Thursday, January 29, 2015

Biotech's simple defense of Genetic Modification for the Lay Person: "Just Add Water"

Genetic Engineering's Scientific Justification or the usual Apologetics for another Industrial Business Model
WARNING: This product contains deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). The Surgeon General has determined that DNA is linked to a variety of diseases in both animals and humans. In some configurations, it is a risk factor for cancer and heart disease. Pregnant women are at very high risk of passing on DNA to their children.

Jurassic Park - Mr. DNA Sequence
The Biotech industry has a very high elevated view of itself. Not only is it supposed to be as believable as gravity, but the narratives it generates are expected to be uncritically swallowed. The snarky satirical Government Warning label above utilized by GMO defenders recently has been inspired by the Biotech Leadership's ability to manipulate the truth for justification of an industrial world's global business model. A plethora of articles have come out since that infamous Team Monsanto taking  on Team Organic when Intelligence Squared offered them a debate platform between the two opposing sides back in December 2014. The arguments these biotechs have used are to convince the average person who knows almost nothing on the science of genetics, is that what Biotechs are doing is as safe as a kid playing with different coloured Legos or Tinker Toys. Lego blocks are just Lego blocks made of, well just plastic. Plastic is Plastic. The fact that there are many Lego blocks of differing colours makes no difference at all. Lego blocks are after all just Lego blocks. Of course this almost identical to what Monsanto's Chief Technology Officer, Robert Frawley, who has a strong (vested interest) in the successful outworking of the Monsanto Corporate business model and his public relations colleague, Alison Van Eenennaam who insisted: "We're just talking about genes, genes are genes, you take one gene one thing and you put it with some other genes" This same "Just Add Water" recipe certainly isn't something new. Back in 2010 an article appeared in Science Daily in which a lead author of a research paper titled, (Peptides may hold 'missing link' to life) named, Seth Childer had this to say about the ease of explaining how the origin of life just found a way:
"Our studies have now shown that, if you just add water, simple peptides access both the physical properties and the long-range molecular order that is critical to the origins of chemical evolution."
Seriously though, you'll find these funky "Just Add Water" explanations clouding up the understanding of real science and how the natural world really functions everywhere you turn now days on cyber space. Never underestimate power of it's usage when defending a powerful money making business model or for that matter any religious ideology. Since the December debate on GMOs and the irresponsibly flawed cupcake explanation of Genes are just Genes, DNA is just DNA, there have been numerous articles written by so-called science defenders championing the cause of genetic manipulation for the imagined benefit of designing a better product because nature was & is after all a lousy designer. One article from io9 'We are from the future' attempted to make fun of the 80% of people who were for GMO labeling on food. [see my personal take on Labels at the bottom] This same author, Robbie Gonzales, who wrote the article, "80% Of Americans Support Mandatory Labels On Foods Containing DNA. DNA!" also applied that silly Gov Warning label referenced at the top of this post. He also used the same identical lame talking points by Robert Fraley and Ms Eenennaam who described DNA in that infamous debate as nothing more than like simple plastic Lego building blocks. In other words, if you built a robot of all red Lego blocks and another robot of blue Lego blocks, then taking one colour with another has no ultimate serious consequences. It's just that simple, except when it's not. 

Does anyone realize that with such an asinine absurd explanation which attempts to dismantle the complexity of the average cell [irrespective of whatever organism any cell comes from], they are by their irresponsible attempt at deflection, actually taking science back the the 19th Century where the cupcake view of the inner workings of the Cell were thought of as nothing more than Protoplasmic pudding [sorry, I meant Blob] ? Seriously, do they really want to go back there ? Some of the worst defense of gmos came from many of the ignorant commenters at the bottom of the article who clearly have no clue as to how the natural world really operates and functions, other than they all imagine themselves as mighty defenders of nothing more than Science. Anyone taking up a contrary scientific position is not ever considered a lover of science but rather a religious heretic, which translates in their worldview as Anti-Science. Seriously folks, didn't you know that most genetically engineered organisms are nothing more than a piece of cake to make ? Just add water and all sorts of amazing superior organisms spontaneously arise out of the mix. It's just that easy. 

