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Thread: Transgenic bees

  1. #81
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    >>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.


    In other words you prefer to have a onesided conversation on an issue,where you can slang and slander all the big corperations without any challange, and get issues spinning in circles to where the opinions are no longer based on facts but rather hype,
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
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    If the gene targeted a crucial pathway, mites may or may not be able to adapt. -HVH
    While I believe your statement is accurate (organisms have repeatedly demonstrated that, confronted with extreme selective pressures, they either adapt or become extinct), I doubt that extinction of Varroa through transgenic bees is very likely at all. So far, we (humans) have proven ourselves very poor at "eradicating" the pests we've attempted to eliminate. Take primary screwworm flies as an example: efforts over the last 50 years have "eradicated" the flies, yet massive numbers of sterile males must be released annually to ensure that screwworms do not "recur." (Which begs the question, "If they are truly eradicated, how could they recur?") More recently, studies have demonstrated that female screwworms are employing different mating strategies that may be difficult to overcome (the reason that sterile male releases worked so well with screwworm was that females mate only once in their lives); some females now mate multiply, rather than singly, and some evidence suggests that females can now somehow evaluate potential mates to determine whether or not the males are sterile.

    I think time and money is better spent on efforts to manage pests.

    ...the latter, not the former. -deknow
    The age to potential reproduction in humans is much lower than many people wish to acknowledge. Humans can and do reproduce successfully by the time they are in their mid teens, if not before. Do you mean to suggest that the average longevity of humans in times past was less than 20, or that a significantly greater percentage of the population is living to, say, 25 than were in the past?

    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... -deknow
    Without getting into the morals and ethics of such a thing, "fitness" cares not "how" but "if." So long as an individual passes genes into future generations, that individual's fitness increases. When you get into the "how," you open up a realm of hypotheticals. (For instance, "That deer that just gave birth to twins was only able to do so because some human behind the wheel of a car had fast enough reflexes to avoid hitting her four months ago on the highway." That doesn't change the fact that she just passed genes into the next generation; whether or not she "deserved" to reproduce is a question of morals and ethics and judgement, while the twins standing next to her are evidence of her evolutionary fitness.)

    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). -deknow
    Interesting trivia: the first account of a "c-section" was recorded by Pliny the Elder in the first century A. D., supposedly documenting the birth of one of the Caesars (which is perhaps where the term "caesarean section," shortened to "c-section," originated). Of course, back in those days, the mothers didn't typically survive such practices.

    well, diversity in a gene pool is not "every possible gene" for a good reason. -deknow
    Well, pretty much it is. "Diversity" is measured by the differences. The more possibilities in the genes, the greater the diversity. Now, whether or not that diversity is desireable is a different question.

    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
    Maybe so, but his evolutionary fitness is measured in terms of how many progeny he left here on earth, not what he may have accomplished to advance human culture.

    Think about it in terms of a different species -- honey bees. You have a queen bee that communicates well with other bees, and rails against what bees "see" as injustice in foraging, but lays very few eggs. Is her fitness greater or lesser than a queen that does nothing but lay massive amounts of eggs?

    Let's go a step further and talk longevity of honey bee queens. A queen that lays a few thousand eggs over the course of four years ends up dying without casting any swarms. A queen that lives one year lays tens of thousands of eggs and produces four swarms, three of which produce swarms in the next year. Leaving the drones out of the equation at this stage, which has greater evolutionary fitness?

    Organisms that are living tend to want to keep living, but that doesn't mean that organisms that live longer have greater fitness than those that live for shorter spans.

    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. -MichealW
    I suspect that this is about right, although the speed and deliberate addition of selected genes might offset the "low-tech" methods, economically.

    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. -MichaelW
    This tends to be true to honey bees as well. Think of the average worker: her direct fitness is likely zero, or very, very close to it (unless she's a drone layer). Her "inclusive fitness" (the fitness gained by caring for closely-related individuals that share genes that might be passed into future generations) is much greater. The same can work in humans.

