Second Life

By JAMES KNAUER

This is the second of a three-part series dealing with life, its constituency, and some prophesy regarding its future here on Earth. You can read part one here.

DNATreeI am related to a plant pathologist, Dr. Skinner, a geneticist who specializes in grasses. As he precedes me by ten years, my role has ever been his student, and when he began his career, our discussions were of Mendel’s Laws, regressive traits, and these new devices that were handy for analysis and had come down in price so that many more of them could be employed: mass spectrometers. These were used to identify base pairs for later genetic sequencing. We postulated that computers would do more of the heavy lifting, and wondered aloud if something as complex as a single cell could even be represented digitally.

Then came the Human Genome Project. Our language then was of genes and RNA and enzymes. And though much work had been done sequencing the genomes of creatures less complex than mammals, it remained a mystery how such splendid coordination among life’s various traits of movement, balance, shape and hue could possibly arise. There were predictions that as many as 100,000 genes could be involved, with most of that under the general heading of regulation. When the Human Genome Project concluded, and the tape read out, only 21,000 protein-encoding genes were found, barely one thousand more than the humble roundworm. Worse – and you knew trouble was coming from the phraseology – most of what was found was labeled junk.

It was a most untidy result.

But it did usher in an intense review of all aspects of cellular biology, providing pathways for experimentation that would eventually overturn our understanding of what, precisely, life does during the process of all that living. One key discovery was that cells were not about to wait around for random mutations to add or remove traits. Dr. Skinner himself confirmed this routinely by planting fields of otherwise genetically identical specimens, and watching their mutation rates over time, now that computing power had arrived to do the analysis. His results confirmed that local environment played a much larger role; that cells would adapt their genetic programming much faster to local conditions; and that this was all done by processes identical to that of software. It can all be represented with boolean logic.

In the present, all my classes with Dr. Skinner are on the subject of software, either he is describing software he has written to process genetic data, or he’s telling me about the results he’s found. I am especially glad to hear of his breakthroughs in disease prevention. But we’re always talking software. The processes of the cell have been mapped to those of what are called virtual machines, independent computing environments where hardware and software merge, and form becomes function.

 Compute Space

A compute space is essentially the hall we’ve rented in which to carry out all this software business. It exists wherever computation occurs, at every scale of the universe. A single living cell is composed of a large number of overlapping compute spaces, some fixed, many more transitory, coming and going as messages are processed. There are two things which guide every aspect of a compute space:

  1. The list of things we care about;
  2. The list of things we intend to do those items in list 1.
Sources of Human DNA Evolution

Sources of Human DNA Evolution

Nothing else exists. Nothing else can exist. Therefore, nothing unreal exists within a compute space.

When we apply this model to the results from the Human Genome Project, and end up 80,000 genes short in one hand, and junk in the other, it’s clear we did not have our arms around our compute space, and that the list of things we cared about was woefully incomplete, to say nothing of the interactions between them. Something was missing, and it turned out to be huge.

In the present, the focus has shifted to include the whole microbial world. None of us travels alone. We are host to untold trillions of microscopic organisms, mostly bacteria, that have evolved with us. They are absolutely fundamental to the continuation of the processes of life. And microbes are just the beginning. We are also home to creatures slightly more complex than bacteria all the way up to skin mites. We are far outnumbered by these passengers, most of whom we cannot even see. Of their interdependencies, next to nothing is known.

So, what, exactly, are we?

Software Unmasked

Software written by humans shares a fundamental trait with both writing and music: the conversion of symbolic instructions into a form that can be understood, heard, or clicked. Each has a design period, where time has essentially stopped, and the author/composer/developer putters around mountains of words, notes, and end ifs. Then comes the performance. The lights dim. The book is cracked, the maestro gives the downbeat, and the icon is clicked. The show must go on.

Like writing and music, the execution of software creates a narrative. Each narrative in a piece of running software is known as a thread, and compute spaces generally have many threads running through them simultaneously. They communicate with one another through well-established protocols, executing their instructions in precise order. A modern factory floor is the visualization of software executing within a compute space. It’s not the robots that are taking over; it’s their programming.

Celtic Tapestry

Celtic Tapestry

Where microorganisms come into play is in their messaging systems, the chemicals they emit and absorb, which are in turn processed by the host’s cells. They form vast communication networks that we are just beginning to understand. Microbes signal on two general pathways, much like a home network. There is the local part, shared by microbes of the same species. And there is also a shared part, messages able to be read by all microbes. They have many crisscrossing internets on which they communicate. Because we all came up together, we’re all singing from the same genetic hymnal, an eternal, richly layered symbiosis.

Mapping these networks is theorized to reveal the shared portions of our genome with those organisms we carry with us, a larger scale picture that accounts for some of the “missing” genes. The junk has since been revealed to have many functions not related to the creation of proteins, including copy protections, wear redundancy, and local compute spaces. Further, these messaging systems span great distances, as the entire planet is connected by these networks through the top ten miles of earth’s crust, which is where the vast majority of the planet’s bacteria live. What we do not know is how much of that mass of networks is required for any one population of larger-scale organisms – including humans – to exist for any length of time.

This presents challenges for humans on earth as they confront climate change brought on by pollution. How much degradation can the human-dependent biome endure? If humans intend to leave the planet, how much of this biome is required for long-term sustainability? When we say, “beam me up, Scotty,” what are we beaming, exactly? Only a tiny handful humans has yet been outside the Van Allen Belts protecting this planet from deadly radiation blowing out from the sun, and all of them later developed cataracts after only a week of exposure. How much life will we need to take to live?

First Fit

The software of today – particularly that on which we depend – has been through multiple generations of testing and analysis under live conditions, and the best traits have been preserved. The rest has been discarded, and that accounts for the vast majority of all the software ever written. Going back to the previous version only makes things worse.

ConceptOrganic software, that which arises from abiogenesis, has no such software publishing house. It has no design teams, no testers, and certainly no help desk. The most intricate constructions of evolution take millions of years to perfect, and the environment of the moment is the only real feedback. There is no central planning, no thought given to the future. Organic software meets the definition of first fit, that programming which worked long enough for the host to pass on its genetic material. The vast majority of organic software has gone extinct. Since organic software merges form and function, there is no need of source code, those instructions which must first be written and compiled in a human-designed compute space. Computation obeys the shape and electric charge of the molecules upon which organic life depends.

About two and a half million years ago, the organic software we would recognize as our ancestors experienced a mutation in the genes governing the shape of a jaw muscle, causing it to shrink dramatically. This opened up space in the skull for more brain tissue, setting in motion a cascade of events that would lead to us. Larger brains led to more survival. There was no guarantee of that, nor is there one for tomorrow. Life abides today.

At some point, some subset of our ancestors decided it would be a good idea to tend the sick. There are fossils indicating broken bones that had mended dating back well over a million years. A broken leg requires setting, and someone to see to your needs for at least two weeks, longer without access to a pharmacy. There came a realization that these lives we have are precious, something which extended beyond the having of children, though the seeds of it were sown there. We recognized value in others, and tending the sick practiced compassion. It was and remains a free choice to continue to do so.

What business would function with first-fit software? Would we trust an air traffic control system to the first piece of software that didn’t crash the first plane trying to take off? I supported Windows 1.0 and that was after thousands of internal builds at Microsoft. Not ready for prime time. It would take until version 3.5 for any kind of trust to build. About ten years of real time elapsed in between. The rational reaction to this was simple: lower the expectations of what the system can accomplish.

KnockIf we are willing to forgive the behavior of tested software, what expectations ought we have for first-fit organic systems about which we know so little, and cannot (as yet) be rewritten? Does the presence of a large brain magically undo all the implications of going with whatever worked first? What unreasonable demands are we making of each other in the present simply because we cannot recognize, by ourselves, reason? Human to human, armed with this awareness, the slack seems to cut itself. A big brain is merely another trait as far as evolution is concerned. What we need most seems to be help from one another.

And lest we forget, even the most excellent software ever written was created by first-fit beings made of energy and light, based on a kind of everlasting life, and floating in space. I’ve often wondered if we were already in heaven, and are just disappointed it doesn’t seem, you know, more classy.

Versioning Strata

Genetic engineering has been with us for some time. The debate around genetically modified organisms (GMOs) touches an intrinsic awareness that it represents first-fit systems tinkering with other first-fit systems in order to get a “better” result, while having to necessarily ignore the expanse of the underlying microbial networks needed to pull it off. While well-intended, we all know mutations will occur. We feel it in our bones. And we cannot know all the myriad possible outcomes in advance. But we press on because for now, disease is down, and yields are up. And many patients would suffer without it.

There will come a point where a critical mass of the biome is mapped, and genetic engineers will be able to craft organic solutions from scratch. Not just improvements or transplants, but wholesale new genomes. No bionic half-machine, but grown structures which build on successful bioengineering principles. Your grandchildren will likely argue with their children over the age-appropriateness of extra limbs, fur, and gills. Family planning will require a genetic engineering consultant. And all the while pressing deeper into the simulated multiverse through ever-expanding online adventures.

And when these modified people roll off the line, what will they think of us?

HS20In part one of this series, we determined that the ancient processes of life cannot be taken, nor given away, meeting the basic definition of inalienable. Will Homo Sapiens 1.0 be so forgiving? Will HS 2.0 want to throw out all versions before that? Once we can eliminate those traits found to be undesirable, what happens to the current holder of the inalienable rights? The coming longevity assures many versions of humans will exist together for scores of decades, if not centuries. How will they live?

There are many questions coming soon that extend well beyond the notion of increased lifespan. Would you take a modification, say, for a handy touch on/off bioluminescent tattoo in your fingertip you can use as a flashlight? Would you grow another finger? Wings? Eyes in the back of your head? More brains? A clone? To what extent is all this regulated by the state? Will it be legal to add or remove memories, with or without consent? Add them without the underlying experience? Add or remove personalities? A second head, perhaps?

Science will not be stopped, and creative minds are already at work. Is there time left, much less the will, or even the awareness, to have the debates we clearly need to have?

In the third and final part of this series, we’ll explore life as a simulation, the fundamental patterns this reveals, and a quantum case for preserving our inalienable rights. You can also read part one here.

Resources Not Linked Above

Guardian, Gene Therapy Trial Aims To Find Alternative To Heart Transplants

How Stuff Works, DNA Computing

Discovery, New Plant Language Discovered

Popular Science, Dandruff Fungus Found In Deep Sea Vents

Discovery, Living Plankton Discovered on the Exterior of the International Space Station

Popular Science, Microbes Thrive In Asphalt Lake And Sunless Glacial Water

About James Knauer

Artist - Scientist - Muscian
This entry was posted in Anthropology, Biology, Courts, Evolution, Government, Health Care, Jurisprudence, Legal Theory, NASA, Science, Technology and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

105 Responses to Second Life

  1. James, this is good stuff and things I haven’t thought about before. I have always been interested in the nature of consciousness, ever since I first met Robert Ornstein, who has spent most of his life studying what we call consciousness.

    One political/economic/legal issue that has been on my mind recently. The patent-holders on genetically modified plants try zealously to protect their intellectual property. I don’t have a problem with that, other than they seem to be a bit heavy-handed about enforcement. Knowing what we now know about evolution, we have learned evolutionary progression is a lot faster than scientists suspected even just a few years ago. What do the patent holders do as their precious genetically modified plants change with each succeeding generation? At what point is the patent unenforceable due to simple forces of nature?

    An afterthought. I just read the Ebola outbreak is already mutating rapidly.

  2. Oky1 says:

    ** Humility | Define Humility at Dictionary.com

    Humility definition, the quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc. See more. **

    In some parts of the world we’ve only had indoor toilets for around 100 years, some still don’t have them.

    And Humans have survived for how many millions of years with out AMA doctors, CDC, USDA, FDA, govt?

    Before the Genetic Re-engineers just start grabbing & twisting every lever & knob I’d very strongly suggest that let the info age like a fine wine rather then racing off like just another group of teenage boys with a trunk full of beer.

    As an example below is just one machines out of millions. Note the video only suggest how one might properly control the machine & doesn’t cover the millions of ways one can screw up the machine.

    And to all of your type I suggest you at least sleep with the Nuremberg Code under your pillow.

  3. Oky1 says:

    Dr Stanley,

    I’m gullible, I like both plane & the looks of both women. LOL 🙂

    But I’m ok with it & it’s a damn commercial ad.

  4. James Knauer says:

    Chuck, why not try to patent the air? Or a rock? What seems lost in the (largely made-up) “gene debate” — and, no, there is no specific outcry against our host — but rather, every cotton-pickin genome expression is unique. Patenting a gene is meaningless if I can be made to grow my own. These people have abstract idea of what I need. My cells, however, have all the knowledge they need to make real genes, and in the spirit of the post, make those necessary connections along the microbial network to accomplish the whole healing. Gene patents are like charging for air. The supply is just staggering.

