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Thread: Transgenic bees

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    The question comes with an assumption that I don't believe is possible.
    I think Michael may be on to something (but not assuming we are fully aligned in our points of view ) with the first reply to this thread. I was reminded of a bumper sticker I saw a couple days ago - not a new one, but for some reason it stuck in my mind: "Secure our borders now!" The poor driver of that van will probably never live in a secure world because of his/her big assumption.

    The more we assume our empirical experts (scientists), policy experts (politicians) and economic experts (corporate middle men) can work to fix a broken system, the more we invest in their expert abstractions. Suddenly something as simple and experiential as eating honey becomes specialized weights and measures, laws and policies, and a commodity to be traded like baseball cards.

    How removed and abstract does our food really need to be? Do we really need science, law, and the profit motive to feed ourselves? How food-stupid have we become? How convoluted will the system become before we either create Eden-in-vitro or die of starvation? The reason I took up beekeeping is I realized the the ability to feed people is a sacred skill, and it's time for a paradigm shift in our foodways...a new way of looking at food that doesn't involve anxiety-driven abstracts and assumptions.

  2. #22
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    >>How removed and abstract does our food really need to be? Do we really need science, law, and the profit motive to feed ourselves? How food-stupid have we become? How convoluted will the system become before we either create Eden-in-vitro or die of starvation? The reason I took up beekeeping is I realized the the ability to feed people is a sacred skill, and it's time for a paradigm shift in our foodways...a new way of looking at food that doesn't involve anxiety-driven abstracts and assumptions.


    Get growing that garden!! Fence off your lawn, and graze that cow, make room in your house for your laying chicken,
    Take time off work and fill your cellar with winter food!
    I agree, the only way people are going to understand what it actually means to grow food is by doing it themselves!
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by HVH View Post
    Ican't help but notice how the global economy, for better or for worse, has been directly responsible for the import of honey bee pests.
    ...according to most sources, the "global economy" is responsible for honeybees being here in the first place....and could easily be considered a pest wrt native pollinators.

    deknow

  4. #24
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    Default Just Say NO to GMO

    I tend to look down on GMO for feeding the masses. From what I've read, seems that generally speaking as increased pest resistance and productivity goes up, flavor and nutritional value go down. And when(not if) the next disease or bug attacts a crop, the lack of genetic diversity would lead to total crop failure. That seems more than a little bit dangerous to me. And seems to me it wasnt that long ago that they found that some strain of GMO corn that killed giant flocks of migrating Monarch butterflies when their toxic pollen was released.
    -M@

  5. #25
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    And seems to me it wasnt that long ago that they found that some strain of GMO corn that killed giant flocks of migrating Monarch butterflies when their toxic pollen was released. -newbeematt
    No. That story has been hyped and exaggerated and retold countless times, but it simply isn't true.

    Some researchers discovered that if monarch caterpillars (not "migrating monarchs") were force fed pollen from corn that had a transgene ("GM") in it to control European corn borers, those caterpillars died. What gets left out of the story is that monarch caterpillars force fed conventional corn pollen died, too. Corn pollen simply isn't a suitable diet for monarch caterpillars. Milkweed leaves make up a suitable diet for monarch caterpillars.

    And the results of that single, now-infamous study have never been replicated. No one else has come up with the same results.

    Add to that, the transgenic corn used in the study is no longer grown (was removed from the market by the EPA for other reasons).

    What does kill giant flocks of migrating monarchs is destruction of resources, both in the loss of milkweed plants through spraying regimens (milkweeds are often classified "noxioux weeds") and in the logging/deforestation of the overwintering habitat in Mexico of the monarch butterflies. Habitat loss may be rapidly pushing monarchs toward extinction. But that isn't the fault of GM corn.

    Ironically, the same toxic proteins that have been accused of killing monarch caterpillars are used directly (the plants do not produce them) in orchards, and a slightly different form if used by some beekeepers to control wax moths.

  6. #26
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    ok, I'll take that.

    But how about the extremely low level of biodiveristy that we will be left with when we decide that the world is better off with only one type of dent corn, one type of rye, one type of wheat or one type of bee and something new in the way of pests of diseases hit the stage? Havock. That's what will happen. Food shortages in developed countries and famine in lesser ones. Heck, they constantly find that there is a new and improved strain of influenza. Good thing there is more than one type of human.
    -M@

  7. #27
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    You guys are great. This really is a good forum and my hats off to those that make it possible.

