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The recent decision by the FDA will only ignite a debate for years to come

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently made a tentative conclusion that meat and milk from some cloned animals is safe for human consumption.  The decision has paved the way for the United States to become the first nation that allows products from cloned animals to be sold in grocery stores. 

After years of numerous delays, the FDA report found that there is not much of a difference in composition of food from cloned animals compared to normal animals.  Even if the FDA's assessment is officially approved in 2007, consumers may not be able to products from cloned animals since the technology remains too costly to be widely used.

The decision on Thursday immediately drew comments from critics from across the nation.  Opponents to cloned food are aiming to throw Congressional pressure to delay the policy before it is finalized.

Consumer groups are gravely concerned over potential health issues that may arise in some of the cloned animals.  Some cloned animals may have weakened immune systems and will need more drugs to stay healthy, according to activists and critics.

Don't be surprised if you begin seeing some sort of "clone-free" labels on meat and dairy products from cloned animals.  Ben & Jerry's ice cream, for example, already mentions that its farmers do not use any sort of bovine growth hormone on its cows.  Many opponents are not necessarily against cloned food, but want to make sure consumers know exactly what they are purchasing.  The FDA found, however, that there is "no science-based reason" for having to label cloned foods.


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Cheap
By Schadenfroh on 12/30/2006 10:04:32 PM , Rating: 2
Isnt it just cheaper to make them the "old" way?




RE: Cheap
By Spartan Niner on 12/30/2006 10:15:11 PM , Rating: 1
It's cheaper... and if you grew them the "old" way with lots of human labor and few if any chemical pesticides/herbicides despite the somewhat increased crop losses you'd be saving money (none spent on chemicals) and creating many jobs. The only reason we "need" chemicals is because we've created vast monocultures (single strain of a crop on huge plot of land) which are in great danger if a pest or disease comes by. If we returned to more traditional planting where a greater variety of crops are planted we reduce the risk by putting our eggs in many proverbial baskets, and, as a plus, have to use fewer chemicals.


RE: Cheap
By masher2 (blog) on 12/30/2006 10:41:30 PM , Rating: 2
Its most certainly not "cheaper" the old way. Prior to the agricultural revolution, the average farmer only grew 2-4X more than his own family ate. That meant that 25-50% of the people in the world needed to be farmers, simply to meet demand. And still, famines were common, and malnutrition chronic. Personally, I prefer the modern situation, to a world where half of all people must engage in backbreaking labor from sunup to sundown, simply to stave off starvation.

As for the ridiculous notion that we only need pesticides and herbicides because of modern agriculture, you may want to rethink that. Ever hear of the biblical curse of a "plague of locusts"? Such cases were real, and not uncommon...and they meant starvation for entire communities when they occurred.


RE: Cheap
By Ringold on 12/30/2006 11:01:12 PM , Rating: 2
Masher, interesting article in the last issue of the Economist.

Grain production in the US has tripled since the 1960s with little to no increase in the amount of land under cultivation. Why? Increased use of chemical fertilizers.

The economic trade-off they present is pretty simple: modern agriculture can give us abundantly cheap food, or we can reject it, use "organic" crops (and they point out the hippies can scarcely agree on what 'organic' truly is in specific terms) and say good-bye to most of the worlds remaining rain forest thanks to the huge increase in the amount of arable land needed.

Rejecting modern science is ... well, hell, I don't understand hippies at all. Then again, I don't understand damned evangelicals, either. Something about the lack of logical reasoning, I think, I dont know.


RE: Cheap
By masher2 (blog) on 12/31/2006 12:12:46 AM , Rating: 2
Thanks for the tip; I'll check it out. I know the productivity increases since the turn of the century are truly astounding. Which explains why farming is becoming a very rare occupation...when a single farmer can grow enough food for a few thousand people, the world does't need many farmers.


RE: Cheap
By number999 on 1/3/2007 2:02:06 PM , Rating: 2
Why is "organic" considered primitive or not scientific? It could be due to a lack of funds for intensive western style agriculture or a host of other reasons.

I saw a documentary on Cuba's new green revolution and how it managed to increase production without the intensive "scientific" effort from big business that seems so natural to us by actually using nature.

Here's the gist of it.
http://www.twnside.org.sg/title/twr118h.htm

PS. It's the green revolution not the agricultural revolution. References to the agricultural revolution historically refer to the domestication of grains and animals that happened 5000 years ago, not to the modern use of chemicals and such.


RE: Cheap
By masher2 (blog) on 1/3/2007 5:01:13 PM , Rating: 4
Are you seriously putting Cuba forth as an example of efficiency? Good god, why can people not think any more?

Cuba's "agricultural revolution" succeeded in one thing only-- preventing the nation from starvation. It has two main factors. First, their large-scale farms (small by modern standards) are extremely labor intensive. They work for one reason, and one reason only. They utilize "enforced labor". Slavery, in simple words. This is simple fact, and easily verifiable.

This still doesn't provide enough food for the country, which brings us to the second factor. Over half the people in the country supplement this by growing their own food, in tiny backyard gardens...even many of those living in Havana itself still are forced to engage in agriculture. So in addition to working long hours in their regular job, they spend their "leisure time" as part-time farmers.

This is your example of the success of organic agriculture? You cut your legs out from under you. Look, we already knew its possibly to grow food organically. It's no different than we did in centuries past. It's just far too inefficient.

Ever see the movie Gladiator? Historically, its a mess...except for the part where Maximus-- one of the Empire's most respected Generals-- ran a farm in his spare time, operated by slaves. That was the model of the times. It was imperative that everyone farmed, no matter what their position. There just wasn't any way to grow enough food otherwise. And you seriously want to return to such a system?


RE: Cheap
By number999 on 1/26/2007 7:07:12 PM , Rating: 2
Your BS runs beyond no limits as always. Don't think? You're the one who's assuming that everything gets thrown out, not me. The idea is to use what's there and the knowledge of how things work together to create sustainable farms.

You obviously didn't even read the link, which doesn't surprise me again. You preconceived prejudices puts your negative opinions and projects them so that you keep thinking I'm saying things i'm not.

As for slavery, where did you get that idea. Considering the fallout of the reduction of USSR help on the Cuban infrastructure, there would be no way that you could enslave the number of people that would make up that kind of deficit. The shortfall was made up and even exceeded by small independent farmers.

Here was a documentary that showed what they did and how they achieved it.

http://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/show_cuba.html

In it, they talk of farmers and agricultural workers making more money than professionals. Not about slavery.

Try unplugging those ears of yours and try for once to let fact create theory instead of trying to fit facts to your own theories and prejudices.


RE: Cheap
By Ringold on 12/30/2006 11:05:02 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, and the jobs thing, you're right there too.

Aria, you're betraying some deeply flawed European-style (mis)understanding of economics. There would be no jobs created. The best possible outcome in a perfect market-clearing world that suddely decided to demand organic foods would be a massive shift from a huge variety of high-paying jobs where most of the population enjoys large amounts of leisure time/income to one where, like Masher just said, a lot of the population is involved in mere physical labor, and the rest of the population having to work harder for fewer luxury goods.