Image: Horticulturalist Maureen Gilmer
Okay, I'm going to go ahead and use their same exact stupid idiotic childish line of reasoning to justify things we  all see and know to be actual scientific blunders. You should also understand clearly the folly of such short sighted profit driven Science-Based Agricultural decisions made some time way back in history and that all of us today are presently paying the price right now. I actually touched on a couple these examples back in 2012 when I wrote an article on where the beginnings of disrespect for the informational content of DNA originated (Here). I listed a couple of prime examples in that article, but literally there are hundreds [maybe 1000s] of science-based mistakes that we and the natural world are all paying for today. It's the subject of noxious invasive species for which the shallow vision of so-called experts back then believed at the time were nothing more than a simple quick fix solution to their problems. As I stated in that post, if we compare the tiny molecular realm of any microscopic cell of a genetically engineered organism to any real life sized ecosystem that we can all see, feel, touch and experience in real time, then just maybe we can arrive at what potential for problems there would be within the hidden world of GMOs. So let's take the above photo which many will recognize as a Tamarisk windbreak in the Coachella Valley along the Southern Pacific Railway track right-of-way. Anyone familiar with that region and similar areas will understand what a terrible problem the wind can be down there. Not only to the transportation infrastructure, but also agricultural industry which needs to somehow protect tender young crops from the drying desiccation of hot desert winds. Hence Tamarisk Windbreaks were the answer and problem solved, right ?. Wrong! We all know that this hasty decision has generally ruined most stream and riverside habitats all across the Southwestern United States by taking over and crowding out native vegetation which in turn also took away habitat from other living organisms. Now most understand the horrific result of the reality on the ground down there in the desert, right ? But what if you found out that the proponents of introducing Tamarisks for windbreaks also used the same flawed "Just Add Water" Cupcake Mix story we've all be given on GMOs ? It might just go something like this:
"Well Tamarisks are made of DNA and Genes just like other organisms around the Earth. It's not like they come from some other alien planet or something. We are simply putting one lifeform from our planet Earth which contains DNA and genes within another ecosystem which also contains numerous other Earthly lifeforms which BTW just also happen to contain DNA and genes."  
Knowing what we know about the consequence of this bad science-based agricultural decision, how would you react to proponents of Tamarisk planting back then who would demonize any potential critics of their scheme by calling them Anti-Science Luddites for not allowing their science-based business model to go forward ? Who would you say were really the anti-science crowd ? Would it be reasonable to say that they didn't allow enough time for experimentation and testing before they put their money making scheme into full blown operation ? What other 100s of examples of science-based agricultural blunders could we point to as shining examples of short sighted human greed and nothing to do with science ? What about Australia's Cane Toads to the Rescue scheme ? How well has that worked for Australia and it's various ecosystems ? See, you could just go on and on. I'm actually winding down my writing and comment on the subject of Genetically Modified Organisms on this blog. I've had it. Nothing I can say or do will change anything. BTW, on my take on the GMO Label issue ? Well, even if such a mandate were ordered, you need to understand that there is no guarantee that their genetic pollution they've unleashed on to the natural world won't somehow find a way to infect other healthy viable seed. So it's a mute point for me to comment on. Now, I do have one more article to write after this which will mostly illustrate how unnecessary Glyphosate and other chemical weed herbicides are in not only the urban garden and landscape, but also on an agricultural scale. After that I'm done. Now pay attention to something I found while cleaning up my bookmarks below.

