, tomato, stone fruits (e.g., peach, cherry), hazelnut, melons, celery, carrot, apple, pear, papaya, and almond. Foods with less well-defined cross-reactivity to latex are peanut, peppers, citrus fruits, coconut, pineapple, mango, fig, passion fruit, ugli fruit, and grape (Salcedo et al. 2001).

So we promulgated a “rule” that all health care workers had to take “universal precautions” and wear latex gloves all the time when dealing with patients. The result was that some folks died and many became ‘reactive’ to the gloves. (Likely more folks were protected from contagion and death, but we don’t really know. It is probable that the total deaths went down, and we just changed who died… but using nitrile gloves would have avoided the latex related deaths).

Notice that there is an interesting cross connection between food allergies and latex allergies? Wonder about all the sudden onset of “Peanut Allergies” in kids? Lupini beans and peanuts can be cross reactive and some kids from the USA died in Europe on their first exposure to Lupini beans as they and their parents did not know that their peanut allergy could be set off by some “other bean”. There is also some cross sensitivity between soy lectins and peanuts and while it is just theoretical as far as I know (for now) ONE path of investigation is that of “Does all the added soy in processed foods today lead to increased peanut allergy?”.

You see, a wide spread protein with a known immunogenicity can cause all sorts of bad things, including death, in folks prone to allergies (i.e. “people like me”). So added Bt, a protein with known immunogenicity to just about every food, and especially one that already has a triggering lectin (soy) is just a Really Really Stupid Thing. Unless you are willing to accept thousands of deaths world wide as “just part of the cost of doing business”. (We do that now for latex and gloves, for peanut allergies and cross reactions, and many more).

But I trust you will understand if I am unwilling to accept being put at risk of death by you for your profit.

In 1999, researchers discovered that migrant health workers developed positive skin tests and elevated specific IgE and IgG antibody levels to B. thuringiensis kurstaki (Btk) spore extracts containing Cry1Aa and Cry1Ab delta endotoxin proteins after respiratory exposure to Btk crop spraying (Bernstein et al. 1999). A number of positive skin tests, as well as increased levels of specific IgE and IgG antibodies, were present in more highly exposed groups than in medium- to low-exposure groups.

It is not a great leap to go from “Bt is a known allergen” to “Bt in food will induce allergic response in sensitive individuals”. As I have known allergic responses to 4 foods already ( including corn, garbonzo beans, and cow milk) it is not being “scared” to say “I think I need to pay attention to this risk prior to anaphylactic shock starting.” Rather like those parents of kids with Peanut allergies would not be “scared” if they chose to avoid soy and lupini beans too. Prudence. Aware. Informed. Not “scared”.

If you and yours do not have any allergies anywhere in your family and friends, that’s great. Enjoy your Starlink Corn. Just don’t make a world where “folks like me” can not eat without dying or vomiting.

Think that Bt is broken down in digestion, so “no problem”?

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21338670

Reprod Toxicol. 2011 May;31(4):528-33. Epub 2011 Feb 18.

Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada.
Aris A, Leblanc S.
Source

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Sherbrooke Hospital Centre, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada. aziz.aris@usherbrooke.ca
Abstract

Pesticides associated to genetically modified foods (PAGMF), are engineered to tolerate herbicides such as glyphosate (GLYP) and gluphosinate (GLUF) or insecticides such as the bacterial toxin bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). The aim of this study was to evaluate the correlation between maternal and fetal exposure, and to determine exposure levels of GLYP and its metabolite aminomethyl phosphoric acid (AMPA), GLUF and its metabolite 3-methylphosphinicopropionic acid (3-MPPA) and Cry1Ab protein (a Bt toxin) in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. Blood of thirty pregnant women (PW) and thirty-nine nonpregnant women (NPW) were studied. Serum GLYP and GLUF were detected in NPW and not detected in PW. Serum 3-MPPA and CryAb1 toxin were detected in PW, their fetuses and NPW. This is the first study to reveal the presence of circulating PAGMF in women with and without pregnancy, paving the way for a new field in reproductive toxicology including nutrition and utero-placental toxicities.

So now we can extend the understanding to the point of confirmation that Bt toxin from food ends up circulating in the blood.

So exactly how much of a leap is it to say that a known allergen circulating in the blood of allergy prone individuals might cause allergic reactions? Can you say “It is a certainty”? The only questions are how many people and how long to onset.

Pesticides

How can you possibly think I’ve said all pesticides are bad? I specifically said I have a jug of Roundup for use on spurge. Heck, I’ve even got an old jug of Malathion in the garage ( does a nice number on ants… though I haven’t needed it since I put a thick layer of borax in the walls and behind the sink. Boron being toxic and a “pesticide”.)

I’ve specifically stated I’m happy with “convention” cultivation and that the only reason I’m saying “Time to buy organic” is that the present labeling laws make that the only way to know you are not getting a load of GMO stuff.

So no, I’m not against pesticides. I do think they ought to be used sparingly and intelligently. Putting Bt toxin in every acre of everything out there is just going to create a new world of Bt resistant bugs and eliminate one of the few “pesticides” that can be used in “Organic Farming”. (That Monsanto would like to drive organic farmers out of business is, I’m sure, just coincidental… IMHO of course.)

But can you grow food without pesticides? Well, yes. Losses to bugs prior to the pesticide era were about 20%. Then we went to lots of pesticides and yields rose. Then the pests became resistant and we’re back to about 20% losses. (About 10 years back). Now we’ve got a new toy. “This time for sure!”… and we’re already getting Bt resistant bugs… We’ll be back to 20% loss rate in no time.

On “Farmer Tom’s” organic farm (where I’ve spent a couple of very pleasant days) they have wonderfully productive fields. Their losses to pests are not very high at all. Why? LOTS of labor. Pulling out infested plants. Hand picking bugs if need be. Washing aphids off with soapy water. Using a propane burner if needed to sterilize some areas. More work, but just as effective.

Per Organic Yields

It is a persistent myth that “If, there were no pesticides, there would be no food supply.”. The very existence of Organic Farming gives the lie to that. What there would not be is “CHEAP Chemical food supply”. It takes more labor to run an organic farm. ( I grew up in farm country. Dad was an Iowa farm boy and we had a few acres where he “played” on his toy farm. Mostly he sold real estate, but he made sure I know how to farm. I’ve picked peaches and walnuts on commercial farms (what you do to make money in farm country) and I know that you do not go into the fields after they fumigated the soil… I’ve mixed tubs of malathion and DDT and several others. But it is just as possible to farm without the pesticide stew.

Grandma was Amish. The Amish are well know for living the farm life. Dad grew up chasing hogs and eating corn on the farm. All grown without chemicals.

http://www.twnside.org.sg/title2/susagri/2010/susagri122.htm

Research shows organic yields can equal or exceed conventional

A 12-year experiment in the United States has shown that organic yields are improving and sometimes exceeding conventional yields. Results from the Long Term Agroecological Research (LTAR) site, a collaborative effort between producers and researchers, counters criticism that a major shift to organic agriculture would lead to decreased yields.

Carried out on approximately 17 acres of productive soils at the Neely-Kinyon Research Farm and led by Dr Kathleen Delate of Iowa State University, a vast amount of data comparing a wide array of performance parameters of both organic and conventional crops were collected from 44 quarter-acre experimental plots. The plots are of sufficient size to simulate conditions of commercial production.

Although initially less productive than their conventional varieties, by the third year the yields were equaled and the organic crops’ yield exceeded that of the conventional crops in the fourth year: Across all rotations, organic corn harvests averaged 130 bushels per acre while conventional corn yield was 112 bushels per acre. Similarly, organic soybean yield was 45 bu/ac compared to the conventional yield of 40 bu/ac in the fourth year.

Cost-wise, on average, the organic crops’ revenue was twice that of conventional crops due to the savings from non-utilization of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

As a farmer, since Organic produce fetches better prices ( on the order of $500 to $1200 / acre instead of $50-$100 for conventional) you ought to be smelling the money…)

Yes, it takes a LOT more work. Yes it is a much more complicated system. No, it does not yield less unless you chose to do less. (Then again, with a lot of $$$/acre, many organic farmers can afford to produce less per acre.)

Look up French Intensive / Biodynamic System and The System Of Rice Intensification if you are still “scared” about food shortages.

There is a surplus of food growing capacity in the world. We can easily raise yields by about double in aggregate without getting too exotic, and more than that with simple greenhouses. Such techniques are already used in fields here in California. ( I drove by many near Ventura this weekend. Looked like some kind of bramble berry under the plastic arches.) There were lots of other rows neatly as raised beds with row cover plastic “mulch” laid out. Ready for the plants that would soon enough be in salad bowls and on plates nation wide. That someone in Nebraska chooses to plant a lower yield method but one that gives more $$$ / hour of his labor and with less labor hired; that says nothing about total food production ability. It also says nothing about comparative yields from organic vs ‘conventional’. ( In quotes as “chemical production” was unconventional when my Dad was a kid and organic was conventional then.) Frankly, the amount of land planted to “not much” just in California is amazing. Most of the hills around the valley are left as grasses. Hard to get a tractor on some of it, and harder to get water. Yet, if needed, we could make them into productive farms. (They just can’t price compete at present with the valley floor). Something like 90% of the global traded walnuts come from a small part of the Central Valley of California (where I grew up… near those orchards). The wiki puts our English Walnut percent of the nation at 99%:

“The United States is the world’s largest exporter of walnut seeds. The Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys of California produce 99 percent of the nation’s commercial English walnut seeds.”

There is a LOT of land around there that is in rough grass with a few cattle on it that could easily become walnuts if anyone wanted more.

The same is true around the world. We just choose to use diffuse low intenisification production methods as it is less work for the farmer and takes less labor. It is the result of an optimizing for COSTS instead of for PRODUCTION. (For maximum production per acre, greenhouses are spectacular, and can have yields up to 10 times as much over the year. Partly from more crop cycles, but partly from more production per acre per cycle. Much lettuce in California is now going into hydroponic greenhouses. The “fancy” lettuce.)

Even “crap land” with no water can become food producers if anyone wanted or needed it.

http://www.seawatergreenhouse.com/Downloads/Cooling,%20Fresh%20water%20and%20fresh%20produce%20from%20seawater%20-%20Riyadh%202006.pdf

So I’m sorry you are so “scared” of running out. It really isn’t justified…

We use pesticides and chemical fertilizers for convenience not from necessity.

With that said: I have no issue at all with using pesticides or chemical fertilizers – provided it is done intelligently. That is a very low threshold for fertilizers. A much higher one, often unmet, for pesticides. And I’ve seen no evidence for anyone even aware of how far they are from that limit for GMOs.

Clue

So, in light of the above examples of things presently working and producing, I think it’s pretty clear that the “you people” who “have no clue” are not me and the folks here. I’d suggest that you have spent 50 years on a farm, but not spent it looking at other ways to farm productively and profitably.

Organic makes a LOT more $$$/ acre than “conventional” / Chemical. It takes a much more complicated farm management process and about 5 times the labor rate ( IIRC what Farmer Tom said while we were touring his commercial farm ) and has more stringent requirements for care and skill. It can produce all the food the world could ever want, or need.

That we choose to do otherwise is just that, a choice. Personally, I choose to use synthetic and mineral fertilizers as I’m lazy. I generally have not used pesticides. (Other than Roundup on the spurge… which I still sometimes pull… even though it was a near invisible bit of sap on the finger from pulling some that caused my eyes to feel on fire and me to be in the ER… but now I do a full decontamination wash with an alcohol rinse after pulling spurge and NEVER let a contaminated hand near the face…)

The first year, I had a terrible ‘leaf miner’ problem. Then the second year some insect loving birds showed up and moved in. I also let some tobacco naturalize around the edges. The leaf miners deposit eggs on them, that never mature…. No more leaf miner problem.

Sometimes “pests” build up. I’m getting near zero Kale or Cabbage seeds produced this year. Why? There are these seed eating “tweety birds” stripping them. I thought of doing something to get them to leave (and in an ’emergency’ would be having Sparrow Stew ;-) but frankly I have enough kale seed in storage and enjoy the birds rather a lot… Besides, my fault for planting them 3 or 4 years in a row. Normal rotations would have prevented getting on the Tweety Bird Lunch Bar Registry… (Next year I’m doing Parsnips instead…)

That doesn’t mean a ‘no pest treatment’ system doesn’t work. It means I was lazy and didn’t do a simple crop rotation (that I’ve done before…) and have a ‘skip year’ for things seed eating birds like.

In short: I’ve spent over 50 years growing up in farm country, working on farms, helping my Dad on his “toy farm” (from which we ate nicely…) and going to an Ag college, being a bio-sciences major for about 3 years and taking upper division genetics. All the time looking at new and different cultural techniques. I have a fascination with hydroponics and greenhouse systems (due to their extraordinary productivity) and I’ve got a modified French Intensive system in the backyard. (Squares, not rows, and some chemical fertilizers as I’ve been a bit lazy with the compost…)

So in terms of “who has no clue”… well, all I can say is that I’ve got a lot of clue. So must be someone else who’s a turnip shy of a cart load…

In Conclusion

Greg,

You are welcome here, but: Read the “rules” up top. Don’t insult people or call them stupid. Realize that when you leap off a ‘cliff of conclusion’ it is you who crash at the bottom.

A few minutes with a search engine could have shown you that Organic production is way more profitable than bulk chemical. A few more would have shown systems of farming and gardening that produce as much or more per acre and do it “organically”. (And some that produce less tons / acre but even more $/acre). Heck, even actually reading what I wrote would have saved you from blanket assertion of clearly untrue things.

So “clean it up a little” and play nice. Be polite. I’m not out to prevent you from growing all the corn and soybeans and whatever you want, dumping on all the fertilizer you can buy, or even playing around with FrankenFoods. Just keep their pollen inside your farm borders, and keep them off my dinner plate. For the simple reason that knowing how the immune system works tells me it is just a matter of time before I’m in the ER with a shock reaction to Bt. Yes, it’s “my problem” as I’m the one with the metabolism that attacks any persistent foreign protein as a potential Malaria threat… but you don’t need to make it impossible for me to eat, either.

What’s that, you say? It isn’t possible to keep the genes inside your borders?
Ah, well, now that’s gonna be a problem…
Hope your liability insurance is all paid up…

(The number of lawsuits that will be kicked up once folks start having documented reactions is going to make a lot of lawyers rich…)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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77 Responses to Carping Comment on Farming

  1. As an aside, I have pesticides in the family, sort of … in the manner you describe for Farmer Tom. Here’s a transcription from my father’s recorded memories; this would date to the middle of the “Roaring Twenties” when my father was a King of the Road:

    Work was sometimes available, such as one job I had. It was in Kentucky tobacco called Worm and Suckle. The damned worms were the size of hot dogs (no kidding). They must be pulled off by hand and stomped. The suckers, when snapped off, gave off an ooze. The result was that after a few hours I had a buildup of gumlike goo on my hands a half inch thick and on my shoes it was an inch thick, but the pay was good, $1 per day.