I challenge you to look at where this style of economic understanding has got the EU compared to the USA and Hong Kong, then go study economics yourself. Lots of good books on it out there.


RE: Cheap
By oTAL on 12/31/2006 12:48:42 AM , Rating: 3
Actually, northern European countries are considered a much better place to live than the U.S.A.
Why? Lower crime rates, more social protection, better education, justice and healthcare systems. The worst part about living in Norway, Finland, Sweden, etc. is the freaking cold and not seeing the Sun for weeks at a time. If you ask people who lived in western europe and the U.S. which one they prefer they'll mostly (I'd say 19 out of 20) choose Europe. Same with Canada which is usually considered a much better place to live than the united states...
Better salaries aren't everything when you have insecurity, overcrowded jails, and loss of civil rights due to new laws such as the patriot act. And believe me, if I ever get someone in my family with a heart condition or a rare desease I will feel very happy for the crappy country I live in (Yes I live in a crappy country which is THE bad example in western Europe).

As for the rest of your post, you are indeed correct. Just misinfromed about the european economic problems. The main problem is that over protective social laws tend to offer little incentive for unemployed people to get jobs they don't like. It's pretty easy to be unemployed when you're being paid any way... Overall, for most people, Europe is still a better place to live in (especially Northen Europe).


RE: Cheap
By Ringold on 12/31/2006 1:37:29 AM , Rating: 4
Okay, on social aspects, I'll agree. And for most people, the health care seems to work out, except for the higher taxes (which hurt growth). I'll agree to all that, that Europeans probably like living in Europe. It's a big happy place where, unfortunately, like you pointed out, people dont really have to worry about working hard. I'd be happy too.

But there is a problem in the long run. If Europe trails, say, US or eastern Asian growth for decades the way it has in recent decades then the gap between the lifestyle of EU and every other highly advanced industrialized country will continue to widen. 1-2% makes for huge differences over 20 years, 50 years. If America had sense and implemented the FairTax bill, the gap wouldn't be 1-2%, it'd be more like 2-3%, but thats a hope, not yet a fact.

Your last paragraph is dead on. There's almost no incentive to work. It's hard to drill down the numbers as Sweden intentionally makes its unemployment numbers a little opaque but the potential UE in Sweden is as high as 30% if people who are unemployed and not seeking work due to no market forces pushing them to do so instead of an actual handicap are included in the calculation. That's skewed a bit to the high side, but it still suggests the true number would be astounding (if it were known). That kind of thing is sustainable... at the publics (your) expense.

Canada has its own problems -- like doctors being paid the equivalent of highly experienced auto mechanics or union factory workers. (Don't believe me? Ask a few) That's unsustainable -- they don't go through med school to work for beans.

Anyway, those problems, if not addressed, will lead in the long run to a situation Europe lives a totally sub-standard lifestyle compared to the United States, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, etc. They already sort of do, and high UE and low growth isn't helping. Their resistance to organic crops is, like I said, just symptom of their whole misunderstanding of economics. Another fine example: Newsweek interviewed a highly successful French businessman a couple months ago. He shared how socially he's looked upon like a criminal, and occasionally treated like one. (He was arrested and sat next to murders and the likes while awaiting arraignment in court for having a manager work slightly over the limit) The view in France, and elsewhere, seems to be that if one person/company has a lot of wealth, that somehow means there is less for everyone else (thus, taxation to serve as a tool of wealth redistribution, etc). That, and the misguided view of limiting work-week hours. Those two betray a view of an economic pie that never grows, and thats not the case at all.

Hey, socially, I like Europeans (except for the arrogant ones). But economically, they're practically dangerous.

Oh, and I'd wager that we dont feel insecure. The patriot act is, additionally, childs play to various laws in most EU nations, and also a tool to fight a war which Europe hasn't woke up to (despite Al Qaeda admitting this week they have about 100 cell leaders in the EU with a 10-year goal of at least 1000, and the UK saying they're watching 1600 suspected terrorists themselves but scared out of their pants because 400k UK citizens visit Pakistan annually). But whether or not Europe has become weak after half a century of protection under the US nuclear umbrella is another debate. :)


RE: Cheap
By AxemanFU on 1/2/2007 4:13:55 PM , Rating: 2
Nice places to live, but with dreadfully high real unemployment rates. They're generating increases in the numbers of citizens with low standards of living by making jobs too scarce with regulation and lack of incentive. On a national level, they also benefit economically to the tune of 2-3% of each of their GDP that would have to go to national defense if the United States wasn't so magnanimously providing global ecnonomic stability at it's own expense with vast outlays for defense spending.

Europe can generally sit under the US's defense blanket and spend money that would otherwise be allocated on defense on internal social projects.

Those that like social order and don't mind intrusion on civil liberties by government on an ever increasing basis are quite happy with Europe, but people that value traditional western civil liberties are becoming increasingly wary of the european secular socialism experiment. As debt piles up and there are fewer workers and more mouths to feed, there is going to come a time in Europe where things get considerably uglier, and the massive social net becomes impossible to sustain, much like American medicare and social security. When that day comes, and you have to cut back benefits just to keep the programs economically sound, europe will be a much nastier place to live. It is not a question of if, but when this will take place.


RE: Cheap
By Ringold on 12/31/2006 1:52:01 AM , Rating: 2
The data kept flowing after my first post; can't help it..

Another thing I just recently learned.. the first global wealth distribution study was recently done.. (another plug for The Economist).. which is different than income.. And Sweden, Norway, those guys which you praised, they have negative lifetime wealth values.

Yes. Negative.

Europeans probably laugh at our 'negative savings rate', but we can only have negative savings rate because we're sitting collectively on a mountain of wealth. The typical Swede is born, lives, and dies with negative wealth. Why? Because the state will provide all things for them, and they know it, so there is absolutely no incentive to build wealth, and I was astounded. I can't even IMAGINE the damage that will do to the economy over time; I dont have to be a psychologist to know that work ethic and capitalist spirit can't survive many generations in that thick of a mist of socialism and massive government.

That mist somehow has Europe rejecting bio-engineered crops. Like I said, a symptom of what will be a big problem.

I didn't, though, comment in my OP about whether they liked to live there or not. Brought that up yourself. I've kept to economics, which is by nature supposed to be neutral on social issues. It merely implies things, socially.


RE: Cheap
By Don Tonino on 12/31/2006 4:26:46 AM , Rating: 3
What issue is that report published on? or where can I find it on The Economist website?

I'm wondering, if European economic policies as a whole are so unsound as you make them, how comes they haven't collapsed yet? Scandinavians countries have been applying more or less the same policies for at least 60 years now, if not longer, and their economies are quite healthy so far and let them invest heavily in social protections for their citizens as well in research and education. Does the average swede or norwegian then just sit back? According to The Economist, I see unemployment rates that are more or less the same as the USA ones, if not even less. And Scandinavia as a whole has had a bigger GDP rise than USA over the last year... seems like some people are actually doing some work there no matter how pampered they are.

