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Thread: Transgenic bees

  1. #61
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    >>But I have been a little surprised by the ad hominem attack against science and technology. I hope some of you that think all of science is bad and that scientists are responsible for screwing up our planet will take a little inventory of what science has done to make your life better. Don't bite the hand that feeds you.


    Well said!
    We take so much for granted. Especially the abundance and quality and price of our foods! It can only be related directly back to the work being done in ag related science and technology.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
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  2. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    We take so much for granted. Especially the abundance and quality and price of our foods! It can only be related directly back to the work being done in ag related science and technology.
    And look at the result of plentiful, cheap food - obesity is the biggest health threat in the developed world!

    Thank you, Monsanto.

    (And - BTW - there is no such thing as an 'ad hominem attack on science and technology' ad hominem means 'against a man', not an abstract construct. If I was attacking you personally - which I wasn't - it would be 'ad hominem'. As it happens, neither was I attacking science and technology - only aspects of some of their applications.)

    Last edited by buckbee; 03-03-2008 at 12:13 PM.
    The Barefoot Beekeeper http://www.biobees.com

  3. #63
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    this is all dependent on cheap energy to transport centrally produced (and processed) foods. cheap energy does not exist except in the "bank account" of fossil fuels...which will bottom out at some point. how cheap do you think california produce would be on the east coast if gas were $100/gallon, even if it was grown for free?

    deknow

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    Quote Originally Posted by HVH View Post
    I really do wonder, though, if it was announced today that a transgenic bee was available that was "immune" to varroa mites and tracheal mites, would all of those that cited evil intentions and worse place their orders immediately.
    I'm not really seeing a majority of beekeepers aggressively seeking out the bees that have been developed for might resistance. Shipping date, available quantity, and price seems to be the biggest concern on most beekeepers mind.

    I've never heard of any GM insect or even attempts at a GM insect. Any examples?

  5. #65
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    >>And look at the result of plentiful, cheap food - obesity is the biggest health threat in the developed world!

    >>Thank you, Monsanto.


    Give me a break! Cant blame Mansanto for the obesity problem. They have provided farmer with a cropping tool that aids in their farming practice. The canola industry was well established before Monsanto stepped in. Buckbee, what about the whole rest of the sector involved with the breeding and development of food grown crops?
    Wow, cant believe I read that statment. What next, Monsanto is to blame for the ice caps melting, and the polar bears dieing???
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
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  6. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by buckbee View Post
    And look at the result of plentiful, cheap food - obesity is the biggest health threat in the developed world!

    Thank you, Monsanto.[/I]
    I think this is a red herring argument (Ignoratio elenchi) unless you are implying that the consumption of transgenic bees will lead to greater obesity than the consumption of non-transgenic bees. In that case, I have not given entomophagy much consideration but perhaps in some countries this could be a problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by buckbee View Post
    (And - BTW - there is no such thing as an 'ad hominem attack on science and technology' ad hominem means 'against a man', not an abstract construct. If I was attacking you personally - which I wasn't - ir would be ad hominem. As it happens, neither was I attacking science and technology - only aspects of some of their applications.)
    Syllogistically it follows,

    Scientists are bad
    HVH is a scientist
    Therefore HVH is bad

    ad hominem by implication

    It's not personal with me either. I get a bit testy, though, when I think someone is trying to have it both ways.

  7. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    >Take a nice rock along to sharpen your sticks because you are going to need them.

    Your assumptions of lack of sophistication in primitive living show that you obviously know nothing of "primitive" cultures or "primitive" life...

    Michael,

    I really never planned on applying reductio ab absurdum in the earlier post but felt compelled to contrast the absurd suggestion that somehow we are worse off because of science. Arguably some things are worse, but on balance things are much better. In fact, most of us older than 35 would probably be dead if it weren't for science. Maybe that is an anthropocentric viewpoint but being a human I think it is justified.
    Someone in an earlier post suggested that I get over myself. None of this has anything to do with me. I would be very thankful of scientific achievements in general regardless of my vocation. I'll take gardening and working with my bees over cloning any day.
    Last edited by HVH; 03-03-2008 at 06:29 PM.

