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Comment by Dave Riley on December 8, 2016 at 11:00

This is good:

Organic Farmers Are Not Anti-Science, but Genetic Engineers Often Are

By Elizabeth Henderson, Independent Science News | News Analysis
Scientific evidence shows that the widespread adoption of genetically engineered crops in the US has led to an increase in pesticides used in agriculture -- and an increase in the residues of pesticides left in foods, among other disturbing trends.

At one of the public brainstorming sessions for the New York Organic Action Plan, an organic farmer made an impassioned plea for support for "independent science" and told us that with 8.5 billion mouths to feed by 2050, we will need genetic engineering to prevent starvation.
I would like to examine these words carefully to decipher what they mean, how those words are used by this farmer and by others, and suggest how the movement for locally grown organic food in this country should respond.
What is the meaning of 'independent science'? As co-chair of the Policy Committee for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY), I have been an active participant in the coalition that is campaigning to pass GMO labeling legislation in NY State. In this capacity, I have spoken at public meetings, to the press and on radio interviews. A question that I have heard from proponents of biotechnology is "why do you organic farmers oppose science, like the climate deniers?"
 
Comment by Dianne Caswell on December 6, 2016 at 9:44

Oh what a lot of interest I have gained through the Videos and Comments of our members. I too think 'Organic' is a word being bandied about as a Marketing Tool. Thanks for the Interest you have generated Dave.

Comment by Dave Riley on December 6, 2016 at 8:25

On the NS facebook page the publication is being savaged by regular readers with folk insisting that they'll never buy the mag again and that the article is an afront to the  scientific method.

Quite a backlash. Warranted, of course.

The Steve Marsh case proves how unreliable and unpredictable this genetic technology is -- whether the debate is about organics or not. .

Similarly rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus:

In 1991 a strain of the virus, Czech CAPM 351RHDV, was imported to Australia[6] under strict quarantine conditions to research the safety and usefulness of the virus if it was used as a biological control agent against Australia and New Zealand's rabbit pest problem. Testing of the virus was undertaken on Wardang Island in Spencer Gulf off the coast of the Yorke Peninsula, South Australia. In 1995 the virus escaped quarantine and subsequently killed 10 million rabbits within 8 weeks of its release.[7]

Point being we need greater protection from these technologies and more careful research before they are embraced. But we cannot have situations like Marsh's.

Explicit in the NS article is bullying: our way or  else.

Comment by Rob Collings on December 5, 2016 at 19:01

I was hoping that there was some kind of deception linking the video to new scientist. But the article is in the news feed for their website. Very poor journalism (with no backing up of claims made, on top of tunnel vision points of view) in the linking article on spew scientist website. Why do they allow poor writers to vandalise and discredit their magazines' publication with this?

Below is a link to a reddit page containing the full written article (without pics)...

REDDIT POSTING re. stop_buying_organic_food_if_you_really_want_to/ ...

Oh, if you read the fun comments in youtube and on the author's twitter regarding this, you're a 'hippie' if you're disappointed about this article.... well build me a dreamcatcher and feed me lentils! (GM free lentils please)

I question my eyes and memory, as I believed that Andrew Perlot was the original uploader of this video when I first watched the link, but I cannot see how I believed this was the case now, as there seem to be no links in either direction when having a 2nd look around. None the less, you watch his channel for a pesticide & herbicide drenched laugh!

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on December 5, 2016 at 4:25

Any kind of selective breeding could be called 'genetic modification'. The GM that is the result of inserting genes from un-related species into a plant to give it some functions beyond what it has naturally, is quite a different thing. Modifying a plant so that it can be sprayed with microbe-killing herbicide is quite a different thing to selecting for traits that suit you as the grower. Plastering tons of microbe-killing herbicide onto the soil (as spray inevitably lands on the soil) does nothing to increase fertility or disease resistance. It does the very opposite as we know from reading about the role of microbes in the soil.

The gentle 'genetic modification' we all do when we select the best to keep and the rest to eat is, from where I sit, so very far away from the brutal alteration of plants plus the spraying of soil-killing substances. I would settle for 'selective breeding' rather than 'genetic modification' in our case.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on December 5, 2016 at 1:14

Well, I am trying to produce my own seeds now days from only the best of my plants.  It means that I am using the best plants adapted to Brisbane climate.  In a way, that's GM. 

Comment by Dave Riley on December 5, 2016 at 0:41

Personally I never see myself as 'organic'. I prefer other labels like 'regenerative' or 'agroecology'. I think 'organic' is a marketing niche rather than necessarily the epitome of sustainable agriculture.

As the Slow Food folk argue:

Does Slow Food mean organic?
No. Although Slow Food supports the principles behind organic agriculture, such as promoting methods that have a low impact on the environment and reducing the use of pesticides, it also argues that organic agriculture, when practiced extensively, is similar to conventional monoculture cropping. Organic certification alone should therefore not be considered a sure sign that a product is grown sustainably. Most of the Slow Food Presidia practice organic techniques, however very few are officially certified on account of the high costs of certification.

Similarly I am not unconditionally opposed to genetic modification of seeds. Hypothetically it may have a future use but really it is either/or. To embrace an untested, possibly harmful, technology at the present time exacerbates the trajectory of industrial agriculture > agricultural corporatism> monoculture >'green revolution' input dependencies > soil devastation > loss of farming jobs > greater carbon emissions.

Both the production of fertilizers and their impact on soil chemistry, esp nitrous oxide, (LINK) have a huge impact on the amount of emissions associated with agriculture...and that's not considering carbon losses from the soil, due to microbial leaching and death.

The Haber Process, for instance, that has been relied on to manufacture fertilizer, consumes  1–2% of the world's annual energy supply.

Nonetheless, one research survey argues:

But the big caveat here: “Although organic agriculture has an untapped role to play when it comes to the establishment of sustainable farming systems, no single approach will safely feed the planet,” reads the paper. The researchers freely admit that the transitioning to a system in which organic agriculture really does feed the world would require absurd amounts of money and infrastructure changes; that a huge part of the effort would have to involve reducing food waste dramatically to make up for what still likely would be lower overall yields; and that labor would be sorely lacking for these sorts of agriculture jobs.

Basically, this survey is saying that years of research into organic farming’s efficacy does not prove that organic farming is incapable of feeding the world. But to turn that into “organic farming COULD feed the world” would require a total upheaval of the world’s agricultural infrastructure. No small feat! But theoretically possible.

The core reality check is that pursuing a certifiable food label at a premium price isn't going to do that. Indeed, I think it probably undermines that trajectory as it serves primarily to sponsor a niche market rather than transform agriculture to the extent required. While the 'family farm' model seems to be a viable template, small agricultural enterprises run in sustainability mode, are not only vulnerable to climate and weather -- the labour requirements of such an approach would require a major commitment from governments to subsidize (rather than TAX) agricultural workers' incomes.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on December 3, 2016 at 21:29

New Scientist must be an advertising company for some big firm like Monsanto.  I'm shocked they would be so blatant. 

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on December 3, 2016 at 19:43

GM? What are they smoking?

Biodynamics with its minimal inputs and support for soil microbes has the potential to grow more than enough food. And the food keeps better.

We chuck out conventional fruits which mould or rot before they are ripe, just as an example.

'New Scientist' must be very new to facts then. Or the new 'fact-free' zones I read about.

The people supporting conventional and GM agriculture are totally ignorant of the soil-food-web. If they did know anything about microbes and their vital place in our lives they just could not say such twaddle.

Comment by Dave Riley on December 3, 2016 at 19:16

And from the 'New Scientist" too!

Ignores all the research.

I'm gobsmacked. Must be Trump America New Science.

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