Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Agrobacterium & the risks no one is willing to discuss

Nature - flawed, imperfect, badly designed & nothing more than a bundle of compromises -  No problem, we can fix that 
(common worldview of our natural world by today's version of Biotechnology Science)

Image: © freshidea / Dollar Photo Club.
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University of Vermont: Summary of Concerns about Transgenic Crops 


Corn anthers - University of Missouri
Does anyone remember when much of the original fears mentioned in the early debates about GMOs getting loose outdoor in the wild was the potential for  contamination hovered around the pollen from transgenic plants drifting off into the wind and perhaps infecting the same type of crops or even wild plants in the same family ? The University of Vermont published a list of concerns regarding the real or imagined fears people originally had about genetically modified crops and why the citizens there wanted labeling required on processed foods and fresh produce to alert them to the GMO origins of any food product purchased. Certainly legitimate concerns since pollen blowing into the wind and cross breeding with similar plants within the same family could insert that same toxin manufacturing trans-gene in wild plants. The main problem would be the probable decline in health of any ecosystem and perhaps the eventual ecosystem collapse. We all know that insects need plants and that  plants also need insects. Like most conventional pesticides, there are unintended consequences since the chemical has no clue as to it's purpose for a single targeted organism. For example, though a synthetic pesticide is created for specific target pests like the Corn ear worm, the chemical is incapable of selecting only for that pest. As we know, many insects can become the victims, even the beneficial predatory insects which offer the checks and balances plant communities need to thrive. Even several plant eating insects provide a measure of services in keeping many plants from becoming overgrown or weedy. So human understanding of these important ecosystem functions are vital when creating any type of promoted magic silver bullet when other viable solutions have been working for countless thousands of years. But the non-target killing of beneficial insects indeed was a legitimate concern.

Cornell University
For example, Cornell University did a study of the effects of the GMO Corn pollen which may or may not have had unintended consequences on Monarch Butterfly caterpillars. This was a legitimate concern as milkweeds tend to grow around the fringes of disturbed soils such as would be found around such areas as agricultural fields. In their laboratory tests, monarch caterpillars fed milkweed leaves dusted with so-called transgenic pollen from a Bt-corn hybrid ate less, grew more slowly and suffered a higher mortality rate, the researchers report. Nearly half of those larvae died, while all of the monarch caterpillars fed leaves dusted with non-transformed corn pollen or fed leaves without corn pollen survived the study. As you can see in the photo to the left, caterpillars are eating GMO pollen dusted on the leaves of milkweed. However other questions arose. While the amount of pollen in the photo on the left is considerable, does such a large amount really land on foliage all the time ? While there is no doubt that such pollen does and will kill non-target insects, one wonders if enough pollen can be drifted onto surrounding vegetation in quantities large enough to decimate other insect populations in the wild. Probably not, but still something to be concerned about over long periods of time. No doubt the Biotechs will continue to spin their ongoing version of not enough proof. But there are still yet further concerns. The other issue is that these genetically engineered plants are also constructed to withstand several various types of herbicides and other insecticides which also targets most other insects.

Over here in Europe, many have been concerned about local honey bees being effected not only by the plethora synthetic chemical pesticides aside from potential harm from GMO plant pollen itself. Much of the debates over regulations have been coming since 2005 when an amateur beekeeper Karl Heinz Bablok discovered that his honey was contaminated with pollen from a nearby trial site of Monsanto’s 810 GM maize, which was being grown by the Bavarian state. Obviously the health of consumers was also a concern and how would the public health be effected if they ate this honey. A challenge to existing EU laws on labeling could make it impossible to know if your honey is contaminated with GMO pollen. The bottom line is that there were many legitimate concerns in the beginning despite powerful Biotech lobbying to dismiss such concerns. 
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Further Areas of Concern not normally discussed or addressed

image: Ashley Watson
Agrobacterium thumefacians, a hidden living soil micro-organism the Biotechs have been fond of employing in the past to infect a target crop plant with a specific gene taken from a completely unrelated organism. To accomplish this they have crossed or broken the species barriers or boundaries which Nature has programmed into it's lifeforms to prevent life as we know it from mutating into Sci-Fi World. Unfortunately, when Nature is thrown off balance, which happens more often than not these days is generally the result of human greed and/or ignorance. Then we are all forced to deal with the consequences of those actions. Most people have never seen this living micro-organism called Agrobacterium for obvious reasons, but you may not realize that you most likely have indeed seen the effects of it's work on many trees and shrubs. Of course other critters can and do cause and create galls on trees, shrubs and their foliage like Mites, Aphids, Parasitic Wasps, etc. But notice this photo example here of a Chestnut tree with that cancerous looking tumor is the result of Agrobacterium who is responsible for creating what is known as Crown Gall in trees. The Crown Gall disease results from the infection finding it's way into the wound of a plant via the free-living soil bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens. The first step in the infection process is the site-specific attachment from this bacteria into the plant hosts such as roses, grapes, and stone fruits (example, apples, peaches etc), shade trees and nut trees, shrubs and vines, and many other perennial garden plants. Up to half of the bacteria become attached to host cells after 2 hours. At 1 or 2 weeks after the initial infection, swellings and tumor-like growths take place in tissue surrounding the site of infection in the open wound, and with time these tissues proliferate into those characteristic large woody tumors. If infection takes place around the main stem or trunk of woody hosts, this ongoing continued tumor proliferation will cause girdling and could even eventually kill the host. Believe it or not, as a former Landscaper & Head Gardener, I often found this extreme version of examples common in landscapes where terrible tree trimming was undertaken. But this this isn't the only reason why I'm writing this post. Look below at some other areas where this Agrobacterium has been found present.


images: Beneficial Solutions LLC

Aside from Agrobacterium causing tumors in plants through a gene transfer from a foreign DNA, as a reminder, this is the same method that has been used in the past for the genetic engineering manipulation of corn, soybeans, canola, sugar beets, alfalfa and other foodstuffs. However, the really spooky thing is that some recent studies have shown agrobacterium can also affect the DNA of humans. Some have connected this infection as the cause for something called Morgellons Disease. However, it should be noted that the Morgellons Disease is not only mysterious, but is also controversial as to what may be causing it. This Morgellons disease sounds more like something out of a science fiction novel than reality. There appears however to be some links to this Agrobacterium and Morgellons, but that is a subject for another time, I wanted to reference something even more serious. I'll post links below on the links between Agrobacterium and Morgellons Disease and you can decide for yourself.
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Possible Wild Plant Infection with transgenic traits by means of Agrobacterium and they don't have to be related. The subject nobody seems to want to discuss.
While Google searching for something else totally unrelated to any of this, I stumbled across a film title called "Seeds of Destruction" which made me think of that anti-gmo book called "Seeds of Deception". I've never read it, but seen it all over the web on the usual anti-gmo sites with all the clever Meme pictures and often exaggerated one liner quips. What I found though Google was a reference to the title of an actual "Outer Limits" [remake of old 1960s Sci-Fi Series] which had an episode called "Seeds of Destruction" (2000). I further googled the plot of the show and found a couple of fascinating points behind the subject matter of the film's story line is about a veterinarian in a small farming town who probes the links between the rash of fast-growing tumors on both animals and people and a new breed of genetically engineered corn. Gee whiz go figure. Of course in the Sci-Fi flick, the danger of tumor infection and growth is going to be sped up, exaggerated and embellished for it's sensationalism as to entertainment value. In the fictional film, no growth of tumors occurred over a long period of real world time. These particular tumors in the film's plot happen almost overnight after infection from what I presumed was the pollen from the GMO crop plants. 

