Friday, December 12, 2014

INTELLIGENCE SQUARED DEBATES: "Genetically Modify Foods" - the Winners & Losers

This certainly should have been a more interesting debate than it really was. It was published just a few days ago on YouTube by the debate folks at Intelligence Squared Debate. It's 143 minutes in length, with a  debate between Monsanto Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Dr. Robert Fraley who argued in favor of biotech, alongside Alison Van Eenennaam, a genomics and biotechnology researcher at University of California Davis. Charles Benbrook, a research professor at Washington State University's Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Margaret Mellon, a science policy consultant with the Union of Concerned Scientists, will took the opposing side against GMOs. Below are the four individuals which took part in the debate with regards the Pro or Con of whether GMO technology is good for Agriculture and the Natural World in general. My own personal take is that there were no real winners, but especially so with the Anti-GMO opposition side. I realize that will peeve some people, but roll with me here.



At the beginning of debate, the moderator, ABC News Correspondent John Donvan had the audience vote on how they feel about the GMO argument. There were only three choices, pro-gmo, anti-gmo or undecided. At the end of the show they vote once again immediately after the debate and he reveals the results of before and after audience scoring of the debate. But it was Donvan's interview with Bob Rosenkranz at the very beginning who gives us an interesting summary of what this debate is really all about. Rosenkranz  says, "I think what we are talking about is genetic modifications that will never occur in nature, but that require human intervention to bring about". That statement in a nutshell defines more than anything else what is really behind this GMO debate and speaks volumes as to what is really the motivating factor behind the direction that the Biotech Industry is dumping on humankind and the natural world in general. Their bold & brazen technology is based on a flawed understanding of what the genetic informational content within DNA is really all about. The underlying religious unscientific assumptions here is that the Natural World is a flawed, imperfect, a bundle of random compromises and ultimately a "Bad Designer". Traditionally, most all non-coding DNA has been considered worthless junk or something of no value for which it is nothing more than some  evolutionary left overs with no purpose or function. Hence the present day consensus within the scientific community on this is that University educated Human Scientists know far better how to manage, maintain and improve the planet on an elevated intellectual level far above what Nature has been doing for perhaps 10s of 1000s of years. In all my real world life experience with hands on knowledge and practical application in the field observing the natural world, I have never once have observed any flaws or imperfections out in nature, with the exception of when Nature  comes into contact and conflict with the irresponsible activities of human beings, irrespective of their educational background. But these stupid religiously driven "bad designer" arguments which generally are about some ridiculous time wasting origins debates have held scientific discovery back and pointed potentially great science such as healthy viable biotechnology in the wrong direction. Irrespective of how any side of these issues beliefs things got to where they are, science should be about how things in Nature simply work in the real world today and what practical applications we can learn from such observation. So first off, I'm simply going to address a couple of the Pro-GMO side's argument strategies, then do the same with the Anti-GMO side.

PRO-GMO Arguments & Strategy:

Definition Shell Games
"Mankind has been genetic engineering and selecting crops from the very beginning of time"
Robert Fraley
This is probably Monsanto's and other Biotech's [along with their cyber space defending Trolls] greatest and favourite manipulation of the truth used in starting any debate. The comparison they are insisting upon of course is that what Biotech Scientists are doing with gene manipulation is only what the lowly Farmer has been doing for centuries with their own selective breeding of either plants or livestock. This is a flat out lie and they know it, but presumably in their creative collective imaginations they feel it is merely a technicality. They know full well that breeding the same kind of related living organisms is entirely and radically different than breaking of the genetic constraints or species barriers of any organism by isolating a specific gene which codes for a protein toxin from one specific organism and then inserting it into the genome of another entirely unrelated living organism. This is not the same thing as conventional breeding. However, if you disagree with them, you are condescendingly given the label of an Anti-Science Luddite. Unfortunately, their intellectually constructed or formulated gamble here is that the majority of the Public are idiots and probably won't do their homework and to be honest, in their  speculative gamble on public inaction they are probably correct. Okay, so let's be honest here, it's generally true, in the modern industrial world consumers by their very nature are often apathetic & lazy. No offense, just stating a fact. For further clarification on the definition shell gaming being done to smokescreen the true nature of this subject, here is what Professor Jack Heinemann, professor of genetics at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand has to say on this subject of 
"Is Genetic Engineering just like Breeding"
"This stance is grossly misleading. Genetic engineering/modification, as defined in the international agreements governing it, was not even in existence before discoveries of the 1970s."
'We have Scientific Consensus'
Robert Fraley: "There is strong scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs as there is on the role of greenhouse gases in climate change"
I love it when they pull the, "We have the Scientific consensus behind us" stunt. Since when has scientific consensus been an etched in stone guarantee that what they are doing is correct ? How well did all that Scientific Consensus in Nazi Germany's  "Lebensborn" genetic research programs work out for the world ? How well did all those confiscated Nazi Genetics Research documents looted by all the Allied Nations who took that research back home to develop their own Eugenics Programs work out ? Ironically, much of today's Scientific Consensus actually criticizes the research work being done by a responsible genetic research group called ENCODE who is actually performing research work to find out what the non-coding DNA [labeled Junk-DNA by the Scientific Consensus], accomplishes within the genome, it's purpose and function within any organism's genome. And for all the incredible effort and findings by ENCODE researchers, they have been viciously attacked by this very same Scientific Consensus. Interestingly they are finding out there is far more uses for this instructional DNA then previously pimped by the consensus. The counterarguments by the Consensus have been nothing more than cowardly unscientific personal attacks against some of ENCODE's researchers as opposed to actually providing evidence for their faith-based position. In an ideal honest world, any responsible researcher would honestly and humbly inform the Public by admitting that they presently don't know the function or purpose of non-coding DNA, but that they will continue working hard at researching an answer and report back to them at a future date when this happens. But that hasn't exactly been the way things have worked out for us, mostly because that is not the way the real world works among human society. Because there has been no known function for the informational content of non-coding DNA, it has been irresponsibly given the label "Junk" as opposed to admitting that their genius might actually be incapable at this time of not know something. Intellectuals by their very nature have always had a tough time with humility throughout history and more than likely this flaw has been present from the beginning of mankind's very existence on Earth. I'll refer more on the mistakes made by Biotech Scientists in boldly creating genetically modified organisms without seriously considering consequences at the end of this post.

