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Anti Monsanto action

Way to fight back and re-establish Monsanto-less soy fields and other large food firms
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[Edited...]

Category: Culture::Protest

Establish international non-profit organization that works on various ways to help farmers get off Monsanto and back on their feet. Going to court in their name and reverting the charges, proving that Monsanto's actions were precarious and detrimental, that their grain was deliberately spread although not beneficial for the farmers.

[Added:] Even create genes to be shown in the Monsanto farmer grains - and fight them with their own tactics, to get the farmers off the Monsanto draconian contracts.

There is big money in getting back the land and sources, and distribution lines. And there is also an important ethical incentive for doing so. The battle should and can continue around the world.

Food is something that will always be needed, and producing it in a non-industrial, sustainable and more natural way, distributed between farmers, is obviously the way to go.

pashute, May 07 2014

Permaculture Orchard in Quebec http://www.permacultureorchard.com
Farming done right [MisterQED, May 07 2014]

5.2 tons of soil per year http://www.ewg.org/...olingourselves.html
[MisterQED, May 07 2014]

One Straw Revolution http://files.united...traw-Revolution.pdf
[MisterQED, May 07 2014]

Trucking Bees http://brookfieldfa...almond-pollination/
[MisterQED, May 07 2014]

Killing Bees http://www.foxnews....ppear-without-bees/
[MisterQED, May 07 2014]

Haber-Bosch http://en.wikipedia.../wiki/Haber_process
"[T]he Haber process is estimated to be responsible for sustaining one-third of the Earth's population." [Wrongfellow, May 08 2014]

Nitrogen fixation http://archive.bio....crobes/nitrogen.htm
About a third of nitrogen fixation is carried out by humans in factories. [Wrongfellow, May 08 2014]

Svalbaed Seed Vault http://en.wikipedia...d_Global_Seed_Vault
[bs0u0155, May 08 2014]

Monsanto seed case http://en.wikipedia...man_v._Monsanto_Co.
"...the Court unanimously affirmed the Federal Circuit and held that patent exhaustion does not permit a farmer to reproduce patented seeds through planting and harvesting ... [Voice, May 08 2014]

Agent Orange http://www.dailymai...rrific-defects.html
A Monsanto Product [xenzag, May 09 2014]

Agent Orange http://www.whale.to/b/agent_orange.html
another of Monsanto's lovely products that they told everyone was totally safe. [xenzag, May 09 2014]

Monsanto dumps illegal PCBs http://www.naturaln...nmental_damage.html
[xenzag, May 10 2014]

More Monsanto lies and poisoning of the environment http://www.gmwatch....f-lies-and-toxicity
[xenzag, May 10 2014]

http://www.permies.com/ http://www.permies.com/
Stop complaining and make a difference yourself. [Zeuxis, May 12 2014]

Tests of GM food on animals from 2011 http://www.enveurope.com/content/23/1/10
Summing multiple studies [MisterQED, May 13 2014]

Flowers that detect landmines http://www.worldcha...rchives/000352.html
It is not the GM that is bad. [MisterQED, May 14 2014]

Feb 2001, GRAIN.org article on 'Golden' rice. http://www.grain.or...een-from-the-ground
The technology was acquired by AstraZeneca but wasn't created by any of the big agri-businesses but was, rather, developed independently by publicly funded scientists. [DrBob, May 18 2014]

synbio https://www.youtube...watch?v=rD5uNAMbDaQ
Maxwel Buchanan says its accepted as "green" [pashute, May 20 2014]

Pesticide and herbicide arms race - Andrew Kimbrell http://www.huffingt...4-d-_b_1406473.html
and the danger to world food supply [pashute, May 20 2014]

Gary Capps https://www.youtube...PDiKncWluy9&index=2
Not his best video, but it has some Hebrew. This man is worth listening to when it comes to courts and related matters. [spidermother, May 01 2018]

Monsanto is no more. https://www.reuters...-name-idUSKCN1J00IZ
Merger with Bayer AG dumps the Monsanto name. [DrBob, Jun 05 2018]

Anti-Monsanto/Bayer activists in action https://m.youtube.c...atch?v=eXf-9A0Qvcg#
agent yellow! Ha [xenzag, Mar 28 2019]

Judge awards $2bn (yes billion!) to just one couple in damages against Bayer. https://edition.cnn...m_source=feedburner
It seems the most effective anti-Monsanto action is to just sue the arse off of them for giving you cancer! [DrBob, May 14 2019]


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Annotation:







       //producing it in a non-industrial, sustainable and more natural way, distributed between farmers, is obviously the way to go.//   

       Actually, that's probably not the case. At least in environmental terms, it's better to farm a smaller area intensively than to farm a much larger area using traditional methods.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 07 2014
  

       Depends what you mean by environment, [MB]. Traditional extensive farming is one ecosystem; wild natural is another; your solution favours the latter while [pashute]'s the former.
pocmloc, May 07 2014
  

       Sorry Max. That is a common error. Intensive farming never uses "a smaller area". Because of machinery it always prefers larger and larger areas. Big fields. Giant warehouse facilities, where nothing can stand in the middle, even if is not totally necessary. Also, it is NOT the only way to prevent famine and to feed the world. Oמ the contrary:   

       Intensive farming prefers ruining natural resources (like large lakes) to create a single area of production, and takes the animals and plants away from a large area around it, then sending the produce around the world to places that cannot compete and therefore stop growing their own local and healthy food.   

       The waste from that industry is usually "treated" at large waste- treatment plants, further taking away natural resources, and many times still occasionally having long lasting and far reaching poisonous effects on its surroundings.   

       The ministry of environment together with the ministry of health had your idea in mind when they preferred to unify all the dairy farms in our area, and bring all the cows into one large automatic industrial cow shed. The result was years of suffering for two towns from the stench and the salting of many fields surrounding the kibbutz, as the waste water treatment factory built downstream could not cope with the resulting waste. It was not an engineering error, or calculation mistake.   

       It was a built-in conceptual fallacy, disproved by reality. Other Kibbutzim that used constructed wetlands along with their "unified cow farms" and who let their cows graze, discovered that the whole environment was better, the cows were healthier, and the milk product was preferred by the customers, and hence by the three large milk companies.   

       Same with intensive graze cattle growing and fishponds in the Golan heights and Kinneret lake area. Every winter the waste from these farming areas is taken to the Jordan river, in fact "killing the river" along several kilometers. The efforts to save the river are costing millions of dollars and threatening to stop the fish farms and cattle growers altogether. Again, in the same area, there are those who have built sustainable farms, can supply the needs without confining their cattle to a contained area, but also without killing all the surroundings to "clean it up, and make it civil".   

       I have worked with two large Israeli sustainable fish pond farming companies. Instead of fighting the birds (millions pass through the Jordan river on their way from Europe to Africa and back) they work to coexist with them, and instead of creating weak antibiotic loaded fish, they have naturally healthy fish, with natural water cleaning processes in place.   

       The Yarkon river became a major health threat to Tel Aviv, getting its claim of fame after the Maccabia bridge disaster in 1997. The current Yarkon River Rehabilitation Center teaches how removing the concrete and re-establishing the river "bends" saves not only the natural habitat but also millions of dollars allowing for the treatment and reuse of water in a self contained system using no external energy, while removing all the health hazards to the hundreds of thousands of residents in the immediate vicinity, turning it into a beautiful recreation park area.
pashute, May 07 2014
  

       [pashute], you are missing the point that [Max] made. Just consider the TOTAL land area devoted to farming. To produce a certain total amount of food, you need less land area when you farm it intensively. That means all the rest of the land area could be left alone as natural habitat. As it is, though, habitats are getting destroyed to make room for non-intensive farming.   

       THEN the industrialized farming companies come in to obtain that land and start farming it intensively --ONLY because total human population keeps going up. The real solution is to focus on ending the population explosion. Without that, ALL habitats for other species will eventually be doomed (imagine Siberia's forests chopped down and the land covered with greenhouses, for example).
Vernon, May 07 2014
  

       [Vernon], I have addressed exactly that point. My claim is that if milk (as an example) was produced in a distributed way, on many local farms, it would actually be "taking" LESS land area, because a lot of that area wouldn't be "taken" and moreover would actually be GAINING from the farming process. Even as of the immediate use of that land. I pointed out also the far reaching effects, which take "land use" way outside the bounded area designated as the current intensive industrialized farm.   

       Natural habitats cannot be left alone with intensive industrial farming. It is they who want a sterile and controlled environment with nothing natural left standing.   

       Non intensive farming, and I'm talking about modern sustainable methods, know how to co- exist with nature and in many cases even RESTORE a healthy natural habitat.
pashute, May 07 2014
  

       I think the point is that I don't view a traditional farm as a very natural ecosystem. True, it looks nicer than a modern intensive farm, and does have a greater biodiversity, but it's not a natural ecosystem.   

       You can talk about farming "in harmony with nature", and it's true that that helps some species, but it's a poor compromomise.   

       So, from my perspective, any farmed land is "lost" to farming, and the less the better. On that basis, intensive farming is better, if one assumes that a given amount of food must be produced.   

       By the same token, it's better for the natural environment (though not for us) if we all live in megacities rather than sprawling out in villages everywhere.   

       Still, each to his own.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 07 2014
  

       //Actually, that's probably not the case. At least in environmental terms, it's better to farm a smaller area intensively than to farm a much larger area using traditional methods.// The truth of this depends on what you consider traditional. If we just consider farming in the US to fix the time line, present day farming is living off the glut of cheap oil. Classical farming lives off the glut of cheap soil. It is only by going back to the Native Americans can you get to a truly sustainable farming system.   

       [pashute] Is correct that mass cattle farms are unsustainable and I will only add that he missed one key feature that needs to be added, rotational grazing it turns the manure issue into a benefit. You need to keep the animals together, so the manure is together, have the animals work it into the soil and then leave it alone for a while. That is what Allan Savory found out.   

       //As it is, though, habitats are getting destroyed to make room for non-intensive farming.// Actually if done correctly non-intensive farming is very close to natural habitat with the exception that the mixture of plants is skewed to the human edible or support of the human edible, such as is needs to include three seasons of flowers for bees for pollination.   

       Google "Permaculture Orchard" or "food forest" and you will see some of the most beautiful places on Earth that just happen to be filled with food. The key is to move away from annual plants and towards perennials. Go to MIracle Farms (link) and tell me that isn't prettier than your local park and it does so while also being healthier than your local park and producing three times the amount of food per acre than a standard farm and doing it without pesticides or fertilizer.
MisterQED, May 07 2014
  

       // It is only by going back to the Native Americans can you get to a truly sustainable farming system.//   

       Absolutely not. First, Native Americans transformed large swathes of land in various ways (so, sustainable only in the sense of sustainably altering the environment). Second, such a system is not sustainable today, unless you first kill 90% of the population.   

       As [Vernon] pointed out, we need to dramatically reduce the population if we want to have much less environmental impact. In the meantime, concentrating our needs into the smallest possible areas is probably the least harmful option.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 07 2014
  

       I don't understand the sustainable vs altering the environment. We are people, we mess with stuff. What I mean by sustainable is that the system produces without requiring external inputs. Present Agriculture works by externally turning 1% of of all man made power yearly to create ammonia to be used as fertilizer (link). This is not sustainable. Permaculture use plants that work with Rhizobium bacteria to pull nitrogen out of the air to avoid the need for nitrogen fertilizers. Present agriculture tills the ground to kill the Mycelium to release their nutrients, but no till farming encourages the Mycellium to continue mining the soil for the other needed nutrients and then releasing them naturally. Again tilling is not sustainable, it basically burns the soil to power a years worth of growth. Then present farming leaves the soil uncovered so the dead soil either blows or washes away. Iowa looses 5.2 tons of soil per year (link)   

       //such a system is not sustainable today, unless you first kill 90% of the population// No, that's not true, look at "one straw revolution" (link) and you will see that it actually creates more food. Much more food. Oh and in the mean time it pulls all the carbon out of the air. Where do you think all those petroleum reserves came from? Win, win, win, win... Oh wait, perennial plants don't need seeds every year, so Monsanto looses, so win, win, win, win, win...   

