(OT?)Genetic pollution is growing. Is it the real TimeBomb?

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Genetic pollution is growing
By Matt Crenson in Montreal
Advertiser Newspaper
Adelaide (Aus)
28 Jan 00

As environment ministers from 50 countries meet to seek an international agreement to prevent environmental damage from genetic engineering of plants, animals and bacteria, farmers said yesterday the move was already too late.

For the second time in a year, the United Nations is attempting to negotiate a Biosafety Protocol. The last effort in Cartagena, Colombia, ended in a deadlock when a group headed by the United States refused to sign a draft agreement.

Environmentalists and farmers in Montreal said modified crops in many countries were already causing 'genetic pollution' of the environment.

Already 100,000ha of modified crops are grown in Australia - a larger area than in France, Spain or Mexico.

The International Service for Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications says 39.9 million hectares have been sown worldwide, for an estimated market value of up to $3.5 billion last year.

"The problem is totally out of control", said Canadian farmer Hart Haiden. He said genes from genetically engineered canola plants had already spread to unaltered varieties in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

And because European countries may ban imports of genetically engineered canola, Canada may lose sales.

Organic farmers are especially concerned because plants are very efficient at spreading genetic information. Honeybees can carry canola pollen up to 8 km and wind can blow tree pollen 50-100 km. "The problem is that genetic pollution can't be contained, or even cleaned up afterwards," said organic farmer Steve Gilman of Silverwater, New York.

The influx of high-level officials to the talks is being seen as a sign the protocol might be signed, however.

A coalition of developing nations wanted the right to refuse imports of genetically engineered products, with the US and its allies arguing that such freedom would hinder free trade.


Canola is big here in my region of OZ. Also my brother-in-law dairy farm across the road is pivot-irrigated and this means single variety pastures. Herbs and such are weeded out vigorously. Milk is becoming tasteless.

I believe the digital time bomb this forum is concerned with is just a blip in the big screen. The real time bomb is our heedless mal-practice of our land driven by profiting faceless multi-nationals. The price paid for free trade will be very high, I think.

Regards from Down Under

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), January 29, 2000



have you ever read any of Geri Guidetti's articles?

she has a lot of info re: genetic engineering on her site


-- mebs (andrea@mebs.lurking), January 29, 2000.

Pieter, I agree. Don't mess with the food supply. They are messing.

-- Mara (MaraWayne@aol.com), January 29, 2000.

Most people who prepared for y2k realize the difference between hybrid and non-hybrid seeds. Purists would call hybrids "bioengineered." We have been creating hybrids for centuries. (For instance, look at Darwin's studies.)High yield, disease resistant, short or varied season varieties have enabled us to feed the world on smaller areas of land. Hybrids have created greater food stability and plenty in the United States.

Be carefull in the zeal to "save the planet" that we examine the human implications of total retrogression back to "heirloom" varieties.

-- marsh (siskfarm@snowcrest.net), January 29, 2000.


There is a lot of hype associated with this subject; particularly in Europe. Most of this hype is based in politics not science. Having said that, should we be careful? You bet you little booties.

Best wishes,,,,

-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), January 29, 2000.

Thanks for your views everyone,

The Canadians do the Canola down here. I am involved in social critique and have witnessed huge demographic change in rural Australia. Because of consumer driven industry directives we have the advent of mono-crops, mono-agriculture, mono-forestry, mono-horticulture, mono-vineyards ad nauseum.

From a development point of view labour is seasonal, with the clusters of rural communities being dissembled.

If mono-cropping is here to feed a hungry world then our pay is destruction of a wonderful rural lifestyle and its support mechanisms. I am yet to be persuaded that it was a change for the better. In this new paradigm if Brussels sneazes we catch cold.

Regards from Down Under

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), January 29, 2000.

Destruction of a rural lifestyle? How awful! So people were herded off their farms at gunpoint, is that it?

"Our" heedless malpractice of [sic] "our" land? When did "we" buy it, and how much did "we" pay?

Give me a giant break. If genetically altered food scares you, don't buy it, and don't eat it. I should warn you, however, that non-genetically altered, original growth corn had ears about the size of your thumb, and didn't taste very good, while wheat tasted like what it wasa grass. If organic food, or non-altered food, or, for that matter, food irradiated by aliens in big blue machines tastes superior or has superior nutrition, it will find a market. Relax.

And, if you want the land to stay "pure", buy a bunch of it and let it go fa

-- ifyoudon'tlikeit (don't@buyit.com), January 29, 2000.

Hmmm. It is odd to be flamed on this. It's a hugely complex subject.

Planned demographics require a balance between retained natural reserves that include marine parks and strips of National Wildlife Parks for fauna and flora. Their ratio is a hot current political debate and I am asked to make a submission regarding crayfish recreational/commercial fishing and designated marine safe havens balances. I am angling around for ideas.

A change of farming practice is global market driven with more labour being seasonal now. This has changed the demographics of medical care, old age care services, schooling and infrastructure funding, like that for roads, housing and water.

Governments are very sensitive to the changing requirements of a rural Australia, changes brought by many of their trade policies.

The story here is also one of dislocation, and yes, I do know personally those local farmers who didn't manage to stay with the changes and left in rather unfortunate circumstances.

And yes, I have personally tasted dislocation and seen the poisons at work. I was on management consultancy committees that helps political changes come about, those sustainability issues that bore the shits out of consumptive city-dwellers.