Saying that the state pays everything for them is quite skewed too, as surely many expenses are covered by the state, but you pay taxes for that; even the much flaunted 'free university' isn't really free at all, because once you graduate you have to pay back everything. And being lazy won't pay at all, because you have to graduate in a certain amount of years else you'll start paying taxes and having to refund the state all the same. There are a lot of university students that attend university because they don't have to pay almost anything up front; at the same time, almost all of them do want to graduate on time and get to work, as they will need to repay for the university plus usually having to pay for a flat and support a family - Not exactly the attituide of someone that just want to leech the state.

Mind, I'm not saying that Europe is economic heaven, or that the average European economic policies are the best ever - just that they aren't as bad or unsound as you make them. Sure there are plenty of issues that will have to be addressed sooner or later, but so far people are having a good time in Europe: they are overall healthy and cared for, they enjoy living there and especially some of the countries whose economy was real bad are recovering quite well (Ireland, Spain, Baltic countries)

As for the psychologist side of your post, I'm no psychologist as well but I find your characterization of Europe as 'socialism and massive government' quite extreme and just partly true - and your conclusions to be not warranted so far. You have to realize that plenty of people in Europe just don't want, don't like and are not interested in the kind of 'work ethic and capitalist spirit' you praise so much (again - I'm not saying it to be wrong, just saying that other people in other places will have other opinions), and are pursuing their own approach to care for their own welfare - having been doing this for centuries, and still no collapse as you project.

Just as a side note, the first ever 'socialistic' labor laws were introduced by Bismark in the 1880s, and look how quickly Germany has collapsed...



RE: Cheap
By Ringold on 12/31/2006 5:02:25 AM , Rating: 2
Not the most recent issue, but the one before. Dec 9 - 15th issue, page 81, the bottom half of Swedes have a collective net worth of less than zero. Therefore, dependent upon the state handouts.

The unemployment number I told you was opaque. Of course they dont report include, say, people disabled from a panic attack several years ago and have simply had a doctor help him milk his generous unemployment benefits for as long as possible (again, Economist, um, no idea what issue, prior to Swedens most recent elections). Such people officially aren't 'unemployed' because they're not seeking work at all. Hence the special note.

As to a link to that, I first googled and found this site, a post by a member of a Swedish libertarian think-tank. http://www.neolibertarian.net/articles/sanandaji_2... Totally neutral source? Probably not. Logical data? Yes.

Then I tried to find it on the Economist website, and found someone complaining about it in the Sept 21 issue. Therefore, I suspect it showed up in the issue before that. Which I no longer have myself. The first site suggests numbers in line with my own (which were from memory, and I noted at the high end of what I believe possible), and also throws in some tidbits I wasn't aware of.

http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displaystory...

I can't see the full article, but the first paragraph alone supports what I said, and even the official reported UE # would be considered atrocious by American standards.

Notice, too , I never even implied 'collapse'. You introduced alarmist language, not I. I merely pointed out the compounding effects of lousy growth (EU: 2.6, 1.7 for 07) would put EU further and further behind capitalist high-flyers (US: 3.3 & 2.2 for 06 07 Hong Kong with 6.8, India with 9, Taiwan with 5, South Korea with 4.6, Russia with 7.4). Yes, there's ground to be made up by those economies, but some of them are rather advanced as it is, including Hong Kong, S. Korea and Japan (2.8). No, Europe wont collapse at all. The better word is merely 'stagnate'. The social issues I mentioned are symptoms of a culture that is, in its current form, unable to create competitiveness, which leads to more low growth. I'm not saying anything new, Google will reveal a horde of economists with top-notch experience, education and positions saying it with more urgency than I.


RE: Cheap
By Ringold on 12/31/2006 5:27:16 AM , Rating: 2
http://www.freedomandprosperity.org/Papers/sweden/...

Bingo, not my original source, but even better. Sven Larson, PhD, comprehensive report on Sweden. It brings up a whole slew of things I didnt even touch. The most relevant one, I think, is a qoute from Hans Karlsson, member of the Prime Ministers cabinent, in a blurb right below table 7 just over half way down. He said they hide it, I said it was opaque. People who arent politicians or lawyers would call it a lie.

Hopefully thats enough to satisfy. If not, I can't push any more. Some people wont even buy evolution, others wont ever buy in to capitalism.


RE: Cheap
By oTAL on 1/1/2007 7:44:44 PM , Rating: 2
I partly disagree with you. Not on everything as my previous post has shown. I'm all in favour for capitalism and rewarding those who are able to create wealth... I just think you're too much in favour of the kind of savage capitalism we tend to view as wrong. The one where you build your wealth at the expense of others. Wealth can be made and distributed using your workers and companies around you as partners and colaborators. You don't have to leech every cent you can from them.
As for the social issue, I think it is as importante as the economic one. Why? Because it is a huge issue when these days a person is born with no economic value. What this means is that for about 18-25 years a human being is a burden to the society that must feed him, cloth him and, most of all, provide him with the required education to function and be be productive in our society.
I think I don't need to quote sources when I say that, in the U.S., a person born in a bad neighborhood with poor parent(s) will hardly have a good future. There are, obviously exceptions. But those are more and more the stuff of legends... that one guy you met a long time ago that came from nothing... In Europe, on the other hand, and as was previously mentioned in this discussion, "free" access to education is a lot easier. If you show an above average skill (I really mean ONLY "above average"... no need to be exceptional) you may be helped along your entire path. And I really mean HELPED. That, of course, has costs. And that means that, directly or indirectly, depending on the model of the country, people do pay for their education. Yet they are allowed to become someone before they do it. I myself know of many poor people who finished their studies. It's pretty common and all it requires is motivation and hard work. You do not need to be the stuff of legends...
That brings us to the problem.... and the problem is that, due to the socio-economic model on may of these countries, people pay their education indirectly... and in many cases you are paying for the education of this rich freeloader who's been changing courses for the last 10 years always partying hard and studying soft. As for the for the ones that do graduate... many times, these highly educated, highly skilled, highly self-motivated, highly ambitious, highly productive people...well... they forget that the european social model was what allowed them to get where they are, and they go to work on the U.S. for the very high wages they are now entitled to get. The U.S. economy profits from an European investment...
So... the world is not perfect, and I'm only giving a glimpse of some of the things that I see happening... Many other stuff I don't event imagine happens around both economic models... I just hope I may be giving you a new perspective on something you may have never thought about ;)


RE: Cheap
By jabber on 1/2/2007 5:55:56 AM , Rating: 1
I'm always quite intrigued by the comments that in comparison to the USA, Europeans seem to live in the dark ages due to falling behind economically.

Its strange because on the visits I have made to the US over recent years, I have been in more US homes that look like something from the 1960/1970's than anywhere else on my travels.

You just dont see homes like that in Europe very often or at all.

I agree that isnt thew whole story but there are a lot of poor folks wherever you go, east or west, good economy or poor economy.


RE: Cheap
By masher2 (blog) on 1/2/2007 10:58:30 AM , Rating: 4
> "You just dont see homes like that in Europe very often or at all."