    This is big stuff that is being juggled, getting bigger by the hour. Ebola, you say? There’s only one name for that cat: malware. Containment will have to grow brutal ala Andromeda Strain.

    Oh yes a unique genome means everyone is an artist. Elephants, even. That is a whole other story.

  5. gbk says:

    “. . . dealing with life, its constituency, and some prophesy regarding its future here on Earth.”

    Prophesy?

  6. gbk says:

    “. . . its [life’s] future. . .”

    Life; prophesy, and “its” future.

    Strange combination of words to me, so I’ll bow out now. But upon leaving I would note that the human ability to observe and predict, in your case, blinds you to your dependence of said.

  7. gbk says:

    ” . . . observe and predict . . .”

    should be, “. . . observe and predict life . . .”

  8. blouise says:

    This is what happens when too much time is spent looking at a whiteboard. 😉

    Seriously, in “First Life” I was intrigued by Tony’s second or third (I can’t remember and am too lazy to go check) response about spending one’s time in complete virtual land. What, I wondered, happened to all the different life forms that use our bodies as host … what happens to them in the environment Tony was imagining. And, in turn, what happens to our bodies as those that use it adjust?

    Then, here you go in “Second Life” mentioning “those organisms we carry with us,…” and I immediately go AH HA and fall off the tracks of the train of thought you are building. So now I am sitting in the dust beside the tracks and the train is getting further and further away … I can see it but I’m no longer on it. And that’s part of the problem, isn’t it?

    • James Knauer says:

      Blouise wonderfully reflected, “So now I am sitting in the dust beside the tracks and the train is getting further and further away … I can see it but I’m no longer on it. And that’s part of the problem, isn’t it?”

      I feel that way right now, and I know what’s in the third part! It’s a perilous position in which we find ourselves: knowing too much to accept the B.S. but not enough to know what to “do” about it. That seems to be permeating a lot of issues just now. Were I in a guessing mood, I’d credit social media with much of that. I think better trains are coming down the track, but they are yet so far away, we cannot see them coming, nor what they bring, other than change at an ever-increasing rate. One of the things seeming to drive this series out of me is to get some discussion moving based on what is known in the present, understanding full well the apple cart will be overturned tomorrow, and the day after that. Trains and apple carts? Those endure, at least.

      Another lesson that endures: nothing is precisely what it appears to be.

  9. James,
    I remember listening to a segment on NPR a couple of years ago. Genetically engineered crops–at least some of them–have a more malignant downside. Biologists, botanists and entomologists have been looking at GM crops as being responsible for the big die-off of bees and butterflies. Some of the pollens are toxic to certain insects. However, insects have short life spans, whereas crop plants only have annual life spans. That means several generations of insects mature for a single plant generation. What does that mean? Insects evolve faster than plants.

    From what I read, the patent holders on GM crops have been going after small farmers whose non-GM crops have been pollinated by neighboring farms, demanding either payment or destroying the crops so affected. That is a whole ‘nother story, worth an in-depth report all its own. Many of those small farmers are barely scraping by without subsidies, or are trying to grow organically without using that technology. Currently, Monsanto and other labs are fighting efforts to provide truth in labeling for GM food products. Why am I not surprised.

  10. Tony C. says:

    James: Gene patents are like charging for air.

    I disagree with that. Patenting an existing gene should be illegal, that is like patenting air. But in the sense that a gene is an input to a ribosome that produces a protein, or perhaps a sequence that acts as a control, I can invent a novel gene to produce a novel protein or phenotypical effect and I should be allowed to protect that for a hard limited number of years that it takes for me to take economic advantage of that invention.

    There are caveats; as an academic (and frequently publicly funded) I think anything invented under public funding should not be patented, ever. I do not believe anything that can be shown to exist in nature should be patented, ever. But de novo design and invention is something I should be able to patent, if, as the rules of patent state, it is not obvious to one skilled in the art.

    Suppose Joe is self-funded and invents a protein that corrects the problem with cystic fibrosis, and she can reverse engineer that to a genetic code so she can incorporate that into the genome of a non-replicating bacterium that “infects” a patient’s lungs but provides relief from the symptoms of CF. I will hypothesize it is not contagious, and must be periodically replenished by inhalation, so while not a “cure” per se it is a permanent therapy that eliminates symptoms.

    I see no economic reason she should not enjoy a patent and monopoly on that hypothetical product. It is going to be produced and sold, somebody is going to be profiting from it, so by what moral calculus should somebody else be entitled to profit from Joe’s insight and creativity?

    If she were funded by the public, then I see an argument. I believe in altruism, and that such knowledge should be free, but I agree with the compromise of the original intent of the patent: It will be protected for a time and then free, in order to provide the incentive to take the risk of time and money to try and do something new. It is unfortunately human nature that the vast majority of us respond to such incentives, and without them much less risk taking would occur and the state of our knowledge would, in my opinion, advance very much more slowly.

    • James Knauer says:

      Tony, count me among those who sees zero value to monetizing anything whatsoever to do with genetics, primarily because the inherent liability associated with mutations makes the whole enterprise woefully unhelpful, beneficial only to trial lawyers. It’s too intimate a proposition, given the control wielded, and sets a terrible invasion into the private medical histories of citizens, all to make a buck.

      And, frankly, not nearly enough is known to be making rash statements made authoritative by a patent. As the science demonstrates, life obeys no authority other than shape and charge. From your commentary on our humble stage, I gather you are no fan of made-up authority.

      I see no entitlement to get rich off ultimately monopolizing the biome. As a vital member of it, I give the veto.

      As for incentives, you can pay people a living wage — all of them — and fund miraculous research. These are not mutually exclusive ideas; in fact, they need each other. Perhaps if those with money would learn the definition of words like “enough” and “content,” the thinking would become clearer. That is not an altruistic hope. It will be the basis of the disassembly of gated communities if trajectories are not soon changed. And it won’t be the money that will be taken if any hoarding of miracle cures begins. That prophecy is clear.

      Until we deal in terms of life, the money will continue to own us.

  11. Elaine M. says:

    This post and discussion brought to mind the story of Henrietta Lacks:

    A New Chapter in the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
    NIH finally invites her family to discuss the use of her extraordinary cells.
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/08/130816-henrietta-lacks-immortal-life-hela-cells-genome-rebecca-skloot-nih/

    Excerpt:
    An aggressive strain of cervical cancer took her life in 1951, when she was only 31. But cells harvested from her tumor, without her consent, have lived on … and on and on.

    The best-selling book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which features the striking image of Lacks on its cover, tells the story of this African-American woman, her family, and her fast-growing cells, used in over 70,000 medical studies.

    “HeLa cells,” as they are called, have made vital contributions to the development of drugs for herpes, leukemia, influenza, and Parkinson’s disease. The cells have been used in studies on everything from lactose digestion to mosquito mating. “The cells reproduced an entire generation every twenty-four hours, and they never stopped,” writes author Rebecca Skloot. Today there are millions, perhaps even billions, of her cells “in small vials on ice.”

    The latest development in the story: Earlier this year, scientists sequenced Henrietta Lacks’s genome and made it public, without asking the family’s permission. That is clearly a violation of privacy. But now the National Institutes of Health has taken the important step of inviting two of Lacks’s descendants to be part of the HeLa Genome Data Access working group, which considers applications to use the genome. We spoke with Skloot for her perspective on this latest turn in the Lacks saga…

    Have we ever discovered why her cells thrived—and continue to thrive?

    That’s one of the most frequently asked questions I get. The answer has always been we don’t really know. We knew that HPV caused her cancer, [and] we knew she had syphilis, which might have weakened her immune system and made her cancer grow more rapidly. But a lot of people had HPV, and their cancer didn’t grow more rapidly.

    A new paper published in Nature found why her cancer was so aggressive. The HPV virus happened to land on this one location in her genome that’s right near this tumor gene that is the most volatile gene involving cancer we know of. When that gene gets turned on, it causes incredibly aggressive cancers, so the theory is this is what made her cancer so aggressive and what made the cells grow so quickly in culture. It was just utter chance; the odds of that happening were so incredibly slim. But for Deborah, she would say this is all not chance, not coincidence.

  12. Bob Kauten says:

    Charlton,
    “From what I read, the patent holders on GM crops have been going after small farmers whose non-GM crops have been pollinated by neighboring farms, demanding either payment or destroying the crops so affected. That is a whole ‘nother story, worth an in-depth report all its own. ”
    Yes, a carefully researched, in-depth report on the story regarding persecution of non-GM crop farmers, by patent holders of GM crops, would be of great benefit. The folks here could research actual documentation of court proceedings.
    The charges are oft-repeated, but I’ve seen no verification. I’d love to see a non-hysterical discussion by educated folks.
    My take:
    1. Monsanto is an enormous corporation that cares little for anything but profit. Not good, but we have lots of those corporations.
    2. GM is a technology which is not evil in itself. Its use requires decisions by educated adults. GM will not save us from ourselves. Wise use of GM seeds cannot be left up to the discretion of farmers.
    3. I disagree with creating glyosphate-resistant corn. Farmers will just use more glyosphate, and resistance will spread to weeds.
    4. No food containing GM ingredients, has ever been verified to harm mammals. Bt toxin, for example, works on insects, not us. We’re very different. I’m open to any new evidence. But it needs to be reproducible.
    5. GM ingredient-containing foods should be labeled. If ‘free-market’ conditions existed (they never have), food companies would give the consumers what they demand. I believe the food producers would rather not tell consumers that they’ve been eating GM ingredients for decades, now. That’s cowardly, and pathetic.
    In this forum, I’d be surprised to be labeled ‘a shill for Monsanto.’ In other forums, not so much.

    Finally, I believe that I’ve rambled on much too long in this comment.

  13. blouise says:

    Slarti, where are you??!! This stuff is right up your alley! You are missing out on some challenging ideas and we are missing your contribution.

  14. Oky1 says:

    Bob Kauten,

    I’m not sure of everything I’ve collected in my GMO files, but theres a bunch.

    Like Monsanto faking/tanting studies/research.

    And consider all the farm land that is drained by the Mississippi River & all the toxins sparyed/place on crops & the hugh dead zones those toxin have created in the Rivers & Gulf of Mexico.
    The markets got the crops, but the the fishermen lost much of their catch & others lose their assets/lifes/health.

    * Oky1 February 1, 2010 at 8:09 am

    Jerry R. Olsen: >> I keep wondering how these criminals are planning to stay in power. They must have a plan but what is it? I am a retired game-theory analysis for the DOD so I try to anticipate possible strategies for the opponents as well as strategies to counter with. GMO Corn Linked to Liver, Kidney, Heart Damage
    Research Shows Monsanto GMO Causes Organ Damage in Rats

    Jan 14, 2010 Victoria Anisman-Reiner
    New research suggests that varieties of Monsanto genetically engineered corn cause organ toxicity, raising concerns anew about the safety of genetically modified foods. …………………….

    Three different varieties of Monsanto GM corn (NK 603, MON 810 and MON 863) were fed to rats over a 90-day period, alongside a control non-GMO variety. At the end of the study, the GMO-fed rats were found to have extensive organ damage, including “…adverse impacts on kidneys and liver, the dietary detoxifying organs, as well as different levels of damages to heart, adrenal glands, spleen and haematopoietic system.” <<
    16 Oky1 February 1, 2010 at 8:29 am

    **

    ** Jerry those Wallst Banks/Insurance execs & DC polecats have no plan to survive this. Those boyz are murdering psychopaths bent on suicide yet they don’t have the guts to pull the trigger themselves.

    Don’t worry yourself with it though because, just as you likely are, the military, police fire, etc., they too are eating the corn, drinking their diet coke & breathing the DU in the air. **

    **

    Related posts:

    New GMO ‘Agent Orange Soy’ Silently Backed by USDA
    Government study finds toxic Roundup herbicide in 75 percent of air, rain samples
    GMO crops may cause major environmental risks, USDA admits
    Monsanto’s Dangerous Herbicide Will Generate $1.8 Billion in Profits
    The Netherlands Say NO to Glyphosate, Monsanto’s RoundUp Herbicide

  15. Oky1 says:

    The Dirty Details Behind the Attacks on Seralini’s Notorious GMO Rat Study

    Paul Fassa
    Prison Planet.com
    May 14, 2014

    Remember the GMO rat study finding that rats fed GMOs developed tumors and died prematurely? After Seralini’s long term toxicity study results were publicized with displays of rats showing huge tumors, a tsunami of outrage from pro-GMO related scientists got favorable mainstream media (MSM) press. The hundreds of scientists who defended Seralini’s work were ignored. Many fence sitters were left confused and willing to side with the barking dogs of the biotechnology industry.

    This publicized display was the air and sea attack to soften the defense of the anti-GMO ideology island. Then the actual landing attack against that island’s science was embarked by setting up former Monsanto scientist Richard E. Goodman in a newly created biotech editorial position at the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT).

