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plant sex in silico
March 8, 2014 1:34 PM   Subscribe

Monsanto Is Going Organic in a Quest for the Perfect Veggie - "The lettuce, peppers, and broccoli—plus a melon and an onion, with a watermelon soon to follow—aren't genetically modified at all. Monsanto created all these veggies using good old-fashioned crossbreeding, the same technology that farmers have been using to optimize crops for millennia. That doesn't mean they are low tech, exactly. Stark's division is drawing on Monsanto's accumulated scientific know-how to create vegetables that have all the advantages of genetically modified organisms without any of the Frankenfoods ick factor."
As Stark phrases a company mantra: "The best gene in the world doesn't fix dogshit germplasm." What does? Crossbreeding. Stark had an advantage here: In the process of learning how to engineer chemical and pest resistance into corn, researchers at Monsanto had learned to read and understand plant genomes—to tell the difference between the dogshit germplasm and the gold. And they had some nifty technology that allowed them to predict whether a given cross would yield the traits they wanted.

The key was a technique called genetic marking. It maps the parts of a genome that might be associated with a given trait, even if that trait arises from multiple genes working in concert. Researchers identify and cross plants with traits they like and then run millions of samples from the hybrid—just bits of leaf, really—through a machine that can read more than 200,000 samples per week and map all the genes in a particular region of the plant's chromosomes.

They had more toys too. In 2006, Monsanto developed a machine called a seed chipper that quickly sorts and shaves off widely varying samples of soybean germplasm from seeds. The seed chipper lets researchers scan tiny genetic variations, just a single nucleotide, to figure out if they'll result in plants with the traits they want—without having to take the time to let a seed grow into a plant. Monsanto computer models can actually predict inheritance patterns, meaning they can tell which desired traits will successfully be passed on. It's breeding without breeding, plant sex in silico. In the real world, the odds of stacking 20 different characteristics into a single plant are one in 2 trillion. In nature, it can take a millennium. Monsanto can do it in just a few years.
also btw...
  • Why Does Everyone Hate Monsanto? - "Nathanael Johnson concludes an impressively exhaustive series on GMOs, by suggesting that the fight is really more existential. He writes: 'Beneath all this is a fundamental disagreement about technology. At one end you have the... position, which suggests our innovations are hurting more then helping us. At the other end are the technological utopians who see restraints on innovation as intolerably prolonging the suffering that would end in a more perfect future.' The discussion is important, writes Johnson, but very abstract. We need to have something concrete to attach it to, so we attach it to the debate about GMOs. And GMOs being abstract, still, we attach the debate to Monsanto." (via)
  • Monsanto at centre of intensifying debate on food - "Hugh Grant, Monsanto's chief executive, is acutely aware of the dichotomy. Hardly the mould of a Bond villain, the down-to-earth Scot from Larkhall, southeast of Glasgow, acknowledges that the company should have engaged with a wider audience in the past."
  • By 2000, Monsanto's last Roundup patent had expired, and as chief operating officer, Mr Grant turned the company's focus more firmly toward seeds... Last year, the company stepped up its efforts into so-called "precision agriculture" – the application of advanced GPS, data analytics and remote sensing to farming – with the near $1bn acquisition of Climate Corporation, a San Francisco-based data company. Mr Grant becomes more animated when describing the new areas Monsanto is moving into, noting that its investments in research in enzymes and genetic information transmissions, as well as data analytics will help its core aim of increasing yields... Having seen the mistakes of the pharmaceutical industry, holding back drugs from the developing world, Monsanto is offering its innovations to regions such as Africa. It has formed partnerships with the likes of the charitable foundations of Bill Gates and Howard Buffett – the son of Warren Buffett – the UN's World Food Programme as well as US Agency for International Development.
  • Big data is taking over farming - "Monsanto, DuPont and others are revving up sales of crop-boosting 'prescriptive planting' technology, but some farmers fear letting go of data about their fields."
  • Some farmers have discussed aggregating data on their own so they could decide what information to sell and at what price. Other farmers are joining forces with smaller technology companies that are trying to keep agricultural giants from dominating the prescriptive-planting business. The owner of one small company, Steve Cubbage of Prime Meridian LLC, says his Nevada, Mo., company's independence from the seed, machinery and chemical industry "adds credibility," giving farmers an alternative with "their overall best interests in mind." About 100 farmers use Prime Meridian's precision-seeding service, and Mr. Cubbage expects the number to "increase dramatically over the next few years." The company is developing a system to store farm-by-farm information on a cloud-computing service that could give access to seed dealers, financial advisers and other outsiders approved by farmers. The Farm Bureau has held internal talks about whether the trade group should set up its own computer servers as a data storehouse, says Mace Thornton, a spokesman for the trade group.
  • Tech Center Speeds Plant Growth - "Sugar cane, switch grass and sorghum provide green-energy alternatives to polluting fossil fuels. The recently unveiled Danforth Science Center in the U.S. Midwest hopes to make these plants grow faster."
  • Denmark is an agricultural superpower - "In 2011 farm products made up 20% of its goods exports. The value of food exports grew from €4 billion ($5.5 billion) in 2001 to €16.1 billion in 2011. The government expects it to rise by a further €6.7 billion by 2020. Why, in a post-industrial economy, is the food industry still thriving? Much of the answer lies in a cluster in the central region of the country. Policymakers everywhere are obsessed by creating their own Silicon Valleys. But Denmark's example suggests that the logic of clustering can be applied as well to ancient industries as to new ones. In central Denmark just as in California, innovation is in the air, improving productivity is a way of life, and the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts. Entrepreneurs see the future in meat and milk."
  • Man-made meat will nourish the body and soul - "Humanity needs a synthetic diet for reasons of both health and conscience, says Anjana Ahuja."
posted by kliuless (52 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
of course the logical next step is to take these cultivars and use them as the basis for GMOs.