    Some jobs where the pay was good: Picking apples in New York state. Setting out tomato plants in Virginia (a real back breaker). And whitewashing fences – these jobs paid $1 per day.

    I don’t imagine we’d have too many people signing up for that line of work these days — unless forced upon them.

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  2. EM – that’s a well-thought rant. It should be pretty obvious to everyone in Europe, with our “beef mountains”, “butter mountains” and “wine lakes” that we can produce much more food than we can currently eat, and here in France in any case farmers are paid to leave land fallow rather than pay them for the unwanted crops. The amount of pesticides needed to keep pest damage down can be reduced anyway by companion planting, but this makes it more difficult to harvest at the moment. I’d suspect that in future the more-intelligent AI harvesters could deal with that, and we may end up with a very mixed-up looking field of produce. The main problem of pests is that since they have whole fields (in the US pretty damn near whole states) with one crop, they multiply pretty well unless poisoned or otherwise reduced in number.

    One thing you have missed out, though, is the improved taste of a lot of “organic” produce. If you buy carrots in the supermarket, and compare the taste to ones you’ve grown organically, it’s quite a difference. I had thought that the many years of smoking had destroyed my taste buds (it’s said to happen) but yes, carrots do taste just as good now as when I was a kid.

    If I was going to eat meat, I’d rather eat something that had been living in as near to a natural state as possible rather than something that is brought up in the dark and fed only on concentrates. I have a low tolerance level for meat, so to save problems I normally just tell people I can’t eat it. It saves long explanations.

    Fertilisers if they are applied correctly can put land back into a good state, but generally enough Nitrogen is fixed by root nodules and thunderstorms to supply all that is needed provided a long-enough crop rotation system is used. On my land, the pH varies over the space of a few yards, and although it’s not been tested I expect the actual nutrient concentration also varies over short distances – I can see variations in what weeds tend to dominate. Since vines go around 30-odd metres down, what happens at the surface of the soil is not that critical, so I don’t need fertilisers and if I did I’d be boring holes to insert it anyway. The various weeds perform a service of helping the field store rainfall and providing something else for the pollinators to eat. I would like to remove the brambles totally, since they hurt me, but otherwise I’m happy with a nice diverse habitat in which I’ve found I don’t even need to spray with Bordeaux mixture in a normal season.

    GMOs are in general a solution to the problem of not making enough money. I’d rather avoid the problems of possible sensitisation or deaths from GMO food myself – it seems there’s more than enough money in the world anyway (where what we need is value/worth instead). Some people are making GMOs for valid reasons – they see a problem that may be fixed by GMOs such as more drought-resistant Millet, but even there we don’t know the safety of the end product, and won’t till it’s been eaten for a lifetime or two. Where the lifetime without it may be measured in years rather than decades, this may be a valid trade-off, though.

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    @Keith DeHavelle :

    My Dad taught his English Setter to pick Tomato Horn Worms off the vines. We had a garden that was about 50 feet by 20 feet and a LOT of tomatoes. As a kid, I would pick the worms and put them in an old soup can. (What happened to them then was, er, “experimentation”….)

    So Dad, realizing I was not going to like “experimenting” on worms forever, decided he ought to put someone a bit less picky (and a lot more ‘trainable’ ;-) on the payroll…

    Turns out that the the dog really liked the “game”. She would spot them, pick them off and with one bite cut them in half, and move on to the next plant.

    Only downside was that the “mostly white with light gold patches” English Setter ended the day looking kind of ‘light green with copper green patches’ from the tomato vines…

    But she liked having a bath, too…

    Tobacco Horn Worms have a different stripe (straight, not V) but otherwise look about the same. Per the wiki, up to 70 mm long.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manduca_sexta Carolina Sphinx moth.

    so about the size of a finger…

    Oddly, it looks like you can have fun with them in the lab …

    Like Drosophila melanogaster, M. sexta is commonly used as a model organism for experiments. They are frequently studied in the laboratory due to their large size and relative ease of rearing. They may be reared on host plants, such as tobacco and tobacco relatives, tomato plants, or wheat germ-based artificial diet. Their rearing is straightforward, as long as they receive a “long day” (i.e., 14 hour) daylight cycle during development to prevent diapause.
    […]
    When fed an artificial diet, Manduca larvae do not consume the xanthophyll needed to produce their green coloration; instead they appear blue. On some diets, they have very little pigment and pigment precursors, so are a very pale blue-white

    Speaking of “things in plants don’t all get broken down in digestion and get absorbed”… Rather like beta carotene where if you eat enough carrots you turn orange. Doesn’t cause any problem, other than looking like a murf….

    Wonder if there’s a food to make me blue? It might be fun to be a light sky blue for a week or two…

    Per folks “not wanting the work”: Always a possibility. But since we have 20% unemployment among the young, and as I was doing that kind of farm work when young, well…

    BTW, my “tomato horn worm” problem went away the third year I was growing tomatoes. Some wasps had settled into the ecology. Several pest worms just ‘went away’. I’ve now spent a few years just watching the various wasps work over the garden all day every day… Some very tiny ones pollinate the parsnips as they work over the occasional aphid patch. Another larger one looks for bigger “lunch”. The sparrow or finch like thing nesting under the awning hauls in an endless stream of ‘winged stuff’. I think it must be catching them in flight. All in all, by letting the ecology just adjust, my “pest” issue is pretty much gone in terms of insects.

    I do have that tweety bird issue… but they only show up if I grow seeds they like three or more years in a row. On Amaranth, they showed up year two… First year was great yield of seeds. Second year, great yield… Then just 2 days before I was going to harvest, a flock of them showed up and “did lunch”… It was great fun to watch… And I know I ought to have stopped them. But… Well… They are just so darned cute…

    There is also that unknown white tiny thing in the perpetual potato bed. I’m giving it one more year to see if something else moves in to eat them. If not, then it looks like I get to do a ‘potato rotation’ each year. (Good practice anyway… but since part of my purpose is just to have such plants available should I need them, and not go for maximum yield now; I’m more interested in “minimum work to maintain seed stock” than actual volume produced. Provided I know how to produce volume later…)

    But on the labor thing: Maybe we can build robots to do it ;-) Oh, wait, we already do… in the sense that there is already a LOT of mechanization on the farm. I suspect that some decent wasp and insectivorous bat lodgings near / in fields would go a long way… Tiny biological robots?

    By keeping some of the garden going year round, there’s always something for the wasps to ‘work over’ and something for the birds and bats to hunt, so it is now a pretty stable population. Only the seed eating tweety birds seem to have a migratory “swoop” in at an inopportune (for me ;-) time…

    The “Good News” is that given inflation since “back then”, those $1/day wages would be about the same as minimum wage now…

    At any rate, I’d likely go for hydroponic inside enclosed greenhouses as the best way to make pure and clean food in very large quantity and without much sprays needed.

    Hmm…. Other than eating silver, not seeing much in the way of blue skin causing stuff… Oh, and some genetics:

    http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~kyperry3/Blue_Fugates_Troublesome_Creek.html

    What he got from Martin Fugate was dark blue skin. “It was almost purple,” his father recalls.

    Doctors were so astonished by the color of Benjamin “Benjy” Stacy’s skin that they raced him by ambulance from the maternity ward in the hospital near Hazard to a medical clinic in Lexington. Two days of tests produced no explanation for skin the color of a bruised plum.

    A transfusion was being prepared when Benjamin’s grandmother spoke up. “Have you ever heard of the blue Fugates of Troublesome Creek?” she asked the doctors.

    “My grandmother Luna on my dad’s side was a blue Fugate. It was real bad in her,” Alva Stacy, the boy’s father, explained. “The doctors finally came to the conclusion that Benjamin’s color was due to blood inherited from generations back.”

    Benjamin lost his blue tint within a few weeks, and now he is about as normal looking a seven-year-old boy as you could hope to find. His lips and fingernails still turn a shade of purple-blue when he gets cold or angry a quirk that so intrigued medical students after Benjamin’s birth that they would crowd around the baby and try to make him cry. “Benjamin was a pretty big item in the hospital,” his mother says with a grin.

    Dark blue lips and fingernails are the only traces of Martin Fugate’s legacy left in the boy; that, and the recessive gene that has shaded many of the Fugates and their kin blue for the past 162 years.

    They’re known simply as the “blue people” in the hills and hollows around Troublesome and Ball Creeks. Most lived to their 80s and 90s without serious illness associated with the skin discoloration. For some, though, there was a pain not seen in lab tests. That was the pain of being blue in a world that is mostly shades of white to black.

    But it looks like if I could get an enzyme disruptor….

    Cawein, Madison, et. al. “Hereditary diaphorase deficiency and methemoglobinemia”

    So bind with diaphorase and in no time I could be blue… even if it wears off when the enzyme is replaced…

    There’s got to be another choice in between “hereditary enzyme deficiency” and “permanent silver”…

    I think that one is going to take a while to solve…

  4. BobN says:

    I think our air and chemical environment needs to be watched as periodic dangers keep being uncovered. Anything new should be used cautiously until the data proves it safety.
    My big hope is the development of LENR for low cost heat that can be used to launch indoor vertical farming. It has been estimated that an acre of indoor farming can produce the equivalent of 2000 acres of normal farming. With this technology the world could be awash in food at very low prices. I even see this as a partial solution to the growing systemic problem of no jobs.

    If LENR works out, I could easily see a reversal of the trend of people moving to the city, instead people could be enticed to move to the country and farm very small plots of land, making themselves self sufficient. They can barter or sell their excess to pay for their outside costs. This lifestyle would be good hard work, but would get many people out from monotonous jobs and freedom from the grind of driving freeways. Its even conceivable that this could be a partial solution to the welfare problem. People could be given a few acres of land to grow things to support themselves.

    With the vertical farming pest control could greatly be reduced by just having walls and proper spraying of the perimeter and not the crops themselves. I see a whole new structure evolving around farming groups that work together to be a working community. Things could greatly change for the better if the LENR works out and people apply it properly.

  5. Kevinm says:

    That worm picking story is priceless.

    Every once in a while I flame the host too. Happens on mixed- content political blogs. Regrettable and foolish feeling usually follows.

  6. Sera says:

    Thanks again for a wonderful blog with important /current topics. I searched a little further, and found this http://www.rodale.com/alfalfa and nearly ‘had a cow’. One of our horses just had a bad case of colic, which needed surgery, and is now on an alfalfa cube diet as he cannot eat hay. I had no idea that alfalfa was so widely used for feed. I will make sure everyone at the stable gets this info. Thanks again.

  7. John F. Hultquist says:

    A. The individuality of reactions to things is scary. My spouse is one of the very few folks that react to Heparin . . .{ HIT }:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heparin-induced_thrombocytopenia

    . . . and while she survived – doing so surprised a number of her medical team. Heprin is common in hospitals and used routinely. We had to hand-letter a sign and taped it near her to warn everyone of ‘HIT’.

    B. “Wonder if there’s a food to make me blue? It might be fun to be a light sky blue for a week or two…”

    The issue here is the part about “for a week or two.” Other than that, it is easy to turn yourself light blue. I have seen this in an elderly lady in a nursing home where my wife and friends entertain with old-time music. Check out this link for “Argyria”:
    http://www.rense.com/general12/blueasdf.htm

    C. “hydroponic inside enclosed greenhouses”
    http://bcgreenhouse.ca/
    That’s the home page. Follow some of the links. Our local Costco Store usually has some of this stuff – especially red, yellow, and orange sweet peppers.

  8. p.g.sharrow says:

    The only problem I have with hydroponic vegies is the taste is even worse then field chemie taste. My garden vegies like carrots, beets and tomatoes are sweet and very tasty. pg

  9. Petrossa says:

    Hydroponic greenhouses have been the major source of vegetable export from the Netherlands. At the moment 2 story, 1000 ppm CO2 greenhouses churn out vegetables on a continuous basis and is amjor exporter. You don’t need farmland nor much labor to grow lot’s of foodstuffs. Due to their enclosed nature less pesticides.

    The power of Dutch greenhouse vegetable horticulture: An analysis of
    the private sector and its institutional framework

    “Withrespect to crop protection, the objective is to have reduced pesticide use by
    88% in 2010 as compared with the average use in the period 1984-1988. The current use of pesticide
    is already lower than this standard.”

    http://edepot.wur.nl/27928

  10. Pascvaks says:

    Thoughts –
    @Keith DeHavelle: The problem with ‘getting back to nature’ in this country is the Interstate Highway system. Eisenhower saw the ‘miracle’ of the German Autobahn (as did a few million others) and said ‘That’s a Good Idear!”, now look at the mess we got. We’d have a heck of a lot more room if we didn’t have so many highways! The world is just too small. The story about your Dad makes me ponder one of life’s mysteries, nothing’s ‘all’ bad, not even Great Depressions. That generation didn’t get to be the “Greatest” because of what they had, but for what they didn’t have and were forced to do by events; strange how things and people work. Guess there’s some BIG drawbacks to having all that money can buy, or all that gruberment can give you. Now do you suppose that is? Reminds me of one of those “Laws” of nature, the one that says: For Every Action There Is An Equal And Opposite Reaction;-)

    @EM – Tomato Horn Worms? Experiments? There is definitely something genetically different about boys and girls and all you need is a bug to prove it. The bigger the bug the bigger the difference observed. I can’t tell you the ‘experiments’ I conducted on those big ugly things, a lawyer might be listening;-) Oh! Ever notice the change girls go through with bugs? Before they have their first child they’re all scaredy-pants, after the child is born they’ll kill anything or anyone (sometimes in a very funny way), after the child leaves home a girl will start to revert to the way she was as a child. Must be something hormonal?

    “I’d likely go for hydroponic inside enclosed greenhouses” — this and related comments by others and this ‘vision’ I have everytime I see a closed Supermarket or Lowes or Mall or Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, or downtown office building, etc. etc., — now if the rent weren’t too steep and the owner would rip off the roof and put in a nice clear ceiling and walls etc bet someone could grow something. And if the owner wouldn’t do that, bet someone could grow organic occidental mushrooms. Still trying to imagine what to do with all the closed new and used car lots. Think the Gruberment would give folks a loan for things like that, or you think the Chinese might veto it?

    When I see an old factory building, the kind they’re renovating into condos in big cities, I think: ‘Why not gut them and turn them into trailer park buildings?’ But I guess you’d need a pretty big forklift wouldn’t you?

    “The “Good News” is that given inflation since “back then”, those $1/day wages would be about the same as minimum wage now…” Makes you appreciate the ‘cost’ of a cup of coffee or a telephone call; “Hay Buddy, can you spare a dime?” Maybe an answer to inflation is to roll back prices ever New Year’s Eve… nah that won’t work, who wants to make the same thing they made last year?;-)

    @PG: “The only problem I have with hydroponic vegies is the taste is even worse then field chemie taste. My garden vegies like carrots, beets and tomatoes are sweet and very tasty.”

