Episode-1463- A New Look at GMO’s – Can There Possibly be an Upside — 64 Comments

  1. I’m looking forward to listening to this. The question that is the title of this show has been on my mind for years. Other than terraforming Mars of course (SCi Fi geek).

  2. GMO’s should be labeled on ALL products. PERIOD!
    If everyone knew all there is to know about GMO’s, there would be massive protests and criminal charges against Monsanto and the other colluders

    Norway has made them illegal since the 1990’s.

    We are becoming a 3rd world country. Watch the documentary, “GMO OMG.”

    • Do you feel better now, lashing out with no information about the subject being discussed is good for feeling better at times. Sadly it never leads to open or productive discussion though.

      That said perhaps now listen to the episode and engage in discussion on the actual subject being discussed here?

      FWIW I support GMO labeling, but that isn’t what this show is about.

      • I went and took a look at the Monsanto article. I scrolled down to the comments (like an idiot) and good lord. Same kind of stuff.

        Don’t like monsanto, they should be in jail. Don’t like GMOs (pretty much period), but I’m secure enough in my opinions and persons to allow somebody to make an argument for either case, and sincerely consider the arguments. I think I’d be a terrible “activist” because in order to be an activist the bumper slogan always comes above all else, regardless.

      • I did feel a little better, thank you.

        Sorry about the hasty post. Just saw GMO and my red flag in front of my inner bull went off. Was at work and hadn’t given proper attention to your episode.

        Still at work, so to be brief, I don’t think any genetic code should be put under the ownership of a patent. Intelligent, very selective and scrupulous, non-world dominating uses only.

  3. I can’t seem to find anything about planting patented varieties from seed. From what I read, it is PLAUSIBLE it depends on the specific patent protections, which would make sense.

    I’m with you, I just CAN”T trust them. Not only that they’re just flat out full of shit about whether or not something does or does not breed. I’m fairly certain they’re using statistics to predict that these things won’t breed. When I read about GMO salmon and trout it was so eye rolling because they said “oh it’ll never be able to get out and breed in the wild”. YEAH RIGHT.

    It’s really a fooled me once, fool me twice scenario with them.

    • Jack I think there are some holes in your “logic” regarding the containing cattle. Or maybe it might be better to say, I think the scenario is much more complicated than you’ve made it out to be. That scenario obviously makes sense and is clearly reasonable, but others it’s not so cut and dry.

      But what about plants? It’s quite clear its QUITE difficult to hold plants in a boundary when they’re outside. Mark Shepard discussed that his area is expanding behind his borders naturally. (As you’d expect). Should Mark Shepard and others be liable for maintaining this border?

      If we say yes, Ok, that could be reasonable. Now what about pollen and crossbreeding? I am of the camp that might say monsanto (or the “owner” of their seeds) is liable for cross pollinating and effectively ruining their neighbors crop. I’m not 100% steady in this opinion, but I lean towards that. For corn in particular its a big deal because we know the corn pieces that you eat and market are the actual crossing of the two, compared to something like apples.

      • Make sure you understand my point.

        I am not saying that if their genes get on my land they owe me money. Though a few thousand rice farmers did successfully sue those pricks over that and good, in this instance it was a response to an attack Monsanto started.

        What I am saying is this.

        If I farm and grow corn and Monsanto’s GMO genes end up in my corn, it is completely unreasonable for them to charge me for their genetics via a license fee. If they don’t want those genes used by others it is their responsibility to control them and if they can’t control them it is their problem not mine.

        Just to make it clear what Monsanto’s position is,

        Eventually thankfully though there was justice sort of

        • Ok, I think the position you’re taking is definitely a good position to take. It feels to me its a very “it depends on the people” scenarios. If you want to be a prick about it, its up to you to control it, not the victim. The same goes the other way around.

          And just in general people should “relax” and figure out how to work with or around each other.

        • It’s like a programmer writing a self-spreading virus and then suing anyone whose computer it ended up on for software piracy. It’s INSANITY, and I can’t believe Monsanto ever wins those cases.

        • @Tyler
          Never thought of it that way. The only difference could be intent. Of which is the hardest thing to prove either way. Maybe when they were coming up with all these patenting schemes they were planning on pouncing on people so that they gained the court rulings on it. Who knows, just speculation. Same result though. At a minimum you might conclude they should be prosecuted for negligence.

        • Yeah, as bad as I think Monsanto’s practices are, I’m willing to buy it was just simple lack of forethought in realizing that the genes would try to spread themselves beyond a paying customer’s property. They just reacted in the most mind-boggling and belligerent way possible when they discovered it had spread.

          They should be laughed out of every court they bring one of these cases to. After getting a bill for all legal expenses incurred, of course.

  4. The only good thing that could come from GMO’s would be a war between the FDA and the EPA, killing each other off. We know better than that though, they’re all crooked bastards.

    • Yep there you go! And we are marginalized further via our own resistance because it lacks logic, facts, thoughtful consideration and critical thinking, yay us!

  5. @Jack (off-subject)

    Any chance you’re planning some videos of the homestead. I’m curious to see how your new trees are doing from both the spring and fall workshops. Did you do a video tour after your spring workshop? Maybe I missed it. Anyway, I bet I’m not the only one who would love to see the progress, the successes, and the failure.

    Best Regards

  6. The bigger picture including the practices, and capabilities of Monsanto, Syngenics, DuPont and like companies need only cloning to become a Brave New World senario. Maybe they have and do, for we can’t trust what the say. Would it be going too far to suggest they could also be part of the U.N.’s “overpopulation/population reduction” portion of Agenda 21?? I’m just sayin’.

    • You said, “Would it be going too far to suggest they could also be part of the U.N.’s “overpopulation/population reduction” portion of Agenda 21?? ”

      Yea it would, it makes us look really stupid and only empowers them by doing so! Read my comments to Ben Falk regarding this and the Food Safety and Modernization Act.

      Agenda 21 is about controlling the population not reducing it, so you convince the opposition otherwise, make fools of them and drown out reasonable opposition with people who claim every bike path and public park is Agenda 21 and they are gonna kill us all man.

  7. A human mind can not even hold integellantly an entire DNA code. To think that we know what the true effects will be when we tweak the DNA is the pinical of human aragance! We have know what of knowing what other code references back to the part we modified. Take the GMO thornless locust tree with the thorn gean switched off, it also no longer fixes much nitrogen. Who knows what other effects may come about that we are to stupid to even notice. It take a couple generations or more to see the effects of diet changes; remember when China men were all well under 6 foot? Now within two generations of improved diet they reach 6′ often. The RNA of food is absorbed into our DNA, it programs us.. Its proven that GMO corn modifies stomach DNA, and the corn infecting virus is hosted by what eats it and then the offspring also carry the virus and changed DNA. It might be that our own genetic code is just adapting to the environment, but do we really want Monsanto or any government writing our personal DNA code? Yikes!

    • I agree generally with your sentiment, but as for the thornless locust, I am doubtful as the “Permaculture Orchard” guy uses them exclusively as nitrogen fixers.

      • Yea thornless locusts fix plenty of nitrogen, tons! I don’t even know where this claim came from that they don’t.

        Further thronless locust is NOT a GMO, never was.

        Next all that happened “wrong” in this is one mutation (thorn less) in some areas mutated back to thorned. This DID NOT happen everywhere in fact it didn’t happen in many places.

        Next the only place it became a problem was one area of Australia. While I love Australia she is like sort of a wimp, everything becomes invasive there, frogs, grass, flys, trees, everything.

        Most thornless locusts where planted where thorned ones already existed, so they had NO effect on natural systems even if they reverted.

        This is what I mean when I say we as the opposition constantly make false arguments and such arguments weaken our position. Consider that I largely agree with the overall anti GMO view and now imagine what minced meat a well informed member of the pro GMO movement would make out of such an argument.

  8. I think much of the ‘justification’ in scientific circles are related to natural horizontal gene transfer, plasmids and endogenous retroviruses. Transgenic cold hardy eucalyptus are in open air trial in SE US for rapid commercial biomass since there is no risk of crossing w indigenous or edible species. My 2 cents, I don’t want to eat this stuff and it is all for corporate models and bandaid solutions.

    • I think I actually tend to agree with you about this. I kinda feel that the best solutions aren’t always the easiest or fastest and I think GMOs are really just a bandaid “solution” like you said.

      Regarding the chestnut blight, obviously it changes the game a little bit, but even still. If we put this to the side and think about other similar issues. We introduced X, it caused havoc so we introduce Y to stop it. It never works how we think it does, and just causes more issues. If we can just whip together some solution where we “play god” (so to say) does that mean we’ll learn the lessons that need learning? Chestnut blight should be a lesson, not a mild inconvenience that we whip together a petri dish solution. I will fully admit though that there is no way we’ve learned from the Chestnut situation because most people today don’t know anything about it, or have seen the damage first hand.

      • This really isn’t we introduced X so here is Y to stop it. The concept of a tree simply immune to blight is not the same as releasing an insect that is non native because it preys on a pest. That is how you seem to be approaching this.

        So for instance right now thousands of people are growing millions of chestnut in the quest for “the one chestnut to immune them all”. What is the real difference if they eventually find it or if we eventually just engineer 10,000 of them.

        Again I think many never believed me over the years when I constantly said, “it isn’t genetic engineering that I fear is it what these organism are being engineered to do and the motivations of those doing the engineering”.

        My biggest concern here is not a GMO tree immune to blight, frankly I would buy them and start breeding new generations with selective breeding going forward if I could. I very much want to see the chestnut restored to North America.

        No my concern is that it is all PR Bullshit designed to sell the rest of the shitty part of this science to the American people. Just like “golden rice”, it is open source and patent free, bla bla, yadda, yadda. But the truth is the amount of Vitamin A in it is trivial. So much so that Vitamin A supplements shipped from Walmart in Arkansas to the far ends of planet earth would be more effective both in results and in cost.

        • While I certainly do agree its not exactly similar as releasing an insect, I still feel it’s a similar response. We screw up, we do something else clever to fix it.

          I totally get what you’re saying about what it’ll be used to do. (Selling it to the public). I think in a way its kind of a cake and eat it to situation. Or “slippery slope”. If GMO’s can be “used for good” they’re going to be used “for evil”. To me that is the realistic view point. We’re well on our way for that, they actually started with the evil, and now its being available for all to use. As these techniques “improve” where does it end? We both know its not going to hah.

          “My biggest concern here is not a GMO tree immune to blight, frankly I would buy them and start breeding new generations with selective breeding going forward if I could.”
          Why bother? In a lot of ways the GMO approach and the positive examples you’ve given mean that selective breeding is archaic and no longer makes much sense (if we accept what we’re sold here). Why bother to “Breed” any new varieties and be patient and diligent when you can just whip up whatever you want in a petri dish?

          Why not cross an apple with….. a jack fruit? Make some apple tree that has 10 pound apples on it. How about grapefruits that are as hardy as trifoliate oranges? Or avocados that can withstand 0 degrees? Is it plausible that GMO technology could in decades become so cheap and easy that you could create your own life at home, or more realistically even just anybody who wants to jump into this realm?

        • Your close is a logical fallacy, an assertion that if A is true B is false when both can be true at the same time.

          Why not cross an apple with a jack fruit? May be we should, perhaps we should not, but likely it isn’t even really on the table. We might lower the chill requirement of the apple with a gene from a jack fruit or make a jack fruit more able to handle cold with an apple, may be who knows.

          We have both hybrid and open pollinated vegetables do we not?

          We have both dog and cats right?

          I drive a car, some drive motorcycles, some walk, some ride bikes, some take the train, some go on a plane, some on a boat.

          All serve purposes with strengths and weaknesses, choosing one doesn’t require turning your back wholesale on the others.

        • I used be specific in my words. Crossing isn’t what I mean, but rather genetically altering. I’m not sure which aspect of my argument you’re saying is a fallacy.

          I’m assuming you’re referring to the why bother breeding. My point isn’t a one or the other, but its a if the reason we’re doing the GMO (for the “right” reasons) is because we can accurately and predicatively get the traits we want, and effectively create our own life forms using transgenic and cisgenic means, why BOTHER doing it any other way? If it works how they say, there is absolutely no reason to bother breeding anything, except to do it “that old fashion way”. There are lots and lots of old fashion ways we don’t use.

          I will admit I am slightly mixing and matching the GMO argument with Monsanto mapping out genes to do hybridization. But I see no reason why the two can’t be used together. If we can spray the organisms with some chemical to get rooting action breeding becomes wholly unnecessary.

          What kind of “mutant” fruit do we want? We want X, Y, Z with apple as a base. Ok take apple, put this, put that, spray rooting hormone, ding. Millions of years of evolution.