i have a lot of mixed feelings about all of this. I don't like agribusiness, for a lot of reasons, but as far as I can tell it's a true thing that we are just going to run out of capacity to keep people well-fed if we're not working really hard and leveraging high technology very smartly in our quest to get more nutrition per acre.

I would really really love to see a plausible road map to get there without agribusiness. Because I trust agribusiness precisely as far as I can spit the whole industry through a cocktail straw.
posted by lodurr at 1:40 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


Chiquita (et al) have been doing this with the humble supermarket banana since the 1920's. Today's banana would freak our ancestors out, it's been so inbred to resist new diseases and growing strategies it is virtually a new fruit entirely.
posted by BlerpityBloop at 1:59 PM on March 8


I'll be fun to see that anti-GMO crank crowd twist themselves around to hate on this, too.
posted by kafziel at 2:00 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


I don't think GMOs are exactly at the center of why people hate Monsanto. There are ways to run a GMO-focused business without engaging in the sorts of business practices that people hate Monsanto for.
posted by IAmUnaware at 2:01 PM on March 8 [37 favorites]


Looking at the pullquote from the "Big data is taking over farming" it seems to me this is the perfect thing that we need a decentralized - open source - maker/hacker community to be working on. Why are we sinking this money into for-profit businesses, period, regardless of how small they are. Mr. Cubbage and Prime Meridian are small, right now, sure, but at some point, they're either going to be THE big fish in the pond, or will get swallowed up by the bigger corps. Money is the dominating factor. And certainly, I can't hope that all the programmers who work on such a project would do this out of their good will (though it sure would be nice), why can't there be a subscription/local co-op model that doesn't rely on some LLC, with stipulations on how the data is to be maintained and if any sort of "takeover" of any kind occurs, a dissolution of said institution.
posted by symbioid at 2:05 PM on March 8


the perfect veggie is a small (cooks through faster) perfectly baked potato with butter, salt, pepper, sour cream and chives.

also: thank you kafziel for your pre-emptive condescension.
posted by bruce at 2:08 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


I think GMOs play a big part of the Monsanto hate, but yes, as IAmUnaware says, there other reasons besides GMOs. IP rights over food is certainly another concern and I believe that would happen whether it's a specific gene or cross-breeding. Of course, as noted, in such a case, the issue is larger than Monsanto and affects a broader swath of industry and individuals (including small time breeders). And add in the general distrust of corporations from both left (Green-like hippies) and right hippies (i.e. Ron Paul Hippies, which seems to be a big chunk, alas, these days), and you still have another reason to dislike them.
posted by symbioid at 2:12 PM on March 8


I don't think GMOs are exactly at the center of why people hate Monsanto. There are ways to run a GMO-focused business without engaging in the sorts of business practices that people hate Monsanto for.

There are lots of people out there who hate them for their GMO business, and lots of people who hate them for their business practices, and theres lots of overlap between the two camps. I don't have the same hate for their GMO business as I do their practices, but honestly, introducing foreign DNA into new plants (and animals…not Monsanto, but still on topic) is really where I draw the line. I'm okay with my wheat being engineered within it's own natural limits to be The Best Wheat it can be, but if that means putting crocodile or fish DNA in it, that's a little freaky. Their business practices however, are atrocious and terrible. Right up there with record executives, but you aren't eating records.