    The problem, again, lies in a confusion of "fitness," a measure of evolutionary prowess.

    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. -buckbee
    I was under the impression that Varroa made the host shift in an area where North American Langstroth hives were seldom, if ever, used. Do you have any documentation to support the hypothesis that simply altering the design of the hive will reduce pest problems from Varroa?

  3. #83
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    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. - Ian
    Thats a good point. Look at BT cotton. Its had near total acceptance by cotton growers. BT corn is spreading fast as well. But making queens is a lot more expensive than making seeds.

    There would be massive opposition to transgenic bees (my opinion) which also cuts down on the economics. Then add in that many beekeepers aren't proactive in getting the resistant bees that are available right now to begin with and I just don't see the economics working in favor of transgenic bees, even if it was possible for it to be beneficial, which I question. Its not like you could make 'Coumafos Ready' bees or FABees (Formic Acid Bees) or have it produce some other chemical that is going to kill the pest or keep a chemical from killing it. Your talking about a whole new set of GMO strategies that have not even be developed yet, working it into one of the most vulnerable sectors of agriculture with an enormous cost risk if something goes wrong. Every beekeeper probably has AHB in mind when thinking about breeding super bees with unconventional techniques. We all know how well that worked, even if it wasn't the sole cause of the present problem.

    Also consider that the Transgenic crops that are successful are not really all that successful. BT crops are temporary. Its only a matter of time before BT resistance takes hold. The same thing would happen if they used real BT instead. Round-up ready is suspected to have problems as well.

    Bugs, yes true bugs, that where not a problem in Cotton are now a problem in BTCotton due to the reduced pesticides. No matter what your agriculture sector, something is going to try and kill it and you have to constantly come up with new strategies ideally incorporating least toxic and least damaging for the long term situation, such as avoiding the 'chemical treadmill' that eventually wares out. Any transgenic work on the bees is not taking into consideration the risk of negative long term consequences since there is so much unknown. Beekeeping is too vulnerable to risk that.

  4. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    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?
    Thanks Ian. You just made my day.
    I knew when I started this post some would automatically think I was preaching and write me off as an AH 'south end of a north facing donkey'. I really don't have all the answers and hope others on this thread will realize that this is a very real and important topic that we will have to face in the real world eventually and the discussion is not about people, evil corporations or such. We can demogog all we want, call Monsanto names, and throw fuel on the flames, but it won't change the outcome. What we really need is a vigorous discussion, and even perhaps a dialog about what we can do to affect the outcome. If people really don't want a transbee, how can they help in the more conventional arena (I will start another thread with a proposal after this thread dries up a bit). For those interested in a transbee, how can we get more research money to labs that we 'trust'. Again, I plan on starting yet another thread about how to get more research dollars to bee labs (not just molecular). I really do believe that a forum of this type can pull resources and make a change for the better.

    I work in the field of human telomere biology so there is no conflict in my suggestions.

    Chris
    Last edited by HVH; 03-05-2008 at 01:08 PM.

  5. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    >>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.
    Hey Ian,

    I would like to see academics get the work done on public funds and everyone benefit. I am a staunch capitalist and see this position as bordering on hypocracy, but a constitutional role for goverment, in my view, includes insuring that our country is always on the leading edge when it comes to technology (including military: big time). Some might say that is because I am a scientist. Nope - just sound economics. On the other hand, I am only talking about applied research. It bugs me when labs get handouts for pet projects that have no stated practical goals.
    I agree that the bee industry is not the best target industry to make a buck, but an academic lab might be able to provide what is needed without all the strings.

  6. #86
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    Default GM bees

    I am just astonished by the arrogance and pseudo-scientific pontification in this thread. How can any of you - in the face of millions of years of evolution - dare to suggest that mere 'scientists' - mere dabblers in comparison with the forces of nature - can 'create' some kind of 'superbee' by fiddling with genes - and seriously imagine that there would be no repercussions or unpredictable side-effects in the wider ecology?

