> Dale used the industry arguments...
The arguments are mine, and I am not speaking for Pioneer.
> that agricultural products may be "improved" by genetic
> manipulation so that fruits may be designed to carry certain
> medications; grains will be designed to have particular
> nutritional compositions; etc.
That wasn't really my point. My point was that the health risk from these
manipulations is probably small. "Improvement" is a matter of opinion. I
am sure you would agree that plant varieties exhibit a wide range of
characteristics within species.
> Is not the bounty of nature enough to suit our needs? Have
> we not co-evolved with the plants and animals that share
> this planet with us?
Corn was first domesticated eight or nine thousand years ago. How much
biological change do you think occurred in humans since that time?
Negligible. How much change occurred in corn? To quote Walt Galinat "A
contemplation of the creative power necessary for ancient man to transform
the tiny spike of teosinte into the magnificent ear of corn in a relatively
short period of time, perhaps 100 yrs, leaves the beholder with a sense of
awe if not disbelief." Was that manipulation "good"? Well, the folks doing
the selection thought it was.
The relevant co-evolution here is the co-evolution of plants with human
> we have a *universe* of alternatives if only we would allow
> ourselves to see them. How about using an ecological approach,
> working with the cycles of nature, the complex dynamics of soil,
> and the miraculous natural capabilities of plants to attempt to
All successful farmers do this. But, who are you to prescribe practices and
varieties, and tell farmers what they can and can't do? On what basis? I
can accept the basis of public or ecosystem health, but that is not what you
are arguing here. As is so common on this list, you are setting yourself up
as arbiter of natural law (and falling into the naturalistic fallacy). IMO
the farmer should decide what is an "improvement" and what is not. The
arbiter of natural law should be the farmer.
> The simple answer is that the profit potential from this
> approach is very limited as it relies not on chemical or
> biotechnological inputs but on intensive system management,
> therefore industry would not be very interested
> in it.
You might desire to forge your own hoe or make your own nails, but most
farmers choose not to do that. Is that bad? Pioneer produces one kind of
input, crop varieties (packaged in high-quality seeds BTW). You might take
esthetic pleasure in selecting and breeding plants. I know I do. But most
farmers choose to have someone else do it for them. We seed industry people
make a living doing that. As it turns out, the high-tech, gee-whiz stuff
doesn't make much more money than conventional breeding when the dust
settles (serves them oversold gene-splicers right ;-). Finely targeted
genetic manipulation, not always *trans*genic, is becoming conventional.
Human culture continues to co-evolve with the crop.
IMO it is appropriate to let farmers themselves decide how they will farm in
their own unique situation. They need to decide what inputs should
logically be purchased in there situation. I don't think it is fair or
efficient for some centralized academic authority to decide what practices
or varieties are *natural* enough for them to grow. I think GMO crops are
safe and represent an environmentally responsible choice in many cases.
Apparently, many farmers want to buy such seed. I don't understand the
knee-jerk, across-the-board rejection by the sustainable ag crowd.
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