    Can’t resist! I hear Monsanto is working on something that will make them taste like natural, field raised veggies. I think they have a new gene mix from something they’ve found in the Amazon. (Or was it something or someone they found on Amazon;-)

  11. greg copeland says:

    I was not speaking specifically of you. I was talking about the overall comments of your comment section. I wonder whether you all have a solution to pesticides like roundup or 24d. They are two of the most effective pesticides on the market and least toxic. Go out and try to grow a crop without them. Organic farming is ok, but it will not feed the masses. Farming is very marginal econmically for the average farmer. Without pesticides most of us would have to quit and then where would you get your food, Mexico, south america? Quote all the studies on bad preticides and gn crops. I am very sceptical of all such studies. Most are biased. You state that you have medical issues with some chemicals. Should we ban these chemicals because a fes people are like you? Did we stop growing peanuts because of the allergies of some people. Articles such as your original one and the comments section of that article only help spread unfounded fears prople have of pesticides and gm crops. I state that you don’t have a clue because you are a city deweller and know nothing about the accuality of farming. All farmers are not big greedy corporations. Most of us are small family operations just trying to make a living off something that we love do do. I meant no dis-respect in my original comment. I just think you have no idea what farming is all about.

    [ Reply: Let me say it again: I have no problem with prudent use of roundup and 24-D. I think it is a horrible mistake to drench the continent in the stuff from coast to coast. Why? Because it is going to kill a lot of folks and make many more sick while simultaneously breeding a crop of super bugs and weeds resistant to them. Are chemicals MANDATORY? Not at all. It is quite possible to get the same level of yield without them. It does take more labor. Again: I would rather buy CONVENTIONAL food with non-GMO plants but can’t because the laws Monsanto wanted, and got, prevent it. The ONLY choice is to take the whole “organic” package just to avoid GMOs that are toxic. But, FWIW, one of the larger rice growers near my home town is an organic rice producer (who makes more money than the ‘conventional’ guys, BTW.) My degree is in Economics (with emphasis on farming issues due to going to an Ag School). As long as all farms are under the same legal limits on methods, the profit effects of a ban on a given technology would be neutral. Farming incomes would actually rise with less production (IF less production happened) as prices rise when quantity is reduced. Look at rBST milk production. Caused a loss of profit and loss of net dairy producers due to greater price pressure from even more excess production. Now you assert I know nothing about farming? Oh Please… Re-read my history here. Next you misquote by saying I have problems with “chemicals”. My problems are with allergies to biologicals. It is common (about 1/2 the population:

    Allergy Statistics and Allergy Facts – WebMD – Better …
    Here’s a rundown of some of the most important allergy statistics — based on the best available data. Number of people in the U.S. who have either allergy or asthma symptoms: one in five. Percentage of the U.S. population that tests positive to one or more allergens: 55%.
    webmd.com/allergies/allergy-statistics

    so this isn’t a small issue. BTW, it is likely that the rise of peanut allergies is due to the cross sensitizing from allergen promotors like Bt Toxin. In California, peanuts ARE banned in schools (and many other places) as it’s gotten that bad. What you fail to accept (or grasp?) is that the disaster is going to land on your head if you farm GMOs. Especially Bt based. It will take a year or three for the problems to become rampant and apparent, and just about the time there is no alternative seed available in sufficient quantity, you will find your “crop” suddenly declared “toxic waste”. Think you can take one complete crop loss year and then 2 years of “fallow” waiting for founders seed to be grown out to production for subsequent year plantings? Founder stock is grown, then some of it is used to grow out (usually over 2 years, but it varies by crop) production seeds. You are looking at a 3 year process. So when (and it IS a when) the Bt toxin is demonstrably killing and sickening folks, you go out of business. I’d not hitch my wagon to that. Per asserting I don’t know farming: I guess you didn’t read what I said of my background. Drove a tractor at about 8 long before I drove a car. Picked peaches and walnuts. Bucked hay. Helped Dad raise a few cattle. The whole economy of my home town was farms. I just knew enough to get out of town. BTW, that “founders stock” issue above? Not a hypothetical. It already happened in a small way. Bayer was doing a test plot of GM Rice. It ‘escaped’ and contaminated the “founder stock” grow of the conventional rice in the USA. Various nations banned it (as it was not approved for release) and we had a rice shortage globally. Took a while to regrow seeds for production from the seed archives that were not contaminated. Like it or not, I know a heck of a lot about farm operations and production, and more about seed production issues. I run a small seed production operation in my garden and have a seed archive ‘for that day’. So the assertion of ignorance is flat out wrong. Hint: Start by assuming folks know something. Second Hint: Ask yourself “What if GMOs are found toxic?”.
    -E.M.Smith ]

  12. adolfogiurfa says:

    @P.G.: Hydroponics: Like men with plastic/rubber shoes: There is no ions exchange with the soil. Only for feeding Al baby´s kind of fools.

  13. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Pascvaks: I think they have a new gene mix from something they’ve found in the Amazon
    Send all those New Age researchers to the Amazon Jungle and let them in the middle of it: They will be the happiest people in the world as they will be totally absorbed and digested in their holy Gaia in a few days…

  14. Julian Jones says:

    All good stuff ! Europe & USA simply appear like Hydraulic Empires (Wittfogel) in their dying days – in a not dissimilar way and for associated reasons that GMOs appear the end point of 5,000+ years of ‘slash & burn’ agriculture …
    Thanks for digging out my Climategate mails to UEA in previous blog.
    As I pointed out in these mails, there is a “a relatively ‘cheap’ response to climate change” – that will of course also resolve many of our other dilemmas; particularly economic.
    Best wishes
    Julian Jones
    http://www.water21.org.uk

  15. Pascvaks says:

    @Adolfo – So true, but… you know the BIGGEST problem? Getting those stupid fat kids to turnoff their mainframes, get off their fat ass, pickup their laptops, pack their bags, get on a 747 to fly down there, jump in a boat, sail up river, jump overboard, and simply Do It. We definitely need a few nearby supernovas, some very large earth directed solar flares and coronal bursts, and maybe a plague or two. Without them old friend, I fear all will be lost. I hear there’s a few new thrills out there that are sweeping the planet like wildfire: “e-Sex”, “e-Marriage”, AND “e-Kids”. No pain, no strain, no expense, no diapers, no nothing. After China started killing all their girls, I guess it wasn’t too much of a jump to kill all the babies. Funny, I never thought it was going to end this way. “e-Sex”??? NO WAY!!!!

  16. greg copeland says:

    I would like to help you understand the scope of farming. Go to Google Maps. Zoom in really close to Kansas. Scroll from Texas all the way up to Alberta Canada. Scroll from Denver over to Chicago. Can we put all this land under hydroponic greenhouses? Can we organic farm all this land? Can the average family afford to buy organic or hydroponically grown food? NO. It takes an unbeleivable amount of food to feed the world and we must use chemicals to do it.

    [REPLY: I’ve DRIVEN across all that land. Over a dozen times (I’ve lost count, but at all latitudes from southern Canada to Mexican border, coast to coast). The latest was about 9 months ago. From the tip of Florida, across Texas, and into Northern California. Lose the “you stupid” attitude and the assumption that other folks are ignorant. We’re not. No, it doesn’t all need to be greenhouses. Then again, the vast bulk of it goes to animal feed, not people feed (other than the 15% or so that feeds cars). No, it doesn’t all need to be organic. As I’ve said a few dozen times: the only reason I am “going organic” is because it is the only way to avoid GMOs. Learn to read what I say. It is nearly trivial to have it all be not GMO as it was such just a few years ago and at about the same level of productivity. Can the average family afford to buy Organic? Absolutely. I’ve watched prices closely for a long time. Organic produce is now priced about at parity with “conventional” (and sometimes cheaper). As pointed out in the reference (which you also seem not to have bothered to read) productivity in organic farming can be the same or higher than conventional. NO, we don’t need to use chemicals to feed the world. It is just more convenient to do so and farm profit is higher while farm labor is lower. To repeat, since you didn’t catch it the first half dozen times: I’m FINE with chemical fertilizer; and FINE with conventional pesticides used sparingly and carefully. BTW, if we used greenhouses to grow ALL the crops, we’d need about 1/10 the land area covered. So NO, we don’t need to cover the whole country with greenhouses (even though we could… I won’t go into “how”, but I’ve done the math and analysis and it is possible to do it. We just don’t need to do that until about 100 Billion population on the planet.) So open your mind a bit, actually take a bit of time to look into things beyond your preconceptions, and read what I write. -E.M.Smith ]

  17. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Pascvaks: The total obliteration of the current paradigm will do it:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/07/09/weak-solar-convection-approximately-100-times-slower-than-scientists-had-previously-projected/
    And if some help is needed from above, the increased frequency of Schumann´s resonance will make it. A new radio is transmitting through the ether and they don´t have the appropiate RF coils, their circuits will begin bursting out.

  18. adolfogiurfa says:

    BTW: you say: “e-kids”, “e-sex”, “e-marriage”, etc.
    I say E-DIOTS :-)

  19. greg copeland says:

    If you are such a sceptic on the AGW theory, as i am, why do you put so much stock in all of the studies on GM crops and evil Monsanto. They are all done by grant seeking people with an agenda. Being 65 years and having heard all the negative on everything from coffee to second hand smoke, I am leary of everyone of them. Somewhere in almost all of these studies is an appeal for more funding, just like AGW scientists. This is the last time I will bother you because I don’t think I can change any mindsets. Thanks.

    [Reply: It’s pretty simple, really. I know how genetics works and I know has the immune system works. I’ve lived with a tendency to high immune response my whole life and can pretty well predict when things are likely to cause problems. As I look at the ‘safety testing’ done on GMOs, it is quite clearly “nearly nothing”, yet even those studies find problems in animals fed GMOs (see the link to the meta study that looks at a survey of them, including the ones done by industry). Basically: I am NOT a skeptic out of some kind of political suspicion of all things scientific or paid-science; I am skeptical of shoddy science when I see it and endorse sound science when I see it. The science that claims AGW is happening is shoddy, and the science that claims GMOs are safe is shoddy. BOTH have a policy of putting their folks in positions of authority in government and NGOs. Neither has good support from truly independent well done research. Also realize I have no “mind set” to change. There is data, process, and result. It isn’t about me. It isn’t about my ‘mind set’. It isn’t about what I want or what I feel. It is about: What is the evidence for allergenicity? (Positive and observed illness). What is the evidence for crossing from digestion into the blood? (Positive and observed). What is the evidence for pervasive presence in the food supply? (Positive and observed via published production numbers). What is the evidence for ME having a metabolism prone to allergy? (VERY Positive and FREQUENTLY observed.) What does simple logic derive from that? ( I can do it as symbolic logic if desired, it’s a simple set of equations.) The inevitable conclusion is that it is only a matter of time… -E.M.Smith]

  20. Reblogged this on The GOLDEN RULE and commented:
    A few comments:
    Thanks to EM. for once again producing a first class article about a very serious subject. It includes some issues regarding his reader comments and allergies which are personal and don’t belong here, but hopefully this ‘over-exposure’ is of little importance relative to the subject matter of GM foods and pesticides.

  21. E.M.Smith says:

    @Ken McMurtrie:

    Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to get some folks to hear you without being “in their grill”. I learned this while working on The Psych Ward and observing the shrinks and nurses… So in “carping comments”, I allow myself to “get in the grill” of folks who are deliberately being in mine.

    It is an example of a personal philosphy of “Being a mirror”. Folks can only hear you if you communicate on their level. Level of education. Level of mental capacity. And, sadly, all too often, their level of “emotional tone”. Basically, rude and aggressive folks don’t hear you unless you are rude and agressive back. While it is not my personal style, and in fact isn’t “me” at all; it is a very usefull skill as it is often necessary. (If you find any more effective technique, I’m open to it; but this one is lifted directly from discussion with the behavior professionals on the ward… As a ‘medical records technician’ we each had a ward. Mine was orthopedics. BUT, we all rotated 2 week stints on Psych as that was about all you could take… )

    Per sharing personal information: That, too, is unfortunately needed for some folks. They don’t ‘get it’ if you point at academic citations or talk about “others”. Not personal enough. They will hear “personal” and they will hear “from me” as the individual is the ultimate authority on themselves.

    So while I, too, would much prefer to be a “private person” and have things be “always polite”, it is unfortunately true that sometimes for some folks, the only way they “get it” is by being “in their grill” and personal about it too. It is a technique I reserve for rare uses, but this, IMHO, is one that needs it.

    If you say politely “Please stop doing things that might make some people sick. Please see this link.” it is simply dimissed. As I’m actually at risk of death and injury from this technology, it is “worth it” to me to make sure the message is heard by the folks least willing to hear it…

    FWIW, and this will hopefully not weaking the strenght of the posting, the “technique” is largely artificial. While working a record on a patient, another patient came to the Doctors Lounge (where I worked records). A very nice Doctor and wonderfully polite Nurse were talking in low tones. The Nurse then turned to the patient, put on a very angry grimmace and nearly shouted “GET BACK TO YOUR ROOM!” with a threatening body posture. ( I was startled and nearly jumped… wondering just who was the patient and who had anger management issues here…) the patient went back to their room and the Nurse turned back to the Doctor; both picking up their polite and professional conversation where they had left off… (Twilight Zone, I’m thinking…)

    Later, talking with the Nurse, she explained that the patients they had often would only really understand communications via tone of voice and posturing. That if you talked softly and politlely, then they would simply stay and bask in the soothing tones… That it was important to “level” the communications at their competency and communications skill level. That was the start of my “Be a mirror” philosophy…

    So just as one needs to be an pretty good actor to work on a Psych ward, displaying angre and agression on demand ( a skill also useful on back streets of the wrong side of town…) it is also a useful technique when dealing with “Carpers”.

    So, like it or not, it does belong here.

    (Personally, I’ve never liked it; but from years of trial and observation I can confirm that it works and it an important technique. Which is roughly what the Nurse said to me way back then too…)

    @Adolfo:

    Shumann’s resonance is changing? Linky? m

    BTW, there are many kinds of hydroponics and many of them do involve ion exchange. The food made can be more healthful than dirt grown foods (no soil fungi / nematodes / etc. that can cause health problems). One of the systems I like best uses a sand bed and the hydroponic solution is washed through it. Using the right kinds of sand can give lots of nice ion buffering. Much easier to keep the mix right than using just a water bath.

    Basically, it is up to the gardener to play “ion manager” and if done right, you get better ion availablity to the plants. (By definition the solutions are mixed to have the ideal of all ions at the start, but over time they deplete directly in proportion to growth. So one needs to be “on top of it” for all the trace elements. Using a mixed sand bed means some of them are buffered into the bed and you can be a bit more lax about daily monitoring.