  8. #68
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    ...the absurd suggestion that somehow we are worse off because of science. Arguably some things are worse, but on balance things are much better. In fact, most of us older than 35 would probably be dead if it weren't for science.
    well, are we better off? i suspect that the gene pool was "stronger" before modern medicine. whether genetic engineering or other technology will be able to compensate for this, i don't know.

    deknow

  9. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post
    well, are we better off? i suspect that the gene pool was "stronger" before modern medicine. whether genetic engineering or other technology will be able to compensate for this, i don't know.

    deknow
    I already conceded that some things are worse. But who's genes should have been selected against, yours or mine (don't answer? From a strictly biological point of view, you are right of course, but taken to extremes, it would be tolerable for man to go extinct. Some people will read this and say "right on". If they really think man is so horrible and the planet would be better off without him, then why don't they sacrifice themselves. They could start a movement and truly benefit the planet. Or, as I mentioned in a previous post, why don't people that feel very strongly about this refuse medical care for their children or themselves. All I want here is some honesty.

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    ...actually, i know someone that started such a thing..."the church of euthanasia". he made a fortune on bumper stickers that said "save the planet, kill yourself." i know this reads like a flippant response, but it's true.


    who's gene's should be saved? well, probably those of people that can reproduce and produce healthy offspring without artificial intervention. and perhaps the offspring of those that live to a ripe old age (hard to wait until they get old to breed them).

    i'm not condmeming any particular practice...we just aren't ready to really confront these kinds of issues as a society. i know you conceded that some things are worse....but unless one has faith that science will be able to "cure everyone of everything", this kind of weakening of the gene pool could (from a human perspective) be the worst thing possible..and result in the greatest number suffering.

    deknow

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    i suspect that the gene pool was "stronger" before modern medicine. -deknow
    Could you elaborate, please?

    Do you mean, "Humans no longer have to fight off small pox and polio and typhus and other diseases as frequently as they did in the past," or do you mean, "Humans that would not have survived to reproduction in the past are surviving long enough to reproduce now?"

    The way I see it, humans that would not have survived long enough to reproduce or may not have been able to reproduce for some reason now can. That expands the diversity of genes getting into future generations. While some of those genes may be "weak," (i. e., they may not be genes that would survive bubonic plague) they may offer some other advantage in the future (i. e., they may be better suited to an atmosphere with a greater concentration of carbon dioxide).

    Keep in mind that, after reproducing, longevity does not confer "fitness." If you live to 125, but leave no children, you would be less fit than if you lived to 35 but left four children.

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    Intergrating a GM queen into your operations would mean a yearly queen replacement schedule. Just by the very nature of dirersity within the breeding of replacement queens, the GM characteristics would fade if the drone mating population wasnt carrying the same genetics.

    Probably after it was all considered, using a GM genetics wouldnt present much more of an advantage than the already mite tolerant lines being developed.

    Work in New Zealand right now is building a queen rearing business, on an island, enabling them to produce large numbers of specifically mated queen, to allow them to supply a larger market, priced accordingly. Targeting a yearly queen replacement business modle.

    Would the investment into a GM bee actually pay off when there are other compeditive options, that are working off a much smaller overhead?
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
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  13. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    Intergrating a GM queen into your operations would mean a yearly queen replacement schedule. Just by the very nature of dirersity within the breeding of replacement queens, the GM characteristics would fade if the drone mating population wasnt carrying the same genetics.

    Probably after it was all considered, using a GM genetics wouldnt present much more of an advantage than the already mite tolerant lines being developed.

    Work in New Zealand right now is building a queen rearing business, on an island, enabling them to produce large numbers of specifically mated queen, to allow them to supply a larger market, priced accordingly. Targeting a yearly queen replacement business modle.

    Would the investment into a GM bee actually pay off when there are other compeditive options, that are working off a much smaller overhead?
    Ian,

    I like your calm and measured approach to this topic.