The average home size in the US is now over 2400 sq. ft. In my own neighborhood, the smallest home in the division is well over 5000 sq. ft, the largest is over 15,000 sq. ft.

The average home size in Austria is 85 sq. m...thats about 900 sq. ft...or one third the size. In England, its 99 sq. meters, not much larger. Most of the rest of Europe is the same.


RE: Cheap
By jabber on 1/3/2007 5:04:26 AM , Rating: 2
Since when does size have anything to do with how well equipped or the quality of ones home? Yes I have seen some really big homes but a lot are either lived in by packrats or look like I Dream of Genie.

Its easy and quite cheap to make a home when you are not using bricks, which is the material of choice in most euro homes and land is far far cheaper. I wouldnt be surprised if building regulations are far stricter in Europe (they certainly are in the UK) also. I'm always quite amazed that folks in tornado country build their homes from cheap matchwood and then wonder why they dissapear overnight with them sitting huddled in the bath or closet.

Size isnt everything. Anyway not to worry.

"We could have been killed...or even worse!"


RE: Cheap
By masher2 (blog) on 1/3/2007 8:43:36 AM , Rating: 3
> "Since when does size have anything to do with how well equipped or the quality of ones home? "

Since forever. Is it a perfect metric? No, nothing is...but its far better than any other we have. The OP's original (and quite incorrect) point was his personal observation of how poorly America must be doing based on his view of the average home.

Americans spend more on their homes than Europeans. They can afford too-- they make quite a bit more per capita. The homes are larger and better equipped. This is simple fact. You can argue the merits of European socialism all day long. But you cannot argue this.

> "Its easy and quite cheap to make a home when you are not using bricks"

My home is all-brick, and it added about 3% to the cost of construction. In an area where brick is more expensive, it would add maybe 6%...its not a large difference.

And, despite your impression of homes being continually swept away by tornadoes here, its really a rare occurrence. A properly built wood home can easily withstand a class 2 tornado...and a wood home is actually much better at withstanding earthquake tremors than is brick.


RE: Cheap
By Ringold on 1/3/2007 3:30:00 PM , Rating: 2
Your first paragraph discredits again your understanding of economics. It's not "savage" capitalism, it's competition that forces an economy to remain vibrant, healthy and growing. And I directly refuted the incorrect European view in some post of building "wealth at the expense of others". Such a thing cannot happen. People choose low priced products and save money in America buy buying from WalMart, enabling them to buy more for their money and increasing their standard of living. WalMart employees make the choice to work there when Target And KMart down the street are hiring (yet never get nailed by Congress) so everyone along the "savage capitalism" chain is profiting. Wealth only comes at the expense of others when it's stolen, and free-market transactions are mutual agreements, not stealing.

On the social thing and neighborhoods.. Studies show, every bloody year, that America has more upward mobility than almost anywhere else on Earth. I suspect that may change one day, perhaps the East shall join us, and others will catch up, but if you're poor and feel motivated to succeed there is only one nation you want to be in, and thats America. The last place you want to be is, say, France, eating organically grown government-handout veggies.


RE: Cheap
By StevoLincolnite on 12/31/2006 5:22:24 AM , Rating: 3
They are cheaper without the need for cloning, Well at the moment anyway.
As I was Brought up on a farm, Down here on the driest Continent, In the Driest state in the world. (South Australia).
I can assure you that, Farmers really don't go without (If you know what your doing).
Farmers farm "Squares" on there land, And may have 4 of these "Squares" in total, What happens is that every year they may farm 2 Squares, And on the other 2 cattle like sheep or cows are kept, The next year, They swap squares, When they farm the grain, they just cut the heads off, and the stems and stubble and whatnot are left over for the sheep for the following year.
And surprisingly enough, not allot of chemicals or maintenance is required for cattle, You throw them in there, and once every 6 to 12 months they get a pesticide spray on there back. And crops only get 1 lot of spray, If your going to clone the animals, I assume they will be kept in an outdoor area for a period of time, thus they to will need chemicals, making your point moot, And you will still have to feed them, The only way I can see cloning food viable is if they can accelerate the growth of cattle, so they mature allot faster, Thus time from "Harvesting" to your shop will be faster.


RE: Cheap
By Christopher1 on 1/1/2007 10:22:10 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, we don't need herbicides and pesticides. My grandfather NEVER used those two things, and very sparingly used fertilizer (maybe 1 box on an acre of farmland one time a year), and he grew a LOT and even after he harvested once, he got one or two more harvests before growing season ended.

It just isn't necessary to herbicide and pesticide the landscape to DEATH while trying to grow foods. You have to learn how to WORK WITH THE LAND, give it a chance to rest for a while, and get the nutrients back into the soil.

Problem is, most farms now in the south try to grow things almost year-round. That's not a good thing to do anywhere.


RE: Cheap
By Spartan Niner on 1/2/2007 1:38:16 PM , Rating: 2
Feel free to mod me down again, but I'm going to clarify what I mean by "cheaper", as well as respond to your FUD.

Cheaper as I meant it [b]includes[/b] the "environmental" costs in reduced productivity, topsoil erosion, water pollution, etc.

Now, you say it will not be "cheaper" the old labor-intensive way - and I agree. But I'm not talking about replacing machines with humans! Most of the gains due to the agricultural revolution were due to the use of [b]machines[/b], not because of chemicals. Simple productivity gain there. What I'm saying is we use more human labor as opposed to using more chemicals, implement crop rotation again, grow polycultures, etc.

Ah masher, always resorting to the "ridiculous" and masquerading as someone with "scienctific" arguments when you resort to bringing up a Biblical plague rather than an actual event. You know why locusts will wipe that wheat field out? Because they planted a monoculture. Mix it up, alternate it, implement a four-field system, do anything else and your crop losses will be reduced if not avoided altogether. Plant several strains of wheat, not just one. Then if a disease or pest comes along they may kill one or more strains, but chances are one of the strains is resistant. Selectively breed that strain and you have a resistant crop. Artificial selection FTW.


RE: Cheap
By masher2 (blog) on 1/2/2007 2:00:44 PM , Rating: 3
> "Most of the gains due to the agricultural revolution were due to the use of [b]machines[/b], not because of chemicals..."

Not true. Nearly all the gains in the past 100 years have been due to either agricultural chemicals or introduction of higher-yield strains (a low-tech form of genetic engineering).

> "Cheaper as I meant it [b]includes[/b] the "environmental" costs in reduced productivity, topsoil erosion, water pollution, etc"

By any reasonable projection of those cost, modern agriculture is still by far the cheaper alternative. Now, if you want to attach a $10B charge to every dead shrimp you find in the Gulf of Mexico, you can prove anything you wish.

> "when you resort to bringing up a Biblical plague rather than an actual event"

Err, plagues of locusts are actual, documented historical events. The most recent one was in 1915 , and it stripped Palestine almost entirely bare of all forms of vegetation.

