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Comment: Re:Is there a single field that doesn't? (Score 1) 433

by ChromeAeonium (#47949871) Attached to: Science Has a Sexual Assault Problem

At a recent professional meeting, a woman made suggestive sexual remarks to me about a computer program. If I had said the same thing to another woman, the second woman could have interpreted it as harassment under that definition.

That's basically the 2013 'Donglegate' controversy in a nutshell.

Comment: Re:Apoplectic (Score 1) 167

by ChromeAeonium (#47838255) Attached to: Scientists Sequence Coffee Genome, Ponder Genetic Modification

That happened in Hawai'i. The University of Hawai'i was considering developing a GE variety, but the Kona coffee growers opposed it. I imagine not because they actually believe it was actually a bad thing, but because they target the high end market, which has a large cross-over with the hippie anti-science market that would flip out if they though their coffee was GMO. It doesn't even have to be since these types of people consider Facebook rumors to be fact checking, so the mere rumor would be enough to hurt the industry. As such, GE coffee on the Big Island got banned (also, GMO taro got banned at the same time because of political and religious reasons, which was absolute bullshit, but that's another topic). Now that the coffee berry borer is becoming increasingly problematic, I wonder if anyone is having second thoughts, although necessity has never mattered to the anti-GMO crowd, who still hate the papaya industry for being saved from total destruction by the Rainbow papaya. It is frustrating that ignorance is now considered a valid point of view.

Comment: Re:Le sigh.... (Score 1) 167

by ChromeAeonium (#47838181) Attached to: Scientists Sequence Coffee Genome, Ponder Genetic Modification

I think it is hubris to assume that we can tinker with genomes without unintended consequences.

Breeding macadamia nuts with easier to crack shells resulted in more insect damage. Breeding potatoes with more pest resistance made toxic potatoes. Breeding corn that was easier to produce hybrid seed from made disease susceptible corn. All that and more was conventional breeding. You know what I think is hubris? All the armchair agriculturists acting as if the people working on these things are wild eyed mad scientists who never stop to consider any secondary affects that may more most likely may not happen.

While that may not be advanced enough for you tastes, it works, and it improves [noun]. You do not have to [verb] to make improvements.

I turned your statement into anti-progress Mad-Libs. You could make that same argument against all progress, and you'd be wrong every time.

Comment: Re:Le sigh.... (Score 1) 167

by ChromeAeonium (#47838149) Attached to: Scientists Sequence Coffee Genome, Ponder Genetic Modification

Sounds like Caveman Science Fiction. It's a good point though, all these people saying they don't want people messing with their food, when we already have. Corn, wheat, seedless bananas, strawberries, cauliflower, all of those are man made, and there are several different methods used for the genetic improvement . When you point this out, usually to people totally ignorant of the history and science of crop improvement, instead of admitting they were completely and utterly clueless and had their foot in their mouth, and that maybe changing the genetics of crops isn't an intrinsically bad thing, they move the goalpost and say they meant this type of genetic change, then maybe throw in a appeal to ignorance for good measure. Can't win.

Comment: Re:Yeah, because that's a good idea. (Score 1) 167

by ChromeAeonium (#47838097) Attached to: Scientists Sequence Coffee Genome, Ponder Genetic Modification

And the problem with those arguments is that, while they do sound good, with a bit more context and information you realize they are actually vary poor anti-GMO talking pieces. If you did those exact same things with conventional breeding, no one would care.

they make plants that produce chemicals to kill pests, with possibly unknown health effects

All plants do this. Plants cannot fight insects, so they produce insecticides. Caffeine in coffee is actually one of them; why do you think the plant produces it right in its seed, its offspring? Not so something can eat it, although by a twist of fate that wound up being what we consume it for. Adding an additional insecticide is not, in and of itself, concerning, and in the case of GMOs, the one added comes from Bacillus thuringiensis, which has been sprayed on organic crops for years with no ill effects. We know how it works and its mode of action. It does not affect mammals. I previously stated that no one would care about this if GMOs were not involved; how do you think pest resistance is bred conventionally? There is work breeding high maysin (a natural pesticide in corn) lines of corn, and no one cares. That's because the arguments against GMOs always follow the conclusion, not the other way around (that's why even things like Golden Rice and Arctic apples have arguments against them; don't be surprised that these have opposition arguments cooked up too).

they make plants that are resistant to herbicides, which promotes the use of these herbicides, which promotes the development of superweeds

They make plants resistant to certain herbicides, specifically glyphosate and glufosinate. This allows a shift in weed management practices away from harsher herbicide, and soil damaging energy intensive tillage, toward more benign, selected herbicides. I'd rather farmers spray glyphosate than atrazine or use tillage. And again, no one complains about Clearfield wheat, a conventionally bred herbicide resistant line, and no one complained about the herbicide resistant weeds that have been appearing since the 70's (and please, they are not 'superweeds' any more than the GMOs themselves are Supercrops). Furthermore, if the herbicide resistant GMOs offered no benefit, why would weeds resisting their herbicides be such a bad thing? The anti-GMO movement is trying to have its cake and eat it too, saying there are no benefits to herbicide resistant crops (there are) AND the herbicide resistant weeds are threatening to take away their benefits. Unfortunately, it seems like no one calls them out on this logical inconsistency.

they patent everything and engage in licensing schemes that are really harmful to small farmers

Of course they patent everything. Those of us who work in plant improvement have a right to make a living. Lots of non-GMO crops have been patented since the plant patent acts passed in the 30's and 70's, and rightfully so. Do you work for free? I'll bet not. So why should plant breeders and genetic engineered? If you don't want to use those patented crops, don't. Ever had a pluot? Did you know they are patented? They took decades to develop, is it any wonder the breeders would like to maybe not go bankrupt and continue to produce something valued by society? Furthermore, Monsanto's first GMO soybean goes off patent this year and will be able to be freely planted in to 2015 season. Isn't that how it is supposed to work, develop something, make money, it goes to the public domain? I fail to see the problem. As for it hurting small farmers, that is false, they use GMO crops too. They don't have to, but they also get benefits from it. Why would new technology hurt small businesses?

