@Argus

I have heard it said that "the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants"

How do you source your tyrant and patriot blood?

/s

@Ventronik @Argus There's 'blood meal' fertilizer but I don't know if it's made from patriots and tyrants.

@Argus @blit32 Oh right, the gardens we all have. Same as the garages we all have to found our startups.

@Argus "And this is why Monsanto is working hard to make those peppers non-reproducible"

@Argus
It's not free though. It needs sunlight, water time and effort.

And you need a garden. I don't have one.And there are no community gardens where I live.

@Argus
> plant pepper seeds
> none of them germinate
> need to buy artificial fertilizer for the barren soil in your backyard
> need to buy specialized seed trays and grow lamps powered by the electical grid
> forget to check them daily the first year, and they all go to mold
> end up with a thousand peppers the second year, when what you need is spinach

@Argus

That’s rather silly as it assumes human labour is free.

@kravietz
I kind of got the impression its more about intellectual property than the cost of food. @Argus

@dazinism @Argus

I don’t think anybody sterilizes vegetable plants in order to prevent them from being planted - if anything, this could happen as a side effect of sterilization performed to keep them fresh. But since the blueberries and raspberries I buy routinely get mould after a few days, they don’t seem to be even treated this way.

@kravietz @Argus @dazinism

hemp seeds sold as bird food in the UK are denatured by heat to discourage germination, but this is done to try and prevent embarrasment (and even risk of trespass/burglary) to those who accidentally grow something that looks like a cannabis plant (although its a very low THC variant so not worth smoking)

ipswichstar.co.uk/news/felixst

@kravietz @dazinism Some companies like Monsanto create "terminator" seeds, that is, seeds whose plants cannot create new generations of plants.

cases.open.ubc.ca/monsanto-and

@Argus
Theres also cases of monsanto (& others) suing farmers for growing seed that came from plant varieties that Monsanto had patented. In the case of Monsanto GM seed, but can also be new varieties that were bred - en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_

Another weird thing about seed- in Europe you can only sell seed if its a registered variety (dont have to be the one that registered it). Its illegal to sell plant seeds of 'populations' (seed of same species without stable characteristics) @kravietz

@Argus

Theres folks who have developed populations of mixed varieties, and older seeds brought in from seed banks etc. to purposely make a lot of genetic diversity to provide more resilience.
Over the years the population adjusts itself to conditions of the area where it is being grown.
Under the weather conditions of any given year individual plants within the population may grow better
@kravietz @dazinism

@dazinism @Argus

Over the years the population adjusts itself to conditions of the area where it is being grown

No cultivated variety, be it GMO from 2021 or some ancient wheat from 5000 BC, survives in the wild for long without, well, human cultivating it. This is specifically because they were made by humans, one way or another, to redirect part of the their metabolism to the production we wanted rather than their survival. Under any climate, the local weeds are the real survivors who have evolved to survive best under local conditions, and they will quickly replace any cultivated species. The latter may be replaced completely or evolve for their survival, which we would then call from our perspective as “going feral”.

@kravietz
If you are talking grains I'd agree. They need regular human intervention

There are however folks replanting with seed saved from the population that grew in that field the previous year who report reasonable success. All without any ploughing, fertilizer or herbicides.

We tried this on our 30acre field the last few years but had poor results

For other food crops the human touch could be much lighter & production better integrated into the ecosystem sciencemag.org/news/2021/04/pa @Argus

@dazinism @Argus

That Monsanto patents was a popular scare in 90’s among anti-GMO folk but as of 2021 it’s rather weak argument: Monsanto doesn’t exist anymore, their soybean patents expired 20 years ago and the “Monsanto terminator gene” was never actually used in any their product and abandoned in 1999. I strongly recommend Whole Earth Discipline by Stewart Brand as he debunks most of these myths from environmental position.

in Europe you can only sell seed if its a registered variety

Guess what: GMO industry isn’t the only one that fights tooth and claw to protect their intellectual property. Conventional, organic and natural agro companies do exactly the same, and for some reasons they formed a very strong pseudo-scientific lobby in the EU. To add to the absurdity, the registration requirement could be actually part of the EU… anti-GMO regulations.

