And I`m even done yet

Download Report

Transcript And I`m even done yet

My idea of heaven is a great big baked potato and
someone to share it with. – Oprah
• The potato
• Solanum Tuberosum
• It’s all about control
– The power is an
amoral thing, like the
– And it’s not total,
weather can ruin
• The more control you
have the more
potential for disorder
there is.
• The decadence of
Versailles led to the
chaos of the Fr. Rev.
• Monoculturing our
food leads to
Novelties of order
• When we exert
control over nature
unexpected thing pop
up like edible
potatoes. (Wild ones
are bitter & toxic)
• Our systems give
freaks a chance to
catch on and thrive
when they wouldn’t in
the wilderness
Order v. Novel complexity
Chemical fertilizers
Advanced machinery
Fuels to run above
$ debt
Health issues
Depletion of soil
Who do you hear this argument from?
Mostly hippies
But also industrial farmers, politicians, and the very agribusiness that
sold farmers this stuff in the first place.
Monsanto issued a statement that “current agricultural technology is
They wouldn’t do this if they didn’t have the next thing.
In your face science
• In any ecosystem, even a garden Everything is
effecting everything else.
• It’s nothing but variables.
Genetic engineering History
• The name is new, the
practice is not.
• Plants and animals have
been bred for thousands
of years.
• Human breeding has also
been done now and then.
• All of this has worked by
trying to enhance desired
characteristics, without
knowing how they are
Why bother?
• Designing plants &
animals “from scratch”
– This is not going to happen
anytime soon
• Transgenic Engineering
– Putting genetic information
from one type of plant or
animal into another
• Cloning
– Making genetic copies of
an existing plant or animal
• Let’s look at the latter two
of these.
Transgenic pigs have jellyfish genes that make them glow in the dark. Really
• An organism is called
“transgenic” if it has
genetic information
added to it from a
different type of
– A.K.A. Genetically
Modified Organism
• Viruses do something of
this sort when they infect
plants, animals or
• Humans have begun to
do this with plants and
Transgenic Plants
• This is the work that is furthest along:
– Corn with its own insecticide
– Soybeans & cotton resistant to herbicides
– Papayas resistant to viruses
• Transgenic crops are being grown in the
Americas, South Africa, Europe, Australia
and China
Papaya’s also called pawpaws
Edible, slightly spicy seeds
A folk contraceptive
Transgenic Animals
• The work is less
advanced here.
• Human genes have
been inserted into:
– Bacteria
– Mice
• To produce various
human proteins for
treating diseases.
• Cows with increased
milk production
Biosteel: Goats with spider silk gene
• Spider silk is amazingly strong
• The gene for it is put in goats
• The goat’s milk contains these super
strong fibers that can make bullet proof
Advantages of Transgenic
• Plants:
More disease-resistant
Larger yields
More transportable
More nutritious
• Animals:
– Make proteins for medicinal
– Make organs for transplant to
Better cotton plants
• Colorado potato beetle
can kill a potato plant
• 1995 Our friends at
Monsanto genetically
engineered NewLeaf
• make bacterial toxins
(Bacillus thuringiensis) in
every cell. These
pesticides should pulp the
beetles digestive system.
– Bt for short
Some people don’t like Monsanto
Bt has been around
• Bt is also sprayed as an
environmentally friendly pesticide
– Only harms one or two orders of insect.
Not helpful ones
• In 1985 a Belgian company put Bt
in tobacco plants
– Only hurts insects that eat plants
– Safe for humans
• Bt-toxins present in peanut leaves
(bottom) protect it from damage
caused by European corn borer
larvae (top)
• Is it a good idea?
• Specifically who
wants this?
• Who is this designed
• How are they framing
their argument ?
• There more than 50
mil acres of these
• Potatoes that absorb
less fat when fried
• Lawns that don’t need
• Food with vaccines in
• Technicolor cotton
Some legal aspecs
• So you might own any
NewLeaf potatoes
you bought and grew,
but the genes in them
are owned by
• It’s against the law to
save some and plant
them next year.