The official Outer Limits film plot goes like this (please keep in mind this description below is nothing more than a fictional plot explanation of a Sci-Fi episode and not anything regarding reality of an actual event which has taken place anywhere):
"Macroseed, a cutting edge biotechnology company [eerily similiar to the real world company 'Monsanto' who actually has a brand of gmo seed sold in Latin countries called 'Macro Seed'], chooses the small farming town of Hobson to test and develop TX-40. This is a new genetically-engineered strain of fast-growing corn that could increase yields and make the company millions of dollars. Linda Andrews, the veterinarian in Hobson, begins to wonder about the safety of TX-40 when a farmer brings in a dead cat from his field. The cat has horrible mutations, including a giant tumor which sprouts a fifth leg."
"Her skepticism grows deeper when terrible, inexplicable tumors begin to appear in people: Mr. Rivers, young Matt Hooper and Eddie, her mentally-disabled nephew. Linda's worry persists while her husband, Rex Andrews and her lover, Harold Zimmer, both of whom work at Macroseed, try to convince her that TX-40 is safe, warning her that her investigation might generate negative publicity that could destroy the town's new-found prosperity. With some inside help, she gets the test data from Macroseed and, with Doc Wells, begins searching for connections between the new corn and the mutations."
"Harold reassures Linda that TX-40 cannot have spread to humans, but she finds out that it has spread from the corn to milkweed plants, and then from the milkweed plants to people who had an increased amount of growth hormone: Old Man Rivers was taking hormone supplements, and the teen Hooper was in the middle of a growth spurt. Linda and the local doctor, Doctor Cooper, confront Harold with the truth. He reveals that he knows, but the company will continue to produce the corn. He shoots Doc Cooper and is about to kill Linda when her husband, Rex, knocks Harold out. The episode ends with a shot of Rex and Linda holding each other while workers in haz-mat suits use flamethrowers to burn the corn and milkweed plants."

There are some details left out in the description above from what was in the film. I'll post a link to the episode for those who like the Science Fiction version. I had to fast forward through much of the film, but one main point referenced in this film episode from 2000 was discussion of the Agrobacterium tumefaciens ("tumefaciens" meaning tumor-making) which has been used in the past by scientists for the organism's natural infecting abilities to insert target genes within another organism for the desired traits. That was interesting as was the later revelations in the film where the Corn wasn't the problem infecting people, but rather the unintended consequences of the GMO Corn's pollen to infect other unrelated plants like the Milkweed bordering the field margins with the same transgenic qualities via the wild soil Agrobacterium tumefaciens, except that once in the DNA of these Milkweed plants, the way the transgene worked within the informational content of the Milkweed was entirely different than what it did inside the corn. With that in mind, take a look at something here from the documentary, "The World According to Monsanto" where I've taken a quoted part of a conversation the interviewer has with Dr. Elena Alvarez-Buylla, in her laboratory at the Mexican National Institute of Ecology on the potential for genetic pollution being unleashed out into the wild. 


Foto: UNAM

Dr. Elena Alvarez-Buylla, in her laboratory at the
 Mexican National Institute of Ecology experimenting with
Arabidopis thaliana (Thale Cress) & Trangene location

"“Since then,” Alvarez-Buylla told me, “my laboratory has carried out another study throughout the country that found that the national level of contamination is on average from 2 to 3 percent, depending on the type of  transgene, with some much higher peaks.” 
“What do you think about this dispute?” 
“I think it has nothing to do with scientific rigor and that it is masking other interests. What’s important to me now is to find out the medium-term effects of the contamination on criollo corn. That’s why my research team did an experiment on a very simple flower, Arabidopis thaliana (Thale Cress), which has the smallest genome in the plant world, into which we introduced a gene by genetic engineering. We then planted the transgenic seeds and observed their growth. We found that two genetically completely identical plants— they had the same genome, the same chromosomes, and the same transgene— could produce very different phenotypes [floral forms]: some had flowers identical to the natural variety, with four petals and four sepals, but others had aberrant flowers with abnormal bristles or bizarre petals. And some were plainly monstrous. In fact, the only difference among all these plants was the location of the transgene, which was inserted completely at random, by modifying the plant’s metabolism.” 
 “What does that have to do with corn?” I asked, contemplating one of the “monstrous” flowers that the scientist was displaying on her computer. 
“From this experimental model we can extrapolate what risks are happening when transgenic corn cross-pollinates with local varieties. It’s very worrying, because there is a fear that the random insertion of a transgene may affect the genetic inheritance of criollo corn in a totally uncontrolled way.”


So, depending on where the transgene randomly appears within the genome of it's new host, it works differently into whatever context of genes the transgene falls within as evidenced by the various  (both mutated and degenerative) design changes of the Thale Cress flower observed in the experiment. Here is the link below of the documentary of "World According to Monsanto" (which is part 9 of the broken up 10 parts to the entire film). It's interesting to watch the first couple minutes of this section and listen to the Mexican peasant farmer explain how their indigenous corn doesn't require the fertilizers and other synthetic pesticide chemicals for which the Monsanto GMO Corn requires in order to succeed. What this tells me is that the genetic makeup of these heirloom Mexican varieties still have strong genetic instructions within their genomes for successful mycorrhizal colonization signalling that have been both engineered and bred out of the industrial corn. This is precisely consistent with what Dr Wendy Taheri, microbiologist of South Dakota State University said about modern cross breeding for plant hybrids which have been generation after generation weaned and sustained on an artificial life support system of the industrial agro-chemical world's synthetics. Today many varieties of wheat, oats, corn etc will not allow colonization on their root systems because the informational instructions for the manufacture of the root chemical signalling for mycorrhizal spores to germinate and attach to root systems are no longer is functional. The informational content has either been lost or shut down through epigenetic influences from environmental cues. These giant seeds producers for several years now with all their manipulation and breeding for longer growing seasons, higher yields and massive synthetic nutrient inputs have actually selected against those plants which would normally be higher mycorrhizal associated. So at least with  most of the Mexican Corn varieties, those instructions are apparently still intact and result in better microbial colonization, although I'm not sure if those farmers actually understand that themselves. In this video below, scroll over across to time point 2:40 and watch exactly 2 minutes to 2:42:




Now getting back to my original thought on how there is a secondary way for genetic corruption to escape into the wild and wreaking havoc in numerous types of ecosystems, there was a 2010 research paper from Bristol University on this very real life possibility. That's actually what originally caught my attention, not the exaggerated Hollywood sensationalism employed by those Outer Limits film makers to glue viewers to the storyline. Again, I'll post the video link at the bottom for those intrigued by such Sci-Fi sensationalism, but keep in mind that the rate of overnight tumor growth in that plot was only for the camera and is NOT what really  happens out in the real world. Here below is a reference to that interesting research paper:

Scientists at the University of Bristol have discovered a previously unknown route by which GM genes may escape into the natural environment. By studying plant-fungi-bacteria interactions at plant wound sites, the team have identified a natural process stimulated by a hormone released by the wounded plant that would allow synthetic genes to move across organisms and out into the wild. I want to restate that the example I gave above of how the Agrobacterium tumefaciens is being used as the popular vehicle to introduce foreign genes into plant cells for there to be subsequent regeneration of transgenic crops. As most of you know, the crops can be altered to be resilient & resistant to herbicide spraying, environmental stresses and crop pests by killing them with toxins (like BT Toxin). This is known as the horizontal gene transfer as opposed to the vertical gene transfer of traits through the conventional means of reproduction (think genealogy charts). The really spooky thing however [this is where possible infection resulting in Morgellons may come in] is that it has recently been noted that Agrobacterium tumefaciens is the only known species of microbe capable of infiltration of the DNA of not only plant species, but animal species as well. Apparently patients with the Morgellons disease have all had this agrobacterium tumefaciens present around infected areas. Here are some of the partial quotes of the Bristol University study:

"By studying plant-fungi-bacteria interactions at plant wound sites, the team have identified a natural process stimulated by a hormone released by the wounded plant that would allow synthetic genes to move across organisms and out into the wild."
"Professor Gary Foster and colleagues tested whether transformation of fungi by Agrobacterium can occur in nature on plants. Their results clearly demonstrate that when placed together on damaged plant tissue, Agrobacterium readily transforms associated fungi. “This suggests a previously unknown route for horizontal gene transfer in nature,” said Professor Foster. 
"These results may have implications for the risk assessment of GM plants generated via Agrobacterium-mediated transformation.  Agrobacterium can survive within plant tissue following artificial transformation in tissue culture, and can be detected within regenerated transgenic plants.  This research shows that these bacteria have the potential to move the same genetic modifications to fungi in a natural environment."
"Prior to release of a GM plant, elimination of Agrobacterium following modern genetic modification is a key concern of geneticists and policy makers as it is essential to prevent later escape of synthesised gene from Agrobacterium to other organisms."
Professor Foster said: “This study suggests that the encounter between Agrobacterium and a fungus on the plant surface may lead to gene flow in a previously overlooked way, potentially leaking GM genes into the natural world.”
(Source: University of Bristol)
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The original concerns referenced in the documentary film from 2008 are not only still valid, but further evidence has added to those concerns and the unintended consequences have gotten worse since it's release. When Biotech Scientists and Executives crafted their controversial technology behind closed doors for years, they got together with just the right political elements in formulating the guidelines on how their product should be regulated. It was they who were the ones who lowered the bar and set their own bio-ethical parameters and proceeded to flood the media with biased damage control press releases. Most of the world's educated people should have done more than passively fall under the sleazy seductive persuasiveness of the old con game "Trust Me I'm a Scientist". There were so many unknowns back then in the early 1990s which should have required deeper questions as to what they were doing and what the potential for unintended consequences would be. It is especially worse today because we are finding that there are still more countless unknown unknowns. There has been an irresponsible infection of Science influenced by a certain specific biased worldview about life being nothing more than a bundle of compromises and now we humans and all life on Earth are paying the price. The reasoning behind most of their smug sarcasm towards critics believe it or not has to do with this worldview infecting the way science is practiced today, take for example earlier this year when stupid silly scientific research claimed that all GMO opponents are religious Luddites who believe the Earth has purpose ?
Science Daily: "Anti-GMO people are Religious Luddites who have a believe that the Earth has a purpose" 

There are two things horribly flawed here in those secular religious assumptions invented by these evolutionary psychologists who are more bent on pimping a worldview than actually revealing some viable truth about genetic manipulation. First, it assumes that the ALL of the anti-GMO gang are religious right-wing nutcases. Totally untrue. Go over to online journals like The Daily Caller, The Hill, The Heartland Institute, etc, which are extremist right-wing religious/political sites which are in reality staunchly Pro-GMO. Almost every post I ever wrote about taking a biomimetic approach to farming, landscaping and how nature really works as opposed to GMO claims were deleted on these right-wing sites. (Read Here) , so it's odd that I'd be so censored on these presumably anti-gmo websites. These conservative sites publish articles which often point the finger at Anti-GMO people as being Liberal back-to nature hippy types. It's both sad and hilarious at the same time that both ideologies point fingers at each other when both are figuratively in bed with each other on this same subject. Second, the stupid psychology article from Belgium also would have readers assume that if the Anti-GMO people are really all those religious nutcases that believe Earth has a purpose, we would also have to come to the conclusion and assume that all Atheists and Agnostics believe the Earth has no purpose. But is this really true ? I know of numerous ecology, environmental, conservation, etc Activists who are atheistic in their worldviews, but who also love the natural world and believe the Earth does have a purpose and should be fought for. In the end, that research article which was peer-reviewed and published in numerous science-based journals is nothing but ideological nonsense backed by corporate business interests. Let's view another illustration at what really drives these irresponsible so-called pro-science defenders.


Image: PetaPixel.com

Mount St Helens eruption in 1980

I stumbled across an interesting illustration which fits this subject perfectly. The subject was about a beautiful well orchestrated human constructed Fireworks display and the comparison made to chaotic explosiveness of Volcano fireworks. Thanks to the photographs of the Mount St Helens eruption event captured by Ronnholm and a few other photographs on the above scene (notably Gary Rosenquist), scientists have been able to reconstruct what a volcanic landslide looked like and the unpredictable consequences that followed. Clearly, the fireworks display from natural Volcanoes are explosive, destructive and often have highly unpredictable consequences. The other type of explosive fireworks display like those of a 4th of July type of intelligent human designed Fireworks display of course can be entirely different and beautiful from that of a volcano, but still at the same time risky and as always has the potential element for dangerous consequences. But first take a look at this incredibly designed display:


It's incredible to marvel at what brilliant human intelligence can do in designing many things we all know, work with and enjoy in our daily life. Volcanic eruptions can likewise be beautiful in a sense, but only from a safe distance. It could be argued that such human designed explosions, unlike volcanoes are perfectly safe and always controlled, where only natural explosions such as volcanoes are the ones with terrible unexpected or unintended consequences. Therefore the pyrotechnic experts have improved upon nature's most always chaotic flaws when it comes to explosions. Now let's compare what happens in the case where the pyrotechnics experts running a show perhaps took some short cuts because they were in a hurry & didn't exactly check and double check to see if all their connections were in proper safe running order. Here was an actual unplanned unintended accident that happened back in 2013 where all the fireworks blow up at once. 