  9. Let’s remember that there already has been and for decades – a chestnut (or dozens) variety that does fine with the blight or amid it. I know of chestnuts that are producing well for twenty plus year. These aren’t 100% American but who cares – they perform the same function ecologically. Getting hung up on the “true american chestnut” is like getting hung up on what’s native or not – ecosystems are constantly shifting matrices – snapshot views of them aren’t useful in helping us think about the best way forward. We don’t need a “true american chestnut.” Let’s spend the time actually planting the one’s we already know work…

    • Actually Ben I and the American Chestnut Foundation disagree.

      The various hybrids fill neither the culinary nor the ecological niche of the American chestnut. None of them have the structure, size, etc of the American tree, nor do the nuts command the market value of the last few stands of surviving chestnut outside of the blight infected areas.

      As to planting what works, well I am, we are and we will continue to.

      What we should never do is write off science without a true in depth discussion and long term pragmatic consideration.

      I am not saying that we should do this, I am saying it should get serious consideration and modifying a chestnut to resist a blight WE CAUSED is not the same as modifying a soybean to be sprayed with roundup and 2-4D. And more importantly when any and all use of GMO is met with closed ears and closed minds and incessant metaphorical chants of “hell no to G-M-O, hell no to G-M-O” that our side looses massive creditability in the court of public opinion.

      I find most people who are adamantly opposed to “all GMO” don’t even know what a GMO is. These are people that buy seed banks from Alex Jones and think hybrid and GMO are the same, then go out and much down a bag of Frito’s slathered in Wolf Chili and mass produced “cheese product”.

      All you have to do is look at the comments in the article I posted about Monsanto’s work with HYBRID vegetables to see what I mean.

      The problem for guys like you is you are always surrounded MOSTLY by the choir. You are a permaculture teacher and frankly one of the best there is at it. The people that come to you are informed to a great degree, I am sure you have to correct a lot of fallacies with your students but likely few think a California Wonder Pepper is a GMO and an evil plot by Monsanto to rule the world.

      Such people are out there Ben, I deal with them daily. Go to one Survivalist or Self Reliance Expo and you will meet thousands. These are your politically active people in the GMO debate, the ones writing letters that Senatorial Pages and Congressional Interns read and laugh at then respond to with form letter 21A or what ever.

      Like I said those of us opposed to GMOs need to be careful here, things like this and “golden rice” are tar pit style traps and our side has shown a massive willingness to run head long into such traps.

      The “Food Safety and Modernization Act” is a great example! This was a horrible piece of legislation! It should have been fought with logic and reason, instead it was fought with hysteria and fallacy. So the oppostion was marginalized as being what were were behaving like IDIOTS!

      Instead of saying it was a burden for small local producers, etc. what did the masses opposing it say? Do you remember?

      “This law will outlaw gardens, outlaw saving seed and make it illegal to trade tomatoes with your neighbor”.

      The congressional switch boards were burned up with such calls! All were ignored and written off and the logical opposition was outshouted by a brain dead hysterical mob with no clue about reality. And I say that was a trap, these things like this, they are likely to be used the same way even if the initial intent wasn’t such.

      Again if we the informed can not engage in a critical analysis of when this technology might be appropriate and how it should be used and for what purpose we are doomed. Because in not doing so we will forever empower those that mean to use this technology for personal gain and control of the food system.

      Here is one example of the LIES and HYSTERIA that went on about this bill, from my favorite POS yellow journalist Mike Adams, read just the first paragraph,

      Here was my attempt to mitigate the damage, about the same time frame,

      The truth fell on deaf ears, the lies fell upon the useful idiots and the bill went though. I can still grow my tomatoes, trade them with my neighbor and have a garden, but the burdens on small to mid sized farms now hamper their ability to compete with big Ag with no perceptible or measurable gain to public safety and zero saving to the tax payer, YAY US!

      If we approach GMO the same way, we are going to get the same result, just like we have been getting for the last 15 years. Our misdirected energy is being used against us. Permaculturists fancy Yoga a great deal but our enemies seem to be quite adept at Tai Chi, perhaps we ourselves should take a few lessons in it?

