Doc’s Blog

Mint Jelly or Jellyfish?

The recent episode in France where meat from a transgenic lamb was sold to the public as food illustrates some of the pitfalls of unbridled bioscience.  So much so-called scientific research today seems  frivolous and, although maybe not harmful, is not useful.  In this case, the genes of the dam were combined with genes from a jellyfish of all things!  ( I thought mint jelly was to be served with lamb, but ….?).    The jellyfish genes contained a green fluorescent protein (GFP), which made the ewe’s skin transparent, and bright in color.  WOW! how useful is that.  This sale was against the law but, obviously, the controls were not effective in preventing this transgenic meat from entering the food chain. 

Bioscience today has an even darker side and in many ways is like a whore to be pimped out to the highest bidder as an aid to foist off a duplicitous product to the general pubic or to influence political thought and propaganda, neither of which  benefits humankind.  

What say Ye?

Turkey Farm back in production!

jaindl-tour turkey-barns

I see where the first Minnesota turkey farm affected by the H5N2 avian virus in now back in production producing hatching eggs for the next batch of grower turkeys.  The virus was first diagnosed there in March and this guy lost 44,000 birds from death and depopulation.  According to the USDA, total lost in the US was 47 million birds. 

One of the leaders of a Minnesota poultry group says they are now looking for new ways to possibly retrofit existing poultry buildings with new ventilation and filtration systems to keep out viruses. This fellow said. "Ultimately, one of the key criteria is, what does that barn need to look like to keep birds healthy?" 

I think he is looking in the wrong place.   Poultry health depends on what you do to the birds in the building and not on how the building looks from the outside.  As long as the inmates are closely confined in a stressful, poorly ventilated space and fed antibiotics and glyphosate contaminated feed they will be easy prey to H5N2 or any other virus that comes along.    

  What say ye ?

Barry Commoner - The Paul Revere of Ecology

Barry Commoner was an American biologist, college professor, politician. and a leading ecologist among the founders of the modern environmental movement. 

In 1970, the year of the first Earth Day, Time magazine put Dr. Commoner on its cover and called him the Paul Revere of Ecology.

His 1971 bestselling book ‘The Closing Circle’, was one of the first to bring the idea of sustainability to a mass audience. His book listed 4 laws of nature.

    Everything is connected to everything else. There is one ecosphere for all living organisms and what affects one, affects all.

    Everything must go somewhere. There is no "waste" in nature and there is no "away" to which things can be thrown.

    Nature knows best. Humankind has fashioned technology to improve upon nature, but such change in a natural system is "likely to be detrimental to that system"

    There is no such thing as a free lunch. Exploitation of nature will inevitably involve the conversion of resources from useful to useless forms.

These laws have never been repealed and are still in effect even thought mostly ignored by our modern, so called, scientific community.  As a society, it would behoove us to pay more attention to these laws of nature.

Everything has to go someplace

I see where Des Moines, Iowa is experiencing its normal springtime bout with nitrates in the Raccoon River from whence it obtains its water.  This is a decades old problem beginning after WW II when highly concentrated nitrogen fertilizer first became available.  The immediate problem is caused by drainage of nitrate laden ground water from over-fertilized farm fields into the field tiles, ditches and tributaries that feed the river. 

The city is required to lower the nitrate level in drinking water to 10 milligrams per liter.  This is an expensive process and will cost an estimated $1 million or more for the year 2015.

It probably costs the farmers even more as nitrogen fertilizers are expensive to buy and apply only to have them leach away and become unavailable for plant growth.  Their appearance in the water supply exemplifies one of Barry Commoner’s Four Laws of Nature - “Everything has to go someplace”.

The water works board has filed a lawsuit against drainage ditches in three northern Iowa counties demanding mandatory nitrate reductions rather than voluntary actions.   Farm leaders argue that more time is needed.  

My view (and I know it’s utopian) is that implementing a system of alternative or organic agriculture would go a long way to resolving this problem as well as providing a myriad of other benefits to farmers, consumers and cities alike. 

More Technology Not A Fix                                   For Flawed Technology

The USDA recently approved new GM soybean and crops that are resistant to the effect of the Bayer’s Cambria herbicide.  This follows the previou s approval of GM soybeans and corn that are tolerant of the old 2,4-D herbicide.  Also up for EPA approval is Monsanto’s newest herbicide containing both dicamba and glyphosate. (This is, in itself, a step backwards as glyphosate was originally said to replace the old, more toxic herbicides. Remember Agent Orance from the Viet Nam era.)

While these latest examples of USDA’s allegiance to the biotechnology industry are touted as the next generation of herbicide-tolerant crops the truth is that these steps were taken to address the problem of herbicide resistant weeds which highlights the abysmal failure of GMO and glyphosate technology.

This is only one of the many examples of the failure of any bio- technology that ignores natural principles. The answer to the breakdown is not to add on more of the same but to return to systems that did work and look for more appropriate and common sense answers.

Check the labels!  I am always suspicious of any product that requires a Health Emergency telephone number on the label.