    Yes, it’s easier to “keep it right” with soil and clay adsorbants, but a lot of dirt is also ion defficient or has chealators in them; so they are far from perfect too…

    @Pascvaks:

    There are “light pipes” that can be retrofitted into roofs so you don’t need to replace the whole thing and many plants like partial shade. It is very profitable to grow some crops under largely artificial lighting. “Grow Houses” are regularly “busted” by the cops… ;-)

    I suspect that growing fresh culinary herbs would be very profitable even under 100% HID lighting. (Metal High Intensity Discharge) and it is often the case that artificial lighting is used to control the life cycle of the plants (so things can be grown “out of season”)

    Just a ways south of me is a large warehouse full of mushrooms… Easy to do. BUT, you need a large supply of horse manure nearby … hard to find in the city…

    @P.G. Sharrow:

    If it tastes bad, you’re doing it wrong! ;-)

    Decent hydroponics can make world class vegetables. Poorly done hydoponics can make crap…

    @John F. Hultquist:

    It is one of the ‘things everyone knows’ that is wrong: That we are all basically the same.

    We are not. Each of us is a unique metabolism with strong variation and idiosyncracies. that’s why I’m prone to being VERY careful about taking any new drug. Having worked in a hospital for a few years and seeing all the ‘off’ reactions, you just don’t know what any given drug is going to do to any given person. (I was once given a ‘sleeping pill’ to make me sleepy prior to surgery. My heart rate went up and I went to wide awake alert. Why? Something about it ‘felt wrong’ and I hit the adrenaline button… )

    But don’t worry, after a few more generations of Modern Medicine the survivors will be the ones that match the textbooks …. 8-{

    @BobN:

    LENR would be a slam dunk, but frankly, just using regular old Fission in modern modular rectors (with U or Th either one) gives electricity at about 3 Cents / kW-hr and that’s more than cheap enough to run artifical lighting grow rooms.

    Why we don’t do it is a whole ‘nother posting….

    Pesonally, were I “God in Charge” of the global economy, I’d have a “one continent per lifetime” rule on anything that might cause dramatic harm. So any one continent could sign up for GMO and run with it for 50 years or so. Then add the next one if no bad thing happens.

    Globalization is just so wrong…

  22. BobN says:

    @EM – I little off topic, but I’m curious if you have investigated the use of electricity to stimulate plants. A few years ago I read an article about a guy that applied high voltage to his plants. Over time the ones that had high voltage produced much more than the ones not energized. I have never seen a reason for this or if any official studies were ever done.

  23. E.M.Smith says:

    After hours of wading through countless “Hair On Fire” panic pages, I found a nice analytical page that has a very nice set of references. It is a ‘meta study’ that looks at the results of other studies, gives their references, and summarizes the results.

    http://www.enveurope.com/content/23/1/10

    It has an in depth discussion of the studies, the results, and gives specifics about what the various GM crops do to test mammals (and what is wrong with the tests – mostly just being way to short at under 90 days).

    It’s mostly kidney and liver issues, and they vary by gender, so likely some endocrine involvement.

    An example:

    Several convergent data appear to indicate liver and kidney problems as end points of GMO diet effects in the above-mentioned experiments. This was confirmed by our meta-analysis of all the in vivo studies published, which revealed that the kidneys were particularly affected, concentrating 43.5% of all disrupted parameters in males, whereas the liver was more specifically disrupted in females (30.8% of all disrupted parameters).
    […]
    Some GMOs (Roundup tolerant and MON863) affect the body weight increase at least in one sex [2,14]. It is a parameter considered as a very good predictor of side effects in various organs. Several convergent factors appear to indicate liver and kidney problems as end points of GMO diet effects in these experiments [2,5,15,16]. This was confirmed by our meta-analysis of all in vivo studies published on this particular topic (Table 2). The kidneys are particularly affected, concentrating 42% of all parameters disrupted in males. However, other organs may be affected too, such as the heart and spleen, or blood cells [5].
    […]
    Liver parameters

    For one of the longest independent tests performed, a GM herbicide-tolerant soybean available on the market was used to feed mice. It caused the development of irregular hepatocyte nuclei, more nuclear pores, numerous small fibrillar centers, and abundant dense fibrillar components, indicating increased metabolic rates [17]. It was hypothesized that the herbicide residues could be responsible for that because this particular GM plant can absorb the chemicals to which it was rendered tolerant. Such chemicals may be involved in the above-mentioned pathological features. This became even clearer when Roundup residues provoked similar features in rat hepatic cells directly in vitro [18]. The reversibility observed in some instances for these parameters in vivo [19] might be explained by the heterogeneity of the herbicide residues in the feed [20]. Anyway, these are specific parameters of ultrastructural dysfunction, and the relevance is clear. The liver is reacting. The Roundup residues have been also shown to be toxic for human placental, embryonic, and umbilical cord cells [21-23]. This was also the case for hepatic human cell lines in a comparable manner, inducing nuclei and membrane changes, apoptosis and necrosis [24].

    The other major GMO trait has to do with the mutated (mBt) insecticidal peptidic toxins produced by transgenes in plants. In this case, some studies with maize confirmed histopathological changes in the liver and the kidneys of rats after GM feed consumption. Such changes consist in congestion, cell nucleus border changes, and severe granular degeneration in the liver [16]. Similarly, in the MON810 studies, a significantly lower albumin/globulin ratio indicated a change in hepatic metabolism of 33% of GM-fed male rats (according to EFSA opinion on MON810 and [5]). Taken together, the results indicate potential adverse effects in hepatic metabolism.

    The specific articles are pointed to by the footnote numbers.

    So even in modestly short tests, problematic “issues” show up in liver and kidney changes. One can only wonder what happens over years… ( I presume most of us would like to live more than an added 90 days…)

    @BobN:

    Never heard of it, but can think of easy ways for it to work. Look at electrophoresis. The separation of materials in a gel via a modest impressed voltage. As plants use various hormones to signal growth and size, an impressed current could move the signals around…

    Just suppress the flow of the apical dominance hormone and lots of other buds will start producing extra growth (each in turn trying to be the apex bud).

    Would make a nice Science Fair project. A dozen pots. 2 controls, 5 each of various voltage steps (both positive and negative graduations). Pretty easy to set up…

  24. p.g.sharrow says:

    @BobN; do you have any links to HV effects that has been done? I will have to do a great deal of work on the long term effects of high voltage fields on living things in the future. At the present most of the information that I have is quite sketchy. I have spent much of my life in the field of animal husbandry. I also have a great deal of experience in the creation of high energy EMF fields pg

  25. E.M.Smith says:

    I’ve found a few comments from Greg Copeland and approved them. (My replies to them are ‘inline’ as appended text).

    Also, here’s an interesting study looking at Bt changes in mice guts fed on Bt potatoes:

    http://www.biotech-info.net/bt_cummins.html

    Makes an interesting point I’d not thought about. Bacterial DNA directly is an immune trigger. I knew that, but didn’t “connect the dots” that the same DNA is now in plants… The methylation is different and our immune systems are sensitive to that… Also, being as they are outside of a bacterial coat, those genes are free to wander off when the plant cell is digested… and like DNA vaccines, can go to all sorts of places…

    The impact of bacterial DNA on the immune system (the CpG effect): Essentially all of the GM crops marketed or being field tested presently contain bacterial sequences as a part of the plasmids used for delivering genes and many of the primary crop protection genes are of bacterial origin. Such genes include Bt and most herbicide tolerance genes. DNA vaccines have generated a huge literature and clinical applications showing the activity and cellular incorporation of DNA administered by oral, inhalation, injection, vaginal or dermal application (Molling 1997,Donnoley et al 1997 and Gurunathan et al 2000). Ingestion of bacteria does not appear to be an effective means of delivering DNA because the bacterial cell walls effectively contain the nucleic acid (for example, in yogurt the milk products are digested but the bacteria of the culture are passed intact). Lysis genes have been found necessary and effective in triggering release of DNA for mucosal vaccine delivery (Jani and Mekalanos 200). In contrast, the crops eaten by animals release oligonucleotides and DNA peptide complexes during digestion and such molecules circulate to a significant degree.

    The bacterial genes used in constructing GM crops have a property that impacts on the immune system over and above the ability to produce antibodies. Eukaryote DNA has relatively low frequencies of the dinucleotide motif CpG and that motif is methylated and plays a role in gene regulation while bacteria and their viruses have a high frequency of the CpG motif that is usually unmethylated. Apparently the CpG motif in DNA molecules and oligonucleotides provides a signal that the immune system recognizes and initiates a primary sequence of reactions leading to activation of the immune system leading to inflammation (Manders and Thomas 2000 and Gurunathan et al 2000).Gung et al (1999) found that bacterial DNA CpG caused septic arthritis. Hemmi et al (2000) found that there is a receptor protein that recognizes bacterial DNA. Oligonucleotides rich in the CpG motif are used to enhance immunization. Inflammation is an essential part of the immune response but it adversely affects existing conditions such as autoimmune disease. Furthermore, it has been found that CpG oligonucleotides rescue B cell lymphoma cells from anti-IgM mediated growth inhibition (Han et al 1999). The oligonucleotide acts as a promoter of lymphoma.

    Finally, Gorecki and Simons (1999) pointed out a danger to the fetus in DNA vaccination of the mother. That danger was the creation of tolerance in the fetus leading to individuals more susceptible to infection and/or they may become carriers. The introduction of genes with bacterial CpG motif to the fetus is likely to have untoward consequences.

    In conclusion, the bacterial genes used in GM crops have been found to have significant impacts on the individuals ingesting GM crops. The impacts include inflammation, arthritis and lymphoma promotion.

    There’s your direct mechanism for causality for a lot of various kinds of “autoimmune” and inflammatory enhancements. Along with a little lymphoma ‘kicker’…

    The stuff higher up in the article seems tame in comparision:

    The study below shows that Bt Cry 1 toxin which is used extensively in corn and cotton products (oil and seed meal) used in human and animal food damages the mammalian ileum. Damage to the ileum can produce chronic illness such as fecal incontinence and/or flu like upsets of the digestive system. A brief description of the ileum and its function follows the article abstract.

    The article: Natural Toxins Volume 6, Issue 6, 1998. Pages: 219-233 Published Online: 29 Jun 1999 “Fine Structural Changes in the Ileum of Mice Fed on -Endotoxin-Treated Potatoes and Transgenic Potatoes” Nagui H. Fares 1 *, Adel K. El-Sayed 2 1Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt 2Department of Entomology, Faculty of Science, Ain Shams University,Cairo, Egypt email: Nagui H. Fares (nfares@asunet.shams.eun
    […]
    Abstract: The present work has been designed to study the effect of feeding on transgenic potatoes, which carry the CryI gene of Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki strain HD1, on the light and electron microscopic structure of the mice ileum, in comparison with feeding on potatoes treated with the -endotoxin isolated from the same bacterial strain. The microscopic architecture of the enterocytes of the ileum of both groups of mice revealed certain common features such as the appearance of mitochondria with signs of degeneration and disrupted short microvilli at the luminal surface. However, in the group of mice fed on the -endotoxin, several villi appeared with an abnormally large number of enterocytes (151.8 in control group versus 197 and 155.8 in endotoxin and transgenic-treated groups, respectively). Fifty percent of these cells were hypertrophied and multinucleated. The mean area of enterocyte was significantly increased (105.3 =B5m2 in control group versus 165.4 =B5m2 and 116.5 =B5m2 in endotoxin and transgenic-treated groups, respectively). Several forms of secondary lysosomes or auotophagic vacuoles were recognized in these cells. These changes were confirmed with the scanning electron microscope which revealed a remarkable increase in the topographic contour of enterocytes (23 =B5m = in control group versus 44 =B5m and 28 =B5m in endotoxin and transgenic-treated groups, respectively) at the divulged surface of the villi. The basal lamina along the base of the enterocytes was damaged at several foci.

    Several disrupted microvilli appeared in association with variable-shaped cytoplasmic fragments. Some of these fragments contained endoplasmic reticulum, as well as ring-shaped annulate lamellae. In addition, the Paneth cells were highly activated and contained a large number of secretory granules. These changes may suggest that endotoxin-treated potatoes resulted in the development of hyperplastic cells in the mice ileum. Although mild changes are reported in the structural configuration of the ileum of mice fed on transgenic potatoes, nevertheless, thorough tests of these new types of genetically engineered crops must be made to avoid the risks before marketing.

    So looks like there is laboratory evidence for cellular changes in the gut in practice as well as in theory.

    Also note that the tests done particularly compared the modified Bt toxin in the transgenic potatoes to the un-modified one from the bacteria and found differences (with the modified one being more problematic). Basically, the Bt derived toxin is worse than the one from ‘the wild’ ( it is deliberately made different to enhance toxicity in bugs, so this ought not be that surprising.)

    That the plant break down releases the bacterial DNA Bt coding fragments into the gut is very problematic. It is then available for absorption by gut bacteria ( ‘bacterial conjugation’ happens all the time – basically the little buggers swap DNA a lot; and they also can just pick up loose bits of it from their environment). This creates the probability that given enough exposure (i.e. eating some every day) eventually you will end up with your native gut bacteria making Bt toxin all on their own. At that point you will need to figure out how to eradicate all your gut bacteria and get new, clean, replacements. Not easy given how antibiotic resistant most gut bacteria are becoming in our highly drug treated society…

    Don’t know if that has been shown to have already happened, or not; but it will happen. It is just how bacteria work and how they do gene swapping.

    I’d strongly suggest avoiding Bt potatoes… even if you are not a mouse. (And, as we noted before, rodents, bunnies, and primates are fairly closely related genetically… which is why they make such good lab test subjects for human disease…)

  26. BobN says:

    @P.G. Sharrow – I can’t find the particular article I wanted, but Google is rife with stories. Here are some links I thought looked interesting. I will look some more, but the one I’m looking for a guy zapped the ground around his plants with 10kV pulses and had great luck. I will look more tomorrow as its late.

    http://gizmoplans.com/high-voltage-static-electroculture-increase-plant-growth

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/xgmr3188x427xv26/

    http://www.ysjournal.com/article.asp?issn=0974-6102;year=2012;volume=5;issue=11;spage=38;epage=42;aulast=Fu;type=3

    http://www.academicjournals.org/ajb/pdf/pdf2010/27Sep/Demir.pdf

  27. EM – I feel lucky that there’s been such a rejection of GMOs in France, but I think I’ll still need to check on what has got in. Thanks for the heads-up on this – I’d thought I was fairly safe here but hadn’t really put much research into the problem.

    Although the idea of only allowing GM foods into one continent at a time would be nice, in practice it wouldn’t work since genes are built to spread as widely as possible. Once it’s introduced anywhere in open fields, it will spread and cross-pollinate.