> "Mix it up, alternate it, implement a four-field system, do anything else and your crop losses will be reduced if not avoided altogether"

Anyone who thinks they can avoid insect crop losses by planting four types of wheat has never even been to a farm, much less been a farmer. You can indeed somewhat reduce the need for pesticides in such a manner, but you will still lose a large percentage of your crop if you don't use them. And, of course, this does nothing to reduce the need for modern fertilizers.

> "Selectively breed that strain and you have a resistant crop..."

Resistant is by no means immune. And a strain resistant to one species of insect is not resistant to others. There are over five BILLION species of insects in the world...many of whom will eat nearly any form of vegetable matter at all.



RE: Cheap
By Ringold on 1/3/2007 3:54:18 PM , Rating: 2
Ah, ariafrost, masquerading as someone with an economic argument. :)

Of course, failed to say why it would be better to increase the human labor cost (both in direct costs and opportunity costs as these new laborers could be doing more productive work elsewhere) and reduce the productivity of the land.

If soil can be worked year-round, and huge amounts of food can be gleaned from it, and further advances in genetic tinkering and chemical use can increase yield even more to help deal with a rapidly growing population, then why NOT do it? The environmental damage would be more severe YOUR way because MUCH more land would have to be cultivated for similar results, and about the only land left happens to be rainforest. America's former farmland now has homes and Walmarts on top of it.

The only part with vague merit was selectively breeding resistant strains.. but breeding takes time. Science wins again by making the resistant strain itself.


RE: Cheap
By NullSubroutine on 12/31/2006 8:52:24 AM , Rating: 2
As a someone who has lived in rural Iowa my whole life, I must ask. Have you ever farmed a day in your life? Do you know anything about it?


RE: Cheap
By GI2K on 12/30/2006 10:21:54 PM , Rating: 3
You can't patent the "old way" and it takes more time.


wrong development
By derdon on 12/31/2006 12:48:43 PM , Rating: 2
Oh my, I can see what's coming... it's the same as with the "hybrid seeds", you can plant em, harvest em, and you can eat em, but the seeds from these plants are worthless, it's a one time plant and it's reality already. Only those brave farmers who produce organically are saving the long and naturally cultivated seeds from becoming extinct. They're saving the diversity, because, I don't like to put all eggs in one basket.

So with the animals, they'll do the same. You buy little calves that grow to cows, which you slaughter, but they won't produce new children before and if one of them by accident would do, then the company will sue the farmer for stealing their intellectual property (yeah they did this with seeds that the wind carried over to another farmers field). A farmer has to buy a new batch of calves from the company. Sure, they grow twice as fast, but taste half good. You can't have everything.

What follows is dependence on big agricultural companies, creation of monocultures and a lot of unforeseen consequences and health issues. Playing with life is a dangerous thing and I don't care if they do it in laboratories, but the whole technology is years away from safe usage on large populations.

Anybody in favour of all these technologies has absolutely NO IDEA on what he's talking about. If you believe that this will save anything you're totally short sighted and unaware of any consequences.... Anyway, about the argument of more food is needed... take a look at the US and Europe with our obesity rates, do you really think we need more food? We would do fine with half the food that we have now. And also take a look at _how many_ people in the world starve and compare that number to 50 years ago. The problem has hardly been production, only in times of war maybe, but the problem has always been distribution and neither cloning nor GMO is going to solve that.




RE: wrong development
By masher2 (blog) on 12/31/2006 1:38:42 PM , Rating: 3
> "the company will sue the farmer for stealing their intellectual property (yeah they did this with seeds that the wind carried over to another farmers field)."

Urban myth. The farmer in the suit in question was found to be intentionally and willfully using patented seeds...he claimed they were "just a few the wind blew" onto his property, but the facts showed otherwise.

> "Sure, they grow twice as fast, but taste half good. You can't have everything."

The meat animals we have today already grow faster than those in centuries past, and produce more than twice as much meat. And they still taste just as good. Thanks to science, you can have your cake and eat it too.

> "do you really think we need more food?"

Bioengineering isn't necessarily about growing more food. Its about growing the current foods cheaper, better, faster, and with less environmental side effects.

But in the future, yes we'll need more food. The world population is still increasing.


RE: wrong development
By Beckett on 1/2/2007 10:08:16 AM , Rating: 2
Are you kidding? We need more food now . There are still something like 50000 people the world over that die every day from starvation or malnutrition related reasons.


RE: wrong development
By masher2 (blog) on 1/2/2007 11:01:10 AM , Rating: 2
> "Are you kidding? We need more food now "

No we don't. Global caloric production is significantly higher today than per-capita demand. Starvation is a political problem today, not a technical one-- it only exists in areas where war or civil strife prevent food supplies from reaching people.


RE: wrong development
By number999 on 1/2/2007 1:54:39 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The farmer in the suit in question was found to be intentionally and willfully using patented seeds...he claimed they were "just a few the wind blew" onto his property
From Canada
http://www.percyschmeiser.com/
He was fighting Monsanto and others are doing so as well. This isn't a closed system. Those genes are in the wild and if they get transfered to weed species -> trouble.

quote:
Bioengineering isn't necessarily about growing more food.... and with less environmental side effects
The point to Monsanto and it's Roundup plants are plants that are resistant to Roundup herbicide, so you can use more of it on the crops. Less side effects??? Not really. For Monsanto, it's about selling more. Also, the modification for RR Soybeans effects the nitrogen takeup in the beans, slightly retarding the growth so even more chemicals must be used.


RE: wrong development
By masher2 (blog) on 1/2/2007 2:08:08 PM , Rating: 3
> "From Canada.."

Err, that's the man's own personal web site...you really put that forth as a nonbiased source? The facts are clear. A federal judge heard evidence that 98%+ of Schmeiser's crop was Monsanto product...far more than just "a few seeds" getting accidently blown in. That judge found in favor of Monsanto, and justice was done.

> "For Monsanto, it's about selling more..."

For the famers, its about selling more also. That's why they buy these products. No one puts a gun to their head. Why are you so dead-set against freedom and capitalism?



RE: wrong development
By number999 on 1/3/2007 1:44:10 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
A federal judge heard evidence that 98%+ of Schmeiser's crop was Monsanto product...far more than


http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/content/usa/press/re...
greenpeace article has links to cbc news story and other pertinent links
http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/genetics_modific...
Counterpoint about the 98% claim
http://www.biotech-info.net/cropchoice_guest.html
timeline website
http://www.biotech-info.net/percy_schmeiser.html
his wiki entry
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percy_Schmeiser

The above sites, you may consider partly partisan. The news ones maybe not. Fact is, the lawsuit by Monsanto was not won by them for all their money and influence while the farmer kept his integrity. The ruling also protected the rights of Monsanto in that it protected their intellectual property rights and kept Canada a place where biotech investments are uphold. It basically let Monsanto keep face while saying they had no case and let it be known that Canada was safe for biotech.

quote:
famers, its about selling more also...
Your original talk was about using less chemicals and such. With a product such as this, it isn't the case and was never meant to be so. This report sort of exposes some of the problems involved. I do have excerpts from other sources but they are buried in a pile of other papers.
http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/Ben...

quote:
Why are you so dead-set against freedom and capitalism?
Did I mention anything against freedom or capitalism? How about Monsanto sneeking around and trying to get farmer's money by heavy handed tactics and lawsuits with a product that naturally migrates? How about the farmer not being able to sell that product at a higher price in Europe because of GM migration/contamination? I oppose your viewpoints, so I'm against freedom & capitalism? That is nonsensical.