With any company as large as Monsanto, it's really easy to focus on the Horrible Terrible Things™ that they do; just like big pharma and oil companies and all sorts of other really big machines. However, within all those organizations theres arguably good going on; it's just really hard for our brains to compartmentalize a monolith like Monsanto.

I personally would love to see (some of) their GMO technology working its way into coffee research, what with all of the coffee rust exploding in latin america. The hybrids that are disease resistant are notably less tasty. Even if the GMO plants never really made it into production, but they were able to sort of fast track disease resistant plants through experimentation and purposeful hybridization, I'd be happy with that. Fuck, I'd lobby my boss to put it on the label.

And if you could engineer a coffee plant to grow above the 45th parallel in my backyard…that might change the conversation a bit.
posted by furnace.heart at 2:12 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


It's going to be interesting when Monsanto's killer patents start expiring this year, although it seems like the bargain of disclosure for temporary monopoly in this case have supported the monopoly part more than the common good part. It's even more insidious because Monsanto has literally transformed the environment by introducing glyphosate-resistant weeds, and now gets to dictate how those weeds will be dealt with in the future via IP licensing.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:14 PM on March 8


See also: the work of the calorie men in The Windup Girl, searching the developing world for new genetic material that isn't susceptible to horrifying blights, in order to bring it back to the big ag companies in the Western world.
posted by limeonaire at 2:22 PM on March 8


To hell with Monsanto. Monsanto is so baldly villainous in their food crop patenting and bullying of farmers, and so blatantly unapologetic about it, it would almost be funny if it wasn't so infuriating.

Almost.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:24 PM on March 8 [10 favorites]


I don't know enough about genetics to know if this is a fair comparison, but sometimes peoples' horror at trans species DNA hybridization seems only slightly less reasonable than being horrified that someone fixed a vacuum cleaner with a screw taken from a toaster.

That said, I feel like Monsanto are doing a great job eroding the public's trust in scientists, and science itself.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 2:28 PM on March 8 [9 favorites]


National food security should probably disallow so much concentration of patent ownership, technology, and farmland.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:32 PM on March 8 [7 favorites]


GMO is not intrinsically evil. What's evil is in practice how corporations like Monsanto go about doing it. This is not a complicated idea.
posted by polymodus at 2:43 PM on March 8 [13 favorites]


I don't know enough about genetics to know if this is a fair comparison, but sometimes peoples' horror at trans species DNA hybridization seems only slightly less reasonable than being horrified that someone fixed a vacuum cleaner with a screw taken from a toaster.

Ehhh, it's not a really a great comparison, because the vacuum isn't self replicating and doesn't compete for resources alongside all the OG vaccums. It's not an entirely wild thought that when let alone in the wild, a GMO product will have wildly different impacts on the ecologies they inhabit. Farmland is separate from nature, but not that separate. It doesn't operate in a vacuum like a machine does. GMO crops can outcompete regular crops and this can throw things out of whack unintentionally.

There also hasn't been enough research showing what is safe with what DNA, and I'm not sure we could get an accurate unbiased scientific ruling on the matter yet. It's too charged from both Monsanto and the opposition's angles.

I'm sympathetic to GMO development, really sympathetic; good friends of mine that grow coffee would benefit from GMO coffee. They really would. I want that for them, and I want it for me too. I earnestly hope in the future we're able to figure this stuff out safely, and have a good picture of what exactly the changes do down the line. But there is alot that we don't know about it that we really should. I don't think that should impede progress, but I don't think it's a fair thing to say that GMO crops and animals are really ready for mass rollout.

GMO is not intrinsically evil.

No, not intrinsically, but GMO's can be executed poorly, and their consequences can be misjudged by their creators. This is also an important distinction that actually does make the idea a bit more complicated than you're presenting it.
posted by furnace.heart at 2:46 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


Monsanto's next step: patenting naturally crossbred organisms. THAT's the problem.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:01 PM on March 8 [7 favorites]


I don't know enough about genetics to know if this is a fair comparison, but sometimes peoples' horror at trans species DNA hybridization seems only slightly less...

It's just miscegenation for fruits and vegetables is all. Feelings about racial purity run deep.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:19 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


You think transgenic species is an explosive issue? Wait until you see trans-matter-antimatter entities.
posted by symbioid at 3:22 PM on March 8


Further reading: this is an excellent expose on the multi-layered evil that is The Monsanto Menace.

