Saturday, April 17, 2004

ciao bitches

It's probably good that I'm going on vacation again, considering how irritable I've become recently. I'm sure you can entertain yourselves for a couple weeks, but don't forget to come back in May.

I leave you with a Barbie doll making reservations at Alain Ducasse; a design site that I (and you) may or may not have already seen; a summary of soil organic carbon loss in Science, with bonus no-till farming info from Ohio State; the eerie but otherwise pedestrian Fox and Peterson, "Risks and implications of bovine spongiform encephalopathy for the United States: insights from other countries," Food Policy 29 (February 2004), 45-60, which begins "BSE has not been found in the US but current detection efforts provide little assurance that it does not exist at a low level."

A final thought on biofarming inspired by the delay in approving Ventria's diarrhea rice in California. After the purely reflexive "no GMOs whatsoever" response, it is not hard to envision a position that admits the utility of cheaply producing useful drugs with plants. The problem, of course, is that all these companies are using crop plants, and they want to grow them in the same place the crops are widely planted for food (obviously, because they do well there). Some "reasonable" people have suggested that if they just switched to non-food/feed crops, everyone would be happy. But that's not going to happen, because the biopharm people need crop plants. They need the benefit of millennia of careful selection to produce yields big enough to pad their profit margin. And no matter what anyone says about the miracle of science, and its "precision", they can't do that themselvs, not from scratch, and not even, probably, with a long-domesticated non-crop plant like tobacco. Because if they could, they would. They would love to fly under the radar. But they don't have the skills. So instead they are going to battle it out in the court of public opinion and anemic regulation, and they will win eventually. And then we're in trouble.

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