    That’s the journal where Seralini’s study “Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize” had been originally peer reviewed and posted. With Goodman steering the landing craft, the editor-in-chief of FCT, Wallace Hayes, removed Seralini’s paper from the journal.

    Hayes admitted the study was not fraudulent or inaccurate, but explained that it was inconclusive. Honest defending scientists jumped on that one, explaining that peer reviewed published studies are often inconclusive, recommending “further studies”.

    In case your thinking I’m pulling the trigger on Goodman too quickly, around that same time a Brazilian study proving Monsanto’s Bt corn insecticide starter genes do not disintegrate in mammalian stomachs as claimed by Monsanto, but survive intact to harm mammals’ blood cells was also pulled from FCT. That study has now been published in another journal.

    The Dirty Details Behind the Attacks on Seralini’s Notorious GMO Rat Study gmostudyrat 410×2391
    Debunking GMO Scientists’ Criticisms as Liberally Reported by the MSM

    Wrong rats used: They were the same rats Monsanto had used in a 90 day trial. The Sprague-Dawley (SD) strain has a life expectancy of 24 to 36 months. Just right for a two year study that’s intended to replicate the life span of a human.

    SD Rats Tend to Have Spontaneous Tumors: True, around 30% of SD rats get cancer symptoms without test induced provocations. Again, this mimics human statistics on cancer. More SD rats fed well under maximum regulatory amounts of Roundup along with the Roundup Ready corn developed tumors than the control rats within four to seven months of the study. The exposed rats also died earlier than the non-exposed control rats.

    Too few Rats: The short Monsanto study used 20 rats for each group. But, they only checked urine and serum samples of 10 in each group. The Seralini study used 10 for each grouping, but they tested urine and serum samples from all 10.

    Insufficient Amount of Rats for Proving Carcinogenicity: The title of the study tells us that proving carcinogenicity was not Seralini’s intent, it was a long term toxicity study. Tumors were incidental, but are required to be reported without drawing conclusions in toxicity studies. Seralini reported without conclusions about cancer. The rats who were exposed showed signs of liver, kidney, and pancreatic damage.

    Seralini’s conclusion was that Roundup herbicide and Roundup resistant GMO corn is not safe and further studies are necessary before approving it. But the site of those rats with such huge tumors certainly made some waves, eh? Here is a more extensive scientific analytical review of the Seralini arguments.

    This post originally appeared at Natural Society

    Related posts:

    Ten things the mainstream media didn’t tell you about the Seralini GM corn study
    Truth about the Seralini rat-tumor-GMO study explodes
    Ex-Monsanto employee involved in discrediting study linking GMOs to cancer in rats
    Hotly Debated: 1240 Scientists Demand Seralini GMO Study be Republished, Will NOT Be Suppressed
    GMO Tumor Study Author Blasts Agencies for 90 Day GMO ‘Safety’ Study

    This article was posted: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 at 5:36 am

    http://www.prisonplanet.com/the-dirty-details-behind-the-attacks-on-seralinis-notorious-gmo-rat-study.html

  16. Bob Kauten and interested others. Monsanto contends they own your crops even if you don’t want their GMOs to cross pollinate your own crops, never planted any, and can’t control the behavior of the wind.

    ·The rate of GM contamination does not matter; whether it’s 1 percent, 2 percent, 10 percent, or more, the seeds and plants still belong to Monsanto.

    ·It’s immaterial how the GM contamination occurs, or where it comes from.

    http://thegranddisillusion.wordpress.com/monsanto-vs-farmer/

  17. Bob Kauten says:

    I apologize. I can’t spell ‘glyphosate.’

  18. OroLee says:

    Don’t know why but this article kinda feels me with Dredd.

  19. OroLee says:

    I’m not so concerned about eating GM foods as eating eating glyphospate; actually I’m concerned about the herbicides the fungicides and the insecticides which are on or in a lot of the foods we eat.

    BTW,plant remnants containing glyphosphate can mess up a compost pile resulting in diminished crops. Whether it is harmful to humans (go ahead and take a swig of Roundup, I dare you), it has reportedly been found in human breast milk.

  20. Oky1 says:

    We all have major problems with corporations like Monsanto because as we’ve witnessed the judges, blackmailed or what ever their problem, sided with Monsanto over the farmers experiencing the genetic pollution/damage caused by Monsanto.

    Since “We the People” appear to have lost our representatives in govt & courts there is at least one peaceful way I believe we can fight back & that is through “Crowd Sourcing”.

    I’ve noticed over the years street protest have become largely ineffective. For example GW Bush’s OIL/Iraq War. Millions around the world took to the streets & protest but those protest were ignored.

    Now regardless of how you feel about the Occupy Wallst Protests a few years ago there were lessons to be learned.

    That we can protest about Gay Rights, Pro/Anti Abortion or almost anything else, but just don’t protest the big Wallst/London Banks/Insurance Co’s.

    Occupy Wallst protest were largely being left alone until the govt/corporations were unsuccessful at co-opting them or dis-crediting them.

    We know from a Freedom of Information release a few months back when the Occupy Wallst protest started organizing economic boycotts for the up coming Black Friday shopping period & beyond for that year that was the hot bottom trigger event that caused the govt/corporations/banks/Insur co’s to send in snipers, with shoot to kill leaders orders if order to do so, of the protest & then we all witnessed the govt go in nation, all at once, & shut down/arrest the protest/protests, etc..

    Another case this year, a group of us had success when we economically targeted, in public, Subway over their toxic bread. It took Subway less then 24 hrs to commit to doing the right thing.

    We as a people may disagree in many areas, but there are areas most of us do agree.

    If we will only use the tools at our disposal we can force the govt/corporations to behave responsibly.

    With computers & the Internet we now have the ability of mass communications & “Crowd Sourcing”. to find out the areas in which we can agree & bring economic force & public pressure to demand responsible behavior from the govt/corporations.

    All that is missing for those interested in these issues is acceptable venues set up or reset across the US that would use Crowd Source to do the research on the issues & the resulting actions suggested for resolution of the grievances.

    I’ll likely be protesting this concept on other message boards hope that the idea spreads rapidly.

  21. HelpOky1 says:

    Another post hung.

  22. Bob Kauten says:

    Charlton and other interested folks,

    I found a couple of the Monsanto vs. Schmeiser court documents:
    http://www.law.yale.edu/documents/pdf/Intellectual_Life/Monsanto.pdf
    and
    http://decisions.fct-cf.gc.ca/fc-cf/decisions/en/item/38991/index.do
    which contains:
    ” Thus a farmer whose field contains seed or plants originating from seed spilled into them, or blown as seed, in swaths from a neighbour’s land or even growing from germination by pollen carried into his field from elsewhere by insects, birds, or by the wind, may own the seed or plants on his land even if he did not set about to plant them. He does not, however, own the right to the use of the patented gene, or of the seed or plant containing the patented gene or cell.”

    This may be the paragraph from which
    “It’s immaterial how the GM contamination occurs, or where it comes from.”
    was paraphrased. But the source of the above sentence is not referenced, in the grandillusion article. It’s clearly not verbatim from a court document.

    As I said, above, we need court document references for the assertions that these blog authors are making. Not broad paraphrasing, which is quite subjective.

    Thanks!

  23. Tony C. says:

    James: I am an unabashed socialist.

    James says: primarily because the inherent liability associated with mutations makes the whole enterprise woefully unhelpful,

    That just isn’t true. By what logic do you declare mutations in an engineered gene more likely than a mutation in any natural gene? Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP) can be forced and tested in the lab to see if they are harmful or neutral, and if they can be detected.

    James says: It’s too intimate a proposition, given the control wielded, and sets a terrible invasion into the private medical histories of citizens, all to make a buck.

    Isn’t the excessive intimacy, control wielded and the terrible invasion just as bad if nobody makes a buck? Doesn’t your argument serve to terminate all genomic research of any kind? I don’t think that is a good idea, as a research scientist I always consider “knowing” better than “not knowing” and whether somebody “makes a buck” is immaterial to whether knowledge is gained or not.

    James says: And, frankly, not nearly enough is known to be making rash statements made authoritative by a patent.

    A patent does not have to make any “rash statements” whatsoever; in fact it can be a simple provable claim: “This genetic sequence is found to fold into this protein which is found to have this effect in vitro.” What is rash about simple facts? I have read many patents, I have been hired to circumvent them (and I have done so). They certainly do not have to be “rash,” sometimes they are just factual claims that are indeed true; e.g. a mechanism for capturing energy from the car braking system improves fuel efficiency. Upon investigation …. Okay, yeah, it really does.

    James says: As the science demonstrates, life obeys no authority other than shape and charge.

    That is just hyperbolic argumentation. Biology obeys nature. Man can shape and control nature and biology. Rice, wheat and corn are all highly mutated strains of grass produced by millennia of man-made selection. If some farmer notices a wild mutation in a plant that causes it to produce more corn, you can bet they will try to exploit it, as people have done for 10,000 years (or probably more like 20,000 years). And nobody would complain about that natural mutation, like they haven’t complained about the many natural mutations preserved by man that make chickens or cattle pack on muscle, or fruits grow without seeds or with thin rinds or just larger, faster, or are selected for fruit trees that produce far more fruit than their wild cousins.

    Genetic variation is not inherently harmless. Just as in natural variation, there is no particular reason to fear man made variations.

    James says: I see no entitlement to get rich off ultimately monopolizing the biome. As a vital member of it, I give the veto.

    More hyperbole. I don’t think anybody has the right to “monopolize the biome,” I think people have the right, as I said, to patent novel inventions for a limited time and get rich for inventing it. Inventing a novel protein is no different than inventing a novel kitchen implement, it does some job that people want done. Why anybody would want to scramble an egg in its shell is beyond me, at least more than once for the novelty of it, like a magic trick. But it was up to the public, really, and Ronco proved that novelty was worth about twenty million dollars to the public. You’re right, I am no fan of made-up authority, so who am I to tell the public they shouldn’t pay $20M for an in-the-shell egg scrambler?

    Who am I to tell them they shouldn’t infect their eyes with an otherwise-harmless virus that turns their eyes blue? And should not pay for it?

    James says: As for incentives, you can pay people a living wage — all of them — and fund miraculous research.

    Perhaps, but I’m no fan of made-up authority, so who exactly is employing these people, and who exactly is deciding on the research agenda or approving the proposals? If I want to research something and get paid a living wage by the public, I have to submit a grant request to the NSF or DoD or some foundation, and even when our science is solid and includes world-renown researchers we still get turned down.

    James says: Perhaps if those with money would learn the definition of words like “enough” and “content,” the thinking would become clearer.

    Sure, as I said, I’m a socialist. And an altruist. But I am also a realist, and many of those with money already know the definition of those words and don’t care. Hoping they will somehow come around is anti-reality, part of what makes many people rich is an obsession with money and getting rich.

    James says: And it won’t be the money that will be taken if any hoarding of miracle cures begins.

    I did not propose hoarding of miracle cures. I proposed a patents with well-defined time limits. In the event a miracle cure is actually developed, pass a law that allows the government to purchase the rights at a fair market price by eminent domain or something.

    James says: Until we deal in terms of life, the money will continue to own us.

    I’m not sure what that means, but as a general rule income disparity is always going to be a factor, that is going to be human nature forever. We have (like most primates) an innate sense of fair vs. unfair. As long as we continue to regard higher reward for harder work fair, and higher reward for greater cleverness or inventiveness or resourcefulness fair, we will regard income disparity as fair. I began work as a dishwasher and I am currently a professor. I was the same person, but I do not consider the income disparity between those professions unfair, I add more value to society as a professor than I ever did as a dishwasher. Nor do most people. There will be income disparity, and at the extremes there will be the rich and the poor.

    I am not sure what you mean by “the money will own us,” but I do not see a world existing anytime soon where the value one contributes to society by one’s work doesn’t matter. If that were true, what incentive do people even have to be bothered with creating value?

    • James Knauer says:

      Tony, thank you for your interrogation. Some resonances:

      Tony: “Isn’t the excessive intimacy, control wielded and the terrible invasion just as bad if nobody makes a buck?”
      I never suggested that. Patents are designed to earn people money, and people who follow money in such a fashion automatically see a patent as an authority, an entitlement to flash in court to drive home the point that some human being had an idea, was able to scribble it down, and send it in first. It mirrors the first-fit nature of organic software. That same software is capable of moderation, but it requires stopping and thinking, which might not get the patent in soon enough. I see no benefit to patents of any kind to be honest. We live the inequality they and other policies which only enable human avarice that are continually enacted.

      Tony: “I think people have the right, as I said, to patent novel inventions for a limited time and get rich for inventing it.”
      Depends. I do not think this entitlement to avarice is automatic. If you intend to patent something where I have to wait util your patent runs out to afford a cure, or even therapy, then the answer is no sale.