      • “What we should never do is write off science without a true in depth discussion and long term pragmatic consideration.”
        Couldn’t we say the same thing about what ‘science’ is doing? There are techniques in place to work with, but they’re “not fast enough” so they’re approach is to isolate and short circuit which is the way scientific approaches typically work. I know we don’t agree on the following argument, but for me I’m skeptical about current scientific approaches because I think life is a tad more complex than they give credit for. “Swap a gene here…. swap a gene there….” These trees transformed over millions of years, and they’re creating combinations that would have to take about a billion years to recreate. But I won’t go on about that, you have a different view point.

        I went to go read up a bit more on this and took at Wikipedia for GMOs, and the amount of GMO research going on is actually quite mind boggling. It’s more than kinda being worked on, every single thing you’ve talked about, hypothesized on is pretty much going on. Food that takes a long time to go bad (apples), resistant to this or that virus (papayas), droughty conditions, etc.

        “All you have to do is look at the comments in the article I posted about Monsanto’s work with HYBRID vegetables to see what I mean.”
        I recommend people don’t look at it because any positive mood they had will be shat down the toilet. It’s as bad as looking at Yahoo comments. Doesn’t matter what it is, always devolves to “X Y Z about this current president”.

        Regarding Mike Adams. I went to the link you provided, read the first paragraph and it was an oi vei face palm moment. I then went to look at his Google+ account and 99% of the stuff he “shared” was pretty much Alex Jones level stuff. “THEY”RE COMING TO GET YOU. THE GUBMNIT AND BIG CORPORATIONS ARE GOING TO GIVE YOU EBOLAAAA.”

  10. I agree on the hysteria front Jack – and yes, Mike Adams and his like are doing a great disservice.
    I have seen and eaten the chestnuts from trees, though, that grow around here and they are great. The ACS has long been focused on “bringing back the original chestnut” so I am not surprised they don’t think hybrids are as good. Eat some yourself and see them growing in their once native range and then decide for yourself. From what I’ve seen I don’t see why the hybrids can’t fill the niche.

    • I eat them all the time dude, they are great they are not the same and the market says so as well.

      Hybrids are useful but if they were capable of filling the niche they’d already be doing it and they sure don’t seem to be either in the market or in the native forests.

    • Just to be totally clear, I have over a dozen Chinese Chestnut seedlings planted on my property in spite of alkaline soils and our harsh summers. I am not opposed to using hybrids or Asian chestnuts and think we should for now. I am also not willing to fully write off all science in regard to GMO without first considering it because the concept sounds scary.

      Further and this is what our side needs to realize, that ship sailed, it isn’t going back to port. So if we want any influence it will be in steering the boat, not stopping it.

      Sadly most of our opposition thus far has led to stoking the burners and full speed ahead.

      • “Further and this is what our side needs to realize, that ship sailed, it isn’t going back to port. So if we want any influence it will be in steering the boat, not stopping it.”

        Do you believe that this argument is similar to the pitfall of “lesser of two evils”? Admitting that they have the upper hand and just “accepting it as the way it has to be”? I mean Hawaii (being what it is of course) completely banned GMOs. (to what extent this is true, we’d all have to read the fine print). But apparently that GMO papaya is exclusively grown in Hawaii.

        I might also point out there have been more than enough cases in the last 100 years of people kicking and screaming to get their way and ended up getting it, again and again.

        • Yea I do but not in the way you mean that.

          With the lesser of two evils it is the voter who is convinced that he can change things, it is the informed non voter that has accepted reality.

          Instead of a false belief that Idiot A is a bit better than Idiot B he knows both suck, both produce a given set of results and we must adapt to those results.

          When you know GMO isn’t going to go away and stop chanting “hell no GMO” and engage in logical discussions with those who will listen you change minds, influence the market and are focused on your circle of influence vs. concern.

          You and I are not going to put the GMO genie back in the bottle, laws will never do so because law makers are for sale and the GMO people have tons of money, most also have plenty of banker money, pharm money etc. they are all the same people.

          What they want is MONEY, MONEY MONEY MONEY.

          So opposing GMO just because it is GMO won’t change many minds not even of the people you know.

          Explaining how bad eating a hormone that makes a plant grow itself to death is, well that does influence a market.

          I see these new Monsanto veggies as the MARKET at work. It is the MARKET that in the end governs all. You can control idiots with politics but in the end, eventually the MARKET will always tell you the truth.