    The problem of your own gut bacteria making Bt toxins (or modified Bt toxins) looks likely to become quite a problem where such GMOs are the only foods available. The mutability of bacterial DNA is maybe something that hasn’t been taken into account by research into the effects of GMOs on humans and other animals. There’s quite a high turnover in the gut – humans excrete around 50g of bacteria (about 2/3 of the faeces) per day, and that is quite a few million bacteria. Short reproduction cycle, large capacity for mutation – could be a major problem.

  28. Pascvaks says:

    @Greg Copeland – (Using the “tone-for-tone”;-) Alright BOZO here’s the skinny,see!… (changing tone and speaking now like a regular guy..;-) Not sure if you’re still around and got your eye’s on, but now that I have your attention (for some reason I ‘e-hear’ something in you that say’s “he just got off on the wrong foot”, and maybe if I say this the right way I can save your eternal soul from a little damnation;-).. OK, if you haven’t been here before and read various articles and comments to get a feel for the water (don’t you just love mixed metaphores;-) then I encourage you to do so AND, to save some time and strain on your part and ours, here’s a little info that might help: You’re dealing with intelligent, opinionated, hot headed old people just like you! WE AIN’T STUPID!!! We each bring more than you can imagine to the Chiefio’s table, of course he sets the table and says how we behave –it is his table (and food;-) — if you want to sit and have a bite or two, mind your tone and manners. For what it’s worth – we understand a lot about a lot, if you want eat (the food is great) or sit down to whittle a little around the old pot-bellied stove, put your Rambo-Knife away and break out your pocket-knife. PS: I got my own butt bit many a time for popping off before I realized who I was talking to around the web, you’re never to old. Gday!

    @EM –
    I actually forgot about the experts out there in Kalifornistan who could turn an Old Walmart or Lowes or HomeDepot anywhere in the country into a highly profitable Greenhouse. They could make billions in Detroit! Aren’t tomatoes related to that funny stuff they smoke?

    @All –
    Funny how little or nothing has changed in a billion years, we’re still trying to feed ourselves and not get killed in the process. By the way, is Monsanto self insured or do you think Lloyds of London is covering their backside; if I were in the actual-odds making department I believe I’d be upping their premiums daily;-)

  29. BobN says:

    The electric Tree looks like it would collect a charge until it reached some large potential that would trigger the spark gap, sending an electron flow into the ground. Most interesting!

  30. Jason Calley says:

    @ Bob N. “I’m curious if you have investigated the use of electricity to stimulate plants.”

    There has actually been quite a lot of work done on that, but most of it was done almost 100 years ago. I can relate an example done by a friend of mine back in the 1970s. He treated a batch of vegetable seeds (carrots or radishes, I think) to the corona discharge from an old TV high voltage transformer. Basically, he sat the seeds in a dish and “sprayed” them with electrons for a few minutes. He then planted a corner of his garden with a one foot gridded checkerboard pattern of treated seed alternated with untreated seeds. When I saw his garden the plants were still small, but the treated seed squares had plants about two inches high while the untreated seeds had sprouted about one inch. There is a theory that ancient megalithic structures were built to create a static charge for treating seeds and enhancing their growth. http://www.amazon.com/Seed-Knowledge-Stone-Plenty-Megalith-Builders/dp/1571781846/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1342191231&sr=1-3&keywords=seed+of+plenty

    If you are willing to sort the wheat from the chaff, you may find quite a bit here on electrification of crops: http://www.rexresearch.com/infolios/elcult1.pdf
    http://www.rexresearch.com/infolios/elcult2.pdf
    http://www.rexresearch.com/infolios/elcult3.pdf

  31. adolfogiurfa says:

    @BobN: I will be glad if someone takes this idea and begins manufacturing these “trees” for testing.

  32. BobN says:

    @JasonC – Thanks for the links I will read them. No, I have no direct experience in this matter. My wife and daughter ran a Garden Center and this was on our lists to check out after we read an article about improved growth. We ended up selling the business before we got any tests going. The whole issue has stuck in my mind as something that should be evaluated.

    The link that Adolfo gave on the Electric Tree was very interesting. I may build a few that are triggered off the AC and not depend on the cloud charges as it would be unreliable. A specialized
    cirquit dumping charge into the ground a various frequencies would give more reliable testing conditions.

  33. BobN says:

    @Adolfo – While the trees are interesting and sparked some thought, I doubt anyone would build a bunch for sale until there was definitive proof that an electrical charge would positively affect plant growth. the Tree as shown would have wide operating characteristics based on the atmospheric conditions, for that reason I’m not sure you would obtain good results that were repeatable.
    If I was doing the testing, I would build a high voltage pulse generator, like the coil off a car and use it to dump charge into the ground. by controlling the voltage input the pulse characteristics could be varied, so optimal conditions could be walked in by testing. An experimenter would need to very the voltage and current as well as the placement in relation to the plants. If positive results were seen by the testing, that were shown to be repeatable, then a business selling them could start, but I would be hesitant to try and sell without proper testing and data.

    The new spark plugs that have the coil built in are easily controlled by a low voltage digital signal so building a test circuit could be done quite easily. One needs to think through the watering issue, so nio one is hurt by damp ground or potential shorts. That can be overcome with a little care, but caution should be noted

    I think I would test by putting a voltage device in the ground and surround it in a circular fashion with plants. Repeat the same configuration, but use different frequencies and voltages. Start by testing a few variables and depending on results start walking the parameters toward best results. If you think about it there are many variables, so the testing plan would need some real thought.
    Its a very interesting subject!

  34. E.M.Smith says:

    @Julian Jones:

    Found your comments in the SPAM queue and fished them out. Yes, odd that we and the Roman Empire were both world dominators and both look to be hobbled by self poisoning in food… (Romans with lead pans and pipes…)

    @BobN:

    Fascinating… The paper from Turkey in particular looks to be a straight forward ‘gather data and plot’…

    @Simon:

    The idea behind a ‘one continent at a time’ would be that if we “lost a continent” we could just kill all the “stuff” on it and start over… but at least not have contaminated the whole world. In practice, I’d rather we’d started with one isolated valley somewhere… ( There’s a couple of very nice green valleys in Nevada with river irrigation surrounded by hundreds of kilometers of desert, for example…) But they didn’t ask me ;-)

    @Pascvaks:

    Um, everything is related to everything else; it is just a question of how closely… I think MJ is not closely related to any food crop, but that’s just an opinion based on, er, observation of growth habits in college, um, friends, er, ah, dorm, ah, “experiments”…

    These folks claim there was a NOVA that shows the nearest food relative is the strawberry:

    http://boards.cannabis.com/cannabis-com-lounge/155626-cannabis-closest-relative-strawberry.html

    Haven’t found the original NOVA story…

    Now THAT would be an interesting GMO… put some, er, Magic Juice into the Strawberry. A plant that tastes good and has its own “munchie making” ability. Bet they would sell really well ;-)

    Per Monsanto and insurance: I suspect they believe they can dodge liability via the “Government Approval” dodge. “We were just doing what regulators told us was OK”.

    @Adolfo:

    There are thunderstorms (sometimes intense) in the Arizona Deserts… I think you will find that total heat and water evaporation from surfaces makes the water load and then it falls when the load gets too high (in high humidity places like Florida) or when the cloud moves over to a place less ‘generating’… like when a tropical storm runs up into Arizona from Mexico.

    Any ‘tree’ effect is going to be smaller than those macro effects and localized. I’d also expect more of it to be related to the production of moist air via transpiration.

    There’s a few hundred volts of charge differential between ground and even just a small distance above, but the current available is way low… If it has any effect, it won’t be by direct repulsion. The ability of a particle to be suspended in the air is directly related to size. When small enough, it would take decades for them to fall. It is the merger into larger sized particles that lets the droplets fall; so look to agglomeration from charge changes.

    @Jason Calley:

    Wonder if plants have figured out how to detect solar changes and choose better times to sprout or time to grow faster based on solar wind?….

    During warmer high solar activity times, much stronger solar wind, more charged particles “Go For It” time… No particles? Gonna be colder and miserable… buckle down and don’t sprout at all, or expect to have a short hard life so don’t put on a lot of low density growth…

    Plants do more complicated things than that, so it is a possible. (Sense smoke to know a fire has happened to germinate more then. Shrubs in the savanna when browsed release a pheromone that tells others of their kind to make more toxin to discourage browsing. etc.)

    Maybe I’ll try some germination tests with dishes on top of the TV… it generates enough static charge to be an ‘electrostatic air cleaner’ all on its own. (As the screen reminds me from time to time with a layer of dust… and a brief ‘jolt’ or raising the hair on my arm if I brush past it….)

  35. greg copeland says:

    @Pascvaks:

    Never called you stupid. I do think that you are thin skinned. We are all ignorant of many aspects of life, me too, I am ignorant of many things. It just seems that most folks on this blog are ignorant of the real scope of agriculture. There is no way that the world can feed itself with hydroponics or organics. Even if we could, who could afford to eat? Don’t beleive it? Go into a health food store and check out the prices. You can grow organic food on a small scale. I know of no large scale organic operations.

    Again, I would like to ask the question, if we beleive that climate sceintists are so dishonest, why do we think that all the sceintists that have done the studies quoted above are honest and are 100 percent accurate in their work? Check out the scam of DDT. This is probably costing millions of people around the world their lives every year. There are so many more examples of such scams
    in just about every scientific field. Medicine is probably the biggest offender. Take second hand smoke as an example.

    Organics and hydroponics have their place and should continue. It’s just that we cannot feed the world with them.

    Again, I don’t think you are stupid. I mean no offence. I always lived in a world where I want the facts right in front of me. I don’t want conjecture. A wrong decision can be made on it. I don’t like gossip. It is wrong most of the time. I love honest. Tell me what you think. If I can’t handle it, that’s my fault. No pussy-footin in my world. And no political correctness.

  36. p.g.sharrow says:

    I think you will find that strawberries are only very distant cousins to cannabis.
    It’s actually hops.
    Cannabaceae – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Strawberries are in the same order, but are not members of the cannabaceae. pg

  37. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M. “Maybe I’ll try some germination tests with dishes on top of the TV… it generates enough static charge to be an ‘electrostatic air cleaner’ all on its own. ”

    Oh yeah, good idea! Or tape some seeds onto the display for a while. My niece did a science fair project on charging seeds. She used a negative ion generator similar to this: http://www.goldmine-elec-products.com/products.asp?dept=1221 I forget the exact numbers, but she had, IIRC, four different batches, a control, a one minute charge, a five minute charge, a fifteen minute and a thirty minute charge. She ran the test three different times and surprisingly, the fifteen minute did best. If you try it, vary the times to see what works best. That is an interesting idea about seeds responding to solar effects; makes sense to me. The authors of the book I referenced, in my prior post hypothesized that the electric charges were somehow triggering some DNA replication mechanism, but honestly, it sounded like a weak approach to me. By the way, Amazon lists that book for $130. I think that Google books has a PDF version for $10 or so.

    “Now THAT would be an interesting GMO… put some, er, Magic Juice into the Strawberry.”

    You may remember the story of “hot oranges” which was circulating some 12 years ago — though oddly, it has been washed from the internet now. The quick version is that a professor teaching at the state university in Tallahassee was angered when police seized his car. In response, he inserted the gene for THC production into an orange, and made an orange tree that would get you buzzed, a “hot orange” as it was called. Supposedly the orange would breed true, but if not a graft would work. Anyway, the police were not amused and gave him his car back on the condition that he stop distributing orange seeds. True? Hard to say… but one of the great mysteries to me is that some wag has not done the same process with tomatoes, or dandelions, or oak trees. Or strawberries! (Maybe not so mysterious. I am sure that anyone who thinks about such matters can think of reasons why such an occurrence has not been popularized.)

  38. E.M.Smith says:

    @P.G.Sharrow:

    I suppose you could class hops as a food…. Lord knows I treat it that way ;-)

    A GMO hops could make for a very interesting beer… (Maybe hops already does? :-)

    http://www.wildflowers-and-weeds.com/Plant_Families/Cannabaceae.htm

    This is a small family with only two genera and a total of 3 to 5 different species worldwide. The Hemp Family is sometimes included with the Mulberry family.

    Mulberry eh? Though it looks like since molecular classifications came along they were rearranged into a different group. But the Hackberries were put in, per this:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celtis

    Previously included either in the elm family (Ulmaceae) or a separate family, Celtidaceae, the APG III system places Celtis in an expanded hemp family (Cannabaceae).[2][3]

    I DO wish they would stop moving species about…

    As urticalean rosids it looks like the relationship to strawberries is from the rosid part. (Roses and Strawberries are related…)

    Hmmm… Interesting group. I ought to learn more about roses and hackberries and mulberries and…

    Wonder how hard it would be to extract the right genes and move them along… They are making “glow in the dark” petri-dish critters in high school biology labs these days so it can’t be that hard doing this recombinant thing ;-)

    No officer, just having a bowl of Hackberrys and Rice Crispies… ;-)

  39. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jason:

    Forget the hops, and the oranges…. Looks like someone is putting the yeast to work:

    http://marijuana.researchtoday.net/archive/4/8/1331.htm

    Production of Delta(1)-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid by the biosynthetic enzyme secreted from transgenic Pichia pastoris.

    Taura F, Dono E, Sirikantaramas S, Yoshimura K, Shoyama Y, Morimoto S

    Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kyushu University, Fukuoka 812-8582, Japan. taura@phar.kyushu-u.ac.jp

    Delta(1)-Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) synthase is the enzyme that catalyzes the oxidative cyclization of cannabigerolic acid into THCA, the acidic precursor of Delta(1)-tetrahydrocannabinol. We developed a novel expression system for THCA synthase using a methylotrophic yeast Pichia pastoris as a host. Under optimized conditions, the transgenic P. pastoris secreted approximately 1.32nkat/l of THCA synthase activity, and the culture medium, from which the cells were removed, effectively synthesized THCA from cannabigerolic acid with a approximately 98% conversion rate. The secreted THCA synthase was readily purified to homogeneity. Interestingly, endoglycosidase treatment afforded a deglycosylated THCA synthase with more catalytic activity than that of the glycosylated form. The non-glycosylated THCA synthase should be suitable for structure-function studies because it displayed much more activity than the previously reported native enzyme from Cannabis sativa as well as the recombinant enzyme from insect cell cultures.

    Published 16 August 2007 in Biochem Biophys Res Commun, 361(3): 675-80.
    Full-text of this article is available online (may require subscription).

    Oh My…

    So now I’m thinking what fun it would be to take one of those “triple stack” herbicide resistant weedy plants and put into it the THC genes… Like Canola that’s becoming an herbicide proof weed. “Go ahead and spray it officer….”