      Tony: “but as a general rule income disparity is always going to be a factor, that is going to be human nature forever.”
      Without doubt. And, the current disparity is beyond imbalance to the extent it must be dealt with as a separate problem, recognizing the damage it has done to most all of our public institutions. It’s not rich v poor. It’s a subset of the human population that is using their wealth to move further beyond the rule of law, taking down whatever institutions are necessary in the process.

      Tony: “I add more value to society as a professor than I ever did as a dishwasher.”
      That is a judgement call on your part, one I would never make, nor would I use it define what rights you have, including those to medical care. Your alleged superiority also does not change the meaning of your one vote. If we want less disparity, we have to do away with the language that artificially creates it.

      “Terms of life” means you concern yourself with the basic needs of a person first — pay them a living wage — and then worry about that list of things to which you think you are entitled later. Many social problems will soon cure themselves. The people who control the money want no such cures or we’d have them. They are not rocket science. You have to erase healthcare insecurity, food insecurity, and the fear you are one paycheck away from eviction. That is how most of the actual human beings I interact with on a daily basis live. Patenting genes is not going to help them. They are not rich and never will be.

      And isn’t it convenient that one of the crumbled institutions — government — is the precise tool to manage how we’re going to deal with the questions posed in this post? No corporation is going to do it. Monsanto is a slur in these parts. That is a whole other topic but the roots are the same: unchecked entitlement leading to gross avarice.

      I do not begrudge the earning of a buck; and I will not stand for inequality that interferes with the delivery of health care to all. Patents are a fool’s errand, and I think they will be obsolete within 20 years, tops. No one will be able to keep up by then.

  24. Bob K,
    The SCOTUS would not hear this, so this case stands. I am not going to copy and paste the whole decision of the Federal Court of Appeals, but it is easy to find. Style of the case is

    Organic Seed Growers & Trade Ass’n v. Monsanto Co., 718 F. 3d 1350 (1913)

    The Canadian blog reported on Canadian laws. Since this went to the higher courts in Canada, I am sure they are posted somewhere, but I am not familiar with the intricacies of the Canadian appellate court system and its search engine.

  25. Tony C. says:

    James said: That is a judgement call on your part, one I would never make, nor would I use it define what rights you have, including those to medical care.

    It is only partly a judgment call on my part, it is actually a vote of everybody. The society is the entity that decides to pay me more money as a professor than they paid me as a dishwasher; if people could just determine their own salary and then receive it, just about everybody would choose the highest salary allowed. Nobody has been coerced to pay Brad Pitt $150 million for his career in movies, society has determined his value.

    Nor have I ever suggested that money should determine anybody’s rights, or their rights to medical care, or the meaning of their vote. You are throwing up straw men, profit and wealth does not have to mean any of those things, including profit and wealth from the invention of new things.

    I already proposed a means of ensuring a miracle cure does not mean the wealthy live and the poor die. We already allow our country eminent domain over real estate, for which they must pay a fair market value. An analogous kind of eminent domain over necessary intellectual property does not require a terrible stretch of the imagination.

    James says: Your alleged superiority also does not change the meaning of your one vote. If we want less disparity, we have to do away with the language that artificially creates it.

    Except my superiority is not just “alleged” or artificial. It is not due to my claim, it was proven, when I was in consulting, by my rarefied ability to solve certain kinds of problems, whose solutions produced economic value. I say rarefied because it was not unique, but the supply of persons with my talent was rather small and the industrial demand was greater, so we got paid very well. When I retired to academia, as a professor, my salary was not determined by me, limits were set by other members of society that decided on my value, basically using the laws of supply and demand.

    Patents are not a fool’s errand at all. They are being misapplied to genetics, we have no dispute there, but in general patents are designed to ensure, and can ensure, that the creative efforts behind certain new technology are NOT overrun by the money men, that if somebody without money DOES invent something new, then somebody WITH money cannot just steal their idea and make a fortune and shut out the inventor by mere force of funds and resources. Patents, copyrights, trade marks and other forms of intellectual property rights, when properly applied, protect the weak from the strong.

    Your claim is equivalent to claiming that because OJ Simpson bought himself a not-guilty verdict on a murder charge that murder should no longer be a crime. That’s just silly, bribery and corruption by money are going to happen, misapplication of law is going to happen, falling short of perfect enforcement is not a reason to abandon the rule of law and contracts and trying to provide mechanisms that protect the weak from the strong. If a legal mechanism prevents more harm than it causes, I think it is a mechanism worth keeping, and perhaps refining. Patents, as originally intended, are worthwhile licenses, even if they are currently being abused. They protect the weak from the strong, and that has been proven in court many times.

    As for Socialism we are in agreement; I would have society provide food, shelter, education, basic public transportation, physical safety and health care, all for free to anybody that needs it. Norway’s system, in essence. But even Norway does not prohibit entrepreneurship, patents, copyrights, and multi-millionaires; even with a population of 5 million one of the richest persons in Norway is worth hundreds of millions, the proprietor of a chain of hair salons she founded. Many others are entrepreneurial business millionaires, or have made millions in music, acting or entertainment. We can be hard-core socialists even with extreme income disparity. It doesn’t have to mean legal disparity or discrimination. It just means what is a fact of life; that society deems the contribution of some people as monetarily worth much more than the contribution of others, even when there is no coercion of choice involved at all.

    Some engineers get results under pressure, others do not. Some cellists are far better than others, some tutors succeed where others fail. Some actors emote and can cry convincingly and others cannot, some make us believe and others do not. Recognizing such disparity in ability and performance is not some moral sin like racism. Some work contributions are worth more to society than others, that is just the cold hard reality, when people vote with their dollars some can get far more votes than others, without any coercion at all.

  26. Oky1 says:

    Thank You James.

    I was just checking in & I see it’s up & I made at least one typo.

    Sometimes I like my typos as the one below as they make me laugh. 🙂

    ** I’ll likely be protesting this concept on other message boards hope that the idea spreads rapidly.**

    Meant to say:
    I’ll likely be posting this concept on other message boards hope that the idea spreads rapidly.

  27. James this is wonderful. I enjoy many of the posts here as interesting and thought provoking. Your last two have been heartening and hopeful though which is rare to find in my reading these days. I am not a “science person” so to speak but teach literature and mythology. Your phrasing and tone is often easy for me grasp and visualize despite my deficits in the content area. Thanks for the amazement and wonder. I look forward to the next episode.

  28. Bob Kauten says:

    Oky1,
    Thank you for your report on war correspondent Fassa’s dispatch!
    It’s truly a veritable cornucopia of hyperbolic metaphor, a wellspring of war words, a foundry of ironic ingots, a plethora of pinatas!
    “…a tsunami of outrage from pro-GMO related scientists…”
    “Many fence sitters were left confused and willing to side with the barking dogs of the biotechnology industry…”
    “… the air and sea attack to soften the defense of the anti-GMO ideology island. Then the actual landing attack against that island’s science was embarked…”
    “With Goodman steering the landing craft…”
    “In case your thinking I’m pulling the trigger on Goodman too quickly…”
    Yow!
    BLOCK THAT METAPHOR!
    “It was a dark and stormy night…”

    But seriously, folks…
    There’s but one small study of rats fed glyphosate-resistant maize, which the authors claim proves that there’s a problem with mammals eating glyphosate-resistant maize. It produced a lot of consternation among scientists. The study was retracted, and is now re-published on-line.
    One experiment does not toxicity make. The normal course of science is for the original study authors to repeat the study with a much larger population of rats, or other mammals. The new study should address the perceived shortcomings of the original study. Other researchers could then try to replicate the findings of the improved study. Unless of course, there’s no toxicity effect observed.
    The truth will out. Until it’s proven, I have no reason to believe that glyphosate-resistant maize harms mammals.
    As I said above, I don’t believe that glyphosate-resistant maize is a clever use of GM technology. I don’t like herbicides. I don’t like pesticides, in general.
    As a biochemist, I’d like to see a mechanism whereby glyphosate, which interferes with a metabolic process that mammals lack, can damage mammals, in the incredibly tiny amounts that mammals get in their food. Perhaps there is such a mechanism. Show me.
    But glyphosate-resistant maize doesn’t even have glyphosate in it, does it? So what’s the mechanism whereby glyphosate-resistant maize damages mammals? I dunno, it’s your idea, not mine.
    OK.
    First, prove that glyphosate-resistant maize damages mammals. That hasn’t been done yet.
    Second, propose a mechanism whereby glyphosate-resistant maize interferes with a mammalian metabolic process.
    Then get back to me. But don’t spread a bunch of superstition until you have proof.
    In the meantime, if you don’t trust GM-ingredient-containing food, don’t eat it. Get the food manufacturers to label GM-ingredient-containing food.

    Orolee,
    “…go ahead and take a swig of Roundup, I dare you…”
    OK, after you take a swig of concentrated cow-manure tea (totally organic fertilizer), and take a swig of concentrated tobacco-leaf tea (totally organic insecticide). I dare you. If you’re still here after an hour, I’ll drink the Roundup.
    You don’t want to? Why? Is it because, at that concentration, those solutions would have interesting effects? How about a cup of saturated sodium chloride solution?
    You’re also indulging in accusing me of promoting Roundup, just because I don’t accept nonsensical (non-sciencical?) superstition about glyphosate. I don’t approve of its agricultural use. I also don’t approve of spreading lies about it.
    Perhaps it’s harmful to people in tiny amounts. But that hasn’t been proven, has it?
    Show me. You’ll be famous.

  29. Bob Kauten says:

    WordPress et mah massive missive to Oky1 and Orolee.
    In case anyone wants to read it. It’s no gem.

  30. Elaine M. says:

    Bob,

    I retrieved your comment from the spam filter.

  31. Bob Kauten says:

    Thanks, Elaine. I’d have written more of a masterpiece, if I’d known you’d have to go to that trouble.
    I’ll re-read it. I don’t remember what I said.

  32. blouise says:

    James,

    I like to tell myself that it’s a natural rest-stop, here, beside the tracks. A break, if you will, from the clicking of the wheels and the swaying of the carriage. A time to think about what I’ve seen and heard.

    There was a great deal to think about in First and Second Life … even more thanks to the ideas introduced and discussed by the posters. The Third Life train will be coming along soon and I have my ticket clutched in my dusty, little hand.

  33. pete says:

    I’ve written three comments so far and deleted them all, and glad of it. In my case an apt metaphor would be an american indian encountering a railroad track for the first time, putting his ear to the track and announcing “the metal sings” then getting his head run over by the train.

  34. blouise says:

    pete,

    Curiosity killed the track-whisperer?

    ___________________________________________________________

    Gotta joke for you that kinda fits this thread:

    Guess what prize Knock-Knock jokes won. ……. The Nobel.

  35. Maybe the good thing is that the tracks are being laid period and that so many different and diverse people are noticing them. Now the important thing would be to insure that everyone can make their way down the road that is being made safely.
    On that note James I think you have led me to extend my metaphors beyond “normal” bounds.

    The debate concerning the GMOs seems to really have equal merit on either side. the benefits of being able to modify production to combat nutritional needs is hard to fight as are the dangers of possible impacts to our health ecosystem and the financial and civil infractions are hard to ignore. The solution and compromise would seem to me to be adequate and full disclosure in labeling and education. Deciding on exactly what that is should be the discussion.
    Just my two cents.

  36. Oky1 says:

    Bob Kauten/TonyC,

    I’m exhausted again, but it’s been that way off/on for decades.

    I just wish you guys to know you would do well not to have the millions of people like me & my neighbors as your judge, prosecutor or on your jury if you continue to hang with your current positions.

    Remember Nuremberg!

    http://www.wfaa.com/story/news/crime/2014/08/27/dad-acquitted-in-killing-dui-driver/14702181/

    • Bob Kauten says:

      Oky1,
      Nuremberg? Vaccines? Autism?
      Are there millions of people like you? All of them judge, prosecutor or on my jury?
      Vaccines? Invented centuries ago, which prevented you from getting polio, pertussis, and smallpox, and which I’m hoping you take yearly, for flu?
      Autism? The condition caused by everything you’re afraid of?

      I thought we’d hijacked this thread to discuss GMOs.

      • James Knauer says:

        “I thought we’d hijacked this thread to discuss GMOs.”

        I rather predicted this would happen, as it’s one manifestation of Second Life we all know about. Personally, the I find the debate useful.

  37. Oky1 says:

    Go ahead, call down the thunder if you wish.

    MSM Buries CDC Scientist’s Confession About Vaccines & Autism Link

  38. Oky1 says:

    “And it’s ok to be full of it”

    Gnite Bob, Tony.

  39. RTC says:

    Hi Chuck: The primary concern for pollinators is thought to be neonicotinoid-formulated insecticides. Minute doses of these compounds have been shown to be highly lethal to bees. Neonics (as they’ve been gratefully termed by popular media) are widely used in the nursery industry; if you’ve bought plants at Home Depot, chances are very high that they’ve been treated with neonics.

    Another concern for pollinators are vast number of acres planted to corn in this country. A field of, to a bee, is a food desert.

    As for the Court decisions regarding Monsanto’s GMO crops, I don’t understand the reasoning. To my way of thinking, it’s like a cigarette smoker charging me (a non-smoker) to breathe in second-hand smoke. It seems to me that if you’re going to plant a GMO crop, particularly a wind-pollinated crop like corn, then it your responsibility to prevent contaminating surrounding crops.

    Then there’s Alito’s opinion in Mosanto v Geertson Seed company, wherein Mosanto sought to overturn a ban on planting experimental fields of Roundup ready alfalfa. Alito dismisses the concern over environmental impacts by suggesting that the experimental fields could be planted at some remote distance from other fields of alfalfa or in parts of the country where alfalfa isn’t grown. In the case of the latter, alfalfa isn’t grown in certain parts of the country because it likely doesn’t grow well in those regions due to adverse growiong conditions. As to the former, Alito suggests that experimental crops could be set at a distance of five miles from non-GMO crops, while a footnote points out that bees can travel up to ten miles. A factor of safety would ideally suggest a forty mile distance, but at least twenty-five miles would offer some reassurance against contamination. I’m surprised that Alito hasn’t put little smiley faces in his opinions yet.

    The danger with these GMO crops is that we’re engineering super pests. The corn-weevil has already evolved resistance to corn genetically modified to produce a pesticide in the plant tissue, and weeds are beginning to show resistance to glyphosate. The next round of GMO’s are seeking to introduce crops modified for resistance to a combination of glyphosate and 2,4-D. The environmental consequence of these superpests is no different than antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria; once they escape into the ecosystem, the effects can be devastating.

    • James Knauer says:

      RTC, add that pollination networks are at least understood to some useful extent. The messaging systems underlying it all? Not so much, and these are not going to be restricted by any arbitrary distance set by a know-nothing judge who has the added job benefit of knowing nothing for life.

      Moore’s Law and politics do not mix well today. Bees do not respond to legal opinion, though given their importance there’s a case to be made for acknowledging their inalienable rights to protect them from immature humans such as “judge” Alito.

  40. RTC says:

    The most likely source for glyphosate in breast milk is from drinking water. There is virtually no soil transference of glyphosate dueto the bonding action with soil particles – the moment it touches mineral soil, the chemical binds so tightly that it’s inert for all practical purposes ( there was a study a few years back that suggested some residual effect on crops from year to the next, but I don’t think that’s ever been confirmed.). However, unless glyphosate has been formulated for aquatic applications, it shows alarming persistence and transferability. The problem occurs when farmers spray too close to a waterway and the overdrift is carried into contact with water.

  41. Mike Spindell says:

    James,
    Back from my weekend idyll to find another challenging and engaging piece from you. Now I must wrap my head around all the thoughts and ideas you’ve engendered, so it’s a good thing I never get hangovers. 🙂

  42. blouise says:

    Mike,

    Meet you in the Club Car

  43. Oky1 says:

    Bob Kauten,

    I disappointed so many people are tolerating people in leadership & in important positions, such as the bio-tech industry, committing crimes, rampant Fraud & have thrown morals/ethics out the window.

    Not all of us will go along with their fraud & criminal behavior.

    That Drunk Driver only killed two boys, you guys are supposed to be sober & yet are attacking millions.

    • Bob Kauten says:

      Oky1,
      Li’l ol’ me is attacking millions? I’m honored. Did you tally the number I’ve killed?
      Prison Planet?
      Infowars?
      Alex Jones?
      The paranoids are after you!
      Change the channel.
      Are you going to say something even crazier, or are you done for the day?
      I have lots of time, so get it all out.

  44. Oky1 says:

    ** CDC whistleblower’s confession: his personal safety is still an issue

    Jon Rappoport
    Prison Planet.com
    September 1, 2014

    On August 27, CDC whistleblower William Thompson came out of the shadows and admitted he had omitted vital data from a 2004 study on the MMR vaccine and its connection to autism.

    Thompson’s official statement was released through his Cincinnati attorney, Rick Morgan.

    The key piece in Thompson’s statement is:

    “I regret that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism. Decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data were collected, and I believe that the final study protocol was not followed.”

    “My concern has been the decision to omit relevant findings in a particular study for a particular sub group for a particular vaccine. There have always been recognized risks for vaccination and I believe it is the responsibility of the CDC to properly convey the risks associated with receipt of those vaccines.”

    Everything else in Thompson’s statement is backfill and back-pedaling and legal positioning and self-protection.

    But this part, this is big. Within Thompson’s community of researchers and the general world of medical research and publishing, people know what it means.

    It means major fraud.

    Thompson, a co-author of the 2004 study, published in the prestigious journal Pediatrics, is admitting to egregious fraud. Cooking the data.

    (Here are the authors and the name and reference number of the study in question:DeStefano F, Bhasin TK, Thompson WW, Yeargin-Allsopp M, Boyle C. “Age at first measles-mumps-rubella vaccination in children with autism and school-matched control subjects: a population-based study in metropolitan atlanta.” Pediatrics. 2004;3:259–266. The link to this study is here.)

    In particular, omitting data which showed that African-American male babies who received the MMR vaccine were at a 340% increased risk of autism.

    Omitting the data concealed this alarming fact from African-American families; and it also skewed the overall conclusion of the study, in order to exonerate the toxic MMR vaccine and give it a free pass.

    You would be hard-pressed to find a researcher of Thompson’s reputation and position who has ever come out and confessed: My colleagues and I committed fraud; we published the fraud; we stood by the fraud for 10 years. more………………….**

    http://www.prisonplanet.com/cdc-whistleblowers-confession-his-personal-safety-is-still-an-issue.html

  45. Bob Kauten says:

    James,
    Thanks. I was feeling guilty(!) about hijacking the thread.

  46. Oky1 says:

    Bob,

    People live in the reality they believe in as they see it. This time of year some are into fantasy football & that is their world & reality. Then others walk around delusional believing things that are just false.

    Vaccines, GMOs, genetic manipulation, many those involved in those fields are totally corrupt or are educated idiots.

    IE: Monsanto is rotten to the core imo.

    Words like paranoid, tin foil hats, conspiracy theories have lost much of there effectiveness as a diversion away from serious issues that fraudsters & the gullible use to hide from.

    Here’s 3 pieces for you guys/gals

    Conspiracy Analyst Confirm:

    10 Conspiracy Theories That Came True
    When questioning the official narrative proved crucial

    http://www.infowars.com/10-conspiracy-theories-that-came-true/

    10 More Conspiracy Theories That Came True
    From a fascist coup d’état to the FBI poisoning alcohol

    http://www.infowars.com/10-more-conspiracy-theories-that-came-true/

  47. Oky1 says:

    How did you come to believe what you believe.

    How did you learn it, were you helped/taught in person or were there a hidden hands feeding you, mfg your consent?

  48. Mike Spindell says:

    “Meet you in the Club Car”

    Blouise,

    AMTRAK does have a Club Car, only not so well-appointed, but I bring my own because they don’t have my brand.

  49. Bob Kauten says:

    Oky1,
    If you’re asking me,
    “How did you come to believe what you believe.”

    Currently, I receive radio transmissions from the Bilderberg Electroids from Planet 10, by way of the 8th-dimension, through tiny radio transceivers installed in my dental fillings by evil Illuminati dentists.

    But before the transceivers were installed, I got a B.S. (appropriate, I know) in biology from the U of New Mexico, then a doctorate (Ph.D., Piled Higher and Deeper) in Biochemistry from Rice University. This was 16 years before the 9/11 False Flag Operation.
    If you’re as in need of sleep as you seem, my thesis is online. Reading that should produce fitful slumber, with nightmares of Ann Coulter.
    If that doesn’t do the trick, take a course in immunology, as I did. You’ll learn how vaccines work, and sit through lots of sleep-inducing lectures by Muslim Atheists.

    I blame my professors, Freemasons all, for destroying my natural ability to observe what’s going on around me, and also for polluting my precious bodily fluids with Chemtrail fluoride.

    And finally…
    I believe…
    that robots are stealing my luggage! I learned that from Steve Martin.

  50. Oky1 says:

    ** I am related to a plant pathologist, Dr. Skinner, a geneticist who specializes in grasses. **

    James,

    Are you related to BF Skinner? I remember that name, but not in what context at the moment. It’ll come to me later when I’m not thinking about it.

    Side note: Funny how the mind works, over the decades often while I was asleep I’d come up with the solutions that I would need to over come up coming problems.

    Here on the open prairie or you could say this time of year, the great American Desert, a lot of the native grass, like Blue Stem grass, have been nearly wiped out by development & invasive grasses/weeds.

    As to your article & my point that there are lunatics in the vaccine/GMO/genetics fields ect., spreading biological toxins/pollutions I bring to your attn a grass, rather I would call it a weed, Johnson Grass/Sorghum halepense.

    As I understand it some ahole brought Johnson Grass from overseas & turned this invasive plant loose in the US.

    I’ve fought that stuff most of my life. How do we get rid of that worthless stuff?

    • James Knauer says:

      Oky1, re:BF Skinner not that I am aware. These are the non-famous lot. I had an aunt once who claimed she was related to General George Custer, but none of the rest of rest of us were. I am concerned with GMO issues to the extent that I think the wrong agency and its motive — profit — is steering the direction of the debate. The proper agency — government — has abdicated leadership in favor of enumerating the curds in the cheese vault. It is a state of affairs I am compelled to call unsustainable. And we’re all watching like never before.

  51. Oky1 says:

    Heck, one this days they might even be able to turn my mind into loving Commie/Nazi socialism slavery like Tony. 🙂

    Posted: 1:00 a.m. Monday, Sept. 1, 2014

    Scientists can turn bad memories into happy ones
    Works on mice, might work on humans too

    By Steve Berg

    Tulsa, Okla. —

    It sounds like something a mad scientist would come up with.

    Neuroscientists at MIT say they’ve figured out how memories are linked to positive and negative emotions.

    And say they’ve been able to reverse it in mice, by using laser-light to stimulate certain areas of the brain.

    And they think they can do it in humans too.

    They say it could be used to treat anxiety and depression more effectively.

    Read more here.

    http://www.krmg.com/news/news/local/scientists-bad-memories-good-ones/nhCBs/

  52. Oky1 says:

    ** And finally…
    I believe…
    that robots are stealing my luggage! I learned that from Steve Martin. **

    Bob,

    Next you’re at a big airport & the luggage carousel isn’t working just remember it’s not running because of aliens from Alpha Centauri attacking the world, it’s probably because Corporate bean counters & lawyers have come up with their least plan to wholesale layoff people of in mass, the good & the bad, & pile the extra workload on those remaining or offshore some of that work to foreign slaves.

    I know the programmers name that because he did know the function of the program that was running he decided to just delete it.

    It shut down all the luggage carousels at DFW airport for about 5 or 6 hours before others were able to find out what happened & get a program running again.

    That’s a pretty big airport!

    My point isn’t if the guy was an idiot or not, the point is that people often cause errors & some of this errors can be corrected.

    Maybe when I start seeing some responsible behavior from corporate/govt I might start showing some trust/respect about vaccines/GMOs/ Genetic engineering, until then I have none.

    What needs to happen, one way to get results, is for “We the People”, through the court system is to find a few guilty criminal offenses & have them hung in public. Maybe then the others would get the message to behave responsible or risk the possibility of being hung.

  53. Oky1 says:

    Typo correction: My point isn’t if the guy was an idiot or not, the point is that people often cause errors & some of those errors can not be corrected.

  54. RTC says:

    JK: It’s funny you should refer to Alito as “judge Alito”; I was thinking of doing the exact same thing. He is so obviously not qualified to sit on the Supreme Court. Ironically, I once read an legal article which described the way honeybees communicate and drew an analogy to Alito. It was a really good description of insect behavior that I learned from, but the explication of Alito’s method of operating was quite interesting and made me view Alito more positively. Yet, there is something about him that erodes respect.

    I despair of the ecological illiteracy among the apparently intelligent and well-educated members of society. Alito is one of them – maybe. Maybe he’s just fulfilling his part of some deal. But Alito shows the same ignorance that your friend Tony demonstrates.

    Highjacked or not, the topic of GMO’s has come. Personally, I think gene technology holds great promise for the future. That’s one reason why when someone dismisses the importance of biodiversity, I know they haven’t a clue about what they’re talking about. Biodivtersity is all about the genetics, and geneticists all maintain that there is no telling where the cure for cancer or ALS is going to come from.

    Some of the most promising genetic supply comes from the Kingdom Fungi. Anyone wanting a good read on the subject should check out “Mycelium Running”, to learn more about the importance of fungus. Paul Stamets searches the old growth forests of Washington and Oregon loking for a fungus that the Defense Dept believes can be used to combat biological and chemicals weapons. These fungi can eliminate petroleum spilled in water and may someday be able to cure cancer. The hitch: these fungi usually need large undisturbed natural areas for survival.

    http://conservationmagazine.org/2009/01/the-mushroom-messiah/?utm_source=Conservation+Magazine&utm_campaign=92d0bbd6c6-This_Week_s_Good_Read_Nov+30_2013_10_19_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d0cc46f2ab-92d0bbd6c6-294160422

    My concerns about GMO’s compare to my views on invasive species can be summed up thusly; there are many exotic plants (exotic=non-native) that are no cause for concern – they’re not aggressive, they don’t escape, and they pose any problems for natural areas. As a horticulturalist I have no problem with an Eurpopean plant. As an ecologist, I have problems with the invasive plants, often allelopathic, that are so successful that they reduce biodiversity. Likewise with GMOs, if there’s a genetically modified plant that doesn’t allow it’s genetic modifications to escsape. The problem, aside from the creation of super-pests, with GMO’s is that we don’t know how they’re going effect surrounding community.

  55. Tony C. says:

    RTC: As is usual for the deluded, anybody that doesn’t agree with them is labeled ignorant or illiterate. I am neither; I am formally educated in genetics and have conducted research there, and contributed tools specifically designed for use by genetic researchers.

    Enjoy your delusion of superiority.

  56. Slartibartfast says:

    Blouise,

    I’m working on a comment, but it turns out I have quite a bit to say… I’ll join in soon.

    😉

  57. RTC says:

    If anybody’s deluded here, Tony, it’s you. You’re the one who dismissed the value of biodiversity as being overrated. The fastest growing industry is genetic technology and drug companies are some of the most outspoken advocates for preserving the Amazon…because of it’s biodiversity.

    Furthermore, having announced your foolishness in your faith in Ron Paul, you doubled down on the stupid when you proclaimed that, “we bend nature to our will”. If that were even remotely true, climate change would pose no real problems for mankind.` We have trouble accurately predicting acts of nature, much less controlling them. Truth is, humans are more successful than any other species at coping with nature, but as the example of GMO’s proves, we enjoy a very limited control.

    Actually, your proclamation is quite possibly the most impotent claim ever made, and as a result you lose the internet.

    But that’s not why I feel superior to you. It’s because you’re a phony, Tony. The way you dismissively insist that the world’s water shortage can be addressed by purchasing distilled water says it all. There are nearly three billion people, almost half the world’s population, who experience a shortage of water, and for about half of them, that shortage is critical. How many of them do you think can afford a dollar a day per person to meet their families needs? The real question, as far as your concerned, is how many of those people who can’t afford to pay a dollar a day for each member of their family live under your roof? The answer is zero, which is also the level of your actual concern for people. Let ’em eat cake, right? And wash it down with distilled water.

    The other giveaway in your supposed concern for people is this: Close to a million and half people die each year – each year! – from mosquito borne diseases. Any species that reduce mosquito populations is an ally of the people. That includes bats, birds, spiders, and dragonflies. These species require healthy, diverse ecosystems in order maintain sustainable populations. Stylized gardens like Central Park in New York or Humboldt Park in Chicago may support a few individuals, but they’re never going to be more than outliers. I know your solution to mosquito populations is to simply spray more insecticide, like that won’t have a negative affect on people. I won’t judge you too harshly for this particular oversight however. After all, there probably aren’t any insects in your little sci-fi fantasy world.

    Oh, and that little issue of increasing carbon in the atmosphere? The top meter of uplands soils throughout the world contain twice the carbon contained in the rainforest vegetation. The bare soil of plowed fields allow that carbon to escape into the atmosphere while natural areas, restored, recreated,or remnants actually store carbon beneath the ground via plants more effectively than anything we have invented so far.

  58. blouise says:

    Slarti,

    😉

  59. Oky1 says:

    Slartibartfast,

    Glad to see you out of jail & rehab, Again!

    Don’t screw it up this time. 🙂

  60. Bob Kauten says:

    Slartibartfast must be writing an enormous manifesto.
    I doubt that Karl’s took this long to write.

  61. Slartibartfast says:

    Nah, I just have a glacially slow writing style and a talent for procrastination that rivals that of Douglas Adams. Not to mention that I’m easily distracted by…

    OOH SHINY!

  62. Slartibartfast says:

    I’m a little rusty and only had time to skim the thread, so forgive me if I touch on anything that was already covered, but Blouise asked for my participation and I wouldn’t want to disappoint her…

    James,

    I love the way you string together gossamer webs of ideas and let other people focus you on aspects to elaborate on. Your article isn’t so much a vehicle for your opinions or observations or an exploration of a particular issue, but rather more of a seed for a conversation with a very broadly defined scope. It seems a very appropriate style for FFS.

    I’m very interested in the issue of patents and intellectual property in the field of biochemistry. I strongly agree with Tony’s point about a person’s work product being patentable as well as the contention by James that no one should be able to patent something that can be produced in nature (although defining the term “nature” is probably taking a leap onto a slippery slope).

    Let me lay out an example of how we might get to a potentially patentable protein (that alliteration was just for you, Blouise 😉 ). Assume that we have the ability to make viruses that can swap out sequences of DNA for alternate versions or splice in entirely new sections. So, In particular, we can add DNA which codes for a particular protein or modify the DNA which codes for an existing protein.

    Let’s say we can identify a change in functionality or expression in a particular protein (or several) that will inhibit a given metabolic pathway and inhibiting that pathway had a therapeutic function. An example would be if there was a type of cancer which had a dysfunctional DNA damage checkpoint, you could make it more susceptible to radiation or chemotherapy by knocking out one of the other checkpoints since normal cells would still have one of the two and the cancer cells wouldn’t have either. You wouldn’t want that particular example to be written into your genetic code (instead of delivered by chemical), but imagine we have a permanent change that we wish to make (a cure rather than a treatment) and we can identify the alterations in DNA that could accomplish this effect (minus the alteration of DNA, this is an application of my postdoctoral research, so it is definitely possible to do).

    What would it take to go from this stage to a pill or shot that would permanently cure some disease? It just so happens that I’ve been learning about the industrial pharmaceutical process lately and this is my best guess.

    First, you would need to find an alternate form of each of the proteins you were interested in which had the desired behavior. This would require a way to build and fold proteins from a section of DNA and isolate the results so that they could be tested to establish that they had the correct behavior. At this point, we could load up our virus with the changes and start working towards our cure.

    The next step is to establish that it actually works. In other words, we need to find out if the DNA altered by our virus will still be expressed at the same level as the original protein, whether it will be folded properly and if it still has the same effects we saw in vitro. Since this part is all hypothetical, we don’t know how difficult this would be, but it sure wouldn’t be easy, if it were possible at all.

    Then we need to find a way to deliver it. How do we get the virus into every cell in someone’s body? Via a pill? A shot? A suppository? I was having a discussion last week and was told about a drug that wouldn’t work in the US (apparently European mores are different) because the only way to effectively deliver into the bloodstream was via anal suppository. This requires a bunch of animal testing (on animals that have analogues of the particular proteins in question—remember that monkeys are much more expensive than mice…) and again might present insurmountable problems.

    Once we can successfully and reliably administer the drug (virus) to animals, we need to figure out how to make it in large quantities. There is a big difference between creating enough for testing and making a tanker truck full. Many a pharmaceutical compound has died because there was no economic way to produce it on an industrial scale.

    for a standard drug, the next step is pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics, i.e. what the drug does to your body and what your body does to the drug. This establishes the LD-50 and optimum dose (and requires more animal testing). Given that, in this case, we’re talking about a drug which rewrites DNA, I’m guessing this part of the process would become even more stringent and difficult to navigate.

    If we pass that hurdle, then its on to human trials. We do two (and only two) double-blind clinical studies and hope that none of our long-term animal subjects turn up dead (requiring us to pull the plug until the cause can be determined) and that we get results statistically better than the placebo in both clinical trials.

    If our hypothetical drug (which is essentially a virus with a delivery system) survives this entire process, we have a pill that cures a disease (that can then be marketed). Can we patent the proteins we made? The virus? Are either something which could have naturally evolved? Possible but not likely. Are they “natural”? Well… um… pretty much, I guess… (whee! this slippery slope is fun!)

    In today’s industrial pharmaceutical process, we get one medicine out for about every 20,000 new chemical entities (chemicals which have some sort of effect on a particular protein or family of proteins) we put in and I think that, if anything, the culling would be even more harsh for genetically engineered proteins.

    Let’s say it costs $100 million to produce a pharmaceutical treatment using the current methodology and half a billion for our hypothetical genetically engineered cure for the same disease. Can anyone with a fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders responsibly suggest the latter path? Especially if the resulting patents are short, only offer partial protection, or are unenforceable. I would argue that the stronger the patents are, the more incentive there is to produce cures. In fact, it might require an extended patent life in order to make curing diseases economically viable.

  63. Slartibartfast says:

    Bob Kauten says:
    September 2, 2014 at 7:17 pm (Edit)
    Slartibartfast,
    I’m not sure I can say your name in polite company.
    Fortunately, this is not polite company.

    It’s not important.

    But hurry up or you’ll be late.

  64. Tony C. says:

    RTC says: You’re the one who dismissed the value of biodiversity as being overrated.

    As you said, biodiversity is about genes. Then you say, nobody knows where the next cure for cancer [or any disease] comes from. So if as you claim “nobody knows,” then the only value of biodiversity is as a natural resource which may or may not contain some miracle cure.

    The vast majority of life on earth (> 99% I believe) is bacterial, not animal, yet I see no campaigns out there to save the bacteria or prevent one of the trillion species of bacteria from going extinct. If you want novel genes, 99% of them will be in bacteria. Bacteria are also easy to force evolve to carry novel genes.

    But ultimately I believe that technology will lead us to engineer proteins de novo to address particular problems. Hunting through existing animals to find a gene is like searching for a naturally broken rock with a sharp cutting edge. Rocks fall, those rocks exist. But we can learn to break and shape our own cutting rocks and save years of time we’d spend searching, and then make sharp tools out of rock like knives and arrowheads and spear heads and art.

    RTC says: drug companies are some of the most outspoken advocates for preserving the Amazon…because of it’s biodiversity.

    Perhaps, but they are lazy and want to find something valuable for free and then exploit it. They don’t want to spend the billions or trillions of dollars for people like Slartibartfast or my colleagues to learn to engineer genes. Biodiversity is worth preserving as examples of working naturally evolved machinery, but it can be replaced by engineered machinery and should be; the engineered machinery is more likely to be efficient and on point without side effects.

    You are elevating “biodiversity” to something like a religious principle, it is just a shortcut.

    RTC says: you doubled down on the stupid when you proclaimed that, “we bend nature to our will”. If that were even remotely true, climate change would pose no real problems for mankind.

    That is a false equivalence. Are you living in a house? When is the last time a human in your neighborhood became the lunch of a big cat? Can you get drinking water without facing down predators at the watering hole? Do you own anything at all made from refined aluminum? Have you ever taken an antibiotic to cure an infection?

    Humans bend nature to their will. That doesn’t mean we control the sun and every element in the universe. But we aren’t helpless either.

    RTC says: Truth is, humans are more successful than any other species at coping with nature, but as the example of GMO’s proves, we enjoy a very limited control.

    Actually the opposite is true; the fact that we can genetically engineer any organism is proof that we are coming to greater grips with controlling nature, it is not proof our control is “very limited.”

    In fact our control is extensive and growing. GMO have not proven themselves to be any more dangerous than, say, the internal combustion engine that kills about 1.3 million people world wide every year; an average of thousands per day. Compared to that tech, GMO are pretty safe.

    RTC says: I feel superior to you … because you’re a phony, Tony. The way you dismissively insist that the world’s water shortage can be addressed by purchasing distilled water says it all.

    I never said that, if you must resort to lying come up with a better one.

    As for the world’s water shortage, all fresh water is “distilled” by nature; evaporated from the surface, delivered as rain and usually filtered through natural ground structures. There is sufficient solar energy to provide the world with water; so the shortage is just an engineering and distribution problem. If I am dismissive it is because those problems do not alarm me, if they aren’t done they are political problems and financing problems, not problems we don’t know how to solve. Deploy ten thousand engineers and a million construction workers with rights of way and few tens of trillion of dollars worth of capital and the problem is solved. Is that a lot? No, not really. The world GDP is about 75 trillion dollars. It can afford it. Refusing to afford it and letting people die of thirst or regions become deserts is the fault of politicians, it isn’t because the engineers don’t know what to do. It is because the politicians cannot agree with each other and won’t finance the engineered solutions, it is because people do not want to pay the taxes for the solutions or sell the property required.

    RTC says: The real question, as far as your concerned,

    You’re wrong, don’t tell me what I think, you moron.

    RTC says: The other giveaway in your supposed concern for people is this: Close to a million and half people die each year – each year! – from mosquito borne diseases. Any species that reduce mosquito populations is an ally of the people.

    I see. Suppose I could genetically modify a male mosquito so it only has male offspring, and passes on those genes to its offspring? That is actually within the realm of possibility, you know. Then with a breeding population of captive females, I can produce an unlimited number of such males, introduce them into the wild, and severely reduce the mosquito population, in fact far more than any bats feeding on mosquitoes. And the bats will find other food anyway, there are myriad flying insects for them to eat besides mosquitoes.

    By your criteria, that GMO would be an ally of the people; it could make the mosquito extinct; every female the GMO male mated with would have nothing but GMO males, the female population would plummet and the GMO male population would skyrocket, the selective pressure would mean all females would be impregnated by GMO males, within a few generations there would be an all male population, and when they died the mosquito would be no more.

    There is your lie; RTC. You’d apparently rather let people die of mosquito borne diseases than use a GMO solution to that problem. You’re an ideologue with a preconceived notion that does not understand genetics and is therefore scared of ghosts and goblins that don’t exist.

    RTC says: After all, there probably aren’t any insects in your little sci-fi fantasy world.

    No, there would be plenty of insects; they are the workhorse of the world. But there is no reason to tolerate harmful insects, especially if we can engineer or select away from harmful traits. We can have ants without having Army ants, bees without having aggressive killer bees. We don’t have to tolerate blood-sucking ticks and mosquitoes and fleas, we can get by fine with insects (like bees) that feed on plants, or insects (like dung beetles) that feed on waste.

    RTC says: … actually store carbon beneath the ground via plants more effectively than anything we have invented so far.

    “So far” is the point. Nature has no intelligence, whatever nature does, it does by blind accident. Man does have intelligence, and can observe what is done by blind accident and engineer mechanisms that perform the key steps far more efficiently and effectively than nature has done it.

    “Natural Selection” was coined by Darwin to allude to what was already being done by man in breeding all kinds of plants and animals, in his time that breeding process of choosing parental stock was called “selection.” Darwin used the word “natural” to make a distinction between what people knew was highly effective and how nature worked; but it was understood by Darwin and his colleagues that natural selection would be a much slower and much more inefficient process than how an intelligent human breeder would proceed, that “natural selection” proceeded by accident and the odds of survival and odds of mating. Natural selection was a blind statistical process biased toward reproductive success, not an engineered process.

    Which brings us back to sharp rocks: They occur naturally, but rarely and by accidents. We can teach ourselves to engineer sharp rocks so we have as many as we want. Fire occurs naturally, but we taught ourselves to control it. Did we eliminate all danger from it? Obviously not, it remains a dangerous tool, but it would be silly to argue Man does not control Fire just because sometimes fire is out of control and people are killed by it.

    The same thing goes for carbon capture. However nature does it, it does it by blind accident. We can learn what nature does, and engineer a process more efficient and effective than that.

    The same thing goes for genetics. What nature has done it does by blind accident. We can teach ourselves to engineer genes for specific purposes. There is no magic there; the genes are a digital technology and the ribosome turns that into a protein, the protein folds by the rules of physics (including perhaps some quantum effects, but physics nonetheless), and acts on cells by the rules of physics. There are many mysteries left to be solved to understand that completely, but nobody working on it thinks those mysteries are insoluble, and there is no reason to believe they won’t be solved within the next century.

  65. HELP Tony C. says:

    May have lost a post about a minute prior to this one… A response to RTC. Thanks for any help.

  66. Elaine M. says:

    Tony,

    I just released your comment from the spam filter.

  67. Tony C. says:

    Slarti says: no one should be able to patent something that can be produced in nature. […]
    Are either [protein or virus] something which could have naturally evolved? Possible but not likely. Are they “natural”? Well… um… pretty much, I guess… (whee! this slippery slope is fun!)

    I would stick to the definition of patent; you cannot patent something that already exists naturally. An entrepreneur cannot patent “oxygen” or “iron”. The patent must be something new, and further, something non-obvious to a person “skilled in the art” of whatever purpose the patent serves. Copyright is similar; one cannot copyright a word or even a sentence or text that is already in the public domain even if they were never copyrighted in the first place (like the writings Marcus Aurelius).

    Under that existing definition, no gene that exists in nature already can be patented, and if a gene is patented and a researcher later shows to a jury that the gene already existed in nature, the patent is revoked. That is any human gene, plant gene, bacterial gene or viral gene.

    What we should allow to be patented are novel inventions of things that are not extant in nature, and things that are non-obvious to others skilled in the art, and things that accomplish something novel. For example, most amino acids are coded for by several codons; Leucine has six different codons (in RNA UUA, UUG, CUU, CUC, CUA, CUG). If I change out one codon for a synonymous one, I may indeed have a unique gene that does not occur in nature but performs an identical function to one occurring in nature; that novel gene should not be patentable because (as I have just demonstrated) it is just a trick obvious to one skilled in the art, and produces the same exact protein as a gene that occurs in nature.

  68. Tony C. says:

    Thank you, Elaine. And that next “HELP Tony” was unintentional, I forgot to switch my tag back.

  69. Slartibartfast says:

    Tony,

    I removed the “HELP” from your pseudonym on your comment.

    I would pretty much agree with you on patenting and I would also suggest that your swapped codon example wouldn’t be patentable if you are patenting the protein rather than the DNA which codes for it (in addition to the reasons you stated).

    On biodiversity, I would say that it is a metric of the health of a biological system, but shouldn’t be regarded as an end-all be-all (or, as you pointed out, the healthiest system would be the one with the most species of bacteria). A better metric would probably be something that measured how efficiently all of the niches in the system were being utilized or something having to do with energy conversion ala Prigogine. Just my $0.02.

  70. Tony C. says:

    Slarti: A better metric [of the health of a biological system] …

    I should think “health” is a measure of homeostatic stability (or resilience); both for individuals and other living systems. In other words, how capable the system is of handling random events, insults, injuries, etc. If a person gets sick enough, their ability to continue as a functioning system collapses and they die. A healthy adult maintains something of a bodily status quo; cells that die are replaced one for one with new cell growth.

    A healthy ecosystem will presumably have in place the same dynamics a hundred years from now as it exhibits now; in terms of the flows of energy and waste. It maintains homeostasis, a stable, ongoing equilibrium of interacting elements.

    That’s my $0.02 on what “health” means. A bacterial infection that kills somebody destroys their homeostatic equilibrium; the removal of key organisms (like ants, or bees) can destroy the equilibrium of an ecosystem and even kill it.

    RTC seems to think biodiversity is valuable for some hidden treasures it may contain in terms of magic genes that will cure cancer or perform other miraculous transformations. It’s a human-centric POV. However, even if it does nothing for humans, there is some statistical value in biodiversity in the sense that it can increase the resilience of an ecosystem by providing backups when some species is damaged by disease or natural disaster or over-predation or whatever. It is more difficult to disrupt homeostasis if the system does not have keystone (irreplaceable) species. If you look at the ecosystem in terms of a cyclic dependence graph; from the autotrophs to the peak predators, we do not want any nodes in that diagram that if eliminated sever the graph in two. In that sense, we might measure “health” as the minimum number of nodes that must be eliminated in order to sever the graph and therefore disrupt homeostasis. The higher that minimum, the more resilient the system.

  71. HELP Tony C. says:

    Hm, lost another comment to Slart. Help, please!

  72. Tony C. says:

    That’s my comment; thanks for releasing it.

    I would add, that by understanding “health” as resilience in this way, we can engineer greater health in an ecosystem by finding such keystone species and monitoring them, protecting them, aiding them, preventing predation upon them, or even introducing alternative species that perform a similar function.

    If we like the homeostasis achieved in some ecosystem, then by understanding where it is weak we can help preserve it. If we do not like a homeostasis, then by understanding where it is weak we can disrupt it or alter it.

  73. blouise says:

    I forgot to mention that once Slarti comes aboard, the thread goes haywire and posts fly away … something to do with magical mystical magnetism. (When he disappears it is usually because his magic stick is looking for gold. All you serious scientists should remove your minds from the gutter and think “Joseph Smith”)

    Seriously, this potential patent problem is serious. Does anyone know if it is being addressed or are research facilities just in the discussion phase not having turned their legal departments loose?

  74. Bob Kauten says:

    Slartibartfast,
    You may remember me. My given name is Zaphod Beeblebrox. To avoid folks wondering “which Zaphod Beeblebrox?,” I adopted the more distinctive monicker, “Bob Kauten.”
    Not as many of those.

  75. Tony C. says:

    blouise: this potential patent problem is serious.

    In the USA it is being battled out by the giant players, unfortunately, and when the elephants wrestle the insects get crushed. Countries, Corporations and Ivy League universities. I am asked every quarter whether I have developed anything remotely patentable.

    I think the real question is whether some foreign sovereign countries will honor any such patents; like China, or Germany, or Brazil, or Australia. Or even Norway. Is there some point at which they just say “bullshit, we’re not paying anybody royalties on that” ?

    China already refuses to enforce a lot of software copyright law (I don’t know how they treat patents in China, maybe just as badly). Just as with other rights, IP laws are meaningless if there is no threat behind them, and the USA isn’t going to piss China off too bad.

  76. blouise says:

    I know I’m being naive, but this a whole new world to me.

    I think of the masterpieces in art and music and so many of them were produced for the Church, not because the artists were particularly religious but because the Church had the money to pay them and Chuch leaders were in constant competition with each other in building their own cathedrals and performing their own ceremonies. If it wasn’t the Church, then it was a king or other nobleman paying the freight and thus determining the product.

    And so it seems to continue … a researcher has to go where the money is. If it can be said that in the world of academia it is publish or perish, can it also be said that in the world of research it is patent or perish?

  77. Tony C. says:

    blouise: Not exactly, because “academia” and “research” are mixed together. The objective of most senior academics in the practical sciences (things with applications) is actually research, finding ways to solve problems or do new things or understand something. That is true in mechanical and electrical engineering, chemistry, neuroscience, physics, genetics, and computer science.

    I would say that to a large extent academia still boils down to plain old money. I know a researcher that is the world expert in a topic and refuses to patent anything; but because he is a “celebrity” in his field he can land really large dollar grants, so his university doesn’t dare fuck with him (and yes, they can fuck with even tenured full professors and department heads), lest he take his million-dollar signature elsewhere. His money buys labs, computers, funds graduate students and other faculty, buys insanely expensive lab equipment.

    Don’t forget that most grants (like NSF or DoD) include about an 80+% surcharge by the university for “overhead” above and beyond the amount that pays for the researchers, equipment, and researcher expenses (like salary). This is how the university pays the bills, that (and donations) are the cream the elites can skim to fund their own salaries, international travel and private ego-projects.

    Patents are one way of making money, that’s all. But it’s a bird in the bush, and sometimes prestige and cachet and a big name that can attract money are the bird in the hand.

  78. Slartibartfast says:

    Blouise,

    In addition to what Tony said, I would point out that not only are patents not the only way of making money, they are not a guarantee of it either. They are one way of protecting intellectual property (the others being copyright, trademark and trade secret) and they can be a sales tool (showing potential clients and/or investors that you are serious), but plenty of people have a bunch of patents that neither they nor their employer are making a dime off of (the patent attorneys billing at $300 or $350/hr tend to do okay, though 😉 ). In industry it’s all about the value of the deliverables, but I can’t think how to say that in a catchy phrase like “publish or perish”.

  79. blouise says:

    Slarti,

    Tangibles or terminate! 😉

  80. blouise says:

    Profit or poof

  81. Slartibartfast says:

    That works.

  82. Slartibartfast says:

    Now you’re just showing off.

  83. blouise says:

    Slarti,

    I’m a musician for christ’s sake … of course I’m showing off.

    As I wrote earlier … this is a whole new world to me … scientists, research, etc. and I believe you guys on this blog are the only real research scientists I know. My mind is full of a thousand questions and then a thousand more once one is answered. It’s fascinating!

  84. RTC says:

    Tony:

    Homeostasis is the deathnell of healthy ecosystems, they depend on some form of disturbance. For instance, prairies and savannas are fire-dependent, the deltas of the Nile and Mississippi Rivers needed periodic flooding to maintain fertility. It all depends on the type of disturbance that an ecosystem has evolved with. The Arctic tundra evolved under seasonal cylcles of freeze/thaw, but ATV traffic in summer would rip up the fragile soils beyond repair.

    Bison are a keystone species in large part because they are an agent of disturbance. Their absence, like the desert tortoise, eliminates many vital ecosystem functions that other species depend on.

    One of the more harmful factors in ecosystem destruction is fragmentation, particularly in the face of climate change. Species need cohesive ecosystems in order to carry out the migratory [patterns they’ve evolved to perform during climate shifts. That means the absence of homeostasis.

    And you are correct, the concern for healthy ecosystems is very human-centric, but I also subscribe to Aldo Leopold’s land ethic that views other species, even the soil as an equal member of the community.

    Has anyone ever read, Should Trees Have Standing by Christopher Stone?

