Thursday, December 18, 2014

Genetic Engineering: More ruthlessly & Ideologically driven than you can possibly fathom

As time pants on to the end, I'm becoming more and more skeptical about what the world's Biotechs are really pursuing and playing with behind the scenes


image: NIAID/Colorado State University

The coronavirus responsible for Middle East respiratory syndrome (green particles)
 seen on camel cells in a scanning electron micrograph

"Imagine that scientists wanted to take Ebola virus and see if it could ever become airborne by deliberately causing mutations in the lab and then searching through those new viruses to see if any spread easily through the air."
Source NPR: "Scientists Debate If It's OK To Make Viruses More Dangerous In The Lab"


I really am not wanting to spend a lot of time on the above subject matter at this conference in which some Scientists and/or other individuals were advocating why not make money both ways, one with bioweapons and the other with the Pharmaceutical cures. With today's dirty tricks and controversy all over the News Media regarding Biotechs spending millions trying to foil attempts at making them more responsible and doing what it takes to keep their business model as the standard food producing monopoly and this recent article above in NPR about Biotechs pursuing and justifying making Bioweapons grade viruses, it makes you stop and wonder what else are they working on behind the scenes ? It also made me take pause and pondered back again to that Superbug scare incident in Germany back in 2011 where an extremely deadly E-coli variation called O104:H4 had killed 22 people or so that somehow it just happened to mysteriously got into some organic produce. Now there is no doubt that Biotechs don't really like the organic movement, especially since more and more science is coming out and backing it. It raises the genetically engineered hairs up on the backs of their collective necks. Organic Farms and Producers are extremely sensitive to health and well being and take care to maintain a high standard of cleanliness, after all, that's what they are about. So it's odd that such a deadly superbug would show up on organic produce ?

I remember thinking it an odd thing at the time when all of this was in the world News, about this E-coli variation of O104, is that historically they almost never had been resistant to antibiotics. And yet, this thing was resistant to eight different classes of antibiotics. This is the type of thing that generally is bioengineered from a Laboratory. Antibiotic resistance is not uncommon for something to develop in the wild, but to be resistant to eight varieties of antibiotics almost all at once with other unnatural deadly properties present within this organism ? This type of thing is just not typical in the wild or hasn't been before. The other odd anomaly is that Vegetable growers don't use antibiotics on vegetables, even conventional growers do not use them even if they use fertilizers and perhaps other chemical pesticides. Mostly these are for livestock. But these certified organic growers are careful so as to keep their certification and they are generally more conscientious when it comes to purity. Of course there was speculation it was manure, just like the US scare, but no problem found there and the origin has really been a mystery although many organic producers were accused, some as far away as Spain. There was back then an article from the Guardian in the UK which had several interesting paragraphs and here is one:


"The reason why this deadly E coli makes doctors shudder"
"According to Germany's Robert Koch Institute, O104 is resistant to more than a dozen antibiotics in eight classes: penicillins; streptomycin; tetracycline; the quinolone nalidixic acid; the sulfa drug combination trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazol; three generations of cephalosporins; and the combination drugs amoxicillin/clavulanic acid, piperacillin-sulbactam, and piperacillin-tazobactam. Indifference to so many drugs signals that O104 possesses what is called ESBL resistance – and in fact, according to the Koch analysis, the strain harbors two genes that confer that resistance, TEM-1 and CTX-M-15 – a property that has been making doctors shudder since the 1990s, when strains of  (ESBL-resistant) Klebsiella, a bacterium that causes serious hospital-acquired infections, began pingponging through Europe."
(Source)
Again, I don't want to spend a lot of wasted time here, but this is the kind of thing people in the 21st Century are use to hearing about. Could some Laboratory somewhere [cannot say who, but use your imagination] have deliberately created such a thing ~in some Lab and turned it out into the wild or in direct contact with organic packaged produce ? We all know how the E.U. feels about genetically modified organism seeds coming from North America and the dirty smear tactics against E.U. leaders opposed to GMOs and the memos for dealing with them in the Wiki-Leaks saga. If true nobody would really be surprised. With that in mind we are reminded of other mysterious tactics or anomalies which have happened recently. The GMO Wheat which is not grown by Farmers nor approved from what I understand, but low and behold it showed up along farm roadsides next to non-gmo wheat fields up in the state of Oregon. It would appear that a clever strategy would be that once all crop seed is contaminated with transgenic genes and healthy clean viable conventional seed is gone, nobody will have a choice but to purchase more expensive GMO Wheat. Can't get Approvals, then force it. Now here is an important note about  Wheat and Farmer's buying into the Industrial Agriculture Ideology. It's an interesting article came out today in PhysOrg on just that subject of deeply indoctrinated Dogma of the Industrial Agricultural Ideology causing resistance of Farmer to go the route of superior organic natural Farming practices with Wheat which is proving more yield at less cost.
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"Ideology prevents wheat growers from converting to more profitable methods, new study shows" 

Wheat field in the Palouse area of Washington state

U.S. wheat growers resist converting to a more profitable method of farming because of ideology – their personal beliefs about organic farming – rather than technical or material obstacles, according to a new study co-authored by a University of Arkansas researcher. 
"Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, "Ideological Challenges to Changing Strategic Orientation in Commodity Agriculture" was authored by Melea Press at the University of Bath in England, Eric Arnould at Southern Denmark University, Jeff Murray at the University of Arkansas and Katherine Strand at McGill University in Canada. Their study was published in the November issue of the Journal of Marketing."
"Organic wheat production over the past 30 years has consistently yielded profits for producers. Price premiums have ranged between 14 and 74 percent, averaging approximately 47 percent more than conventional, or chemical, wheat production. USDA reports show that organic wheat production is profitable while chemical wheat production is only profitable because of government subsidies, which organic farmers do not receive. Organic wheat farming represents only 1 percent of the overall wheat market "
"Conventional farming, also called industrial agriculture, uses chemical pesticides and herbicides and synthetic or chemical fertilizers. Without these chemicals, organic farming relies on crop rotation, animal and plant manures for fertilizers and other biological or mechanical processes for pest control."
"So why do farmers who use chemicals resist change when profit isn't an issue and technical or material obstacles such as learning and using new equipment or keeping different kinds of records are not a deterrent? The same reason organic farmers adopt new growing methods: Ideology."
"Across our data, we found expressions of ideological tensions embedded in the different strategic orientations to agriculture," said Jeff Murray, marketing professor in the Sam M. Walton College of Business. "One would think that obstacles to the expansion to organic commodity production are mostly technological or material, but instead it's the intensity of these ideological tensions that impedes the transition to a more economically strategic orientation. And likely, until these tensions subside, the transition will remain in a stage of crisis." 
Considering the economic benefits of organic wheat production, the researchers sought to examine the challenges farmers face as they experimented with a new strategic orientation for doing business. Specifically, the researchers wanted to understand the extent to which ideology – specific beliefs and attitudes about the methods of production – affected the legitimacy of different ways of doing business.
To answer these questions, the researchers conducted interviews with 23 wheat producers operating in the high plains region of the American West. Fifteen of the producers were organic farmers, three were chemical and five were so-called no-till or minimum-till farmers. Three in the latter category were chemical-only farmers and two had both organic and chemical fields. The researchers interviewed farmers in their homes, fields and by phone.
The researchers found that strategic orientations for doing business may be thought of as ideologies. Rather than benefiting their business, these ideologies are likely to contend with each other, Murray said. In other words, a producer's beliefs or opinions about what is the right way to farm might not match the most efficient or lucrative method of production.
In a broader context, the findings show that individuals may be less committed to so-called "normative" legitimacy, that is, the proper, most efficient or most economical way of doing business, and more committed to cultural or cognitive forces, said Murray. The researchers emphasized the importance of recognizing how these ideological beliefs influence farming methods and using this understanding to find new ways to inspire farmers to adopt profitable changes.
"When approaching strategic change, managers might have greater success if they recognize that potentially conflicting ideologies are in play," Murray said.
(Source)
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Some Important Points to take Note of
"Organic Farming relies on crop rotation, animal and plant manures for fertilizers and other biological or mechanical processes for pest control."
"Organic wheat production over the past 30 years has consistently yielded profits for producers. Price premiums have ranged between 14 and 74 percent, averaging approximately 47 percent more than conventional, or chemical, wheat production."
"Conventional farming, also called industrial agriculture, uses chemical pesticides and herbicides and synthetic or chemical fertilizers."
"USDA reports show that organic wheat production is profitable while chemical wheat production is only profitable because of government subsidies, which organic farmers do not receive. Organic wheat farming represents only 1 percent of the overall wheat market."
And yes, those precious golden subsidies. Let's not forget that as a motivating factor why most U.S. Farmers are for the most part unwilling to let go from the Industrial Farm teat. When I first moved to Europe 8 years ago, many eastern European countries still had those government subsidy cheques they were sending out to each of their citizens. It wasn't much, but the people depended on those cheques for getting by, it was a sort of psychological safety net. Those people from former Soviet occupied areas did not know how to maintain making a living on their own without those precious cheques, so when many countries like Hungary announced an end to such subsidies, there was great fear and anger out in the streets and I remember the riots in Budapest. I think this refusal to give organic farmers sibsidies the same way they do the Chemically & GMO run Farms is what also is a major stumbling block to many. It's one more area of proof folks as to why it's NOT about the "Settled Science". See the Perks you get as a Farmer when you trust and follow the settled science ? This is one big topic never brought out in any of these GMO-Industrial Ag discussions and clearly it should be.
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Also this, anyone else find it so incredible that this 1% represents such a dangerous threat to Biotechs that they feel the driving need to run multi-million dollar advertisement smear campaigns against organics and people who want them, character assassinations against individuals promoting sustainable agriculture, dirty tactics and lawsuits against Farmers who refuse to purchase their Junk and this incessant political lobbying to keep their monopoly intact ? If the Science speaks for itself, then why all the dirt ? On the Intelligence Squared Debate, Robert Fraley & Alison Van Eenenaam said that the Science & Truth on GMOs is settled with further development and research to clarify this later. When one has "Settled Science" [like Consensus]  on their side, there is little need or room for any further reading or research. Funny, ever notice that "Settled Science" is immune to such things as evidence ? Okay, just one more tidbit below.