Despite all the self-promoting human intellectualism advertised and so-called preparation with presumably safety checks and balances, there is still potential for unintended consequences which generally can be traced back to human error coupled together with ignorance. It has to be admitted by everyone that the Biotech industries don't purposely intend on killing off their clientele. That would be silly to state such a thing. But clearly there is pressure from executives and shareholders within large corporate giants to obtain a profit making product yesterday, not tomorrow. There is no such thing as a patient investor who forks over vast sums of money for personal financial gain who expects profits to be realized decades later. That's not how our world works, never has. Under such intense pressure for results yesterday, one has to ask what unintended potential for consequences can you imagine have been accidentally overlooked or deliberately ignored on the part of a biotech scientist ? Truth is, anything can be covered up as long as you make sure the right people gain from it. The other problem is, what is it that makes these researchers believe so confidently that what they are doing will cause no harm in the first place ? Frankly it's called worldview. Most don't want to hear that, but it's true. Science should be neutral and worldview should NOT even enter into the picture according to the rules, but that's not what we get. This is true of both sides of the worldview issue. Take for example this view of nature being flawed, imperfect, inefficient and badly designed. Aside from the instant gratification by potential for obscene wealth, the collective human intelligence of the present enlightened age actually believes they can fix what they see as flaws. Where do such scientists get this ? I wrote about many of the faulty religious reasons which infect science in my post on Paradigm Shift here -> (Source) . Some of the dumbest unscientific religious things said about proof of no creator or intelligent designer is that a creator or designer wouldn't have done such and such this way or that. Dumb examples like a Giraffe's neck, the way human child birth takes place, etc etc etc, would not have been done that way if there were a designer involved. This goes all the way back to Darwin's 'Origin of the Species' which is loaded with the same metaphysics of "If there were a God, he wouldn't have done things such and such a way". Really, how does Darwin know that ? How can any Scientists today know such a thing ? What experiment would a researcher use to experiment with and conclude that an intelligent entity which they already insist doesn't exist, how are they able to get into the mind of a nonexistent being and conclude what he would or wouldn't have done this way or that way ? I couldn't do that, so how can they or anyone else do that ? This has zero to do with science and is more of a religious nature. Now, this is NOT a discussion about evolution vrs creation. It's about how the obsession with this time wasting debate has infected the way things are done in the Lab without regard for any respect for the complexity of how genetics is completely put together and really works. This is not a discussion of how it got that way. Neither side can write a paper and perform an experiment which is repeatable to prove their side of the argument. Otherwise we'd all be reading such material if it actually existed. Despite professions of greater understanding than at any time previously, we are discovering that there are still so many more unknown unknowns out there. With the Gene Gun and use of the Agrobacterium, it was always a crap shoot anyway as to whether a gene would land in the same exact location within any genome every single time it was performed. One belief has the possibility close to a trillion to one shot. Oh and the celebratory jumping up and down with Pom Poms about CRSPER doesn't help either. Already these bioethically challenged people are talking boldly about how they can tinker and edit the flawed human genome and make corrections and offer cloning services for a price of course. Unfortunately, deliberately escaping their notice, Jurassic Park was just a Hollywood science fiction entertainment film, not a present day reality. But don't expect any admission from this culture about any of this. It's simply not in their animal nature to admit anything flawed on their part. That's why we get justifications by Biotech leaders like Robb Fraley and Alison Van Eenennaanm saying "Well what's the big deal, genes are just genes and DNA is just DNA", except it's not, it's different specific informational content or these people wouldn't be messing with it for Patents and Profits. And this all contrasts with something even far more important. 

Working against biotechnology's scientific ambitions are the hurdles of reality found in the Natural World
On the other side of the table are scientists like Dr Wendy Taheri, Dr Kris Nichols, Dr Mike Amaranthus, Dr Gary Harman, Dr Donald Marx or actual farmers like Gabe Brown and others like the grounds keepers at Harvard Yard actually working with nature and replicating what nature really does and being successful at it. But the question has to be asked, why does the larger part of scientific consensus not follow the type of science practiced by these people who have proven over and over it's true worth ? Aside from all the definition shell games about what genetic modification is and isn't or cupcake examples of natural gmos in nature like sweet potatoes etc, what really chaps these Biotech and agro-chemical industrial giants is that if Farmers worldwide actually came together and got a clue as to what Saps they are being played for by these industrial giants and that merely educating themselves and changing certain practices which nurtures soil biology instead of continually killing it, these entities would lose financially big time. Farmers wouldn't be going into huge debt to pay off loans, seed and chemical invoices, investments in more equipment, depending on Government for bail outs when things go wrong, which is becoming more and more common these days. Biomimicry and Biomimetics are dirty repugnant words to these industries. You can understand why millions of dollars are spent on damage control measures which are purposed to muddle, fuzzy and make gray what should otherwise be clear black and white subject matter.
Irrespective of how one believes life got so incredibly complex and sophisticated as a well oiled biological machine, it still never the less is. The underground microbial world is still far superior to anything any human has seen in maintaining the Earth. At the very least this is something to further think ponder about by everyone on this planet. If this doesn't make sense and move you to actually think and ponder about the potential for harm, then you're probably dead.
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(Important Update Dec 17, 2015: Supplementary Information)
 Stony Brook researchers: Cancer cause is environment, behavior, not just ‘bad luck’
(Source)
"Johns Hopkins University scientists set off alarms earlier this year when they claimed the “bad luck” of random mutations largely influence cancer risk, a finding that spurred Long Island investigators to determine whether the conclusion held weight. They say it doesn't."
"Scientists at Stony Brook University, led by Dr. Yusuf Hannun, the Joel Strum Kenny Professor in Cancer Research and Director of the Stony Brook University Cancer Center, have found quantitative evidence proving that extrinsic risk factors, such as environmental exposures and behaviors weigh heavily on the development of a vast majority (approximately 70 to 90 percent) of cancers."


 Folks, this is so easy to understand that even a child gets this. Environmental factors are going down hill over and over and while the lifestyle changes are important, many people no longer have choices as to the environment with which they are living. The misuses and abuses of industrial science by large corporate business interests are number one in ecological degradation out in the wild and urban environments. The idea of Science being that of "discover & wonder" are long gone. Although every human being on earth bears a measure of guilt for lifestyle choices, at the forefront of where things are going wrong are the global corporate business communities and the political elements which enable them. People everywhere need to reassess what and who they are putting their faith and trust in.