• GMO’s are the
biggest change to our
relationship with
nature since we
started agriculture.
• They’re new enough
to get patented, but
not different enough
to have to be labeled.
• Their new in patent
offices and on farms,
but nothing new in
terms of the envi and
• So which is it?
• If agriculture enters
the information age
Monsanto wants to be
the Microsoft
• It describes it’s
technology as an
“Operating System”
• This metaphor shows
the P.O.V. they have
in approaching
– Is the farm a factory?
– Is the forest a farm?
– Is our food software?
• The Andes 1532,
Spaniards show up to
kill everyone and take
the gold.
• 7 thousand years ago
• Potatoes
• Peruvian blue variety
is similar to original
The Incan’s relationship to their potatoes
• New York 7 thousand years ago
• Incan’s bred skinny, fat, red, pink, yellow, orange, smooth, russet, for
droughts, floods, sweet, bitter and many other varieties
• Planting in near vertical regions meant specialized microclimates.
• Impossible for monoculture
machu picchu
• An Andean farm is the
opposite of an
ordered orchard.
– Weedy wild potatoes
intersperse their genes
with domesticated
• But it can survive
most things nature
throws at it.
• Unlike Irish farms in
• You can get variety, but
there’s an interspecies
• GMO’s overcomes that
• Man can produce
variability now.
– Plants can have fireflies’
luminescence, flounders’
cold endurance, and
bacterial disease
• It’s not coevolution, it’s us
telling them.
– Control
– I’m Rick James plants
One way to look at it
• We’ve put a little of
our human
intelligence into
– Plants with bt gene
take care of something
we used to do.
• Most of Europe
• No one trusts the potato
(in Nightshade family) or
the tomato
• Ger: Fred the great had
to force people to plant it
• Louis XVI runs good
– Has Marie where potato
flower necklaces, plants
some spuds in royal
garden and puts an elite
guard on it up until
– After midnight peasants
came and stole what was
worth guarding
• Potatoes could grow in boggy
land Roundheads had left Irish
– Some say first potato washed
ashore from wreck of Spanish
Armada 
– Easy to grow. No plowing just
– Easy to cook
– With some milk you have a
nutritionally complete diet
• Helped Irish escape English
oppression & tyranny.
• Control
• Part of why English are the big
potato hold outs
1794 UK wheat harvest fails
• Great potato debate
• UK needs potato, it’ll feed
the poor cheaply
• Wait, since they’re eating
so much the Irish are just
reproducing way too
much (IR pop had gone
from 3 mil to 8 mil in the
last c.)
– The potato is a damned
root making the Irish more
like animals and less
Actually won the chicago
golden gloves at seventeen
• Bread, leavened wheat =
– Processed by hard working
English, infused with air,
– A traded commodity
• Potato = just food.
– Thrown from mud into a pot
by lazy Irish
– Not easily stored or traded
as a commodity
– Easy food & easy sex will
lead to overpopulation and
– Economists worried about
the potato
• 1845, Phytophthora
infestans fungus proves
economists right.
• Potatoey Doom.
• 1 in 8 Irish will die over
the course of 3 years
• Within a decade the
population was halved as
people fled.
• This is because of
monoculture, the Garnet
Chile potato is immune,
but it wasn’t planted.
How you get genes into plants
• Transformation: A cell’s uptake and
expression of foreign genetic material
– By viruses: transduction
– Between bacterian: conjugation
– Animal cells: transfection
The gene gun
• An actual .22 caliber gun
• A heavy metal (W, Au,
Ag) coated with plasmid
DNA is air propelled at a
• Besides relevant genes,
an antibiotic gene
accompanies the payload
as a marker.
– So you expose cells to a
pathogen and any who
survive have the marker
and the relevant gene you
– The marker is also a
genetic Product Code
There’s still variability.