Farmers Abandoning GMO Seeds and the Reason Will Surprise You 

"A growing number of farmers are abandoning genetically modified seeds, but it’s not because they are ideologically opposed to the industry.  Simply put, they say non-GMO crops are more productive and profitable.  Modern Farmer magazine discovered that there is a movement among farmers abandoning genetically modified organisms (GMO) because of simple economics.  “We get the same or better yields, and we save money up front,” crop consultant and farmer Aaron Bloom said of non-GMO seeds. Bloom has been experimenting with non-GMO seeds for five years and he has discovered that non-GMO is more profitable."  [of course no more subsidies]

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Industrial Agriculture: Rejecting Nature's Tool-Kit

"As we work to save the vital whitebark pine from disappearing from the landscape, it is essential to use all available tools. Ectomycorrhizal fungi are an integral part of forest integrity, ecology and health; showing respect for these mighty microbes might just mean the difference between the restoration and death of a forest."
Dr. Cathy L. Cripps is an associate professor at Montana State University
 Somewhere a Monsanto Research & Development Chief  just fell off a chair
Ghost forest of whitebark pine “skeletons.” Credit: Dr. Cathy L. Cripps
In his book Diversity of Life, E.O. Wilson states that “Most life on land depends ultimately on one relationship: the mycorrhiza, the intimate and mutually dependent coexistence of fungi and the roots systems of plants.” His point is that the importance of these beneficial fungi should not be underestimated. This is especially true for forest ecosystems, and those of Whitebark Pine are no exception.


WHITEBARK PINE FORESTS IN PERIL
"Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) is North America’s only stone pine — pines with seeds that are not dispersed by wind — and it is primarily limited to the Pacific Northwest and the north-central Rocky Mountains. This five-needle pine is considered a keystone species at treeline elevations where other conifers have difficulty surviving. At these high elevations, it forms magnificent forests of gnarled old growth trees or low-tangled krummholz forms. However, whitebark pine populations are diminishing at an alarming rate because of record infestations of mountain pine beetles coupled with the devastating effects of the invasive white pine blister rust. The results are ghost forests of whitebark pine skeletons. The species has been granted endangered status in Canada and awaits this designation in the United States. Enormous efforts are underway to restore lost forests with large plantings of disease-resistant nursery-grown whitebark pine seedlings. But, can we also retrieve all the complex parts of this unique ecosystem? And what about the mycorrhizal fungi — how crucial are they to the survival of these forests?"
A COMPLEX ECOLOGY
"Above ground, the ecology of whitebark pine forests is a fascinating story of the interaction of trees, birds, squirrels and bears. In fall, when the round purple cones mature, the forests erupt in a riot of sound and a flurry of activity. Clark’s nutcrackers, large gray corvid birds with long bills, attract each other to the ripening food source with their raucous calls. Landing precariously in tree tops, they incise seeds out of cones like surgeons and gulp them into their crops. They fly off to bury their treasure as a food stash. Meanwhile, red squirrels chatter high above trying to beat the birds to the cones by clipping and dropping whole branches — an efficient way to gather a winter’s cone supply. Later, as winter approaches, grizzly and black bears raid the squirrel stashes for the fatty seeds. In spring, seedlings germinate in clusters from the un-retrieved seeds and, remarkably, this is the main dispersal mechanism for whitebark pine as a species; it depends on the forgetfulness of the birds."
UNDERGROUND CONNECTIONS
"What goes on below ground is more of a mystery. Here, a major portion of the trees exist as extensive and massive roots systems that push through hard soil in harsh high-elevation habitats just below treeline. This is the interface between the living and non-living world. It is a dark place where pale, living roots come into contact with minerals in the soil — or do they?"


Credit: Dr. Cathy L. Cripps.

How ectomycorrhizal fungi works (Click to Enlarge)
"In a twist of nature, certain mycorrhizal fungi insert themselves between tree roots and soil to form a protective barrier around each root tip. In addition, the fungi boost the uptake of nitrogen into roots by extending their long thin bodies into the soil where they forage for scarce nutrients. The microscopic threads that comprise their bodies are called hyphae — or, when in mass, mycelium — and they act as conduits, moving nutrients and water from soil into roots. These fungi can also protect tree roots from heavy metals, tiny invertebrate grazers, and root pathogens hiding in the soil. The fungi themselves are able to eke out a living on photosynthetic scraps, sugars that leak from fine roots."
"‘Mycorr-’ means fungus and ‘-rhizal’ means root and the unions of these two entities, called mycorrhizae, are found on the roots of more than 80 percent of the plant species on Earth. This mutualism is not the exception, but the rule in nature, and all forests — except perhaps those of mangroves — depend on mycorrhizal fungi. This has been true for thousands of years."
"The group of fungi that attach themselves to woody plants, mostly trees, wrap themselves around the outside of roots to form what are called ectomycorrhizae. These tiny sock-like structures are found on each of the thousands of root tips throughout a forest. Although miniscule, ectomycorrhizae have a huge impact on the survival of trees, many of which could not maintain themselves in nature, especially in harsh climates, without these fungi. They are only visible when they reproduce and their fruiting bodies (i.e. mushrooms) push up though the soil to produce the spores that fly off in the wind to land, mate and continue the species’ life cycle."
NO TWO FUNGI ARE ALIKE
Credit: Dr. Cathy L. Cripps

Siberian slippery Jack (Suillus sibiricus)
ectomycorrhizal with whitebark pine
 "Just as each tree species is not interchangeable with another, so too one fungal species cannot be substituted for another without altering the biology of an ecosystem. There are thousands of species of ectomycorrhizal fungi in the world, each with its own unique ecology, physiology, and preference for certain tree hosts."
"As an example, Cenococcum is a tough hardy fungus with dense black mycelium that is found everywhere, often at low levels just below the radar. But it comes into its own during periods of drought, when it thrives while other fungi die, all the while passing the benefits of drought tolerance on to its tree partner. Another example is Piloderma, a promiscuous fungus that attaches itself to many different tree species; it not only gains sugars from tree roots but also has the ability to decompose dead organic material and pass the nutrients along to living trees. Its bright yellow mycelium can be observed in rotting wood or organically rich soils as well as on roots. Douglas-fir alone associates with more than 2,000 different species of ectomycorrhizal fungi, and some are only found with this species. A single tree in a forest can host any number of ectomycorrhizal fungi simultaneously, with each providing its own unique set of benefits. Often, there is a succession of fungi found on a tree over its lifetime. Certain ectomycorrhizal fungi are important in a tree’s establishment as a seedling, and other fungi come in later to provide benefits in mature forest situations."
FUNGAL ALLIES OF WHITEBARK PINE
Credit: Dr. Cathy L. Cripps

Slippery jacks are also part of the forest food
 chain. These were nibbled by a small animal
"Until recently, we knew very little about ectomycorrhizal fungi in whitebark pine forests. Our mycology lab at Montana State University (MSU) has discovered that from the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA) north into Alberta, these forests appear to host only a limited number of ectomycorrhizal species in great contrast to Douglas-fir forests. Some of these fungi are specialists and are only found with five-needle pines; some only occur with stone pines. There are several species of stone pines scattered throughout Europe and Asia, in addition to the whitebark pines of North America."
"A well-known fungal inhabitant of stone pine forests in Europe (P. cembra forests) and Asia (P. pumila forests) is the so-called Siberian slippery jack (Suillus sibiricus). Remarkably, this fungus also occurs with five-needle pines in western North America, and we now report it from most of the whitebark pine forests studied in the GYA. These records show that the Siberian Suillus has a long evolutionary history with stone pines in the northern hemisphere that may be an indication of its importance to these pines; it does not occur with other conifers or on two/three-needle pines. Other examples of specialists with whitebark pine include S. tomentosus variety discolor and S. subalpinus; the latter is only known from the Yellowstone region. A variety of mammals, large and small, devour the mushrooms produced by these fungi as a natural part of the forest food chain."


