Tuesday, May 11, 2004

wheat

An interesting fallacy creeps into Justin Gillis's otherwise typically excellent Post article about the Monsanto wheat disaster:
But genetic alterations that benefit farmers alone might not be enough to overcome marketplace resistance, he said, adding that companies need to develop genetic alterations that could benefit millers and consumers.
Of course, he is talking to the National Association of Wheat Growers CEO. In fact, of course, the only one who benefits from RR wheat is Monsanto. See Andrew Pollack's Times article:
While Monsanto said Roundup Ready wheat could increase yields 5 percent to 15 percent, some farmers said that weed control was not as big a problem in wheat.
[and 5-15%=no more than the price premium and technology fee].

... and corn
A new paper -- Chilcutt and Tabashnik, "Contamination of refuges by Bacillus thuringiensis toxin genes from transgenic maize," PNAS early edition, 5/8 [abstract] -- shows that the conventional crop refuges (the FDA requires farmers to plant these around their GM corn in order to limit the development of resistance to the toxin in target pests) contain low levels of the Bt toxin -- thus creating ideal evolutionary conditions for those pests to develop resistance to the Bt toxin. [also see the beeb]

I have to say: are you fucking kidding me? It's 2004 and we just figured this out? I encourage you to contemplate the scale of other blindingly-obvious-in-retropsect problems we don't know about yet.

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