    So we already have demonstrated that yeast can be turned into making the enzymes needed, and now just pair that with some hops that make the precursor… “Magic Beer”…

    Looks like some folks are already working on it. A free downloadable book:

    This book is dedicated to the future of humankind. Please distribute it at no charge.
    “I smoke pot, and I like it.”-Anonymous

    Table of Contents:Introduction
    […]
    7. Terpene Production

    8. The THC Pathway

    9. Smoking Roses and Other Proposals

    10. Cannabis DNA Sequencing

    Includes an example of “Glowing Green” M.J. that had the glow in the dark gene inserted…

    Sigh… The “Open Source” community is moving into the land of genetics…

    Free download site: http://archive.org/details/TheBiotechnologyOfCannabisSativa

    I have this feeling the future is going to become a very strange place…

  40. jim says:

    Well, EM, I’m not out to attract lightning, but after reading up on bt, it doesn’t appear to be that bad. Apparently there are many variations on it. It doesn’t even kill all insects. As a chemist, I see chemicals everywhere except in a plasma or vacuum. bt is a protein. It is one (variations of one, really) of hundreds of thousands of proteins in plants. I’m not sure why you would tend to develop an allergy to in preference to the thousands of others.

  41. adolfogiurfa says:

    Perhaps these GMO scientists need to try to get GMO Chile pepper to increase its Capsaicine content at least a thousand times and use it like a tasteful WMD :-)

  42. p.g.sharrow says:

    Interesting from Wikipedia:
    “Both hops and cannabis contain antimicrobial substances. This is why hops extract is used in natural deodorants. Cannabinoids in cannabis are effective at killing MRSA, a drug-resistant bacteria.”
    Friends are making a balm with cannabis root extract. Works very well on swelling and for skin healing, No THCs in it. pg

  43. Tim Clark says:

    As my initials are THC, I prefer not to comment on this thread.

  44. jim says:

    I used to eat peanut butter and banana sandwiches as a kid. Loved them. As an adult, I didn’t eat bananas very often. A couple of years ago, I ate a banana and my lips swelled. Apparently, I had developed an allergy. I knew I could eat banana pudding with no problem. So one day I wanted a PB&B sandwich. I just microwaved the banana, let it cool, made the sandwich, and ate some of it. No problem. The heat had denatured whatever protein it was that I was allergic to. The same thing happens with the bt protein.

  45. Wyguy says:

    Wow! Thank you Greg for winding E.M. up. What a great piece by E.M and the follow-on comments. Loved reading it all and learned a few things, as I usually do here at E.M,’s blog spot.

  46. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M. “I have this feeling the future is going to become a very strange place…”

    Great links. Yes, a strange future, indeed. For the last 100 years or so, the powers that be have been able to increase their profit by making certain natural drugs difficult to get. But tomorrow? Perhaps they will decide that the availability of THC strawberries, hops or yeast, changes the equation and that a natural safety valve for human psyches needs to be available. Strange things are afoot!

  47. jim says:

    Considering designer drugs and “bio-drugs”, it makes sense for the government to get out of the drug policing business.

  48. Personally, I’d be somewhat wary of strawberries that had been GM’d to add the THC production – much the same problem as the others where we don’t know what else has been added at the same time. The original hemp has been well-tested, though I have heard of GM hemp that produces a much more potent cocktail. Although I did some “hands on” testing in my college days (long gone) I haven’t since because of the lack of transparency of the supply-chain – I can’t be sure what I’m getting. Home-grown would be fine, logically, but it’s illegal to grow here.

    Jim – drug policing is a difficult job, since as fast as a particular one is declared illegal someone has invented a new one where we have no idea of the long-term (or maybe even short-term) effects. If the ones that are known, and where the side-effects are not too bad, were made legal then the dangerous unknown ones would maybe become less of a problem – I’m told that Methadone is nastier to come off and has more side-effects than Heroin. It would be cheaper and safer for a heroin addict to be given Heroin rather than Methadone. Designer drugs could possibly cause serious long-term effects (such as death?) on one dose – hard to tell if you don’t test the samples. The main problem with drug-takers, as I see it, is that they’re open to trying something new without knowing enough of the consequences. Maybe this does need policing, to protect people from ignorance, but outright banning of stuff never has worked before. Being able to buy what you want in the pharmacy (drug-store?) would probably be a cheaper and better solution all round.

  49. Richard Ilfeld says:

    Poisons can be dangerous — what a concept.
    But the discussion pales next to the bigger point —
    Your casa, your rules. Rule stated: one can disagree without being disagreeable. Others are invited to go elsewhere.

    When the fundamental rule of a man’s home being his castle is violated we are entering ‘life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness’ territory.

    I appreciate being a guest. If I am dissatisfied I am free to leave. If you are dissatisfied with my conduct, you can throw me out.

    If I can’t understand the above, you should!

  50. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jim:

    I would be in complete agreement with you were it not for the existence proof of a group of folks who did develop allergic reactions to Bt after spraying it.

    As a person who is “prone to allergies”, I’ve spent a very long time learning about them. Why, for example, would I develop an allergy to a corn protein instead of :”the thousands of others”? Billions of folks eat corn every day, so what’s the problem?

    Well, the problem is just that some issue caused my immune system to be grumpy on the day that I had corn in the diet. It “took a shot” that THAT protein was the one that was “the problem” and started to attack it. Now it “knows” corn is evil.

    My thesis is that it as to do with a fever. That is when your immune system is most keyed up. Two of my food allergies arrived just after I’d had a virus causing a modestly high fever. So something acts as a promoter to get the immunity on the war path and whatever around is likely to be treated as a problem.

    For folks like me, we have a load of IgE that then fires up and attacks inside minutes for the rest of time. For non-allergy folks, it takes many days to get a response going (and usually by then the food or dust or whatever has moved on so no response shows).

    Now consider that Bt will be in just about everything if Monsanto has their way. Exactly what do I eat when the immune system is grumpy to NOT have Bt be the potential “target”?

    Allergy is the manifestation of an immune system enhancement that evolved to deal with long persistent, but low, levels of foreign proteins from parasites. It is a way to deal with a sub-acute infective agent. As such, it tends to “do nothing” for long periods of time, but if a protein has been present for “too long”, it becomes suspect of being a parasite, so an immune response is started. That is all known. My speculative addition is that the presence of a fever for any other cause is a triggering agent for that response (at least in some foods, though perhaps not in inhalation. The gut has its own, different, immunity mediators).

    Some proteins have no ability to generate an immune response. The most dramatic being “self” proteins. Others will nearly universally generate a response. ( particular antigens on the surface of bacteria and viruses). Parasites try to get a surface coat closer to “self” and further from “infective agents”. That’s how they avoid detection. Allergies are an attempt at raising the detection level (at the expense of some level of “mistakes”). It works.

    Now, back at Bt:

    The existence proof of folks developing response to it in sprays tells us were in the spectrum of “self like” to “infective agent like” proteins that particular one is located. It isn’t flat out “infective agent like” (as folks don’t always react to it) but is close enough to that end to generate allergic responses in those folks that were made reactive. That is, it is now a “known allergen”.

    That really is all it takes. After that, it’s just a matter of enough exposure over enough length of time. Perhaps in the presence of something else that provokes the immune system a little more one day.

    So, for example, I’m not worried about banana proteins. Very rarely an allergen for damn near everyone. (Though a possible one as YMMV…) BUT, tell me you want to put “tree nut protein” in various other plants to improve their nutrition, and I’m going to holler. Why? Because “tree nut proteins” are known allergens. Not to all folks, but to many. So long term pervasive exposure to it, and I’m likely to develop an allergy one day, too. (Eating tree nuts every so often has little risk, especially if avoided during times of fever…)

    It does get a little more complicated than that; but that’s the basics. (Things like some proteins can cause an increased risk of developing allergies to OTHER things, or being a promoter of allergies as noted in the folks who developed multiple food allergies to other things after eating such promoters. And ‘cross reactions’; where a peanut allergy makes you highly likely to have a similar response to Lupini beans. I’d even speculate that the pervasive use of Soy proteins and lectins in the processed food supply likely contributes to the development of more peanut allergies, thus the ramp up in those over the recent decades.)

    In short: Putting ANY known allergen pervasively into the food supply is a Very Bad Idea.

    Doesn’t matter if it is Bt, wheat, soy, corn, whatever. You need breaks in the exposure and you need variation over time to avoid provoking allergic responses.

    FWIW, protein function tends to be shape specific (and so do allergic sensitivities) so “why one and not the other” often has to do with the folded shape of the protein and where active sites are on the surface. (To go beyond that will require a short course in thyroglobulins, helper T cells, cytokines, and more…)

    BTW, cooking does not denature all proteins enough to prevent allergic response or we’d have a lot less food allergy. I can cook corn all day long and it is still reactive for me. There are lots of folks with shellfish allergies. Cooking doesn’t fix it. Etc. etc. So while it’s nice that whatever you were reacting to in bananas was “fixed” with the microwave: That does NOT imply that Bt will be similarly deactivated. (One can hope… but “Hope is not a strategy. -E.M.Smith”…) Even if somewhat denatured, if the shape stays “close enough”, the allergy continues. Often the allergic key is just a short segment of the protein, so you can denature (or even remove entirely) the rest and it stays reactive.

    So, Please give a citation to a molecular study that shows Bt toxin denatured to such an extent in cooking that it is no longer detected as Bt. Or are you just speculating from too little information that such a thing might happen? Hmmm?

    One other minor point: Your test for “banana allergy” was not sufficient either. You could have been reacting to any of a number of other things. A bacterial contaminant. Dust on the surface. A particular chemical used on that field. To get a proper allergy confirmation takes several trials and preferably with purified extracts too. For many things, my “time to react” is measured in hours, not minutes. (they are particularly hard to sort out…) So you might also have been reacting to a food (or other exposure) from hours before. Tobacco exposure is like that for me. IF I’m exposed to tobacco smoke, I have several hours to rinse out my eyes. IFF I don’t, then the next day I will suddenly and “mysteriously” develop bright red eyes. Took me about 2 years to figure that one out as the 24+ hour time lag was highly confusing.

    So, to properly test that the cooking did in the allergic response, you need to do several trials of plain banana and get a positive response on each ( sufficient to get a high enough R value) and THEN do the cook-test a similar number of times…. My spouse gets grumpy at me when I demand that we do “repeats” on suspected “problem” exposures; but the method has been very good at sorting out false “hits”. Due to the variable time to onset, a single cause / effect example is less than useful. Often it is “immediate”, but it can take up to 24 hours to react.

    @P.G.Sharrow:

    Yes, that MRSA connection caught my eye too… So folks with MRSA ought to just guzzle some Double Hops India Pale Ale!! Or wash the wound in it… as a nice “field expedient solution”…

    So those college beer bashes were really “Medicinal” after all ;-)

    @Jason & Jim:

    It is going to become impossible to outlaw “drugs by species”. Flat out impossible. Not only that, but folks will start tinkering with the gene itself and making so many variations that “drugs by compound” will be (like the ‘designer drug’ problem) always running a bit behind the law. then eventually the sheer volume of them will cause issues (how many folks will it take to track and update all the compounds and create test kits for them and…)

    I think “drug use and abuse” needs to be handed back to the medical side of the things (and Government needs to get out of that, too…)

    @Simon:

    I’ve got the same concern. Since may toxic materials cause various kinds of delusional states, it is highly likely that some “enhancement” will turn out to be damaging… but folks will think it a feature…

    When I was a kid, you cold buy codeine OTC at the pharmacy. Chericol D cough syrup had it and it did a great job on coughs. In my town of 3000 there were about 2 folks max who would buy a few bottles and use it to get high. And even then not very often. It was obvious what they were doing and social pressure was non-zero. They were seen as weak people… Now, after all the banning and punishing, there are far more folks in that town “doing drugs”. It is hidden, and in that sub-culture seen as “cool” and as rebellious. The products available are far stronger, of worse quality, and with far more damage and addiction.

    Over the entire length of the “War On Drugs”, all it has done is created MORE abuse and MORE physical harm and MORE crime. What had been a minor medical problem (and folks often did talk to the doctor to get help and quit) became a major social problem with broken families, people in jail, folks NOT seeking medical help (due to things like mandatory jail) and so much worse. Yet our government simply can not bring itself to admit that the whole thing is a crock and broken.

    I clearly remember when in school and one of the “bad kids” talked about drinking cough syrup to get buzzed. The rest of us just thought “You stupid…” and moved on. Then a little later M.J. was suddenly “cool” (especially after they showed “Reefer Madness” in school ;-) and since it was forbidden, lots of the same kids wanted to try it. At the same time the “stuff” that was offered to replace the cough syrup by the pushers was way more effective and addictive. It’s been all down hill since then.

    Oh Well…

    @Richard Ilfeld:

    I generally give folks lots of opportunity to learn to be polite before they go to the SPAM queue. Heck, I even let a fair number of ‘not so polite’ things go by.

    Then every few months I do a “Carping Comments” just so folks can see why “Be a mirror” just leads to escalation in that context. I reflect back at the carping the same level of emotion and negativity. I think it is fairly effective at demonstrating why I don’t want “confrontational” to be the dominate “style” here. About once a month is as much as I can stand ;-)

  51. jim says:

    Unfortunately, most real research is behind a paywall, but here is one reference WRT cooking.

    http://ijme.in/pdfs/181co9.pdf

  52. jim says:

    BTW – I’ve had asthma since I was a kid. I have hay fever, banana allergy (my own judgement), allergic to grass, mold, eggs (tested positive, although that one seems to have dissipated), and probably a few things I don’t know what.

  53. jim says:

    More on bt and cooking …

    http://epa.gov/scipoly/sap/meetings/2001/july/wetmilling.pdf

    Here’s one stating the protein persists after cooking …

    http://www.policyarchive.org/handle/10207/bitstreams/3402.pdf

  54. jim says:

    As you say, the laws governing drugs has done nothing but make criminals of users and has caused a proliferation of new drugs and ways to make them. It is a black hole for tax money and does not seem to stop people using them. Given the fact we are 15 trillion in the hole, we could save a bundle by getting rid of drug law and tax drugs instead.

  55. E.M.Smith says:

    @Greg Copeland:

    Your tone of comment was from a “You are stupid” place. In fact, the last comment repeats the assertions of stupid / ignorance attitude.

    It just seems that most folks on this blog are ignorant of the real scope of agriculture. There is no way that the world can feed itself with hydroponics or organics.

    Despite repeated evidence to the contrary, you insist on asserting we are ignorant. Stupid about farming. You are doggedly clinging to a broken assertion.

    I learned to drive a tractor before I drove a car. I’ve shoveled horse manure and learned to run a manure spreader (the old wagon kind on a ‘small’ farm of a few hundred acres). I’ve bucked bales of hay and picked peaches, walnuts and a few others. (Even used a “punkin fork” to toss pumpkins onto a truck. Only has one tine to the thing can rotate to keep an even force on the handle). I’ve killed and butchered things from chickens on up including mammals. I grew up in a farm town where the major thing most folks talked about was farming. ( I can now look at the sky and make a good guess as to when to order sulphur dust for brown rot on peaches, for example.)