"Other special ectomycorrhizal fungi found in whitebark pine forests include Rhizopogon, commonly called “pogies.” These interesting fungi spend their whole life underground. Instead of mushrooms, they produce subterranean tuber-like fruiting bodies often called false truffles. These marble- to golf-ball-sized tubers have unique odors that attract squirrels, voles, deer and bears — including grizzlies — which sniff them out and dig them up as a food source. When ripe, these pogies can smell intriguingly musky, fermented fruity or sour — even like blue cheese. The spores located inside the pogies are capable of traveling through the digestive tract of a mammal unharmed and are eventually deposited in pellets and piles. In a sense, these fungi have co-opted mammals as their spore dispersal mechanism just as whitebark pines have co-opted birds to disperse their seeds. Ultimately, the spores germinate and reunite with a root to form an ectomycorrhizal bond after passing through the gut of a mammal. When greasy scat samples of grizzly bears were brought into the MSU lab, examination with a microscope revealed a mass of one kind of spore. The bears had feasted exclusively on one particular kind of pogie, no doubt with a very attractive odor!"
"Coming full circle, while we see whitebark pines providing habitat for the animals that eat or spread its seeds and rest or nest in boughs and shade for the understory plants that proliferate at their base, there are even more intricate ecological relationships among these organisms, including the ectomycorrhizal fungi that help maintain the forests."
MISSING PIECE IN RESTORATION HARDWARE
Credit: Dr. Cathy L. Cripps

Roots of an inoculated seedling covered
with ectomycorrhizae
"Are these fungi a missing piece of the puzzle in whitebark pine restoration? Can they be used to jumpstart the whitebark pine seedlings being planted in such huge numbers to help a greater number survive?   
In Austria, forests on steep slopes were clear-cut to extend pastureland many years ago. Subsequent efforts were made to restore these forests which included the planting of European stone pine seedlings, a practice that continues today. Fifty years ago, a wise mycologist named Meinhard Moser discovered that adding the spores or mycelium of Suillus sibiricus (and related species) to nursery seedlings could significantly boost the survival of these nursery seedlings when they were out-planted. Today, mature forests are flourishing on the alpine slopes of Austria and the Siberian Suillus is still used on the stone pine seedlings in the Austrian Federal Nursery. Inoculation of nursery trees with ectomycorrhizal fungi is now status quo in Europe."
Credit: Dr. Cathy L. Cripps

Lonergan monitoring whitebark pine
 seedlings in the field.
"At MSU, graduate student Erin Lonergan and postdoc Dr. Eva Grimme examined how this practice might be applied to nurseries in the western United States. From their research, we now know that S. sibiricus can form ectomycorrhizae efficiently on whitebark pine seedlings in the greenhouse and that colonization will occur if given enough time (a few months) and if a low nitrogen fertilizer is used. High nitrogen fertilizers and fungicides prevent mycorrhizal colonization. The age of the whitebark pine seedlings at inoculation is also important since prolific side roots need to develop before colonization can take place. When successful, hundreds of tiny, white sock-like ectomycorrhizae can be observed on the roots of containerized seedlings."
(Article Source: American forests)
MSU study: Native fungus could be another tool for helping restore ghostly forests 
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Credit: Don Bachman

Cripps inoculating whitebark pine seedlings
The information and understanding of how nature really operates and functions in the natural world has been known for quite a few decades now. Unfortunately such knowledge has not really been considered for the natural world's own good until now. The reason it is being more seriously considered is that Scientists have now been realizing too late that they have no choice but to consider it because their own ideologically driven science has been wrong. This is not to say there have not been dedicated people out there over the last few decades who have been working hard all along to discover and create practical application of what they have observed and learned out in the field. I know because I'm one of them. The influence that has always controlled the direction Science takes has always been it's being shackled for funding that comes from big industrial agri-business interests. It is even worse now because Scientists who desire major funding for their pet projects must tow the corporate line or risk having their funding removed. This happened to my former Agricultural Instructor who retired early from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He had a course on Sustainable Agriculture and apparently it was this class which he was teaching some ecological and more sustainable farming practices which were found to be offensive to an Executive of an Industrial scale Feedlot business interest in San Joaquin Valley who threatened Cal Poly to withhold certain promised $500,000 in Grant Funding towards a new Butchering facility if he wasn't fired and his Sustainable Agriculture course dismantled. Also, at this same time period, they were peeved by a Campus visit of Michael Pollan who they also viewed as a radical or agricultural heretic.
Robert Rutherford
My wife and I went to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo this past June 2014 and saw the new state of the art butchering facility. Oddly enough I thought he would still be working there, but when I saw that the large new beautiful building had been built after all, I guess I knew then that he was gone. So I wrote to him when I got back to San Diego. He said he got fed up with the administration at Cal Poly and with this issue hanging over him, he realized he could no longer make a significant difference as he wanted, so agreements were made and he retired early. He said University Professors are rewarded for the status quo. They & their Industrial Ag partners are a sort of Band of Brothers. I really admire and respect him for not caving in and sticking to his core principles and following what knows to be the truth. He now has his own business [Whole Options LLC] where he travels and lectures about sustainable Agriculture.

Unlike my Ag Instructor, the man I quoted at the beginning of this post below the photograph with the dead whitewashed skeletons of Whitebark Pines, Edward O. Wilson a Harvard Biologist who wrote the book, "Diversity of Life" from which the quote was taken, has gone down a much different road. Here is that quote once more:
“Most life on land depends ultimately on one relationship: the mycorrhiza, the intimate and mutually dependent coexistence of fungi and the roots systems of plants.”
He is also an environmentalist of sorts and has many radical ideas such as giving back half of the Earth to Nature again. He just seems  so committed to Nature in that quote doesn't he ? Unfortunately it would seem that Mr Ed Wilson has other commitments as well. I can almost agree with that sentiment of giving back much of the land back to Nature, since I despise most cities and prefer the quiet solitude of Natural surroundings. Unfortunately, I also read an interview he had done in "EarthSky Journal" in December 2011, where he was asked his views on what scientific advances in biology he sees advancing into the 21st Century. Unbelievably, this is what this same man said who wrote that environmental book and the quote about about Nature's Tool-Kit for maintaining living systems. 
"And within science, this is going to be a century of biology. We are entering an age of synthesis. So many discoveries have been made in biology in the cell, at the molecular level, and on up to the development of organisms."
"And we need all the biology and all the advances we can find in agriculture, especially. We’re going to have to switch worldwide to dry land agriculture. We don’t have enough water in enough countries to feed all those people and to restore soil to arable condition. So this means that we have to have genetically modified organisms. I’d take that as a given. Some people don’t like the idea. But that’s one of those necessities brought about by the human condition."