BTW, the prevailing Scientific Consensus tells us Global Warming or Climate Change is real and is being caused by Humans. But ironically, did you know that a good majority of Pro-GMO Corn Farmers believe that this is either a hoax or fraud and doubt whether there is an Anthropogenic [Human caused] Climate Change ??? Only a scant 7.8% believe human activities alone are causing climate change. 
National Farm Bureau's spokesman Mace Thornton puts it: "We're not convinced that the climate change we're seeing is anthropogenic in origin. We don't think the science is there to show that in a convincing way."
Iowa Corn Farmer Dave Miller, whose day job is as an economist for the Iowa Farm Bureau. As Miller is happy to explain, "it’s not that farmers in Iowa don’t think climate change is happening; they think it’s always been happening, and therefore is unlikely to have much to do with whatever we humans get up to." 
So maybe readers here can help me out on this, how does one tell if the Scientific Consensus is telling us the truth or not ?
Huffingtonpost.com: "GMOs Expose Dangerous Science Disconnect in Agriculture"
AGWEEK: "Why don’t US farmers believe in climate change?" 
http://www.sustainablecorn.org - What Farmers are Saying about Climate Change 
Why farmers don’t believe in anthropogenic global warming 
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 'The strategy of Citation Bluffing'
 As a general rule, most of the population is ignorant when it comes to the science behind GMO technology. The Biotech industry is counting on this as it makes definition shell gaming with words and terms so effective. I mean the public is considered stupid and what do they know ? And yet another effective tool is citation bluffing which is meant to intimidate and bluff. Take for example this statement by Fraley and Van Eenennaam who said:
" . .  studies have shown genetically modified food has an  impressive safety record and has no risk to animals or human safety.” “I would never make a blanket assertion of safety; I let the data tell me if there are safety concerns,” Van Eenennaam said. “After 20 years and thousands of studies, and I feel the weight of thousands of academic colleagues throughout the world who have done these studies who haven’t found unique concerns.”
 Often times, you will find such bluffing out on the internet social media sites and online journals where comments are allowed. Various Biotech 'Rent-A-Scientists' and Anonymous Sock-Puppet shills will use this to bluff their way into winning an argument. It goes something like this:
GMO Proponent:
"There are thousands of books and articles in science journals that support Biotech's proposition X"
So GMO Opponent calls the bluff:
"OK, show me exactly where in just one of those books or science journal published articles where the Biotech business model is superior to the way that nature actually works"
 Biotech & Proponents response is generally "Crickets"
They can't and the reason is most Biotech Scientists, their Public Relations 'Rent-A-Scientists' and the plethora of Anonymous Sock-Puppet shills actually have no real world outdoors experience in how ecosystems work or function, let alone where they believe practical application of nature's mechanisms [Biomimetics or Biomimicry] is a miserable failure compared to GMOs. Mark my words, more and more in the future here, you are going to find published articles which are going to champion the flawed infectious secular religious view that Nature is flawed, imperfect and a bad designer and that Anti-GMO types are the real religious ones who see purpose and order in nature which in their reality does not exist. I've said this before and I'll say it again, in all my 35+ years of experience in studying ecosystems, putting them back together and making practical application in the urban landscape by what I have observed, I have never once found the natural world to be flawed and poorly designed irrespective of what some ideologically driven religious types in the secular world view nature. It has always been well organized and balance when untouched by the human stain. Nevertheless, don't underestimate the power of citation bluffing by debased ideologues who consider you an anti-science Luddite.
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Alison van Eenennaam: "There are 100s, maybe thousands of peer-reviewed studies, you know about peer-review don't you, do you believe in peer-review ?"

Alison Van Eenennaan
Once again this citation bluff used in any kind of argument on any subject in an effort not to explain anything. Nothing wrong with citations, but you need to actually explain why this is true. During the debate it even came from the audience a time or two during the question segment. Citation bluffing is one of the last refuges of a dying Industrial Science Orthodoxy determined to keep the status quo. Of course there has also been peer-review from the other side of the argument as well, but those research works have been considered ignorant in favour of their pet belief about GMOs, especially when they believe they have consensus on the side. The opponents of GMO technology also have peer-reviewed studies and perhaps other studies showing superior methods of how agriculture should be managed, but historically the authors of such studies are viciously attacked and their reputations slammed or trashed in public. So for Biotechs, if a cowardly strategy or tactic is not broken, then why fix it. This is where having unlimited resources in the way of funding and power come in handy. Now once again, there is nothing wrong with giving citations, but in the arena of debate, citation bluffs excuse themselves of having to quote or intelligently explain in any depth the justification for their position. It also excuses the audience of the burdens of having to actually think, know, and grow in their own personal knowledge brought about by having done their own homework. Ironically this concept has been used quite successfully by many of the world's religious leaders who convince many of faith [faith in the conventional sense], that they [Clerics] should be the ones to do their religious thinking and study for them. So there is no need for any lay person [science uses the same term 'layman'] to bother with any researching. This method has been so successful for centuries, that the prevailing powerful Scientific Orthodoxy which runs Academia today has picked up on this strategy and made it a major part of their own play book.
GMOs meet Government Approvals
Robert Fraley: "This technology is highly regulated by the government in the US. The testing requirements are developed by the USDA to specifically look at the evolution of pests and impact on the environment. We comply to the laws of the United States and the principles and standards set out by the USDA."