    Yet you want to assert that the entire first HALF of my life ought not to count as I now live in a city? (BTW, I run a seed production operation in my back yard. Yes, I’m a seedsman. Small scale, but the technology is all the same.)

    So who is being ignorant in that? Hmmm?

    You also want to ignore that I went to an Ag College. The only reason I got a degree in Economics instead of in Ag Econ was because I was so saturated in Ag I didn’t want to have it in front of my credentials for the rest of my life. FWIW, about 1/2 of the cases we studied from regulation to market dynamics were agricultural. I can go on at more length than most folks can tolerate about equilibrium prices in agricultural commodity markets and the inherent instabilities (thus the need for stabilization programs and price supports) along with paradoxical fact that “bumper years” often mean lower farm income due to the nature of agricultural price elasticities of demand. The majority of folks taking such courses where headed out to run farms… (For a while I was headed toward “Farm Manager” as a job goal… but decided to swap to computers instead as there was this new thing developing…)

    So who is being ignorant about Farm Economics? Hmmm?

    Yes, farms are lousy businesses. (Thus the effort put into government intervention). Yes, there are a lot of pressures. You want me to cry in your beer for you? It is precisely BECAUSE I understand them that I don’t bother talking about them. Not many people want to hear about: Price inelasticity of demand for corn causing prices to drop more than increased supply will fetch, so farm incomes will drop. (Fewer still want to hear things like “After the failure of rains and the ploughing under of corn, it would be better to swap to sorghum next year on the expectation of continued low rains. Even less than that want to know about planting buckwheat as a ‘catch crop’ on main crop failures). That’s what folks talk about in small farm town restaurants (and in large Ag Colleges).

    That you don’t SEE that I know these things says more about you than about me.

    So again: Drop the “You Stupid” mindset (or the “You Ignorant”) and you might get somewhere.

    Per scope and scale of organics. It is you who are manifestly ignorant of the scope and scale of it. Here is just ONE example. A single farm from near my home town:

    http://www.lundberg.com/

    They have been farming there for 75 years. Not a new “flash in the pan”. They grow a lot of rice.

    From the wiki about them (yes, they are big enough to have a wiki…)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lundberg_Family_Farms

    The Lundbergs have grown from that 40 acres (160,000 m2) to their current 14,000 acres (57 km2) under cultivation. An important factor in the Lundbergs has been education, with Harlan and Homer trained in agriculture, Eldon trained civil engineering, and Wendell trained in industrial arts. The current CEO, Grant Lundberg, has a degree in agricultural business and a master’s in agricultural economics.

    So first off, they are GROWING their farm. Plenty of profit if you can grow…

    They have 14,000 acres. Thats a bit shy of 22 square miles. About 4 1/2 miles by 5 miles on a side. I’d call that a pretty good sized farm. Can you say “Existence proof” of scale?

    BTW, these guys are not the largest organic operation, just one I happen to know about. It is where I grew up… Also note that degree listed by the farm operator “Ag Econ”… I’d wager he got it at the same school I attended in the same valley not that far south of them.

    70% of the farm is run Organic and the other 30% is what they call “Eco Farmed”. Minimal use of chemicals and pesticides, but not qualifying for “Organic Certification”. (As they point out, this lets them compete in the non-organic segments as well). This is often the case in organic farming as the land must be organically farmed for a few years before it can be “certified organic”; so those years products have to compete in the ‘conventional’ category.

    One of THE fastest growing stocks (beating much of the competition in the food business) is the large organic supplier:

    http://www.hain-celestial.com/

    Stock chart here: http://bigcharts.marketwatch.com/advchart/frames/frames.asp?symb=hain&insttype=&time=8&freq=1

    rising nicely lower left to upper right… Per their profile:

    http://bigcharts.marketwatch.com/advchart/frames/frames.asp?symb=hain&insttype=&time=8&freq=1

    They have 2031 employees and revenue over $1 Billion. Market Cap of about $2.5 Billion.

    So what was that about not being able to do scale? Hmmm?

    As a reminder: ALL Agriculture was “Organic” not that long ago. Chemical agriculture is the new kid on the block. Also you have repeatedly ignored the reference that showed organic farms AS productive OR MORE SO than conventional.

    Your bald assertion to the contrary is the part that shows ignorance.

    Realize that I am NOT advocating for a 100% organic system. Just pointing out that it is achievable. Personally, I think using mineral and synthetic fertilizers ought to be allowed, but I’m not the guy making the rules for Organic Certification.

    What is very clear, though, is that there isn’t a limitation on organic farming to cute little dozen acre gardens… that is the fantasy.

    Per price: Yes, it does cost a bit more. But hardly a bank breaker. A I frequently do the family shopping I can tell you that from personal experience.

    At Whole Foods, their non-GMO / Organic eggs run about the same as the competition non-organic. A couple of cents / egg higher is about it. ( Though WalMart is a lot cheaper than either – but the correct comparison is within market segments, so compare of Whole Foods to Safeway, Lucky, etc. is the more accurate one). Butter is LESS per pound than at the ‘conventional’ competition. Milk is a bit more. Bulk organic cereals are typically about the same price or sometimes lower (as the competition has less bulk grain volume). Produce is about the same price. (In fact, at Lunardi’s down the street they have both organic and non-organic sections and frequently organic will be cheaper, sometimes more expensive by a small amount. It varies with the season. The “conventional” has more sources so is more stable year round while the “organic” varies more with seasonal supply. That would eventually level out with more organic growing in places like Mexico off season.).

    So “who can afford it?” is basically everyone. Shopping price a bit gets me a lower total food cost budget than the increase from buying Organic. (For example, Organic Milk costs about double the price of conventional at the high end grocery stores; but ‘shopping price’ found organic milk at Whole Foods cheaper than “conventional” at the nearby store.) Even that ignores the fact (and it IS a fact) that many times the price difference is a marketing choice not driven by the commodity cost to produce.

    Where there is a “problem” is packaged prepared foods. But frankly, if you are buying packaged prepared foods, cost is not high on your priorities… So things like Organic Chicken Pot Pie is significantly more expensive. This is largely due to the few number of producers and not due to the availability or cost of the ingredients. As any given segment gets big enough, the costs come down with competition. This is very dramatic with Chipotle Mexican Grill who have vegetarian and Organic options. At last visit in Riverside, the sign said they used mostly organic ingredients. CMG Market Cap over $12 Billion per:

    http://www.marketwatch.com/investing/stock/CMG

    Low prices too.

    So it simply is not true to say that scale must be small or production low. Repeating that assertion without citing evidence will be called “lying” going forward…

    (Since you might have just been uninformed before, it could have been ‘error’. As you have been informed several times now, further such bald assertion without foundation will be a deliberate choice to lie.)

    BTW, to repeat: I don’t make decisions on what science to trust based on some blanket suspicion of all scientists. I make it based on a personal inspection of the work product and assessment of the correctness. So “why I’m concerned about Bt” has little to do with any generalized “suspicion” and a whole lot to do with the simple chain of logic that starts at demonstrated allergy causation in some folks and ends with me being prone to allergies.

    I have a very good understanding of genetics and how to “do the deed” (and could likely make my own transgenic plants if I wanted – the techniques are not that hard). I don’t have a generalized “worry” about all genetic changes. I have a specific worry about the absolutely STUPID decision to insert a known allergen into bulk food supplies. I have a specific worry about the absolutely STUPID decision to drench the bulk of all crop production in a specific herbicide. NOT from a hatred of herbicides, BTW, but for the simple reason that it assures that in my lifetime Roundup will cease to work. It ought to be used sparingly so that it will continue to work for generations.

    So, for example, I could easily endorse growing “Golden Rice” in just those (limited) areas where vitamin A deficiency is rampant. (IF some added vitamin A gene ends up migrating to related species, it isn’t likely to be a problem anyway…)

    Yes, I’m a bit worried about the potential for completely alien genes being produced by the “fire the gold bead into the nucleus” and break things up process. So I’d rather we used the “bacteria introduced plasmid” technique that is more controlled.

    In short: Moderation and intelligence along with some precautions are what is needed. Whole globe rammed down your throat bad choices with abandon are what we are getting.

  56. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jim:

    Interesting links. The second one says Bt is a stable protein to heating… but does testing for the DNA rather than the protein. That has the possible of cooking the DNA to non-positive while leaving the Bt protein in place. (Then again, they were testing non-cooked grains…)

    Also worth remembering is that “cooking” is not one process. Degree of water, temperature, and pH all change the results. So tomatoes may be eaten raw, cabbage as coleslaw in an acid environment, corn after a 4 minute boil, corn meal after 40 minutes in the oven, etc. So any answer of the form “cooking breaks down Bt” needs to specify time, temperature, pH, and even pressure… What is broken down in an hour at 240 F in a pressure cooker at 4 pH is far different than what breaks down at 212 F and neutral pH. ( Botulism, for one…)

    So while I’ll be very happy if Bt is broken down by a 4 minute “blanch” in boiling water, I’ll be less thrilled if it is broken down in canning… (and not at all thrilled if it ends up in vegetables eaten raw like Tomatoes…)

    Expect to see conflicting reports on the breakdown of Bt until folks standardize those parameters.

    Also, that second link was comforting on the issue of HVP. I’ve slowly ‘tested’ to see if I react to hydrolyzed vegetable protein and generally been OK; but it was nice to see confirmation that there were no reported cases.

  57. BobN says:

    A Comment on Farmers and Farming.
    I can’t count the times I have heard comments or read comments disparaging the intelligence of farmers. People that make these comments have know idea what a farmer does. There is the whole “growing thing” that is no easy task in itself, but throw in machinery operation and repair,. Irrigation issues and your talking about some major technical abilities to just get the job done. Most people don’t know squat about the futures market, but most farmers know and follow the markets. The average guy is not qualified to be a farmer and most likely go broke trying.

    I grew up in South Dakota and know what farmers talk about. A typical person would have a hard time following the conversation if they were sitting listening to a bunch of farmers. I remember go home shortly after I graduated with an EE degree in Engineering. I was sitting on the back porch with a half dozen farmers, I was the least educated on setting there. There we 3 PhD’s and 2 Masters degrees, yup, just a bunch of dumb farmers.

  58. Jason Calley says:

    @ BobN “I can’t count the times I have heard comments or read comments disparaging the intelligence of farmers.”

    Yes, you are correct. I wonder if their thoughts go something like “People have been farmers for thousands of years. They even farm in crummy little third-world nations. Farming must be simple. Farmers must be uneducated. I think that maybe they don’t even have digital watches. I have a digital watch. I am smarter than they are. Farming must be simple.”

    Yup….

  59. E.M.Smith says:

    @BobN:

    I audited a Soils Science class once. More physical chemistry in less time than in my chemistry classes… As noted, the Ag Econ degree was aimed at Farm Managers (and most of the kids in that major were “sons of Farmers” (and a few daughters). )

    Were I running a farm now I’d have a soils chemistry lab on property and likely have a computerized water management system too… There were two major tracks; the business management Ag Econ track and the biological / chemical operations track. Folks in one were strongly encouraged to put their electives in the other…

    Getting the old John Deere working again with my Dad was my introduction to machinery maintenance. First chemical names I remember reading were on jugs of pesticides. My introduction to biology was raising animals and preparing feed. Dumb farmers didn’t last long…
    In high school shop we had a lathe and full welding equipment. Folks learned how to fix farm equipment…

  60. jim says:

    I noted they were testing for DNA instead of the protein. I guess the concern there is that the DNA might become integrated into gut bacteria or something. If the concern is the bt, it makes sense to test for it, not the DNA that makes it.

  61. Pascvaks says:

    @GregCopeland – Honest, we ain’t as bad a we might seem at first glance. You ‘seem’ to have a bright mind, a good deal of experience, and the time to sit down on occassion and BS with some e-neighbors around the wood stove at the old Country Store (this ain’t Wal-Mart;-). Chiefio has a fantasticaly wide array of subjects he tosses out for comment, he not only has a very keen mind and wide background, he backs up what he’s talking about with references and he encourages folks to go look at them, or find others, and make up their own mind. He’s not selling anything or arm twisting, if you disagree “Great!”, if you have personal knowledge of something “All the better!”, he’s not forcing you to buy his perspective and you’ll find that he’s a difficult sell; especially if you come out with a Model-T that is up on bricks. This ain’t a Church, like I said it’s Chiefio’s old Country Store, look around, listen a minute, speak up if you have something to contribute, but watch yer’ tone, we’re your e-neighbors, not a bunch of hicks or college boys. You’ll find each of us is very different in many ways, very different in interesting different ways. Not to put down old Chiefio, but he’s half the attraction here, and the life blood I might add, but the other part is the group around the stove; a very diverse and far flund group indeed.

    Skreeeeeech!!… Here’s a chair. Sit down and take a load off your feet. Grab a piece of wood, take out your pocket knife, lean back, relax, we welcome your company and won’t bite unless you do;-)

  62. Pascvaks says:

    PS: “flund”?? I think I ment ‘”flung”. Oh… some of us aren’t as quick as we used to be and may also seem a little dislexic and/or deaf. Sometimes it’s true, sometimes we’re still thinking, sometimes we ain’t thinking about what you said but what someone else said a few days ago.. you have to understand we’re a pretty grumpy, easy-going, rather experienced lot of old codgers from many backgrounds who don’t always remember everything we think we do, and we rely on the Old Kid who owns the store to keep us honest usually, not always, but usually;-)

  63. Up till the time I left college and became the engineer of a small pottery that grew up in a farm, I thought farming was easy, too. I didn’t get a good enough degree for research, and didn’t want to work in nuclear power stations or weapons, so… something else. I learned to weld with a farmer friend, and found out just how complex the job was. Doug ran a combined dairy/agriculture setup on around 70 acres, and it was all run and maintained by him and one employee. He thought himself uneducated, but did the accounting and the machine maintenance as well as planning what to plant where and when to do the various jobs that needed doing. I learnt a lot there. I’d suspect that even in a third-world country, a good farmer still needs to be a cut above the rest in intelligence. Despite the now-small numbers of farmers, we do depend on them getting it mostly right in order to eat at all. It does take knowledge to farm the land effectively.

  64. Tony Hansen says:

    Some years back I was told by a local grain grower (now moved out of the industry) about a bloke who was spraying heliothis on a Saturday morning. With about 40 acres left to go he ran out of chemical and it was too late to get any more before Monday morning (shops had shut). He still had a batch of milk (used as an adjuvant) left over, that would not keep till Monday, so he pumped it into the spray-rig and sprayed it out.
    Come Monday morning on his way to town he stopped by his paddock to check the results of his spraying. He had good results where he had used the chemical and similarly good results where he had just sprayed milky water. Any ideas?

