In your salad soon – climate specific franken-lettuce?

From the “science moves faster than climate change department” and the American Society for Horticultural Science comes this leafy nightmare sure to make greens go into a tizzy, because according to Stanford’s Paul Ehrlich, we are all supposed to be starving by now and dead soon from climate change and other things, requiring necrotism aka Soylent Green.

"Starr 070730-7911 Lactuca sativa" by Forest & Kim Starr. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikipedia Commons -

“Starr 070730-7911 Lactuca sativa” by Forest & Kim Starr. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikipedia Commons

New high-yield lettuce for subtropical regions

TAIPEI, TAIWAN – Driven by consumer demand for local leafy green vegetables, growers in Taiwan are increasingly interested in producing organic and conventional lettuce in high tunnels. In subtropical regions, growing this cool-season leafy vegetable can be a challenge; higher temperatures common in the tunnels during warm seasons can increase the possibility of lettuce bolting (premature growth of a flower stalk).

A new study in HortScience evaluated subtropical lettuce cultivars in high tunnels year-round. Experiments were designed to determine the feasibility of developing a new high-yield, high-growth cultivar and determine relationships between climatic variables, temperature, and day length, and the days to harvest for maximum marketable yield. Experiments involved nine cultivars commonly grown in Taiwan representing four types of lettuce: leaf, butterhead, romaine, and crisphead (Batavia). Experiments were conducted in high tunnels or growth chambers at the Taoyuan District Agricultural Research and Extension Station from 2008 to 2013.

‘Fu San’ (a Batavia cultivar) exhibited the highest days to harvest for maximum marketable yield (DMMY) and maximum marketable yield (MMY) among all the cultivars. ‘Jhih Li Wo’ (a romaine cultivar) had a higher growth rate during plant growth initiation and ‘Fu San’ grew more slowly than other cultivars during their entire spring growth. Results showed the lettuce yields were significantly different among planting seasons, cultivars, and interactions for MMY, DMMY, and growth rate before harvest. “Our research suggests that Batavia lettuce ‘Fu San’, romaine lettuce ‘Jhih Li Wo’, and leaf lettuce ‘Bai Yeh Wo’ are the most suitable cultivars for summer production,” the scientists said.

The scientists also assessed the feasibility of integrating plant growth characteristics for developing a new lettuce cultivar for high-tunnel use. “Our studies provided evidence that introducing the high growth rate trait during the initial period of plant growth from romaine lettuce ‘Jhih Li Wo’ to the high yielding Fu San cultivar was feasible for developing a new cultivar with early maturity and high yields,” the study authors said.

The experiments resulted in the development of a new high-yielding cultivar called ‘Taoyuan No.3’.

The study contains further information about production practices and suitable lettuce cultivars that can aid growers in subtropical regions. “Since the DMMY in all cultivars studied was more sensitive to temperature swings, there is a high priority for breeding high temperature-tolerant cultivars with late bolting characteristics to mitigate the effects of global warming and climate changes,” the authors said.


The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortScience electronic journal web site:

Note: shortly after publication the first paragraph was edited to include links.

152 thoughts on “In your salad soon – climate specific franken-lettuce?

    • “The scientists also assessed the feasibility of integrating plant growth characteristics for developing a new lettuce cultivar”………

      I’m sure there are Luddites in Taiwan too.

      • “I’m sure there are Luddites in Taiwan…”

        Maybe, but they keep them indoors. Taiwan is an amazing place, a vision of what China could have been, if Chiang Kai Shek had defeated Mao on the mainland

    • Marker Assisted Selection (MAS) has been kicking butt on conventional and genetically engineered crops. It turns out that you can speed up the trait selection process from 2 decades to 2 years with MAS without any of the baggage of the genetically engineered foods.

      • Marker Assisted Selection seems to be a quicker variant of good old selective breeding. Still a scattershot, primitive approach to genetic modification. Contrast with gene splicing where extremely precise genetic modifications are made. If MAS turns out to be an IMPROVEMENT over lab based engineering, that’s great. If it exists just because ignorant people are scared of GMOs, then it is a distraction.

        What baggage does genetic engineering carry? The unfounded fears of scientifically illiterate activists? Why should pitchfork wielding masses always be allowed to hold back progress? At some point, it isn’t the responsibility of scientists to try to educate people who don’t want to be educated.

      • takebackthegreen,

        “Contrast with gene splicing where extremely precise genetic modifications are made.”

        There is nothing “extremely precise” about current “genetic modification” of plants as far as I have been abler to determine.

      • JohnKnight:

        Then I encourage you to continue determining…

        (And, if you want to be effective in your research, I humbly suggest you seek out scientifically valid, non-activist sources which are outside your comfort zone. Read what legitimate scientists who disagree with you have to say. Read with an open mind. If it gets changed, you have engaged in the second best activity available to humans: learning.)

      • JK, I also encourage your to read up on the various flavors of GMO. Start with my longish but still oversimplified post downthread. Then Google a lot of the techy stuff therein.
        Regards from a Wisconsin dairy farm owner who uses GMO as much as possible.

      • Adding a known human allergen, BT Toxin, to corn may be precise, but it is still stupid.

        A toxin that is integrated with every cell and can not be washed off.

        BTW, I can no longer eat corn due to an immune reaction… just a coincidence, I’m sure…

        BTW #2, grew up in farm country, went to an Ag University, took upper division genetics classes as a biosci major and know much more about how to actually perform GMO production than there is room to print here. Not fundamentally against the idea, just the way it is presently practiced that is NOT fundamentally safe. We’ve already got ‘triple stack’ super weeds immune to the major herbicides as just one bad result. (Contrary to common belief, genes do NOT stay in their target species. Hybrids happen. It is called gene introgression ) Some animals fed lots of BT feed have shown serious gut problems and fertility issues…

        BTW#3: I’ll not voluntarily eat GMO produce. Not from ignorance, but from lots of knowledge. I don’t want food soaked in Roundup and the additives (that are not as safe as asserted) nor do I want constant exposure to high levels of a human anigen as a person prone to allergies.

      • You have the luxury to avoid whatever food you choose. It is also your choice to believe you understand genetics well enough to think current gene technology is dangerous. (BTW, every medicine, every plant, every THING causes allergic reactions in some individuals. Sometimes fatal reactions. Do we ban a life-saving drug because a tiny fraction of patients will unwittingly be harmed when they take it? No. In general, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.)

        Your choices become problems when/if you decide to advocate against GMOs, seeking to have them restricted. GMOs are an indispensable part of the world’s food supply, which, BTW, could easily end hunger and malnutrition within a couple years if money weren’t being wasted on CAGW idiocy. AND we’d still have money left over to solve all kinds of real problems.

        Because you can’t eat corn, impoverished people should remain malnourished? Seems heartless and cruel to me.

      • E.M. Smith-

        Apparently you don’t know as much about GMO production, genetics and BT as you claim to. From your link-

        “Introgression, also known as introgressive hybridization, in genetics is the movement of a gene (gene flow) from one species into the gene pool of another by the repeated backcrossing of an interspecific hybrid with one of its parent species. Purposeful introgression is a long-term process; it may take many hybrid generations before the backcrossing occurs.

        Introgression differs from simple hybridization. Introgression results in a complex mixture of parental genes, while simple hybridization results in a more uniform mixture, which in the first generation will be an even mix of two parental species. Natural introgression does not have human direct interference while the exotic introgression is induced intentionally.”

        And from a link on your linked page to interspecific hybrids-

        “Interspecific hybrids are bred by mating two species, normally from within the same genus. The offspring display traits and characteristics of both parents. The offspring of an interspecific cross are very often sterile; thus, hybrid sterility prevents the movement of genes from one species to the other, keeping both species distinct.”

        So SOME hybrids occur naturally and some are manipulated. In the case of interspecific hybrids, they are most often sterile and cannot pass genes from one species to another.

        “Humans exposed orally to 1000 mg/day for 3-5 days of Bt have showed no ill effects. Many tests have been conducted on test animals using different types of exposures. The results of the tests showed that the use of Bt causes few if any negative effects. Bt does not persist in the digestive systems of mammals.”
        Bt proteins are not a “known human allergen”.

      • MAS is a trait selection method not a breeding method. Without the advantageous traits MAS is useless.

      • @Aphan & takebackthegreen:

        I’ll ignore your gratuitous insults ” to the person”,

        Per introgression: it has already happened. There are several super weeds now from crop related species, and 10 generations of crop can happen in 5 years in California. So argue all the theoretical you want, reality has already done it.

        Per starving the world by denying them GMOs: Since GMO yields are often lower or no higher than conventional, and ties those 3rd world farmers in to very expensive seed and chemicals, ask the large number of Indian farmers who committed suicide, after the crop didn’t deliver, just how well it produced for them.

        GMOs do a fine job of cutting labor costs, nothing more. Marginally a benefit in high labor cost countries, useless in low labor cost 3rd world locations . They reduce labor and for BT, pesticide cost (as pesticide is built in to every cell), but often with mediocre yields, especially after a few years as the soil goes dead and glyphosate binds the minerals (it works by being a chealator).

        Oh, and you need to do a literature check. BT is now a proven human allergen. First shown among applicators on organic farms.

        And yes, making food more prone to causing allergies and screwing up your gut flora and causing leakygut are things that ought to be on the warning lable so folks can choose. There is ample evidence for those who look, so I’ll not waste space on dozens of links you will ignore.

        It is putting poisons in food without labling it that is the cruel, selfish, and immoral act.

      • EMSMITH-
        EMS-“I’ll ignore your gratuitous insults ” to the person”.

        Gratuitous- “uncalled for; lacking good reason; unwarranted.” Anything I said, I did with good reason, and your response increases the good, reasonable evidence I can use in the future. I insulted your arguments and your lack of knowledge on a subject that YOU chose to pontificate on here. I said nothing at ALL about YOU as a person.

        “Per introgression: it has already happened. There are several super weeds now from crop related species, and 10 generations of crop can happen in 5 years in California. So argue all the theoretical you want, reality has already done it.”

        Never said it hadn’t. I said that introgression ALSO happens naturally. Your OWN link demonstrated that point as well. Not all introgression is human induced, and most of the time it helps plant species survive by making them more tolerant.

        “Superweeds”-terminology introduced by idiots for the natural cycle of adaptation where plants adapt to the thing that kills them-in some cases-glyphosate. Buzz words are usually only tossed about by people who like to panic more than they like to learn.

        Herbicides, like glyphosate, are applied TO weeds, not injected/spliced into them genetically. Things put ON weeds are not GMOs. GMO’s are introduced into the SEEDS of food crops to make them BUG resistant, drought resistant etc. (All further numbered references are from the wiki page on Bt unless otherwise linked to )

        Bt is NOT glyphostate-Bt is Bacillus thuringiensis. Glyphostate is the chief ingredient in Round Up.

        “Studies have been conducted to evaluate the fate of Bt toxins that are ingested in foods. Bt toxin proteins have been shown to digest within minutes of exposure to simulated gastric fluids.[57] The instability of the proteins in digestive fluids is an additional indication that Cry proteins are unlikely to be allergenic, since most known food allergens resist degradation and are ultimately absorbed in the small intestine.[58]”

        EMS-“Since GMO yields are often lower or no higher than conventional, and ties those 3rd world farmers in to very expensive seed and chemicals, ask the large number of Indian farmers who committed suicide after the crop didn’t deliver just how well it produced for them.”

        My, my. You ARE on the activist mailing lists aren’t you?

        EMS-“They reduce labor and for BT, pesticide cost (as pesticide is built in to every cell), but often with mediocre yields, especially after a few years as the soil goes dead and glyphosatd binds the minerals (it works by beinv a chealator).”

        EMS-” BT is now a proven human allergen. First shown among applicators on organic farms. ”

        I’m allergic to pine trees and every other brush or shrub in that family-like sage brush. Oh NO….a proven human allergen!!! So is milk, wheat, food dyes, strawberries, nuts, shellfish etc. Your illogical paranoia is showing.

        “Introduction of a new protein raised concerns regarding the potential for allergic responses in sensitive individuals. Bioinformatic analysis of known allergens has indicated there is no concern of allergic reactions as a result of consumption of Bt toxins.[55] Additionally, skin prick testing using purified Bt protein resulted in no detectable production of toxin-specific IgE antibodies, even in atopic patients.[56]”

        EMS-“It is putting poisons in food without labling it that is the cruel, selfish, and immoral act.”

        Yeah, uh huh. Putting the genes of an edible but bug resistant plant into the genes of en edible but non bug resistant plant=poison to you. Fabulous reasoning skills. The EPA is FINE with both Bt and glyphosates…but recently labeled CO2 as poison. Maybe YOU need to be a little more skeptical about what you read on motherjones and Huffpo and hear on NPR.

      • “Crispr Cas9 is like a scalpel.
        without the need to introduce foreign DNA into a plant”

        You’ve got to be kidding me! Not introducing foreign DNA into a plant? Um….try again.

        “Clustered regularly-interspaced short palindromic repeats (abbreviated as CRISPR, pronounced crisper[2]) are segments of prokaryotic DNA containing short repetitions of base sequences. Each repetition is followed by short segments of “spacer DNA” from previous exposures to a bacterial virus or plasmid.[3]” wiki CRISPR

        It’s “foreign” DNA.

        “Cas9 (CRISPR associated protein 9) is an RNA-guided DNA endonuclease enzyme associated with the CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) adaptive immunity system in Streptococcus pyogenes, among other bacteria.”wiki Cas9

        Bt=protein from bacteria
        Cas9=protein from bacteria

        Only they actually use Cas9 to “edit the human genome” too.

    • I consider the new lettuce is GMO; or else it would already have existed before now.

      So it is the lettuce from hell but grown in heaven aka chicken S***.

      so it is organic GMO simply wonderful.

      I think we should just build our food out of rocks and water just like Mother Gaia does.

      izzere any evidence that food needs to be biological. Isn’t it all just chemistry and physics (energy)

    • Will increased CO2 make lettuce more drought tolerant, heat tolerant, and a reduced growing season?

      • Oh I do hope so, mine bolt at the drop of a hat once he temperature gets over 35C. (That’s if the ‘critters’ don’t eat them first).

  1. Now Chinese lettuce can have all the delicious flavor of Chinese apples, which is to say that certain je ne sais quois of sawdust and chalk neatly embalmed in a corpus of mush.

      • I really like Beijing street food. Duck hearts and chickens feet suit me just fine. For some bizarre reason Chinese apples are imported into Canada and every one I have tried has been horrible. I am not likely to try another. I am a big fan of traditional plant breeding or selection as it results in all sorts of wonderful crops. However, some things just don’t grow well off-site. Each spring we are inundated with wooden strawberries from California. I am not sure that you can’t grow good strawberries in California but I know I can’t buy good strawberries from there. Fruit breeders ruined Macintosh and Red Delicious apples by selecting for redness which brought along mushiness with the red colour. Some crops have to be bent out of recognition to get them to grow where and how the marketeers want them to grow.

      • BCBill,

        ” I am not sure that you can’t grow good strawberries in California but I know I can’t buy good strawberries from there.”

        One can grow very good strawberries here in California, I am quite sure because I do in my garden . . But I certainly don’t use stock developed for commercial/shipping purposes . .

      • actually even those commercial berries would be really tasty if you picked them at the peak of freshness instead of as soon as color was showing.

      • Well where I have my house in the California central valley, there are numerous farmers in the strawberry growing business. Mostly Vietnamese or Hmong. And they sell a lot of strawberries picked right behind their roadside stall, where you can see them, and quite reasonably priced.

        They are far and away the best strawberries I have ever eaten; and yes they are actually red all the way through. Not a speck of white on them.

        In contrast, the organic strawberries that are offered at the Downtown Sunnyvale Farmers market, are tasteless albino junk, and we simply won’t buy them. In fact I won’t even go for the free samples that are widely offered. And by far the best produce available at that market, comes from vendors who do not advertise loudly that they are organic. The ones that do, are just that, organic, and overpriced too.


      • @bcbill. Never ever buy strawberries that have been bred to ship more than 2 hours from the field they were raised in if you truly love fresh strawberries otherwise eat your strawberry preserves and be happy.

      • @BCBill,@ 3:05 pm, re Mac and Sparton apples, they were turned into mush by the apple growers in California who loudly protested our use of a chemical ( The ALAR scare) that we used to keep them on the trees longer. So
        In one month our Macs disappeared from the market place thanks to the green movement’s protesting and closing our borders to the export of Macs to California!! Little do people know that chemical is still being used by Californian farmers on a wide variety of crops including strawberries

  2. “”…to mitigate the effects of global warming and climate changes,” the authors said.”

    Why am I not surprised?

  3. Selective breeding of “cultivars” is awesome and can yield results in a few growth seasons. So long as Dr Frankenstein, who thinks a glow in the dark lettuce, or a carrot lettuce hybrid, born in a gene splicer, is not also called a cultivar.

    Selective breeding is a time tested and effective means to produce better species.

    Playing with genetic fire without proper product labels is itching for a catastrophe. Cripes, ketchup requires a label. I can here the whining already… why label? why label? It is my body. I want to know what goes in it.

    Biologists are the worst scientists and are always over confident of human ethic and their own abilities. Rarely do they look at the down side of their work.

    • GMOs aren’t “playing with genetic fire.”

      Evolution is a fact.

      CAGW is a delusion.

      Those are the big three of our era. One can’t pick and choose when to accept rational scientific facts.

      Having said that… lettuce is a garnish. It is nutritionally irrelevant green water. Who cares?

    • What is this alleged down side that has your panties so twisted?
      Selective breeding has indeed been used for generations, but than again, so was the horse.

      • Supposably the zebra is just an evolved horse. Who would have thought that horses came before zebras.


        And the horses of America came much later.

      • So are we (selectively bred humans) for the most part. That is to say, I know Dad picked Mom, and I know i picked my wife. Trump has picked a couple!

      • Modern horses were in the Americas until about 12,000 BP. They went extinct at about the same time as the Younger Dryas cold event occured. Horses were reintroduced into North America in 1493 by Colombus.

      • “Supposably the zebra is just an evolved horse. Who would have thought that horses came before zebras.”
        Does that make sports referees evolved equestrians?

      • The modern horse evolved from the wild horse of Mongolia which has 66 chromosomes, not 64 like the horse. This is a clear example of a modern species evolving from a parent species by a significant change (a loss of two chromosomes, not a variation in the genetic sequence nor a different expression of them with a change in codon length).

        Both species (sub-species I you will, but I don’t view them that way – comments welcome) live side by side. The Taki (wild horse) is large, robust, and looks very similar to a horse and a zebra save for colours.

        Another similar animal is the Quagga which looks like a cross between a horse and a zebra but I have no idea what its genetics are like. There is a theory that the Quagga is really a type of zebra and there is an effort to breed zebras selectively on South Africa to bring it back.

        I am interested to know if the co-existence of the horse and Taki constitutes an example of evolution where both the original and the evolved, short two whole chromosomes, contradicts the claim above that we do not know of such a case.

      • MarkW..

        “What is this alleged down side that has your panties so twisted?”

        Ans #1: GREENPEACE

        And that would be “briefs so twisted”

      • I thought a Quagga was a clam, or a mussel.

        Thanks Philoushippo, and Crispin for the horse sense. I think I had heard about Columbus and American horses. Do you mean all these wild horses in the West are descendants of Columbus nags ? My short term memory has gone south. Sometimes I can’t even come up with Albert Einstein on the spur of the moment.

        I guess we deserve our descended Mongolian horses since evidently all our native Americansl descended from some chap in Uzbekistan, who walked the Bering bridge.


    • 1) George: “except when it is turned into a rabbit first.” Best line of the day, so far!

      2) Correction: Like chimps and humans, zebras and horses share a common ancestor. One did not evolve from the other. No modern living animal evolved from any other modern living animal. This is the most common misunderstanding of evolution.

      3) Clarification: The fossil record shows that horses actually DID evolve on the American continent. They went extinct here. Our modern equines were re-introduced much later from abroad.

      • No modern living animal evolved from any other modern living animal.
        that is unlikely to be true. the is a wide range of peer reviewed literature showing for example that politicians are evolved from the spineless jellyfish.

      • Hey, per #2

        … aren’t the killer “whales” in Puget Sound defined as a distinct species population that need special protection. They came from outside of the Sound and began to talk differently than their ancestors and we defined them as a distinct species as a result.

      • Consider the apple maggot:
        Rhagoletis pomonella is significant evolutionarily in that the race of this species that feeds on apples spontaneously emerged from the hawthorn feeding race in the 1800 – 1850 AD time frame after apples were introduced into North America. The apple feeding race does not now normally feed on hawthorns and the hawthorn feeding race does not now normally feed on apples. This constitutes a possible example of an early step towards the emergence of a new species, a case of sympatric speciation.

      • I think that’s a great opening line for an essay: “Consider the apple maggot…”

        Can the “hawthornes” and the “apples” still interbreed to produce fertile offspring?

      • takebackthegreen says:

        2) Correction: Like chimps and humans, zebras and horses share a common ancestor. One did not evolve from the other. No modern living animal evolved from any other modern living animal. This is the most common misunderstanding of evolution.

        Really? Aren’t there new species on, say, the Galapagos Islands or Hawaii that evolved not too long ago from stray migrants that are still living in their original locations? Also fish in, IIRC, Lake Victoria that are evolving very fast and have existing progenitor species?

      • beng135:

        There are known lizard and bird species that have noticeably differentiated from an existing species due to geographic isolation. AFAIK, none have lost the ability to interbreed with the original population and produce fertile offspring. They are subspecies vs. separate species. They are clear examples of evolution via natural selection. They just haven’t evolved far enough to become a separate line. (BTW, species, genus, etc. are just artificial labels that nature doesn’t acknowledge.)

        My remarks were meant to address the common misunderstanding that leads to statements like “I didn’t evolve from a monkey” and “I’ll believe in evolution when a chimp gives birth to a human.” (#1 Of course you didn’t. Humans and monkeys share a common ancestor, and #2: Sigh…)

        I don’t know that it’s impossible for an ancestral species to survive until a descendant line evolves to the point they can no longer interbreed. Either way, it doesn’t change the fact of evolution.

      • I’m not a biologist so I use “evolve” in the colloquial sense of “modify over time.”

        My apologies to you real biologists for misbehaving with your Technical Terms.

        I guess it’s like I cringe when some people mangle “light” and “radiation”; not to mention “heat”.

        I’ll try to clean up my language.


  4. I note that one of the cultivars is called a Batavia lettice something. Batavia was the old name for Jakarta.
    In the early 1970s I was trading round Indonesia and when we went to small ports on the W side of Sumatra we used to be able to get superb carrots which were grown several thousand feet up in the mountains where it was cool enough for carrots to grow well.

    So not much new here, then, just a little more publicity than was available then.

    • The carrot is a vegetable which originates from Afghanistan. It is likely that after centuries of breeding in the Netherlands there are varieties that will survive in warmer climates so it is reasonable that Sumatra has carrot crops. The word for carrot in Bahasa Indonesia is the same as in Dutch. (Dutch East Indies and all that).

      • I would suggest that the Sumatran Carrots, grown in the coolth high in the mountains, perhaps came there from Afghanistan by way of traders long before the Netherlanders got there.
        But either way, they aren’t grown in a particularly warm climate, just in very fertile volcanic soil, or so I was told by the Chandlers.

  5. Growing cool weather crops on a tropical island, probably bolting early due to climate change, sounds logical — well logical as it is understood by the climate cult.

    I need some of that climate change fund gravy to study the best citrus to grow in Antarctica when this global warming I’ve heard so much about actually shows up.

    • Well it would be so if it were heat or IR that caused bolting, but its actually seems to me to be the higher light intensity. Producing a flower head takes a lot of photosynthetic energy so these plants wait till they get it. Water restriction sometimes induces bolting as a survival mechanism.

      I wonder if these guys tried shade cloth?

  6. Ok, you and your best buddy have just struck-out at the 4 o’clock bar.
    You are walking down that dark alley, when the thugs show up.
    You think to yourself (I shoulda had the steak instead of those green things).

    • Are you saying that eating green things makes one stupid? (enough to walk down a dark alley)
      Or that it’s stupid to eat green stuff before doing something else that’s stupid? (not eating a steak at every opportunity is stupid…except maybe in a 4 0’clock bar…)


      • @ Marcus 4:04 pm, One day a year with green beer is enough! ( and is that 4 am or 4 pm at the bar?) and @Aphan @ 3: 56 pm, boy but the price of a steak these days is severely limiting, to me maybe to twice a week!

    • 4 o’clock, am. or pm. You wouldn’t have struck out if you’d learned the names of all the green things.
      And… you can bet your new vegan friend would know Fung- Ku or an alley-free route home.

  7. Anthony & Site Admins: This is off-topic, but here goes. Using the Feedly RSS reader, starting this morning it’s using the title of the most recent post rather that WUWT as the poster’s name. So all of the WUWT posts for the last week or so currently have the source name as “In your salad soon – climate specific franken-lettuce? – Watts Up With That? ” instead of saying “WUWT” or “Watts Up With That”.

  8. Whether this is GMO depends on the definition. MAS just speeds up selective breeding because you do not have to wait for the plant to mature to know the phenotype that will result from the genotype cross. In a sense, such cultivars are GMO, created using some of the same molecular genetics tools used for trans species gene slicing. And trans species gene splicing is not so unnatural. Bacterial species can and do exchange genes all the time. That is the principal way antibiotic resistance is spread across bacterial species.
    As Patrick Moore points out, it is unethical to condemn millions to blindness and death from vitamin A deficiency by opposition to golden rice from the likes of Greenpeace. A gene from a common soil bacterium and a gene from the daffodil. And, to put Greenpeace in knicker knots, it has now been shown that golden rice can be selectively cross bred with better adapted local cultivars to produce ‘golden cultivars’.
    Fear of ‘frankenfoods’ also shows an irrational misunderstanding of digestion. Spliced transspecies genes code for (useful) transspecies proteins, true. BUT All proteins are eventually broken down in the animal digestive process into their constituent amino acids for gut absorption and tissue transport. There are only 20 amino acids in the entire inventory of all living things. Nobody is genetically engineering a 21st.
    The useful feature of the soil bacterium Bt proteins used to make corn resistant to rootworm and cotton resistant to bollworm (both the larvae of beetles) is that the larvae cannot easily digest those proteins, get the equivalent of ulcerative colitis, and die. Yet the adult beetles digest those proteins without problems. The Bt proteins evolved originally as part of the soil bacteriums reproductive strategy. Get eaten by insect larvae in the soil along, for example, with corn roots, kill the larvae, and then multilply as the corpse decomposes. All pretty natural, extensively tested before approval, and without which we would collectively struggle to feed the world. Artifically cultivated Bt was used for decades as an anti larval spray before we figured out how to put the useful genes into the plants themselves.
    As for Roundup ready crops, originally the modified EPSPS gene (producing a plant enzyme) came from another soil bacterium. But molecular genetics has developed to the point where we can modify almost any plant’s own EPSPS gene to convey this trait. GMO? Unfortunately owing to i,proper cropping practices, ten bad weeds in US evolved the necessary EPSPS traits to be ‘Roundup Ready’ all by themselves, since applying Roundup forces rapid natural weed selection rather like Taiwan lettuce selection. GMO?

    • ristvan: well put. Viruses also transfer genetic material between very dissimilar species.

      Humans have been genetically modifying organisms since the moment we planted seeds and began to transform the wolf into Great Danes and Chihuahuas.

      Genetic engineering just targets one gene at a time, rather than an entire genome… safer, smarter, faster.

      • Viruses, yes. That is why the flu vaccine changes every year.
        Wolves to Great Danes and Chihuahuas, yes. And in only a few millennia. The species name for all breeds of dogs is Canis Lupus (wolf) ssp familiarias (domesticated). Essays Polar Bears and No Bodies are extended climate riffs on your simple observations.

      • Transfer of viral genes to a host organism doesn’t modify the genome of the host organism or the libraries of DNA apportioned to gametes. Only infected cells are genetically altered.
        Nice public relations sales pitch – but not an appropriate analogy.

        As for human modifications, including an array of mutant canines that suffer to appease our warped sense of aesthetics and lack of ethics, our animal species simply doesn’t have a history of mixing rabbit genes with lettuce genes. The two organisms are incapable of breeding, even with help from viruses. Their machinery isn’t compatible.

      • Khwarizmi:

        With all due respect, almost every sentence you wrote is incorrect.

        You need to understand the basics before you can have a meaningful discussion. I’m not an educator, so it seems pointless to engage any further after this.

        Simple examples:

        1) I wasn’t making an analogy. That’s not just a vocabulary error; it’s conceptual.

        2) Umm… no one claimed that lettuce and rabbits interbreed. He was making a joke. (Rabbits EAT lettuce, therefore lettuce becomes a rabbit.)

        3) All living creatures do indeed share the same genetic “machinery” and don’t need to interbreed to exchange genetic material. Viruses have been doing it for millions of years. Go research how much of our human DNA is of foreign origin. This isn’t a theory. It is a well-documented fact.

      • Khwarizmi: Adapting wolves to better serve our needs was just do to a warped sense of aesthetics?
        What was unethical about it? Should we have just killed off the wolves instead?
        What part of cellular machinery is incompatible between plants and animals?

        Do you have any idea what you are talking about other than your apparent attitude that anything done by man must be bad?

      • 1) I wasn’t making an analogy. That’s not just a vocabulary error; it’s conceptual.

        In comparing one thing to another thing deemed similar, you make an analogy:
        1. a similarity between like features of two things, on which a comparison may be based. (
        “Conceptual” refers to any concept, meaning “a general notion or idea; conception.” (op.cit.) The word conveys no information on the validity or utility of an idea. You might just as well have used the word “idea” or “ideation” to categorize your analogy for the sake of sophistry, but I still wouldn’t buy it.

        ► 2) 2) Umm… no one claimed that lettuce and rabbits interbreed.

        Ummm…nor did I. It’s just in my country we don’t need canned laughter to tell us when a joke occurred, in the same way that we don’t need “sarc” tags for obviously sarcastic remarks. I read George’s comment and turned it into a metaphor for the kind of trans-species organisms promoted by the proprietary food chain industry, including, famously, fishy plants:

        ► 3) “All living creatures do indeed share the same genetic “machinery” and don’t need to interbreed to exchange genetic material. Viruses have been doing it for millions of years. Go research how much of our human DNA is of foreign origin. This isn’t a theory. It is a well-documented fact.

        Viruses are just a strand of RNA wrapped in protein. They have code and a shell, but no genetic machinery at all to translate the code into another copy of the virus. They do not “share the same genetic machinery” as “other living creatures” for they don’t have any genetic machinery at all. Only the genetic machinery of a host can produce a virus. Only the genetic machinery of a host can make translation errors that result in new forms of the virus. That is why viruses don’t meet the criteria for a living thing or “organism”:
        “a form of life composed of mutually interdependent parts that maintain various vital processes:(

        Viruses do not exchange genetic material: the diversity of new viral forms is a function of the host machinery.

        Regarding your last point, only a tiny ancient fragment of the vast human genome is “foreign”:

        Many animals, including humans, acquired essential ‘foreign’ genes from microorganisms co-habiting their environment in ancient times.
        “The majority of horizontal gene transfer in primates was found to be ancient, occurring sometime [estimated] between the common ancestor of Chordata and the common ancestor of the primates.”

        It looks like our Luddite immune systems evolved to minimize the possibility of viral transfer between species. Indeed, we even have to get seriously intimate just to transfer genes between our compatible selves, for some reason.

      • And just for the record, since it was I who started this bun fight.

        When I talked of turning lettuce into rabbits, I was NOT talking of genetic engineering.

        I was simply referring to the following process:

        Lettuce > Rabbit > rabbit s***>soil> lettuce>…..

        OK !


    • As Patrick Moore points out, it is unethical to condemn millions to blindness and death from vitamin A deficiency by opposition to golden rice from the likes of Greenpeace.

      Showa Denko killed Americans with a generically modified bacteria designed to produce more L-trytophan for the sake of increased short term profits. The gene produced more tryptophan, but there was no corresponding code for a negative feedback limiting production to what the bacteria itself could handle without the process going awry. A deadly mutant form of the essential amino acid was the result.

      Nota bene: not a single biologist on the planet at present understands how even the simplest organism works in totality. That is why inserting code for L-tryptophan resulted in the L-Tryptophan disaster years before consumers were told they were being experimented on by the biotech industry.

      Mere “opposition” or outright banning of a proprietary organism such as the much vaunted yet practically useless “yellow rice” does not condemn people to blindness or death in the way Showa Denko’s genetically modified bacteria product did. Believe it or not, people who eat rice invariably eat other things too! Like our monkey cousins that treat themselves for intestinal worms and Vitamin C deficiency without the help of “experts”, humans have an innate sense of medicine and nutrition, and will seek a variety of foods to satisfy their needs.

      A few drops of petroleum, meanwhile, can transport a lot of vitamin A tablets and nutritious food to people in need.
      You don’t need a proprietary corporate “solution” for such a cheap and simple problem.

      • Khwarizmi:

        Disproven conspiracy theories regarding 37 people and a nutritional supplement say nothing about decades of safe genetic engineering.

        Because YOU don’t know about something doesn’t mean it ISN’T KNOWN. Can you imagine what the world would look like if we took no action of any sort in situations where we don’t understand the target of our action in its entirety? Is it even possible to understand anything in its entirety?

        What a terrible argument to make.

        Live in fear if you choose. Just please leave the rest of us alone.

      • Khwarizimi,

        Don’t you know that phrases like “for the sake of increased short term profits” just make eyes glaze over and fingers reach for the scroll wheel?

        You’re convinced that one hypothesis on the Showa Denko event is the right one, though many do not subscribe to that view.
        And yet, you heartily endorse vitamin A tablets with nary a mention of beta-carotene toxicity or synthetic retinyl palmitate. (I have no opinion on these!)
        I’ll grant you that the enthusiasm for golden rice may be just a little over the top but your toss-off about monkeys not needing experts does not really jibe with real life observations of human behaviour, as regards their nutritional needs.

      • takebackthegreen
        Disproven conspiracy theories regarding 37 people and a nutritional supplement say nothing about decades of safe genetic engineering.

        You use a tired old Orwellian epithet to dismiss as “disproven” the very idea that people within corporations and/or government would ever collude to do anything wrong, despite all evidence to the contrary. Conspiracy is probably the most prosecuted crime on the planet, and isn’t always applied to peasants at the bottom of the food chain (e.g.Watergate).

        “I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favorable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way against holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
        Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it”.,_1st_Baron_Acton

        Anyway, Eosinophilia-Myalgia Syndrome, EMS, did not exist until Showa Denko’s genetically modified abortion. While “only” 37 people died in the unannounced human experiment, over 1500 were permanently disabled. As soon as the medical issues became apparent, Showa Denko destroyed all the genetically modified evidence, meaning that no one can ever prove causation.
        However, the remaining evidence all points to one genetically modified batch from one company.
        All cases of EMS are associated with one batch of L-Tryptophan produced by Showa Denko using genetically modified bacteria.

        “It took months to discover that the poisoning was due to the presence of traces of a toxic contaminant in the new genetically engineered tryptophan. One factor that contributed to the time delay was the fact that the product was not labeled as genetically engineered.

        It was later shown that the genetically engineered tryptophan contained a highly toxic contaminant. It comprised less than 0.1% of the total weight of the product, yet that was enough to kill people. This contaminant was identified as a dimerization product of tryptophan–two molecules of tryptophan chemically linked together. Based on fundamental chemical and biochemical principles, scientists have deduced that this compound was generated when the concentration of tryptophan within the bacteria reached such high levels that tryptophan molecules or their precursors began to react with each other.”

        Would you destroy evidence that could be used to prove your innocence?

      • “Showa Denko killed Americans with …A deadly mutant form of the essential amino acid was the result.”

        Deadly mutant form of the essential amino acid? Wow. Fantasy much?

        “This has been misused to argue that the genetic engineering itself was the primary cause of the contamination, a stance that was heavily criticized for overlooking the other known non-GMO causes of contamination, as well as for its use by anti-GMO activists as a way to threaten the development of biotechnology with false information.[28]”

        Did all of the gmo activists get a weekend pass or something?

      • Aphan,

        You didn’t answer my question about destroying the genetically modified evidence, nor did you explain why every case of EMS is associated with one batch of L-Tryptophan produced with GM bacteria by one company, Showa Denko.
        From your peer-reviewed whitewash, produced 8 years after the evidence was flushed down the toilet by the culprits:

        “The apparent epidemic could have been an artefact of waxing and waning enthusiasm for reporting exposed cases to an EMS registry..”

        Like Showa Denko themselves, your historical revisionists flush the evidence down the toilet so they can whitewashing the crime of manslaughter with pseudoscientific babble. But EMS didn’t exist before Showas DEnko’s GM batch: there was no EMS registry until the genetically modified disaster hit the shelves.
        Also, you evidently didn’t read much of what I posted when you ridiculed “mutant form of L-Tryptohan”, so here it is again:

        “This contaminant was identified as a dimerization product of tryptophan–two molecules of tryptophan chemically linked together.

        That’s a mutant form of L-Tryptophan. Your appeal to ridicule didn’t alter the truth value of my statement.

        I don’t want your proprietary food forced into my stomach. Thanks.

      • Not all the evidence was destroyed, contrary to your latest strawman.
        I already pointed out in a previous post that the REMAINING EVIDENCE all points to ONE GM BATCH from the ONE COMPANY.

        You can’t explain that fact.
        You can’t cite a single case of EMS that occurred prior to to the Showa Denko GM produced batch, and none since,even though Canadians continue to produce and use non-Gm product.
        You can’t explain the motive for destroying the GM evidence, so you exploit Showa Denkos crime (detroying evidence) as an excuse to demand “proof.”

        Destroying evidence is incriminating evidence, as was the consumer product in which the mutant form of L-Tryptophan was found. I never demand proof from anyone, because, unlike you, I’m aware that proof is a very rare commodity in science and criminal cases (most of which rely on the weight of convergent evidence).
        I did repeatedly state that all the remaining evidence points to the single GM batch produced by a single company (twice in this post already, at least five times in previous posts), but you willfully ignore every fact that undermines your proprietary agenda.

    • I remember one young man I debated a few years back. He was absolutely convinced that if he ate GMO foods, it would cause his genes to start mutating as well.

      • Some people NEED to have their genes adjusted a little bit, don’t you think? :) Natural selection takes a heck of a long time these days.

    • save sh*tloads of time money and effort… people could eat?
      the yellow sweet potato which has plenty of Vit A and naturally grows IN the areas of greatest need..or some mangos etc etc

      the biggest problem is STILL the inability of the people who need it to AFFORD it!!
      if the poor buggers could afford any or more than barest minimums the entire vitamin mineral deficiency thing would not BE a thing of concern

      typical bloody bassakwards techie response to a problem

      you can waffle about GMO all you like
      unless you GIVE away the food to the poor in need- the cultural setup of ripoff n theft of OS funds /supplies etc is still going to see those in need go without.
      ie the free supply(limited time only deal) on golden rice
      the growers arent going to be giving it away are they?
      it cost them time n effort etc to produce.
      and as a gmo hybrid crapcrop..and they never mention bug issues?
      its an ongoing purchase from bigagri every year again.
      hardly useful to the poorest is it?

      • ozspeaksup: I’m not exactly sure what point you are trying to make. But there’s a 4 minute video by Patrick Moore available on Youtube if you want to hear facts about Golden Rice.

    • If ten bad weeds can develop the same gene and expression then it has to be natural, right? Is there a suggestion that the gene was adopted by the weeds and inserted into the right position to work properly by random chance?

      If a weed develops the same resistance then it should be possible for any crop to develop the parallel protection, also by natural selection. What’s the big deal??

      If you don’t use Roundup the situation is no different from not having the gene in either the.crop or the weed. The fanatical claim is of course that having the gene makes the food toxic. Right? Isn’t that right? So the weeds that naturally developed the same gene sequence are now toxic too?

      Prove it.

      Anything that happens naturally is supposed to be OK, isn’t it? Plants and bacteria and viruses exchange genetic material all the time. So do animals. The gene for toxins in fish is definitely not from a fish. Yet it is part of their genetic code. The same with luciferase. Extremism never brings benefits.

    • @Ristvan:

      Digestion isnot perfect, nor instant. By your theory, botulinum toxin can not kill, yet it does…
      Same problem with all the natural toxins in plants like solanine. Yes, I know it isn’t a protien, but that’s also the point. Protiens make many nonprotien things in biology…

      It is also the case that bacteria pick up genes from their environment. Including BT Toxin genes. Eat enough BT stuff, eventually BT producing gut flora form. There is some evidence this has already happened in animals

      Since much of bacterial and plant evolution goes into making poisons and toxins, calling it “natural” is thin gruel at best. Care for some natural hemlock? Poison oak / ivy / sumac? Nice Death Cap mushroom soup? Natural rhubarb leaves? Organic nightshade? Natural Queen Ann’s Lace? BT Toxin is a toxin, that is why it works. It just needs to be in the form that washes off…

      Per golden rice: Probably the best example of a decent use. Non-toxic, not resulting in massive increase in roundup use. Yet even here, simply having folks grow yellow vegetables or greens would also fix the problem (and is being done in Africa with a program to provide orange yam plants in places that presently grow white yams) So while it might be effective, there is a simple cheap alternative in hand, so it isn’t necessary.

      • EMSmith, have you been reading Jeffrey Smiths Genetic Roulette again? tsk tsk. Books by activist/politicians get mocked here, and for good reason. Because they cause what I like to call Bt toxins, “brain tissue toxins” that cause mental cognition rates in adult humans to drop.

        Humans CANNOT eat genes from food and then begin to grow those genes!

        “No fully working transgene has been detected as moving in the way Smith asserts. There are no reports available in the scientific peer reviewed literature demonstrating that a working gene has transferred from transgenic plants (Hohlweg and Doerfler 2001, Thomson 2001). Most worryingly (see Smith’s sections 5.4 and 5.6) Genetic Roulette fabricates such evidence.”

        “Bt crystals, sometimes referred to as insecticidal crystal proteins (ICP), are protein crystals formed during sporulation in some Bt strains. Bt produces proteins that aggregate to form a crystal.

        These crystal proteins are toxic to very specific species of insects yet harmless to humans and the natural enemies of many crop pests (benenificial insects). There are more than 150 insects that are known to be susceptible in some way to Bt.

        The crystal proteins bind specifically to certain receptors in the insect’s intestine. Not all insects carry the same receptors allowing for high species specificity. Humans and other vertabrates do not have these receptors in their bodies, so the toxin is unable to affect us.”

        Do you understand what that is saying? Humans, and other vertebrates NO NOT HAVE the receptors in their bodies REQUIRED for the Bt crystals to be TOXIC to THEM. They are only TOXIC to INSECTS.

      • Aphan,

        E.M. Smith’s second paragraph states that there is evidence for the Bt gene crossing to gut bacteria, not to human cells. I can’t find any evidence to support that claim with a cursory search.
        However, finding evidence that excessive exposure to the toxin causes human health problems wasn’t difficult at all, rendering your multiple paragraphs of talking points about non-toxicity flowing from the specificity of the target mechanism false:

        “Serum antibody levels were higher than those induced by cholera toxin.”
        Intragastric and intraperitoneal administration of Cry1Ac protoxin from Bacillus thuringiensis induces systemic and mucosal antibody responses in mice.
        * * * * *
        “Although health risks to pesticides containing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) have been minimal, the potential allergenicity of these organisms has not been evaluated. Therefore, a health survey was conducted in farm workers before and after exposure to Bt pesticides. […]
        Exposure to Bt sprays may lead to allergic skin sensitization and induction of IgE and IgG antibodies, or both.”
        Immune responses in farm workers after exposure to Bacillus thuringiensis pesticides.

        Most of E.M Smith’s post focused on a point that is easy to verify, contradicting Rud’s irresponsible suggestion that humans can safely pull any protein apart into its constituent amino acids. To emphasize E.M. Smith’s point, precisely because you ignored it, I will mention another famous deadly protein:

        * Ricin

        BUT All proteins are eventually broken down in the animal digestive process into their constituent amino acids for gut absorption and tissue transport” – Rud Istvan

        Would you like some ricin with that botox burger?

        Finally, when you quote talking points verbatim you should provide a reference:“These+crystal+proteins+are+toxic+to+very+specific+species+of+insects”

      • Khwarizmi,
        First, I indicated in my post where I was taking bullet points from. Learn to read.
        Second– Ricin is a LECTIN-

        “Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins, macromolecules that are highly specific for sugar moieties. Lectins should neither be confused with glycoproteins (proteins containing sugar chains or residues), lecithins (fatty substances in animals and plants), nor leptin (the regulator of appetite and hunger, metabolism, and behavior).” wiki Lectin-

        YOU are doing exactly what that quote says NOT to do-you are “confusing lectins with glycoproteins”. Stop doing that or be mocked.

        -Farm Workers-In a 1991 study that focused on exposure via inhalation of Bt sprays, results showed immune responses and skin sensitization to Bt in 2 of 123 farm workers -TWO!
        Bernstein L, Bernstein JA, Miller M, Tierzieva S, Bernstein DI, et al. 1999. Immune responses in farm workers after exposure to Bacillus thuringiensis pesticides. Environ. Health Perspect. 107:575–82

        And…read carefully…putting the Bt protein IN the plants, rather than spraying them, REMOVES even that SLIGHT possibility of allergic skin/lung response because it is then no longer INHALED.

        But as far as your vegetarian friends and family go-are you protecting them from e coli and other MANURE related bacteria that are all over organically grown produce? (who also use Bt protein pesticides as well)

        KZ-“I never demand proof from anyone, because, unlike you, I’m aware that proof is a very rare commodity in science and criminal cases (most of which rely on the weight of convergent evidence).”

        You have ZERO idea of what I am aware of or not. The “evidence” you keep posting is not even convergent, -it is circumstantial. In criminal case terms direct evidence good, circumstantial evidence BAD. Synonyms:indirect, inferred, deduced, conjectural; inconclusive

        KZ-” …but you willfully ignore every fact that undermines your proprietary agenda.”

        Again, logical fallacy. You have no idea what, if any, agenda I might have. But I’m not the one ignoring the facts presented either. ALL of the DIRECT evidence on Bt protein modified foods-the weight of ALL of that convergent evidence is that Bt proteins are PERFECTLY safe for human consumption and DO NOT cause health issues in vertebrates. So there is NO WAY that Bt proteins alone, THEMSELVES, could possibly have caused the L-tryptophan problem.!

        “For some years now, an explanation for the illness has been known to medical scientists. EMS is triggered by consumption of large amounts of the dietary supplement L-tryptophan. We can prove that Jeff Smith is aware of this discovery and that he refuses to tell the truth about L-tryptophan. This could actually endanger people. The FDA has posted a warning on its webpage that consumption of L-tryptophan is potentially harmful. People need to know about this, but instead Genetic Roulette continues to propagate unfounded myths about GM technology.”

        You are out of your league, illogical, unscientific and fact-less here. I will continue to point that out as long as you wish to play the game.

      • Aphan:

        I said I wasn’t going to respond to Khwarizmi because it’s a waste of time. But since you put thought into a complete rebuttal, I can’t help but add 3 points that just amaze me about the organic food delusion.

        1) Myth: organic farms don’t use “toxic pesticides.” Truth: pesticides (such as glyphosate) used on regular farms biodegrade after a short time. Contrast that with copper and copper compounds approved for use on organic farms. Copper never biodegrades. Ever. Because it is an element.

        2) Organic cultists don’t understand that the naturally occurring toxins produced by the plants themselves as pesticides are present in LARGER quantities than the synthetic pesticide residues found even on UNWASHED produce from the grocery store. Even that doesn’t matter because NEITHER class of “toxin” is present in sufficient quantity to be harmful. People don’t understand that the amounts are so infinitesimal that the only reason we can even detect them now (we couldn’t in the past) is because technological advances have brought us significantly more sensitive detection equipment. Modern pesticides were developed as SAFER, more effective alternatives to older pesticides.

        3) Study after study after study shows that there is absolutely no nutritional advantage to organic crops, which require 1/3 again as much land to grow (more organic=more forest clearcuts).

        Also, Khwarizmi, I challenge the very nature of your objection. Please give a precise, fundamental, concrete, scientific answer (in less than two hundred words). Why is a fish gene in a tomato a “bad thing?” Who decided there is something wrong with that? And why?

  9. Guess it didn’t occur the them to just call someone in south Florida…
    …or order from Green Seeds

  10. Here in northeastern Vermont, we grow all those greens including spinach and kale and they are excellent with whatever your choice or grilled animal might be. It is generally cool and dampish with intermittent heat through the summer, but with raised beds and some weeding, we don’t pay much attention to weather any more than the last frost of spring. The secret ingredient to fruits and veggies here has been the conversion of McNeil power plant in greenunist Burlington from coal to trash wood (and probably some hijacks of Drax supplies). It is estimated that we have 50% more CO2 wafting in the breezes. Burn, baby burn.

  11. Re “… aren’t the killer “whales” in Puget Sound defined as a distinct species population that need special protection. They came from outside of the Sound and began to talk differently than their ancestors and we defined them as a distinct species as a result.”

    Answer…. No

    The killer whales in Puget Sound may be a distinct social group but they are not a distinct species.

    A species is defined as organisms that can mate, breed and produce viable offspring.
    Horses and donkeys are different species that can mate and breed but don’t produce viable offspring.
    As are lions and tigers.

    • GregK: Substitute “fertile” for “viable” and that’s the definition of species I’m familiar with. (Horse + donkey = sterile mule.)

      • MOSTLY sterile mule… I’ve seen a mule and her colt..

        See, that’s the problem in your mode of thought. Biology in not absolutist, it is odds based. Role the genetic dice enough, odd things happen and toxic genes move between species.

        There are dozens of interspecific hybrids and gene introgression is common. My favorite example is The Triangle of Wu. Three species in a 3 way giving 3 others. All the mustards, kales, turnips, cabbages and related. There are also viable non-sterile crosses between animal species with different chromosme counts.

        It is the magical thinking that GMO is precise, controlled, and only one gene at a time that is wrong. One gene codes for many things in a hologram like way. We have no idea what the result wiil be from shooting genes into a nucleus, which is why most embyos die in the process. Then we HOPE the survivors didn’t get something else screwed up. As the tech advances we’ll eventually get past that point, but present crops aren’t there yet.

        Species is at best a murky term and cladistics is rendering it more obsolete. Most canids will cross, for example, and the red wolf seems to be a wolf fox cross IIRC. Ever more species are being shown to be hybrids or continuum series with only the ends not crossing. Humans are likely just such a hybrid cross product.

    • Species definition is even murkier than your traditional definition. Essays No Bodies and Polar Bears. By some criteria, neither red wolves nor polar bears are truely distinct species. Donkeys and horses, yes. Coywolves and grolars, no. And all dog breeds are just wolf cultivars.

  12. As an atheist dare I say that Paul Ehrlich is God’s own joke, His Son, visited upon the hapless peoples and bureaucracies of Earth’s communistic dictatorial governments.

    Ha ha

  13. I note that taste isn’t among the desired characteristics. Granted, a starving person puts that lower down the agenda. But I don’t think the Taiwanese are starving. Has anyone asked them if they prefer cheap tasteless stuff or slightly more expensive yummy stuff?

  14. Lettuce seems a bit of a comedown from the variety of greens available in subtropical areas. Just think of the potential of rutabagas there when they discover those. They must be getting tired of pineapple and the like. I guess there is no accounting for taste.

    On a practical matter, this will be one of a million other useless, costly activities spawned by CAGW.

  15. The first GMOs were created in the 1920s, X-RAYS were used to create random genetic mutations. The resulting Plants/Crops with desirable properties were selected and are now available all over the world.
    Gama radiation and powerful chemicals replaced x-RAYS due to cost.
    This form of genetic modification is not now and never has been regulated(few records kept), and is apparently becoming popular again due to opposition to the modern methods that are used to create GMOs

    The likelihood is we’ve all recently consumed genetically modified food.

    • mwhite:

      Yes. Since the first human planted the first seed, we have been genetically modifying plants. The methods have become more selective and efficient, but the outcome is the same…

    • Radiation changes one codon at a time per photon, it doesn’t put a finished complex protein or pathway into an organism. This is a false analogy attempting to confound GMO gene swapping with single gene mutation. X-rays will not put fish genes in a tomato.

  16. There are legitimate concerns with GMOs. Do they increase nutritional value, like golden rice, or or are they intended to increase profits for Monsanto, make it easier to grow, ship and sell the product, like tomatoes with a gene from a flounder (yes, a fish!) added to increase shelf life? With the FDA in bed with Big Pharma and Monsanto, who is looking out for the public interest and ensure GMOs are nontoxic and safe to consume? If we’re going to have government regulation of industry, let’s get the government sleeping in a different bed.

    • Ronald:

      Do you work for free? Or do you work for short term profit? There is nothing per se wrong with profit. It is how we all live. Greed? Bad. But also subjective.

      Also, you can’t just state that there are legitimate concerns and have it be true. You are just under-informed about the issue. Activists always call for more testing when unbelievable amounts of testing have already been done, and much of the underlying science has been common knowledge for decades.

      Finally, Monsanto-bashers have transformed me from someone who didn’t give a flip about Monsanto into someone who researched their history and the accusations they constantly face. Guess what? Nothing they are bashed for is true.

      Herd mentality, scientific illiteracy and confirmation bias… the enemies of progress.


      • I agree there’s nothing wrong with profit, as long as the product you produce is ethical. But you should investigate the history of the FDA and the drugs they OK’d because their board of directors were from Big Pharma. They cut a deal way back when GMO’s were only a twinkle in Monsanto’s eye, and passed a ruling stating that GMO’s were, by definition, nutritionally the same as unmodified organisms and therefore never needed testing and approval. If you think American industries will self-regulate in the public interest, you should look at more history, Ralph Nader’s “Unsafe at Any Speed” concerning the auto industry in the 1960’s is a good example.

        By the way, I don’t go along with the herd on any issue. I don’t think all GMO’s are bad, I am not scientifically illiterate, and “confirmation bias” doesn’t work on me, I started studying GMO’s with no preconcieved ideas about them.

      • Half my family is vegetarian. They deserve a lable on GMO plants with animal proteins in them.

        (I’m an omnivore, but respect their right to informed choice. And if anyone ever makes a beef flavored mushroom, I’m going to try it, GMO or not….)

        Organic farmers deserve protection from GMO gene polution, not to be sued by Monsato for patent infringement.

        BTW, Monsanto has a history of swapping executives into the government to get the laws they want. They are NOT innocent capitalists (I’m a hard core free market type, not a lefty, so don’t bother with that line of attacking the messenger.)

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