Does anyone know who actually runs and influences those very standards and policies set down by the USDA ? Does anyone know where the United States government goes shopping to acquire these so-called Agricultural Expert appointees for positions of responsibility and oversight for the United States Department of Agriculture ? Does anyone realize that irrespective of what political Party wins the elections and takes over the U.S. Government's Administration or any other branch of government, that both sides are on the same exact ideological page with who they choose and where they come from ? Generally they have been former Monsanto Executives and former Boards of Directors who are often themselves large share holders in Biotech stocks which offer the  potential for gaining great personal fortunes depending on how such government policies and regulations are written up. But of course if there is just the slightest scent of conflict of interest for any potential candidate for USDA or FDA oversight, well that's why Blind Trusts were invented. Seriously, both sides do this. So who really is setting the standard regulations for Biotechs to comply with the Laws for safety in Agriculture ? Really folks, it's both sides and when it comes to this specific subject, it is extremely difficult and near impossible to tell them apart. Ultimately, these very regulations have been covertly formulated by Monsanto, Dow Chemical, DuPont, and others with vested interests who have legally established just what these very regulation outcomes will be. There is a modern day play in the redefining of a famous well known traditional expression about the importance of practicing what we use to call the "Golden Rule". The modern day version of it is like this, "Remember the Golden Rule. The one with the Gold makes the Rules" and that's basically what's been going on here. 
Like Science, Genetic Modification is an important tool
"GMOs are a huge tool if used properly"
What's interesting about this is that both sides actually spoke about various tools of science in a metaphorical sense. Yes science itself can be compared to a tool, but like any tool it can be misused and abused. A Sears Craftsman Wrench for example, when used in the hands of a skillful automobile mechanic or other tradesman can accomplish incredible things. But a psychopath who uses it to kill his fellow human being has clearly misused and abused the proper use of that same exact tool for which it was never intended to be used by the manufacturer. Now if a majority of people suddenly started using that Sears Craftsman tool as the original psychopath did, one could say that we have new consensus from an argument point of view. But would that new consensus make that misuse and abuse of that tool a correct & moral use of that tool now ? Of course not. But never underestimate the power of Consensus as championed by one side or another in any debate. Oddly, on this very subject of tools, the Anti-GMO side failed miserably to address superior tools. There are absolutely other tools which are far more superior to genetic manipulations by Biotech Science and many are using them today. In fact Team Anti-GMO was deathly silent on these alternative tool options. I'm talking about Mycorrhizal fungi and beneficial Bacteria colonized on all plant roots as happens in the real world outside there in Nature. 

Team Non-GMO's Arguments & Strategy:


I'll go out here on a limb here and say that I don't think the Anti-GMO folks effectively made their most important points as they should have and they could have easily shot down some of the exaggerations and/or embellishment claims made by Team Monsanto and exposed some of that side's justifications for the manipulative word salad it really was. Frankly I think the moderator did much more of that for them. Their greatest argument should have been about how nature really works and the incredible Biomimetics direction which science should be taking to replicate this in large scale Agricultural field application. The Non-GMO side never once touched on mycorrhizal fungi or beneficial bacteria and they should have as there were several opportunities to do so. The other side [Pro-GMO] won't bring it up either because there isn't any money to be made in pursuing such a responsible course of direction. GMOs were never from the beginning about only wanting to feed mankind. They were always first and foremost a business decision which was mainly about acquiring Patenting and the business sustainable royalties that generally follow. In the historical past, it was never possible to patent a plant. Seriously, what person or group of people could ever lay claim to owning the rights to any particular plant on Earth ? Nobody. But many many millions of dollars later having been spent on creating the legal means of acquiring those precious Patents, glaringly exposes the real motive behind the Biotech public relations tactic of "We only just want to feed mankind" as truthfully bogus. It's always been about a business decision and nothing more. There were several opportunities to expose this and the Anti-GMO folks were silent. Here is an example of where the important of subject of Mycorrhizae should have been brought up and championed over GMOs and it never once was mentioned. Margaret Mellon, after acknowledging that there is one successful drought resistant GMO, then proceeds to talk about the advantages of conventional breeding successes for drought resistant strains of Corn being grown in nutrient poor soils in Africa. But nothing about the incredible abilities of mycorrhizae  which does not require breeding and could result in almost instant drought resistance without the years of waiting.
Margaret Mellon: "One study in Nature magazine where researchers were trying to help African Farmers develop crops that would grow on nitrogen poor soils. Now in that period of time, that project has been able to produce 21 conventionally bred varieties of  Corn adapted around Africa that grow better in their nitrogen poor soils
Robert Fraley: "We work with the Gates Foundation to develop drought resistant Maize for Africa and we're working with them on other projects"
This was so lame. Neither side mentions the amazing incredible tools that nature has for enhancing the performance of any and all  plants on the subject of poor soil nutrient problems and superior drought tolerance. Once again to illustrate the importance of this, you should view any plant as new make and new model of muscle car fresh off the showroom floor. Generally these models are all stock car models minus all the accessories later installed to enhance performance. Often times people go to a parts store to acquire such performance enhancing devices and other accessories. Of course with every make and model, there are different designs and specifically designed performance enhancing devices for different unique models. There is not a one size fits all scenario here. Plants are exactly the same, specific mycorrhizal connections are host specific to various differing plants and good researchers know this. So why hasn't more money been dumped by these Corporate Giant Biotechs into this type of biomimetics research ? Well, remember patenting ? There is simply no money in it without the patent, unless they could find a way to manipulate fungi a bit to tweak the legal system once again. The other draw back for the Industrial  Biotech's pursuing such a ecological course is that it would also eliminate most chemical insecticides, herbicides, perhaps some fungicides and more importantly chemical fertilizers. Why would Biotechs deliberately attack and kill their own obscene wealth generating business model ? The very people [Anti-GMO] that should have have brought this into the discussion failed to even remotely hint at it with the exception of a token reference to Organic Farming. It's not enough to simply attack the other side's position and methods as Charles Benbrook did when he poked fun of what he called "Monsanto's Magic Seeds", you need to show viable alternative solutions. Conventional Breeding was mentioned, but everyone already knows about this and has been doing that for 1000s of years. Modern times have far more challenges now. The problems today are unique in that we live in a time period where Chemicals are advertised as Science's Green Revolution gift to mankind even though they have literally killed much of the healthy underground biological activity of once good soils. Unfortunately their answers are nothing more than we need more research into newer chemicals. That's a non-answer. Let's take a long look at BOTH Genetic modification and selective breeding solutions which will in reality will take years and compare them to a mycorrhizal & bacterial solution for which the results are instantaneous.     