    Regarding losing genetic diversity: Let's hope that the first transgenic bee will arrive without all the breeding restrictions. Who knows, if this industry continues to have horribly underfunded research labs, then it may be another 20 to 50 years before we get the "Super Bee". Since the honey bee genome has been sequenced and genetic engineering tools are becoming more affordable and more powerful, though, it may be sooner than later.

  8. #28
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    ...lets hope later than sooner. time and time again, what proves to be valuable is a diverse gene pool, not a "perfect" one.

    deknow

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by drobbins View Post
    I'll be the first to admit I'm not very knowledgeable in this area, but I have a few thoughts and a few questions
    It seems to me that the folks who develop the GM organisms, plants/bees whatever, have a doomed business plan
    start with corn
    they sell GM corn to farmer A
    he signs on the dotted line that he won't save any seed corn and will buy new seed from the "EVIL CORPORATE ENTITY" next year
    but his corn pollinates farmer B's corn who didn't sign the contract
    over time the "EVIL CORPORATE ENTITY's" secret is going to spread into neighboring fields (I realize this is the nightmare scenario everyone worries about, it's not what I' talking about here)
    how can they legally tell farmer B he doesn't have the rights to his own seed corn?
    he didn't sign a piece of paper
    jump to bees
    I buy a $500 breeder queen
    I sign a piece of paper that says I'll pay for every queen I raise from her
    what if she swarms
    what if I encourage her to swarm
    what if after 5 years her genetics are spread all over my local area
    (I swear I didn't encourage this to happen)
    I just don't see how this is much of a business plan for the "EVIL CORPORATE ENTITY's"
    I understand the issues with some kind of unintended problem occurring and what I'm mentioning here is just an example of how that is bound to happen, but it seem inevitable
    I don't know, just rambling here
    the world is getting to be a scary place:confused:

    Dave
    Just to add an extra layer of fright, it is now possible (I've done it many times in my lab) to clone inducible genes. It is possible with what is commercially available today, to clone a resistance gene into an organism that is turned on only in the presence of a drug. In this case a miticide resistance gene could be cloned under the control of tetracycline responsive elements. Give your Super Bees tetracycline and the miticide resistance gene is turned on at the same time you are treating for foulbrood. The patent holders at this point won't care about uncontrolled swarming and mating because they are selling the drug that turns on the gene. The drug could be made specifically for this application and patented.

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by HVH View Post
    Just to add an extra layer of fright, it is now possible (I've done it many times in my lab) to clone inducible genes. It is possible with what is commercially available today, to clone a resistance gene into an organism that is turned on only in the presence of a drug.
    I understand there are those also working on "suicide" genes. In this case your crop (or bees) become infertile after a season so you are forced to buy more seed/breeding stock, which will likely have other genetic strings attached.

    Irregardless of health concerns about GMO's, the real issue is control...who controls the genes, the seeds, our food, etc. Both the suicide and inducible gene would effectively eliminate the "competition." Imagine what would happen if corporations, and not consumer demand, controlled the food supply.

  11. #31
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    There are probably many other approaches that none of us can foresee.

  12. #32
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    >>ok, I'll take that.

    >>But how about the extremely low level of biodiveristy that we will be left with when we decide that the world is better off with only one type of dent corn, one type of rye, one type of wheat


    Funny how this hype just keeps on spinning round and round,
    there isnt an extreemly low level of biodiversity in our grain cropping practices. Take a good look at you local extentions office variety listings. There is soo much time and effort in breeding and developing lines and improving performances.
    World wide, there is such a difference in climate, and so much research and development on those crops in response to thier climate, the diversity is endless.
    Even the differences in crops and developments in crops between the southern US and here in Southern Canada.
    Kinda the same argument that is made in regards to bee breeding. There is a huge influence made by the larger breeders, yet regional breeding efforts are still well and alive
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    Funny how this hype just keeps on spinning round and round, there isnt an extreemly low level of biodiversity...
    There is certainly less biodiversity since the industrialization of agriculture. Are we extremely low on biodiversity? Perhaps not yet. The point is this: let's say Monsanto engineers the "Uberbee." This bee comes stock with a gene that requires you to feed your queens Monsanto's latest miticide before she'll become fertile. She's also equipped with a gene that turns off her egg production after the first winter so you have to requeen with the latest model next season.

    Now let's say Uberbee is perfectly capable of breeding with feral and non-GMO bees, and is able pass along the genes for infertility. Poof goes all bees but Monsantos. Now Monsanto not only OWNS all honeybees, but controls pollinator-dependant crops.

    I find it funny how consumers are buying the hype about how boitechnology is going to make our world better. It's just the latest apparel for the rat race.