Image credit: Jim Harrison
Unlike my former Ag Instructor who stuck to his principles and standards on what he knows to be right by rejecting a good ole boys club, E.O. Wilson is a disappointment of sorts in that he sides with the good ole boys club. How can you make the same observation of pristine Nature and the various components within it's Tool-Fit for maintaining any ecosystem for eternity and then champion it from one side of your mouth in an environmental book and then turn directly around in an about face and from the other side of your mouth praise Industrial Science which continually takes a cheap shots at Nature through genetic manipulation and creating synthetic organisms ? And why does Industrial Science do this ? Well, aside from the major lure of obscene profits demanded by share holders, it's because Industrial Science is influenced by ideologically driven philosophers that teach modern Mankind that Nature is a bad designer with major flaws and that they can fix it, for a price of course. Suddenly the praise for mycorrhiza, as Wilson called it, flies out the window and no longer has any meaning. Of course in that debate between Team Monsanto & Team Organics, it was said that Biotechs have consensus and peer-review on their side. You know, the #1 biggest problem with College Professors and Research Scientists who are shackled and committed to the funding by Industrial Agriculture is that when they do write their research papers, they are then peer reviewed by other committed industrial scientists, which are then consumed by yet other Industrial Corporate Scientist and you suddenly then realize there really is no such thing as honest scientific scrutiny. E.O. Wilson is committed to his own status as a celebrity icon. The trouble with the world of science is the potential for fame, glitter and glory which allows personal ambition and bias to hinder real science in pursuit of that goal.

Fortunately, researchers like Dr Cathy Cripps are looking at a more natural holistic approach in replicating Nature as it really works. In the decades past I was always told by government experts that it  was not necessary to inoculate the nursery stock before out planting. Why they said, "those mycorrhizal spores were everywhere in nature. Why those spores are floating around us in the very air we breathe." Fortunately I never listened to and bought into their theory and have proof to show for it. When you look at the above ground surface and see that many plants within almost every ecosystem around the globe are failing now days, don't you think that what lives underground may also itself be failing as well ? Nothing anymore is indestructible. Every living thing today is at risk. So maybe the microbiological activity under the ground needs a boost to. When humans destroy Earth's ecosystems as rapidly as they have during the past 100+ years of enlightenment, we don't have thousands of years to wait and see if it can heal itself or not. Clearly things need a push and helping hand. For the moment, California is getting what is considered a rescue of another El Nino  rainy season of sorts. In my own experience, it has always been these small windows of exceptional wet periods of when Nature can spring back the best and humans can help it to further heal if they know the exact tools and how to use them. But we are finding that these system mechanisms are now breaking down and need help and a jump start. Mycorrhizal Fungi and Beneficial Bacteria can performance enhance that recovery if those in charge are humble enough to admit they have been making mistakes for the past 100+ years and will make a 360 degree turn around and start working with Nature instead of against it. Now go back and read Dr Cathy Cripps' research again, and then go seek out advice on a reputable Mycorrhizal promoting website and order the right blend of material for inoculation of your own trees and shrubs. Maybe your own restoration project. And dump the we don't have to inoculate dogma, because yes you do.


There is no mysticism here. You want successful landscaping, farming or gardening then you have to inoculate. The only mystic fantasy here is that the human leadership that people have allowed to be put in charge of land management is a miserable failure. Using Nature's Tool-Kit by learning to identify and use the right mechanisms will lead to many many success stories.
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Further Reading references
Mycorrhizal Applications Inc
http://holisticmanagement.org

The Controversy
http://www.newtimesslo.com/news/3411/controversy-erupts-over-michael-pollans-poly-lecture

Friday, December 12, 2014

INTELLIGENCE SQUARED DEBATES: "Genetically Modify Foods" - the Winners & Losers

This certainly should have been a more interesting debate than it really was. It was published just a few days ago on YouTube by the debate folks at Intelligence Squared Debate. It's 143 minutes in length, with a  debate between Monsanto Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Dr. Robert Fraley who argued in favor of biotech, alongside Alison Van Eenennaam, a genomics and biotechnology researcher at University of California Davis. Charles Benbrook, a research professor at Washington State University's Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Margaret Mellon, a science policy consultant with the Union of Concerned Scientists, will took the opposing side against GMOs. Below are the four individuals which took part in the debate with regards the Pro or Con of whether GMO technology is good for Agriculture and the Natural World in general. My own personal take is that there were no real winners, but especially so with the Anti-GMO opposition side. I realize that will peeve some people, but roll with me here.



At the beginning of debate, the moderator, ABC News Correspondent John Donvan had the audience vote on how they feel about the GMO argument. There were only three choices, pro-gmo, anti-gmo or undecided. At the end of the show they vote once again immediately after the debate and he reveals the results of before and after audience scoring of the debate. But it was Donvan's interview with Bob Rosenkranz at the very beginning who gives us an interesting summary of what this debate is really all about. Rosenkranz  says, "I think what we are talking about is genetic modifications that will never occur in nature, but that require human intervention to bring about". That statement in a nutshell defines more than anything else what is really behind this GMO debate and speaks volumes as to what is really the motivating factor behind the direction that the Biotech Industry is dumping on humankind and the natural world in general. Their bold & brazen technology is based on a flawed understanding of what the genetic informational content within DNA is really all about. The underlying religious unscientific assumptions here is that the Natural World is a flawed, imperfect, a bundle of random compromises and ultimately a "Bad Designer". Traditionally, most all non-coding DNA has been considered worthless junk or something of no value for which it is nothing more than some  evolutionary left overs with no purpose or function. Hence the present day consensus within the scientific community on this is that University educated Human Scientists know far better how to manage, maintain and improve the planet on an elevated intellectual level far above what Nature has been doing for perhaps 10s of 1000s of years. In all my real world life experience with hands on knowledge and practical application in the field observing the natural world, I have never once have observed any flaws or imperfections out in nature, with the exception of when Nature  comes into contact and conflict with the irresponsible activities of human beings, irrespective of their educational background. But these stupid religiously driven "bad designer" arguments which generally are about some ridiculous time wasting origins debates have held scientific discovery back and pointed potentially great science such as healthy viable biotechnology in the wrong direction. Irrespective of how any side of these issues beliefs things got to where they are, science should be about how things in Nature simply work in the real world today and what practical applications we can learn from such observation. So first off, I'm simply going to address a couple of the Pro-GMO side's argument strategies, then do the same with the Anti-GMO side.

PRO-GMO Arguments & Strategy:

Definition Shell Games
"Mankind has been genetic engineering and selecting crops from the very beginning of time"
Robert Fraley
This is probably Monsanto's and other Biotech's [along with their cyber space defending Trolls] greatest and favourite manipulation of the truth used in starting any debate. The comparison they are insisting upon of course is that what Biotech Scientists are doing with gene manipulation is only what the lowly Farmer has been doing for centuries with their own selective breeding of either plants or livestock. This is a flat out lie and they know it, but presumably in their creative collective imaginations they feel it is merely a technicality. They know full well that breeding the same kind of related living organisms is entirely and radically different than breaking of the genetic constraints or species barriers of any organism by isolating a specific gene which codes for a protein toxin from one specific organism and then inserting it into the genome of another entirely unrelated living organism. This is not the same thing as conventional breeding. However, if you disagree with them, you are condescendingly given the label of an Anti-Science Luddite. Unfortunately, their intellectually constructed or formulated gamble here is that the majority of the Public are idiots and probably won't do their homework and to be honest, in their  speculative gamble on public inaction they are probably correct. Okay, so let's be honest here, it's generally true, in the modern industrial world consumers by their very nature are often apathetic & lazy. No offense, just stating a fact.

Scientific Consensus & Citation Bluffing
Robert Fraley: "There is strong scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs as there is on the role of greenhouse gases in climate change"
I love it when they pull the, "We have the Scientific consensus behind us" stunt. Since when has scientific consensus been an etched in stone guarantee that what they are doing is correct ? How well did all that Scientific Consensus in Nazi Germany's  "Lebensborn" genetic research programs work out for the world ? How well did all those confiscated Nazi Genetics Research documents looted by all the Allied Nations who took that research back home to develop their own Eugenics Programs work out ? Ironically, much of today's Scientific Consensus actually criticizes the research work being done by a responsible genetic research group called ENCODE who is actually performing research work to find out what the non-coding DNA [labeled Junk-DNA by the Scientific Consensus], accomplishes within the genome, it's purpose and function within any organism's genome. And for all the incredible effort and findings by ENCODE researchers, they have been viciously attacked by this very same Scientific Consensus. Interestingly they are finding out there is far more uses for this instructional DNA then previously pimped by the consensus. The counterarguments by the Consensus have been nothing more than cowardly unscientific personal attacks against some of ENCODE's researchers as opposed to actually providing evidence for their faith-based position. In an ideal honest world, any responsible researcher would honestly and humbly inform the Public by admitting that they presently don't know the function or purpose of non-coding DNA, but that they will continue working hard at researching an answer and report back to them at a future date when this happens. But that hasn't exactly been the way things have worked out for us, mostly because that is not the way the real world works among human society. Because there has been no known function for the informational content of non-coding DNA, it has been irresponsibly given the label "Junk" as opposed to admitting that their genius might actually be incapable at this time of not know something. Intellectuals by their very nature have always had a tough time with humility throughout history and more than likely this flaw has been present from the beginning of mankind's very existence on Earth. I'll refer more on the mistakes made by Biotech Scientists in boldly creating genetically modified organisms without seriously considering consequences at the end of this post.