    In my humble, yet apparently biased opinion, classical breeding cannot be competitive with transgenics. This is where I think many people on this thread don't understand the difference between classical approaches and genetic engineering. It is extremely unlikely that honey bees will ever reach a level of mite resistance that would make all of us happy. They may get better at grooming and consequently mite removal, but classical approaches are limited to the genes that bees currently possess. You are not going to get any new genes. So if there are bees that can groom to the level where mites are a non-issue great, but don't hold your breath. With genetic engineering you can steal genes from any organism on earth, modify that gene if needed, and give it to the honey bee. This is not saying that we should do this, only that it could be done. If we could clone a gene into the honey bee that codes for an enzyme that basically shuts down a critical mite biosynthetic pathway, the bees would be truly immune to mites. Since it is likely that mites are vectors for viral diseases, having zero mites is a key difference. If grooming could get the mite level down to one mite for every 1000 bees, then viral infection of the whole colony is still possible. It would take some time, though, even with transgenesis, before the mite populations would dye back to the point where bees are no longer pierced and therefore viruses could not be spread.
    Since this kind of gene would be dominant, only one allele would be needed to confir resistance. So any breeding programs would strive at retaining this gene, maybe as a homozygous trait in their queens, and have drones positive for the trait as well. You don't need to test for mite resistance (after it is verified to work) in a breeding program because it is simpler to verify that the gene is present with the polymerase chain reaction. So instead of screening for mite resistance, breeders could actually track the gene. Combined with instrumental insemination, one would be able to test sperm for the mite resistance gene before inseminating the queen.

  14. #74
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    If we could clone a gene into the honey bee that codes for an enzyme that basically shuts down a critical mite biosynthetic pathway, the bees would be truly immune to mites. -HVH
    While this may be theoretically possible, I suspect this would be exceedingly difficult. Mites and insects are both arthropods, and are very, very similar physiologically. The same enzyme that would affect mites would likely affect honey bees.

    It would take some time, though, even with transgenesis, before the mite populations would dye back to the point where bees are no longer pierced and therefore viruses could not be spread. -HVH
    And, of course, if the selective pressure place on the mites by these transgenic bees would be great, natural selection would likely quickly drive the mites to overcome the resistance. (Multiple genes for different traits may be key, here, in slowing that evolution of the mites, but, again, if the selective pressure is great enough, the mites will likely overcome all traits.)

    Since this kind of gene would be dominant, only one allele would be needed to confir resistance. -HVH
    This kind of gene is necessarily dominant? How do you figure?

    While a gene that shows simple complete dominance might be ideal, I doubt that any such gene would necessarily become "dominant" simply because we might wish it to be so.

  15. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieck View Post
    While this may be theoretically possible, I suspect this would be exceedingly difficult. Mites and insects are both arthropods, and are very, very similar physiologically. The same enzyme that would affect mites would likely affect honey bees.



    And, of course, if the selective pressure place on the mites by these transgenic bees would be great, natural selection would likely quickly drive the mites to overcome the resistance. (Multiple genes for different traits may be key, here, in slowing that evolution of the mites, but, again, if the selective pressure is great enough, the mites will likely overcome all traits.)



    This kind of gene is necessarily dominant? How do you figure?

    While a gene that shows simple complete dominance might be ideal, I doubt that any such gene would necessarily become "dominant" simply because we might wish it to be so.
    Great response, thanks.

    I agree that more than one trait would be ideal and that making a transbee of this kind would not be a slam dunk. Even if mites and bees shared a common biosynthetic pathway, however, they would likely have enough differences in enzymatic binding (or active) sites to be exploited. Also, many cell surface receptors may be similar but again have enough differences to be targeted. Cell surface receptors are very common targets for high throughput drug screens because both agonists and antagonists can be very specific.
    A gene that expresses an enzyme that is new to the bee would be dominant in that it would always be expressed (unless designed otherwise) and would therefore always affect the mites when present. When first introduced, the gene would be single copy. Bees could then be crossed to make homozygous transbees. If the gene targeted a crucial pathway, mites may or may not be able to adapt.

  16. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieck View Post
    Could you elaborate, please?

    Do you mean, "Humans no longer have to fight off small pox and polio and typhus and other diseases as frequently as they did in the past," or do you mean, "Humans that would not have survived to reproduction in the past are surviving long enough to reproduce now?"
    ...the latter, not the former.

    The way I see it, humans that would not have survived long enough to reproduce or may not have been able to reproduce for some reason now can. That expands the diversity of genes getting into future generations.
    diversity isn't always a good thing. yes, we need a diverse gene pool, but some mutations are harmful. think specifically of reproductive medicine. someone (or a couple) who can't get pregnant can have the nucleus of a lab fertilized egg (from both parents that can't produce a child) into a viable egg from a donor, and carry it to term. there are genes in there that do not permit natural reproduction that otherwise would not be passed on to the next generation. ...so you now have these diverse genes staying in the gene pool which require medical intervention in order to reproduce. i'm not sure this is a good road to go down...i can imagine a time down this road when medical assistance is required to reproduce....think brave new world.

    i expect, if one could find the data, that before c-sections was used, that there were less people that required them (as those that did tended not to be born alive and/or died in childbirth).

    we see a similar thing in some domestic animals...where we breed for dogs who's heads are too big to exit via the birth canal. i'm not suggesting that we should breed humans like cattle, but we should be able to discuss what the impact of what we do has on the gene pool.

    we do inhabit these "monkey bodies", and our physical health greatly influences our quality of life. i think being able to reproduce without intervention is an important set of traits to "select for".