There are so many reasons to hate Monsanto, but the one that leaves me the most seething is how they manage to lobby their own former executives into regulatory positions in the U.S. government that, in turn, allow Monsanto to continue their unethical business and "research" practices with closed-door impunity.
posted by mcstayinskool at 3:31 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


Ehhh, it's not a really a great comparison, because the vacuum isn't self replicating and doesn't compete for resources alongside all the OG vaccums

Right, but it this any less true for hybridized species, especially using the kind of intense simulation the article describes? Or DNA hybridization from other plant life?

I don't see what it is about transgenic hybridization that makes it innately worse, other than the ick factor - which I understand the impulse behind. GMOs were up for a labelling vote in Washington state recently, and local campaigners used a weird fish/beet hybrid model as part of their campaigning.

Things like this put me in a bit of a bind - I actually basically agree that customers have the right to know what's in their food, and the right to choose the sources of their food, especially if they have problems with the business practices of the companies that supply it, but I can't get behind doing that through what I view as anti-science scaremongering.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 3:42 PM on March 8


No, not intrinsically, but GMO's can be executed poorly, and their consequences can be misjudged by their creators. This is also an important distinction that actually does make the idea a bit more complicated than you're presenting it.

You seem to be responding to something that I did not actually write.
posted by polymodus at 4:01 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


As far as I'm concerned, the "ick factor" isn't from GMO techniques, but when they're bonded with business practices to force farmers to return to the company to buy seeds every year instead of just the first generation, and even worse, creating GMO plants than encourange the heavy use of pesticides via resistance.

I'm sure we're going to make many innovative and healthful foods via GMO techniques, but using them to encourage monopolistic behavior and massive pesticide use are what's inappropriate, not the techniques themselves.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 4:01 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]


Modern agriculture can continue on its path of of clearcuts, monocrops, & chemical fertilizers, or it can turn towards sustainable practices and organic farming. This poster from The Beehive Collective succintly illustrates the diverging paths.

Posing this as merely a PR problem for an agribusiness conglomerate ignores the real and probably irreversable trauma we're doing to the planet. (depletion of aquifers, desertification of croplands, turning estuarys into dead zones, wiping out bees and butterflies)

The novels of John Brunner and Margaret Atwood also depict the future that Monsanto and their puppet politicians are racing to build. It's not pretty.
posted by warreng at 4:06 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]


Stark's division is drawing on Monsanto's accumulated scientific know-how

I AM IRON MELON
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:31 PM on March 8 [6 favorites]


every food we've eaten since agriculture was invented is genetically modified.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:51 PM on March 8


every food we've eaten since agriculture was invented is genetically modified.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:51 PM on March 8 [+] [!]


this seems almost deliberately obtuse.
posted by FirstMateKate at 4:59 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


I find the phrase "anti-science" about as useful as calling someone "anti-fun". The facts are on your side, great, there might be more to the opposition than "didn't read Mendel." It's generally the political that stirs the opposition, and given the hippie lobby cannot stop Monsanto I'd rather that bogeyman retire to the strawberry fields.
posted by gorbweaver at 5:14 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


this seems almost deliberately obtuse.

I can't disagree, but my reason for saying that would be that Ironmouth was merely recapitulating one of the hypotheses the article was about. Your reason's probably different?
posted by LogicalDash at 5:28 PM on March 8


The "ick factor" seems to me almost entirely to stem from imagining, like, fishbread or scaly pasta or whatever weird thing the untamed imagination comes up with, like people who won't eat green ketchup even though it probably tastes exactly the same as red (I am one of those people).
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 5:56 PM on March 8


I do wonder about fishbread. Like, if you have what that has a tiny amount of fish DNA in it to resist overwatering or something, is that Vegan?
posted by kafziel at 6:26 PM on March 8


Monsanto is a very dangerous entity. It is not anti-science to question everything they do.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:49 PM on March 8 [7 favorites]


Shitty and exploitative business practices, absolutely, no question. But the science here is really promising and interesting. And freaking out about that science because Monsanto's doing it is just stupid.
posted by kafziel at 7:00 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


Organic GMOs will be a thing one day. They are not incompatible concepts.
posted by benzenedream at 7:51 PM on March 8


i have no problem with breeding european strawberries and african strawberries to make a new, better berry, but i object to things like fish genes in tomatoes and yellowjacket genes in strawberries, and i don't see this as "freaking out" or "stupid". this sort of rhetoric is an extension of "we can't have GMO labels because the great unwashed are too stupid to make the right choices in the supermarket, so we must hide the information from them." many people just dig in harder when they hear stuff like that.
posted by bruce at 8:20 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


Guys relax, they're just trying to make coca cola more american
posted by oceanjesse at 8:26 PM on March 8


>>every food we've eaten since agriculture was invented is genetically modified.
>
>this seems almost deliberately obtuse.


