OT science question

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wrote:

Not afraid but very wary. Too many things are done "in the name of science" without regard to consequences.
Also the arrogance is unmatched:
Genetically engineered crop 'experiments' that get into the food supply Drugs put on the market without an understanding of how/why they work Plum Island
Scientists seem to think anything is OK to try because they are smart enough to keep it under control. That is why we have Frankenstein, I Robot, Terminator, WestWorld, Minority Report and countless other books/movies about the need to be carfeul.
Just because we can doesn't mean we should.
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Limp Arbor wrote: ...

This is almost entirely so patently a made up issue that to even begin in a usenet thread is pointless so...

So you would prefer we simply don't bother to try to market curative agents? How, precisely, would you go about gaining this perfect knowledge a priori?

And we're supposed to not do research on how to contain and control and prevent future outbreaks of animal diseases that can also in some cases be transmitted to humans? These are existing pathogens that have done tremendous damage elsewhere but are almost completely unknown in the US. That is _NOT_ by accident but by very diligent effort including such places as Plum Island.

That you think "we" shouldn't doesn't mean that you can prevent someone else (not a personal judgment, simply reality). It's probably better to have more responsible folks doing the research than trying to drive abolish it entirely and thereby drive it underground or into clandestine locations only.
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Sooo.. Monsanto are the good guys? Sterile seeds are a good idea? Patented seeds are cool?
Oh boy.... tear those blinders off your head, man.
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Robatoy wrote:

In many ways, yes, Monsanto and the others developing more productive and cost-effective ways to produce food to feed the world's growing population are, indeed, "the good guys".
Patented seeds are a new concept, granted; I never said anything about "perfect world", did I? OTOH, drugs and other technology is patented and is at least part of the driving mechanism that continues to fund research so it's part of "pay the fiddler".
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dpb wrote:

This "sterile seeds" business is just plain ignorance. If they were "sterile" then they wouldn't sprout.
As for "patented seeds", patents are a legal issue, not a scientific one, scientists didn't write the patent laws, politicians did.
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J. Clarke wrote: ...

Well, no it isn't. It's the ability to introduce a gene modification that makes the seeds of the plants that are grown from a specific seed be sterile when _they_ mature. Afaik, they've not yet been released commercially but the technology does exist. It was developed as a means to enforce the ban against using seed from patented hybrids as seed for next year's crop--rather than requiring detective work and legal action to enforce the patent holders rights, this eliminates the possibility the end user could use the seed for planting, hence no enforcement expense.
As a farmer, it's a problematic area--I don't much cotton to the practice of patenting seed that prevents the hold-back of crop for the next year's crop as a a personal matter. OTOH, many hybrids don't come back "true", so one has always bought much seed annually anyway, even before it was actually patented.
Where one could envision problems here would be if this particular trait could be one that can be transmitted in the wild by cross-pollination--there are certainly areas in which there are concerns; nothing I've written before is to meant to say no concerns only that imo much is overblown on the edible food end; much more is at stake in some of the possible interactions in the wild, agreed.
It would be good if there were sufficient resources available that all of this research could be at the land grant universities w/ their own research budgets and therefore could be released as public domain, but that simply isn't a viable economic model. So, if there is private investment, those who have made the investment and taken the risk need some manner in which to recoup that or it will cease to happen.
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dpb wrote:

If the technology exists could you provide a link to more information?

So don't use the patented seed.

I'm not sure what concerns there are. Any plant that doesn't reproduce dies out in one generation so natural selection will kill it in the wild right quick.

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J. Clarke wrote: ...
Look for information on GURT (genetic use restriction technology) or "Monsanto Terminator" -- one has to be fairly selective to avoid the paranoia as opposed to information of course.
Monsanto has announced they are not and don't have intentions of implementing or releasing a product (but that, of course, isn't the same thing as research). AFAIK, there's not a whole lot outside the scientific literature readily available outside the popular media which has been typically scathing.
Besides the patent-infringement issue, there are other potential benefits that could, as you note, be useful for undesirable species control owing to them non-proliferating. Others are concerned this could become too easy.
...

Well, easy enough to say, but there may be economic disadvantage to that as well. As in any question of any depth, it's not an easily solved problem other than totally superficially. Some of these patented hybrids actually far better suited varieties for certain areas so one is faced w/ the choice of probably lower yields w/ the benefit of the open seed as opposed to higher yield but the controlled seed source.
...

... A couple of concern areas at a minimum -- first, that the seed is sterile doesn't imply the pollen is so, for example, I could be the neighbor next door not using patented seed and planning on keeping back part of my crop for next year. Neighbor, otoh, buys this particular seed and it cross-fertilizes w/ my crop. I've been damaged economicall, perhaps relatively severely.
If it were to become widespread and prone, it could have such effects on a wide enough scale to be problematic perhaps. Or, say it isn't perfect but only weakens so that subsequent generations have sprouting rates of only 50% or so rather than 95% or greater--that's a great cost as well.
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dpb wrote:

Seems to me that you have good grounds for a lawsuit against somebody then.