    You are not discussing some little electronic gadget that can be played with in the confines of your laboratories - you are talking about a sentient life-form that interacts in complex ways - many of which are not fully understood - with other life forms, some of which are our food crops. Can you guarantee to contain your Frankenstein bee, and prevent it planting its genes outside your county? No, of course you can't - any more than the AHB could be contained - and can you guarantee that you will not accidentally create something even more monstrous than the AHB? Of course you cannot.

    You - we - are children playing with expensive toys, when it comes to manipulating genes. Scientists cannot be trusted to produce a benign result and corporations cannot be trusted to do anything except line their own pockets.

    And yes - we are experimenting with some very promising natural beekeeping protocols: I have colonies that have survived three years with no synthetic treatments for mites, nosema or anything else. I have no use for GM bees and I hope never to see them, nor the need for them.
    The Barefoot Beekeeper http://www.biobees.com

  7. #87
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    >>could make 'Coumafos Ready' bees or FABees (Formic Acid Bees)

    Ha ha ha, couldnt help but smile at that comment


    >>get the work done on public funds and everyone benefit.

    I dont believe the government would venture into such a politically sensitive situation. Nor would I want them to. There just isnt enough money that would come from the government that would complete and maintain a project of this magnitude. It most definately would be a project that would have to be accomplished by private funding.
    Right now the beekeeping industry is soo under funded, its hardly laughable. Just as an egample, It took over a year of lobbying to the government and to beekeepers themselves to scrape up needed investment to provide the needed studdy work that would satisfy Government standards for the registration of Oxalic Acid treatment to Canadian beekeepers hives. I forget the cost of the project, but it wasnt but a few tens of thousands of $$. Just imagine trying to lobby the government and beekeepers to raise enough capital investment for a massive GM bee development project.

    But I totally understand what your saying, "We should benifet from our own work" type of thinking. It is a business modle that require a deep pocket supporter.

    >>I am a staunch capitalist
    >>includes insuring that our country is always on the leading edge when it comes to technology (including military: big time).

    Last edited by Ian; 03-05-2008 at 05:19 PM.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
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    Quote Originally Posted by buckbee View Post
    I am just astonished by the arrogance and pseudo-scientific pontification in this thread. How can any of you - in the face of millions of years of evolution - dare to suggest that mere 'scientists' - mere dabblers in comparison with the forces of nature - can 'create' some kind of 'superbee' by fiddling with genes - and seriously imagine that there would be no repercussions or unpredictable side-effects in the wider ecology?

    You are not discussing some little electronic gadget that can be played with in the confines of your laboratories - you are talking about a sentient life-form that interacts in complex ways - many of which are not fully understood - with other life forms, some of which are our food crops. Can you guarantee to contain your Frankenstein bee, and prevent it planting its genes outside your county? No, of course you can't - any more than the AHB could be contained - and can you guarantee that you will not accidentally create something even more monstrous than the AHB? Of course you cannot.

    You - we - are children playing with expensive toys, when it comes to manipulating genes. Scientists cannot be trusted to produce a benign result and corporations cannot be trusted to do anything except line their own pockets.

    And yes - we are experimenting with some very promising natural beekeeping protocols: I have colonies that have survived three years with no synthetic treatments for mites, nosema or anything else. I have no use for GM bees and I hope never to see them, nor the need for them.
    I think it is fair to say that people bring to every argument their own world view. You might be correct and the superbee may destroy the world, but from my vantage point we had this argument already back in the 1970's and the fears that people had then were not realized. We aren't talking about major changes to the bee's genome. I add genes to human cells all the time, using the same technology, and have yet to have one jump out of the flask and attack me. In recent publications, the authors described how the addition of four human genes into human skin cells resulted in reprogramming back into stem cells. Do you have any idea of what that could mean for humans in the future. This technology has the potential of replacing worn out or damaged parts. I know some will say "never". These are the same people that take antibiotics when they get an infected tooth.