          I have a solid and valid and provable argument to the MARKET about GMO Soy and Corn and Cotton and what it is sprayed with. I have the same about the patenting of a life form.

          If I try to say making a tree immune to something that kills it is bad, I have no argument to the MARKET. All I really have is a FUD argument.

        • I walked through every argument and said “Ok”. Couldn’t agree more. Well stated.

          “I see these new Monsanto veggies as the MARKET at work. It is the MARKET that in the end governs all. You can control idiots with politics but in the end, eventually the MARKET will always tell you the truth.”

          I think this is a DING argument. I definitely do agree with this. Or at a minimum its something they think they can easily capitalize on.

          I also agree that we (as of right now) do not have enough power to put the GMO genie the bottle. This is why I don’t fluff too much about it other than to tell friends and family, when its appropriate, about the food system, and try to not participate. In the mean time, I’ll do what I can do. I’m actually more motivated than ever to see what I can do with very very local trees. Pecans, black walnut, Mayhaw, Blueberry and Blackberry in particular.

      • It’s funny how these topics are always so timely. Right now I’m sitting on ordering probably about 20 different chest nut seedlings from Burnt Ridge. I may end up doing it, but we’re talking about making some big changes around here so I’m not sure it’ll be worth the effort to get… But boy can I not wait to try em out.

    • Isn’t it true that the American chestnut was much more cold hardy? If the tress were so much bigger, didn’t the roots go deeper?
      Tough to argue the taste argument, but the massive size differential alone seems to qualify it for different niches.

  11. Yeah, either way, whatever we care about or discuss in places like this – fact is – they are being GMO’d as will anything Monsanto and others think will make them a buck – so we’ll see where it gets us.
    But on the newer chestnuts filling the role of the former: it took what – 5,000 to 25,000 years for the original N American castanea to fill the niche it did. Others that could fill the niche have been planted for 10-40 years or so. So, the fact they aren’t all over in the forests yet is not because they can’t fill the niche. One of the trees I know has spawned dozens of others – if we wanted to replant the chestnut forest that once was, it seems we already have the tools at hand to do so. That’s my point here… I don’t think we need something new.

    • I have actually spent considerable time thinking about this as well. And the way they’re going to “repopulate” is actually going to be a lot different. A lot of these native species grew and hybridized together over the native range over the thousands and thousands of years, not just falling from seed and spreading like an oil spot. I’m not entirely sure give enough credit for the amount of time it takes to create land races. I think replication via seed is a start, but its not the same as WHY the chestnuts were all over. They developed in concert with the conditions of their range over allllllll those years.

      I also agree with you Ben, there are already methodologies to do these.

  12. Intergeneric grafts of full American onto red oak was done as far back as 1896 by Sober in PA. Other oaks, Castanopsis or chestnut can easily perform the blight resistant function while keeping your 100% ‘pure’ scion though flavor is probably more of a varietal issue as in other crops. I’m open minded on all the issues but everything should be handled with due dilligence and finesse instead of a jackhammer when f-ing with new frontiers.

    • Given this project is 15 years old and that it will take almost 5 more for approval says quite a bit has been done, doesn’t it.

      They shit out new GMO gene stacks in 12-14 months into the food most Americans are eating.

      In the words of the Squid Guy on Star Wars, “its a trap”.

      Again I am not saying we should do this, but I am saying our resistance to it will be used to do more for the GMO companies than for our cause.

    • Just so I understand you correctly. You’re saying grafting these non-resistant varieties onto resistant root stock right? I haven’t heard of that ever imparting some sort of resistance onto the scion. In fact the roots are often good to go sending out shoots that just get it again and die back. One reason why Chinkapins are nice because it fruits fast.

      Perhaps it does add SOME resistance. In a similar vein if you graft citrus onto a trifoliate orange stock you’ll get a more cold hardy citrus, but only by a tiny tiny bit. Grapefruit/Lemon are still going to be damaged below 30ish degrees.

      • Far as I know you can’t graft an American scion onto a Chinese root and get a blight immune result. What you can do from what I know (could be wrong) is get chestnuts for a time. Blight takes a while to kill. So if I graft wood ready to produce onto a well established tree (over graft) that wood can produce for quite a while but in the end the blight still wins.

        If just grafting worked, you’d see such trees in ever catalog for sale.

