We need to talk about GM

September 24, 2018

We need to talk about genetic modification, former Chief Science Advisor Sir Peter Gluckman says.

Sir Peter Gluckman says the debate over whether to use genetically edited grasses to combat greenhouse gas emissions is more philosophical than scientific.

It’s also more emotional and political than rational.

The former Chief Science Adviser to the Prime Minister spoke to The Country’s Jamie Mackay about his report released this week in which he suggests New Zealand needs to have a “national conversation,” about using GMOs in agriculture.

“What I’ve raised in the report is just that if we’re serious about climate change, if we’re serious about environmental protection, if we’re serious about a reduction in predators and protecting biodiversity, we perhaps need to think again about whether the technologies which are increasingly being used offshore have got a role to play in New Zealand.” . . 

There are widespread calls for farmers to play their part in reducing emissions but many of those agitating for that are also opposed to allowing GM.

It is a tool widely used in other countries that is being denied to New Zealand farmers.

Mackay wonders if consumers will want to eat products from animals that have grazed on genetically modified grass, but Gluckman says this is already happening.

“Around the world consumers are eating lots of meat and lots of milk that are coming from genetically modified crops now … it’s been going on at least for a decade broadly around the world.”

It’s also in a lot of the food we’ve been eating for years. Most corn and soy that we import will have come from GM crops.

Gluckman says the issue is more “philosophical rather than a scientific debate” with a number of countries ruling that gene editing does not need the same regulatory controls as gene modification, but “other countries are not so certain.”

Gluckman believes there needs to be a discussion around the use of GM grasses before New Zealand begins testing them.

“I think that in theory it’s possible in New Zealand. It’s just that in practice it’s not possible and I think one would need a much broader national conversation to look through the issues which are largely more philosophical and values-based than they are scientifically based.”

We saw huge areas of corn when we were in Colorado and Nebraska on an IrrigationNZ tour 10 days ago.

All of it was genetically modified.

Farmers there have been producing GM crops for years with no problems in the field or in the market.

They told us it had both economic and environmental benefits. It yielded better and required fewer chemicals to grow.

AgResearch is trialing GM grass in the USA because it can’t do it here. The grass has the potential to make a significant reduction to methane emissions.

Opponents of the technology say it could risk our reputation for producing clean and green feed.

Surely the risk our competitors will be gaining the benefits of GM grass and marketing their meat as cleaner and greener is even greater.

Science is rarely 100% settled. But after decades of use in many countries there has been no evidence of any problems with GM that would put our farming at risk, and plenty of evidence of the benefits.

New Zealand needs to start talking about GM and the  conversation must be based on science and facts, not emotion and philosophy.


Quote of the day

September 24, 2018

In all science error precedes the truth and it is better It should go first than last. – Horace Walpole who was born on this day in 1717.


September 24 in history

September 24, 2018

622 Prophet Muhammad completed his hijra from Mecca to Medina.

1180 Manuel I Komnenos, last Emperor of the Komnenian restoration died after which the Byzantine Empire slipped into terminal decline.

1625 Johan de Witt, Dutch politician, was born (d. 1672).

1645  Battle of Rowton Heath, Parliamentarian victory over a Royalist army commanded in person by King Charles.

1664 The Dutch Republic surrendered New Amsterdam to England.

1667 – Jean-Louis Lully, French composer, was born (d. 1688).

1674  Second Tantrik Coronation of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

1717 Horace Walpole, British novelist and politician, was born (d. 1797).

1725 Sir Arthur Guinness, Irish brewer, was born (d. 1803).

1841  The Sultan of Brunei ceded Sarawak to Britain.

1852  The first airship powered by (a steam) engine, created by Henri Giffard, travelled 17 miles (27 km) from Paris to Trappes.

1869 “Black Friday“: Gold prices plummeted after Ulysses S. Grant ordered the Treasury to sell large quantities of gold after Jay Gould and James Fisk plotted to control the market.

1871 –  Lottie Dod, English athlete, was born (d. 1960)

1877  Battle of Shiroyama, decisive victory of the Imperial Japanese Army over the Satsuma Rebellion.

1890 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially renounced polygamy.

1892 – Adélard Godbout, Canadian agronomist and politician, 15th Premier of Québec, was born (d. 1956).

1896 F. Scott Fitzgerald, American novelist, was born (d. 1940).

1898 – Charlotte Moore Sitterly, American astronomer, was born (d. 1990).

1905 Lionel Terry killed Joe Kum Yung to draw attention to his crusade to rid New Zealand of Chinese people.

Race killing in Haining St, Wellington

1906  U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed Devils Tower in Wyoming as the nation’s first National Monument.

1914 Sir John Kerr, 18th Governor-General of Australia, was born (d. 1991).

1916 – Ruth Leach Amonette, American businesswoman and author, was born (d. 2004).

1917 – Ten New Zealand soldiers were killed when they were hit by a train at Bere Ferrers in the United Kingdom.

Bere Ferrers rail accident

1935  Earl Bascom and Weldon Bascom produced the first rodeo ever held outdoors under electric lights at Columbia, Mississippi.

1936 Jim Henson, American puppeteer, was born (d. 1990).

1941 Linda McCartney, American singer, fashion designer and photographer, was born (d. 1998).

1942 Gerry Marsden, English singer (Gerry & The Pacemakers), was born.

1946  Cathay Pacific Airways was founded in Hong Kong.

1946 – Lars Emil Johansen, Greenlandic educator and politician, 2nd Prime Minister of Greenland, was born.