       Wait, I have to mention bees. Because if you talk about the stupidity of present farming you should at least mention that we are killing bees by the billions (10^9, I realize it is different some places). You see bees like many of us like to eat more than once a year, but MANY bees (50% of all Honeybees (link)) are needed to pollinate almonds, and almonds only flower once a year. So there aren't enough local bees to do the work, so we truck them in, 2.5 million hives per year. And during the drive, they don't get normal food, they like us, get travel food, like corn syrup. So some , like us, probably get sick on the road and then they are all released to go to work. Think of it like daycare, times a billion. If one gets sick, they may all get sick. So big surprise, they have this disease called CCD that has killed 1/4 trillion (yes, trillion with a T, 10^12 not 10^18, but still I think it's a lot) bees since 1994.   

       So the present system is the one that isn't sustainable. The present system is a hot air balloon that will run out of propane and when it does it will crash. If you don't believe me, look at Cuba. They lived it. They used to have oil and present day farming and then Russia turned off the spicket. Did they kill 90% of their population? Nope, there were some lean years, but they made it through and they actually live longer now. It is probably the fresh vegetables. Many of their cities are looking to be self-sustaining! As someone who lives just outside NYC, I find that AMAZING!
MisterQED, May 07 2014
  

       Monsanto loosens what?
RayfordSteele, May 07 2014
  

       As evil as Monsanto is, YOU try to feed 7,000,000,000 people each day.   

       OK. Did you try? What happened? Oh, 6,000,000,000 of them starved because there was no other way than this evil Monsanto way.   

       Well, now we only need to feed 1B people! FTW!
sophocles, May 07 2014
  

       //Present Agriculture works by externally turning 1% of of all man made power yearly to create ammonia to be used as fertilizer (link). This is not sustainable. //   

       So what?   

       How sustainable were zeppelins? Or horse-drawn taxis? Or coal fires?
MaxwellBuchanan, May 07 2014
  

       Back to the idea you're proposing:   

       1) Lawyers to fight them.   

       Well, this isn't much of an idea.   

       2) Scientists + Lawyers to find currently non- patented DNA in species to then patent it as a counter defense.   

       Well, I think this shows the right promise, but you're attempting to fight them at their own game, head on. That will take huge resources. Furthermore, that will drive us down the destructive path of patenting too many genes that already occur in nature, which will have very bad consequences.   

       For example, fighting them head on legimitimizes their claim that you can't save seeds & reproduce crops naturally, you have to buy new seeds from Monsanto each year, or you're violating the IP in the DNA in those seeds. Imagine that extended if someone patents human DNA the same way. You can't have kids naturally as you'd violate their IP. You'd have to buy babies from tubes, or at least pay a license to procreate the patented genes in your body.   

       So, in short, we need some solution that doesn't legitimize the problem.
sophocles, May 07 2014
  

       //As evil as Monsanto is, YOU try to feed 7,000,000,000 people each day.   

       OK. Did you try? What happened? Oh, 6,000,000,000 of them starved because there was no other way than this evil Monsanto way.//   

       What Monsanto does, is a flash in the pan, get rich quick scheme. They started doing something useful and made some money. Then they decided to game the system, convince government that helping Monsanto was helping the family farmer. All the while they screwed over the family farmer. They gamed the system to make sure that the only crops farmers could grow, where the ones that got them addicted to Monsanto. Then once addicted they are now pulling the rug out from under the farmers and sicking their lawyers on any farmer who has avoided their grasp. Now even the latest schemes are failing as the pesticides are poisoning the soil so much that even with all the subsidies, it is becoming more profitable to not grow Monsanto. But this demon will not go down without a fight, so it will now do whatever it takes to force farmers to buy from them, have the government pay for it all and deny you any right to find out all the evil that they do. Vermont just passed a law to force GMO foods to be labeled as such, but Monsanto is paying to get a federal law created to overturn it.   

       //So what? How sustainable were zeppelins?"// There are a lot of things that work as great stop gap measures. What we want to avoid is a company enforcing the extension of their lifespan by leveraging the force of government. I liked zeppelins, but I don't think airplanes should have been banned because the zeppelin people have convinced the government that hydrogen producers are a key piece of our heritage and need subsidies, while using their lawyers to ensure the hydrogen producers can NEVER produce anything but hydrogen and have to buy all their supplies from the zeppelin people and as such are sinking into a never ending pit of debt that they can never escape from.   

       //As evil as Monsanto is, YOU try to feed 7,000,000,000 people each day.// Again, they had their day. They served their purpose, but that is the old way. If we stick with it then we will starve or will continue to starve. Their way has been tried and worked for a while, so all this idea is saying is make sure that alternate systems are allowed to be tried, so that we can actually feed 7,000,000,000 people today and possibly billions more tomorrow.
MisterQED, May 08 2014
  

       Actually [Max] I think there are studies that looked at the efficiency of industrial vs. traditional farming. While industrial undoubtably produces greater yield per man-hour of labour and also per cost input (disregarding externalities), I think that generally traditional agriculture produces higher yields per unit area of land - at the expense of taking a lot more labour.   

       The externalities of industrial farming are pretty huge as well especially considered over the medium to long term (i.e. soil degradation). I think a lot of traditional farming is sustainable in terms that it could continue indefinitely, renewing the resources it consumes. This is not true of industrial farming.
pocmloc, May 08 2014
  

       Anyone who's proposing a radical change to our methods of food production needs to explain where they plan to find 500 million tons of biologically available nitrogen per year. [Two links for the price of one!]   

       We hear a lot about anthropogenic carbon emissions, but what of the nitrogen?   

       (Besides, what's unsustainable about making ammonia in factories? The atmosphere's enormous and it's mostly made of the stuff; by the time it starts to run dry we'll have reached the asteroids, where there's even more ammonia just waiting for the taking.)
Wrongfellow, May 08 2014
  

       Monsanto no more care about feeding people than McDonalds do. All they care about is maximising their profits, and they will do what ever they can to serve that interest. All anyone has to know about Monsanto is that they are a company quite prepared to make products like Agent Orange when it suits them.   

       I detest Monsanto as much as KFC and McDonalds, who share the common interest of serving whatever kind of stinking muck they can legally label as food as long as the profits are big enough.
xenzag, May 08 2014
  

       Monsanto sells seeds that farmers choose to buy in a competitive, open market because the seeds offer better yield. There's no rational reason to call it evil. The only real objections are based on the gut feeling that GM seeds must have something wrong with them.   

       There was some noise about Monsanto suing farmers for having some cross-contaminated seed. If those allegations were true it would be a terrible thing to do. It turns out the farmers being sued were deliberately seeding with patented roundup resistant seed and then using roundup because they knew they could.   

       Traditional legacy seeds are widely available. Don't blame Monsanto for offering an alternative, blame farmers for using it. If you feel GM seeds are actually unhealthy all you have to do is prove it.   

       //If we stick with it then we will starve or will continue to starve.// I agree that the lack of diversity inherent in modern farming practices is dangerous but the only way to mitigate the danger is to build up a massive store of genetically varied seeds. That wont' be done by farmers. To expect it is to expect them to use less efficient methods for the greater good.
Voice, May 08 2014
  

       The danger from genetically modified seeds is moderate, but not immaterial -- if only in the sense that any kind of programming has bugs. Having said that, the net benefit to humanity will likely outweigh any real risks, and most of the argument is really over money.   

       // I detest Monsanto as much as KFC and McDonalds, who share the common interest of serving whatever kind of stinking muck they can legally label as food as long as the profits are big enough. — xenzag//   

       This view of the world, the one where the word profit has to drip with enough venom to eat through the page never ceases to amaze me. Who do you think benefits from McDonalds making a profit? Martians? Why does McDonalds make a profit? Cause you're the only one who's smart enough to see through it, but the billions -- or at least hundreds of millions -- that go are all morons to be saved from themselves by you? what sheer fucken hubris and idiocy
theircompetitor, May 08 2014
  

       //to build up a massive store of genetically varied seeds//   

       If only we'd thought of that. <link>
bs0u0155, May 08 2014
  

       //If only we'd thought of that.//   

       I didn't say a small collection of widely varied seeds. If 1/3 of the world's corn crop dies next year because most corn is vulnerable to the same disease we'll need warehouses of genetically varied corn to avoid a famine.
Voice, May 08 2014
  

       //The danger from genetically modified seeds is moderate, but not immaterial//   

       Yes, but it pales into insignificance compared to the danger from non-modified plants.   

       If you want to list the top 10 ecological disasters caused by plants, I would bet [8th]'s favourite teapot that more than 9 of them would be from non-native but perfectly natural species.   

       It is surprisingly difficult to create an engineered plant, with one or two extra genes, which can do more harm to an ecosystem than a natural non- native plant with 40,000 genes honed by millions of years of evolution.   

       Top of the list of introduced plants which have wrecked ecosystems are:   

       Acacia
Ardisia
Arundo
Caulerpa
Euphorbia
Tree privet
Spike loosestrife
Velvet tree (aka "purple plague of Hawaii")
Chinese creeper
Firebush
Opuntia (prickly pear)
Acha (aka Japanese arrowroot)
Ceylon blackberry
Ricegrass
Kudzu
  

       So, people who bleat and blither about the environmental risk of GM crops, frankly, need to either educate themselves or provide a list of invasive GM crops.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 08 2014
  

       I used to think the problem with GMOs were that somehow the modifications were bad for us, but that is NOT the problem. The problem is that GMOs are bread to be immune from poison, so that can then be soaked in them. The problem is WE were never genetically modified to immune to the poison.   

       //Anyone who's proposing a radical change to our methods of food production needs to explain where they plan to find 500 million tons of biologically available nitrogen per year.// [Wrongfellow], please read your own link or my second post that explains nitrogen fixers. And no I did not think that we would run out of atmospheric nitrogen, only energy to convert it into a usable form. Again READ YOUR LINK on the process and see "3–5% of the world's natural gas production is consumed in the Haber process (~1– 2% of the world's annual energy supply".   

       //Monsanto sells seeds that farmers choose to buy in a competitive, open market because the seeds offer better yield.// They used to, but now they block competition by making it illegal for farmers to save their own seed EVEN IF IT IS NOT MONSANTO SEED. If they allowed the market decide they would not loose all their business, but they would loose a percentage, so they leverage the government to block competition.   

       //the only way to mitigate the danger is to build up a massive store of genetically varied seeds. That wont' be done by farmers. To expect it is to expect them to use less efficient methods for the greater good.// I would never expect anyone to sacrifice profits for some greater good. Farmers are switching for the right reason and that is profits. The sticking point is not profits, but debt. Farmers are not wealthy and combines cost ~$500,000. So once you have gone into that hole, it is hard to climb out. So they are stuck there for life, but....the AVERAGE age of a farmer in the US is now 60, so most of them don't have much time left. The children of these farmers don't want to take over a life that has no future, so most of the farms will be absorbed by massive farms that have the scale to be profitable and the rest will either lie fallow or be picked up by those that will do something better. They will be the ones who will expand diversity because smart farming requires the diversity.
MisterQED, May 08 2014
  

       //The problem is that GMOs are bread to be immune from poison, so that can then be soaked in them. The problem is WE were never genetically modified to immune to the poison.//   

       That's true, if a little melodramatic, of some GM crops. On the other hand, glyphosate (Roundup) is immensely less toxic to humans (and most other animals) than just about any other herbicide. It's very much less toxic than the broadleaf weedkillers that are used with cereal crops, for instance. You can actually eat glyphosate, though it's not recommended.   

