Saturday, December 21, 2002
Friday, December 20, 2002
Tuesday, December 17, 2002
This fall, however, the predictable patterns of Hamilton County and American food production took on the characteristics of a dystopian science-fiction story. An area farmer, who a year earlier had supplemented his income by quietly planting a test plot with seed corn genetically modified to produce proteins containing powerful drugs for treatment of diarrhea in pigs, this year harvested soybeans for human consumption from the same field. He trucked them off to the Aurora Co-op, where they were mixed with soybeans from other fields throughout the county in preparation for production as food. Just as the soybeans were about to begin their journey to the nation's dinner plates, a routine inspection of the test field by US Department of Agriculture inspectors revealed that corn plants that should have been completely removed were still growing in the field from which the soybeans had been harvested--raising the prospect that the pharmaceutical crop had mingled with the food crop.
My first reaction when I first read that a famer had planted a regular crop in a field the year after that field had been used for GE corn was, "Not smart."
I agree that there would be some mingling between the bean crop and the leftover corn, but not in the standard hybrid way. Legumes such as soybeans and grasses like corn are quite far apart as plants go - they really shouldn't hybridize. (Now if that farmer had planted another grass like wheat, oats, or, heaven forbid, more corn, then there's a really good reason to be immediately concerned about hybridization in that field.) It actually may be worse than that; it wouldn't have done any good to simply remove all of the GE corn from the ground. During the season, the GE material in the corn would have gotten into the soil, and therefore soil bacteria like Agrobacterium. The bacteria could then pass that material to the bean crop. Voila - contaminated beans.
It's a damn fine article, especially if you're a geek like me who thinks about these things. It does offer a solution to the possibilities of GE crops getting spread far away from their sources by nature, which is the same one I thought of - big greenhouses. That is, when you're growing plants that exist solely because of human intervention, the consequence is that there must be total human control of all aspects of the life cycle of those plants.
At any rate,the normal rules of crop rotation simply cannot apply when transgenic plants are being grown. If you're going to designate a plot of land for GE crops, that plot needs to be dedicated to GE crops for a long time. Either that or the field has to be plant free (no wild prairie grasses growing on it) for many years before it is returned to normal use.
Link via The Rittenhouse Review.
There is a catch to any appointment. Should Lott resign before Dec. 31, there would have to be a special election in 90 days. Should he bug out after that, the special election would be next November. So if the Shrubbery wants Lott out, they'd want him out Right Away, because the special election coming so soon should preclude a Linc Chafee party switch. (I say 'should' because I don't know what's in Chafee's head, but sense tells me that a 90-day switch would be pointless.)
link via Atrios who has a bump thanks to Krugman.