  14. #34
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    Before this goes any further, let's try to straighten out a few terms:

    First, "biodiversity" is a measure of the number of species living in an area. Whether you plant a field that contains six hybrids of conventional corn, or a field that contains a single hybrid of transgenic corn, the value that the corn adds to "biodiversity" is that of a single species.

    (What, really, is being discussed here is the potential loss of genetic diversity. Loss of biodiversity is important, too, but is equally important in discussing conversion of acres of prairie to crop land, for example.)

    Secondly, transgenic events do not remove genes -- they add genes. So, transgenic organisms actually increase the genetic diversity of the species. Whether or not that addition is desirable, from a human standpoint, is debatable.

  15. #35
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    "Whether or not that addition is desirable, from a human standpoint, is debatable"

    that's why crops in particular should be of an open pollinated variety. all those f1 hybrids that people plant in their gardens... try keeping the seed from that and planting it again next year. those genetics are all but worthless. which keeps you tied to the seed producer by having to repurchase new seed each year.
    -M@

  16. #36
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    >>let's say
    >>Now let's say

    Hummm, I just love these kind of discussions

    >>I find it funny how consumers are buying the hype about how boitechnology is going to make our world better

    Cheaper food, better qualities, healthier soils, a tool against disease
    and dont forget the huge amount of work being done besides GM technologies.
    Drought resistances, insect resistance, disease resistance, yeild responses....

    Its not hard to buy into crop research and development,
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  17. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    Cheaper food...
    Maybe, but is that such a good thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    ...better qualities, healthier soils, a tool against disease...drought resistances, insect resistance, disease resistance, yeild responses....
    It is not likely (really very doubtful) that biotechnology will really solve any of these problems, and it hasn't proven to yet. This is the BIG ASSUMPTION. The only people who are making your above claims for biotech are:

    A) The corporations who stand to make a lot of money
    B) The politicians who are bought and paid for by the corporations
    C) The academic institutions who are increasingly practicing thin science to the tune of corporate sponsorship
    D) The people who can't see through the smokescreen of "end world hunger" media

    Why would you choose to believe the people to stand to profit vs. the people who are watching out for others for no profit?

  18. #38
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    This is the BIG ASSUMPTION. The only people who are making your above claims for biotech are. . . . -Tim Hall
    The assumption that you make in this, Tim, is that farmers can't evaluate their own costs and expenses to determine whether the biotech makes them greater or lesser profit than "non-biotech" crops.

    I don't rely on agricultural production for my living. I believe, if I did, that I could determine pretty quickly whether the additional costs of biotech crops paid off at harvest with greater net profits.

    Now, whether or not individual profit by farmers is "good" or not is a matter for Tailgater, in my opinion.

  19. #39
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    Oh I'm quite sure the corporations, politicians and other institutions will be happy to explain to the farmers how their profits will be boosted. By the time they are able to make that good judgment for themselves they may already be violating patent laws.

  20. #40
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    >>This is the BIG ASSUMPTION.

    This isnt a big ASSUMPYION, Tim.
    This is opinon is from ACTUAL experiece with working with biotech cropping practices. I farm for a living, I put in thousands of acres, and I use some GM cropping technologies as a part of my cropping rotations.

    I listed these characteristics, >>Drought resistances, insect resistance, disease resistance, yeild responses....<< aside from biotech, these acheivements are being made along side the Biotech industry. There is alot of work being done out there, not all of it is biotech. Get a grip on the industry a bit before your start broadcasting your limited opinion on agriculture.

    >>quickly whether the additional costs of biotech crops paid off at harvest

    There arnt any additional cost to using this technology, when worked out, the seed sells for about the same as conventional seed costs, and the herbicides in many cases are much cheaper and give alot more flexability in its use. The GM cropping practice has allowed us to limit our use of tillage, and there for has saved us at least 10$ fuel costs, right off the top. In every case, limited tillage practices will result in longterm heathier soils, AS WHAT I AM SEEING IN MY OPERATION.

    Right now wheat breeders have developed a midge resistance wheat. This isnt a Biotech crop. This crop is huge news for the beekeeping industry. Less insecticide used on regular wheat cropping practices in areas midge is a problem. This proves the strong point that insect tolerant plants, or what ever you want to call this, is possible in canola and sunflower plants also. We are looking at maybe haveing a better choice in insect control by mearly the variety we choose!

    By hindering the research and technology into these crops and by slandering thier work will hurt beekeepers in the long term. Some of the possible developments many prove very benifetial to the beekeeping community. After all we do make our living off thier cropping practices, our interests are directly related to theie sucessful cropping practices.
    Last edited by Ian; 03-01-2008 at 11:39 AM.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

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