       As for bees, as far as I am aware they are not suffering from the use of glyphosate, except insofar as there are fewer weed flowers around.   

       The point is, farming in general isn't good for wildlife. However, conventional modern agriculture with traditionally-bred crops, and the use of traditional herbicides and pesticides to protect those crops, is overwhelmingly the main problem.   

       If I'm mistaken, and you can cite a case of glyphosate- resistant GM crops (and the use of glyphosate) being worse than the use of traditional crops and traditional herbicides, I'd be interested.   

       //illegal for farmers to save their own seed EVEN IF IT IS NOT MONSANTO SEED// Now that is something I didn't know. Can you provide any more information on that?
MaxwellBuchanan, May 08 2014
  

       //The problem is WE were never genetically modified to immune to the poison.//   

       Well then, the answer is clearly staring us in the face.
RayfordSteele, May 08 2014
  

       The best way to fight the likes of Monsanto is to keep insisting that any products containing their products has a label on it, so people can make the decision that they don't want to consume Frankenstein contaminated food. The more they protest about this action the more proof there is that they have something to hide and the more effective the boycott becomes.
xenzag, May 08 2014
  

       //consume Frankenstein contaminated food//   

       The real problem here is people are allowed to promulgate whatever hysterical nonsense they like without any fear of reprisal or having to prove their claims. I have no problem with Monsanto and their ilk having to label their produce as GMO – containing, no problem whatsoever. But I do think they should be able to sue you for making defamatory statements.   

       The point here should be to allow people to make an *informed* choice. Disinformation, sensationalism and outright bullshit does nothing to help that.
Custardguts, May 08 2014
  

       // they block competition by making it illegal for farmers to save their own seed EVEN IF IT IS NOT MONSANTO SEED// except that's not reality and is propaganda spread by idiots.   

       Monsanto is suing to keep farmers from duplicating Monsanto seed.
Voice, May 08 2014
  

       [QED], seriously, I'd be interested to know:   

       (a) Of environmental damage caused by GM crops, (I'm sure there are some specific examples you can give)   

       (b) The background behind the statement that Monsanto has made it illegal for farmers to keep seed from non-Monsanto crops.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 08 2014
  

       //The background behind the statement that Monsanto has made it illegal for farmers to keep seed from non-Monsanto crops.// Watch "Food Inc." at 75 minutes in you meet one of the remaining seed cleaners who is being sued out of business for suspicion of cleaning GMO seed. Guilt until proven innocence. It is on Netflix, which I think just came to UK.
MisterQED, May 09 2014
  

       // But I do think they should be able to sue you for making defamatory statements.// Ha - everyone already has the right to sue whomever they want, including Agent Orange Maker Monsanto. What I would like to see on all products containing Genetically Modified Organisms are these words in bright dayglo to highlight them. 'This product proudly contains substances created by Monsanto. Monsanto reject any association or connection with the term Frankenstein Food and will sue anyone using this term in order to protect their massive profit margins. Monsanto also do not like people to constantly create reminders connecting them with the toxic product Agent Orange!'
xenzag, May 09 2014
  

       How about just selling T shirts with the words FUCK MONSANTO on them? (with the small subtitle: before monstano fucks you)
xenzag, May 09 2014
  

       //The real problem here is people are allowed to promulgate whatever hysterical nonsense they like without any fear of reprisal or having to prove their claims. I have no problem with Monsanto and their ilk having to label their produce as GMO – containing, no problem whatsoever. But I do think they should be able to sue you for making defamatory statements.// Sadly they do. It must be great to have 75 lawyers on retainer just hunting people down and suing them. I could try to defend myself by asking that they prove that the statements are untrue, but to even make that request would probably cost me more money than I have made in my entire life. So don't worry Monsanto is more than able to sue and destroy people's lives for any reason they want. They will be OK.
MisterQED, May 09 2014
  

       Out of interest, should we also be boycotting General Motors or whoever on the grounds that they made products for the military?   

       And which crops are treated with Agent Orange?
MaxwellBuchanan, May 09 2014
  

       A viral trend for wearing "FUCK MONSANTO" T shirts will be hard to quell. A nice image of a tomato with a rusty nut and bolt through it, sprouting from a test-tube, and a speech bubble that delivers the message "say hello to Frankenstein's tomato" will add to the effect.
xenzag, May 09 2014
  

       // And which crops are treated with Agent Orange?// Who knows? Ask Monsanto and believe the answer if you're totally naive. Some American personnel actually drank this stuff to prove how safe it was. Where are they now? (see last link)   

       Here's a simple question for you [Max] Did Monsanto lie about Agent Orange, re it's safety?
xenzag, May 09 2014
  

       Are you guys still going on about this? Get a room...
normzone, May 09 2014
  

       Wait, this discussion can't be complete, we haven't discussed how custard could solve the whole issue.   

       Have a good weekend everyone.
MisterQED, May 09 2014
  

       //And which crops are treated with Agent Orange?//   

       I'm more worried about the crops that were treated with Agent Tomato.
Wrongfellow, May 09 2014
  

       //Here's a simple question for you [Max] Did Monsanto lie about Agent Orange, re it's safety?//   

       Here's a simple answer - I have no idea. Given your question, I presume the answer is "yes".   

       On the other hand, Tramadol is a widely-used painkiller made by a highly respected German pharmaceutical company. In the 1950s, they also developed Inmunoprin, a widely-prescribed drug for morning sickness, also known as Thalidomide.   

       So, what was your point again?   

       To be honest, I dare say that Monsanto is a money-chasing megacorporation who doesn't need my sympathy. However, running in small circles shouting "frankenfood" in 2014 just makes you look silly.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 09 2014
  

       Is there an idea here somewhere ?
FlyingToaster, May 09 2014
  

       Widely known to exist.   

       It does hint at an idea, though. Following the Free Software concept, place Perfectly Ordinary genes and genomes in the public domain, and require any proprietary genomes to be free of public domain code - modified or not.
spidermother, May 09 2014
  

       //place Perfectly Ordinary genes and genomes in the public domain//   

       Ah, they already are. Practically all sequence information is freely accessible.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 09 2014
  

       Freely accessible <> public domain.
spidermother, May 09 2014
  

       Surprised no one's done the "everyone knows there's no (Mon)santo clause..."
not_morrison_rm, May 10 2014
  

       //Freely accessible <> public domain.//   

       Hmm. In what way? If I want to modify an organism by inserting one or more genes, in general I can do so. Specific modifications (eg, a potato with gene X to resist blight) or applications (eg, using sequence Y as a diagnostic marker for disease D), or novel synthetic genes might be patented, but what "<>" did you have in mind?
MaxwellBuchanan, May 10 2014
  

       //running in small circles shouting "frankenfood" in 2014 just makes you look silly.// Looking silly is something that I take as a compliment. Boycotting and saying NO to the likes of Monsanto is everyone's choice, but the point is Monsanto do their damndest to take away that choice.   

       Given that they were complicit with the lies about Agent Orange, they cannot be trusted with anything else. I actually detest Monsanto, and regard those who approve of them of being in possession of a diminished intellect and a reduced capacity for empathy.   

       I want to live in a better world. That means one where companies like Monsanto cannot bully people and cause them to be forever mortgaged to their dubious products. Fuck Monsanto - eat natural whole-foods and not Frankenstein's chemicals!
xenzag, May 10 2014
  

       [xenzag] somewhere in the multiverse, justice is served by having you hunting and gathering your food, beyond that, it is hard to service this idiocy.   

       [marked-for-deletion] advocacy [marked-for- deletion] consumer advice
theircompetitor, May 10 2014
  

       // eat natural whole-foods and not Frankenstein's chemicals!//   

       Well, that's fine and dandy. It will also have the benefit of getting the population back down to a sensible level in short order. Go for it.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 10 2014
  

       //Is there an idea here somewhere ?//   

       Whatever it is, it's pretty half-baked.
Wrongfellow, May 10 2014
  

       I find it a little sad when conversations like this die off. It's genuinely fascinating to hear the views of people who's opinions and background are so obviously different from my own. My opinions are fairly strongly held, because, well, I've thought about them a fair bit, but that doesn't mean I don't want to hear others, and it certainly doesn't mean that I assume others' opinions are ill-formed (although their written arguments might be).   

       I was genuiniely interested in finding out how your opinions [xenzag], and probably as well [pashute] had formed, especially as strongly as they are. More so, I'd like to hear calmly stated proposals for how things could be done differently (and effectively, of course).   

       I suppose what got me offside was the a-priori assumption that GMO = bad (in all cases), coupled with what seemed to be an irrational level of hate, multiplied by a smug presumption of superior knowledge and foresight as to how things should be done. That sort of thing just rubs me up the wrong way.   

       Anyhoo, in terms of the idea, it doesn't float for several good reasons attached to the mfd's above. There might be some value to the sentiment, however, but someone is going to have to make some rational arguments, with evidence, and with suitable alternatives suggested, in order to pique the interest of this little black duck.
Custardguts, May 11 2014
  

       What [Custardguts] said except I'm more of a speckled duck.   

       I absolutely love the first link and would like to at least start such a thing before I'm dead if I am able.   

       How can this approach not be the proper thing to do?
Search "three sisters planting" if interested.
The plants need a microcosm below-ground and a macrocosm above-ground. Not tilling and raping.
  

       Take away either 'cosm' while force-growing them... and they're taste...less.   

       Nobody forces anybody to do anything. If a farmer has a choice between two bags of seed, it's up to him to decide which one to choose. If some consumers want x, let them by x, if some consumers want y - that's their choice too.   

       Where there *are* potential problems is when production methods take advantage of, or expose so-called "externalities" to an extent that other people end up subsidising them. As long as those externalities are well understood and steps taken to stop them from getting out of hand, we should all be fine.   

       An example of such an externality getting out of hand might be the use of trees on Easter Island to create the many statues there, and it's resultant economic collapse into starvation.   

       I don't think there are many of us here qualified to categorically state what externalities threaten our continued existence - but it seems that there are some concerns out there that ought to be monitored - if Monsanto have the prescience to care about their profits 100 years from now, it would serve their interests to take note of these externalities and avoid exploiting them to any such point of failure themselves also.   

       Meanwhile, there is a resurgence in "Ancient Crops" and seeds from times gone past are widely available for anyone interested in persisting; flax - highly prized for a wide range of uses, straw, fibre and linseed oil
spelt - great flour grain
The uses of which are quite applicable to small-holdings - and with appropriate management can provide food, fuel, and industrial products (linseed oil is amazing in terms of what can be made from it) So diversity is preserved, albeit in relatively small pockets - pockets nonetheless that are vigorous and healthy and which might be self-sustaining enough to re-seed should anything untoward occur with the less diverse use of industrial product.
  

       There's also a strong interest in "permaculture" which despite being literally jam-packed full of hippies, is also an immensely high-tech, low-impact set of evolving techniques and practices that work equally well in North America as it does on the African plains.   