Comment: Re:Is there a science deficit in creativity? (Score 2) 203

by ChromeAeonium (#47833345) Attached to: Is There a Creativity Deficit In Science?

Hollywood has turned against scientists again

It irks me that so often science is make out the be the monster maker. I get that a movie called 'Another boring day in a genetic engineering lab where noting unusual happens' isn't going to be a big hit so they need to get their Frankenstein's monster somehow, but still, I don't like it.

I really hate when there's some smug asshole in the movie who spends the first half of the film whining about playing God and 'toying with things you don't understand' and whatnot, and then gets vindicated when the monster inevitably attacks. I wonder if that influences movie goers' perceptions about science and scientists. The movie Contagion did a very good job at a positive portrayal of scientists, which I won't spoil, but if you haven't seen it you should.

Comment: Re:put a label on it. (Score 2) 281

by ChromeAeonium (#47755127) Attached to: The Evolution of Diet

Actually, given that corn is a new world crop, humans didn't evolve to eat it at all. But yes, I'm sure that a legal attribute totally affects the digestibility. Humans can somehow digest thousands upon thousands of proteins from New World crops but one more, oh, too much. Right, that's how it works. And I can't imagine how improving food production will prevent hunger, that's like saying seat belts will make cars safer.

Comment: Re:Better to starve I guess? (Score 2) 152

by ChromeAeonium (#47727395) Attached to: China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

Disrupting ecosystems due to unintended consequences could be far more destructive.

This is agriculture. We're producing food for billions of people on a very large chunk of the earth's land, I'd say the environmental disruption thing has already happened. The question is no longer about causing environmental harm, it is about minimizing it. Could Bt crops have negative environmental impacts? Wrong question, the issue is if they are superior to spraying insecticides.

Your hypothetical about gene transfer, if you were referring to a jump from a GE crop to related wild species, that is something that environmental impact studies (they are done!) considers on a case by case basis. It depends on the gene, the location, the species, the environment. If you were referring to a jump to non-related species, while technically possible, it is wildly implausible, and that GE is involved is no more reason to suspect it will happen than to suspect that, say, the gene for the insecticidal PA1b protein will jump from pea to lettuce.

These are not generally helped by increasing yields in the already-overproducing rich nations who can afford to buy GMOs.

Which is why technology transfer to developing countries so that they can work towards improving food security has always been a goal.

Comment: Re:Wow (Score 1) 152

by ChromeAeonium (#47724529) Attached to: China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

The case where Schmeiser knowingly and intentionally selected for transgenic traits, pretended it was all a big coincidence, then got caught? The OSGATA case could have referenced the Schmeiser case if it actually demonstrated what they were claiming, but they could not because it does not. Again, no one got sued for cross pollination.

Comment: Re: Wow (Score 1) 152

by ChromeAeonium (#47719983) Attached to: China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

But has this been tested on humans?

Nope, but neither have a lot of things that present no reason to be suspicious of. Show me a long term multi-generational study on Wi-Fi exposure. You probably can't. Does that implicate Wi-Fi as potentially dangerous? Not unless I can provide a legitimate reason as to why one would be necessary, which I can't. Yeah, people go 'Ahh, no human study and they're feeding it to us!' but you know what, that's grasping for straws, implying there is a difference that requires study where none exists. Now, you provide some compelling reason as to why it is necessary to go beyond animal studies, with some biologically plausible rational, then I might be concerned. Until then I've got no problems eating them.

But do like how you cannot grow unmodified corn in the us of Monsanto or pioneer

Totally false. Non-transgenic seed is not only readily available, in the case of Bt corn, you are required to plant a non-GE refuge area.

Comment: Re:Applaude (Score 3, Insightful) 152

by ChromeAeonium (#47719821) Attached to: China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

Right on schedule the moving goalpost away from 'genetically changing a plant is bad' to 'the way I don't like is different therefore bad'. If you note, you'll see that everything I mentioned are actually all quite different. Various types of somatic and induced mutations, selective breeding, biotech facilitate wide crossing/embryo rescue, artificial chromosome alteration...very different from genetic engineering, where a single well known gene is inserted. Why not lump genetic engineering in with everything else and select the chromosomal duplication to be the pariah? After all, that is also an entirely different thing, which I don't think is particularly meaningful, but means about as much as your argument. What I personally do is both more and less extreme than transgenics, depending on how you want to view it. The lumping of everything as 'conventional breeding' to make a dichotomy between it and genetic engineering is a very simplistic view.

without the slightest idea (or any way of finding out) what the effects will be in the long term.

Fallacy number two, the straw man. Do you really think the scientific community, which overwhelmingly supports GE crops (don't even try to deny this), does not pause to consider such things? Perhaps you could explain your long term fears in less vague terms?

But that doesn't matter, does it? To those whose only reality is profit, there is no future beyond the current quarter.

Sorry, the corporate card has no bearing on scientific topics. Save it for politics.

"Though a program be but three lines long, someday it will have to be maintained." -- The Tao of Programming