    While some of those genes may be "weak," (i. e., they may not be genes that would survive bubonic plague) they may offer some other advantage in the future (i. e., they may be better suited to an atmosphere with a greater concentration of carbon dioxide).
    well, diversity in a gene pool is not "every possible gene" for a good reason. there is a trade off between the benefits of "randomizing" and "continuing with what works"...and i expect nature has done a decent job of figuring out what that balance should be.

    Keep in mind that, after reproducing, longevity does not confer "fitness." If you live to 125, but leave no children, you would be less fit than if you lived to 35 but left four children.
    yes, but i expect that humans, given the chance, will try to select for long life. humans also have culture to take into consideration....how long do you think it will be before the words of martin luther king jr. cease to have a significant impact on the world? what he contributed to society is much greater (imho) than what he contributed to the gene pool by reproducing.

    deknow

  17. #77
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    HVH, welcome to our bee discussions fourm. It is real refreshing hearing from someone holding your views! I look forward to future conversations!

    Got a name?
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
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    Would the investment into a GM bee actually pay off when there are other competitive options, that are working off a much smaller overhead?
    No way no how. However, it might be easier to get funding to do
    some fancy GM work as opposed to good old fashioned breeding.
    Someone could play up the 'new and upcoming techniques' that will save
    the world in a grant proposal, instead of relying on tried and true.
    You can guess which way I would lean.

    we do inhabit these "monkey bodies", and our physical health greatly influences our quality of life. i think being able to reproduce without intervention is an important set of traits to "select for".
    I disagree. I don't want my children to be selected against since you
    included C-sections in your class of un-natural. But this is getting too
    Anthropomorphic. Sometimes bees and humans can be compared,
    other times it dosen't work to good. On the humans though, a group
    of people not considered 'fit' can contribute greatly to the 'fitness' of
    the society as a whole. Thats always been a benefit of societies and tribes.
    Just like a doctor without kids that performs C-sections. Of course, in humans
    fitness has become a non-issue. The more 'fit' we
    are individually, the more overpopulation becomes a concern for the fitness of future generations.

  19. #79
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    >>It is extremely unlikely that honey bees will ever reach a level of mite resistance that would make all of us happy. They may get better at grooming and consequently mite removal, but classical approaches are limited to the genes that bees currently possess. You are not going to get any new genes. So if there are bees that can groom to the level where mites are a non-issue great, but don't hold your breath. With genetic engineering you can steal genes

    What would you expect the price paid per GM queen would have to be to manage the capital investment into its development, and continued maitenence of the stock purity?

    One very important factor with GM crops, is its HUGE payoff. The reason for soo much research and development into cropping agriculture is because of the HUGE spin off. I dont see that kind of pay off in the beekeeping industry. It is the reason why there hasnt been much private investment into research and development, and probably the reason why there is such a disconect between beekeepers across the country.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
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    IMO once you start invoking eugenics, the argument has gone way off track.

    The reason that GM is even being suggested as an option is that we have an apparent problem, which was caused by stupidity, greed and exploitative management. The underlying problem is that most beekeepers - especially the commercial men - farm bees as if they were machines, taking no account of their nature and their needs. GM is just a continuation of this same 'quick-fix' attitude.

    IMO we should not interfere with bee genetics while there is an a relatively unexplored, natural alternative: working more closely with the bees' needs. Most especially, they need a better environment than the Langstroth hive - designed 160 years ago, when we had little understanding of bees' nature, but blindly used ever since - and less dependence on synthetic inputs.

    On this 'biological' forum, I expect to see forward-thinking beekeepers investigating natural, chemical-free protocols, that will support the natural cycle of bees' life, not mechanics who think that tightening a bolt here or there will somehow make right all that we have done so wrong.

    Look at the real cause of the problem: it is the beekeeper, not the bee, who is at fault.
    The Barefoot Beekeeper http://www.biobees.com

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