@kravietz
Theres many cases of Monsanto acting on seed patents - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto
I'd be surprised if Bayers purchase of Monsanto changes much in this regard

"Stuart Brand … debunks most of these myths."

I think debunked may be a bit of a absolute term to use. Im sure that others are likely to be able to pick examples and data to make a strong case for an alternative perspective.

Although theres parts I could get behind Im not convinced by Brands outlook en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecomoder @Argus

@dazinism @kravietz @Argus

As you well know, I was in the past a major proponent of the precautionary principle, even to the extent of saying that GMO should be treated like nuclear proliferation.

But I have started to come around, thanks in large part to the pandemic which is kind of the genetic equivalent of the nuclear holocaust. So at this point we might as well press forward.

But there really needs to be some rules around this.

@dazinism @kravietz @Argus
In particular, I think all natural genomes ought to be deemed to be protected under copyleft license.

Making a small modification to a natural seed and then considering it your intellectual property is not far different from screenshotting someone else's work and minting an NFT.

@cjd @dazinism @kravietz @Argus
Careful buddy, the idea that the riches of the earth belong to everyone rather than just the first person to exploit them is a slippery slope to a better world

@cjd

Making a small modification to a natural seed and then considering it your intellectual property

And I believe this is precisely the situation in most countries these days. What is usually protected under IP laws is the method of producing these modifications, which can be often quite novel and involves significant amount of research and investment. I certainly do believe this investment should be protected for a fair amount of time.

The IP regulations are also a derivative of culture, and the culture is a very local thing. In the US, with its dog-eat-dog for-profit attitude and domination of lawyers in every aspect of life, of course private companies tried to patent everything they could, specifically because they could. And that was a generally accepted way of obtaining monopoly.

In India and Bangladesh on the other hand, GMO crops were developed by public research institutes and the licensed to private companies for manufacturing simply because the latter had capacity. But the license was available to anyone and seeds were sold without restriction.

It’s very much the same story as with infamous case studies of $1500/month insulin and $750/dose daraprim, both of which are available everywhere else in the world for pennies. It’s IP and protectionism that escalated prices of these drugs in the US, but it’s US-specific and 100% caused by US-specific legal constructs rather than some kind of systemic issue with IP or drug regulation in general.

@dazinism @Argus

@cjd @dazinism @Argus

As you probably remember on both aspects I significantly disagree - that is, precautionary principle I consider to be pseudo-scientific and harmful, while GMO I consider to be much safer than existing plant & animal breeding techniques based on random mutations.

As for the rules, they are in place and in majority of countries they are arbitrary, inconsistent and not justified. For example, precision gene engineering using CRISPR is from legal point of view considered “unsafe” in contradiction to the vast scientific evidence, while mutation breeding (irradiating seeds or exposing them to chemical mutagens) is considered “traditionally safe”… because it’s been used since 70’s so, hey, whole centuries!

@kravietz @Argus @dazinism
So by both points, you mean you disagree with the precautionary principle AND you disagree with the idea that there should be rules ?

@cjd

No, by both points I mean the very idea of precautionary principle (which is inconsistent and self-cancelling) and the idea that genetic engineering is some kind of intrinsically dangerous technology that should be highly restricted.

As for the rules, of course there should be rules for application of any technology. The current set of rules is a random compilation of pseudo-scientific fears and ideas, not much different from those raised by anti-5G or anti-vaccine movements. In reality, they should be based on solid scientific evidence rather than unfounded speculations:

The very basis of the Precautionary Principle is to imagine the worst without supporting evidence… those with the darkest imaginations become the most influential. (Adam Curtis)

And are methodologies for dealing with these risks in a rational and evidence-based way, including unknown risks.

Just to remind you that Galileo space probe would never be launched if “precautionary principle” was followed, as its launch was fiercely opposed by “environmentalists” (Rifkin & co) who invented disastrous scenarios of “deadly plutonium” being “sprayed” all around the globe, as it happened to contain a plutonium-based thermoelectric generator (just as virtually every other space probe at that time).

@Argus @dazinism

@kravietz @Argus @dazinism

I think "the idea that genetic engineering is some kind of intrinsically dangerous technology that should be highly restricted" is trivially validated by the fact that genetic engineering can be used to make biological weapons.

@cjd

Chemistry can be used to make chemical weapons, illegals drugs or high explosives. Yet we do not ban the whole chemistry, quite the opposite - we teach it in schools.

Instead, we control trade of specific substances, precursors for the above dangerous uses. Which is reasonable, because chemistry provides us with vast amounts of benefits in daily life.

And the inconsistency of the current anti-GMO stance in high-income countries is even clearly expressed by the fact that in most cases you are free to do any CRISPR you like as equipment and reagents is freely available. It’s when you actually want to put something useful on the market is when the restrictions and labeling kicks in, which is certainly not a path designed to prevent biological weapons.

@Argus @dazinism

@kravietz @Argus @dazinism

Chemical weapons, drugs, and high explosives have a limited scope of damage. Biological weapons can be used to create disasters at the scale of our current global pandemic. Different ball game.

@cjd

Except modern biological weapons were developed long before CRISPR was invented. The argument is orthogonal — no GMO labelling regulations will prevent development of bioweapons, and no party interested in developing bioweapons will be prevented by EU GMO restrictions. It's the same class of FUD as "cryptography is used by terrorists so it must be controlled".

@Argus @dazinism
@cjd

Also I should also remind that first specialized bioweapon labs were opened in USSR, USA and UK in 1930's and scientists knew how to mutate bacteria and viruses long before DNA was even discovered. You don't require CRISPR to create a weapon, but availability of CRISPR made the mRNA vaccine and thousands of other drugs possible.


@Argus @dazinism

@cjd

Biological weapons can be used to create disasters at the scale of our current global pandemic

If you’re seriously concerned about pandemic-scale events then you’re making the fundamental mistake of focusing on a minor, hypothetical risk, while ignoring the overwhelming one that has just materialised in front of you.

Warnings about possible zoonotic pandemics were raised by the scientific community from at least 2010’s (or at least these are the earliest I saw), and their primary drivers were pinpointed as unsanitary animal farming, destruction of natural bat and other wildlife habitats as well as wild animal trade for “traditional impotence remedies”.

All of these are the world’s largest bioweapon manufacturing industry, a massive cross-species virus mutation reactor, that operates 24/7 in thousands of wet markets worldwide. We have witnessed early warning signs with the emergence of MARS, SARS-CoV-1, H1N1 etc which were largely ignored… until SARS-CoV-2 which happened to have a pandemic potential.

@Argus @dazinism

@kravietz
Im not totally against the idea of GMO, just strongly wary given that they are largely being developed & promoted by large corporates where the culture is found to repeatedly act in ways that are reckless towards humans & the environment in order to maximise profits
Sadly their power means they hugely influence the shape of regulatory frameworks within which they operate
Also massively influence focus of much scientific research & hold back publishing negative results
@cjd @Argus

@dazinism

largely being developed & promoted by large corporates

As I wrote in the other comment, it’s a mistake to project the US-specific culture to the whole world.

The fact that US pharmaceutical industry was able to restrict competition in the US to the extent that people have to pay $1500 for insulin is not a general rule - quite opposite, it’s an exception in the high-income countries, where healthcare is state-funded and free or very cheap for patients.

In the same way there’s no laws of physics that prevent public development of GMO technologies, and this is precisely what is happening in the Asia (India, Bangladesh). And would likely happen in the EU, if it did not impose restrictions on it as result of lobbying of “natural and organic” sector which shows exactly the same harmful traits as US biotech corporations - with the primary difference being that their products actually do work as promised.

