Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: That Buzzing Sound

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  • stephen walker,

    better crop yields, higher nutritional values.

    evidence please.
    it looks more like GE religion to me, this belief that the technology works because the people selling it say so.

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 633 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    planet destroyed

    it's a work in progress.

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 633 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    reduction in the use of pesticides

    Roundup-Ready Soy (TM)

    LOL!

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 633 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    banning research

    when did the Greens call for banning lab-based research?

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 633 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    I'd quite like to know what's actually in that. Pity.

    So would I. But the whole point of abusing urgency like this is to stop us from knowing until it is too late.

    OK, so in this case we'll be getting a select committee process. But there'd be a far better public debat eif it was consulted on, introduced a week in advance, and then debated without urgency.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1640 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    no telling what benefits

    or costs even!?

    but really, could have credible research on the benefits and costs, rather than lots of pie in the sky "it's sooo good" pronouncements before release of these organisms?

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 633 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    sigh - one can be in favour of careful, responsible research in GE with enormous safeguards and still be against things like round-up-ready things and their ilk

    BT's an interesting case - it's 'natural' to the extent that organic farmers can use it ... so now people are GEing it into crops - a mistake IMHO because the bugs will evolve and the organic farmers will be worse off.

    I think there are lot of people who are against a lot of GE-in-practice but are not religiously against GE by itself - and we feel shut out of the Greens

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2129 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    Paul, when did the Greens religiously shut out GE research?

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 633 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    when did the Greens call for banning lab-based research?

    Not sure if it's party policy (I think so) but Kedgley is against release in containment fields, and you can't do a lot without that part of the equation.

    or costs even!?

    Of course, but you know, unless you're telling me that current agricultural practices are sustainable, or that we can all convert to organic and maintain the yields, we'll need to at least research the benefits, no? Besides, we know a lof of things about the poisons we are forced to consume today - including those in the packaging, not just involved in the production of food. Not sure that maintaining the status quo is a great response. We need all the help from science that we can get, I would have thought, including of course non-GE science.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7358 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    (I think so)

    is this a new anti-Greens religion?

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 633 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    well every time I bring up the issue with green party members I get shut out - even by people who are good friends - I advocate a point in the middle ground that's still very very close to the green side of things

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2129 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    is this a new anti-Greens religion?

    Not sure where you came up with that. I said "I think so" because she said it publicly a number of times, and if it weren't party policy surely she wouldn't have - party discipline and all. But if you know differently, do tell.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7358 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Stephen

    could someone outline the commercial advantages of GE outside the lab?

    Lets skip the money because there just is a lot of money in GE crops for everyone who grows them. Most of the farmers growing GE outside the US are small holders who actually do make more money. The data is on the web if you want to look for it.

    Instead lets look at the environmental benefit, ya know that stuff Greens are interested in, Roundup resistant soybean and cotton are two major crops made by that evil empire Monsanto. About half the worlds cotton is now GE! The farmers now use evil roundup instead of other less evil but more toxic chemicals (roundup is slightly less toxic than table salt). As a result they expose themselves and their communities to tonnes less of those less evil but more toxic chemicals. Most of those farmers would shoot you if you tried to take GE seed from them because they don't like driving tractors next door to their homes while spraying toxic (but less evil) chemicals.

    All that we predicted. What we didn't really realise is that all those farmers stopped tilling. For those city folks who don't understand that bit - farmers drag big blades through the soil and turn the soil over in order to bury the weeds. This involves driving tractors back and forth lots (boring) and also results in loss of topsoil which either blows away in the wind or washes away in the rain. Because the farmers didn't need to kill the weeds they decided not to spend time driving tractors and instead spend it polishing their guns. The amazing thing is that retaining topsoil is really really good for the environment.

    Anyway that was really long and if you wanted me to go over all the good things about GE that have occurred in the last 30 years, yes it is that established and still no deaths from evil GE, then I would really threadjack this.

    Suffice to say there is tonnes of evidence out there already explaining what GE has done and why it is worthwhile. If you don't want to read it that's fine.

    Oh and BTW I am fully aware that The NZ Green party does some excellent stuff. But their policies regarding GE, in particular their absolute objection to allowing any GE work outside the lab (you ever tried to grow a tree in a lab??) is stupid and I would not vote for or support them because of that.

    Really sorry for the threadjack and I will stop now and go back to the Green Onion Slave girl thread.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3349 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    at least research the benefits

    yes. research the benefits and costs and compare with various alternatives. but why release organisms when you have no idea what damage they might do? what about the precautionary principle?

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 633 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    research the benefits and costs and compare with various alternatives. but why release organisms when you have no idea what damage they might do? what about the precautionary principle?

    Not sure if you're deliberately trying not to get the point. You can't research this things without limited, contained release. The Greens, as far as I know, are against that. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Plus, what Bart says.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7358 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Roundup resistant soybean and cotton are two major crops made by that evil empire Monsanto.

    It's not the chemical resistance that's evil, it's the suicide genes that they've been putting into some of their crops, tying farmers into buying seed every year rather than being able to be self-sufficient after the first seed purchase.