       While there is a lot of knee-jerkism and harking back to "nature" and a pretend time when man was in harmony with his environment - what's really important is what works, and reducing waste, and ensuring what we do today doesn't block paths that might have been available tomorrow. We don't know what will happen tomorrow, but in the past, keeping some diversity around has helped preserve life through catastrophic collapses of large, non-diverse organisations.
Zeuxis, May 12 2014
  

       // // but what "<>" did you have in mind?//   

       An old notation 'for not equal to' probably.//   

       Yes, but I meant in what way does [SM] mean that freely available sequences are not public domain.   

       // [MB] My own recent take on DNA is that plant, animals, humans etc are all made of the same stuff and it doesn't matter whether you splice, inject or engineer something weird, nature has already done it anyway. So called GM is just a faster way of mucking around with DNA than nature. Confirm that and that's the Frankenstein argument blown out of the water. //   

       Yes, pretty much. Wheat, for example, is a hexaploid fusion of three ancestral genomes. Do that by GM and you'd be pilloried. However, GM does offer the ability to move genes between species that wouldn't normally hybridise, and hence achieve results that would take thousands of generations of selective breeding. Also, GM can be used to introduce traits that are useful to us but have no net survival advantage in the wild. (The same is true of natural breeding, of course - modern wheat wouldn't do well in the wild.)   

       //Lastly, does all fast growing stuff taste like cardboard ?//   

       Yes. But mainly because it's been selected for fast growth and not for flavour. Big shiny apples sell well.   

       Many current crops (for example, almost all commercially-grown strawberries) are polyploid: chemicals (usually) have been used to cause them to double, triple or Nple their chromosome set. Polyploid plants are generally bigger and fatter, which is why your strawberries are the size of hens eggs. This isn't considered "GM".
MaxwellBuchanan, May 12 2014
  

       There's an argument to be made that the overfast adaptation that GM foods allows might cause an environmental imbalance and I recognize and respect the argument that too much of any certain species of hybrid leads to ecological weakness, but to be honest don't understand much of the anti-GM hype. And I'm even a Ford guy.
RayfordSteele, May 12 2014
  

       [Custardguts] Bravo. I love a good discussion, but was going to let this one die as it seemed to be degenerating into a shouting match which seems a disservice to this place but if we can keep this civil, I'd like to continue. This may be the most important issue of our lives, so it is worth the effort. Sadly I don't understand the "duck" reference is that a reference to the kids book?   

       [FlyingToaster]//Is there an idea here somewhere ?// Yes, reasonable people have no problems with people or corporations making money by providing better products that people choose freely, even boat loads of money, but I think it is also reasonable to complain when they then use that wealth to pervert the system to eliminate choice so that people can no longer choose freely. Monsanto has been accused of taking those steps, and if that is true, then setting up a system to combat those tactics is also reasonable and not advocacy or consumer advice. It is an idea to provide a mechanism for people who want to buy non-GMO products to support non-GMO farmers so they can have that choice if they so choose. If I want organic eggs, I can choose to pay more and buy organic eggs. If I'd like to buy non-GMO soy, I don't get that choice.   

       [Zeuxis]//Nobody forces anybody to do anything. If a farmer has a choice between two bags of seed, it's up to him to decide which one to choose. // True, but if all the farmers around you are using GM seed and some blows over to your fields and that is found, you will be sued for stealing seed. So now which seed do you choose next year?   

       To save your own seed, you need what is called a "seed cleaner", which is an expensive machine which is used only once a year. If someone keeps dragging all the people who own them into court so that they can't make a living, then they stop doing it. If a farmer doesn't use GMO seed but some blows onto his farm, then he decides to save his seed and the GMO seed is found then two people are fined or loose their livelihoods. Now which seed would you choose? What if a highly motivated Monsanto employee decided to "accidentally" spread some seed onto a non-GMO farm and then "discover" the plants later? This sounds like a great way to sell seed, so there is bound to be a some unscrupulous people who would do it. Monsanto itself would have never been involved, except that they created the environment where these tactics could work.   

       //Freely accessible <> public domain.// If you are Monsanto and have the ability to cheaply DNA type any seed you find, the lawyers to then patent that DNA and then you look overseas and find some unique seed that really succeeds in an environment. Would you patent it? If you did then how would anyone know that it isn't created by Monsanto? If you were a farmer whose family did create this seed by careful breeding, but never patented it, how do you prove your case?
MisterQED, May 12 2014
  

       // True, but if all the farmers around you are using GM seed and some blows over to your fields and that is found, you will be sued for stealing seed.//   

       Well maybe, but not by any reasonable legal system. Voice's link above ("Monsanto seed case") doesn't apply to the example you give. Has this actually happened, or is this a real concern, or is it just scaremongering?
  

       Laws about GM in Europe vary quite a bit - some countries are decidedly anti-GM, for example requiring a farmer wishing to grow a GM crop to ensure than no related crop is grown within some enormous range. I think that realistically, 'contamination' of a crop from distant fields isn't generally a serious technical concern - cross-fertilisation can be kept to acceptable levels with a fairly short isolation distance.   

       Furthermore, it seems to me that if the law is being abused by big companies then it probably makes sense to change the law.
Loris, May 12 2014
  

       //If you are Monsanto and have the ability to cheaply DNA type any seed you find, the lawyers to then patent that DNA and then you look overseas and find some unique seed that really succeeds in an environment. Would you patent it? If you did then how would anyone know that it isn't created by Monsanto? If you were a farmer whose family did create this seed by careful breeding, but never patented it, how do you prove your case?//   

       That's a general problem in GM and SynBio. However, the courts tend to find the opposite to what you're suggesting.   

       In a recent case, a new tomato variety (not GM, as it happens) was stolen and brought to market before its producer did so. However, the courts decided that the stolen genome *could* have arisen naturally (ie, could have been created independently), and the (probable) thief was acquitted. If I remember correctly, it was Monsanto who had created the variety in the first place (I may be wrong - I only remember it was one of the big plant breeders), and who lost several $100M as a result.   

       In the case of GM plants,it's generally easier to prove that you created them, because the genes are (more or less by definition) not found in other cultivars of that species.   

       This whole topic is being revisited now, in the context of SynBio, and it'll probably become standard (if not a requirement) to digitally watermark made genomes to prove who made them.   

       If Monsanto really are pulling that trick to sue farmers who, by genuine accident, keep and regrow a few Monsanto seeds, then that's pretty scummy. However, the scumminess has little to do with the fact that the Monsanto seeds are GM - they could (and maybe do) pull the same trick with non-GM varieties.   

       To confuse matters a little, it's also worth mentioning that plants are covered by what's called "breeders' privilege", which says that if you take someone else's variety and cross it to produce a "new" variety, then you (not the previous breeder) own that new variety. However, things get muddy when it comes to GM crops and their derivatives.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 12 2014
  

       [MB] or anyone else who understands this stuff better than I, what are your opinions on the studies of animals fed GMO food? Specifically the effects on liver and stomach lining. I could give links but I don't want to divert the discussion by siting a badly performed study. I assume all sources are biased, but I have lately heard some that I deem credible, so I'd like to hear your opinions on the matter.
MisterQED, May 13 2014
  

       To be honest, I haven't read any such studies so I can't comment.   

       However, most GM crops contain genes transplanted from other plants (for example, the glyphosate resistance gene was taken, I believe, from a fortuitously resistant plant - I may be wrong, but that's a typical situation).   

       These genes cause the GM crops to make the same protein that the original (source of gene) plant would have made.   

       So, unless you're talking about a gene that encodes a protein that makes a toxin, or something along those lines, it's not going to have any effect on animals.   

       Some other GM crops have had certain genes knocked out (eg, I believe that they made longer shelf-life tomatoes by removing a gene that made a protein that made them go mushy; I may have the details wrong, but again it's a typical scenario.)   

       Let me ask a question: suppose you go to your local supermarket, and you see a tropical fruit that you've never eaten before. It's not GM, it's just exotic. Would you seriously worry about eating it?   

       Well, the exotic fruit contains probably 20-50,000 genes, all making proteins you've never eaten before. So, you seriously gonna worry because a GM wheat contains one gene lifted from yucca plants (or whatever)?
MaxwellBuchanan, May 13 2014
  

       No, as I mentioned, my worry is not about the GM itself. People have been GM-ing plants and animals for millennia. It is just lately that the tools got better, so the changes got faster. I do have some worry if the donated gene was from something like a "destroying angel" mushroom, but mostly my worry is about the "RoundUp Ready" GMOs and the Glyphosate that the plants are sprayed with.   

       Almost anything is fine in small doses, but now that almost everything we eat has "RoundUp Ready" corn and/or soy, if there is even a tiny residue getting through then our exposure is not small. As has been mentioned above, our history of chemical hazard testing is far from perfect, as we as humans are far from perfect and especially so if large amounts of money can be made.   

       If you add to that the supposition and some at least anecdotal evidence that animals fed with GMO feed show visible signs of issues at slaughter that are not seen on animals on non-GM feed, and I get more worried.
MisterQED, May 13 2014
  

       //our history of chemical hazard testing is far from perfect//   

       Absolutely true. The best that can be said, though, is that glyphosate is _almost_ certainly less harmful than many other weedkillers that it replaces, and also has a much shorter persistence time on plants and in the soil. So, as herbicides go, it's the lesser evil.   

       //anecdotal evidence that animals fed with GMO feed show visible signs of issues at slaughter// If you mean the study that was widely reported (oh, ten years ago plus) on rats - the potatoes (I think it was potato) that they were fed had been engineered _to produce_ some compound which was expected to affect the rats - the potatoes hadn't been engineered for use as human foodstuff. So yes, if you engineer a plant to produce some toxin (or more of a natural toxin, as in potatoes), it will have an effect.   

       If there are other studies suggesting that "benignly" engineered crops have an effect on animals fed them, then I'd say (a) I doubt it and (b) depends what the effect is: feed me something with more protein or fat in it, and it'll have an effect.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 13 2014
  

       OK, I followed a treehugger.org article to the source and found this: (link)
MisterQED, May 13 2014
  

       //Not necessarily... That protein might not be very good for the animal it is now being fed to//   

       By and large, you can eat any protein you like - proteins tend to get denatured as soon as they hit the stomach, and broken down into small peptides and amino acids before they're absorbed. There are exceptions, but they tend to be pretty obvious ones.   

       //That gene's removal might decrease the nutritional value of the tomatoes, or maybe reduce the level of antioxidants.// Yes, that sort of thing is possible.   

       //If it's SO safe and SO great for us, they ought to be boasting about it on the labels. What are they trying to hide?//   

       I think they're caught between a rock and hard place. Monsanto fucked up in a major way (ie, they've been aggressively profiteering), which underlies a lot of the objections to GM. Most of those objections (ie, to GM per se) are irrational, but the more you say "it's safe", the more people think it's not. So, what do you do?   

       Of all the technologies that affect our food, GM is probably the safest for the consumer, compared to:
*"traditional" herbicides and pesticides
*new exotic fruits with no long-term history of safety by Western standards
*barbecuing (all those benzpyrenes)
*wood-smoking (ditto)
*high-fructose corn syrup
*intensive farming coupled with the use of growth hormones and antibiotics (low but significant risk)
  

       For the environment, GM crops are not zero risk, but they're a much smaller threat than accidentally or intentionally introduced non- native wild species.   

         

       So, if you want to get worked up about food, I wouldn't start with GM. I don't work in GM crops, and I don't have any particular axe to grind, but I'd happily eat any GM food you want to serve me. However, for most people it's new and not understandable, I guess.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 13 2014
  

       [Max], I think it's that:   

       1) We have a history of introducing substances into our environment (take mining, or any pollutant) and THEN years later going "Oops, we made a LOT of money from this, but we're sorry to inform you that your children and theirs will have to deal with this forever" . So even when under analysis it's a low risk issue, people are not trusting. And the more money the players have, the less trusting the people are.   