Regards from Down Under

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), January 29, 2000.

I notice that Pieter expresses the opinion of having been flamed, but I do not notice any posts that look like flames. I wonder whether some flaming posts have beeen deleted, or whether Pieter has a very low threshold for dissent.

Meanwhile, the phrase "genetic engineering" may be new, and some of the methods of genetic engineering may be new, but the basics of it are quite ancient, as Marsh has suggested.

It almost seems as if some folks want variations in gene pools either to come to a screeching halt, or to be placed under the thumbs of politicians. Perhaps some people do not realize the extent to which some foods that we take for granted today differ from their predecessors just a few generations ago.


-- Jerry B (skeptic76@erols.com), January 29, 2000.

OK, I'm going to bed. I missed the Genetic, and added a 2000.

Pollution is growing. Is it the real TimeBomb 2000

Nite all.

LOL <:)=

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), January 30, 2000.

Sorry, low threshold day. It's genetic.

Regards from OZ

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), January 30, 2000.

Ok "you don't like it, don't buy it". Right, how can I get it out of my food chain at this point? The cheese on my carry out pizza is all made from milk raised on steroid and bovine growth hormone. The corn in my taco chips was derived from crops that were 35% genetically modified, not separated at the grain elevator either. The gluten in my cake mix. The soybean oil in my salad dressing at the buffet. Yes, you can buy organic for yourself. But you still have NO control over restaurants or school cafeterias. JUST SAY NO TO GMO!!! Label this crap NOW so I can choose to eat it or not. And to the idiot above who said farmers were not driven by gunpoint off the land. Listen buddy, you obviously never farmed a day in your life. Ever try to declare bankruptcy on a modern farm? If your debt is so great that you can't pay the taxes after foreclosure, you can't even afford to do that either. Wake up. CAFO Confined Animal Feedlot Operations (Animal Phactories) are the corporate answer in America. Europe says no. Pray they prevail because THIS country rolled over and played dead in the face of the Monsanto(Monsatan) frankenfoods steamroller 3 yrs ago. Pieter, tell your brother-in-law, my Irish dairy farming kinfolk grossed only L2,000 last year, a loss of over L10,000 in income since Mad Cow Debacle in the feed. Knew you had the soul of a dairyman's best interests at heart inside! Best wishes for safe calving and high yields. G'day mate. Frisian butterfat rules!

-- William Wallace (braveheart@highlands.com), January 30, 2000.

William Wallace, heheh..."Frisian butterfat rules!"....bwhaha....it's a scream!!!...haha ROTF....I needed that. I wonder if they can figure it out...:)

Regards from hehehe....phew! It's very funny.

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), January 30, 2000.

I've come to expect ignorance on this issue, especially around here where conservative kneejerkism is all the rage. But, Marsh, you of all people should know better. Selectively breeding thumbsized maize into the large nutritious corn we have today is not the same as putting fish genes in tomatoes or bacteria DNA in soy. Do you guys know the difference between selective breeding as practiced for over 10,000 years and "bio-engineering", which is the physical insertion of foreign genetic material into plants or livestock. If not, read up on this issue before displaying your ignorance in public.

As for ifyoudontlikeit and his petulant, "If genetically altered food scares you, don't buy it, and don't eat it." I take it, therefore, that you stalwart free-choice advocates support labeling of GMO foodstuffs so that, if I don't like, I will be able to choose what NOT to buy or eat?

-- (First=Last@Last.=First), January 30, 2000.

if we keep genetically engineering plants willy-nilly, we face the problem of what happens when we get a hybrid potato that fits the need, that's "perfect".....everyone grows this super- potato........then a potato blight comes along

diversity kept the world from losing the potato.......and that's what non- hybrids represent.....diversity

non-hybrid seed carry the genes for all the hybrids .........if we lose the base, we could lose it all

the biggest problem i see is that monsanto/etc are breeding sterility......and that's scarey to me

they are not just producing hybrids (which, i agree, have their place)....but are presenting the chance that some such genetically produced hybrids may turn around and "kill" their parents

can you say "soylent green"?

-- mebs (andrea@mebs.lurking), January 30, 2000.


You have pointed our the main error of those that say that plant hybrid breeding should be continued. OF COURSE IT SHOULD! Plant hybrid breeding is NOT genetic engineering!!!! As you stated, it (GE) is inserting genes from OTHER SPECIES into our food plants, i.e. like the time they put a ocean fish gene into tomatoes, so the tomato could withstand cold weather better. DUMB DUMB & DUMBER! The Monsantos and ADMs of the world are truly, in my opinion, a danger to all peoples of the world.

-- jeanne (jeanne@hurry.now), January 30, 2000.

Hmmm, "conservative kneejerkism". That would be a preference for avoiding change, for keeping things as they are. Yes, there seem to be several expressions of such a preference in this thread. :-)


-- Jerry B (skeptic76@erols.com), January 30, 2000.

Hey,my learned Contemporaries,if it takes all this " Bio Engineering"to keep feeding the Masses,is it not Time for Humanity to stop breeding like Rats,and start working on that Problem,through Education,Tax Incentives for the non Breeders,erronious religious Beliefs and "the more the better"Attitudes.Every conceivable Problem we face,from Traffic to Pollution,Crime and Illness can be traced to "too many of Us".

-- Liberator (Feeding@the Trough.com), January 30, 2000.

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