        • Even further but apparently grafting chestnuts is a fools man game. (Or so I read) Apparently it just doesn’t graft very easily. It has made me skeptical about dropping 20 dollars a tree for named crosses rather than just doing seedlings.

        • FWIW Mike,

          Mark Shepard does 100% seedling chestnuts, they cost less, live longer, establish faster, etc.

          Check these out,

          When I look at that vs. 20-40 dollars for a grafted tree, well, I stop looking at grafted trees.

          Not to mention this

          At that price just plant 10 everywhere you want one and start killing them as some do better than others.

        • Because of shipping limitations I HAVE to order from Burnt Ridge. (Not that I mind to be honest) LA is part of the “Oak Wilt” quarrantine so I can get chestnut/chinkapins only from a select number of states. It’s been one of the most annoying quarrantines I’ve had to deal with. Citrus being the other major one. The cool thing that Burnt Ridge has is tons of varieties that you can get seedlings from. Obviously these are crosses, but they know at least ONE of the trees. I talked to them about some more heat loving varieties so I’ll give those a shot. Plus I know I can get a bunch of different genetics. At 3.50 a piece, I can handle buying 3-5 per tree that I want.

          Laywer nursery might work out, I don’t think Montana is part of the quarrantine.

  13. Yup. I mean specifically if you want a pure nut to eat, there are several dozen out of the billions that died with natural resistance (such as the Amherst tree). Grafting to oak may give some chimera effect. Graft is more than a simple statement. I wasn’t dropping a bombshell solution but a part of a path to a pure nut if a guy wanted to go that route. More of those trees on the ground would boost the number of pure nuts hitting maturity thus more pure breeding and then tissue culture could be engaged. Not really my goal anyway. Science kicking in a wheat gene is faster, simpler and likely deemed semi-natural. Elite goal is embracing genetics, nanotech and robotics. I guess future will tell. Didn’t mean to butt in.

  14. Another great podcast! Well done Jack!

    On Monsanto earning our distrust, lest we forget that Shannon Watts, the “mom” of Moms Demand Action was a high paid mouthpiece for Monstanto.

    • Really? What the hell does Gun Activism have to do with Monsanto?

      I guess you mean she worked for them in the past?

  15. First, in case anyone needs a trigger to disarm your berserker rage over GMOs, I would say I cannot be totally against GMOs as a GMO plant produces the insulin that keeps my daughter alive.

    Now, one small disagreement/question with the podcast and that is about the DNA testing to speed genetic selection. I understand the idea, but it makes the assumption that the scientists will completely understand the complete DNA sequence desired and thus don’t have to wait for the plants or animals to grow to adulthood. I seriously doubt that they understand the effects of most DNA changes, so without the self filtering effect of “life testing” you are going to add lots of little understood changes that would never happen in nature as birth is only the first of many filters.
    As I generally ask, when discussions such as this come up, if they completely understood all the effects of DNA choices, then why not just start from scratch and make completely new species of plants and animals from scratch? Why not make a perennial grass that produces a highly nutritious grain and fixes nitrogen? Produce a half scale cat? The later has been tried for years and would make millions. They don’t because they can’t. At least not yet. They can make small changes, that they think they understand, that usually produces predicted results, and hopefully doesn’t effect much else, but not much more.
    If you can give me a link to an article that contradicts this, then I am completely open to retracting my opposition.

    • Read the article based on PAST data they can look at the genes and are now incredibly accurate in predicting the outcome of a cross.

      It makes me insane that Monsanto is the one doing this but results are results.

    • Correct me if I’m wrong, but as I’m reading what you’re writing it seems you’re mixing GMO manipulation and crossing. Not that I don’t think that’s part of the works but that isn’t what the selective breeding is about. The starting from scratch comments is what I’m honing in on.

      I am skeptical of how well in actuality their results will be from using this technique for selection. (So rather than having “on the ground truth” about which one is better, they’re using indirect bits of knowledge to figure that out).

      Regardless because it’s really just plant crossings that are already compatible they’re going to likely get all sorts of extra things anyways which is likely improving the plant.

      Genetic manipulation would be what would be required to “start from scratch”. So in order to create a perennial grass that is super nutritious and fixes nitrogen, you’d have to add in things that aren’t crossable via genetic manipulation.