• If new gene winds up on
wrong part of genome its
no go
• Sometimes results can be
potatoes superior in ways
new gene can’t explain
• Is it just throwing DNA
against a wall and seeing
what sticks?
• Once they made red
petunias, but when the
Temp hit 90 they all turned
• This is not like putting
software into a computer
• This is the question
raised about GMOs
• Bt plants make Bt pollen
that bees carry off.
• Bt is building up in the
soil. We consider it safe
now, but there may be
– DDT was thought to be
safe until we learned how
long it stays in the envi,
and the effect it has on bird
The paradox
• GMO depend on the
plasmid’s ability to
take genes across
• The envi safety of the
tech depends on the
integrity of species in
nature and their ability
to reject alien genes.
• Could cross pollination
happen between
NewLeaf potatoes and
local relatives?
• Superweeds? Selfreplicating pollution?
• We’ve seen the evolution
of resistance to manmade chemicals but what
will happen if nature
becomes resistant to a
natural pesticide like bt?
Monsanto’s solution
• By the time resistance arises
we’ll have new GMO’s
• This is an underlying faith in
the advancement of
technology that underlies a lot
of P.O.V.
• The national debt, babyboomers use of social security,
global warming, oil.
– All issues that some feel we’ll
come up with a solution for
when things get too bad.
– We pretty much always have
– Except we sill don’t know what
to do with Nuclear waste.
We do have mouths to feed
• Current pesticides kill everything but…
– Farmers would like to spray less chemicals.
– NewLeafs have less poison in them than a Russet
– But why spend $ to get a profit that will mostly go to
buying more expensive seeds?
• Is that basically laundering money for Monsanto?
• A farmer in ID pays ~ 1950$
per acre in chemcials
electricity and water to grow
2000$ worth of potatoes
– NewLeaf might save the
farmer some $
– A big time farmer might have
10K acres of computer
monitored spuds. ~ 500K
• An organic farmer is going to
hate Monsanto & the big
• And customers might not want
• Other customers might want
whatever is cheap.
Organic farming tactics
• Rotate crops to confuse pests
• Plant strips of peas along potatoes, peas
attract beneficial insects that feed on pests
• Introduce predatory ladybugs
• Plant a variety of potatoes so if one fails
there are fall backs
– You can eat organic potatoes right from the
field, no poisons. People will pay for that
• Similar to Peruvians
Industrial vs. Organic
• Bigger
• Monoculture, McD’s wants
Russets you grow russets.
• $ for Pesticides
• Higher Yield, except during
• Centralized
• Simple
• Capital and E input intensive
• Use more water
• Smaller
• Biodiversity
• Screw McD’s other people will
pay me
• Knowledge and Labor
• More time because of crop
• Localized
• Intricate
• 10-15% less yield, except
during droughts.
• People pay a lot more for
• Some countries subsidize it
Other issues
• The technology exists to put “terminator
genes” in crops so that seeds from crops
will be sterile
– You will have to buy new seeds every year.
• “traitor” genes keep genetic extras turned
off until you spray a chemical onto the
– A control on the spread of genes, but also
something you have to pay for every year.
Beautiful big picture
• You can talk with anyone
in America about TV and
we all have that in
common. We are unified.
• You know what to expect
from a McD’s in Tokyo
because those fries will
come from ID.
• We all have similar
desires regarding mates,
money, entertainment. So
we like monoculture.
• Farmers didn’t want to pay the $ for New
• In 99 there were 55K acres of NewLeaf
out there, a small fraction of that now.
• McDonald’s said it wouldn’t buy any New
Leaf potatoes
Monsanto vs. McDonald’s
Revenue $7.344 billion (2006)
$21.5864 billion
Net income $689 million (2006)
Net income $3.544 billion (2006)
Employees 16,500 (May, 2006)
Employees 465,000 (2005)