  85. Tony C. says:

    RTC: Fires, floods, and other disruptions can be a part of homeostasis; it depends on the time period you are measuring and what you are measuring. Homeostasis for an organism can include a number of states; for a person it typically includes rest, sleep, activity, eating, and eliminating. The point of homeostasis, in this context, is whether the capabilities of the ecosystem are preserved, not whether individuals within it (or individual species within it) survive.

    Disruptions, like periodic flooding or prairie fires or earthquakes or tornadoes or hurricanes, are not considered to end homeostasis for a living environment unless they fundamentally and permanently alter the dynamics of the system. They can either be necessary to homeostasis (as fires that act as systemic cleaners can be necessary for the health of species, that would otherwise be choked out by dead and rotting debris), or they are just random insults to homeostasis that the system recovers from. That is the point of homeostasis, resilience and the ability to overcome random insults and setbacks.

    For example, I am a healthy person. If I get dumb and drop a hammer and break a toe; I have an injury; an insult to my state of health immediately prior. But my body will heal that injury and return me to that previous state of health; or close enough that no outside observers would declare the Tony before the broken toe was a fundamentally different person than the Tony with the healed broken toe.

    RTC says: Species need cohesive ecosystems in order to carry out the migratory [patterns they’ve evolved to perform during climate shifts. That means the absence of homeostasis.

    No, it doesn’t. You don’t know what it means. Periodic migrations do not change a damn thing about homeostatis; that is the just the nature of that flock or herd. A system in which red-nosed reindeer browse the south in winter, and migrate north for summer, and return to the south for winter, has a homeostatic cycle in it. The disruption occurs if they stay in one spot and freeze or starve. Migration is not a disruption, it is an activity of the living organism, a type of work done to preserve the life of the herd (not necessarily any given individual within it). As long as there is some mechanism in place whereby the future of a collection of living things will look in a hundred years much like it does today, despite insults or injuries, we have homeostasis; stability at that level. Even if every individual within the collection has died and been replaced.

    Herds of animals migrating on the Serengeti were homeostatic for (presumably) tens or hundreds of thousands of years. The Bison were homeostatic; what disrupted that stability was the arrival of a new population that wanted their land. The world as a natural place had many large areas of long-term homeostasis that were disrupted by the evolution of long-term thinking in Heidelbergensis that eventually evolved into homo sapiens.

    RTC says: but I also subscribe to Aldo Leopold’s land ethic that views other species, even the soil as an equal member of the community.

    I do not, and never will, I see that as sappy sentimentalism, it is magical spiritual thinking that harms actual people. Would you let a child die to save soil bacteria? My mother is elderly, with Alzheimer’s, but I would still level a forest to save her life, given a choice.

    Most of life, including all plants, is just biological machinery that in my mind have no standing or rights whatsoever; and the same goes for anything inanimate like rocks or elements. They are things to be used, they are things that can be valuable or rare or useful or beautiful, but they have no “standing.”

    In my view “standing” begins when a living thing can feel pain, or terror, or be tortured. That doesn’t mean they have a right to life; I have no problem with raising food animals humanely and then ending their life to harvest their protein. The Temple Grandin approach for cattle; for example. I am against cruelty, starvation, physical torture, and confinement misery for animals that feel.

    I see no plausible reason to believe a tree is anything but an automaton without feeling, plants are in essence a kind of conversion machine. It is insulting to equate the value of my mother’s life to the life of a weed or some bacteria in the soil.

    Every time a surgeon scrubs in or puts in instrument in the autoclave they end the lives of millions of bacteria, that is the point, those millions of lives are expendable to save one human, or even one dog. Cut out a tumor or freeze a wart or amputate a leg and kill untold billions of cells to preserve the life of a thinking brain. All life is not equivalent.

  86. RTC says:

    Tony: I get what you’re trying to say regarding homeostasis in ecosystems, it’s just not the way ecologists view the dynamic process of ecosystem maintenance; it’s thought of as more as of process of succession and disturbance. Those disturbance events can be cyclical, periodic, or rare and infrequent, like asteroid strikes. They can also vary in severity from the expected (a hundred year flood) to the cataclysmic (Mt. St. Helen’s). The successional process follows a disturbance event and it’s never guaranteed that the outcome will be the same every time. Because species are in constant competition, even small things can affect the results and the fate of certain species can hang in the balance. To your point about migration and disruption, which doesn’t quite make sense, we tend to think of species as being in equilibrium or out of it.

    On the whole, you have a rather convoluted view of it. Even your analogy about breaking your toe doesn’t quite fit. A more appropriate analogy for comparing to a fire dependent ecosystem would be say that you’re state of health requires you to periodically break your toe.

    As for species migration and habitat fragmentation, I was thinking of climate change. Plants specifically need cohesive ecosystems to migrate in response to changes in the climate – but the same holds true for animal species as well. Birds can’t survive their annual migration if the plants and insects they depend on can’t migrate in response to a changing climate. (Please tell me you believe in climate change.) On another thread about rising sea levels, I brought up the benefits of mangrove swamps in preserving shorelines. Mangroves can dampen the more destructive effects of rising sea levels, but only if there are contiguous areas for them to fall back to as their present locations become unsuitable. The same hold true for all types of healthy ecosystems in regards to climate change; they act as a counterweight to what is the relatively rapid changes in the global environment. The way I see it, they are essential to human survival.

    But seriously, have you ever been faced with the choice of choosing between the life of your mother and a tree? I mean, is that the kind of thing that goes on in outer space? I know that I can’t imagine being faced with choosing between soil and a child. obviously, I’d choose for the life of the child. Fortunately, I don’t have to, since preserving healthy soils and saving children’s lives goes together; it’s kind of a win-win.

    I asked if you had read Stone’s book, not whether you agree with the premise. It’s too bad you’re unable to appreciate the value and beauty of trees and other plants. I find your view of the natural world pinched and constricted, unimaginative, and sad. If you want to denigrate as spiritualism, then so be it. I only know that when I can smell the rain or snow fifteen, twenty minutes before it begins to fall, I am experiencing a small part of what our prehistoric ancestors experienced, a perfect integration with the environment. Your attitude is similar to many other office workers and city dwellers, whose experience with nature consists of cutting the lawn or a round of golf. If there’s one thing I’d encourage anyone to do, it’s to get outside and visit a nature preserve. Feel the air, the light, the ground beneath you. Consider some plants and why they grow in one place and not in another; appreciate the role they play in the ecosystem for pollinators and predators, producers and consumers. I don’t think that I could be as content as E.O. Wilson to be limited to studying the base of a tree for a lifetime, but I’d be happy enough to work in a flatwoods or mesic prairie for the rest of my life.

  87. RTC says:

    Don’t let the lights go out without experiencing – just experiencing – something real

  88. Tony C. says:

    RTC says: your point about migration and disruption … doesn’t quite make sense, we tend to think of species as being in equilibrium or out of it.

    Define Homeostasis: The tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes.

    Migration is an act, like eating or mating or hunting, that is necessary for an organism (a herd or flock or group) to maintain a stable equilibrium with its environment. It is not a disruption because of that.

    RTC says : On the whole, you have a rather convoluted view of it. Even your analogy about breaking your toe doesn’t quite fit.

    Of course it does, it is an example of a disruption that my system recovers from and returns to its previous equilibrium. Look at the definition, my body, because it is healthy, has a tendency to return to my relatively stable equilibrium, despite an injury to my system. Such “injury” can be a broken toe, or the flu, or some days without food, or stresses due to a trip abroad. The tendency is to return, after such injury or stress, to a state that is essentially identical to the pre-injured state. Not literally identical, but functionally similar.

    RTC says: A more appropriate analogy for comparing to a fire dependent ecosystem would be say that you’re state of health requires you to periodically break your toe.

    No, because the toe was a disruption. A more appropriate analogy for a fire dependent system would be more inter-generational, something like pregnancy and birth; which can be injurious to a female and a stressor on a family. Or war, for a society that supports itself by predation.

    RTC says: (Please tell me you believe in climate change.)

    I believe all the science indicates man-made climate change is underway to the extent it will make significant parts of the planet uninhabitable; and will also result in widespread species extinction; and will probably also result in greater human competition for resources that become revolutions, wars, general mayhem and an increase in religiosity.

    RTC says: Mangroves can dampen the more destructive effects of rising sea levels, but only if there are contiguous areas for them to fall back to as their present locations become unsuitable. … The way I see it, they are essential to human survival.

    We have different definitions of “essential.” Nothing says humans have to survive on the shore line. I know most cities are ON the shore (or within 100 miles of it), but humans survive their entire lives in the Saharan desert. As long as the sea is out there somewhere and plankton emit oxygen, I don’t think it makes much difference to worldwide human survival if the sea level is high or low. Particular island nations might go under, New York, Miami, Houston, New Orleans, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco might all drown, but humanity isn’t going to die out. We’ve survived ice ages and millennia in the middle of Africa and Asia and South America, far from any shore. We’d survive a ten foot rise in sea level.

    RTC says: But seriously, have you ever been faced with the choice of choosing between the life of your mother and a tree?

    I use extremes to illustrate differences. Only the truly stupid miss that point. You made the claim that soil is an equal partner in the community, an extreme, and I call bullshit.

    RTC says: I know that I can’t imagine being faced with choosing between soil and a child.

    That shows a lack of imagination. Let me outline the logic to help you find your imagination. If you believe that soil has “rights” then you believe there are things humans should not be allowed to do to soil. The only point of “rights” would be to protect the soil somehow, presumably from acts that humans want to perform on the soil that harms the soil. To use an extreme for illustration, we outlaw rape because some men want to rape but rape harms the victim. What do you wish to outlaw that humans want to do with soil, that harms the soil? Chances are, whatever that act may be, humans want to do it because that is a way to make a living, buy food and shelter and medical care or other necessities. Since children depend on parents, outlawing those acts that harm soil can endanger the children by depriving them of those necessities.

    RTC says: I’d choose for the life of the child. Fortunately, I don’t have to, since preserving healthy soils and saving children’s lives goes together; it’s kind of a win-win.

    I’ve proven that sentimental logic wrong above. Preserving healthy soils means prohibiting acts that may be necessary to feed a child, pay for an operation, or provide some other short-term benefit. Preserving healthy soils is a long term goal benefiting future generations that can conflict directly with a short term goal benefiting specific individuals that must be achieved, like avoiding starvation.

    Your generality of “saving children’s lives” is a deception; you are at best saving some generic future children’s lives by sacrificing present and existing children that need immediate resources to survive, and obtaining those resources may degrade some soil. For example, by strip-mining it or polluting it.

    RTC says: It’s too bad you’re unable to appreciate the value and beauty of trees and other plants. I find your view of the natural world pinched and constricted, unimaginative, and sad. If you want to denigrate as spiritualism, then so be it.

    On the contrary, I do appreciate such beauty. I support conservation of it. For example; having traveled all over the nation I see vast, vast swaths of perfectly inhabitable but unoccupied, un-special land. Thus I see no reason other than avarice to develop much of California, I support all the national parks we have and would welcome more, I am opposed to most coastline development that lets the rich privatize that beauty or destroy parts of it to build residences are office buildings with dramatic views. Fuck them.

    But there is a limit, and a difference between what people desire and what people need. Natural beauty should be preserved, but not at the cost of lives, hardship, or starvation.

    RTC says: … I am experiencing a small part of what our prehistoric ancestors experienced, a perfect integration with the environment.

    No, you probably are not experiencing that at all, because unlike them you aren’t hungry and looking for a meal and distracted by fleas and ticks and predators. Unlike them, you have a contrasting vision so being outdoors seems special, their attitude will be far more analytical and less reverent; in fact their attitude toward nature would be much like the modern American’s attitude toward buildings and cities. We know how they work, most are boringly functional but we understand them and use them.

    To contrast the difference between your mind and theirs, imagine how they would feel about a modern skyscraper or modern home or modern hospital. The very thing you are bored with would astonish them; and the very thing that astonishes you would bore them.

    RTC says: Your attitude is similar to many other office workers and city dwellers, whose experience with nature consists of cutting the lawn or a round of golf.

    Screw you and your supercilious condescending bullshit attitude, you don’t know me, or where I’ve been or what I’ve seen or experienced.

    My attitude is that human lives are more important than your feelings of reverence or nature worship or contentment, that human lives are more important than other lives, that as a general rule the more emotions a species is capable of experiencing the more I care about it.

  89. HELP Tony C. says:

    Lost a post, also with the wrong name, HELP Tony C. But please release it… Thanks in advance.

  90. Tony C. says:

    Thanks for the help.

  91. Oky1 says:

    BTW:

    James, I enjoyed your article, I’m glad I took the time to read it.

    Hopefully I can get back & read some of these later comments it generated.

  92. Oky1 says:

    This is about a 30 min video that I believe is important.

    Insider Admits Shots Are Brain Damaging Kids and Gov. IS Covering It Up

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