I have no problems with any sort of biotechnology. I do have a problem with hype and not presenting a balanced case or existing known or possible problems. This doesn't make me anything but thoughtful and open and not blinded by the possibilities of technology to the negatives, which do exist.


RE: wrong development
By masher2 (blog) on 1/3/2007 5:21:46 PM , Rating: 2
> " Fact is, the lawsuit by Monsanto was not won by them for all their money and influence.."

Err, they did win the suit. They didn't receive punitive damages...but actual damages were awarded. As for the integrity of Schmeiser and the ability to trust what he says, let me quote from your own link:
quote:
On July 2, 2006 it was exposed that Percy Schmeiser had been falsely presented to the Irish public as a “former member of the Canadian Parliament”...

On November 16, 2006 it was exposed that Percy Schmeiser falsely presented himself as previously being "a Canadian Member of Parliament at one time" while speaking in Berkeley...


RE: wrong development
By number999 on 1/26/2007 8:49:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
but actual damages were awarded...

http://www.mindfully.org/GE/2004/Goliath-v-Schmeis...
...that plants are not patentable in Canada, but said that genes are. Schmeiser, though he had infringed, was not held responsible for monetary damages. He did not have to pay one cent to Monsanto, not in damages and as far as I know, not even the per acre fee that Monsanto charges. If you can actually show anything different then reference it. This is from the Supreme Court ruling and not the lower court ruling.

quote:
integrity of Schmeiser and the ability to trust what he says, let me quote from your own link
Oh yes. From Shane Morris, a single blogger who did both quotes. Did you actually download the audio clip? Schmesier was actually a member of parliament as he says. The provincial parliment , which is stated in the Wiki and is the used synonymously as the provincial legislature. If others assume "parliament" is the federal parliament, then their ignorance is their own fault, they don't have the cultural references to understand the speaker and should check up instead of jumping down someone else's throat.

The man does have an axe to grind because he does live in Canada and should have known better but he obviously wanted to take down Schmeiser more than maintain some integrity. I will complain to the Wiki editorial staff about that entry for sure.

As for Shane Morris'integrity. The man is a long standing supporter of GMO's and has himself a controversy when during a study of puplic acceptance of GMO food, labelled one bin as wormy corn and the other as regular sweet corn and then published a report on how accepted GM corn was and how unbiased the labeling was between the 2 bins. A reporter for the Toronto Star uncovered the falsity and his bias.
http://www.gmfreeireland.org/potato/media.php
http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=6381
http://photos1.blogger.com/photoInclude/blogger/13...

I perfer my sources not to get funding from those that they comment on. It has a tendency to bias their opinions. He has/had close contacts with the Food Safety Network whose major funding is from big agribusiness.
http://www.foodsafetynetwork.ca/en/page.php?a=7&s=...

Although he presents himself as non-partisan, his past affiliations and work shows otherwise.


RE: wrong development
By Hoser McMoose on 1/2/2007 5:23:01 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The point to Monsanto and it's Roundup plants are plants that are resistant to Roundup herbicide, so you can use more of it on the crops.


The idea behind Roundup Ready crops is to use LESS herbicide, not more. With traditional crops farmers tend to spray all kinds of different herbicides in a variety of concentrations to attack all the different types of weeds they might encounter. With RR crops they spray ONLY Roundup which kills all the plants EXCEPT Roundup Ready ones.

As a bit of a side note: organic farming requires even more herbicide spraying. Because organic herbicides tend to be much less effective than their inorganic counterparts, organic farmers usually need to spray a lot more herbicide.

Of course, to be fair, quantity is only one part of the story here. Most people would rather a crop sprayed with a comparatively large quantity of acetic acid (ie high-concentration vinegar, an organic herbicide) vs. a smaller quantity of paraquat (a common herbicide known to be very toxic in medium to high concentrations, though considered safe for spraying).


RE: wrong development
By number999 on 1/3/2007 1:51:53 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Roundup Ready crops is to use LESS herbicide
If that was the point, you wouldn't have to genetically engineer the crop to be resistant to the herbicide. You are using quantites that would normally kill it and killing everything else. Logically to me that seems to be using more, not less.

This site maybe a little left but...
http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/Ben...


RE: wrong development
By masher2 (blog) on 1/3/2007 5:24:36 PM , Rating: 3
> "If that was the point, you wouldn't have to genetically engineer the crop to be resistant to the herbicide"

Err, you don't understand at all. Round-Up kills everything...its never used on normal crops. If you're not using RR-engineered seed, you spray some other herbicide. Several of them in fact, in large quantities. With RR-crops, you replace all that spraying with one, much smaller dose, that kills all vegetation, save those specifically engineered to resist it.


RE: wrong development
By number999 on 1/26/2007 7:43:23 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Round-Up kills everything

Roundup was created in the 70's way before genetically modified resistant crops came up (RR soy 95/96) and was used on crops in lower concentrations. My initial response is to the increase of Roundup/Glyphosate.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roundup

quote:
With RR-crops, you replace all that spraying with one, much smaller dose..
You wish. That would be ideal and it's what Monsanto tries to sell but it isn't the case. Herbicide use has actually increased especially with the evolution of herbicide resistant weeds, like pigweed, maretail and ryegrass . While spraying, people have been selecting weeds and helping nature breed roundup resistant weeds leading to ever increasing amounts of herbicide use and/or reversion to more complicated herbicide regimes....weeds survived a dosage of glyphosate almost 10 times the recommended rate (6lb per acre as opposed to 0.75lb).


http://www.non-gm-farmers.com/news_details.asp?ID=...
Roundup Ready soya growers in Argentina were using more than twice as much herbicide as conventional soya farmers, largely because of unexpected problems with tolerant weeds..Because so much herbicide is being used, soil bacteria are declining and the soil is becoming inert,

As for genetic engineering being a panacea...
http://www.newfarm.org/features/0904/soybeans/inde...
which attributes some of the decline of production (2003) to the overuse of roundup ready genetically engineered soy and talks about some of it's inherit weaknesses.

http://www.biotech-info.net/troubledtimesfinal-1.p...
Gives USDA compiled figures for periods before,at, and after the introduction of Roundup resistant soy.


RE: wrong development
By Ringold on 12/31/2006 2:39:47 PM , Rating: 2
One huge post without any serious scientific or economic point as to why anyone should prefer high-cost low-efficiency 'organic' food over food grown through modern means.