Hypocrisy, Double Standard and a Greedy Pot Calling the Kettle Black
I had a couple of videos saved in my bookmarks which I reviewed for saving still or deletion. The subject in both videos was Industrial Business Tycoon of Shark Tank fame Mr Kevin O'Leary. Mr O'Leary is known for his ruthless business savoy. He has a nose for making a buck or rather *cough-cough*, Big Bucks. He is also a major defender and proponent for championing GMOs and calls other people anti-science for being against them. The first video was of Kevin O'Leary being debated by a 14 year old girl named Rachel Parent who was on the side of caution regarding GMOs which she insisted and correctly so that GMOs haven't been tested enough and that thus far the only real testing being done is by the very people who stand to gain from such studies are those who will profit greatly from this. She also believes the studies should be independently done by Labs with no vested interest in the profiteering of a Biotech company, along with mandatory labeling. The retort by O'Leary was incredible. He questions as to why the girl wants more independent long term testing, he insists it isn't necessary and that people everywhere have already been eating GMOs for years and he is afraid that she has become as he puts it, "a shill for anti-gmo group that wants to use you". I'll stop there and you can listen to the entire 14 minute debate where this young girl doesn't back down on her position. Bottom line though is that Kevin O'Leary feels enough testing of 20 years with humans and nature as the guinea pigs is good enough for him and the world should just let the GMO Industry alone, because after all, they just want to feed mankind and it's good for the global economy. 

Want to watch something even more incredible, double standard and two faced when it comes to the demand that we spend a much  longer time on scientific experimentation and testing ? In the link I'll simply post below the main quote here. It may come as no surprise to many folks that Kevin O'Leary is also pro-natural gas fracking and a heavy hitting die hard Climate Change denier or  refuter. This is not an uncommon phenomena for pro-gmo defenders or proponents like a majority of GMO Farmers who also believe humans have nothing to do with climate change (GMOs Expose Dangerous Science Disconnect in Agriculture). When O'Leary comments on length of time needed for scientific studies about Climate Change before governments need be concerned and start doing something to reverse it, he says this:
"You need to take a long term view of this. Just because Al Gore got everybody squawking like chickens on his alarmist movie, doesn't mean you change fiscal policy. What I'm saying is that if you are going to need to study climate change, do it over a period of fifty to a hundred years . . "
(Source: The Lang & O'Leary Exchange on CBC television, November 30, 2012)
Fifty to one hundred years of study before you put a stamp of approval that climate change is real and only then should we do something about it ? Why doesn't he apply the same standard of lengthy 100 years of research and studies to GMOs ? This man is the perfect poster child for all that is dead wrong with genetic modification public relations. This controversy has always been  about the business model and money folks. It always has been and always will be. It has never ever been about the clean pure unadulterated neutral unbiased altruistic science you've been force fed. If it were, then Farmers would actually be replicating the Earth's natural world through practices created by actual observation of Nature and through Biomimicry or Biomimetics. Pay attention, Genetic Modification is NOT the same thing as related kinds of organisms have sex or cross pollinating with each other. What they are doing is not Biomimicry, it's a trip off into Sci-Fi world for mere profit. How can many of the same scientists who write up research papers that extol the amazing complex wonders of our natural world, also be in favour of a still unfolding discipline of genetics in which more and more discoveries highlight just how much we don't really know, turn right around and support such a dangerous business venture for no other reason than it's some kind of a religious heresy to do so ? On the one hand there are many geneticists who can beautifully illustrate just how sophisticated & complex DNA is by comparing it to supercomputer communication systems with the greatest informational storage compression system ever found anywhere and at yet at time support Biotechs who are really the Hackers of those biological social networks while themselves are the real malware among mankind who simply come off as only want to spread their version of the 'good news' ?  You should take note that not all environmental or ecology organizations you support out there are willing speak out against what these Biotechs are doing. Off hand I'd say they are afraid of offending and losing many of their followers, who are a large part of their funding. In any event, I'll conclude with one more post on GMOs and that will be the my last. I'll post the link here at the bottom. There is a whole lot more to this here folks than just adding water. There's this thing called informational content of DNA among different lifeforms irrespective of where your traditional or secular church says it came from!

My last & final post on GMO Business Model

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