  16. Here’s an interesting fact about Anniston, Alabama: Ft. Hood that used to be there was a training ground for chemical warfare. I was born in this city, moved away and came back (I do not currently live there). When the Fort left the local economy went to crap. However, from what I understand the land the Fort sat on is now used as low income housing. Who knows what is buried in the ground chemical wise. I remember going to my grandmother’s house and seeing a piece of paper on her fridge with different siren sounds indicating certain chemical leaks. How frightening! If I’m wrong about what I’m saying please correct me anyone currently living in Anniston.

  17. Jack, I was the same way when I first read about GMOs. I was in college at the time studying computer science and I wanted to go into bioinformatics. I wanted to help Big Pharma come up with individualized drugs that had no side effects (I would NEVER consider such a thing now because I hate synthetic drugs even though I have to be on one for my “unknown cause” high blood pressure and no, it’s not being overweight, eating too much salt. It’s not because of sleep apnea or thyroid issues. Just seems to be a curse on me). The GMO technology intrigued me at the time because of the drought-resistance and pest-resistance. I didn’t know anything about the unintended consequences. Now that I’m dealing with my own health issues and seeing the people around me deal with theirs and seeing the fertile Midwestern land I’m surrounded by being damaged, I am skeptical of our mucking around with nature and our lack of willingness to really dig into root causes to find real solutions. GMO technology just really isn’t needed. We already have the tools and knowledge to make plants drought resistant and pest resistant. It’s just that those tools take longer, but they do provide a more complete solution. Maybe this age of instant gratification is what brought GMOs about? GMO technology seems, to me, to be a “sledgehammer to a nail” technique and only used because it SEEMS to get us faster to a solution. I think GMOs are just quick fixes though. I know I’m very biased against GMOs, but I just don’t see very many, if any, positives. Even the chestnut example you gave doesn’t really sway me. I think about how the blight was introduced and what man did to nature to allow it to take hold so well. It reminds me of the pine beetle on the West Coast. The monocultured forest of pines gives those pests so much food and an easy way to take over. Maybe GMOs are a bridge to a more perfect solution or a temporary fix while we work on the “real” solution, but I think it’s way too early to say what the environmental consequences are. Even 50 years of testing is a really small timeframe in terms of the Earth and its ecosystems and “science” is more often wrong than it is accurate. The scientists are always learning new things and changing their opinions. Rupert Sheldrake talked about how e found out that the speed of light was measured at different speeds in various parts of the world. But, scientists couldn’t explain it and they needed to move forward so they just switched it to a constant and quit measuring it. I’m just concerned that we know so little about our reality that I just don’t trust people to go messing with it if it can affect me and the environment around me. If they could totally isolate their experiments but still yield valid results, that would be one thing, but I just don’t have faith that science can do that. Given the current affairs of things, I have lost faith in a lot of institutions around me though.

    Another problem I have with GMOs at the moment is the gene gun. A couple years ago I was looking to go back to graduate school and I was going to be working on a gene sequencing project for a one-celled organism (I forget what the organism is called now). The bio professor was showing me the gene gun they use and on the side of it there was a big label saying that the US gov forbids anyone working with a gene gun to be used on any plant, tree, shrub, etc. Of course, that meant Monsanto has control over all plant gene manipulation. Because GMO technology requires the use of a gene gun, to me, it means it will always be controlled by very few….at least for quite some time which also means that it has the power to fall into evil intentions. I understand that can happen even if everyone has access to a gene gun, but it’s easier for evil to get its hands on it when there is limited control like that. At least for selective breeding and hybridization, all one needs is seeds and pollination techniques.

    Oh, and that bio professor I was going to be working for did have a conversation with me about GMOs. I told him how skeptical I was about it all and he just said “Well, biotech is going to progress forward whether people like it or not and there’s not much anyone can do.” At that point, I decided that the only control I have is over myself and the rest I just need to pray for good outcomes….kinda like the rest of life I guess.

  18. For anyone interested in an opposing viewpoint:

    You can learn a lot more about Schmeier with a quick google search. Wiki sums it up well: “However by the time the case went to trial, all claims had been dropped that related to patented seed in the field that was contaminated in 1997; the court only considered the GM canola in Schmeiser’s 1998 fields, which Schmeiser had intentionally concentrated and planted from his 1997 harvest. Regarding his 1998 crop, Schmeiser did not put forward any defense of accidental contamination.” (