I dunno, it's surprising how many people don't realize this. They don't realize that if they went 100 years back they wouldn't recognize the food on their plate. They talk about "Paleolithic diets" as if the foods still exist. They chomp down seedless fruits and never consider where they come from.

There's an argument that gene splicing speeds up the mutation rate unacceptably, but the fact that humans have been aggressively altering plant and animal characteristics for thousands of years needs to be accounted for.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:32 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


Even the name Monsanto sounds evil. It would be wonderful news - except they'll find some way to monopolize this segment of the agriculture industry as well and drive up prices, all the while trying to wash their image. Monsanto needs to have the gene for basic human decency added to it.
posted by blue shadows at 12:00 AM on March 9 [1 favorite]


i have no problem with breeding european strawberries and african strawberries to make a new, better berry, but i object to things like fish genes in tomatoes and yellowjacket genes in strawberries, and i don't see this as "freaking out" or "stupid".

Well, what do you base your objection on?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 6:19 AM on March 9 [3 favorites]


Jon Mitchell: I feel like Monsanto are doing a great job eroding the public's trust in scientists, and science itself.

Exactly. There's collateral damage outside of their attempts to control the food supply/agriculture.

Tell Me No Lies: ...if they went 100 years back they wouldn't recognize the food on their plate.

Citation needed. If you're trying to make the point that plant breeding is a form of genetic modification, that's already been done upthread.
posted by sneebler at 8:38 AM on March 9


...if they went 100 years back they wouldn't recognize the food on their plate.

Statements like that do not lead me to believe you have any facts or "sciencey" truths to share.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:26 AM on March 9 [3 favorites]


They don't realize that if they went 100 years back they wouldn't recognize the food on their plate.

I agree with your thesis, but I think you dropped one (or more) zeroes there. Food in 1914 wasn't that different from it is now. Food in 1014? Notably different. Food 9800 BCE? Pretty goddamn different. But early 20th century? Not so much.
posted by KathrynT at 10:54 AM on March 9


>>...if they went 100 years back they wouldn't recognize the food on their plate.
>
>Statements like that do not lead me to believe you have any facts or "sciencey" truths to share.


So, ignoring things that have gone out of fashion (I'm looking at you sago).

Apples
------
One of the most popular apples in the early 1900's was the Baldwin.The production form was pretty much destroyed by a heavy frost in 1933 and it never recovered.

The most popular apples now are by far Red Delicious followed by the Gala. The Red Delicious has been one long series of mutations starting in the 1950s to the point where it is considerably different than the first, particularly in the length of time you can keep it in a warehouse. (that last is a recurring theme in 20th century breeding).

The Gala first appeared in the 1920s.

Bananas
-------
There have really only ever been two types of commercial bananas. There was the Gros Michel which was all but killed off in the west by Panama Disease in the 1950s. It was replaced by the Cavendish which has a very different taste and texture.

Oranges
-------
Interestingly enough, the most popular versions of oranges have been reproduced by cuttings (i.e. no genetic mixing) for hundreds of years. In fact every Navel orange you've ever eaten technically
comes from the same 200 year old tree. So you would in fact recognize one of those.

Potato
------
The most popular potato in the the early 1900s and now was in fact the Russet, which came into existence in 1872. So I'm off by 30 or so years there.

Carrot
------
Of the modern orange carrots, the Flakee appeared in 1910 and the the Imperator in 1928. The Amsterdam Forced is a new invention in the form of a baby carrot. However, people used to eat a wide variety of non-orange carrots -- when faced with a pile of tiny purple or white cubes, good luck figuring out what they are.

Broccoli
--------
Broccoli didn't show up in the U.S. until 1920, although I suppose noticing the absence of something isn't the same as not recognizing it.

Sweet Corn
----------
What we call Sweet Corn today would be as cotton candy to our grandparents, and the smaller breeds completely unknown.

Tomato
------
Last but not least we have Tomatoes, which people breed *as a hobby*. I won't pretend to know what a tomato looked or tasted line in the early 1900s, but I'll lay good odds it's not what was on your sandwich today.