The population bit really gets me, though. Maybe you've forgot the whole exponential growth thing, but by 2025 the population should be 8 or 9 billion or so. That's about 25% more than today. By then, it's a safe assumption that with the rise of the middle class in India and China (how many hundreds of millions within a decade?) they will no longer be happy with just rice and noodles. Meanwhile, land that was once arable but not needed now has homes, malls, and condo's sitting atop it, with the best arable but unused land being the rainforest.

So again, your line of reasoning has choices. Stop resisting science, or kiss the little bit of natural environment (and economic strength) left goodbye. With growth rates in the population like that, I don't see how it could go any other way. This miracle of the last century in producing more food needs to happen again, and things like this will be the method of delivering that.

Population control doesn't work either (see: China), except in Europe, which seems to be content withering away.


RE: wrong development
By alusul on 12/31/2006 4:14:45 PM , Rating: 2
How dare you defy the neocon bots! hehe, keep it up!


RE: wrong development
By glennpratt on 1/2/2007 12:05:29 PM , Rating: 2
Surely you mean atheist/agnostic libertarians. Are you really that dense?


Wonderful news
By masher2 (blog) on 12/30/2006 9:51:04 PM , Rating: 5
Fifty years from now, bioengineered foods will be seen as big an advance as the microchip. Genetically-engineered foods have the potential to be safer, cheaper, and tastier...as well as better for the environment.




RE: Wonderful news
By Spartan Niner on 12/30/2006 10:04:37 PM , Rating: 5
50 years from now we may be cursing ourselves for wreaking havoc with ecosystems and planting monocultures of genetically-engineered foods. While there are many potential benefits to bioengineered foods we also have to proceed with caution due to the risks associated with playing God.


RE: Wonderful news
By ChoadNamath on 12/30/2006 10:41:37 PM , Rating: 2
It's one thing to oppose this for scientific reasons, but there's no need to throw out phrases like "playing God" that go for an emotional response. Is using fertility drugs also "playing God"?


RE: Wonderful news
By StevoLincolnite on 12/31/2006 5:28:36 AM , Rating: 3
I don't believe in Heaven nor Hell, And I certainly do not believe in a God.
The only problem that I may see is, if one of these genetically altered or engeneerd animals escapes, and then starts mating with non-altered animals.
Could disrupt part of the eco-system.
And lets face it, the Eco-System has enough issues as is.


RE: Wonderful news
By ChoadNamath on 12/31/2006 3:16:16 PM , Rating: 3
Genetic engineering isn't magic. It's not about creating things that don't exist, it's about using the most beneficial genes/traits of an animal or plant to make a better product. If a genetically altered animal "escaped" and mated with a non-altered animal, it would create another animal of the same species, not some hideous hybrid. Like another poster mentioned, it really is no different from selective breeding, it's just more efficient.


RE: Wonderful news
By masher2 (blog) on 12/30/2006 10:42:33 PM , Rating: 2
When the internal combustion engine was invented, people said the same thing. "It would be the end of civilization", they said....there was even a movement started to ban it outright, as far too dangerous for the common man.

Thank god common sense won out in the end.


RE: Wonderful news
By NullSubroutine on 12/31/2006 8:56:32 AM , Rating: 3
I agree with all but the last statement. How is selecting a breed of crop at the DNA level any different than selective breeding?

Secondly, I have held the belief that god is Santa Clause for adults.

$0.02


RE: Wonderful news
By masher2 (blog) on 12/31/2006 11:00:09 AM , Rating: 2
> "How is selecting a breed of crop at the DNA level any different than selective breeding? "

Good point. During the Middle Ages, your average chicken laid one (very small) egg a week. Now they lay one large egg a day. Cows, pigs, and chickens bred for meat now produce 2-4 times the meat per animal as they once did. Back then, wheat produced at about a 3:1 seed ratio...meaning you had to waste one THIRD of your entire crop each year for planting the next year. What's the current ratio today? 50:1? 100:1? Something astronomical.

Then, a family was considered very well off if they could aford to meat once a week...many children grew to adulthood without ever eating anything but a few grain products. Their growth was usually stunted, which partially explains why the average height of a European at this time was almost one entire foot shorter than it is today. Entire nations often went to war...over food. To steal food from their neighbors, to avoid starvation. The feudal system that sounds so horrible to us today? It began to protect food supplies...a serf giving 50% of their production to a lord was far better off than one who had 100% of it stolen by a marauding gang.

Today, we grow sixty times as much food, to feed twenty times as many people more calories, with far more variety and quality. And we do it with a small fraction of the number of farmers. The reason why? Selective breeding, and agriculture chemicals are the two biggest reasons why. "Playing God", in other words.


RE: Wonderful news
By Dfere on 1/2/2007 8:13:22 AM , Rating: 2
It is a shame, though, that our discipline in eating has not changed with caloric avialability.....


RE: Wonderful news
By glennpratt on 1/2/2007 12:02:47 PM , Rating: 2
Of course it has. Some people have trouble, but we have near infinite access to food and quite a few people still manage to be healthy.


What of it?
By retrospooty on 12/30/2006 10:20:29 PM , Rating: 2
The FDA simply goes with big business. Whatever pays the piper gets the laws and recomendations. This has absolutly zero to do with whether or not it is actually safe in the long run, the fact of the matter is it is unknown, and wont be know for a few dozen years at least. It takes a long term to study long term effects.




RE: What of it?
By masher2 (blog) on 12/30/2006 10:51:12 PM , Rating: 2
There are nearly one thousand different chemicals in a cup of coffee. For nearly all of them, they have never been studied, and we have no idea what their long-term effects on human health are.

Nature "bioengineers" our food on a constant basis. Every plant or animal born is genetically unique. When we consume them, or their byproducts, we're ingesting a random stew of unknown chemicals...potentially, some which have never before existed.

I'll take the safety of planned, engineered, and tested foods, over that chaotic grab-bag of unknown stuffs any day. Odds are in a century, people will find the idea of eating natural foods grown in dirt about as disgusting as we consider today the Renaissance Europeans who thought bathing was bad for your health.


RE: What of it?
By Ringold on 12/30/2006 11:10:42 PM , Rating: 2
In a century?

I already don't like to think where my food comes from. I just eat it.

On a related note..

Where does all this out-cry against modern food come from? I know it comes from hippies, but really where? What business interest or backward group is fueling the fire? If there was scientific evidence support it, or empirical evidence like hospitals filling up with sick children after they ate a "bio-engineered" apple that somehow made them sick, then I would think it'd be plain and it'd be headline-news on newspapers the world over.. but that isn't the case.

Why would stomach acid even care or notice a fruit that had just a few genes tweaked such that it was twice the size it once was?

My thinking is there is no scientific evidence to even suggest such a thing, and that our bodies don't care as it all gets reduced to its base components like sugar anyway, but I ask just in case.


RE: What of it?
By masher2 (blog) on 12/31/2006 12:19:12 AM , Rating: 2
The sad thing is that meat production puts more strain on the ecoystem than does the pollution from every car on the planet. Genetically engineered animals have the potential to reduce this, by producing more meat faster, with less food and water required. Eventually, we may be able to culture meat directly...meaning we wouldn't need to butcher animals for it, and reducing greenhouse gases far more than anything else we could possibly do.