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For people actually curious of the Outer Limits episode, then here it is. Keep in mind this is only science fiction, but is still illustrative of the potential of unintended consequence of a transgenic property to leap into the wild by through an agrobacterium and causing possible harmful change and unintended consequences because certain entities were committed towards end user profit goals for Executives and impatient unnamed unknown anonymous Shareholders
The Outer Limits - Seeds of Destruction
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References for Agrobacterium Transgenic Infection in the Wild
University of Bristol: "Possible new twist in GM safety debate"
References on Agrobacterium and Morgellons Disease
http://www.morgellons-research.org/morgellons/agrobacteriumAndMorgellonsFull.pdf
PubMed: "Recent patents on agrobacterium-mediated gene and protein transfer, for research and biotechnology"
http://www.morgellonsuk.org.uk/micromyiasis.htm
One final reference to possible tumor and Agrobacterium links in Tasmanian Devils
(You yourself can google, read and decide. I won't steer anyone any direction, but the fact that this does come up as a possibility is scary)



Friday, December 11, 2015

Building Healthy Soils with not so primitive Biological Mechanical Components

File Under: Bad Religious Dogma - or would that be Fogma ?
What if Agriculture after World War II had the same blank Cheque funding for it's own 'Manhattan Project', instead of going down the Green Revolution path brought to us by today's Toxic Know-It-Alls ?
image: USBG.GOV

See this guy over here on the right ? He is Agricultural Ecologist, Dr Jerry Glover who with the help of photographer Jim Richardson of the National Geographic Society and Sculptor Steve Tobin known for his nature exhibits put together a beautiful underground visual of what root systems  in healthy pristine prairie soils actually look like. In so doing, they revealed an unknown hidden world and understanding of a complex root infrastructure that the average person above ground couldn't possibly otherwise visualize or imagine. But for the moment, I'd like to explain why most soils don't actually look like this in nature anymore. Mostly, the reason soils today are in poor condition has to do with the so-called scientific modern day enlightenment which has since 1914 -WWI (but especially since 1950), tried indoctrinate all of us into accepting how & why nature is so horribly flawed, badly designed, terribly inefficient and that only their technological innovations of this world's elites will save us from it's primitive foundations. But are the microbiological things of our natural world really all that primitive ? Interestingly other responsible scientific research is beginning to find out that this type of flawed worldview is itself untrue and in many cases caused irreparable damage in some areas. At the end of this post I'll talk a little more on the above exhibit. But here is a short introductory clip:
"Plant roots are vital components of the earth's ecosystem. They are necessary for all plant growth, including the production of food and nutrients for humans and many other organisms. However, as root systems are out off sight, their beauty and importance often go unnoticed. Exposed: The Secret Life of Roots showcases the presence and importance of roots through visually stunning root representations using the work of agricultural ecologist Dr. Jerry Glover, sculptor Steve Tobin, and photographer Jim Richardson."
(Source)
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So where did Humans go wrong when it comes to Soils & Land Management ?
Image typical of deep soil chiseling of Imperial Valley fields


(Imperial Valley Subsoil Chiseling)
For 20+ years I traveled from my mile high home in the San Jacinto Mountains above Palm Springs California all the way to Imperial Valley at least once a week, sometimes twice. Often while driving to work in early mornings in summer when I'd pass a field like the one above and world see the farmland subsoil deeply cut into and chiseled as the one above in the photograph. I'd also see parked next to the plowed field the very farm implement or deep plow apparatus responsible for the large gouges in the Earth sitting idle like the one at right here. The landscape down there is an ancient sea bed where the soils are a very fine almost clay-like in structure. Periodically if such deep tillage isn't undertaken, this ground remains hard packed like adobe. The water percolation is almost nil in worst case scenarios when they attempt to flood irrigate. Such deep tillage and later light tilling with smaller plows afterwards are necessary for the soils to restore back to that fluffiness of structure for not only better water percolation, but also crop plant root development. This Southern California valley is a major industrial farming area where a single corporate farm entity may may own land in the 1000s of acres. There is no life to these soils in the healthy microbiological sense. Such industrial farming strategies and practices are what destroy the soil microbial community. Advertisements from Tillage implement companies extol the wonders of their soil ripping products to their potential farmer customers by illustrating how they can prevent stagnant water build up from heavy storms or common flood irrigation practices which no longer percolate into impervious soils. But there is far more that keeps the soils lifeless other than constant regular tillage, that would be the overuse and abuse of synthetic chemicals. 


Image: Blue-Jet SubTiller advertisement



image: business recycling Australia
For decades the soils of this ancient lake bed of Imperial Valley on both sides of the border between the USA and Mexico have been drenched in synthetic fertilizers of all kinds. Herbicides, fungicides and insecticides applied either from the ground or the air also contribute to this damage. Taken altogether, these too kill the healthy soil biology as does excessive uses of plowing and other deep subsoil tillage. This is why these desert valley soils are mostly sterile and strictly mineral based in their structural make up and colour. Pick up a handful of Imperial Valley soil and you will not find any of the rich black soil common with most natural systems. Chemicals, like excessive plowing also help to favour noxious weeds by eliminating the very checks and balances nature has used for 1000s of years to keep weeds under control. Interestingly, all these industrial farm mismanagement practices are identical to other irresponsible land mismanagement practices used by the US Forest Service and Timber Industries. Take the photo  example below of this ridgeline in the Trabuco Ranger District of Cleveland National forest in the Santa Ana Mountains of Southern California which has been stripped of it's mycorrhizal hosts (chaparral) and completely replaced by weeds which thrive in a bacterial system of soil creation. Destroy above ground mycorrhizal hosts and you destroy the underground mycorrhizal grid and allow a bacterial system to replace it which favours weeds, particularly those weeds we call Ruderals. 


Image by Richard Halsey - Chaparral Institute


Image: Chaparral Institute

Somewhere back in the 1960s-70s, it was ignorantly assumed that stripping most all major ridgelines of their chaparral was a great idea for a major firebreak to control any future wildfire event. However, this replacing of the chaparral plant community (which is host to mycorrhizal fungi) by these regular control burns, vegetative mastication, synthetic chemicals, and/or bulldozing actually allowed a bacterial underground system to be created which favoured invasive grasses and other noxious weeds like cheatgrass, mustards, radishes, star thistle, etc. This turned out to be a huge backfiring mistake. Oddly enough those ignorant irresponsible practices are the exact mirror image of industrial farming methods which create far more problems than they were originally meant to solve. The result for the forestry was not stopping wildfire, but rather the creation of a mismanaged landscape scenario which actually fed worse wildfire condition scenarios than preventing them. If the idea was to slow down wildfires, the true reality resulted in speeding up their spread. From that point the domino effect gets worse. Take for example the usage of slurry type phosphate based fire retardants used in stopping fires. Would you believe this actually spreads Cheatgrass and other runderals ? Take a look below.


Photo by Jed Little
A year after the Fourth of July fire on Mount Jumbo, a long green line of cheatgrass is visible where fire retardant was dropped. The red slurry retardant allows some exotic weeds to replace native grasslands, according to preliminary results of a study by Salish Kootenai College and the University of Montana. Now read this portion I've quoted below from the online journal, The Missoulian:
"The study raises the possibility that the red slurry, while helping to slow a wildfire's advance, could ultimately worsen grassland fires by promoting the growth of cheatgrass, one of the most flammable invasive weeds in the West."
"According to preliminary results, the retardant's fertilizerlike nutrients significantly increased cheatgrass and tumbleweed mustard, both exotic annual species, at the expense of native perennial grasses on the mountainside."
"The invaders benefit from the jolt of nitrogen and phosphorous in the slurry, which native and exotic perennials largely ignore because they are accustomed to nutrient-poor soils. Cheatgrass and tumbleweed mustard didn't spread where the fire burned alone, but they exploded in areas that were burned and hit with retardant, the study found. The two invaders have spread from 51 percent to 88 percent on Mount Jumbo since the retardant was dropped, although two perennial invaders, spotted knapweed and Dalmation toadflax, decreased."
(Source - Missoulian)
I literally hate going for a hike and receiving the nasty end of an assault of stickers from walking through a mismanaged field infected by a  Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) invasion. These stickers in boots and socks are so incredibly annoying that you need to stop periodically to take the boots off and clean both boots and socks to regain your sanity. They can also be dangerous to your pets and other domestic animals. If that is true, then it is also true that their overwhelming presence is not good for wildlife either. Now there were a couple of interesting things referenced in that article by the Missoulian. Notice that these annual plants [ruderals = Cheatgrass, Mustards, Radishes, Tumbleweeds, etc] thrive in a nutrient enriched soil from the presence of excessive amounts of synthetic inputs deliberately applied to soils [for whatever reason or purpose], while the perennials that were   referenced in the article like Spotted Knapweed & Dalmation Toadflax have actually decreased. So why was that ? Are not those two plants also noxious invasive weeds ? Yes they are, but they are not ruderals, they have mycorrhizal roots and mycorrhizal fungi will disconnect in the presence of excessive synthetic nutrient inputs. They are invasive weeds in the sense that they originate from eastern Europe and Asia. Minus the checks and balances from their former ecosystems they then thrive and spread in North America. But they are also mycorrhizal hosts. Clearly human ignorance which breeds irresponsible decision making in so many areas of life have snowballed to the present out of control domino effect we find ourselves in. We are battling Nature instead of working with nature for a solution with an elite few making a profit off the misery of others. Nature has always had the most efficient solutions for balance and high yield success through it's genetic programming for 10s of 1000s of years irrespective how anyone says it originally got that way. Now take a look at another area [land restoration projects] which once again illustrate the how the overuse or reliance on mechanized innovations and synthetic chemicals cause setbacks and delays in plant community restorations. This example below comes from the Coachella Valley which is also located in Southern California just north of Imperial Valley. About the year 2001 a report came out on the success of ridding a desert oasis area known as 1000 Palms of an invasive tree called Tamarisk which dried up the streams and ponds and ruined the environment for the native palms and other desert oasis plants and animals which depended upon them for food and shelter. There were several methods and techniques employed like bulldozing, synthetic Chemicals and old fashioned hand clearing. There were two outstanding references of an observation which serve to illustrate the two superior & inferior methods for success from a single sentence in that whole report at the bottom in the last paragraph that spoke volumes to me. As far as I know, I am the only one who has ever caught this important gem of an observation:
"Most areas were cut by hand, thereby selectively cutting out the tamarisk while leaving the native shrubs unharmed. Only a 7.5 acre (3 ha) section that was heavily infested (> 95%) was cleared using a bulldozer."
"In the 7.5 acres (3 ha) that was bulldozed, natives established much more slowly than in the hand-cleared areas."
(Source)

So two main techniques employed at this restoration site. One was the commonly used conventional mechanized version by way of large industrial piece of equipment we call a Bulldozer with rippers and the other was the use of volunteers to hand clearing and selectively cut out the cancerous invasive plants within the ecosystem and leaving only the healthy native ones. Okay I get the Bulldozer because it is fast and efficient at eradication and the clearing by hand takes recruiting otherwise busy volunteers and a lot of sweat. But okay so what ? It's the long term goal that we are looking at here if indeed there is a noble goal. One leaves a healthy intact mycorrhizal grid under the ground with cover and the other sterilizes the landscape as some sort of clean slate or blank canvas ready for natives to be replanted by spreading seed on the ground and raking it in to germinate and rebuild the ecosystem. One fixes the situation more permanently with little maintenance afterwards and the other being a quick fix will have to be revisited again and again, year after year and still not get it correct. I immediately recognized the differences and reasons for both success and failure [or delay]  because of my own practices on my acreage up in the San Jacinto Mountains which tower over the Coachella Valley. Prior to moving onto my land in 1985, the previous owner had cleared with Bulldozer two large patches of chaparral down to the clean decomposed granite. Other areas were cut and cleared by hand. In all those 20+ years of living there, the cleared areas by Bulldozer always experienced a fight with weeds and attempting to plant any chaparral natives back over the cleared patches of land was always a lengthy process with only a few ever making it. However, in Chaparral area where some places required removal by hand, the ground never suffered. In fact where I would remove a single shrub to make room for a tree seedling to be planted, establishment success was always 100% as opposed to maybe 20%-30% on the bare soils. The reason of course was that the new seedling was instantly inserted into a healthy mycorrhizal grid which hydrated and nourished the young delicate seedlings and the other area had no grid for successful tree establishment which left seedlings to their own struggle for survival, hence the highest failure rates. This was the same method I followed after helping my former landlord Ken Dawson of Terwilliger establish a forest in the chaparral a few years previous. His property was in the Terwilliger part of Anza Valley and considered at the edge of high desert. It was mostly Chaparral covered [Manzanita, Sugarbush & predominently Redshank or Ribbonwood]. 


image mine: 2013
Large specimens of all three chaparral species were left intact by use of a small scale one man backhoe [the size of a small garden Kubota tractor] which was expertly used to surgically remove any unwanted vegetation to allow space for bare root tree planting without damaging other healthy shrubs. All the San Bernardino National Forestry officials & the Nursery at L.A. Moran up at Davis where we purchased those bare root pines said it would never work, especially if we didn't strip clear the land bare from competing brush. The reality of course is that the responsible science-based research being done today has found that the "Survival of the Fittest" religious dogma no longer holds water. The truth is that in mycorrhizal networked ecosystems, there is a mutual cooperation of all the organisms to ensure the health and survival success of all the members of the plant community system.  The chaparral plant community also has some of the deepest plant roots known to bore through impossible soils. They perform an amazing biological function of physics called hydraulic lift and redistribution of soil moisture which I'll reference below. The ONLY time this is  found in conflict is when the wrong soil conditions allow ruderals to invade a mycorrhizal system which has been destroyed through bad land management. Tilling, synthetic inputs, excessive use of fire, and last but not least irresponsible overgrazing by domestic animals with no wild instinct smarts to move on all contribute to long term damage.