Your move, "sciencey" boy.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:01 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


FOOD FIGHT!
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:41 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


Frankenpolitics: The Left defence of GMOs
Is it beyond the imagination of anti-GM activists that genetic modification could be used for public benefit instead of private profit? The activists may well be sincere in opposing social injustice, but all the same, they think that these problems arise from something inherent in the technology. In so doing, the complaint is in fact not the business practices of Monsanto, or even capitalism, but technology and progress itself.
Debate: GM Is Good For You has a response:
Don't believe the hype. Genetically engineered products have consumed a disproportionate amount of public time, energy and money. There are better approaches
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:02 PM on March 9


One of the most popular apples in the early 1900's was the Baldwin.

This is a Baldwin apple. It is recognizable as an apple, even by my three year old.

Of the modern orange carrots, the Flakee appeared in 1910

and is completely recognizable as a carrot.

However, people used to eat a wide variety of non-orange carrots

Purple, yellow, and white carrots are available in my supermarket, in 2014.

I won't pretend to know what a tomato looked or tasted line in the early 1900s, but I'll lay good odds it's not what was on your sandwich today.

The Brandywine Tomato, which I regularly grow in my garden, has been offered by Burpee since 1886.

And while supersweet corn TASTES very different than old-fashioned sweet corn, it LOOKS exactly the same.

What exactly is it that's unrecognizable?
posted by KathrynT at 4:30 PM on March 9


I have a feeling folks 100 years ago wouldn't recognize much of the produce in today's market because there is likely to be a much wider variety of produce available at today's market, from around the globe, than there was 100 years ago.

i have no problem with breeding european strawberries and african strawberries to make a new, better berry, but i object to things like fish genes in tomatoes and yellowjacket genes in strawberries, and i don't see this as "freaking out" or "stupid". this sort of rhetoric is an extension of "we can't have GMO labels because the great unwashed are too stupid to make the right choices in the supermarket, so we must hide the information from them." many people just dig in harder when they hear stuff like that.

Objecting to fish genes in tomatoes and yellowjacket genes in strawberries is kind of a stupid thing to do especially when those making such objections usually cannot articulate specifically why such things are bad.

"Monsanto is evil" is an article of faith among the generally left leaning crowd. But every time a Monsanto thread pops up here, the most specific and egregious reasons for the hate on Monsanto (GMOs, labeling, Roundup, screwing poor farmers accidentally planting Monsanto seed) are debunked by our own Blasdelb. At which point, it becomes an argument over a more nebulous "big corporations somethingsomething".

Thank dog for the presence of someone well versed in the field willing to grace us with their contributions.

Even the name Monsanto sounds evil.

Might be on to something there.
posted by 2N2222 at 5:17 PM on March 9


Your move, "sciencey" boy.

Calm down, "boy". If you wanted to be taken seriously, you should not have made the ridiculous claim that we "wouldn't recognize the food".
posted by five fresh fish at 5:33 PM on March 9


I'd just like to note that from the very little I know about plant transformation, "The best gene in the world doesn't fix dogshit germplasm." is an excellent mantra.
posted by maryr at 9:09 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


Yeah that "boy" performance was bad, I was waiting for something to come up that actually wouldn't be recognizable and was starting to zonk out when I got to the irony of old timey tomatoes being gone... except for all of the people who keep them going and call "heirlooms" and anyone who digs tomatoes knows that...? I dislike tomatoes other than good beefy savory hipster materz.
posted by lordaych at 8:55 AM on March 10


If the your total discernment of "Apple" is "Apple" then

a) I concede the point that people would recognize what is on their plate. Presumably as "Food".

b) If you are checker in a supermarket I will be bringing neither my Goldrushes, Kikus, nor Portabellos to your station.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:11 PM on March 10


I concede the point that people would recognize what is on their plate. Presumably as "Food".

Well, seeing as your claim was "They don't realize that if they went 100 years back they wouldn't recognize the food on their plate," I accept your concession.
posted by KathrynT at 1:00 PM on March 10


came back to this thread this a.m. to skim & see if there was discussion re. role of GMO/GMO-assisted-hybridization in the development of fragile monocrop ecosystems, and at a glance, I'm not seeing that. I can't lay hands on a link right now, but the stepson was telling me just yesterday about new superbugs that have been selected-for in response to supercrop+chemical "crop systems".
posted by lodurr at 5:42 AM on March 24


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