BTW, the prevailing Scientific Consensus tells us Global Warming or Climate Change is real and caused by Humans. But ironically  did you know that a good majority of Pro-GMO Farmers believe that this is a hoax and a fraud ??? Only a scant 7.8% believe human activities are causing climate change. So maybe readers here can help me out on this, how does one tell if the Scientific Consensus is telling us the truth or not ?
Huffingtonpost.com: "GMOs Expose Dangerous Science Disconnect in Agriculture"
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Alison van Eenennaam: "There are 100s, maybe thousands of peer-reviewed studies, you know about peer-review don't you, do you believe in peer-review ?"

Alison Van Eenennaan
Actually you will hear this citation bluff used in any kind of argument on any subject in an effort not to explain anything. Nothing wrong with citations, but you need to actually explain why this is true. During the debate it even came from the audience a time or two during the question segment. Citation bluffing is one of the last refuges of a dying Industrial Science Orthodoxy determined to keep the status quo. Of course there has also been peer-review from the other side of the argument as well, but those research works have been considered ignorant in favour of their pet belief about GMOs, especially when they believe they have consensus on the side. The opponents of GMO technology also have peer-reviewed studies and perhaps other studies showing superior methods of how agriculture should be managed, but historically the authors of such studies are viciously attacked and their reputations slammed or trashed in public. So for Biotechs, if a cowardly strategy or tactic is not broken, then why fix it. This is where having unlimited resources in the way of funding and power come in handy. Now once again, there is nothing wrong with giving citations, but in the arena of debate, citation bluffs excuse themselves of having to quote or intelligently explain in any depth the justification for their position. It also excuses the audience of the burdens of having to actually think, know, and grow in their own personal knowledge brought about by having done their own homework. Ironically this concept has been used quite successfully by many of the world's religious leaders who convince many of faith [faith in the conventional sense], that they [Clerics] should be the ones to do their religious thinking and study for them. So there is no need for any lay person [science uses the same term 'layman'] to bother with any researching. This method has been so successful for centuries, that the prevailing powerful Scientific Orthodoxy which runs Academia today has picked up on this strategy and made it a major part of their own play book.
GMOs meet Government Approvals
Robert Fraley: "This technology is highly regulated by the government in the US. The testing requirements are developed by the USDA to specifically look at the evolution of pests and impact on the environment. We comply to the laws of the United States and the principles and standards set out by the USDA."

Does anyone know who actually runs and influences those very standards and policies set down by the USDA ? Does anyone know where the United States government goes shopping to acquire these so-called Agricultural Expert appointees for positions of responsibility and oversight for the United States Department of Agriculture ? Does anyone realize that irrespective of what political Party wins the elections and takes over the U.S. Government's Administration or any other branch of government, that both sides are on the same exact ideological page with who they choose and where they come from ? Generally they have been former Monsanto Executives and former Boards of Directors who are often themselves large share holders in Biotech stocks which offer the  potential for gaining great personal fortunes depending on how such government policies and regulations are written up. But of course if there is just the slightest scent of conflict of interest for any potential candidate for USDA or FDA oversight, well that's why Blind Trusts were invented. Seriously, both sides do this. So who really is setting the standard regulations for Biotechs to comply with the Laws for safety in Agriculture ? Really folks, it's both sides and when it comes to this specific subject, it is extremely difficult and near impossible to tell them apart. Ultimately, these very regulations have been covertly formulated by Monsanto, Dow Chemical, DuPont, and others with vested interests who have legally established just what these very regulation outcomes will be. There is a modern day play in the redefining of a famous well known traditional expression about the importance of practicing what we use to call the "Golden Rule". The modern day version of it is like this, "Remember the Golden Rule. The one with the Gold makes the Rules" and that's basically what's been going on here. 
Like Science, Genetic Modification is an important tool
"GMOs are a huge tool if used properly"
What's interesting about this is that both sides actually spoke about various tools of science in a metaphorical sense. Yes science itself can be compared to a tool, but like any tool it can be misused and abused. A Sears Craftsman Wrench for example, when used in the hands of a skillful automobile mechanic or other tradesman can accomplish incredible things. But a psychopath who uses it to kill his fellow human being has clearly misused and abused the proper use of that same exact tool for which it was never intended to be used by the manufacturer. Now if a majority of people suddenly started using that Sears Craftsman tool as the original psychopath did, one could say that we have new consensus from an argument point of view. But would that new consensus make that misuse and abuse of that tool a correct & moral use of that tool now ? Of course not. But never underestimate the power of Consensus as championed by one side or another in any debate. Oddly, on this very subject of tools, the Anti-GMO side failed miserably to address superior tools. There are absolutely other tools which are far more superior to genetic manipulations by Biotech Science and many are using them today. In fact Team Anti-GMO was deathly silent on these alternative tool options. I'm talking about Mycorrhizal fungi and beneficial Bacteria colonized on all plant roots as happens in the real world outside there in Nature. 

Team Non-GMO's Arguments & Strategy:


I'll go out here on a limb here and say that I don't think the Anti-GMO folks effectively made their most important points as they should have and they could have easily shot down some of the exaggerations and/or embellishment claims made by Team Monsanto and exposed some of that side's justifications for the manipulative word salad it really was. Frankly I think the moderator did much more of that for them. Their greatest argument should have been about how nature really works and the incredible Biomimetics direction which science should be taking to replicate this in large scale Agricultural field application. The Non-GMO side never once touched on mycorrhizal fungi or beneficial bacteria and they should have as there were several opportunities to do so. The other side [Pro-GMO] won't bring it up either because there isn't any money to be made in pursuing such a responsible course of direction. GMOs were never from the beginning about only wanting to feed mankind. They were always first and foremost a business decision which was mainly about acquiring Patenting and the business sustainable royalties that generally follow. In the historical past, it was never possible to patent a plant. Seriously, what person or group of people could ever lay claim to owning the rights to any particular plant on Earth ? Nobody. But many many millions of dollars later having been spent on creating the legal means of acquiring those precious Patents, glaringly exposes the real motive behind the Biotech public relations tactic of "We only just want to feed mankind" as truthfully bogus. It's always been about a business decision and nothing more. There were several opportunities to expose this and the Anti-GMO folks were silent. Here is an example of where the important of subject of Mycorrhizae should have been brought up and championed over GMOs and it never once was mentioned. Margaret Mellon, after acknowledging that there is one successful drought resistant GMO, then proceeds to talk about the advantages of conventional breeding successes for drought resistant strains of Corn being grown in nutrient poor soils in Africa. But nothing about the incredible abilities of mycorrhizae  which does not require breeding and could result in almost instant drought resistance without the years of waiting.
Margaret Mellon: "One study in Nature magazine where researchers were trying to help African Farmers develop crops that would grow on nitrogen poor soils. Now in that period of time, that project has been able to produce 21 conventionally bred varieties of  Corn adapted around Africa that grow better in their nitrogen poor soils
Robert Fraley: "We work with the Gates Foundation to develop drought resistant Maize for Africa and we're working with them on other projects"
This was so lame. Neither side mentions the amazing incredible tools that nature has for enhancing the performance of any and all  plants on the subject of poor soil nutrient problems and superior drought tolerance. Once again to illustrate the importance of this, you should view any plant as new make and new model of muscle car fresh off the showroom floor. Generally these models are all stock car models minus all the accessories later installed to enhance performance. Often times people go to a parts store to acquire such performance enhancing devices and other accessories. Of course with every make and model, there are different designs and specifically designed performance enhancing devices for different unique models. There is not a one size fits all scenario here. Plants are exactly the same, specific mycorrhizal connections are host specific to various differing plants and good researchers know this. So why hasn't more money been dumped by these Corporate Giant Biotechs into this type of biomimetics research ? Well, remember patenting ? There is simply no money in it without the patent, unless they could find a way to manipulate fungi a bit to tweak the legal system once again. The other draw back for the Industrial  Biotech's pursuing such a ecological course is that it would also eliminate most chemical insecticides, herbicides, perhaps some fungicides and more importantly chemical fertilizers. Why would Biotechs deliberately attack and kill their own obscene wealth generating business model ? The very people [Anti-GMO] that should have have brought this into the discussion failed to even remotely hint at it with the exception of a token reference to Organic Farming. It's not enough to simply attack the other side's position and methods as Charles Benbrook did when he poked fun of what he called "Monsanto's Magic Seeds", you need to show viable alternative solutions. Conventional Breeding was mentioned, but everyone already knows about this and has been doing that for 1000s of years. Modern times have far more challenges now. The problems today are unique in that we live in a time period where Chemicals are advertised as Science's Green Revolution gift to mankind even though they have literally killed much of the healthy underground biological activity of once good soils. Unfortunately their answers are nothing more than we need more research into newer chemicals. That's a non-answer. Let's take a long look at BOTH Genetic modification and selective breeding solutions which will in reality will take years and compare them to a mycorrhizal & bacterial solution for which the results are instantaneous.     

