Print 72 comment(s) - last by number999.. on Jan 26 at 8:49 PM

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.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Cheap
By masher2 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 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.

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 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.

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. 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.

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

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 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 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 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.

"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki