Agriculture

Published on November 19th, 2014 | by Daryl Elliott

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Origins Movie: “The Planet is an Ecosystem of Life, and We Are Part of that Ecosystem”

November 19th, 2014 by  


The title of this article is a quote from Tom Malterre, co-author of the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook, which is online for only a few days (link at bottom or article).

This is a movie about how we have left the natural connection to the planet. The movie investigates how this has happened, the incredible amounts of pollutants that we are exposed to, even as a fetus, and the technology that can help resolve these challenges over time. In short, it is an important case that is made for using renewable energy.

The Origins narrator states: “The macrocosm and the microcosm are reflections of each other, and what we see on a large scale, will inevitably show up on a smaller scale and vice versa. With this in mind, we need to look at the health of our planet in order to understand what is happening in our own lives.” Tom Malterre adds: “We’re up to 74 billion pounds of chemicals being produced or imported into the United States every single day. That’s 250 pounds per person per day…. That number does not even include pharmaceuticals, pesticides, fuels and food additives…. So, what are we doing? We are swimming now in chemicals.”

Dave Asprey, Founder of The Bulletproof Executive, contributes: “A lot of these chemicals have never been tested for safety and we eat low levels of this every day in our food supply that we did not evolve to consume.”

Cliff Hodges, founder of Adventure Out, teaches how to live in the wilderness. He discusses how human beings create tools and technology, but “… when you study technology in a wilderness situation, I think it really shows a glaring example of why you need to make technology sustainable because out here [in the wild] if you’re doing something that’s damaging the ecosystems, you’re directly threatening your ability to live.”

Are carbon-producing systems causing systemic health issues? Are people going to die in greater numbers to come if we don’t take corrective measures now? Might we be able to resolve some of these issues with renewable energy?

Are the chemicals, antibiotics, and other unnatural ingredients damaging humans at a core level? Are these things contributing immune deficiencies, reduced fertility, stress, depression, obesity, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases? Might we be able to resolve some of these diseases by movement, exercise, and changing our diet to a live plant-based diet?

How this movie relates to clean renewable energy comes down to the impact that pollution from dirty energy and other chemicals have on our bodies and mitochondrial DNA, which is responsible for converting “chemical energy in food into a form that cells can use” for movement and even thinking. Summer Bock, fermentationist and herbalist, comments: “Mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cells. They are responsible for producing the energy of the body.” Tom Malterre adds: “It happens that to be that the mitochondrial DNA is extremely susceptible to damage… out of the 87,000+ industrial chemicals that are on the marketplace today, those that are researched for safety analysis, the vast majority are found to be mitochondrial disruptors.”

The movie discusses how for millennia people understood nature and lived symbiotically with it, but that in two to three generations humans have taken a detour away from this information to a very unnatural and potentially dangerous state.

For a short time, the Origins movie is available for free via the video embed above and here: origins.well.org/movie






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About the Author

I have followed and supported solar, wind, geothermal since the 1970s. After discovering its strong environmental benefits, became vegan in the late 70s. Go green.



  • auntiegrav

    blah blah blah nature…blah….conservation…blah…sustainability….blah blah blah.

    As much as I commend the producers and writers for trying, they fail along with everyone else to get the missing factor of humanity:
    Our technology is a problem because we let it replace our own personal value to our own personal future.
    The biggest difference between the “civilized” and the non-civilized is that civilization is a system for isolating ourselves from the risks and responsibility of being alive.
    In nature, every species takes what it can from the world, but there are other species taking what they can from that one.
    Humans have eliminated our predators and other risks, as well as eliminating our responsibility to even return our waste products to the land: opting instead to sanitize them for “health” reasons and keep those nutrients from being used by natural systems.
    “The opposite of consumption is not frugality: it is GENEROSITY.” -Raj Patel
    This means we shouldn’t skimp on our abilities and skills: we should apply them in the opposite direction that we are now. Instead of people working to extract resources and accumulate money, humanity’s goal should be to create resources for the living world (well, and protecting it from asteroids might help with that in the long run). Those who are closest to the land should be our most revered workers and should be paid the most, while those that only manipulate money(another tool for isolating the value of people and things from the real world) should be paid the least and respected the least.
    Civilization has the direction of human efforts completely backward.
    Religions use God backward, too. God is supposed to be the marketing department for the town meeting. The function of a god is to get people to do useful work for their place and to maintain the community, the community isn’t supposed to be serving an imagined god, but a real place.
    It’s not surprising how the middle men always seem to usurp our systems and get people to stop questioning their motives.

  • JMin2020

    Thanks for the post Daryl. I really enjoyed the movie.

    • Joseph Dubeau

      Yes, it’s a good movie.

  • fevasu

    I think more people should bear the brunt and go solar early, so that industry gets to do rapid iteration, the key and trick with solar is super-exponential scale up on par with moore’s law, which is difficult due to inherent limitations of thermodynamics. But still good coupling of battery technologies and solar could shave off 20-30% C02 in developed world by 2028.

  • Bob_Wallace

    The flag system is to be used only for violations of site commenting policies such as spam or personal attacks on another commentor.

    It is not appropriate to flag comments simply because you don’t like the comment.

    Inappropriate flagging is a bannable offense. (Besides, the comments you flag will just get put back up.)

    Give the comment guidelines a read and cut the crap.
    http://cleantechnica.com/cleantechnica-comment-policy/

    • Hi Bob, Larmian very likely works for one of the seed companies as a troll. We know that this is a practice used by big ag and other large corporations.

      http://21stcenturywire.com/2014/03/01/paid-govt-and-corporate-internet-trolls-are-real/

      • Larmion

        I absolutely do not work for a big seed company., nor am I married to GM in any way. As I said before, I work for a government research unit and since I work in Europe, I exclusively use conventional breeding techniques for crop improvement – GM is strictly a resarch tool for lab use.

        If you feel that the entire scientific community is ran by trolls and that peer review is a synonym of trolling, please continue adhering to your deluded belief.

  • Marion Meads

    Proprietary chemicals, GMO’s that the planet has never encountered before are major disturbances of global ecosystems. The planet’s ecosystems have equilibriated with fossil fuels that have been buried for millions of years, and when we pump them out back into our atmosphere, it becomes a major but very rapid planet-wide disturbance in geological time scale.

    • tmac1

      Marion
      I agree the Frankenstein plants are new but I am not as concerned as many
      I remain more disgusted with big AG forcing farmers to pay for these evening they blow downwind from a neighbors farm
      They essentially have a monopoly and you must pay

      • Larmion

        a) That the neighboring farmer had a problem in the first place is the fault of the green movement. Governments across the western world were doing very promising research into what environmentalists dubbed ‘Terminator Seeds’ (GM crops that were infertile and thus couldn’t interbreed with non-GM plants). Since some considered induced sterility unnatural (odd, because it’s quite common in wild plants), the project was abandoned.

        b) The farmer in question wanted to keep using the seeds, seeds that had acquired beneficial traits without paying for it. Plant breeder’s rights, a concept that predates GM plants by decades, clearly state that you cannot make a profit from a new crop strain without paying for it.

        Had the farmer just harvested the crop and left it that, nothing would have happened.

    • Larmion

      GMO’s that the planet has never encountered? I’d love to be able to write genes from scratch – but it’s not in the cards yet. The genes used in transformation are entirely natural – they code for proteins found in nature.

      Also note that many of the most ‘scary’ traits GM plants have – herbicide resistance for example – have been introduced into plants before the age of genetic technology through conventional breeding and are prevalent throughout nature in wild plants.

      I work in plant breeding for a government research institute (with a focus on woody plants and orphan crops, the wide variety of crops that are cultivated on too small a scale to matter to companies) and yes, I have used GM for research purposed and in the future hopefully also with the aim of planting them in the field.

      GM is a tool, nothing more. More often than not, it is used for the better (saving Hawaii’s entire papaya stock from an Asian virus, for example).

      • Marion Meads

        Not all GMO’s are bad. Many chemical companies create GMO’s to resist their proprietary chemicals. It means that the plants used for food are creating new proteins whose long term effects, no company in this world would be able to assess because it requires multi-generational testing for safety. Just because it didn’t kill anyone during the 3-year testing for approval, it doesn’t mean it won’t give you cancer and respiratory ailments in the long term.

        • Larmion

          – First of all, herbicide resistance must be seen seperate from the whole GMO debate. Herbicide resistant cultivars have been in use long before GMO’s were introduced – the mutation required for resistance frequently evolves naturally in plants and can then be introduced into commercial strains using conventional breeding techniques.

          – Herbicide resistance is based on cellular mechanisms that are well known and depend on enzymes that are an integral part of every plant – the specificity is just modified slightly. Efflux pumps, bypass of electron transport inhibition and so on are all perfectly natural mechanisms put to use for a different purpose.

          In your post, I can see only a lack of understanding of the basic processes of cellular biology and crop science. Not any hint of the healthy scepticism any scientist should display.

          • Joseph Dubeau

            B.S.

      • Marion Meads

        Here’s how both GMO and proprietary chemicals are truly bad for you:

        “Glyphosate usage — the most used herbicide in the U.S. since 2001 — has grown because of the widespread use of Monsanto’s, Roundup-Ready, genetically modified plants. In 2013, the EPA raised the allowable concentration of glyphosate on food crops and animal fodder.

        Glysophate creates a situation in which pathogenic bacteria kill off healthy gut bacteria interfering with complex nutrient assimilation resulting in extreme nutrient deficiencies.

        First introduced in 1974, glyphosate is now the world’s most dominant herbicide. Despite claims to the contrary by the EPA, glyphosate residue remains on plants we consume and fodder used to feed commercially raised animals.

        Glysophate creates a situation in which pathogenic bacteria kill off healthy gut bacteria interfering with complex nutrient assimilation resulting in extreme nutrient deficiencies.

        The foods ingested are not completely broken down during digestion and the particles subsequently bore holes in the intestines causing a toxic condition known as “leaky gut syndrome.”

        More here:
        http://www.theunion.com/opinion/columns/10584486-113/glyphosate-disease-celiac-gut

        • Larmion

          And now a methodologically valid, peer reviewed publication please? Oh wait, those are unanimous in their finding that glyphosate (unlike many herbicides that preceded it) is safe for human consumption in the doses you and I are exposed to.

          For the record, the bacteriocidal activity of glyphosate is extremely low. Far too low to cause any significant changes in the gut microbiome.

          • But the gut microbiome is seen as creating all kinds of problems (autism,…), which research indicates that is caused by the use of antibiotics on animals (meat, eggs,…). Right?

          • Larmion

            It is indeed true that excessive antibiotic use disrupts the gut microbiome.

            These changes have been linked to conditions as harmless as flatulence and as serious as obesity and reduced resistance to infections. A link between diseases not directly related to the digestive system such as autism has been proposed but never proven though.

      • Marion Meads

        When I consume organic wheat with its gluten and all, we don’t get any type of allergic reactions nor digestive problems. But the cheapo industrialized wheat grown in vast land of the US of A, my kids and I have allergic reactions and other digestive issues.

        So you know the real reason why the US grown wheat is toxic! Thanks to GMO and rampant use of glyphosate when growing industrialized wheat:

        http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/real-reason-for-toxic-wheat-its-not-gluten/

        • Larmion

          a) Your link suggests gluten allergy is fake, despite immune reactions to gluten having been identified clearly – including in Europe. That by itself makes it hard to take seriously, as does the lack of qualifications of the author.

          b) The link fails to show dessication is a harmful practice. It’s a perfectly valid of ensuring even ripening in unpredictable climates like that of the UK and is legal in countries with strict environmental and health regulations like Germany.

          c) I would encourage you strongly to read the ‘study’ done by Mr. Seneff in Entropy, a journal renowned for publishing… questionable material. Compare it to literature in more established journals, if you were to have access (perhaps via work or university?) to them. It’s worth it, mainly for lulz.

      • Marion Meads

        And we don’t need GMO’s to increase food production. GMO’s are best for medicine, biofuel, and other application. Another good application of genetic engineering is to increase the nutritional content of crops. Really bad GMO’s are those that play around toxic proteins that are found in non-food. We normally don’t eat some weedy plants that are resistant to insects because they are toxic. Splicing those genes on plants used for food will naturally make them unfit for us in the long term.

        Here is a very clever way to help increase world food production:
        http://news.yahoo.com/potato-could-feed-world-152528378.html

        This could give US agriculture a run for their money, and it is not based on GMO’s.

        • Larmion

          You are aware that many medicines are ‘unnatural toxic proteins’?

          Why wouldn’t you eat ‘insect resistant weeds’? Not that it matters, since resistance to insect predation is generally induced via Bt proteins, which come from the Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria and which are quite safe – I’ve had the great privilige of studying at the university faculty that invented the use of Bt modification btw.

          How salt farm Texel (lovely island for a holiday btw) is an ‘answer’ to increasing food production is beyond me, since none of their claims have as of yet been independently verified.

          We indeed don’t ‘need’ GMO’s to increase food production. Virtually any trait that can be introduced quickly, accurately and safely via genetic engineering can also be introduced after years of work and with highly unpredictable consequences via conventional breeding techniques.

          The question is why we wouldn’t use GM. A good analogy is to think of a plant as a smartphone: a flexible, ever evolving platform onto which apps can be installed. GM is just another way of installing an app and is in itself neither good nor bad.

          Some apps are great, some cause your phone to brick. The same is true of genetic traits – fortunately, not a single unhealthy trait has ever been introduced into a commercially grown GM. Not a single one.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Genetic modification of organism, plants or animals, is a ‘tool’. Like any tool it can be for good or bad. A hammer can be used to build a hammer or to bash out someones brains.

            IMO, we’ve got the wrong discussion going. It’s not whether we should do gene moderation, but what modifications should we allow.

            Bt is problem-some modification to me. As someone who has gardened organically for decades Bt is my fall-back when bugs exceed my limits of sharing and willingness to hand pick.

            If we introduce varieties of food plants that have high Bt levels all the time we’ll selectively breed species of problem insects that make Bt no longer functional as a last resort method of pest control.

            I think we need a very robust clearinghouse for GMOs.

            If we can create a variety of rice that can thrive in brackish water, stand up to drought, or has much heavier seed yield that’s great. But let’s be very, very careful that it doesn’t screw with other parts of the ecosystem before we turn it lose for general use.

          • Larmion

            I can agree with much of what you say, apart from a few things.

            Your last paragraph is rather moot. Maintaing the cellular machinery that allows a plant to grow in brackish conditions is a very energy intensive business and as such the plant would be quickly outcompeted outside of the brackish pond its grown in. Stress resistances are an extreme competitive disadvantage in stress-free environments (hence the big challenge of the 21st century crop scientist: introducing some level of stress tolerance without reducing crop yields).

            Bt resistance is a known issue, but can be mitigated using proper farming techniques like escape corridors and if necessary combined pest control measures. So far, all known cases of resistance have been observed in fields that weren’t planted according to best practice (no escape corridor, narrow field margins etc).

            I’m also somewhat opposed to spreading Bt as an insecticide. In doing you so, you harm insects like ladybugs and bees that aren’t predating your crop yet are beneficial to the ecosystem as a whole. It’s far better to genetically engineer your crop to produce Bt so that only insects that actively predate the plant (typically caterpillars of various kinds) are killed.

            Of course, using it occasionally in your garden is no biggie. It’s using it as an insecticide in farming that I’m not too keen on, especially since it can be easily targeted using genetic engineering.

        • Offgridman

          But even the crops that you grow on your “organic” farm are genetically modified. You can’t possibly believe that the tomatoes, corn, or whatever you are producing are identical to crops grown by farmers several centuries ago, or even what was used by the native Americans that these plants were developed from.
          Many years of cross breeding, inbreeding, selective seed management have produced the plants that you now use. Even the big hype over ‘heirloom’ plants just means the plants that were the culmination of this genetic modification process.
          Now I do agree that it is getting overdone with the corporate control of seed production and commercial farming.
          But if you don’t understand that you are prospering due to the use of genetically modified organisms on your farm, you are seriously deceiving yourself.

          • Hi Offgridman, There’s a very big difference between cross-breeding plants and GMO DNA changes that put fish genes into tomatoes for instance. Selective seed management is still using seeds that developed over the millennia. GMOs are dangerous for not only the environment, but also because allowing corporations to control the food supply is dangerous for reasons of using food, and the withdrawal of food, as a weapon of war. Heirloom seeds and plants are better for the environment and for societal stability.

          • Offgridman

            As I said I agree that the corporate control and modification of our seed stocks, along with reliance on commercial farming is a problem.
            But to deny that those heirloom seeds and plants are not also a GMO product, just done over a much longer time frame, is also a self deception.
            Yes we need to get the big money interests out of our food production, but the scare tactics employed over the GMO title is a total denial of what we have done over the millenia to make our farm crops better suited for our production and usage.

          • Hi Offgridman, We have had some good discussions over time and have agreed on most things, but on this topic I beg to differ. There is a very big difference between grafting plants and seed selection versus DNA modification of plants.

          • Offgridman

            That’s fine, because I am pretty sure that you will disagree with my opinion that we are a naturally omnivorous species (humans that is). Now I make sure that the protein we consume a few times a week either comes from local farms that do not use steroids or antibiotics, or animals that have grown up running wild.
            In part this is done to supplement or diet, and in part in recognition that people have so over populated our environment that the wild species left will not be in a natural balance without the culling or control by humans.
            In this area if people don’t control the populations of deer and wild hogs they over breed to the point of starvation and environment decimation. And yes I know that the hogs are not a native species, but they are here now and something needs to be done to control there numbers. And in the case of both the hogs and deer people are to scared to allow large enough populations of natural predators, like wolves or coyotes, to have a natural balance.
            So I try to do my part to help out, and the lessons learned from the tiny part of my heritage that is native American, says that you do not kill an animal without making use of it, to do otherwise is a desecration of the spirit sacrificed.
            In somewhat the same way our modification of plants through selective breeding and other methods produces GMO organisms, it would not have happened without our intervention. Yes the way the corporations are doing it is much to fast and not recognizing the long term affects. But we have been doing the exact same thing for centuries, just allowing ourselves time to balance the good and bad of each change.

          • Hi Offgridman, My understanding of science is that humans are physiologically herbivores (see chart). While we agree that some wild species need to be controlled such as the two you mentioned, we do differ on how to control them. Yes, I oppose the consumption of animals by humans for many reasons from health to ethics to the environment.

            From what Native American tribe is your ancestry? I’m 1/8th Cherokee.

          • Larmion

            Your chart is wrong.

            Humans have functional but small canine teeth, a defining trait of omnivores.

            Humans have a an intestinal tract dramatically different to that of herbivores. The most efficient herbivores, ruminants, are foregut fermenters with large oesophageal outgrowths (the extra ‘stomachs’ of a cow). Other herbivores are capable of less efficient fermentation using an extremely large caecum (hindgut fermenters).

            Humans have a rather small caecum that is large enough for some fermentation, but nothing like that of a true hindgut fermenting herbivore like a horse or rodent.

            Stomach acid strengths vary widely between species and even individuals. It should never be used for intraspecies comparison.

            Humans don’t have alkaline saliva (no species has strongly acidic or alkaline salive afaik). Human saliva is a buffer solution with a pH that varies between 6,2 and 7,4, so pretty much neutral.

            Saliva production again is not a reliable indicator of diet or even species. Many herbivores have salivary glands that are poorly developed and vice versa.

            The human digestive system is clearly that of an omnivore. It is virtually identical to that of other primates and of pigs, both very much omnivorous species.

            Like pigs, a human can survive perfectly well on a vegetarion or even vegan diet, but to say that it is our natural diet is a blatant lie. We have an extremely flexible digestive system that shows little preference for plant or animal matter.

          • Hi Larmian, Perhaps you may be interested in watching some movies on veganism to learn more?
            http://www.meetup.com/RawLasVegas/pages/Free_Online_Health_Education_Videos/

          • Larmion

            I’d be extremely interested in some peer reviewed research papers with proper methodology and validation. There’s more to learn from those than from videos that, while obviously well intentioned, tend to cut corners when it comes to scientific rigour.

          • I agree with the necessity for double blind studies, published in peer reviewed publications. You are in luck, because the very first video on the list is exactly that. It’s the science behind diet as presented by Dr. Michael Greger. His lecture is first because I believe in science. From there, a couple more MDs give lecture presentations on video and then a Cornell PhD gives a TED Talk presentation.

            http://www.meetup.com/RawLasVegas/pages/Free_Online_Health_Education_Videos/

          • Larmion

            Mr. Greger has repeatedly been criticized for cherry-picking data and for relying on questionable methodologies. Note that none of his own peer reviewed papers deal with nutrition in any way, most are related to livestock farming.

            Just spend an evening searching Web of Science (if you can get accesss, if not Google Scholar will do the trick too). You’ll find very little support for anything mentioned in your links.

          • Have you seen the lecture yourself? Of course the meat and dairy industries are going to criticize all of their critics. Please consider watching it for yourself.

          • Larmion

            The criticism isn’t from any industry, it’s from the majority of peer reviewed papers that fail to find any health benefits from a vegan diet (its health outcomes are better than those of meat-rich diets, but worse than those of vegetarian or low-meat diets).

            I watched the lecture and wasn’t impressed. Very little attention to methodology, experimental design or validation and little or no biochemistry. But then again, that’s true of almost every video on the internet. Learning is done through original research or through study in a university or research library. Not through a glorified youtube video.

          • Two of those lecturers, Caldwell Esselstyn MD and T. Colin Campbell, have done significant longitudinal studies. Have you watched those videos?

            Virtually all of the research is showing the vegan diet has very many health benefits. For example, a vegan diet with no oil reverses heart disease in most cases. You can learn more if you are interested at http://www.HeartAttackProof.com/. This is Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s site. He used to do heart surgeries and decided to research the root cause of heart disease and found it to largely be animal fats. Please consider watching his lecture wherein he discusses the science behind it.

          • Offgridman

            On my father’s side my great great grandmother was from the Seneca clan of the Mohawk tribe so 116 there, and there was a mixed blood marriage on my mother’s side 270 years ago, but due to social constraints there is no more information than that. One of the New England tribes I assume as it happened up in Maine. Most of my understanding of culture and beliefs comes from my grandfather who lived a lot with his grandmother after his father died when he was five. This was way back in the Adirondack mountains of upstate NY, she taught him how to hunt and he taught my father and me.
            Your pictogram is interesting, but it doesn’t explain why we have the carnivores eye teeth. Nor how the species survived the ice age when we were still hunter-gatherers and not settled farmers, so there was no way to survive the winters on just plant based materials. Also none of the indigenous tribes encountered around the world during the ages of exploration were strictly vegetarian. There were many varied ways of getting animal, marine, or insect protein into the diet, but they all took advantage of some source.
            But in any case I am glad that your beliefs work for you, they just don’t for me. I was a strict vegetarian for six years when I was younger, and believe that the habits learned then help me to eat and live in a more healthy way now. But my energy levels and state of mind seem to be much better with some animal protein and fat added in now and then. Strictly anecdotal evidence I know, but some of the experts in this movie seem to agree with me.

          • Larmion

            Both the eyes and ability to subsist in cold climates are indeed further evidence for humans being omnivorous.