@cjd @Argus

@kravietz
I'm in no way presuming that the culture in the US in mirrored exactly elsewhere, but I would point out that is a huge amount of pressure for countries to act in this way, forced through as requirements for loans by the World Bank/IMF.
The fact that Bangledesh and India (where GMO crops were recently banned) have some public GMO research doesnt have to mean that there is no corporate influence pushing those initatives.
I've seen first hand how this kind of stuff works...
@cjd @Argus

@kravietz @cjd @Argus
when I used to work in the renewable energy sector. I went to a government consultation about the new taxation framework for renewable energy. In the room a colleague and myself, 2 tired people who each worked at a large enviro NGO and then 30 plus people from 'dirty' energy. The conversations were dominated by their perspectives. When I suggested maybe some tax funds could be channeled to support renewable energy rather than compensate dirty fuel everyone laughed.

@kravietz @cjd @Argus
The truth is that government policy is largely formed in an environment absolutely packed with corporate lobbyists. Other groups often dont have the resources to effectively influence the processes of government (the NGO lobbyist I spoke to that day confirmed this) . Corporate profits have a huge influence.
This situation is reflected in academic research, whats the focus, where private & public research funding is spent.
Same in renewables, agriculture, health etc. etc.

@dazinism @cjd @Argus

Well, this must have been long ago as you can clearly see that fossil fuel companies today are the best friend of renewables. And they of course have a very good reason - increased share of renewables guarantees increased use of fossil fuels for backup. Germany today has 60% renewables in installed (!) power, but the largest actual sources of electricity are coal and gas.

@kravietz
"clearly see that fossil fuel companies today are the best friend of renewables."
Again I think you are taking a jump into a firm position, which Im not at all sure is so black & white.
The situation is likely more nuanced than that- looking at the potential effects on their bottom line & the publics perception of them and altering their messaging accordingly. Their lobbying & activities may not mirror what their messaging suggests
Remember BPs "beyond petroleum" rebrand? @cjd @Argus

@dazinism @cjd @Argus

You have first-hand experience of fossil companies lobbying against renewables at some unspecified point in future, I have first hand experience of the same companies lobbying for renewables and gas within the last five years (all screenshots taken after 2015). In some especially disgusting cases (such as Greenpeace Energy) this was one and the same thing.

And of course both experiences may be true, as per the well-known saying “if you can’t beat, join them” that works perfectly well in business.

The only business tactics that remains unchanged is fierce opposition of both renewables and fossil companies to the nuclear power, which is clearly understandable as nuclear makes the only viable competition to dispatchable electricity that is low-carbon and uses little land surface at the same time.

@dazinism

No “corporate influence” would force increase of Bt brinjal farming from 3000 farmers in 2017, 30’000 in 2020 and 65’000 in 2021 in Bangladesh alone (20% of them are reusing seeds from previous season).

What has driven this increase was very simple, measurable benefits: yields increased by 51% and pesticide use reduced by 76% (with proportional drop in pesticide poisonings and cancer among farmers).

Of course, they are closely watched by their counterparts in India, who don’t quite understand what wicked pseudo-science would prevent them them from doing the same. As a matter of fact, thousands of farmers in India illegally plant Bt brinjal as part of a satyagraha campaign.

@cjd @Argus

@dazinism @kravietz @Argus

I think it's sad when a country just bans GMO because it has lots of potential. Imagine sea scum which grows like mushrooms, tastes like smoked salmon and has the nutritional value of a multivitamin.

But that doesn't change the fact that some ag companies DO abuse farmers and biological weapons proliferation IS a concern.

I think the people claiming there's nothing to worry about are as harmful to the discourse as the ones saying it's unnatural / against God / etc.

@dazinism @kravietz @Argus

It's a bit like cryptocurrency really. The technology has tremendous potential and it's something we need to figure out how to harness, but there are some activities which are so transparently fraudulent that I can see how a country ends up throwing up their hands and saying "all of this crap is now illegal".

@cjd

Any company can abuse people… if you let them to. From EU perspective requiring people to pay $30k for a childbirth and $1500 for insulin is such abuse, yet US seems to be perfectly fine with it.

@dazinism @Argus

@Argus

You wouldn't copy a seed.
Food piracy is a crime.
That pepper genetic code is copyrighted.

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

@Argus Plant loads of trees and stuff on random bits of wasteland. conkers acorns whatever. If birds, bats or squirrels nest in them it is illegal for corrupt, daisy cutting town developers to chop them down in the UK.

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