You'd think the hippies would be all over the potential from this...but in the usual, nearsighted fashion, they don't see it.


RE: What of it?
By Topweasel on 12/31/2006 2:38:30 AM , Rating: 2
That and Cultured meat you be soft due to lack of exercise much like veal. Constant veal steak yum.....


RE: What of it?
By saechaka on 12/31/2006 3:56:54 AM , Rating: 2
here's a neat thread on priuschat where someone did some calculations on how much grain fed beef actually hurts the environment. feel free to chime in on that thread.


RE: What of it?
By saechaka on 12/31/2006 3:57:23 AM , Rating: 2
RE: What of it?
By wien on 12/31/2006 10:54:56 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The sad thing is that meat production puts more strain on the ecoystem than does the pollution from every car on the planet.
Hmm.. I've never gotten this point. Anything coming out of a cow, would have to go into the cow at some point right? Wouldn't that mean cows have no net-contribution to the amount of methane floating around? This unlike cars that burn fossil fuels that have been in the ground for millions of years.


RE: What of it?
By masher2 (blog) on 12/31/2006 11:04:16 AM , Rating: 2
Cattle are essentially a (very inefficient) mechanism for converting grain into methane and meat. Grain goes in one end, methane out the other. And methane is over 20 times as potent a greenhouse gas as is CO2.

Finally, grain requires vast amounts of fossil fuels to produce (not just to run the farm machinery and transport it, but to produce the fertilizers required as well). So the average herd cow "burns" more oil than most people's cars.


RE: What of it?
By wien on 12/31/2006 11:18:23 AM , Rating: 2
The pollution from the way we do farming today I can understand, but wouldn't the methane produced by cows somehow get absorbed back into the system at some point? Or is the problem the damage (global warming) the gas does before that happens?


RE: What of it?
By masher2 (blog) on 12/31/2006 11:34:38 AM , Rating: 2
> "but wouldn't the methane produced by cows somehow get absorbed back into the system at some point? "

Yes it does...but then so does CO2 as well. But cattle farming produces methane faster than its rate of atmospheric decay, so the net concentration still rises.


Still thinking there is a risk...
By Dfere on 1/2/2007 8:30:51 AM , Rating: 2
But not as Masher suggests in the unknowns in food. I think there is a good chance we breed something out of a foodstuffs which is necessary for survival under typical conditions. Even worse is the chance bioengineered food production and patent rights becomes the new copyright battleground.

Also, If world population increases, and dependency upon "high" food yielding techniques becomes imperative, the combination of good necessary for life is ripe for bad "profit motive" behavior. I certainly would see companies attempting to engineer plants that do not reproduce to allow the farmer to "catch" a few improved seeds, or better, to introduce a hardy new breed of grain, which responds markedly better to a certain chemical/fertilizer which only that company has a patent on......




By masher2 (blog) on 1/2/2007 11:04:35 AM , Rating: 2
> " think there is a good chance we breed something out of a foodstuffs which is necessary for survival..."

Sounds more like a Hollywood movie than anything likely to happen in real life.

> "to introduce a hardy new breed of grain, which responds markedly better to a certain chemical/fertilizer which only that company has a patent on...."

And whats wrong with this? The company would presumably spend hundreds of millions to develop such a product. If it truly is better, its worth buying...and worth them making a profit from.


RE: Still thinking there is a risk...
By SmokeRngs on 1/2/2007 2:40:15 PM , Rating: 2
I agree to a certain extent. The major risk I see with the cloning of animals is a lack of genetic diversity of "foodstuff animals" over time. It would take a long time to seriously harm it but it could possibly happen although I think the chance is small.

I'll use cows for an example. Let's say there are about twenty different cows that produce the exact traits desired for twenty different uses. The cows were engineered to bring this about. There is small incentive to keep other breeds of cow around as they are not desired. In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with this. However, what happens if there is some type of plague or disease that affects a certain type of types of cows? Never count out plague and disease. Mad cow has caused how many cattle to be wasted. It's conceivable the disease or plague could wipe out a large majority or more of the certain breed or breeds of cow. As of now, I wouldn't worry too much about that as each cow is different. Cloning means each cow of that type is supposed to be identical or very close to it.

I'm not saying any of this would happen and what I outlined is an extreme case, but it is possible.

As far as I'm concerned, I have no problem with cloned food as long as it's safe to eat and tastes at least as good as what I'm accustomed to eating. Hell, slap a cloned hamburger on a plate in front of me and as long as it meets my two conditions I'll inhale it in no time.

I don't see any reason for the government to mandate that a company label their product as coming from cloned animals. As already mentioned, let the companies that want to market their stuff as non-cloned do just that. If there are so many people against cloned food, the companies that market non-cloned food will put the cloned food people out of business. I don't think they'll put cloned food companies out of business, though.

Also, you won't see cloned food for everyone for a while. The price concerns at this point rule that out. However, if they can get a great tasting cow cloned and it keeps that flavor through each cow or generation, you'll see that marketed at a higher price for the consistent great taste and quality. After the price of producing the food drops, you'll see an increased amount of the food enter the market which will lower prices.

I don't think there are or will be any major health issues with cloned animals for food, but I still have some reservations about some of the possible long term effects. However, my reservations are not strong enough for me to think the project should be stopped.


By masher2 (blog) on 1/2/2007 3:01:10 PM , Rating: 3
> "However, what happens if there is some type of plague or disease that affects a certain type of types of cows?"

There's a flip side to that coin. Genetically homogenous livestock means that medicines and medical treatments work better also. You don't have the situation you do with human medicines, where some people don't respond, have allergic reactions, etc.

And I don't think bioengineering implies a loss of biodiversity. Quite the opposite, in fact. Instead of one species of cow, we can design one specifically for "milk production, grain-fed, in Wisconsin-area weather conditions". Another specifically for beef production, Montana weather, range-fed. Etc, etc.


Choice is also an issue
By Flunk on 1/1/2007 12:41:46 PM , Rating: 2
I think the point that most people are missing here is that they do not require labeling of cloned meats. Although I do not necessarily disagree with the development of agricultural cloneing (as it may be required to feed our growing world population). I believe that people should be informed about what they are eating.

I think that any foods that contain cloned or genetically modified foodstuffs should be clearly labeled so that the consumers can choose whether or not they want to purchase them.

Hopefully the Canadian government (where I live) handles this better.




RE: Choice is also an issue
By Ringold on 1/1/2007 3:13:41 PM , Rating: 2
I think we (US) has handled it fine. The government has said its safe as far as can reasonably be told, and then stepped back.

If its safe, and identical (clone) to other products, no logical reason for a label.

Yet if companies want to put a label on there and bill it as a premium good (like they do with 'Fair Trade' coffee, etc) to make extra money off of peoples preferences, regardless of how wise those are, then thats up to them. If there's a demand for labels, it shall be done.

It's just important to let companies have a choice, too. As long as their products are safe, then companies thrive best when they have the same freedoms as individuals.


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