       So, m'lord, the people find it difficult to trust you.
normzone, May 13 2014
  

       //So, m'lord, the people find it difficult to trust you.//   

       Well, it's not me that's trying to sell them GM and, in any case, I wouldn't trust me particularly.   

       You know what's really strange, though? I'm involved in a fairly new discipline called synthetic biology, which is basically a much more engineering-oriented and ambitious extension of GM. We recently organised a conference which included a public session, and I was astonished that not a single person was up in arms, out of maybe 2-300 people. On the contrary, synbio is generally seen as a green technology, which is welcome but unexpected.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 13 2014
  

       //We recently organised a conference which included a public session, and I was astonished that not a single person was up in arms, out of maybe 2-300 people. On the contrary, synbio is generally seen as a green technology, which is welcome but unexpected.//   

       Because nobody knows what it is yet. Everybody already knows that “GMO” translates to “evil dangerous corporate Frankenfood”, but Greenpeace and their ilk haven't had a chance to turn their sights towards the latest effort by Big Agra to repackage their poison and force it down the throats of an unsuspecting public. Rest assured, though, that as soon as they can extract enough blood from children in impoverished African nations to refuel their propaganda machines, they'll be coming for you and your so-called “science”.
ytk, May 13 2014
  

       Well, probably.   

       One of the first synbio products to hit the ground will (probably) be a disposable biosensor for arsenic. It's been developed (by a mate of mine, actually) to monitor the variable levels of arsenic in groundwater in Nepal. The aim is to be able to distribute it for free, so that villages can monitor their water. At the moment, because regular monitoring isn't possible, tens of thousands of people suffer from chronic arsenic poisoning, which isn't pretty.   

       Other applications include better fermentation organisms to make biofuel from waste (such as bagasse and straw) which isn't economic to use at present. That means that there'll be more biofuel without siphoning off foodcrops. The aim also is to enable this biofuel generation to be done by local communities, rather than centrally, so you don't end up hauling your feedstock in one direction and your biofuel in the other.   

       Another application (already in use) is to eradicate malaria- and dengue-fever-carrying mosquitoes from inhabited areas without using shitloads of broad-spectrum pesticides.   

       So, yes, so-called [ytk], apart from being completely wrong and an asshole, you're completely right.   

       <edit> forgot to mention also: methods for making and applying fabric dyes without dumping shitloads of chemicals into the local waterways.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 13 2014
  

       (marked-for-tagline)   

       " apart from being completely wrong and an asshole, you're completely right "   

       Well, it sounds like your folks have done their PR homework. It also helps that the avowed goals don't nominally include overlord status for the corporate facade.
normzone, May 13 2014
  

       //It also helps that the avowed goals don't nominally include overlord status for the corporate facade//   

       At the moment, most (I'd estimate 50-60%) synbio projects are aimed at:
decentralization (local biofuel or dyestuff production)
waste utilization or disposal (biofuel again; oil spill remediation)
better resource utilisation (biosensors for water stress, so you irrigate only when and where you need to)
environmental monitoring (air and water pollutants)
chemical-free and species-specific methods of pest control (mosquitoes; potentially tsetse flies)
  

       Obviously, this is just a front for the other 40% of synbio projects which are aimed at draining the blood of African babies to feed our massive PR machine as [ytk], with his usual perceptive and educated insight, has pointed out.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 13 2014
  

       The other day I learned something shocking.   

       Those bag salads of baby greens? They neither contain, are raised or harvested by, or have any marketing efforts managed by babies.   

       I'd already gotten used to the idea that baby oil came from another source. And with so many of them in this world, you'd think that somebody would harness this resource.
normzone, May 13 2014
  

       I'm horrified. Another piece of deliberately deceptive marketing is that cheese triangles are actually sectors of a circle, which means that somebody, somewhere is accumulating millions of small bow-shaped pieces of cheese.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 13 2014
  

       I don't think you understand, [Max]. Anti-GMO campaigners cannot be dissuaded by appealing to reason or compassion. If they could, there wouldn't be an anti-GMO campaign to begin with. No matter how thoroughly you demonstrate that GMO foods are perfectly safe, and both healthier and better for the environment than organic farming, there will always be a fearmongering contingent that continues to disseminate FUD about GMO foods and the science behind them. The process is much the same as what happened with DDT. Rachel Carson writes a book filled with half-truths and unsupported “scientific” claims, and the next thing you know we have to ban the most effective tool against malaria yet known to mankind. Screw the dying Africans, we've got to (maybe) protect the eggshells of some birds from (possibly) thinning a bit.   

       That sort of attitude is what spurred my comment about the blood of African children—not any of the research you're talking about, which I wholeheartedly support. The problem, sadly, is nothing less than the utter indifference of the privileged in wealthy nations towards the suffering of those in the developing world. When, several years ago, the US shipped large quantities of genetically modified corn to feed people in Africa, the governments of some countries refused to distribute it to a starving populace. Why? Because these countries relied on agricultural trade with several EU nations, all of whom threatened to cease such commerce with any country that permitted the distribution of GMO food. The fear was that some of the corn might be planted, rendering the entire crop unfit for consumption for Europeans. As a result, countless Africans continued to starve. But hey, at least nobody in France had to run a risk of accidentally being exposed to that evil corporate poison, so y'know, there's that.   

       The problem you're going to face is that you can demonstrate all of the benefits that can come of your research, but as soon as people start making the connection between synbio and GMO there *will* be a backlash. What if it gets in the water supply? What if the technology is integrated into food? What if it starts “infecting” existing crops? All the anti-GMO campaigners need to do is to raise a few questions like that, regardless of whether they can be answered satisfactorily, or even if they are scientifically valid questions in the first place. Again, if people actually listened to the answers science provides regarding existing GMO technology, there wouldn't be a campaign against it.   

       My advice is to distance yourselves from the notion that synbio is a form of genetic modification as much you possibly can. I'd start by deleting your comments in this thread, unless you want to read the headline “Eminent Scientist Admits SynBio Is a More ‘Ambitious’ Form of GM”.
ytk, May 13 2014
  

       //chemical-free ... methods of pest control//   

       I believe many pests will die off if exposed to hard vacuum for long enough.
Wrongfellow, May 13 2014
  

       //I don't think you understand, [Max].// Well, in that case, sir, I doff my hat to you and retract utterly my assertion of your anality.   

       Synbio has always been very up-front about what it does - we want to engineer living organisms in more complex and useful (and ambitious) ways than the simple GM of the last few decades (which generally seeks to just add or remove a gene or two). Yet despite this, nobody much seems to think it's anything but good. We think it's good too, but I'm surprised at how little opposition to it there has been from the usual quarters.   

       There's not much mileage in distancing synbio from GM, since they are basically the same (in kind if not in degree). Better just to be honest and say "this is what we want to do, and here's why we think it's a good thing".
MaxwellBuchanan, May 13 2014
  

       I think it only becomes evil when someone uses it to make a profit.
Wrongfellow, May 13 2014
  

       //There's not much mileage in distancing synbio from GM, since they are basically the same (in kind if not in degree). Better just to be honest and say "this is what we want to do, and here's why we think it's a good thing".//   

       I certainly hope so, but the cynic in me is still waiting for the other shoe to drop.
ytk, May 13 2014
  

       Well, I just hope that the natives with pitchforks and torches can be held off until we've finished developing the luminous sharks.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 13 2014
  

       Ooo, are you taking pre-orders? I smell a Kickstarter campaign…
ytk, May 13 2014
  

       I'll set one by for you.   

       We're still having technical issues, however. It's easy enough to get the sharks to glow, but getting them to lase is a challenge.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 14 2014
  

       Is Synbio also how they made the flowers that detect landmines? (link) Or was that just regular GM.
MisterQED, May 14 2014
  

       If it was 2004, it wouldn't have been called synthetic biology, even though the tools are basically the same.   

       The distinction between traditional GM and synbio is that the latter aims to apply more rational design and engineering philosophy, usually to build more complex and better regulated genetic circuits. In contrast, traditional GM has usually been about adding or removing one or two genes.   

       A lot of traditional (and simple) GM is now being touted as synthetic biology, because it's the new buzzword and there's lots of dedicated funding.   

       But, fundamentally, there's not a qualitative difference.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 14 2014
  

       //in what way does [SM] mean that freely available sequences are not public domain//   

       The words "Coca Cola" and the (compiled) code of Microsoft Windows are freely available, but are not in the public domain. It's not likely that I could patent or release into the public domain a very slightly altered version of either without the express consent of the copyright holders.   

       The words "Good day" and the code for the Linux kernel are freely available and in the public domain. I could not patent a slightly altered version of either, and such an altered version would automatically be in the public domain.   

       Possibly the biggest political problem facing the world is the insidious transfer of rights and property and governance from men and women to corporations. The genetic modification of organisms is not inherently problematic; but corporate tyranny is.
spidermother, May 17 2014
  

       Just to be clear, //Freely accessible <> public domain.// <> //freely available sequences are not public domain//.   

       //place Perfectly Ordinary genes and genomes in the public domain// may have been a poor choice of words; I should perhaps have said acknowledge that they are in the public domain, and insist that modified version of them are likewise in the public domain; as had been the case for nearly all of human history until a few decades ago.   

       To take another software example, the former Sun Microsystems manufactured hardware for profit, but released software developed at its own expense into the public domain, largely so people who bought their computers had nice software for them. Nothing would prevent Monsanto from doing the equivalent - manufacturing herbicides for profit, but developing public domain genetics for people to use with them.
spidermother, May 17 2014
  

       [spidermother], you seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of copyright, patents, and trademarks. Every statement you just made on the matter is incorrect.   

       //The words "Coca Cola" and the (compiled) code of Microsoft Windows are freely available, but are not in the public domain.//   

       “Coca Cola” is not copyrighted. It's a trademark. You can publish the words “Coca Cola” all you like. You just can't sell a product and call it “Coca Cola”, because that trademark is owned by someone else. It really has nothing to do with copyright law at all.   

       The code for Windows (compiled or otherwise) is decidedly *not* freely available. It is copyrighted by Microsoft, and they license it to their customers.   

       //It's not likely that I could patent or release into the public domain a very slightly altered version of either without the express consent of the copyright holders.//   

       You can't patent anything, because patents only apply to inventions. In the case of Coke, the patent would only be applicable to the beverage itself, and would cover the recipe used to make it. As part of the patent process, you'd have to publish the formula, and nobody else would be permitted to use it for several years after the patent is granted. This is one reason why Coke has never been patented—the formula is a “trade secret”, and by patenting it they'd have to disclose exactly how they make it to the public. But even if someone else got ahold of the formula, it wouldn't really matter, because the value of Coke is in the branding, not really the product itself.   

       You also couldn't patent a modified version of Windows, because patents don't apply to copyrighted materials. When people talk about software patents, they are referring to patents on specific algorithms or processes, which can be patented, as opposed to any specific implementation of an algorithm, which cannot (but it can be copyrighted). You couldn't release Windows into the public domain, because only the copyright holder can do so, and that's not you.   

       //The words "Good day" and the code for the Linux kernel are freely available and in the public domain.//   

       It's incorrect to talk about the words “good day” being in the public domain, because that only applies to an actual creative work. In order to be in the public domain, it must be copyrightable. To be copyrightable, it would have to be something fairly specific—a poem, a play, an essay, etc. A few common words strung together would not be considered a creative work, so it couldn't be copyrighted. And since it can't be copyrighted, it's not really in the public domain.   