image: mine 2013
As you can see the Chaparral, in this case Redshank or Ribbonwood is still intact and thriving, yet so are the Jeffrey and Coulter Pines. The soils on this particular property are extremely shallow with many boulders and fractured rocky soils under the ground. Still the system is a giant success because of replicating nature, even if we didn't realize the full impact and knowledge at the time in what we had done. I later went back and inoculated some areas with an ecto-mycorrhizal fungi from Plant Health Care Inc called Tree Savor Injectable which contains only a single species of Pisolithus tinctorius, which is an ectomycorrhizal fungi. The needle holding capacity of most all those pine trees were 4 or five years which is excellent proof of the system's self-sustaining function even during this present west coast drought which has hit all of California. I'll post a link below in references.
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Collective Intelligent of the Enlightened Higher Lifeforms versus the Primitives ???  
Image Dr Wendy Taheri
So what is it exactly that is going on under the ground that makes these specific instances either a  success story or miserable failure ? It is the practices that either a landscaper, gardener, farmer or forester chooses to employ along with other methods of sound or irresponsible land maintenance. Many believe that the Scientific advances of our modern world are the only thing that will save mankind. But the exact opposite is true. Take for example the image at the right here of agricultural soil which has been worked decades utilizing all the modern day science-based tillage practices coupled with Synthetic inputs. The round spheres are fungal spores and these were culled from 25 grams of industrial agricultural soil. The photograph was taken by Dr Wendy Taheri who is a Research Microbiologist who today spends time educating and helping American Farmers who are hungering for a change. BTW, those tiny white round dots are not spores at all, but nematode eggs. Now compare that photo with the photograph below.

Image Dr Wendy Taheri
This photograph here at left is a mere one gram of healthy natural prairie soil as compared to the contrasting photo above which you may remember was 25 grams of industrial agricultural soil. Notice the difference in spore biodiversity count and the high density concentration ? This could also be illustrative of most any forest soil or holistically managed farm commercial soils where large diversity of perennial cover crops are used as hosts which encourages diverse numbers of these endo-mycorrhizal fungi. The above result is where no tillage was practiced and no chemical inputs were ever touching this soil. The bottom soil photograph is the result of supposedly primitive microbes [according to the religiously driven scientific dogma] and the top photograph is the result of science-based industrial agricultural practices of intensive plowing, synthetic chemical inputs [fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides & insecticides] and last but not least the GMO plants which are believed to be improvements on nature's flaws by the Biotechnology industry. All of these brought to us by superior higher collective human intelligence. I can only imagine that the ongoing choices by the majority of farmers, landscapers, foresters and the average home gardener is the imaginary misunderstanding & assumption that the holistic biomimetic practices are more work and sweat with little results to show for the hard work. The reality is that it's the exact opposite. To conclude, let's go back to Dr Jerry Glover's National Geographic Gallery.
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Now the Gallery below of the art show I opened up with Dr Jerry Glover and National Geographic


National Geographic & Dr Jerry Glover

Here, Dr. Jerry Glover works in a soil pit at the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas with a garden host fitted with a jet nozzle to expose what the rooting structure on two entirely different plants look like. On the left, we see the deeper roots of a perennial wheatgrass are displayed, while on the right we see the more shallow roots of an annual wheat are visible. Notice the side by side contrast below ? The exhibit theme was to demonstrate how the bulk of a prairie grass plant exists out of sight, with anywhere from eight to fourteen feet of roots extending down deep into the earth. Now why should any of that matter ? Besides being incredibly larger in size, these hidden root mass infrastructures accomplish a lot in storing carbon, nourishing soil, increasing bioproductivity, and preventing erosion.  Unfortunately, most of these productive, perennial grass functions of the past are more rare than they once were. This is because they have been replaced by ruderals (annuals) which live a mere few months (six months if lucky).





Common annual variety of annual Wheat here are contrasted next to perennial Wheatgrass. Notice perennials, which come back year after year have a root system which will grow to a depth of few meters, while the annual varieties perhaps a mere foot. This is also illustrative of all ruderals versus perennials in the wild setting. A farmer or rancher with a pasture of abundant diversity of perennials is going to weather the dry season or even drought much better than say those common western states pastures where short lived ruderals such as cheatgrass and other annuals [runderals] reign supreme. This is why many western rangelands and pasture can only have a limited use early in the year. What is most important to a pasture is having a large biodiversity of perennial plants dominating the vast area which encourages an underground  microbiological community of beneficial mycorrhizal fungi and healthy nitrogen fixing  bacteria to allow the soils to breathe. Any rainwater falling on such a landscape will fully percolate into the earth as opposed to running off. This is important to underground storage of water to be tapped into later in the dry season. In times of heavier rainy seasons, several meter deep root infrastructures may also facilitate a process called hydraulic descent which may also help restore underground aquifers and replenish natural springs. The other being hydraulic lift & redistribution, but more on that below. Again, these are also things which even many farmers who do practice  biodiverse perennial cover crops may be completely ignorant  themselves of the full line of services being accomplished by perennial plant root systems other than mere water percolation through healthy aggregated soil alone. More on that phenomena below. But here is a link to the root system galley:
(National Geographic Deep Root Gallery)
Now take as another example the common picturesque California Oak Savanna settings that are often romanticized in photos. 


Image - Mine (2013)

Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve (Oak-Grassland Savanna)

This photo above is in my home San Diego County in Southern California. While it is picturesque, the historical view with these Englemann Oaks would have had low interior sagescrub or chaparral growing all around it as opposed to these nonnative grasses. These grasses were created by ranchers in the early years to raise cattle. But land management practices from northern Europe and back eastern United States just never worked out here in the west. Africa had the same problems with Europeans ignorant of local ecosystem functions imposed northern European land management practices with domestic livestock which had disastrous consequences. The Cheatgrass dominance in the west also has negative implications in the fight against climate change. Cheatgrass and other ruderals are the worst in terms of carbon sequestration. In 2006, researchers found (Here) that the invasion of cheatgrass in the West had turned some areas from carbon sinks to a net source of carbon. The invasion of cheatgrass and all nonnative ruderals altogether have released up to nearly nine million tons of carbon into the atmosphere and will likely release far more as time goes on. Throughout the California Savannas where Cheatgrass and other ruderals now dominate, many areas often burn annually and actually thrive as a result of this constant burning, whether prescribed, accidental or intentionally set fires. They also have a lousy shallow root system which means that far less carbon is stored in underground root systems than was once true of the native perennials like chaparral or even biodiverse species of prairie plants in true Savannas. There is something else the ruderals cannot assist in accomplishing and that is both hydraulic life & redistribution of water for the beneficial function of the entire system. Aside from the loss of a mycorrhizal grid underground network there is something else missing. These two subjects are mostly a mystery of sorts to most people, but they are important phenomena to have an understanding of if your farm, ranch landscape, gardening or habitat restoration project are to be a success. Admittedly, even scientists do not discuss much about the phenomena to the public in general.
Importance of Hydraulic Lift & Redistribution
This is one natural phenomena which most likely no longer functions properly if at all in most modern day farm pastures and Ranch grasslands and sadly there is not a lot of discussion about it. Those old growth plant root infrastructures provide an invaluable service in the summertime of hydraulic lift and redistribution of water resources from deep in the earth up to the surface layers. But only certain specific plants with the deepest root systems can perform this task of drawing up water, sending it laterally toward other plants by means of the mycorrhizal grid for the night time benefit of other shallower rooted plants. This is the reason some holistically maintained pastures, even in traditionally dry western geographies have a healthy green even during the dry season. The animated illustration below often used by Professor Todd Dawson reveals how the system actually functions.