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The 'Good Guys' would like nothing more than being the ONLY supplier of seeds to the planet. The muscle they build into their contracts, certainly overseas, is nothing short of extortion. That 'wanting to feed the world' is driven purely by the kind-hearted members of the Monsanto BoD?
Yea right.

Monsanto's business model is 'control' of the planet's food. And they care as much as the oil companies caring about the fact that Rob can fill his car and go for a Sunday drive to smell some flowers. It is THOSE kind of behemoth companies that give the conservatives a bad name. Shareholders first, screw the people.

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Robatoy wrote: ...

Monsanto has plenty of competitors...

So become a shareholder...
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Who says I'm not? I just find it distasteful to pretend it is all for the common good. I have no problem when people make money, even a lot of it. But I just wish they'd stop apologising for it, or trying to give it a more acceptable spin. Like Gore pretending NOT to be flying around in a jet. Why can't he just talk about the fact that his choice of Gulfstream is more efficient than McCain's Straight Talk Express?
Either way, I am repulsed by companies who genetically mess with my food. Finding more efficient ways to grow food, fine, but why do they have to splice the DNA of an onion into the genes of of a donkey? So I can have a piece of ass that will bring tears to my eyes?
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Robatoy wrote:

I've certainly never seen Monsanto (or ADM for that matter) apologize for making a profit...in fact, if I read their annual report it seems quite concerned about doing so.
That they happen to make useful products and technology innovation is one of the prime if not the prime manner in which they do that is a primary motivation for doing so and that these products are useful is why they are profitable--if their products weren't any good or weren't meeting needs it seems highly unlikely they would be very profitable, doesn't it?

Well, that's the prime technique by which we can do that. I don't believe there's any way you would have any way you could tell such a thing had happened if it weren't in the papers. So, if you can't tell, what's the point in being so outraged other than for some irrational reason that you "just are"??? What difference does it make other than raise the blood pressure and what difference would it make that you could tell from what you're eating if it were to go away? The answer is, absolutely nothing other than price would go up and availability down. Hence, much ado over essentially nothing.
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Being concerned about people messing with my food is a rational concern.
And just because I can't tell, doesn't mean that the cute waitress doesn't have a disease that will kill me.
Staying deliberately uninformed of the facts will get you into deep trouble. Ignorance might be bliss. It doesn't work for me.
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Robatoy wrote: ...

As a farmer who raises it, I suspect I have a far greater knowledge of the crop genetics than you have (other than your apparent penchant for sensationalistic "news").
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I have no doubt that you know more about crop genetics than I. You talk/write like a farmer. Not that there's anything wrong with that. And if you want to label the 'news' I read/watch as sensationalistic, just because you disagree with it, you're welcome to that too. The corporate greed which overrules ethics at Monsanto et al, is something you couldn't get your head around... for many reasons. Taking the nukes away from Saddam was a good move too, eh?
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Robatoy wrote: ...

What, specifically, do you think Monsanto has done that is unethical?
Invent one of the best combinational herbicide/production crop systems known to the history of man? That, somehow, is unethical to feed more, less expensively, w/ fewer inputs (water, fuel, etc., ...)?
Strange set of ethics it seems to me... :(
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Food manipulation began many centuries ago, and has generally resulted in better foods, better choices and other benefits. Oddly enough, today's attempts to more speedily make changes in foods are drawing the ire of the under-educated because "their food is being messed with." Maybe we should go back to Mendel and his fruit flies, drop all the modern improvements.
One thing for damned sure, though. Without science, the world wouldn't have its current over-population problems. Probably 85% of the population wouldn't have been born, or would have died of some extremely nasty disease at a relatively early age. Think of the problems having only 1/5th today's population would solve. Plenty of oil. Plenty of food (oops, no, we have to do a give-back on that, too). Well, hell. Plenty of oil. People can always drink that.
I wonder if what we're seeing today is a result of piss poor education in, or about (probably more important), the sciences at an early level. My science education wasn't good, but the education about science was. I'm not scientist, but I do appreciate the methods used, and try to understand some of the results. Gallumphing off into the territory of the raucous never seems to have helped. Letting emotion interfere with understanding is something no accountant would do in his work, but many of the public seem to believe that scientists should let their emotions interfere with their work. Let's face it. If it looks or sounds "icky", then don't mess with it.
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Charlie Self wrote:

Europe is pretty much leading the charge in rejecting(fear) genetically modified foods.....The U.S. is leading the charge in developing such foods.....are you claiming that Europe is under- educated? Rod
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Comapred to what? Europe as a continent doesn't have any more education than North America as a continent does. I've met some incredibly undereducated Europeans, and some incredibly over-educated ones (just as likely there as here).
How would you measure education, by the way? I have a tendency to consider stupid actions the actions of those with either little sense or little education, or a combination of the two. No group, or area, has a monoply on those two.
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