       The Linux kernel is *NOT* in the public domain. It is copyrighted under the GNU General Public License, which allows free use of the code for certain purposes, provided that if you release your modifications to the public, you must also license your code under the GPL. If it were in the public domain, you could use the code for any purpose in any way you liked—for example you could modify it, sell a compiled version, and never release the source code. You cannot do that with the Linux kernel without violating the copyright.   

       //I could not patent a slightly altered version of either, and such an altered version would automatically be in the public domain.//   

       Again, you couldn't patent anything, because you can only patent inventions. As for copyright, you could certainly use the words “good day” in a creative work and copyright that. You could write a short story that starts with “Good day”. You could paint the words “good day” as a mural, and copyright that. In fact, you would automatically retain the copyright to any creative work that you were the author of, so no, it would not be released into the public domain unless you chose to do so.   

       As I mentioned, the Linux kernel isn't public domain, so though you can modify it, if you do so you must comply with the terms of the license, which state that any such modifications must be relicensed under the exact same license as the code you're creating the derivative work from (i.e., you must release any such modifications under the GPL, if you release them at all). In no case would any code that is in any way derived from the Linux kernel ever be in the public domain.   

       Also, you absolutely can copyright material derived from existing works that are in the public domain. Being in the public domain means there are no restrictions on how you use it, so you can create a derivative work and copyright that. For example, if you were to translate a Shakespeare play into modern English, you'd own the copyright on that translation, even thought it's clearly derived from material in the public domain. The only way your derivative work would enter the public domain is if you placed it there by expressly giving up all copyrights to the work.
ytk, May 18 2014
  

       ////place Perfectly Ordinary genes and genomes in the public domain// may have been a poor choice of words; I should perhaps have said acknowledge that they are in the public domain, and insist that modified version of them are likewise in the public domain; as had been the case for nearly all of human history until a few decades ago.//   

       [spider], there weren't any "modified" (in the sense of consciously engineered) genes until a few decades ago.   

       As it stands, all naturally-occurring genes are (as far as I know) in the public domain, regardless of who first found the organism that contains them, or who made the effort to sequence them.   

       If I modify a gene (for example, I make a gene for a temperature-sensitive mutant of a particular protein), I believe that IP can be claimed on that - that seems perfectly reasonable to me (I can't patent carbon, but I could probably have patented carbon fibres).   

       If I invent something such as a diagnostic test based around a particular [natural] gene, I believe I can patent that test, but anyone can use the same gene in other contexts. Again, that seems reasonable (I can't patent aluminium, but I can patent a device made from it).   

       As for Monsanto making their modified plants freely available, well, they make their money from making modified plants, just as Microsoft makes its money from software. That's not to say their business practices are good, but then again Microsoft aren't blameless either. As I mentioned above, Monsanto have made Golden Rice quite freely available to farmers in developing countries where vitamin A deficiency is a fatal problem.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 18 2014
  

       Max, see link to GRAIN.org article regarding 'Golden' rice. It's quite an old article now but you might find the details about who invented & developed it, who now owns it and who administers its continued development amusing. Bottom line though, there's not much altruism going on here!

\\they make their money from making modified plants\\

Only partly true. Because I'm a truly sad person with no life whatever, I just went off and read the Monsanto Annual report. They actually make about two thirds of their money from their 'seed' business (modified & unmodified). A major aspect of their modification programme is to make their seeds 'Roundup Ready'. That is, resistant to the 'Roundup' pesticide sold by...Monsanto! Sales of 'Roundup' make up the other third of their profits. When Monsanto 'gives away' their seeds, it's like Mr Gillette giving away free razors.
DrBob, May 18 2014
  

       Well, if I were in the agro business, I probably wouldn't develop a crop that was resistant to somebody else's weedkiller.   

       (I don't know if Golden Rice is Roundup Ready - I'll Google.)   

       Re. the 2001 link, it does seem to be written by someone with strong views.   

       I'm not particularly pro-Monsanto, I'm just against unfounded ranting against GM in general. In another context I'd probably be ranting against Monsanto.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 18 2014
  

       [ytk], Thank you; I stand corrected. I am indeed rather ignorant in IP matters, and was too lazy to learn before commenting.
spidermother, May 19 2014
  

       //I probably wouldn't develop a crop that was resistant to somebody else's weedkiller//

Well true, it makes commercial sense but that's one of the problems I have with the whole GM 'industry'. Much, but granted not all, of it is geared toward ensuring that farmers can only use a particular company's seeds and thus control of the food supply falls, bit by bit, into the hands of a couple of large agri-businesses. That scenario is not equivalent with, say, monopoly control of the razor blade supply (not sure why I'm obsessing about razors), so the argument goes beyond mere commerciality and becomes a moral & political one.

Regarding Monsanto in particular, my position is almost the opposite of yours. I think focusing on just Monsanto is a mistake (it looks & feels like a witch hunt to me - hence my fishbone for this idea), it's the principles & set up of the whole industry that needs challenging.
DrBob, May 20 2014
  

       Well, I probably agree. But a lot of the arguments here are targetted at GM as an evil technology, rather than at Monsanto as an evil company, and I like GM.   

       To take an analogy, people often rail against Microsoft (who have used various ploys to ensure market dominance) without bemoaning the use of "unnatural" computer technology.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 20 2014
  

       DrBob, please reconsider. Read my secondary title:   

       Way to fight back... and other large food firms.
pashute, May 20 2014
  

       Summary of idea and discussion:   

       Pashute (that's me, pronounced pa-shoot): Make an unharmful uselsess patented seed gene, and use Monsanto like clause in law to get seed back to farmers that use sustainable methods, make some money and feed the world.   

       == Against idea ==
* Max:
a. GMO is positive and necessary to feed the world,
b. intensive farming takes up less land and resources,
c. and any farming is harmful to the environment.
d. Was unaware of Food Inc. movie and featured Monsanto dealings (answered by mrQED)
e. Any farming especially modern farming is modifying foods.
f. Notes similar problem with Synbio and questions the scope of the problem of the law system vs Monsanto - also claims this is outside the scope of the GMO discussion
g. Eating exotic plants presents thousands of new genes vs. a single knockout or additive GM gene.
h. GMO per se is probably the least threat to the environment compared to some "natural practices" like introducing non native plants, or wood smoking food.
i. Reveals he is into biosynthesis - surprisingly conceived as "green" and widely accepted by the public.
  

       * Vernon: ditto
* Rayford: Most anti GM food claims are hype. + Two sarcastic remarks
  

       * Sophocles:
a. Dangerous to change system that works. Feeds billions (in essence all of the human race.)
b. Pashute (and others) being emotional instead of logical.
c. Countering Monsanto with genetics legitimizes their claim, and will take huge resources.
  

       * Wrongfellow:
a. industrial nitrogen necessary to feed all humans.
b. idea not clear ("very half baked") c. sarcastically: "it only becomes evil if someone uses it to make a profit"
  

       * Voice: Monsanto are legitimate   

       * theirCompetitor:
a. the danger is moderate,
b. profits are a good thing for companies,
c. strong feelings on the topic are irrelevant, and should be avoided
d. biodiversity in farming seeds can only be made industrially (although it currently is not)
[bs0u0155] pointed out that science has already produced a backup biodiverse seed bank, and Voice replied that it is not meant or sufficient for dealing with a famine due to unified genetics of food.
e. (following xenxag's F-Monstanto T-shirt idea) MFD - Customer choice advocacy
  

       * FlyingToaster: not an idea
* not Morrison: there's no (mon)Santo clause
* Custardguts: Too much sentiment in idea.
  

       * BigSleep:
a. GMO is same as nature, just speeded up, and doesn't necessarily taste bad.
b. FDA and food industry do not create toxic genes. (said in perhaps sarcastic remark)
  

       * Zeuxis:
a. Farmers can choose. Nobody forces anybody to do anything. (not aware of Food Inc etc.)
b. "Going back to nature" is a pretence and fad, and is behind this idea.
  

       * Loris: Doubtfully, but IF the law is being abused, change the law.   

       * ytk:
a. sarcastically: Synbio is GM in disguise. and bad.
b. seriously: Anti GMO is irrational, emotional, and driven by a fad caused by unscientific writers. c. fretting with Spidermother over examples of publicly available phenomena, legally not permitted for use.
  

       * DrBob: (in a twist) fishboned the idea, because of seemingly singling out Monsanto for a witch hunt, while the problem is with the food industry setup.   

       ------------------------------   

       == Leaning to pro ==
* pocmloc -
a. Pashute's idea is about preserving nature
b. Studies show intensive farming uses more land (even on the short run)
  

       * SpiderMother: clarifies counter genetics idea, wrongly claiming Pashute wishes to patent naturally existing genes, spewing discussion on Visual Basic notation.
  

       --------------------   

       == Pro idea ==
* MisterQED:
a. Pashute was talking about modern "sustainable farming"
b. Current system has imminent danger to human race. c. Supports pashute with info about land use (and over time: land waste) being wider in intensive farming.
  

       * xenxag: Detests industrial food companies and anybody who supports them. Proposes T-Shirts that will advocate a boycott.
* 2 fries short: agrees too much sentiment in idea, but that permaculture is great.
* 21Quest: Probably GMO produces unsafe food, (for people, plants or animals) but we cannot know that: and not knowing is the problem.
* Normzone: Can't trust industrial mega changes, that have been proven time and again to cause long standing and widespread major damage.
* Spidermother: (IMHO correctly placing my idea) The problem is corporate tyranny.
* DrBob:
a. Actually read the Monsanto annual report, and confirms the claims against them.
b. Gave fishbone, because claims Pashute singled out Monsanto as a witch hunt, while the problem is with the food industry setup.
pashute, May 20 2014
  

       That is an impressive piece of summarizationing, [pashute].   

       Even shorter summary of my view: GM is generally good unless someone sets out to do something bad. Monsanto makes GM crops and may well be a bad company. By all means attack Monsanto as a bad/draconian/domineering company, but using GM as a stick to beat them with is like using computers as a stick to beat Microsoft with.   

         

       [An aside - the following has nothing much to do with anything being discussed here. Anyone who's twitchy about GM and synthetic biology should Google biohacking. There are large numbers of enthusiasts now becoming adept at doing synthetic biology in their bedrooms just as, a generation ago, they would have been building computers. Personally I think this is great, but if I were going to be scared of GM I'd be a lot scareder of biohackers.]
MaxwellBuchanan, May 20 2014
  

       This is not about GE, but about making it illegal to grow anything that isn't owned by giant corporations.   

       Anyway, after you read my link, (just a sec, I first have to OK this anno) I suppose you'll be a little bit less sure about the GE plants and GEO issue itself (which isn't really the topic of my idea, but interesting in itself)   

       I would be happy if someone pointed out where in my idea's wording or in my responses they find emotions rather than a calm look at reality?
pashute, May 20 2014
  

       disagree. but can see your point.   

       Anyway, in the meantime I re-wrote the Andrew Kimbrell entry in Wikipedia including sources substantiating his claim to fame, but also with criticism I found, about his way with facts. So I take back my words about the article on GE.   

       But, back to the actual idea - the main problem is allowing these guys to take over all soy (and corn and cotton) production, making it illegal for other farmers to use any other seed, and in fact to work without a draconian contract with them.
pashute, May 21 2014
  

       //I would be happy if someone pointed out where in my idea's wording or in my responses they find emotions rather than a calm look at reality?//

In the idea you use the phrases 'fight back' & 'fight them' which might be portrayed as aggressive. I don't mind them myself but you could have used less emotionally loaded words.

Also, in para 3 where you talk about marching through the Monsanto office with a machete and an AK and leaving the world burning in a field of it's own GM monstrosities, that could also be taken as quite aggressive.