But there is even more than hydraulic lift at play here. Some way somehow the water has to be driven deeper than mere soil percolation would allow. This is where an reverse in hydraulic function of root systems must come into play.
What has happened to Hydraulic Descent ???



I once read where researchers once discovered something interesting about the common Mesquite Tree of the deserts in the southwestern United States. When the tree is dormant and not visibly growing above ground during the winter rainy seasons, they perform a phenomena called hydraulic descent where their root systems collect as much surface rainwater percolation as possible and pump it deep into the earth. Now, Mesquite & other desert trees and shrubs have some of the deepest taproot systems known in the world. They can actually bore through the earth down to a depth of a couple hundred feet. Please take note of the animation above. What effect has the loss of this phenomena had on large aquifers and natural springs ? How much does such a phenomena have on actually benefiting groundwater recharge beyond helping pasture to maintain green ecosystem viability during the dry season ? What practical applications can be applied in biomimetic inspiration in creating technological innovations such as irrigation systems which save water as opposed to the present wastefulness we have now ? My reasons for bringing the subject of hydraulic lift - descent & redistribution into the discussion is that they cannot be ignored as a naturally occurring phenomena either in the wild, farming, landscaping & gardening. When w landscaper prepares a design on any new project, all such consideration of these remarkable mechanisms alone with the microbiological nanomachines we've looked at earlier should be considered for the long term viable life sustaining system you are wishing to establish. Same with the farm, ranch or habitat restoration. People need to think in terms of their projects being a living mutually cooperating biological machine. While it's wonderful that farmers, professional landscapers and your average home gardener are thinking in terms of practicing a holistic biological approach minus the chemicals, it's also important to widen out and have a peripheral view other other factors that provide checks and balances into the system. For example attracting the beneficial predators both large and small. I'll provide more links below in references. 

So let's recap what we know!

All plant ecosystems basically work and function identically with a little a little tweaking taken into account for climate and geography. The purpose (don't look at the term as a dirty word) of annuals is important in that when land is disturbed they quickly cover the ground. Most of their capabilities are offensive with very little resources being used in defenses against predators. Creating an abundance of seed to replicate themselves is what they do, but irresponsibly land manage and you provide an out of balance scenario for them to explode upon the landscape. All Tree, Shrub and Prairie systems are heavily mycorrhizal. Mycorrhizae in all systems of management dislike over fertility or nutrient abundance. Bacterial systems limit root infrastructure and in farming excessive synthetic nutrient inputs are nothing more than a numbers game where it is hoped that 20-30% sucks in somewhere around the plant. Because mycorrhizae is mostly absent from such systems, weeds (ruderals) thrive and more synthetic inputs are needed to rid the system of unwanted plants that nature would have otherwise kept in check. Excess synthetics end up percolating into the earth polluting groundwater or as runoff into aquatic systems during the heavy part of the rainy season creating further pollution and ecosystem disruption. All areas of human endeavour when it comes to plant system management like habitat restoration, forestry, farming, ranching, landscaping right down to home gardening either benefit or suffer depending on how closely you mirror your techniques to how nature really works. Tillage is also another limiting and damaging practice to mycorrhizal soil structure. Limiting tillage as much as possible will maintain this life sustaining system underground which in reality is not so primitive after all as science would have you believe. Take all of these micro-organisms away and see how time we higher lifeforms have left to live. If life truly is a mere mistaken bundle of compromises, then what the heck, maybe the Biotechs and Agro-Chemical companies are doing nothing wrong and we should just accept the consequences of putting our faith and trust in these toxic know-it-alls. 
In Conclusion: The Winners & Losers
New technological advances by mankind's Elites have seemingly made life easier for the rest of us when we only look at them from an on the surface viewpoint. These bio-innovations created in some high security lab however have put mankind and the natural world at risk. The fate of the world is being placed into the hands of unaccountable elites in bed with powerful political interests who speak from one side of their mouths of their products being the result of ethical responsibility while at the same time being obsessed with the pursuit of fame and personal enrichment out of the other side of their mouths. The problem is our messed up world is the result of a gross lack of Bioethics. These people know full well what their products are doing, but their strategy is to play the dumb card. When a newer consequence strikes, they simply create another synthetic solution to treat the symptoms while totally turning a blind eye to the cause. The pharmaceutical industry works the same way, but hey, are the also not related ? So from a short term monetary, fame, glitter and glory standpoint there are certainly those who appear to come of the winners. Farmers are also the real losers, not the agro-chemical corporations. If any farmer actually becomes truly informed, educated and understands that most of their success is in changing practices as opposed to spending vast amounts of money on synthetic inputs along with magic seeds, these giant corporate entities would fold. Can you now understand the reasons for vast amount of financial resources being funneled into these damage control public relations lobbying by corporate business interests ? The vast majority of other lifeforms including humans will also lose out in the end. I know of no real solution as far as implementing or reversing the damage done on a massive global scale. You all read the News lately, so you tell me. That doesn't mean the information and understanding on how to use the clean viable information doesn't exist. It does. But there always seems to be something powerfully negative out there to throw the proverbial wrench in the works. The best that can be done is for those few individuals who actually get it to make practical application of what they know to use out on the farm, ranch, landscape or garden and allow the light of success to do the talking for you.

 How long can people really keep trusting these fallible researchers to be bio-ethically responsible ? Ask yourself, what's been their track record thus far during this modern age of enlightenment ?

Some Further Reading References
http://www.californiachaparral.com/threatstochaparral.html
Dawson Property Forest Establishment 1983
Hydraulic Life & Redistribution - Hydraulic Descent
Roots: 'Hydraulic Lift and Redistribution'
Hydraulic Descent: An Ecosystem's Tool for Filling Vast Underground Reservoirs
Why Streams still flow in California's officially designated "Exceptional Drought" zone 
Deep Root Irrigation based on Hydraulics Behaviour in Ecosystems
Deep Irrigation Methods for Training Deeper Rooting networks

This area below will remain open for any updates to add


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