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."
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.
"Ideology prevents wheat growers from converting to more profitable methods, new study shows"   Phys-Org - December 18, 2016
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.
Fungi may help drought-stressed Wheat
Phys-Org - December 17, 2015 
"Scientists at Aarhus University have discovered that fungi associated with plant roots may improve growth and yield of drought-stressed wheat. " 
"Water scarcity has a negative impact on wheat production. As a consequence of exposure to drought, crops show poorer growth and lower yield. This is a serious problem as the predicted increase in frequency of extreme climate episodes will lead to multiple drought conditions during crop growth which in turn will reduce the yield of wheat, one of the world's most important foods."
As time pants on to the end, fresh water sources are becomming more and more scarce. So it is imperitive that farmers use as many of nature's toolkits as possible. However this goes directly against the prevailing scientific orthodoxy's madate that only Biotechnology has the answers for drought resistence by means of genetic engineering. This article and the one above go directly against the Biotech's dogma that only the elites among humans know how to correct Nature's mistaken design. The fact however is that nature is not badly designed. Ideologues however are grossly misinformed, ignorant and arrogant. It's a wonder that either of these studies were even allowed to be publication in the first place.
 "The scientists used two different varieties of spring wheat. One was Vinjett, which is drought-tolerant, and the other was '1110' (Kloka WM1353 from IPK, Gattersleben, Germany), a drought-sensitive cultivar. The plants were divided into two groups; one group was given sufficient water and the other group was exposed to drought stress. Half of the plants in each group were inoculated with AM fungi and the other half were grown without the fungi." 
"The two cultivars of wheat reacted differently to drought stress and inoculation with AM fungi. The drought sensitive cultivar '1110' benefited from the AM fungi under drought conditions, resulting in increased biomass, improved photosynthesis and improved nitrogen-use. Under drought conditions and without useful AM fungi, the drought tolerant wheat cultivar performed better." 
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.
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]
Keep a close look out for more and more calls for biomimicry of the designs found out in Nature. I realize this offers a distaste in the mouths of many within the "Culture of Science" gang, but that's tough. The natural world cannot handle anymore screwups based on ideologically driven stupidity.
Update August 5th, 2016
Biomimicry: Streamlining Innovation for Environmentally Sustainable Products

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