1947 The Majestic 12 committee was allegedly established by secret executive order of President Harry Truman.

1948 – Garth Porter, New Zealand-Australian singer-songwriter and producer, was born.

1948  The Honda Motor Company was founded.

1950  Forest fires blacked out the sun over portions of Canada and New England. A Blue moon (in the astronomical sense) was seen as far away as Europe.

1957  Camp Nou, the largest stadium in Europe, was opened in Barcelona.

1957 President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent 101st Airborne Division troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to enforce desegregation.

1962  United States court of appeals ordered the University of Mississippi to admit James Meredith.

1968  60 Minutes debuted on CBS.

1973  Guinea-Bissau declared its independence from Portugal.

1979  Compu-Serve launched the first consumer internet service, which features the first public electronic mail service.

1990  Periodic Great White Spot observed on Saturn.

1994  National League for Democracy was formed by Aung San Suu Kyi and various others to help fight against dictatorship in Myanmar.

1996  U.S. President Bill Clinton signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty at the United Nations.

2005  Hurricane Rita made landfall in the United States, devastating Beaumont, Texas and portions of southwestern Louisiana.

2008  The Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago was topped off at 1,389 feet (423 m), at the time becoming the world’s highest residence above ground-level.

2009 – The G20 summit began in Pittsburgh with 30 global leaders in attendance. It marked the first use of LRAD in U.S. history.

2013  A 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck southern Pakistan, killing more than 327 people.

2014 – The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), a Mars orbiter launched into Earth orbit by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), successfully inserted into orbit of Mars.

2015 – At least 1,100 people were killed and another 934 wounded after a stampede during the Hajj in Saudi Arabia.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


365 days of gratitude

September 23, 2018

She believed in nothing. Only her scepticism kept her from being an atheist. – Jean Paul Sartre

Today I’m grateful to believe in not just one, but several somethings.


Word of the day

September 23, 2018

Psychologise –  analyse, investigate or regard in psychological terms, or on psychological motivation,  especially in an uninformed way;  theorise or speculate concerning the psychology of something or someone.

Hat tip: Not PC


Rural round-up

September 23, 2018

Women: “We’re the glue in rural communities” –

Country women are still facing a high level of isolation, the president of Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) says.

Fiona Gower is a fifth generation New Zealand farmer, her family migrated to New Zealand in 1840. She has worked on farms and in wool sheds around the country.

And as the president of RWNZ she comes from a long line of community advocates.

“My grandmother was one of the founding members of the Rural Women New Zealand group in the early days down in Marton.” . .

Buyers bide their time – Hugh Stringleman:

The next two months will be crucial for the 2018-19 season milk price as buyers work out New Zealand’s dairy production, Rabobank dairy analyst Emma Higgins says.

Fonterra will offer more whole milk powder on the Global Dairy Trade platform where prices have fallen for the past four months and seven out of eight auctions.

As the spring peak looms an NZ milk production to the end of August was 5% or eight million kilograms of milksolids ahead of the corresponding time last season. . .

Potato virus found in New Zealand for first time:

A potato virus which affects potatoes used to make chips has been found for the first time in New Zealand.

The potato mop-top virus, known as PMTV, has been found in tubers from two properties in the Canterbury region.

David Yard of Biosecurity New Zealand, said PMTV was not a food safety issue but, if it became widespread, could cause productivity issues for growers. . .

Experienced dog trial isn’t shares tips

From training dogs as a youngster to having success at a national dog trialling level, Steve Kerr knows a thing or two about getting the best from a working dog.

Earlier this month more than 30 people attended his training day hosted by the Strath Taieri Collie Club at Lindsay Carruther’s Middlemarch property.

It was the first time the training day had been held there and Mr Carruthers said it was great to give people the opportunity not just to watch, but also get involved with their own dogs. . .

The rural wrap from around NZ:

The weekly rural wrap from around the country from RNZ’s Country Life.

Northland‘s kumara growers are finishing off bedding out to produce the plants that will go into the ground at the end of October. Kumara are fetching good prices – between $6 and $11 a kilo depending where you shop. Farms are still quite moist underfoot. However, showers this week will have served to freshen up the grass. Growers and farmers would like 15 millimetres of rain a week – and for the sun to come out. . .

Blow for WA sheep farmers as biggest buyer heads to South Africa – Jenny Brammer:

The live sheep export industry has been dealt a further blow with Australia’s biggest customer, Kuwait Livestock Transport and Trading, moving to source a long-term supply of sheep from South Africa.

The company, also called Al Mawashi, issued an announcement to the Kuwait Stock Exchange saying its board had approved the establishment of a new live export subsidiary in South Africa, similar to its Australian subsidiary Rural Export Trading WA.

RETWA owns a large pre-export quarantine property near Peel, and has offices in West Perth. Establishing operations in South Africa would spell the end to Australia’s 40-year exclusivity arrangement of supplying sheep to KLTT, which was buying up to two-thirds of the 1.8 million Australian sheep exported each year. . .

 


Dark Way

September 23, 2018

Dark Way Prints (classic)
I’m not sure if the world’s all that serious, she said, or if it just has a really dark way of having a good time. Dark Way – © 2016 Brian Andreas – posted with permission.

You can buy books, posters, cards, ornaments and more and sign up for a daily dose of whimsy like this by email at Story People.

 


%d bloggers like this: