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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

As announced earlier...

"Kiwi scientists are running experiments with genetically modified grass on foreign soil with a view to using the results to start field tests at home.

The field trials are being done by the government-funded research body Pastoral Genomics and are seen as an important step in getting field tests started in New Zealand."

That's what's coming our way and all for the dairy industry's gain, I believe.
This article expands on my note. It also strengthens my belief that National will use the issue to try to harm the Green's election chances. Wait and see.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

We have been genetically modifying plants since... lets not get into a religious debate. Just the other day you were promoting neo-hybrids.

That's what's coming our way and all for the dairy industry's gain, I believe.
Because production and efficiency gains don't benefit the wider community? Allow more scope for employment, purchase of local merchandise?
And were does it say anything about dairy farmers only?

Anonymous said...

Mr E above.

robertguyton said...

Don't be silly, Mr E. You know perfectly well what is meant by 'genetic modification' and you know that neo-hybrids aren't created by splicing genetic material straight into a cell through the use of virus or bacterial dna. That's a trire argument, in my opinion. Are these people who are here in New Zeraland now, promoting plant breeding where pollen is passed from plant to plant? No. They are steeped in the business of breaking into cells and introducing foreign dna to them Let's not play with words here.

"That's what's coming our way and all for the dairy industry's gain, I believe.
Because production and efficiency gains don't benefit the wider community?
They do.
Allow more scope for employment, purchase of local merchandise?
Perhaps, but you are studiously ignoring the theat that comes with genetically modified crops, and that does you no credit, considering you know my position and the intent of my post. You are 'playing dumb'.
And were does it say anything about dairy farmers only?"
It doesn't. What part of this statement from me do you not understand? "That's what's coming our way and all for the dairy industry's gain, I believe." Did you see the , "I believe " rider at the end, or do you have selective blindness as well?

Anonymous said...

Lets examine that point that you consider "silly".
Pollen contains DNA from one species/variety/plant. You mix it with the DNA of another to create new plant. Sounds like cysgenics to me. It is not like they are trying to attach a donkeys back end:)

I am not sure to think of the rest of the statement. You appear upset by firing accusations all over the place, whilst adding confusing.
Just so I get it right. You "believe" that it is only for the Dairy industries benefit, but production gains and effciency gains also benefit the wider community. I am confused. Are you believing wrong?



robertguyton said...

I continue to hold that you are conflating two very different processes. I don't care if you continue to do so, but won't respond respectfully to your doing that.
Mr E (presuming that's who I'm talking to), you have misread my comment -
'All for the dairy industry's gain' does not imply that only that industry will be the recipients of ge research or the sole beneficiary of profits resulting from it. I believe the dairy industry is financing the research in Australia of genetically engineered pasture grasses, essentially because foield trials are not permitted in NZ. There's no need to put " " around believe, it's a simple and clear statement of fact, not something about which you can imply doubt by the (improper)use of quotation marks.
To answer your question, yes, you are confused.

Anonymous said...

Here I was thinking that Pastoral Genomics was a consortium, including the Government, Red meat industry, Deer industry, Agresearch, and Dairy industry.
Not sure where I go that from? I must have a rethink. If your beliefs are right, thanks for the correction.

Farmer Baby Boomer said...

Right behind you on this issue, Robert. My impression is that farmers are open to listen to both sides of this debate. Of course you do have the ill informed who think that think the effect is no different than normal plant breeding. And there is the nonsense that cisgenics have less potential problems than transgenics because it uses species related genes. But as you pointed out it is the method that creates the problem.
There needs to be a very wide ranging debate on this issue because as someone as said once GE Rye grasses are here, removing them them would be more difficult than trying to gather up the 'possums and sending them back to Australia.

robertguyton said...

Farmer Baby Boomer - thank you for your reasoned assessment. I hope you will be involved in some of the needed debates with and between farmers around the country. Your view would be most valuable in settling the hoha that comes from the poles.

Shunda barunda said...

NZ dairy farms are already producing an astonishing amount of milk and pushing the environment to breaking point, and we still need more?

How about we consolidate our agriculture, develop sustainable systems, and guarantee an ongoing industry instead of chasing the 'pot of gold' in a way that would make a leprechaun blush.

Anonymous said...

We still need more? Do you really need to ask that question? I am sure you know population predictions. Should we simply starve extra people? If you have 3 kids should the 3rd one starve? We need solutions and we need them desperately. Praying to the moon or blowing a cows horn won't help. We need real solutions.
Mr E

Armchair Critic said...

We produce enough food to sustain NZ's population quite comfortably, Mr E.
Shunda suggested three things that are worth considering as "real solutions", what basis do you have for thinking they are not real, or not a solution?

robertguyton said...

What emotive cr*p from you, Mr E!
I'm very disappointed in you. So rational, you made yourself out to be.
Shunda wins.

robertguyton said...

Armchair Critic is, characteristically, right. I hope you'll address his challenge, Mr E.

Anonymous said...

So sensitive Robert. Clearly you are upset and I apologise for causing you distress.
AC, it's is my opinion the NZs agricultural systems are some of the most sustainable in the world, and this is apparent in literature. That is not to say that there are not areas of fine tuning. I believe there are plenty of production future gains to be made in our production systems all under the umbrella of sustainability, even sustainalble intensification.
Are you suggestion we ignore global demand for food and simply feed ourselves? I have so many problems with that concept I don't know where to begin. Personally I feel extremely responsible for others with less. I won't boast my commitments.
The simple reality is that global sustainability requires more product from less resources. You may not agree with GM but in my opinion we cannot ignore it as an opportunity to solve some of our sustainability challenges. I use the term our in a global sense.

Armchair Critic said...

Mr E
Did you describe the sustainability of NZ's agricultural methods in relative terms ("most sustainable in the world") deliberately? Would you commit to absolute terms and say they are sustainable? It is my opinion that many practices used on NZ farms are unsustainable, and overall it is unlikely that our farms and methods are sustainable. That is not to disagree with you, they may well be "the most sustainable in the world". More than "fine-tuning" is required.
I am not suggesting we ignore international demand for food. Are you suggesting we should feed whoever pays the highest price, even if that means people in NZ being unable to access a healthy diet (a version of the Irish famines)?
Does your concern for others less fortunate extend to advocating for farming of as much food as we can possibly produce to effectively feed these unfortunates? They probably aren't the sort wanting to buy our venison, prime lamb and beef, manuka honey, gold kiwifruit or fine sauvignon blanc. I'm not up for your cock-measuring competition about who gives the most. Mostly because it is impossible to prove internet boasts, and also due to my androgynous pseudonym.
On the subject of GM, I'd be happy to see it everywhere on a few conditions. One would be that the benefits over more conventional methods were demonstrated. Another would be that full insurance cover against adverse outcomes was obtained, in the name of the government and paid for by the owners of the GM technology, with full reinstatement required for separate events. I expect such cover will be available when hell freezes over. Until then, I'm all for the precautionary principle.
Finally, I would like to see the owners of GM material required to clean up any contamination of properties that their IP invaded, at no cost to the affected landowner.

robertguyton said...

"Are you suggestion we ignore global demand for food and simply feed ourselves?"

No.

robertguyton said...

Excellent provisos, AC.

wildcrafty said...

"Praying to the moon or blowing a cows horn won't help."


No, but observing the moon, and burying a cow's horn might ;-)

robertguyton said...

Ha!
Nice comeback, wildcrafty.
Mr E's being facetious and you pinged him elegantly!

wildcrafty said...

Robert, sorry to harp on about this, but if you disable anonymous comments, but allow name/URL ones, it will make following conversations like this one much easier. It also helps people to remember to post as a consistent person :-)

wildcrafty said...

Oops, I got distracted between comments there.

Thanks Robert, I felt that was best rather than wading into the fray (which others seem to be handling nicely).

Armchair Critic said...

I think Mr E has been frightened off and is currently muttering vehement curses about watermelons.

Anonymous said...

Armchair critic @ 11.50pm
Did you describe the sustainability of NZ's agricultural methods in relative terms ("most sustainable in the world") deliberately?
Yes absolutely.

Would you commit to absolute terms and say they are sustainable?
No. Not many things are absolute when you are talking about biological systems AC. I am sure you understand that most basic of principle.

It is my opinion that many practices used on NZ farms are unsustainable, and overall it is unlikely that our farms and methods are sustainable.
That is a big slating. Do you care to list specifics so farmers know what they are facing

That is not to disagree with you, they may well be "the most sustainable in the world".
Agreed. Hear that farmers, most sustainable in the world and all that without subsidies.

More than "fine-tuning" is required.
Once you have covered off unsustainable claims do you care to cover possible 'tuning' solutions?

I am not suggesting we ignore international demand for food.
We agree then. Don't mention that to Shunda. He may whisper a tail of consolidation/starvation.

Are you suggesting we should feed whoever pays the highest price, even if that means people in NZ being unable to access a healthy diet (a version of the Irish famines)?
Absolutely. I like that word. It sounds so affirmative

Does your concern for others less fortunate extend to advocating for farming of as much food as we can possibly produce to effectively feed these unfortunates? They probably aren't the sort wanting to buy our venison, prime lamb and beef, manuka honey, gold kiwifruit or fine sauvignon blanc.
In case you didnt notice we have a free market. It doesnt matter what I think we should grow. The free market determines it. Do you have another model that you prefer?

I'm not up for your cock-measuring competition about who gives the most.Mostly because it is impossible to prove internet boasts, and also due to my androgynous pseudonym.
I dont have chickens. You win the biggest cock title.

On the subject of GM, I'd be happy to see it everywhere on a few conditions. One would be that the benefits over more conventional methods were demonstrated.
Agreed and they (Pastoral genomics) agree too. They are in trial phase. Tested not released and claim robust precautionary methods

Another would be that full insurance cover against adverse outcomes was obtained, in the name of the government and paid for by the owners of the GM technology, with full reinstatement required for separate events. I expect such cover will be available when hell freezes over. Until then, I'm all for the precautionary principle.

Finally, I would like to see the owners of GM material required to clean up any contamination of properties that their IP invaded, at no cost to the affected landowner.
As with any any product the producer is liable for failures to meet product descriptions, in the eyes of the law. If products dont deliver as promised there are legal avenues. Nothing that is introduced as new is without risk. The government determines that level of risk. Do you not trust the Government? How about Researchers? How about farmers? Anybody?

Wildcrafty @ 11.53pm
No, but observing the moon, and burying a cow's horn might ;-)
I like your use of might. Almost like "the sky might fall on our heads. Or the earth might be flat"

Robert @ 12.23pm
Dont tell wildcrafty it was a joke! You are spoiling my fun!

Wildcrafty 12.36pm
Harping... No. Surely not.

Armchair Critic @ 1.18pm
Sorry to disappoint. Not sure what I would be scared of here. Folks are so welcoming. Also I like watermelons.

Mr E

robertguyton said...

"If products dont deliver as promised there are legal avenues.

And if those legal avenues are blocked by the lobbying strength of corporations or legislation demanded by them through trade agreements, such as, let's see, a Trans Pacific Trade Agreement or similar.
Nothing that is introduced as new is without risk. The government determines that level of risk.
A Government in the thrall of the corporations can't be trusted to set a reasonable risk.
Do you not trust the Government?
This National Government you mean? You are a wag, Mr E! How about Researchers?
Which ones? Theirs?
How about farmers?
Which ones? Do you trust all farmers, Mr E?
Anybody?"
Yes, some people are trustworhy on this issue. Not the Corporations that peddle the product though.

Harpy said...

"I like your use of might."

Not many things are absolute when you are talking about biological systems Mr E. I am sure you understand that most basic of principles.

Armchair Critic said...

That is a big slating. Do you care to list specifics so farmers know what they are facing
You've read the literature, did it not contain specifics? Or did the writers use words you could not find in the dictionary?
... most sustainable in the world and all that without subsidies.
There you go again with that "most sustainable" phrase. I've had two speeding tickets, one for 7km/h over, the other for 22km/h. It's the outcome that matters.
The ETS has been set to act as a subsidy to farmers.
Once you have covered off unsustainable claims do you care to cover possible 'tuning' solutions?
You raised the idea of fine tuning, it seems from the literature you read. Do I care to cover possible 'tuning' solutions? No. If you are genuinely interested I'm confident you are capable of covering them yourself.
Don't mention that to Shunda. He may whisper a tail of consolidation/starvation.
He might. But I doubt he will. He's very sensible.
Absolutely. I like that word. It sounds so affirmative
"That word" being "famine"? You know there's a massive disconnect between your apparent care for the less fortunate and your support for the policies that starve millions to death in Ireland.
In case you didnt notice we have a free market. It doesnt matter what I think we should grow. The free market determines it.
Internationally there is a long way to go before we have open access and free trade in agricultural produce with most of the world.
Do you have another model that you prefer?
One that means everyone has an adequate diet sounds good to me.
I dont have chickens.
You could do with some apostrophes.
You win the biggest cock title.
:-) there's a 50/50 chance my partner will be pleased.
As with any any product the producer is liable for failures to meet product descriptions, in the eyes of the law. If products dont deliver as promised there are legal avenues. Nothing that is introduced as new is without risk.
Who pays for the clean-up if it goes wrong? Mapua in Nelson and Tui Mine in Te Aroha are being or have been funded by the ratepayer and taxpayer, not the companies that did the damage. Mostly because they were wound up, but even if they hadn't been they would have used their limited liability status to avoid paying. As will the peddlers of GM, if they are allowed.
The government determines that level of risk.
Or it could go to market – the insurance market. If you seriously believe what you said, it's at odds with the rest of your philosophy.
Do you not trust the Government?
The present government have not inspired me to trust them.
How about Researchers?
Many of them. The thing about specialists is that they can get so specialised and detailed that they cannot or will not consider the wider implications. That's where a grain of salt comes in handy.
How about farmers?
Most of them. Like lawyers, doctors, engineers and commenters on blogs there are always a few bad ones.
Anybody?
Certainly.

Anonymous said...

Armchair Critic @ 10.35pm
It is as I thought. You consider farmers unsustainable but you are not willing to say why or suggest solutions. Your statements appear loose and without content.

The outcome that matters.... Sustainability, in most definitions, includes people, economics, environment, etc. It is a balancing act AC, and at times you can unbalance one by balancing another. I believe farmers and the community do a great job of this balance.

And you misread my sentence. The word I was referring to was "absolutely".

So you agree the free market model is a good one? Dont tell Robert.

I like my bad grammar it lets people interpret things the way they want. i.e You win the biggest cock title.

Mr E

robertguyton said...

Of the free market, AC said:
"Internationally there is a long way to go before we have open access and free trade in agricultural produce with most of the world."
to which you replied:
"So you agree the free market model is a good one?"

How on earth did you reach that conclusion, I'd like to know?

Armchair Critic said...

Mr E you are very loose with your language and it tends to obscure the meaning in your comments.
For example, I said some farming practices are unsustainable. I did not say "farmers are unsustainable" because that would be nonsense.
You haven't acknowledged the reasons given for not providing the information you requested, and you have not attempted to refute those reasons.
I'm familiar enough with the concept of sustainability. If, as you believe, farmers and the community are doing a great job of it we won't see any changes any time soon.
The free market, like communism, is an idea that has been implemented on a small scale for brief periods of time. While it might be a great idea, it is not what we have, and we are unlikely to see it implemented.
Robert, Mr E has not lived up to his pseudonym (say it aloud). Mystified would be more accurate.

robertguyton said...

Oh, very good! I'd missed it - stopped moving my mouth as I read, long ago :-)

Anonymous said...

Armchair Critic @ 11:39am

Mr E you are very loose with your language and it tends to obscure the meaning in your comments.
I will attempt to clarify for you.

For example, I said some farming practices are unsustainable.
You said. "It is my opinion that many practices used on NZ farms are unsustainable, and overall it is unlikely that our farms and methods are sustainable". I am not sure who is making losse claims here. I think there are big differences between the terms "some" and "many" and "overall"

I did not say "farmers are unsustainable" because that would be nonsense.
See above. Feels like you are back peddling because you can't substantiate claims. Or are you just speaking nonsense?

You haven't acknowledged the reasons given for not providing the information you requested, and you have not attempted to refute those reasons.
What? I am not providing information I requested? Ok, that makes sense. You made the claims, then asked me to substantiate them. Unlike some people you couldn't pay me enough to substantiate your claims. The whole scenario reminds me of a certain green movement and certain Dr.

I'm familiar enough with the concept of sustainability. If, as you believe, farmers and the community are doing a great job of it we won't see any changes any time soon.
What hole have you been hiding in? Have you seen fencing of waterways, 3m setbacks, effluent concent management, dairy conversion management plans, overseer adoption. And the list goes on. Changes in my opinion and at the level that I would consider 'fine tunning'

The free market, like communism, is an idea that has been implemented on a small scale for brief periods of time. While it might be a great idea, it is not what we have, and we are unlikely to see it implemented.
Hear that Robert. Great idea....
Free market. We have made gains with China. Europe has paid lip service. Lest see what can be achieved. But it still stands that demand and supply will dominate our market place and as such we need to maximise production to keep up. GM is and opportunity that needs to be investivated in my humble view.


Robert, Mr E has not lived up to his pseudonym (say it aloud). Mystified would be more accurate.

I hope I have clarified my position with you. I am told Robert doesn't like nicnames. I doubt he will support you on that one... Wait a darn minute. Robert how could you?:)

Mr E

robertguyton said...

"While it might be a great idea"

"Hear that Robert. Great idea...."

Oh, Mr E. you are a wag!
A thoughtless person might accept statements like yours, but not I!

robertguyton said...

Who told you, Mr E, that I don't like nicnames (sic), and why did you believe them?

robertguyton said...

I do worry, Mr E, that your 'loose' approach to language (and logic, it would appear) is being emphasised as you engage with Armchair Critic, whose choice of words seems more careful than your own. That's not to say I'm not enjoying the debate, but there are patterns appearing that give me cause for concern :-)
Are you akshully John Key?

Armchair Critic said...

You are being obtuse, Mr E.
You've moved from applauding a relative measure of sustainability while refusing to commit to an absolute measure to semantics around the definitions of "some" versus "many".
You've conflated farmers (a group of people) with farming (an activity undertaken by farmers).
According to your comments you have the information you requested I provide. I'm not a librarian, if you want further information go and get it yourself. The initial claim of sustainability is yours, too.
I've seen the proposed changes to improve sustainability you list. They are common sense, yet they are not implemented universally. Does that strike you as odd? Have you considered what to do if they do not result in sustainable farming? I half expect you will propose that the goalposts should be shifted.

robertguyton said...

Succinct, AC!

My 2 cents worth. Conventional farming practices are not sustainable at all.

robertguyton said...

A further 2 cents - biodiversity measures indicate degree of sustainability. Conventional farming in New Zealand is at the bottom of the biodiversity scale, therefore, it's sustainability rating is ... 'poor'.

Anonymous said...

I think you referred to nickname calling as childish. http://robertguyton.blogspot.co.nz/2012/05/celebration-of-cow.html

Even Dreadful
http://robertguyton.blogspot.co.nz/2012/06/that-idiot-farrar.html

Pleased I could entertain. I do apologise for my grammar. I know it is not the best. Sometimes accidents, sometimes repeated errors, sometimes typing on phone with a small screen.

If you don't like my logic how about you give some specifics. Or will you duck them like AC. I thought this blog was about your opinions, rather than endorsing opinions.

robertguyton said...

In my opinion, some peoples opinions are worth consideration.
You are posting from a hand-held?
Respect!
AC, ducking? I don't accept that at all - he's very direct.
Your links are worthless to someone whose not willing to trawl through dozens of comments looking for something he doesn't believe. If you know Where they are, cut and paste for goodness sake - I've trees to plant, articles to write!

robertguyton said...

And I've provided examples of your loose logic. Did you miss them?
Sharpen up, man!

Anonymous said...

Annnnnd I just deleted a response to AC...
Darn it.
Some from handheld.
Yes I think he is ducking. Although I think now we are simply debating over wording which gets tedious.
I think a little humilty can help so I will try to dish it up.
I think farming is very sustainable in the areas of economics and people. There are some environmental challenges that have confronted farmers. Some of that farmers need to accept. Native areas have been cleared for decades to allow farm land to exist. Hardly sustainable. But now we are here I think only fine tunning is need to get to steady state. Some work around nitrates, some work around phospates, some work on tree establishment.
If we want to get back to where we were it would hardly be sustainable for people and economics.
How did we get here from GM?

Robert I have a challenge for you. Along the lines of road side planting. You have the skills to make some huge impacts in this area. And I think all people want some thought in this area.

Armchair Critic said...

If your comment to me was along the lines of the comment above then it's a shame you deleted it.

Armchair Critic said...

to clarify:
Mr E your comment of 3:42 above is very good.

robertguyton said...

Mr E
It's funny that you should mention roadside planting. I was challenged a couple of days ago, by anonymouse i believe, to offer an idea to further Southland's prosperity, or something along those lines. I immediately thought of roadside planting and the enormous possibilities that are contained within, but refrained from suggesting it because I expected there would be disdain (roadside planting? What a hippy response to a manly question! Roadside planting, pfffft!)
Given that you mentioned it...
the added value that better managing and cleverly utilizing our roadsides is, I believe, enormous. let's start with bees. We are starving them. Our farms are, from a bees point of view, desserts, where they should be desserts :-)
It's not funny though. We have every chance to create a thriving broad bee-field across Southland, but e do the opposite. The place bees play in our ecosystem and food chain is, I hope, obvious to you. It would take a serious post to cover their importance, and I'm going to assume you do know. Then there's beetles. Do you know about the beetle banks of Britain? Beetles are often predatory and unstoppable pest managers. We don't provide for them, we destroy, eradicate their habitat and spray pesticides across our farmland in their place. It's a brutal, blunt regime were instigate to cover our foolish behaviour. Flies. Don't like them? What about the predatory ichnuemans that parasitize aphids and soft-bodied caterpillars that harm crops? How about the flies that pollinate? There are thousands of different useful flies. They need habitat. Farmers destroy habitat like that which is needed by all of these creatures. Councils do it too. Shame!
There are untold useful plants that could occupy the roadside zone, if given the chance and some help in establishment, plants that have multiple functions from soil retention, mitigation of petrochemical runoff, through to feeding people. The 'long acre' in NZ is pretty bloody long and yet neglected shamefully. Why don't we have floral roadsides like they do in Holland? Tourists would flock to see Southland if it was festooned with roadside flowering plants. We lack vision here. Livestock benefit from a herbal-ley diet. Fungi as yet undescribed need more than an environment of ryegrass to exist.
There's employment in it too. A 'garden/farm that stretches across, around, through and throughout Southland begs for gardeners to tend it. Harvests from roadside plantings; from flowers through to fruits, seeds for sale and grains for bidfeed, you can very easily think of a raft of useful, economically advantageous plant products that could be gleaned from the long acre, if you had a mind to. The savings in roadside maintainance could be significant. The amount of herbicide entering the environment, a hidden threat to our health, I believe, could be vastly reduced. I could go on and on, but don't want you to think that you've struck a nerve :-)
If you do want to further this discussion, I'd be happy to put up a post underwhich anonymouse could tell me how impractical my ideas are and you could point out how I'm disrespecting farmers with my comments, but I certainly have many more ideas than these about what needs to be done in our neglected, de-natured Southland landscape.

robertguyton said...

I have a plan tht involves hebe, anonymous, that could change our landscape for the better, and thoughts about edible fungi that should be started as soon as humanly possible. Plants for fibre too; papyrus and hemp. How about wetland species that 'mop-up' road-wash and can be utilised as fuel in a biodigester? It's all about biomass and biodiversity, to me. When I drive the roads of Southland, I weep bitter tears (to myself) :-)

Anonymous said...

Ok Robert. Here's the deal. I have been dying to see a regional roadside planting programme undertaken. In my opinion your knowledge and your enthusiasm for such an idea makes you a perfect person to begin the project, but in the same breath your acidic accusations make you the worst person. To achieve progress you need to work with people not against. If you could dwell on the opportunities rather than you views of the current state, I for one would be with you. And to start the ball rolling happy to brain storm on a blog. But if you want to dwell on the negative, I believe it would be a doomed venture.

robertguyton said...

I am interested in your proposal, Mr E-man. I'm also being called to another appointment right now, so I'll begin with this roadside business in the morning, with a post, inviting contributions from those who would like to contribute ideas. Thanks for showing an interest in this.