[Later edit] Ah, I see that you've deleted that third para now in order to avoid further embarrassment.

[Snigger!] ;o)
DrBob, May 22 2014
  

       Thanks [drbob]. Your right, and I didn't even see it.   

       [Bigsleep] - exactly what free market? They sue any farmer who doesn't sign a contract with them, for using their seed, which by has contaminated all seed, so that no one can grow soy without their contract, and the contract says you must buy all your seed from them at their price. A similar process is happening with growing animals.
pashute, May 24 2014
  

       It's a pity that that site uses fear-by-association hyperbole like "agent orange corn" and "the toxic herbicide 2,4-D, half of the highly toxic chemical mixture Agent Orange". Some trucks run on diesel fuel, half of the highly explosive chemical mixture ANFO. Whoopdey doo.   

       It's especially dumb because the presence of *actually* highly toxic dioxins in the old agent orange, and the potential for their creation during production and disposal of chlorinated organic chemicals in general, are excellent arguments for keeping a close watch and tight reigns on these companies.
spidermother, May 24 2014
  

       //The super monocrop companies are creating superweeds as a by-product//   

       Is that actually the case? Do you mean (a) that the herbicide-resistant crops are becoming weeds (b) that the herbicide resistance is crossing into other species or (c) that use of the herbicide is selecting for resistance in wild weeds?   

       //It's already got to the stage that the herbicides used to protect supercrops will kill fruit crops if drifting over the landscape.// That's a non- sequitur from the foregoing. However, Roundup has *always* killed fruit (and other non-protected) crops if it gets onto them. It's a general herbicide. So what's the "stage" that it's "already got to"?
MaxwellBuchanan, May 25 2014
  

       [pachute] that was awesome.
Voice, May 25 2014
  

       //From what I've read - a) and c). //   

       (a) probably not. Major food crops generally don't compete well in the wild, and will be outcompeted unless the area is sprayed with glyphosate to select for them.   

       (c) probably, but that's an issue that only affects farmers using roundup-ready crops, or those who use glyphosate to clear fields before planting regular crops. Glyphosate-resistant weeds are not going to start attacking the local population with clubs, because as soon as they're out of a glyphosate-treated area they have no advantage.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 25 2014
  

       Max your anno is from the 25'th see bigsleeps last link from the 24'th.   

       Just wish to mention that the food safety guy makes money from scaring people, and the organe scare seems to be a fad.   

       But the weed thing, and Monsanto's world seed domination and takeover attempts are both well documented and clearly true.
pashute, May 25 2014
  

       //the weed thing, and Monsanto's world seed domination and takeover attempts are both well documented and clearly true//   

       I probably agree about the world seed domination and takeover attempts.   

       However, as regards "the weed thing" - what I said in my last annotation stands (and is, in fact, supported by the article). Yes, glyphosate- resistant weeds will arise in areas where glyphosate is regularly used. This is true regardless of whether glyphosate is used on Roundup-ready crops, or whether it's used as a total herbicide to clear land prior to planting regular crops.   

       In any case, though, glyphosate-resistant weeds are a problem only for farmers who use glyphosate. Those glyphosate-resistant weeds are not going to dominate in the wild (in untreated areas) because they have no selective advantage.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 25 2014
  

       So - no plans to reintroduce Agent Orange as a kill everything that grows option?
xenzag, May 25 2014
  

       //(a) probably not. Major food crops generally don't compete well in the wild//   

       What is this "in the wild" of which you speak? Weeds can be defined as plants growing where they're not wanted; one man's fish is another man's poisson. A farmer who wishes to grow a crop of clean wheat is likely to consider rape growing among his wheat to be a weed. If she wishes to use glyphosate as a selective herbicide to control broad-leaf weeds, she is likely to consider 'roundup ready' rape to be a worse weed than glyphosate sensitive rape.
spidermother, May 25 2014
  

       //If she wishes to use glyphosate as a selective herbicide to control broad-leaf weeds//   

       If she does that, then she really ought to go and learn a little basic botany.   

       Glyphosate is emphatically NOT a selective herbicide - it will kill any non-resistant plant, be it broad- leaf (dicot) or grass (monocot - i.e. cereal crops, grasses, bamboo etc). That, in fact, is the whole point of it.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 25 2014
  

       //?// Wow, I thought I was being clear. Then again, someone did once say to me that while I often seemed to have a clear understanding, I didn't always use words that conveyed that understanding to those who didn't live inside my head.   

       "Weed" is not an absolute word. It's based on context. Thus a crop plant can be regarded as a weed if it is growing where it is not wanted, such as among a different (desired) crop. So "roundup ready" rape is a weed when it's growing unwanted in someones glyphosate managed wheat field, but not when it's growing in someone's glyphosate managed rape field.   

       A field prepared for one domesticated annual crop is a good habitat for another domesticated annual crop; keeping fields free of the *wrong* crop is a known challenge in farming; and contamination can come from previous crops, adjacent land, or seed stocks. Hence a food crop can act as a weed without needing extraordinary fitness in the wild.   

       An ability to compete well in the wild is not a necessary or sufficient condition for weed status - although it certainly helps!
spidermother, May 25 2014
  

       //But the weed thing, and Monsanto's world seed domination and takeover attempts are both well documented and clearly true//   

       Fine. But What I'm seeing here is constant conflation of "monsanto is bad because of their monopolising activities" with "everything GM is bad, frankenstein crops, agent orange, chemicals are bad" waffle. Max is dead right - half of agent orange is not agent orange at all. Ethanol is a lovely intoxicant that is part of a lot of people's diets. Methanol (which is pretty much "half" of ethanol) is a deadly toxin wich causes optic nerve damage, and is lethal in ammounts as little as 30ml. Chemicals are complex. Anyway, agent orange was so bad for people because of contaminants.   

       The noise does not help your message. It is clear that Monsanto is carrying out questionable and probably illegal or at least immoral activities. The rest here is speculation and hysteria.
Custardguts, May 25 2014
  

       [Spidermother] So, Roundup-ready crops become less attractive when the fields contain, as weeds, different Roundup-ready crops.   

       Well, yes.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 25 2014
  

       //Glyphosate is emphatically NOT a selective herbicide - it will kill any non-resistant plant, be it broad- leaf (dicot) or grass (monocot - i.e. cereal crops, grasses, bamboo etc). That, in fact, is the whole point of it.//   

       I must admit that I was relying on memory, but my understanding was that glyphosate (in low concentrations) has been used as a selective herbicide in cereal crops because dicots are more susceptible to it than monocots. I could easily be wrong. In any case, it is used to kill weeds in cereal crops by spraying before the sowing or emergence the crop.   

       //Roundup-ready crops become less attractive when the fields contain, as weeds, different Roundup-ready crops.//   

       Yes, but glyphosate is not only used with roundup-ready crops.
spidermother, May 25 2014
  

       // Max is dead right - half of agent orange is not agent orange at all.//   

       Hey, I said that, not Max!
spidermother, May 25 2014
  

       //Hey, I said that, not Max!//   

       So you did. Mea Culpa.
Custardguts, May 25 2014
  

       taxi!
pashute, May 28 2014
  

       Someone might simply spread a rumour that there are pig genes spliced into Monsanto's products, and their entire market anywhere in the Muslim world will collapse.
xenzag, May 28 2014
  

       Someone else might point out that the four nucleotides in plant DNA are indistinguishable from those in pig DNA.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 28 2014
  

       No matter - the damage to Monsanto would be unstoppable, and any debate on the issue would only magnify it.
xenzag, May 28 2014
  

       Possible. But then again, they have bigger lawyers than you do.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 28 2014
  

       Making such a matter the subject of lawyers would only feed the growth of such a rumour, where someone to actually start such a rumour in the first place of course. I wonder if anyone ever will?
xenzag, May 28 2014
  

       I'd say the opposite. If someone accused Monsanto of putting pig genes in plants, their only option would be to sue the arse off them very publicly to prove they hadn't done so.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 28 2014
  

       Ah - but that's the great thing about a rumour.... there is no one to sue, only the boiling rage, and the fact that no one will believe a company like Monsanto no matter what they say, given all the lies that were told about Agent Orange. You can't tramp on a virus, no matter how big your boots are, and anyway, no one has started any such rumour. It's simply just conjecture and speculation as to the likely outcomes where such a rumour to exist and gain traction.
xenzag, May 28 2014
  

       You're probably right. However, I suspect they'd just sue some random people who helped spread the rumour on social media. If there were no redress against rumour-mongers then, for example, I could spread a rumour that you were a terrorist or a child abuser. If I did so, you would (if you had any sense) take me to court with as high a profile as possible. If you did nothing, people would assume you had something to hide.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 28 2014
  

       The fact is that "intensive" farming hasn't reduced the surface area devoted to farming, it has cheapened the final product directing the surplus into waste, animal feed, fuel production, and export. This market mechanism produced "economies of scale" that were false, a more rapid less efficient reaping of a greater land mass. Improving productivity meant fewer jobs, more land used up faster and cheap surplus to waste, animal production(waste) fuel production (waste) and crude export with value added import (waste). The end result is a spending of material wealth in the form of farm land for the maximal formation of profits in the least time. This might result in wealth for the few, but it diminishes quality of life for the many as well as squandering their future quality of life and the economic viability of the land and it's ability to support future generations. In short, intensive farming steals food from future generations while wasting most of the food value produced. The rotting feast of today is a famine 100 years from now.
WcW, May 28 2014
  

       Is it possible for a company (like Monsanto) to create a plant that tastes like grilled bacon? How would they go about creating such a product?
xenzag, May 28 2014
  

       It would be extremely difficult. Even pigs need to be sliced, smoked and grilled before they taste like grilled bacon.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 28 2014
  

       I'd say Monsanto were more than up to challenge. They even invented a new type of Orange!
xenzag, May 28 2014
  

       // If you did nothing, people would assume you had something to hide.// I'd never "do nothing". I'd do something totally disconnected, and of a fearful nature. Too fearful and full of dread for words to describe, and something that involved the use of a lot of very hungry centipedes, and curry powder - lots of curry powder!
xenzag, May 28 2014
  

       I never said a word about GMO being bad. And I don't think so.   

       I also never said a word about old farming techniques which have been just as bad as modern industrial farming.   

       I'm talking about the land consumption and use. And about enabling other ways of farming, especially Joel Salatin's Polyface farm style.
pashute, Jan 25 2018
  

       Wow. This is one big old thread.   

       I can't be arsed to read whatever I wrote 4 years ago, but whatever it was, I stand by it.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 26 2018
  

       There are no words strong enough to convey my hatred of this rotten toxic company, who deserve to be fucked up in every conceivable way.
xenzag, Jan 26 2018
  

       //There are no words// if only, mon amie, if only.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 26 2018
  

       I happen to think Monsanto was a perfectly fine company until being bought by Bayer.
notexactly, May 02 2018
  

       [xen], the technology exists. As time progresses, a couple of postgrads in a garage with a few thousand dollars worth of kit will be able to do the same thing.   

       And they will. Because they think they may make money from it, it's easy, and it's worth a go. If it fails, what have you lost ? Just switch to brewing meth instead. Think of it as Breaking Bad, but with DNA.   

       At least when it's under the auspices of a multinational corporation there's someone to sue. You won't win, but there is someone to sue. Two youngsters with no assets making GM organisms ? Who you gonna call ?   

       1945: The Nuclear Club had one (1) member (with the UK and the USSR waiting to join).   

       2018: The Nuclear Club is "Everyone apart from Vanuatu, Liechtenstein and Iceland*"   

       It's 1940's technology. If you have money and land, it's not hard. Despite all efforts to stop them, several nations have the technology already. Wake up and smell the napalm ...   