    Oh, that and their habit of suing anyone whose fields end up contaminated with their GE'd crops, on the grounds of patent infringement. Monsanto are a perfect example of why patents on life-forms are bad. Plants don't give a toss if they're under patent or not, they're going to spread through ordinary biological processes and Monsanto can just go whistle if they think lawsuits will change that.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3908 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    Lets skip the money because there just is a lot of money in GE crops for everyone who grows them. Most of the farmers growing GE outside the US are small holders who actually do make more money. The data is on the web if you want to look for it.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/1500-farmers-commit-mass-suicide-in-india-1669018.html

    Over 1,500 farmers in an Indian state committed suicide after being driven to debt by crop failure, it was reported today.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mallika-chopra/the-tragedy-of-farmers-su_b_189843.html

    Companies like Monsanto promise farmers that these genetically modified (GM) seeds, which cost significantly more than traditional seeds, require less pesticide and will potentially produce higher yields than traditional, renewable seeds. However, farmers are usually not told that GM seeds also require more water, making crops more susceptible to drought, irrigation and lower water levels. These genetically modified seeds also do not produce viable seeds of their own to be saved for the next season's harvest, which means that farmers are forced to buy the patented seeds and fertilizer again and again every year.

    Lured in by these promises, farmers are forced to take out high interest loans to purchase these "magical seeds" - often from aggressive lenders who charge exorbitant rates - just to survive. Combine that with Western subsidies on cotton - which deflate global prices - and Indian farmers are faced with revenues that cannot cover their debt. Out of despair, hopelessness, even shame, farmers turn to suicide - often by drinking pesticide - they kill themselves, leaving behind children and families who must bear the burden of a system that is too overwhelming to even think about.

    http://www.panna.org/files/bulletTrain.dv.html

    A 1998 Iowa State University study (which considered actual herbicide and fertilizer costs) concluded that for Bt corn growers there was a slim advantage of $3.97/acre (with higher yields, but also higher herbicide and fertilizer costs).
    The same study showed that in the case of herbicide tolerant soy, the advantage went to non-GE varieties by $1.25/acre (with a smaller herbicide bill, but yield was down).
    A 2000 USDA study concluded that herbicide resistant soy did not lead to a statistically significant increase in net returns.

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 633 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    limited, contained release

    how is it limited and contained? who is going to indemnify?
    and lots of research can be done without release. just get NASA to build a research farm on Mars.

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 633 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    I'm perfectly happy to engage with the Greens. Heck, I've even leafleted, voted for them. But the Kedgley wing is a big part of the reason why I don't join, and I think it's a perfectly legitimate one to be frank.

    I party vote Green, but give my electorate vote to Labour because I always get the impression that Kedgley will try to make me eat my broccoli. I consider myself an urban greenie, since I believe that compact cities, high-quality public transport and renewable energy sources are vital, but there's a thread of Thoreau-lite anti-urbanism, 60s-hangover mysticism and pursed-lipped tut-tutting about some greens that puts me right off. I suppose you could say that I'd prefer them to be more bright green than dark green.

    Ooooooooooh, those miserable sodding bastards. They're running it along part of the designated rail corridor. That has two effects.
    1) No Avondale-Southdown line in the foreseeable future, because the path it would've taken will now be occupied by a motorway, and
    2) The designation of at least some land is already done. Opponents, eat yer hearts out!

    Oh crap. Bye-bye rail.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1039 posts Report Reply

  • Alastair Jamieson,

    It's not the chemical resistance that's evil

    Unless you're interested in protecting indigenous biodiversity (e.g. native plants, animals, habitats and ecosystems) from invasive plants (weeds) - in NZ we have enough trouble with exotic species without artificial resistance to the herbicides that might be capable of controlling them.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 96 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    But if you know differently, do tell.

    someone excerpted the party's policy upthread.

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 633 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    </quote>just get NASA to build a research farm on Mars</quote>

    I rest my case.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7358 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    ;-)

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 633 posts Report Reply

  • Alastair Jamieson,

    @Tom and the others who nearly support the Greens, but can't quite bring themselves to do it. What's with the "throw the baby out with the bath water" thing going on here? I really don't get it.

    I regularly hear from friends who are ecologists or might broadly be termed environmentalists, but when it comes to the crunch would rather support one of the main parties who (one of which in particular) seem allergic to promoting (and funding) any policies that will seriously give NZ a chance of maintaining it's natural environment, or promoting international sustainability.

    I don't want to pick on you Tom, but the broccoli comment is kind of typical of the response - it's like people have some childhood resistance to being "told what to do."

    My view is get over it - collectively we have some life-threateningly serious environmental issues to deal with right now - get stuck in and don't let the trivial stuff get in the way. If you're so close to supporting them, tell the Greens what they need to change to get you over the line.

    </rant>

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 96 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    @Tom and the others who nearly support the Greens

    That bit in my comment where I said that I give my party vote to the Greens? I think that's a bit more than "nearly".

    My support for them is based largely on their emphasis on sustainability, but also on foreign policy and social justice issues where I consider Labour to be very compromised and populist. I am a Greens supporter, and I don't think there's a line that I need to get over. But no party will ever appeal 100% to every individual, and there are certain policies and individuals that make me less comfortable.

    I don't want to pick on you Tom, but the broccoli comment is kind of typical of the response - it's like people have some childhood resistance to being "told what to do."

    That may make me sound like I'm exhibiting a sort of Actoid resistance to imagined Nanny-statism, but it's more a reaction to specific policies and a certain demeanour. I'm in favour of regulation to shape urban form, improve energy efficiency, encourage a shift to more sustainable transport and fight obesity. But there's a sort of Calvinist, smug, suburban, babyboomer "oh, it's organic, don'tcha know" attitude to some of their food policy that I'm not going to "get over" any time soon. It reminds me of the cover feature in about every third Listener: "If you don't get enough Omega 3, you'll need plastic surgery and you'll never afford a mortgage in a good school zone" or some such.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1039 posts Report Reply

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