credit: Mycorrhizal Applications Inc
I think most people have had a garden in summertime where when they have seen the corn rows get heat stressed, the leaves curl up and shrivel. The soil in the photo above reveals a trial of both control test and mycorrhizal inoculated corn. Notice the instantaneous drought resistant results of using a well blended mycorrhizal mix as opposed to the usual conventional farming methods ? And not only does the Fungi provide drought resistance, but also mines the soils for nutrients to feed it's host who in turn provides  the carbon or sugars that the fungi needs for life. The feeding results in the other photograph below also sheds light on this very fact. When the self-fertilization GMO plants subject was also brought up, neither side ever gave even token mention of the far superior and simpler means of accomplishing this on a much grander and at a less expensive level by utilizing mycorrhizae. Of course you don't have to be a Genius to understand why the Pro-GMO side didn't mention this, but it was inexcusable that the Anti-GMO gang never once brought it up at all. BTW, below here is a page dealing with Corn research done by Mike Amarathus and his team at Mycorrhizal Applications Inc up in Eugene Oregon and his entire website is a treasure trove of information on replicating how Nature really works. It should be noted that there are also other companies out there that are moving in the same direction as Mycorrhizal Applications Inc. Unfortunately these combined group of Biomimetic BioTechs also don't have the unlimited political allies which give them carte blanche powers and a bottomless pit War Chest to fund as many disinformation campaigns to push their version of Food Truth down an ignorant Public's throat. They are forced to do it the old fashioned way, by example of practicing what they preach. 
http://mycorrhizae.com/ngg_tag/corn/#prettyPhoto
credit: Mycorrhizal Applications Inc

Examples of Natural Pest Management
Kunde Winery near Kenwood California
And while the matter of Glysophate and the detrimental side effects was argued and debated [as it should have been], the Anti-GMO side never once brought up the practice of attracting pollinators [which include parasitic wasps] which can in many cases totally eliminate or at least lessen the need for chemical pesticides in reducing insect pests, also yet another important point which would have had a negative effect on the GMO Biotech business model. Seriously people, it's all about the money and money is power. The Winery below uses and plants annual wildflowers to accomplish this beneficial insect pollinator magnetic influence along with summertime perennial flowering plants like Lavender along strategically located  borders within vineyards. Lavender blooms last a long time and mostly flower around early to mid-summer.
One Vineyard in Kenwood California, Kunde Winery, uses this method. Another Vineyard in Eugene Oregon, not only uses Lavender, but  also utilizes sheep in weed control & fertilizing which eliminates tilling and chemical fertilizers & pesticides altogether. I actually saw another story of a winery owner being interviewed by CNN last year in which he revealed to the reporter that they have totally eliminated their pesticide usage by planting flowers along the edges of vineyard rows [both annuals & perennials] which attracted the parasitic wasps to their landscape, but admitted that fungicides were still necessary for powdery mildew on the grape vine foliage. That is understandable because August is generally hot-Humid time of year in California. Here is the King's Estate Winery in Eugene Oregon organics page of which there are three:
http://www.kingestate.com/blog/tag/organic/ 
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Charles Benbrook: "One of the things Rob Fraley and his colleagues have done now is stack multiple traits into a single Corn. One of the biggest concerns in the scientific community is that Cadillac GE Corn that Monsanto has developed called Smart Stax, which actually expresses 8 different traits, 6 different BT toxin proteins which attack different insects and 2 genes that confer tolerance to Glyphosate and Glufosinate. Well this mixing of 8 different traits in a single Corn plant brings up some important scientific concerns. The regulatory Agencies, the Industry itself, no one has done any serious research on the potential problems from these stacked traits that are in today's GE Foods.

Well of course he is right. It was bad enough when just one foreign gene for manufacturing toxin was added to a Corn plant, but now 6 toxin genes and two genes which are engineered into the Corn to literally allow the plants to be drenched in herbicides. The floor is then given to Alison Van Eenennaan who slides back into definition shell gaming by once again comparing GMOs to mere conventional breeding. 
Alison Van Eenenaan: "Well I guess as a breeder we routinely stack traits, we're always selecting for multiple traits, I mean it's just breeding trying to improve for multiple traits. I think I need to understand the scientific hypothesis that stacked traits are more dangerous than when the individuals are not separate. Like looking at a Brocollini and of course brocolli is safe and other plant that it was crossed is safe, so why would a Brocollini be a more dangerous than it's two parents, so what's the biological basis ?"
That was one of the most deliberate attempts at deflection of the real issue I've seen and I guarantee you this woman is not stupid and knows better. I'm sure she and her colleagues feel that the average consumer is still very ignorant and they are probably correct in that assumption. This lame explanation goes back to the definition shell gaming done at the beginning of the debate where Robert Fraley compared Genetic manipulation in a Lab and the conventional real world breeding which goes on in nature between the same kind of organisms of the same related family. They both know that GE Foods are created by crossing species barriers or genetic constraints of radically differing organisms and they both  know this. But apparently deliberate deception is considered a necessary evil for what they wish to consider the ultimate good. Actually it's more about protecting a business model and nothing more. BTW, for those who don't know what Brocollini is, it is a conventional cross bred hybrid of Brocolli and a Chinese leafy vegetable called Kai Lan. But I guarantee you a large portion of that audience and probably many watching the debate on Live television swallowed her bait, hook, line and sinker. To his credit, Charles Benbrook corrected the deliberate attempt at deflection.
Charles Benbrook: "The debate is not about Brocollini, it's about GM Foods."
There is really nothing more I can quote and comment on from either side here, but there were some other good points for criticism that Team Anti-GMO did hit on. The dangers of Glyphosate were touched on and I'll simply provide links to these issues at the bottom of this post and you may read them at leisure. For me where Team Anti-GMO failed miserably was not providing viable alternatives for which only a handful of people and organizations today are pursuing through biomimicry. That of course is the utilization of a cheaper cost and results effective performance enhancement tool called symbiotic fungi and beneficial bacteria which for the most part are still greatly misunderstood by the majority of mankind. Take for example by way of illustration the fungal colonization on this pine seedling below here.