            If you’re happy eating some meat, good for you. As far as I can discern from the scientific literature, a diet with limited consumption of meat and/or fish is associated with the same health outcomes as a purely vegetarian one. Vegan diets fare a bit worse and heavily meat based diets finish dead last.

            It seems conceivable that a non-vegetarian diet makes you a bit more alert if it meant that overall carbohydrate intake went down (often the case for health-conscious individuals that do include some animal products). I personally omit meat but consume dairy products and some fish.

          • Hi Offgridman, Thanks for your comments. 🙂

          • Offgridman

            No problem, as on previous occasions I have enjoyed my conversation with you too.
            This is how conversations are supposed to happen, with each party able to express the reasons for their beliefs, then even if at the end there is no concurrence, at least agreeing to disagree.
            Have a great day.

          • Larmion

            And is there a big difference between using conventional breeding techniques like induced polyploidy and embryo rescue and GM in your book? If there is, I’d love to hear it. If there isn’t, please stop eating pretty much any cereal or vegetable.

          • Larmion

            How are the traits modern plant breeders select for (stress tolerance, herbicide resistance etc) a danger to the environment? They are all traits that require a lot of energy to maintain, so the strain would rapidly be outcompeted in natural environments where there is no selection pressure towards the resistance.

            Large agrobusinesses can certainly have negative impacts on agriculture. However, you’ll be pleased to know that a vast number of new crop strains, GM or otherwise, are produced by governments, universities and by startup companies.

            Take the Hawaiian papaya industry. Infection with the Papaya ringspot virus came close to wiping out the entire industry until researchers at Cornell University and the University of Hawaii came up with the resistant GM Rainbow Papaya in the late ’90s.

      • eveee

        I am not against GM, but we need to monitor what we do with it, and be mindful of unintended consequences. Its not just GM, its any way we tinker with our environment. We have bred corn to resist fungus so much that corn meal is used for that purpose in gardening. Plants have natural disease resistances, a kind of plant chemical warfare. We have evolved, and our diets and cooking have evolved with the food we eat. Most are aware that without restraint, the food industry can concoct substances like high fructose corn syrup which are not good for our diet. We need to be mindful that we do not resort to such excesses or ignore unintended consequences in GM as well. Even the widespread use of soap and washing hands had unintended consequences. We now know that it lead to the spread of Polio in countries like the US. GM should not be painted with a broad brush either way. The failure of the US government to protect from damaging NSAIDs is an example of why people distrust large tech companies and the government.

        • Larmion

          Of course we need to monitor what we do with it. And we do that – have you ever had a look at how strict the procedures required to market a new variety are?

          The real irony here is that only GM crops are investigated thoroughly. If I were to introduce a particular herbicide resistance into a crop using GM, detailled studies in health and environmental effects would be required. Were I to introduce the same trait using conventional breeding, I’d have to submit nothing more than a brief overview of my methods used.

          An unintended side effect of those excessive procedures lobbied for by certain green groups is the rise of agrobusiness – yes, the agrobusiness those same greens cite as a reason to oppose GM. Regulatory approval accounts for almost half of the total money spent on developing a new crop and can take years. The likes of Monsanto or Syngenta can afford to wait that long, a startup with no revenue stream can’t.

          The result? Startups get bought up by the big six of the agrobusiness world. We’re fast approaching a world where only governments and large corporations can do proper plant breeding and engineering and that’s a shame. Small and medium sized businesses have historically proven to be far more agile and innovative than the slow bureaucracy and bean counting of a large organisation could allow for.

          On an entirely seperate note: high fructose corn syrup, much like its natural equivalent honey (the two are different only in the presence of some free amino acids), is not especially dangerous – most peer reviewed literature finds it every bit as harmful as conventional table sugar.

          HFCS, and the sucrose it replaces, are used in excessive quantities. That’s the problem, not any inherent danger in HFCS itself. If you would replace all HFCS with ordinary sucorse, health outcomes would be the same (sucrose gets broken down to fructose and glucose, the components of HFCS). It’s total sugar consumption that has to go down in the western diet.