    I'll be honest with all of you, I have serious reservations about the theory of evolution (see the thread http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=215999) and see it as more of a religion than a science. So my world view doesn't recognize, as fact, that we evolved from a common ancestor. Let me be clear; I think belief in "macroevolution" requires faith due to a lack of evidence. If it requires faith then it is a religion. This doesn't make the theory wrong, though, but rather tentative. Same goes for manmade global warming. I know there are those on this thread that will label me as a heretic, but they will be hard pressed to prove me wrong. If this turns into another rabbit trail of a debate please don't cite anecdotal evidence to prove me wrong or theories as to how evolution 'could' have occured.
    Nothing like opening a bees nest
    Last edited by HVH; 03-05-2008 at 05:49 PM.

  9. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    >>could make 'Coumafos Ready' bees or FABees (Formic Acid Bees)

    Ha ha ha, couldnt help but smile at that comment


    >>get the work done on public funds and everyone benefit.

    I dont believe the government would venture into such a politically sensitive situation. Nor would I want them to. There just isnt enough money that would come from the government that would complete and maintain a project of this magnitude. It most definately would be a project that would have to be accomplished by private funding.
    Right now the beekeeping industry is soo under funded, its hardly laughable. Just as an egample, It took over a year of lobbying to the government and to beekeepers themselves to scrape up needed investment to provide the needed studdy work that would satisfy Government standards for the registration of Oxalic Acid treatment to Canadian beekeepers hives. I forget the cost of the project, but it wasnt but a few tens of thousands of $$. Just imagine trying to lobby the government and beekeepers to raise enough capital investment for a massive GM bee development project.

    But I totally understand what your saying, "We should benifet from our own work" type of thinking. It is a business modle that require a deep pocket supporter.

    >>I am a staunch capitalist
    >>includes insuring that our country is always on the leading edge when it comes to technology (including military: big time).

    Ian,

    What would happen if every beek that is into pollination went on strike for a full year? I wonder who would listen then. Would hundreds of millions of lost dollars in the AG economy create a stir? I understand that this is a naive suggestion, but still it is fun to look at the extremes.

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    Exactly why/how is this thread supporting the focus of this forum?
    Regards, Barry

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry View Post
    Exactly why/how is this thread supporting the focus of this forum?
    My apologies if I have broken any rules. I just recently started this thread and am not aware of any forum focus. Please let me know where this info resides.

    Respectfully,

    HVH

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    "Ishi looked on us as sophisticated children. Smart, but not wise" -- Ishi the Last Yahi by Robert F. Heizer
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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    If it needs to be moved, then why not move it?
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
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    >>What would happen if every beek that is into pollination went on strike for a full year? I wonder who would listen then. Would hundreds of millions of lost dollars in the AG economy create a stir?

    I understand your point. We as beekeepers realize the importance of our services, but I would have to say the rest of the world dosent.

    But let us sit and think for just a moment, if we could actually get our industry to do just that. That industry, or others just like ours. Just imagine the back lash that would come upon us for "starving" the people, becasue we so carlessly and selfishly pulled back our services to prove a point. I dont know if it would ultimatly work out as most in our industry invisions it.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    >>What would happen if every beek that is into pollination went on strike for a full year? I wonder who would listen then. Would hundreds of millions of lost dollars in the AG economy create a stir?

    I understand your point. We as beekeepers realize the importance of our services, but I would have to say the rest of the world dosent.

    But let us sit and think for just a moment, if we could actually get our industry to do just that. That industry, or others just like ours. Just imagine the back lash that would come upon us for "starving" the people, becasue we so carlessly and selfishly pulled back our services to prove a point. I dont know if it would ultimatly work out as most in our industry invisions it.
    I admitted it was naive. Still, I wonder if it could be done if beeks, in one loud voice, determined that the risks of pest contamination were too high to justify sharing acreage with other beeks, and thus decided to wait until the CCD epidemic was ironed out. Clearly this would be good justification to shift to honey production until researchers could characterize the CCD problem. Beeks would finally be taken seriously and our fabulous leaders would be placed in the position of having to address the poor funding of bee research labs. If beeks waited for the CCD answer and refused to enter into pollination contracts until the problem was resolved, money would begin to flow into bee labs again. The problem I see is getting everyone on board. If supply and demand sent the pollination fees to $300.00 per hive, it's likely that some of the big boys couldn't resist the temptation and it would completely nullify the intended effect. Since I am not a lawyer I am not even sure if this kind of thinking is considered collusion (the illegal kind - not the kind signed into law). Plus, you could never get the beekeepers organized.
    Of course I'm off topic. Maybe the subject should be about making transgenic politicians. We could insert genes that (fill in the blanks).

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    After careful reading, I see little in this thread other than conjecture, presumption, and speculation. My experience with molecular biology is that it rarely works to produce new knowledge and will most likely not translated into useful honeybees yet alone dangerous ones.

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    I only read the starting thread and lightly browsed in between.Gets kind of deep in what if. I have a nice hive of AHB hybrids that make considerable amount of honey. Have not treated for anything going on 3 yrs. I do not see the swarming tendency the original AHB had and the original AHB made no honey. They are mean but workable in a single hive setting. About as mean as black Germans of 30 yrs ago. Make these bees more gentle and you would have a great bee. I put them on previously made large cell comb and they are happy with it. Have not torn it down to rebuild small cell.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aspera View Post
    After careful reading, I see little in this thread other than conjecture, presumption, and speculation. My experience with molecular biology is that it rarely works to produce new knowledge and will most likely not translated into useful honeybees yet alone dangerous ones.
    It looks like we are back on topic.
    I can tell you that I (and others) have cloned the human telomerase gene into normal human cells (MRC5 fibroblasts) that do not express telomerase and the result is cells that are immortal. MRC5 cells will normally double every 30 hours or so and double about 50-70 times before they die. We have MRC5 cells with telomerase where the cells have already doubled over 300 times with no end in sight (they are not cancer). If you think this through, it has vast implications. This is just one example from my small little world - just think what others might be up to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HVH View Post
    We have MRC5 cells with telomerase where the cells have already doubled over 300 times with no end in sight (they are not cancer). If you think this through, it has vast implications. This is just one example from my small little world - just think what others might be up to.
    I really dread to think. Let's hope none of them have delusions of being able to solve the world's problems.
    The Barefoot Beekeeper http://www.biobees.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by HVH View Post
    ...a constitutional role for goverment, in my view, includes insuring that our country is always on the leading edge when it comes to technology (including military: big time).
    I find it interesting, but not at all surprising, that you should bring up weapons along side a discussion about transgenics. I also wasn’t surprised when you finally played the “fear” card, which I predicted by trying to make it clear in an earlier post that my point of view was conscientiously NOT motivated by anxiety. Incidentally “anxiety” (as in I’m uneasy about the uncertain future) is the word your looking for rather than “fear” (as in this rabid dog is about to bite my face off).

    The reason this is an interesting coincidence is the trend in transgenics and weapons amassing/manufacture stem from the same fundamental place deep in the dark human psyche. One industry seemingly supports life, while the other takes it away. The reality is they both seek to do exactly the same thing – commodify and therefore control life. As I said much earlier the real issue here, regardless of how you want to rationalize it, is about CONTROL.

    The desire to be on the “leading edge” and maintaining economic superiority is also about control – controlling one’s apparent, abstract position in this world. The abstractions (science, law, economics) we make about this world are also an attempt at control – to control the world in our minds by conceptualization.

    Why so obliviously obsessed with control? Because we are by nature anxious about the uncertain future. We crave security. This is a very anxious time we live in, and so people more than ever are grasping for control, security, their comforting piece of the pie they're so entitled to. Transgenics is a product of anxiety. And if one thing is certain about the future, engineering life is simply more of the same. On with the rat race!

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