credit: Mycorrhizal Applications Inc
I think most people have had a garden in summertime where when they have seen the corn rows get heat stressed, the leaves curl up and shrivel. The soil in the photo above reveals a trial of both control test and mycorrhizal inoculated corn. Notice the instantaneous drought resistant results of using a well blended mycorrhizal mix as opposed to the usual conventional farming methods ? And not only does the Fungi provide drought resistance, but also mines the soils for nutrients to feed it's host who in turn provides  the carbon or sugars that the fungi needs for life. The feeding results in the other photograph below also sheds light on this very fact. When the self-fertilization GMO plants subject was also brought up, neither side ever gave even token mention of the far superior and simpler means of accomplishing this on a much grander and at a less expensive level by utilizing mycorrhizae. Of course you don't have to be a Genius to understand why the Pro-GMO side didn't mention this, but it was inexcusable that the Anti-GMO gang never once brought it up at all. BTW, below here is a page dealing with Corn research done by Mike Amarathus and his team at Mycorrhizal Applications Inc up in Eugene Oregon and his entire website is a treasure trove of information on replicating how Nature really works. It should be noted that there are also other companies out there that are moving in the same direction as Mycorrhizal Applications Inc. Unfortunately these combined group of Biomimetic BioTechs also don't have the unlimited political allies which give them carte blanche powers and a bottomless pit War Chest to fund as many disinformation campaigns to push their version of Food Truth down an ignorant Public's throat. They are forced to do it the old fashioned way, by example of practicing what they preach. 
http://mycorrhizae.com/ngg_tag/corn/#prettyPhoto
credit: Mycorrhizal Applications Inc

Examples of Natural Pest Management
Kunde Winery near Kenwood California
And while the matter of Glysophate and the detrimental side effects was argued and debated [as it should have been], the Anti-GMO side never once brought up the practice of attracting pollinators [which include parasitic wasps] which can in many cases totally eliminate or at least lessen the need for chemical pesticides in reducing insect pests, also yet another important point which would have had a negative effect on the GMO Biotech business model. Seriously people, it's all about the money and money is power. The Winery below uses and plants annual wildflowers to accomplish this beneficial insect pollinator magnetic influence along with summertime perennial flowering plants like Lavender along strategically located  borders within vineyards. Lavender blooms last a long time and mostly flower around early to mid-summer.
One Vineyard in Kenwood California, Kunde Winery, uses this method. Another Vineyard in Eugene Oregon, not only uses Lavender, but  also utilizes sheep in weed control & fertilizing which eliminates tilling and chemical fertilizers & pesticides altogether. I actually saw another story of a winery owner being interviewed by CNN last year in which he revealed to the reporter that they have totally eliminated their pesticide usage by planting flowers along the edges of vineyard rows [both annuals & perennials] which attracted the parasitic wasps to their landscape, but admitted that fungicides were still necessary for powdery mildew on the grape vine foliage. That is understandable because August is generally hot-Humid time of year in California. Here is the King's Estate Winery in Eugene Oregon organics page of which there are three:
http://www.kingestate.com/blog/tag/organic/ 
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Charles Benbrook: "One of the things Rob Fraley and his colleagues have done now is stack multiple traits into a single Corn. One of the biggest concerns in the scientific community is that Cadillac GE Corn that Monsanto has developed called Smart Stax, which actually expresses 8 different traits, 6 different BT toxin proteins which attack different insects and 2 genes that confer tolerance to Glyphosate and Glufosinate. Well this mixing of 8 different traits in a single Corn plant brings up some important scientific concerns. The regulatory Agencies, the Industry itself, no one has done any serious research on the potential problems from these stacked traits that are in today's GE Foods.

Well of course he is right. It was bad enough when just one foreign gene for manufacturing toxin was added to a Corn plant, but now 6 toxin genes and two genes which are engineered into the Corn to literally allow the plants to be drenched in herbicides. The floor is then given to Alison Van Eenennaan who slides back into definition shell gaming by once again comparing GMOs to mere conventional breeding. 
Alison Van Eenenaan: "Well I guess as a breeder we routinely stack traits, we're always selecting for multiple traits, I mean it's just breeding trying to improve for multiple traits. I think I need to understand the scientific hypothesis that stacked traits are more dangerous than when the individuals are not separate. Like looking at a Brocollini and of course brocolli is safe and other plant that it was crossed is safe, so why would a Brocollini be a more dangerous than it's two parents, so what's the biological basis ?"
That was one of the most deliberate attempts at deflection of the real issue I've seen and I guarantee you this woman is not stupid and knows better. I'm sure she and her colleagues feel that the average consumer is still very ignorant and they are probably correct in that assumption. This lame explanation goes back to the definition shell gaming done at the beginning of the debate where Robert Fraley compared Genetic manipulation in a Lab and the conventional real world breeding which goes on in nature between the same kind of organisms of the same related family. They both know that GE Foods are created by crossing species barriers or genetic constraints of radically differing organisms and they both  know this. But apparently deliberate deception is considered a necessary evil for what they wish to consider the ultimate good. Actually it's more about protecting a business model and nothing more. BTW, for those who don't know what Brocollini is, it is a conventional cross bred hybrid of Brocolli and a Chinese leafy vegetable called Kai Lan. But I guarantee you a large portion of that audience and probably many watching the debate on Live television swallowed her bait, hook, line and sinker. To his credit, Charles Benbrook corrected the deliberate attempt at deflection.
Charles Benbrook: "The debate is not about Brocollini, it's about GM Foods."
There is really nothing more I can quote and comment on from either side here, but there were some other good points for criticism that Team Anti-GMO did hit on. The dangers of Glyphosate were touched on and I'll simply provide links to these issues at the bottom of this post and you may read them at leisure. For me where Team Anti-GMO failed miserably was not providing viable alternatives for which only a handful of people and organizations today are pursuing through biomimicry. That of course is the utilization of a cheaper cost and results effective performance enhancement tool called symbiotic fungi and beneficial bacteria which for the most part are still greatly misunderstood by the majority of mankind. Take for example by way of illustration the fungal colonization on this pine seedling below here.



This particular Fungi (Pisolithus tinctorius) comes from Plant Healthcare Inc webpages of sometime ago, but it gives us a superior visual of the mechanics of mycorrhizae which can be used to illustrate the more hidden microscopic Arbuscular mycorrhizae which more often colonizes crops most often, but harder to see. This example of Ecto-Mycorrhizae is a better fit or use of an illustration from familiar places which most people will relate to. Going back to my Car Dealership [Plant Nursery] illustration and consider the picture on the left as a stock Make (Chevy, Ford, Toyota, whatever) of car on the showroom floor and it's Make (Chevelle, Nova, Granada, Celica, etc). So a Make & Model of car could be Ford Temp, Toyota Celica or a Chevrolet Impala. Later after purchase, it is common for people to add on accessories to enhance performance, and this is illustrated on the right here. Of course we are talking about a tree here, whose Make is "Pinus" and Model is "jeffreyi" or Jeffrey Pine (Pinus jeffreyi). You can clearly see from the illustration of the pine seedling on the left which simply shows the stock components of the Jeffrey Pine as a stand alone organism with it's three main branching roots, while on the right side we still have the three stock root components, but they have been performance enhanced with an accessory nature provides called a mycorrhizal network in which we could compare with Headers to a Muscle Car. And like the many makes and models of cars and which have various Parts #s, so too are there differing mycorrrhizae which custom fit differing host varieties for a specific custom fitting.
Go to any parts store to order your Holley Carburetor, Hooker Headers or any other performance enhancing add on [manufactured by many companies], and you must also provide the man behind the counter a specific year, make and model of Automobile and the specific engine type which is under the hood of that car. Not only are symbiotic relationships comparable to this, but they are far more sophisticated because unlike early high performance muscle cars, they are also computer  controlled through biological software to fine tune that performance. In this day and age of computers and electronic gadgets, there is zero reason for that audience not to get this if given the opportunity by Team Anti-GMO and they weren't. So now, what exactly do headers which replace the stock exhaust manifold do for your Muscle Car ? They allow you to blow the doors off your competition. This is what the symbiotic establishment of mycorrhizal fungi on a plant's root system does for all plants. It blows away the competition by enhancing root nutrient absorption and water uptake by 200%. The competition in this case of course are weeds which are ruderals which perform better under a soil bacterial soil scenario, but not a mycorrhizal one. The other competition are the Chemically subjected conventionally farmed plants. Mycorrhizae also provide anti-biotics for their host's root system which further enhances performance. Do the Biotech Scientists at Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, Bayer, Syrgenta, SweTree, ArborGen, etc not know anything about this amazing sophistication ? Of course they do, but it's all about the money. Hence with Mycorrhizae, crops potentially could receive exceptional drought resistance, enhanced nutrient availability uptake [even in nutrient poor soils] beyond their wildest dreams, anti-biotic resistance and yields which science is now admitting that organic biomimetic practices have to offer. Do you think the audience would have responded differently had such evidence and proof been provided by Team Anti-GMO ????? Seriously, a stock plant purchased from any Nursery [Car dealership], get's it's doors blown off when compared to a plant which has been performance enhanced with mycorrhizae and beneficial bacteria. There is no comparison, the pic below is Hooker Headers on steroids by comparison.


image: PHC


For me personally, a better choice of taking on Team Monsanto, and no offense to Charles Benbrook or Margaret Mellon, would have been the Canadian Geneticist David Suzuki who actually has some great illustrations on the very sophisticated mechanisms within DNA which stand in stark contrast to lax attitude of Biotech Scientists who appear to have this 19th Century flawed view of most DNA being nothing more as protoplasmic pudding within a cell. Clearly the religious dogma of Junk DNA, which is the belief that non-coding genes have less meaning and relevance than genes which codes for a specific protein [in this case a poison or toxin], is what makes these so-called geniuses feel comfortable in their technology. However as David Suzuki points out and he is absolutely correct, the non-coding genes function is to work with the protein coding genes as a guidance, direction and regulation function. In other words what is done with that toxin protein once it's manufactured, it's potency and it's purposed use or function for the organism regularly maintained and kept in check. Unfortunately, these Biotech Promoters never consider this although they may know of it.
 Alison Van Eenennaam insisted: "We're just talking about genes, genes are genes, you take one gene one thing and you put it with some other genes"

The statement ignores that genes are actually sophisticated informational storage compartments which have powerful potential for good or bad and Science does NOT know enough about that informational content to be making the money making business decisions they are championing. David Suzuki has run across the same exact irresponsible arguments from his own colleagues. As David Suzuki states in his own GMO documentary at minute timeline 3:15 where his colleague say this:

"In discussions I've had with my fellow Geneticists, they say, Listen Suzuki, we're just talking about DNA. DNA is DNA [Alison Van Eenennaam - "Genes are just Genes"], what difference does it make what organism it comes from. We pull DNA from one organism and put it into another organism, it's just DNA. They forget a fundamental fact, we study the genetics of organisms by breeding the male and a female of one species by looking at their offspring and breeding them through what is called vertical inheritance within the species.  When you take a gene from one species and transfer that DNA into a totally unrelated species, that’s a completely different kind of experiment. This is now called horizontal inheritance. We’ve never done that before, and it is absolutely bad science to say that we can look at vertical inheritance and use the same ideas to explain what goes on in horizontal experiments. It’s just lousy science.”
“Biotechnologists think that genes are genes and it doesn’t matter where you stick them and they’ll just function the way they normally do. Any geneticist that thinks about that should know better. Genes don't function alone. They function within the entire context of the genome. Nature acts on the entire genome. Because after fertilization there are whole sets of genes turned on and off in proper sequence so that you get the development of the entire organism."  
"So that whole orchestration is an integrated genome that acts as a complete entity. To take a gene out of a fish and stick it into a plant, means the fish gene suddenly wakes up and goes “where the hell am I ? And who are all these other genes around me." Because you've altered the context within which that gene is found. It would be like taking Bono out of U2 and putting him into the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and saying, okay, folks, play music. Well you'd get noise of some sort but nobody could anticipate what the sum total of that activity will be. It's just a mistake to think that genes act as if their traits are express regardless of where they exist."   

Absolutely David, it's bad and/or lousy science, but you'll never get the religiously driven Scientific Orthodoxy out there to ever admit this. And this is why we have GMOs infecting ever living entity which makes possible for some Corporate giant to make money. Not because it's a better superior product, but because of those precious Patents which bring also Royalties which result in further profit after the initial sale. It also shackles farmers into a repeat purchasing cycle from which there is no way out. I also loved David Suzuki's illustration of Bono being inserted into the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Personally, I'd make a better comparison of BT Toxin to a Heavy Metal group like Metallica. On the point where he made the comparison of the instructions within non-coding DNA  working hand in hand in the regulation and potency of the toxin itself, it has been discovered that the potency is much higher in BT Corn or Soy than what is found in the Bacteria it originally came from, why ? Because the same Scientists have no clue how the non-coding genes worked with the original BT Cry Gene within the Bacteria. Within the new host, Corn plant, there is no regulation, no direction or constraints as to how this gene will function and act in it's new environment. Hence, there is higher potency percentage of this toxin, then occurred in it's original natural environment within the bacteria it was taken from. So now, can you can imagine the toxin content of the other Corn organism called Smart Stax which has 6 different toxin genes aside from the other two genes which allow that Corn to be drenched in two deadly Chemical herbicides ???? 
Institute of Science in Society: "Bt Toxins in Genetically Modified Crops: Regulation by Deceit"
Scientists Discover Bt Toxins Found In Monsanto Crops Damage Red Blood Cells

Here is a great video illustrating the importance of not assuming that certain non-coding DNA has no function and therefore Industrial Biotechs have done no wrong or harm in creating genetically modified organism based on flawed religious belief. This video exposes how and what the function of non-coding DNA has been found to do with regards regulation protein [BT Cry Toxin] Genes and which also highlights the possibilities of just how dangerous this whole GMO fiasco really is. Pay close attention, because the genes that Monsanto viewed as little value do count. Seriously people, even a child would get this.




Below I'll also post the link to David Suzuki's documentary on "Silent Forest", because GMO goes far beyond crops for food as you know.
Genetically Engineered Trees!! - A Silent Forest - Narrated By David Suzuki

One other item or subject of note that was brought up but never dealt with properly was something called No-Till Farming. The idea or concept of course is that if you don't till or plow, there will be no soil loss. Also things like Earthworms and Micro-organisms will be left intact. But how can that be ? Major chemical drenching regimens and plants engineered to kill living biological organisms with unnatural toxins they themselves manufacture are no going to save the life and health of the world's Soils. Rather than go on, here is an October research release from the journal Nature on just how not so wonderful No-Till actually is:
No-till agriculture may not bring hoped-for boost in global crop yields, study finds
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Conclusions: The Winners and Losers
Ultimately, I don't really think there is anything that can be done to reverse the damage the Biotechs have already created within the Earth's various ecosystems. Sadly, the genetic pollution is already out there in the natural world and there appears to be some credible evidence that these companies have often times planted small plots of their genetic junk throughout newer areas under the guise of an experimental trial. Many of the documentaries reveal plants with these transgenic genes are showing up along roadsides around the globe even where no known GM crops had been grown previously. The wheat scandal in Oregon state is just such an example. It's a mystery as to how that genetic junk grew along that roadside.  Despite the admittedly professional well mannered demeanor of Head Researcher for Monsanto, Robert Fraley, his company has a very dirty history of getting their way in the long term and they will bulldoze and steamroll whoever to obtain those goals. Nobody asked why, if the GMO technology is so superior and eco-friendly, then why all the politicking and millions being dumped into smear campaigns and efforts to prevent labeling of their safe GMOs. While I find much of the understanding of how genetics works very fascinating and pointing out the mistaken gamble they are taking, the Team Anti-GMO never once pointed any of this out. Focusing on the successful proven methods about replication of how Nature really works is what would have been the real winner for Team Anti-GMO. Mycorrhizal Fungi and Beneficial Bacteria are what nature uses to feed, make drought resistant and protect all plants they colonize. The fact that Team Non-GMO did not even remotely touch on this illustrates tremendously why and how they lost this audience. They provided no viable alternatives that people could understand except to say, "we need conventional breeding and organic farming." Does anyone realize those are nothing more than vague terms and offer no specifics ? Why in the world were they not providing real viable scientific alternatives like mycorrhizal applications along with beneficial bacteria when presenting their arguments ? 


This debate audience isn't excused here either, because most haven't done their homework and most likely have never actually gotten their precious Career Professional fingers dirty and found out how nature truly works outdoors. However this  debate was going to turn out wouldn't have changed my mind, mostly because I've actually done my homework and have actually been making practical application of what I know for a few decades now. It's not enough to read something somebody else writes and says they have done, and simple say you believe in it. You need to exercise belief by practical hands on application of what you observe, feel and taste for yourself aside from reading publications. That's what will burn the holistic approach knowledge and techniques into your brain cells. Those in the audience who voted GMO lost before they ever voted because they clearly haven't done their own personal homework. The undecided who turned pro-gmo probably are more representative of the average person out there who really knows nothing, but will believe anything because it sounds and feels good. The real winner in this debate was the Moderator John Donvan who did a masterful job of keeping things on track. He had control, he was fair, he was unbiased and even directed the audience in a professional way. Which ever direction the vote went, Nature and Humankind in general still lose because the power and money behind the Biotech Industry at present cannot be taken on. The best advice I could ever given anyone truly concerned for their own personal health and that of their families is watch what you eat and with food items items eat with moderation. At best you'll receive mild food allergies, depending on your genetic make up and at worst years later organ failure, cancer, etc. see, this is the way smoking and over drinking work on the human body and in my work of market research for pharmaceuticals, this is exactly what research scientists, specialist and Doctors are looking for, toxic effects on organs over time and I've had them admit this to me in interviews because since the late 1990s, food allergies are on the rise and no one knows why. We truly don't know because real credible testing has never been allowed to take place, but that's the way the system we all live under works at present. 

Ultimately I think the ideal Opponents for GMO would have been Canadian Geneticist David Suzuki and an actual holistic practicing successful Farmer like Joel Salatin. The Monsanto Team didn't present any new revelations about what their patented product and business model is all about. Their playbook consisted of the same failed definition shell games, citation bluffing and consensus strutting, all of which would have more easily dismantled by Team Suzuki & Salatin.  Below is voting graphic and below that are a collection of links with pertinent information you should read further on the subject if and when you get the time and interest.




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Further Subjects of Importance to the Issues and Recent References
Organic & Small Scale Farming as opposed to Industrial Agriculture: 
Can organic crops compete with industrial agriculture?
The Amish Farmers Reinventing Organic Agriculture
Organic mulch lets insect pollinators do their job
Organic farming more drought resistant: Report
Earthworms, ants and termites: the real engineers of the ecosystem
Earthworms as nature's free fertilizer

Glyphosate Dangers & Risks
Glysophate & Argentina's Bad Seeds

Cancer Death Rates Now Doubled In Argentina’s GMO Agribusiness Areas
The Real Reason Wheat is Toxic (It's not the gluten)
Is Glyphosate (Monsanto’s Roundup) Used On Wheat?
Pre-Harvest Staging Guide: Roundup
Pre-Harvest Glysophate Application to Wheat and Barley
I've listed a couple of Farming recommendation PDFs about using Roundup as a pre-harvest desiccant which helps dry out the crop for an earlier successful harvest, especially in northern climates where growing season is short and early rain or snow could ruin an entire crop. Clearly, there are more uses for Glysophate than killing weeds and the fact it is not biodegradable as was once listed on their label speaks volumes as to it's presence in food grains like wheat. Not all wheat Farmers use it purpose, but as I stated many northern ones do because of need to harvest early. It should be noted that other crop use recommendations besides wheat are Barley, Oats, Lintels, Peas and more, all of which are listed in one of the Roundup recommended uses pamphlets listed above. I at one time also bought into the propaganda that Roundup was a biodegradable product which became inert once it touched the earth. It was all right on the label in the early days until Government forced them to change the label by removing the term Biodegradable, mostly because it wasn't. In actual fact it does last for a long time. That is why more and more warnings about the world's feed and grain supply being contaminated with this junk's residue is so dire. Since the late 1990s to the present, more and more people have food allergies, which many suspect this product aside from possible subtle BT toxin side-effects which effects may be mild allergy to more serious problems in the future. We'll never know for sure because for the moment there has never been enough time to test out the possibilities. To bad mankind has to be living guinea pigs to bare this out. Below is a before and after labeling of Roundup. This was also highlighted at the very beginning of the  documentary film, "The World According to Monsanto"


In the documentary, "The World According to Monsanto" , it starts with the conversation about governments forcing of Monsanto to change the Roundup Weed Killer label which always said it was Biodegradable. This was untrue, at one time I even believed it was safe aside from being effective. I'll post the link below here, you should see it or see it again if you've already done so. But there are some great explanations for what I've been writing about here. For example, in the documentary at minute timeline 19.30 in this video, you'll understand the method and motive behind the definition shell gaming comparison of GMOs to conventional breeding. The Biotech Industry manipulated the regulation Laws of GMOs by saying we eat food which are made up of genes anyway, so what's the difference. Hence GMOs do not have to go through the stricter testing done with other chemicals which are going to come into direct contact with our farmed food which will be consumed by us. It's a loophole which they themselves invented and they know full well what they were doing when they engage in dishonest definition shell gaming. At Documentary minute timeline 130.00 of the video, where we are taken to Mexico City and the National Ecology Institute of Mexico, where Doctor Elena Alvarez Buylla PhD explains what happens when the genes are randomly inserted anywhere within a flowering plant's genome and the varying consequences in which this genetic information is now expressed in differing ways depending on where it ended up in the genetic strand. In each case, different plants expressed different flowers, pedal size, grotesque shape, etc depending where the same transgenic gene randomly ended up in the plant's genome. The complex orderly makeup found in all normal DNA is disrupted, not only by the fact that this transgenic gene has no information regulating, guiding and restricting it's use and purpose, but how it can disrupt and cause chaos depending on where it is tied into the genetic code. I know this may not make sense to most people, but this is important because the potential disruption of all living things on Earth caused through a horrific domino effect business decision is serious. But I'll let the documentary this explain through illustration.   
The World According to Monsanto (FULL LENGTH)
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How Nature Really Works (Mycorrhizae & Bacteria)
Plants Talk to Each Other using an Internet of Fungus


American Forests: "Underground Connection: Fungi and Pines in Peril"
"As we work to save the vital whitebark pine from disappearing from the landscape, it is essential to use all available tools. Ectomycorrhizal fungi are an integral part of forest integrity, ecology and health; showing respect for these mighty microbes might just mean the difference between the restoration and death of a forest."
Somewhere a Monsanto Chief Research & Development Shill just fell off a chair
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Wow, so non-protein coding DNA is now “widely recognized” not to be  junk after all ?

Special Issue on microRNAs – the smallest RNA regulators of gene expression
It is now well recognized that the majority of non-protein-coding genomic DNA is not “junk” but specifies a range of regulatory RNA molecules which finely tune protein expression. This issue of CDD contains an editorial and 5 reviews on a particular class of these regulatory RNAs, the microRNAs (miRs) of around 22 nucleotides, and which exert their effects by binding to consensus sites in the 3′UTRs of mRNAs. The reviews cover the role of miRs from their early association with CLL to other forms of cancer, their importance in the development of the epidermis and their potential as disease biomarkers as secreted in exosomes. In addition, we publish a News and Commentary on CRISPR, a technology which is not only revolutionising genetic manipulation in the lab, but which has the potential to treat genetic disease in vivo.
No junk: Long RNA mimics DNA, restrains hormone responses
Getting Over the Code Delusion
Beyond Biotechnology: The Barren Promise of Genetic Engineering (Culture of the Land)
On the immortality of television sets: “function” in the human genome according to the evolution-free gospel of ENCODE
On the concept of biological function, junk DNA and the gospels of ENCODE and Graur et al.
Long non-coding RNAs can encode proteins after all
Summary:
An extraordinary double discovery has been made by researchers. First, they have identified thousands of novel long non-coding ribonucleic acid transcripts. Second, they have learned that some of them defy conventional wisdom regarding lncRNA transcripts, because they actually do direct the synthesis of proteins in cells. 
No kidding ????
ENCODE adds 1600 data sets

Organizations which promote a Natural and Holistic Approach to Land Management by means of Real Science
Mycorrhizal Applications Inc
John Kempf: Farmer, Agronomist, Scientist
http://rodaleinstitute.org
The Nature Institute Viewing Nature, Science, and Technology in Context 
Biomimetics Institute
California Chaparral Institute
Chaparral Lands Conservancy
http://biomimicrynyc.com/nature-startup/

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