  • tmac1

    Thanks for the link will check this out
    Nice info on author about vegan and environmental impacts
    In Cowspiracy another interesting film, the mad cowboy explains how anyone claiming to be environmentalist and is not vegan is a hypocrite.

    Strong words but the movie points out that in Oder to make room for 7.5 billion meat eaters. We have to displace millions of animals and destroy millions of acres of habitat.

    Go solar and vegan!

    • Larmion

      A diet entirely devoid of animal products is less sustainable than one that includes (small!) quantities of animal products.

      Despite how inefficient animal production is compared to plant production, we have historically always used animals even when food was scarce – for two very good reasons:

      1) Animals offer a good way of using waste streams from plant production (press cake from oilseeds, cellulose rich biomass from cereals, food waste etc). Those typically cannot be used as food, or at least not without heavy and energy intensive processing, but can be turned into animal protein with reasonable efficiency.

      2) Not all agricultural land is suited to arable farming. Soils that are extremely wet, dry, poor or stony cannot support crops, but can typically support some form of pasture. Those pastures can be used to graze small numbers of ruminants (cows, sheep and goats), allowing humans to extract a limited quantity of food from land that would otherwise yield none at all.

      Both forms of animal production are sustainable (light grazing actually increases biodiversity of grasslands) and cost-effective.

      That the current western diet, where meat is a staple, is unsustainable is obvious. Shifting to a vegan diet is not the most efficient solution though. The best choice would be to return to the attitude our forefathers had to meat: a treat, not a staple. Something to be savored on a lazy Sunday rather than the core of each and every meal.

      • tmac1

        Thanks for the thoughtful response
        Agreed in extreme conditions arctic mountains of Afghanistan eating seals bears goats that can

        • tmac1

          Convert scrub algae that we cannot digest into meat we can digest is a good thing . At rhis point we know that 3 meals a day with meat is not only non sustainable but increases risk of many cancers

        • Larmion

          You don’t have to go that far. Every country has poor quality soil, much of the American west for example. Sadly, ranching there has deteriorated into a system of overgrazing paired with feedlots rather than the old fashioned extensive animal farming done before.

    • Marion Meads

      We can now grow more food with better quality without resorting to the use of GMO’s and proprietary chemicals:

      Successful selection and cultivation of plants in saline water:
      http://news.yahoo.com/potato-could-feed-world-152528378.html

      Increasing the yield of tastier tomatoes without resorting to GMO’s
      http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/11/03/361140794/a-non-gmo-way-to-get-more-tastier-tomatoes

      • Larmion

        The first link is a bit premature since no validation of their claims has been made.

        The second link is spot on: most traits that can be introduced through conventional breeding can also be introduced through genetic engineering and vice versa. One question though: why?

        In cases of non-linked traits, genetic engineering offers a quicker, cleaner way to introduce the same gene conventional breeding would introduce through a messy, iterative process. You can build an entire home without every using a hammer, but why would you deny yourself a perfectly valid and useful tool?

    • Hi tmac1, I agree completely. http://www.Cowspiracy.com revealed how The Sierra Club and Greenpeace both don’t address agricultural greenhouse gases. Using organic heirloom seeds is best for the environment. Another part of this discussion that hasn’t developed yet is the ethical consideration of eating animals, which I consider to be unconscionable. Go vegan! Go green.

    • Frontída

      “is not vegan is a hypocrite.” …To pass judgement on people and tell people they can’t care about the world they live in because they happen to also eat meat is ludicrous … honestly its people like you who cause no traction among avg people. Its this ridiculous sense of superiority that turns people off.

      • tmac1

        Not sure if you had a chance to see cowspiracy
        It is very interesting.

        To be clear it is a former rancher who was drawing the parallel not me. His point was we favor one or three species and destroy habitats of others with our big Ag system. I think change is hard and sometimes there are a variety of ways to get your message out there. I do not claim to be superior to anyone, just restating an opinion of another, obviously this offended you and I apologize.

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