       So forget trying to stop GM, globalization, chemical weapons and nukes. The day of the "nation state" is over. Now, eat up your Soylent Green like a good little prole.   

       *Iceland doesn't need nukes as they have volcanos; they can shut down air travel over a significant area with no effort whatsoever, and that's a hell of a threat to be holding over Europe and North America ...
8th of 7, May 02 2018
  

       Monsanto are a despicable company who are poisoning our planet and deserve to be totally fucked up by any legal means possible.
xenzag, May 02 2018
  

       I'm sure the marketing and PR teams at Dow, Syngenta, etc would wholeheartedly agree.
Wrongfellow, May 02 2018
  

       <carries in fingerpost on stand/>   

       <listens to rhythmic squeaking/>   

       Jolly good. [xen], when you've worn yourself out riding your pet hobby-horse to destruction, the real world is through that door over there. Just follow the pointer.
8th of 7, May 02 2018
  

       Is that the door marked "Agent Orange, a product you can drink in total safety created by the sad arseholes who work for Monsanto"?
xenzag, May 03 2018
  

       I would like to hear about one thing that xenzag actually loves and enjoys for a change. Seriously, I do worry about your blood pressure, ulcers, and sense of well-being. Surely it'll be that which kills you, not the million-and-one evils you perceive being foisted upon the world by the globalist- capitalist- Monsanto- Trumpist- Pharmaceutical- Men-in- Black.
RayfordSteele, May 03 2018
  

       Monsanto is dead! Well, just the name really. Long live Bayer AG! (link)
DrBob, Jun 05 2018
  

       No way worlds population can survive on organic food unless you plan on getting an infinity gauntlet.
bob, Jun 08 2018
  

       // organic food //   

       That would be food made using mostly complex carbon molecules with other elements attached here and there ?   

       We have examined the alternatives for inorganic foods, and since your species is not a chemoautotrophic hyperthermophile, we do not recommend that you attempt to subsist on them.
8th of 7, Jun 08 2018
  

       How about, no way an exponentially growing population can survive "sustainably" on a planet with finite surface area?
Wrongfellow, Jun 08 2018
  

       Right, so we fit Mandelbrot cutters to our ploughshares.   

       Next problem?
pertinax, Jun 08 2018
  

       Exponentially?
theircompetitor, Jun 08 2018
  

       How to digest the Mandelbrot proteins?
RayfordSteele, Jun 09 2018
  

       See last link - hurrahhhhhhh
xenzag, Mar 28 2019
  

       Jeezus. $2 BILLION for something where there is probably less than 1% chance that they were actually liable? That's frankly ridiculous. It more or less guarantees that there will be no innovation, no new products of any sort.   

       New medicines (and old medicines), for example, are pretty much guaranteed to kill some people. The rationale is that they save many more lives than they cost. The same can be said of Roundup which, even if it were responsible in this case, is safer than the herbicides it replaces. If this sort of comedy show-trial becomes the norm, you can more or less write off any prospect of new antibiotics, new anticancer compounds, new drugs to fight Alzheimer's, new anything in fact.   

       Well done, [xenzag], I'm sure you're delighted.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 14 2019
  

       I'll reserve my celebrations. Monstano's damage to our environment will take a long time, and a lot of effort by many to undo.
xenzag, May 14 2019
  

       You're right. The old herbicides were so much better.   

       Monsanto were a shit company for lots of reasons. But this award of $2bn is a farce. If people want to punish Monsanto, they should do it legitimately.   

       Out of interest, [xen], if a pharmaceutical company decides not to develop a new hypertension medication because of the risk of this kind of comedy lawsuit, will the relatives of people who die of hypertension be entitled to $2bn each? No, fuck 'em. In ten years time, will the relatives of people who are _actually_ killed by good ol' fashioned herbicides (you know, like 2,4-D or atrazine etc) be entitled to $2bn? Will you chip in? No, fuck 'em. How about the thousands who will die from air pollution because the risk of a single death caused by a malfunctioning hydrogen fuel-cell makes it not worth developing the technology? $2bn each? No, fuck 'em.   

       One of the problems with everyone being entitled to an opinion is that it includes complete fucking idiots.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 14 2019
  

       I wonder what they will spend their $2 billion on.   

       I suspect a chunk of it will go to lawyers who are keen to try picking similar fruit for themselves.   

       Oh well. Plague and famine it is, I suppose.
Wrongfellow, May 14 2019
  

       //if a pharmaceutical company decides not to develop a new hypertension medication because of the risk of this kind of comedy lawsuit// That's surprisingly weak logic for you Max. It's the fear of destructive consequences that goes a long way to ensure that products are safe to use. Rotten companies like Monsanto have shown that they don't care about any consequences such as the severe environmental damage caused by their toxic products, but being greedy they do care about financial penalties.
xenzag, May 15 2019
  

       as differentiated from the tort and class action law firms that exist purely to serve the best interest of mankind.
theircompetitor, May 15 2019
  

       Hey now, just the other day I got a whole 8 dollars from a class action suit against Wells-Fargo.
RayfordSteele, May 15 2019
  

       //It's the fear of destructive consequences that goes a long way to ensure that products are safe to use// No, that was my point. In the case of the Monsanto ruling, the ruling bore no relation whatsoever to the "destructive consequences". And their product (glyphosate) is an order of magnitude safer (or less harmful, if you prefer) than the herbicides it replaced.   

       I am not a fan of Monsanto, as I may have mentioned. However, this case sets a precedent in which arbitrary awards can be made by randomly chosen people. The disproportionality of it is terrifying. I have a biotech, and I am honestly working to develop cures for a spectrum of diseases. However, if any of them ever get into use, it is inevitable that they will kill some people - the same is true of every therapeutic ever developed.   

       My company will not be awarded $2bn for every life it saves, now, will it? And yet thanks to this precedent, it is perfectly possible that it would be fined $2bn for each death. Ergo, the chances of my getting investment to move my company forward are reduced. Ergo, it is less likely that I'll develop anything useful. Ergo, the net result is more deaths.   

       Companies should be penalized for negligence or for providing misleading information, and those penalties should be proportionate. But the Monsanto judgement is simply a lynching by the baying mob.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 15 2019
  

       //it is perfectly possible that it would be fined $2bn for each death// Are you planning on unleashing mass termination products? I would keep that information away from 8th. Meanwhile, I've got bad blood. Can you cure that?
xenzag, May 15 2019
  

       No, since [a] "bad blood" isn't a thing, [b] I'm not even in clinical trials yet, [c] I wouldn't anyway and [d] I'm scared of the liability in case you develop any other unrelated disease or injury at any point in the future.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 15 2019
  

       That 2 billion would come in handy! (and I would split it)
xenzag, May 15 2019
  

       I'm sure you would. With whom I don't care.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 15 2019
  

       Never mind..... you can find me in the jars at my local university medical school some day in the possibly not too distant future, where my mum and dad are already happily picked away.
xenzag, May 15 2019
  

       I'll be sure to visit. I love the smell of formalin in the morning.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 15 2019
  

       // But the Monsanto judgement is simply a lynching by the baying mob.//   

       sp: against. ... no wait.   

       //unleashing mass termination products?//   

       There's a good market in lethal drug cocktails. Talk to the US prison service who are in dire need of some less expensive drugs.   

       Speaking of assisted suicide, I did wonder what Bayer were doing buying Monsanto with its potentially billions of dollars of liability.   

       //bad blood//   

       The carnivore diet seems to fix a load of problems. However once on the diet you may become allergic to vegetables as many seem to lose a hormetic response to other foods.
bigsleep, May 16 2019
  

       Two beeellion dollars does seem like lot for just one probably unrelated death.
A few such judgements and you're talking real money.
  

       I wonder - would it be possible for Bayer to exfiltrate as many assets as it could and then declare the USA forsaken?   

       Failing that, maybe just increase the price of RoundUp etc. in the USA to cover costs.   

       Moving forward, you could probably form up a legal agreement that in the event of legal dispute, damages would be based on the median successful claim value (for the same class), or something similar.
Loris, May 16 2019
  

       Surely the solution is to do the thing they always say you can't do - put a price on a human life? Clearly it's more than $1, but pragmatically it has to be less than $1bn. The law needs some kind of guidance, or at least an upper bound. (In this particular case, the two supposed victims are still alive, but an upper limit still applies.)
MaxwellBuchanan, May 16 2019
  

       //Surely the solution is to do the thing they always say you can't do - put a price on a human life? Clearly it's more than $1, but pragmatically it has to be less than $1bn. The law needs some kind of guidance, or at least an upper bound.//   

       Sure. I think here in the UK there's a tariff which is used for damages - at least for some purposes.   

       This seems fairly pragmatic. The NHS occasionally makes settlements/pays damages, the largest being something like a few million pounds when an error has caused an individual to need lifetime around-the-clock care.   

       One can argue about whether these costs set are too low or high, but in general basing damages on a tariff seems like the right way to go - it's just not the American way.
Loris, May 16 2019
  

       //a few million pounds when an error has caused an individual to need lifetime around-the-clock care// In that case, presumably the award reflects the cost of care; I wonder what fraction of it is considered "compensation"?
MaxwellBuchanan, May 16 2019
  

       Max - I'm surprised at your reaction to what is totally obvious here. The award is a penalty for decades of bad behaviour on the part of Monsanto, and a clear signal to others of the potential consequences of similar cavalier arrogance when it comes to wrecking people's lives. I can well imagine the Agent Orange victims queuing up now.
xenzag, May 16 2019
  

       [Xen], that was _exactly_ my point. This is populist punishment meted out under the pretext of an award to one couple. It's the equivalent of saying "[Xen] is only convicted of mugging, but we know she's guilty of murder, so we'll hang her."   

       If people want to "punish" Monsanto for something they think Monsanto has done, then (a) they should charge Monsanto with that and go through the correct legal process and (b) if the issues are technical ones, then the case should be heard by a judge or jury with the appropriate technical understanding.   

       Whatever you think of Monsanto, and whether or not Roundup had anything to do with the couple's cancer, this ruling is a perversion of justice.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 16 2019
  

       No. It's more like being convicted of one mugging but the 10,000 more you committed also being taken into consideration.
xenzag, May 16 2019
  

       sometimes you can really wish for the counterfactual, where we could all live in that world where people starve, but at least everything is organic.   

       Juries are notoriously unreliable in such cases, no doubt appeals have not been run out. It's like a soft tissue neck injury, only times a million
theircompetitor, May 16 2019
  

       I don't trust Monsanto, but I trust revolutionaries even less.   

       The real problem is lack of land. As such, I propose this patent-trolling technique be used to compel all Fortune 500 companies to equally share the cost of establishing 3 competing Mars colonies.
sninctown, May 18 2019
  

       The world would be a better place if the weight actually came down on the people who knowingly made the immoral decisions for gross payment.
wjt, May 19 2019
  

       No, it would probably be the dark ages. 'Immoral' men were some of the first anatomists, likely doing dark and perverse experiments that violated social norms of the day. And from that primitive past, science moved forward. The government learned a great deal about syphilis from the Tuskegee experiment. Should we cast aside every product that benefited from that knowledge?
RayfordSteele, May 19 2019
  

       And rightly, intellect increases and time moves on as shown by anatomy today.   

       Anthropomorphism of a company, by the crowd, won't get the controlling individuals to re-assess their own actions for morality. It just helps the shield.   

       Still, the future will be full of mistakes. Unseen, strange, even humanity advancing mistakes but hopefully, rarely from deliberate shadowy ones forcing more devaluation.
wjt, May 20 2019
  


 

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