This particular Fungi (Pisolithus tinctorius) comes from Plant Healthcare Inc webpages of sometime ago, but it gives us a superior visual of the mechanics of mycorrhizae which can be used to illustrate the more hidden microscopic Arbuscular mycorrhizae which more often colonizes crops most often, but harder to see. This example of Ecto-Mycorrhizae is a better fit or use of an illustration from familiar places which most people will relate to. Going back to my Car Dealership [Plant Nursery] illustration and consider the picture on the left as a stock Make (Chevy, Ford, Toyota, whatever) of car on the showroom floor and it's Make (Chevelle, Nova, Granada, Celica, etc). So a Make & Model of car could be Ford Temp, Toyota Celica or a Chevrolet Impala. Later after purchase, it is common for people to add on accessories to enhance performance, and this is illustrated on the right here. Of course we are talking about a tree here, whose Make is "Pinus" and Model is "jeffreyi" or Jeffrey Pine (Pinus jeffreyi). You can clearly see from the illustration of the pine seedling on the left which simply shows the stock components of the Jeffrey Pine as a stand alone organism with it's three main branching roots, while on the right side we still have the three stock root components, but they have been performance enhanced with an accessory nature provides called a mycorrhizal network in which we could compare with Headers to a Muscle Car. And like the many makes and models of cars and which have various Parts #s, so too are there differing mycorrrhizae which custom fit differing host varieties for a specific custom fitting.
Go to any parts store to order your Holley Carburetor, Hooker Headers or any other performance enhancing add on [manufactured by many companies], and you must also provide the man behind the counter a specific year, make and model of Automobile and the specific engine type which is under the hood of that car. Not only are symbiotic relationships comparable to this, but they are far more sophisticated because unlike early high performance muscle cars, they are also computer  controlled through biological software to fine tune that performance. In this day and age of computers and electronic gadgets, there is zero reason for that audience not to get this if given the opportunity by Team Anti-GMO and they weren't. So now, what exactly do headers which replace the stock exhaust manifold do for your Muscle Car ? They allow you to blow the doors off your competition. This is what the symbiotic establishment of mycorrhizal fungi on a plant's root system does for all plants. It blows away the competition by enhancing root nutrient absorption and water uptake by 200%. The competition in this case of course are weeds which are ruderals which perform better under a soil bacterial soil scenario, but not a mycorrhizal one. The other competition are the Chemically subjected conventionally farmed plants. Mycorrhizae also provide anti-biotics for their host's root system which further enhances performance. Do the Biotech Scientists at Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, Bayer, Syrgenta, SweTree, ArborGen, etc not know anything about this amazing sophistication ? Of course they do, but it's all about the money. Hence with Mycorrhizae, crops potentially could receive exceptional drought resistance, enhanced nutrient availability uptake [even in nutrient poor soils] beyond their wildest dreams, anti-biotic resistance and yields which science is now admitting that organic biomimetic practices have to offer. Do you think the audience would have responded differently had such evidence and proof been provided by Team Anti-GMO ????? Seriously, a stock plant purchased from any Nursery [Car dealership], get's it's doors blown off when compared to a plant which has been performance enhanced with mycorrhizae and beneficial bacteria. There is no comparison, the pic below is Hooker Headers on steroids by comparison.


image: PHC


For me personally, a better choice of taking on Team Monsanto, and no offense to Charles Benbrook or Margaret Mellon, would have been the Canadian Geneticist David Suzuki who actually has some great illustrations on the very sophisticated mechanisms within DNA which stand in stark contrast to lax attitude of Biotech Scientists who appear to have this 19th Century flawed view of most DNA being nothing more as protoplasmic pudding within a cell. Clearly the religious dogma of Junk DNA, which is the belief that non-coding genes have less meaning and relevance than genes which codes for a specific protein [in this case a poison or toxin], is what makes these so-called geniuses feel comfortable in their technology. However as David Suzuki points out and he is absolutely correct, the non-coding genes function is to work with the protein coding genes as a guidance, direction and regulation function. In other words what is done with that toxin protein once it's manufactured, it's potency and it's purposed use or function for the organism regularly maintained and kept in check. Unfortunately, these Biotech Promoters never consider this although they may know of it.
 Alison Van Eenennaam insisted: "We're just talking about genes, genes are genes, you take one gene one thing and you put it with some other genes"

The statement ignores that genes are actually sophisticated informational storage compartments which have powerful potential for good or bad and Science does NOT know enough about that informational content to be making the money making business decisions they are championing. David Suzuki has run across the same exact irresponsible arguments from his own colleagues. As David Suzuki states in his own GMO documentary at minute timeline 3:15 where his colleague say this:

"In discussions I've had with my fellow Geneticists, they say, Listen Suzuki, we're just talking about DNA. DNA is DNA [Alison Van Eenennaam - "Genes are just Genes"], what difference does it make what organism it comes from. We pull DNA from one organism and put it into another organism, it's just DNA. They forget a fundamental fact, we study the genetics of organisms by breeding the male and a female of one species by looking at their offspring and breeding them through what is called vertical inheritance within the species.  When you take a gene from one species and transfer that DNA into a totally unrelated species, that’s a completely different kind of experiment. This is now called horizontal inheritance. We’ve never done that before, and it is absolutely bad science to say that we can look at vertical inheritance and use the same ideas to explain what goes on in horizontal experiments. It’s just lousy science.”
“Biotechnologists think that genes are genes and it doesn’t matter where you stick them and they’ll just function the way they normally do. Any geneticist that thinks about that should know better. Genes don't function alone. They function within the entire context of the genome. Nature acts on the entire genome. Because after fertilization there are whole sets of genes turned on and off in proper sequence so that you get the development of the entire organism."  
"So that whole orchestration is an integrated genome that acts as a complete entity. To take a gene out of a fish and stick it into a plant, means the fish gene suddenly wakes up and goes “where the hell am I ? And who are all these other genes around me." Because you've altered the context within which that gene is found. It would be like taking Bono out of U2 and putting him into the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and saying, okay, folks, play music. Well you'd get noise of some sort but nobody could anticipate what the sum total of that activity will be. It's just a mistake to think that genes act as if their traits are express regardless of where they exist."   

Absolutely David, it's bad and/or lousy science, but you'll never get the religiously driven Scientific Orthodoxy out there to ever admit this. And this is why we have GMOs infecting ever living entity which makes possible for some Corporate giant to make money. Not because it's a better superior product, but because of those precious Patents which bring also Royalties which result in further profit after the initial sale. It also shackles farmers into a repeat purchasing cycle from which there is no way out. I also loved David Suzuki's illustration of Bono being inserted into the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Personally, I'd make a better comparison of BT Toxin to a Heavy Metal group like Metallica. On the point where he made the comparison of the instructions within non-coding DNA  working hand in hand in the regulation and potency of the toxin itself, it has been discovered that the potency is much higher in BT Corn or Soy than what is found in the Bacteria it originally came from, why ? Because the same Scientists have no clue how the non-coding genes worked with the original BT Cry Gene within the Bacteria. Within the new host, Corn plant, there is no regulation, no direction or constraints as to how this gene will function and act in it's new environment. Hence, there is higher potency percentage of this toxin, then occurred in it's original natural environment within the bacteria it was taken from. So now, can you can imagine the toxin content of the other Corn organism called Smart Stax which has 6 different toxin genes aside from the other two genes which allow that Corn to be drenched in two deadly Chemical herbicides ???? 
Institute of Science in Society: "Bt Toxins in Genetically Modified Crops: Regulation by Deceit"
Scientists Discover Bt Toxins Found In Monsanto Crops Damage Red Blood Cells

Here is a great video illustrating the importance of not assuming that certain non-coding DNA has no function and therefore Industrial Biotechs have done no wrong or harm in creating genetically modified organism based on flawed religious belief. This video exposes how and what the function of non-coding DNA has been found to do with regards regulation protein [BT Cry Toxin] Genes and which also highlights the possibilities of just how dangerous this whole GMO fiasco really is. Pay close attention, because the genes that Monsanto viewed as little value do count. Seriously people, even a child would get this.




Below I'll also post the link to David Suzuki's documentary on "Silent Forest", because GMO goes far beyond crops for food as you know.
Genetically Engineered Trees!! - A Silent Forest - Narrated By David Suzuki
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Conclusions: The Winners and Losers
Ultimately, I don't really think there is anything that can be done to reverse the damage the Biotechs have already created within the Earth's various ecosystems. Sadly, the genetic pollution is already out there in the natural world and there appears to be some credible evidence that these companies have often times planted small plots of their genetic junk throughout newer areas under the guise of an experimental trial. Many of the documentaries reveal plants with these transgenic genes are showing up along roadsides around the globe even where no known GM crops had been grown previously. The wheat scandal in Oregon state is just such an example. It's a mystery as to how that genetic junk grew along that roadside.  Despite the admittedly professional well mannered demeanor of Head Researcher for Monsanto, Robert Fraley, his company has a very dirty history of getting their way in the long term and they will bulldoze and steamroll whoever to obtain those goals. Nobody asked why, if the GMO technology is so superior and eco-friendly, then why all the politicking and millions being dumped into smear campaigns and efforts to prevent labeling of their safe GMOs. While I find much of the understanding of how genetics works very fascinating and pointing out the mistaken gamble they are taking, the Team Anti-GMO never once pointed any of this out. Focusing on the successful proven methods about replication of how Nature really works is what would have been the real winner for Team Anti-GMO. Mycorrhizal Fungi and Beneficial Bacteria are what nature uses to feed, make drought resistant and protect all plants they colonize. The fact that Team Non-GMO did not even remotely touch on this illustrates tremendously why and how they lost this audience. They provided no viable alternatives that people could understand except to say, "we need conventional breeding and organic farming." Does anyone realize those are nothing more than vague terms and offer no specifics ? Why in the world were they not providing real viable scientific alternatives like mycorrhizal applications along with beneficial bacteria when presenting their arguments ? 