  65. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Simon: So…you say : “they” are not necessarily the only “intelligent ones” and their “truths”, if reexamined and pondered, seem instead fallacies. Time to revisit “reality” as taught by our leaders.

  66. Adolfo – I suppose I re-examine where I am and what I think is true about every decade, though EM has caused me to inspect quite a few things closely that I hadn’t gone into detail on before. I do however look at the tone of EM’s inputs here. Since I’ve gained a lot of respect for the detail he can absorb and make sense of, I’m background-looking for any changes that might mean the blog has been taken over by someone less accurate or with some other . I may sound a little bit paranoid there, but it does seem he’s putting his head up above the parapet and someone may try to take advantage of the degree of trust he’s earned.

    AGW is exposed as a fallacy here – before that I’d pretty well accepted it “on authority” as I didn’t see what I could do about it. That’s a pretty large amount of money being talked about, and being ripped off the rest of us on faulty science. Someone is going to be somewhat annoyed at being outed.

    Other things being discussed are the betting practices of banks – again a large amount of money being moved and not much honesty being shown. At times it seems we’re taught honesty as kids purely so we can more easily be ripped-off.

    Same problems in government, pretty well worldwide, where the feeding trough gets politicians rich while not doing the jobs they are voted in for – even when you can believe the voting statistics.

    So yes, “reality” isn’t what it seems and certainly not what we were taught. At the moment it still seems that the people in charge (whoever they are) have the upper hand and not enough people know enough to teach anything different. Hopefully I’ve brought a few more people to read the blog and spread it a bit further – it’s still going to take a while before enough people have enough of the truth and enough of the power to do something about it. In the meantime, live with the system we have – it’s not perfect, but I can’t think of one that is guaranteed to have a better balance. Better to fix the problems of the one we have, one at a time, than to go through the problems of chucking everything out and trying to rebuild from ruins. Chucking the whole system out will cause much death and destruction, and thus maybe bring the infamous Agenda 21 closer to reality – not a good thing for humankind even though the UN espouses it.

  67. Hugo says:

    I think the most unwanted effect of using genetically engineered food plants widely is the huge loss in terms of genetic variability. As I read somewhere, this is already the case in India, where cultivars previously well adapted to local conditions vanish simply because the farmers do not produce seeds on their own any more. At least it does not appear to be a bright idea to stop an hithereto massive parallel evolution process and replace it by a very slow artificial selection process. This will proceed much like the development of new antibiotics, i.e. very slow compared to the inevitable emergence of new drug resistant germs.

    I was always a sceptic against the idea that genetically engeneered food was per se dangerous, simply because it is known for a long time that one can find DNA fragments of all the stuff you eat in blood samples, whereas it is still unheard of that at least a few had turned into a walking salad bed. However, the CpG motive difference between eukariotes and procaryotes is a very interesting information.

  68. greg copeland says:

    Here is some food for thought on some of my previous comments.


    Also go to Lundberg Family Farms in Wikipedia and read the section titled Business model.

  69. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Simon: Hopefully I’ve brought a few more people to read the blog and spread it a bit further – it’s still going to take a while before enough people have enough of the truth and enough of the power to do something about it.
    It is not as hopeless. Have you heard of the The hundreth monkey effect?…We are the leading monkeys…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hundredth_monkey_effect

  70. BobN says:

    The AGW press is driving me crazy. Its becoming obvious to a lot of people that the whole subject is B.S. What is maddening is the magazines seem to be stepping up their articles on the subject. Every scientific site I go to, there is one or more stories about how global warming will change fish mating or how plants are already trying to adapt to AGW. I used to send in a rebuttal to all these sites, but its obvious no one is listening, the articles just continue and seem to be increasing.

    Know I understand the UN has proposed global takes and possibly a tax on money transactions so that wonderfully successful body has the money to distribute to deserving countries to fight AGW.
    We have to find a way to better fight this, Exposing the data for what it is hasn’t made a difference. If they ignore you and the data, whats the recourse?

  71. p.g.sharrow says:

    @BobN As their message is failing they become more shrill and insistent. You will not change the true believers but they are few. Just inform the seekers, they are multiplying quickly as they learn and inform others. “The Net That Covers The World” is bringing an end to the Elites that control information and therefor control the people. The UN is dieing from bureaucratic greed and corruption. It is represents the old ways not the new. Just keep up the conversation with people all over the world. This is the new way, IT is working. pg

  72. adolfogiurfa says:

    @BobN Because of the economic crisis almost everyone is against those who have caused this crisis, who are the same behind GW, the UN etc.,etc., now everybody knows that the cause for all this is power/money grabbing by a few who were the SAME people (their ancestors) who cheated the world with the tale of “Libertè, Egalitè et Fraternitè”, with the sole purpose of the “illumination”, which is the establishment of the “Novus Ordo Seclorum”, a New SECULAR order, where there is no relation whatsoever between man, society and the universe. They have concocted faked theories of physics, from that of the one who saw an apple falling from an apple tree, which grew UP against his “law”, to the theory of the WWII winners, called “relativity”, as opposed to that of the WWII losers.
    Despite the fact “they” still have a lot of money and power over their butlers, they are scared to death, because though not everyone agrees on GW or the AH1N1 vaccine, almost everyone agrees “they” are the culprits of the economic mess, and they cannot change this as it is their main vice to keep on pursuing power and money without working, so they can´t help but doing the same. That´s their Achilles heel.

  73. E.M.Smith says:

    @Tony Hansen:

    I’d guess that the ‘just milk’ had an odor that the bud worms didn’t like, so went elsewhere to lay eggs ( or had already laid them on the sprayed part and didn’t make it to the ‘just milk’ part.

    @Simon:

    It’s all just me. I have been “doing more” lately on some other projects, so postings / comments not getting as much time as 2 years ago. For non-climate things, the particular topic depends on what is “in my face” at the time. One of the “lately” things in that context has been “food issues”. Not just for me, but also for my niece who is having some real problems. We’re trying to work out “what is it” and along the way found that “organic non-soy non-corn” foods work better for her issues. It’s not much jump from that to “what do those problem foods and in common?” and on to “Hmmm… large GMO content.”. It’s just another exploration.

    Then finding the literature cited above… Yes, it’s not as rigorous as I’d like. Yet for “simply avoidable risk”, it’s enough. As I’ve said a half dozen ( or more?) times now: I’m NOT a giant advocate of “organic farming”. Frankly, I find things like avoiding synthetic nitrogen just dumb. BUT, it is the only way to assure low GMO content in my food. Having a family with high tendency to form allergies; having accumulated 4 food allergies myself; having BT Toxin identified as a contact allergen in farm workers: It’s a very simple very straight forward and not very controversial leap at all to “BT toxin in MY food is likely to cause a food allergy”. The longer I avoid it, the less my risk (and the later in life any “issue” shows up).

    Per “reality” and teaching: I’ve slowly come to accept that TPTB are a very unfortunate mix of “not very bright” with “socially trendy” with “evil” with “educated backwards”. There are some who are bright, well educated (and self directed enough to toss out the trashy bits of their ‘education’), able to resist peer pressure, and remaining driven by a strong moral compass. But less every year and no longer in the majority. I met Steve Forbes once. He is a good man.

    His Dad, Malcolm, was fond of hot air ballooning. At a balloon meet in Winters / Davis area of California, Steve was sitting in the truck while others did the ballooning. I was about 19, so that would make him about 25? At any rate, I asked if he was interested in joining in on any of what we were doing. He declined. He had some rather strong acne then and I think he might have been tired of dealing with strangers. At any rate, he seemed to be a “nice guy” who was a bit shy and had some unhappiness in his life. So I expressed that he was welcome if he liked, and left him alone. I think that whatever adversity he was carrying gave him some moral compass and a centered nature. Since then he has blossomed into a self confident and balanced person.

    I think it is because he got to experience what “money can’t buy” at a critical point in his life. Whatever the cause: he is bright, articulate, moral, resists ‘social pressure’, and seems both well educated AND able to toss off the broken bits of education.

    I regret that he was unwilling to join us in some fun ( other folks said he was uninterested in ballooning, but I suspect there was more than that). I could feel some kind of hurt or alienation in him and wanted to help; but just couldn’t see a way. We were a mix of computer geeks, finance ‘geeks’, and a couple of bio-sci / engineering geeks and I think he would have fit in. Besides several of us having acne issues too ;-) we were also pretty accepting of folks who had experienced ‘issues’ in their lives. He would have gotten honest friends, not just some sycophantic suck ups, too. Ah well, not to be… But I digress…

    So there are such folks. Just not anywhere near enough of them.

    @Hugo:

    There are informal efforts to preserve some of the diversity. Still not “winning”, but trying:

    http://seedsavers.org/

    You too can help…

    @Adolfo:

    Who you calling a monkey? ;-)

    (I’d actually not heard of the effect by that name. Knew about the sweet potato washing monkeys, but not the “100th Monkey Effect”…)

    @BobN:

    It’s a fad, like all fads, and will eventually run its course. A future chapter in a future “Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds”…
    http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/24518

    How to best fight it? I’m hoping that present ramp down of the Sun, modulo a 12 to 18 year ocean time lag, puts us in the meat locker about 2014-2018.

    Yes, it is a highly orchestrated “media social event”. At least a lot of folks in America have become resistant to such stuff.

    @P.G.Sharrow:

    It is also helpful to break out in laughter when someone advocates AGW ;-)

    Remember that when Obama gave the SOTU address and mentioned Global Warming he got some snickers and smirks from the crowd; then never mentioned it again… Folks hate being wrong, but love a fight; yet just loath being laughed at by someone who sees no reason to fight a fool…

    @Adolfo:

    We agree on the issue of a ‘power elite’ causing more trouble than benefit; but realize they are a very culturally diverse group, globally. You like to focus on Masons and Bankers and a couple of ethnicities. That’s way too narrow. The House of Saud has a great deal in common with The House of Windsor and The Bonesmen; but much more is different…. there are many conflicts and competitions inside “the elite”. And a few “good guys” too.

    When they break out into outright conflict, we have world wars. W.W.I and W.W.II and the Cold War and… with millions killed outright. So I’m not so sure the present “working together” is all that bad…

    Though they could really use a better Science Advisory Board…

  74. EM – given the relatively short testing period before something is declared as “safe”, and the state of knowledge about long-term low-dosage pollutants, it makes sense to avoid a known (or reasonably-possible) problem if you can. It’s probably not possible to avoid everything without ruining your quality of life, but avoiding the majority of them is a Good Idea if it doesn’t take too much effort after the initial work of reading up about it. The occasional dose of something that other people use all the time is probably not going to cause a problem anyway.

    If you look at the ingredient list of pretty well any cosmetic or hair shampoo, you’ll find various parabens added (preservatives) – these are pretty certain to be carcinogenic. Similarly you’ll often find Sodium Benzoate added as a preservative in soft drinks – again not good to have anything with a benzene ring in it. They are good at killing bacteria, but older methods may be as good and have been human-tested for longer. Plain old salt, sugar and vinegar are excellent preservatives in sufficient concentration.

    With the plethora of choices in food that we have, avoiding a few because we think they might have “issues” down the line is reasonable. Getting the “organic” produce has other benefits that are less obvious. Because the inorganic salts used as fertilisers dissolve that much more readily, they are washed out of the field more easily – this means that the watercourses have more nutrients than they should and leads to possibilities of algal blooms and secondary problems. The plants don’t care that it’s organic or inorganic – if it’s there they’ll use it, so providing the right type of additions are made it should make no difference to taste or nutrition values. That you can often tell the difference may be down to the variety or out-of-balance fertiliser use.

    I’m amazed at the breadth and depth of the subjects you cover. Good brain-food. It’s more likely you’ll be knocked offline (like Jo Nova) than infiltrated, but allow me a little paranoia in the speculation that if the tone changes then it might not be you writing it. Your style could probably be emulated, but it’s maybe not something the PTB would consider as important enough to get right.

  75. E.M.Smith says:

    @Simon:

    It would be very hard to “emulated me”. Why? Well, take the “candle thread”. Photos of the stuff being done. Slightly left field approach to things. Not connected to anything that matters to anyone who would break in.

    So somehow someone would have to WANT to make that kind of posting… If they were missing, it would stand out.

    At the same time, take the “Where did the Grand Canyon go?” posting: Not hard to write a history of the Grand Canyon… harder to come at it from the slightly bent point of view I have (and if you fake it, it would not feel right…)

    THEN you have to find someone willing to spend dozens of hours doing things like staring at old FORTRAN code ;-)

    Frankly, I think it would take a team of about a half dozen to get it close to right. Even then, well, it’s not going to be ‘easy’. (For example, an editor who knows how to properly use quotes of various sorts Just Exactly Wrong along with using Strange Capitalization would be needed. It is perfectly clear to ME why I’m doing it. To others, not so much… doing it just right so that it passes as Sustained Examination would be even harder…

    Then there is your final point: I’m just not important enough to be a target.

    Anything I’ve done that IS important, is already done. Whatever I’m GOING to do, isn’t done yet; so could just as easily be put up on a brand new blog site. Whenever I do something AGW related that is “of interest” it gets a link at WUWT, so the major conduit to a ‘recandle’ site would still exist. Just no percentage is a ‘few days take down’.

    So there you have it. I’m “just me”, and don’t see much reason for anyone to whack the site, but if they did, it’s about 10 minutes to “He’s BAAAaaack!”…

    Frankly, it would likely generate a lot more traffic to the restored site…

    BTW, the ‘making a wick’ thread has lead to an exploration of MANDATED fire retardants. I’m thinking of making a posting out of it. Brominated benzine rings… How Stupid. Haven’t we already learned that halogenated benzine rings is a Very Bad Idea? Yet millions of tons of the stuff is being mandated to be in carpets, furniture foam, clothing, etc. etc. And showing up in mothers milk, baby bodies, and causing health problems…. (We’ve entered the cycle of “ban the current crop and replace with nearly identical ones that are not tested, then ban them and replace with nearly identical… )

  76. EM – the Capitalisations make perfect sense to me. So does the off-centre sense of humour.

    The data analysis of the global temperature data, on the other hand, is bound to be pretty embarrassing to the people who’ve been pushing AGW, CO2 reduction and Carbon Trading. Since True Believers tend to be pretty venal, I’d sort-of expect some dirty tricks somewhere, but maybe they found Tallbloke a bit too tough.

    On halogenated benzene rings (and benzene rings in general) it seems crazy to mandate their use when they should be banned except for places their use is irreplaceable. With carpets, furnishings and clothes being so treated, it’s likely to cause a lot more deaths (micromorts on a personal basis) than the fires it stops. Since a lot of the things that used to cause fires have now been changed (no open coal or gas fires) and naturally fire-resistant materials such as cotton, linen and hemp are really much nicer than the easily-flammable man-made substitutes.

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