This debate audience isn't excused here either, because most haven't done their homework and most likely have never actually gotten their precious Career Professional fingers dirty and found out how nature truly works outdoors. However this  debate was going to turn out wouldn't have changed my mind, mostly because I've actually done my homework and have actually been making practical application of what I know for a few decades now. It's not enough to read something somebody else writes and says they have done, and simple say you believe in it. You need to exercise belief by practical hands on application of what you observe, feel and taste for yourself aside from reading publications. That's what will burn the holistic approach knowledge and techniques into your brain cells. Those in the audience who voted GMO lost before they ever voted because they clearly haven't done their own personal homework. The undecided who turned pro-gmo probably are more representative of the average person out there who really knows nothing, but will believe anything because it sounds and feels good. The real winner in this debate was the Moderator John Donvan who did a masterful job of keeping things on track. He had control, he was fair, he was unbiased and even directed the audience in a professional way. Which ever direction the vote went, Nature and Humankind in general still lose because the power and money behind the Biotech Industry at present cannot be taken on. The best advice I could ever given anyone truly concerned for their own personal health and that of their families is watch what you eat and with food items items eat with moderation. At best you'll receive mild food allergies, depending on your genetic make up and at worst years later organ failure, cancer, etc. see, this is the way smoking and over drinking work on the human body and in my work of market research for pharmaceuticals, this is exactly what research scientists, specialist and Doctors are looking for, toxic effects on organs over time and I've had them admit this to me in interviews because since the late 1990s, food allergies are on the rise and no one knows why. We truly don't know because real credible testing has never been allowed to take place, but that's the way the system we all live under works at present. 

Ultimately I think the ideal Opponents for GMO would have been Canadian Geneticist David Suzuki and an actual holistic practicing successful Farmer like Joel Salatin. The Monsanto Team didn't present any new revelations about what their patented product and business model is all about. Their playbook consisted of the same failed definition shell games, citation bluffing and consensus strutting, all of which would have more easily dismantled by Team Suzuki & Salatin.  Below is voting graphic and below that are a collection of links with pertinent information you should read further on the subject if and when you get the time and interest.




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Further Subjects of Importance to the Issues and Recent References
Organic & Small Scale Farming as opposed to Industrial Agriculture: 
Can organic crops compete with industrial agriculture?
The Amish Farmers Reinventing Organic Agriculture
Organic mulch lets insect pollinators do their job
Organic farming more drought resistant: Report
Earthworms, ants and termites: the real engineers of the ecosystem
Earthworms as nature's free fertilizer

Glyphosate Dangers & Risks
Glysophate & Argentina's Bad Seeds

Cancer Death Rates Now Doubled In Argentina’s GMO Agribusiness Areas
The Real Reason Wheat is Toxic (It's not the gluten)
Is Glyphosate (Monsanto’s Roundup) Used On Wheat?
Pre-Harvest Staging Guide: Roundup
Pre-Harvest Glysophate Application to Wheat and Barley
I've listed a couple of Farming recommendation PDFs about using Roundup as a pre-harvest desiccant which helps dry out the crop for an earlier successful harvest, especially in northern climates where growing season is short and early rain or snow could ruin an entire crop. Clearly, there are more uses for Glysophate than killing weeds and the fact it is not biodegradable as was once listed on their label speaks volumes as to it's presence in food grains like wheat. Not all wheat Farmers use it purpose, but as I stated many northern ones do because of need to harvest early. It should be noted that other crop use recommendations besides wheat are Barley, Oats, Lintels, Peas and more, all of which are listed in one of the Roundup recommended uses pamphlets listed above. I at one time also bought into the propaganda that Roundup was a biodegradable product which became inert once it touched the earth. It was all right on the label in the early days until Government forced them to change the label by removing the term Biodegradable, mostly because it wasn't. In actual fact it does last for a long time. That is why more and more warnings about the world's feed and grain supply being contaminated with this junk's residue is so dire. Since the late 1990s to the present, more and more people have food allergies, which many suspect this product aside from possible subtle BT toxin side-effects which effects may be mild allergy to more serious problems in the future. We'll never know for sure because for the moment there has never been enough time to test out the possibilities. To bad mankind has to be living guinea pigs to bare this out. Below is a before and after labeling of Roundup. This was also highlighted at the very beginning of the  documentary film, "The World According to Monsanto"


In the documentary, "The World According to Monsanto" , it starts with the conversation about governments forcing of Monsanto to change the Roundup Weed Killer label which always said it was Biodegradable. This was untrue, at one time I even believed it was safe aside from being effective. I'll post the link below here, you should see it or see it again if you've already done so. But there are some great explanations for what I've been writing about here. For example, in the documentary at minute timeline 19.30 in this video, you'll understand the method and motive behind the definition shell gaming comparison of GMOs to conventional breeding. The Biotech Industry manipulated the regulation Laws of GMOs by saying we eat food which are made up of genes anyway, so what's the difference. Hence GMOs do not have to go through the stricter testing done with other chemicals which are going to come into direct contact with our farmed food which will be consumed by us. It's a loophole which they themselves invented and they know full well what they were doing when they engage in dishonest definition shell gaming. At Documentary minute timeline 130.00 of the video, where we are taken to Mexico City and the National Ecology Institute of Mexico, where Doctor Elena Alvarez Buylla PhD explains what happens when the genes are randomly inserted anywhere within a flowering plant's genome and the varying consequences in which this genetic information is now expressed in differing ways depending on where it ended up in the genetic strand. In each case, different plants expressed different flowers, pedal size, grotesque shape, etc depending where the same transgenic gene randomly ended up in the plant's genome. The complex orderly makeup found in all normal DNA is disrupted, not only by the fact that this transgenic gene has no information regulating, guiding and restricting it's use and purpose, but how it can disrupt and cause chaos depending on where it is tied into the genetic code. I know this may not make sense to most people, but this is important because the potential disruption of all living things on Earth caused through a horrific domino effect business decision is serious. But I'll let the documentary this explain through illustration.   
The World According to Monsanto (FULL LENGTH)
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How Nature Really Works (Mycorrhizae & Bacteria)
Plants Talk to Each Other using an Internet of Fungus


American Forests: "Underground Connection: Fungi and Pines in Peril"
"As we work to save the vital whitebark pine from disappearing from the landscape, it is essential to use all available tools. Ectomycorrhizal fungi are an integral part of forest integrity, ecology and health; showing respect for these mighty microbes might just mean the difference between the restoration and death of a forest."
Somewhere a Monsanto Chief Research & Development Shill just fell off a chair
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Wow, so non-protein coding DNA is now “widely recognized” not to be  junk after all ?

Special Issue on microRNAs – the smallest RNA regulators of gene expression
It is now well recognized that the majority of non-protein-coding genomic DNA is not “junk” but specifies a range of regulatory RNA molecules which finely tune protein expression. This issue of CDD contains an editorial and 5 reviews on a particular class of these regulatory RNAs, the microRNAs (miRs) of around 22 nucleotides, and which exert their effects by binding to consensus sites in the 3′UTRs of mRNAs. The reviews cover the role of miRs from their early association with CLL to other forms of cancer, their importance in the development of the epidermis and their potential as disease biomarkers as secreted in exosomes. In addition, we publish a News and Commentary on CRISPR, a technology which is not only revolutionising genetic manipulation in the lab, but which has the potential to treat genetic disease in vivo.
No junk: Long RNA mimics DNA, restrains hormone responses
Getting Over the Code Delusion
Beyond Biotechnology: The Barren Promise of Genetic Engineering (Culture of the Land)
On the immortality of television sets: “function” in the human genome according to the evolution-free gospel of ENCODE
On the concept of biological function, junk DNA and the gospels of ENCODE and Graur et al.
Long non-coding RNAs can encode proteins after all
Summary:
An extraordinary double discovery has been made by researchers. First, they have identified thousands of novel long non-coding ribonucleic acid transcripts. Second, they have learned that some of them defy conventional wisdom regarding lncRNA transcripts, because they actually do direct the synthesis of proteins in cells. 
No kidding ????
ENCODE adds 1600 data sets

Organizations which promote a Natural and Holistic Approach to Land Management by means of Real Science
Mycorrhizal Applications Inc
John Kempf: Farmer, Agronomist, Scientist
http://rodaleinstitute.org
The Nature Institute Viewing Nature, Science, and Technology in Context 
Biomimetics Institute
California Chaparral Institute
Chaparral Lands Conservancy
http://biomimicrynyc.com/nature-startup/