Home Page Link AgBioWorld Home Page
About AgBioWorld Donations Ag-Biotech News Declaration Supporting Agricultural Biotechnology Ag-biotech Info Experts on Agricultural Biotechnology Contact Links Subscribe to AgBioView Home Page

AgBioView Archives

A daily collection of news and commentaries on

Subscribe AgBioView Subscribe

Search AgBioWorld Search

AgBioView Archives





June 20, 2000


answers to red porphyry


AgBioView - http://www.agbioworld.org, http://agbioview.listbot.com

Dear Red

I have not included my article in rebutting your comments. That is already on the network. I have just read
your interruption and provided an answer. You will have get out your original thing you sent me with
comments and match yours to mine. Why the pseudonym by the way?

Gardens and gardeners. Good gardeners are stewards of the land they control. They remove weeds and
allow the things to grow that they want. They keep their environment balanced and in good order. They
eliminate pests and control wilderness. Why? Because they find satisfaction in so doing. In human terms
sure there are some rogues; but providing food supply is guaranteed, those rogues tend to diminish and
sense takes over us as with good husbandry weeds are overgrown. I have used the metaphor to indicate
that we are not just animals obsessed with reproductive superiority or robots conveying our DNA. Our
brain provides us with additional biological functions not just reproduction. The realisation that cultivation
of this planet, (stewardship if you like, and conserve within reason), satisfies some deep rooted urge is the
key. For ourselves the full flowering of the potential in all of us supplements and in increasing cases
supplants physical reproduction. No it's not mysticism. Just plain common sense. Start to think! What is
the reason that red porphyry is here; just to play on his computer, work, satisfy gross urges, grow old,
die? Why wait around if that's the case. How boring. Come, come; our role here is to develop all the
talents we have. For every animal the one talent the males have is to spread your genes around; that is
clearly not the case for Homo sapiens. But just as all an animal can do is spread its genes around, that is
the full potential of its biology, ours is additional, courtesy of the brain. Each of us is unique, we all
contribute something to the world in which we live. There may be extremists called deep ecologists who
believe in ridding earth of mankind but they are small in number and found in green organisations. They
can always be defeated by asking why they have not set a good example to the rest of us.

Your comments about salaries have been canned by a number . I need say no more. Don't be so cynical.

We control disease just like the good gardener controls disease in his garden; we try to eliminate it. Of
course everything has two sides. I am well aware that many antibiotics become useless but they worked
for a time and they saved lives. That is all you need to know. Ordinary wheat worked for a time and then
we had to improve it. Cars ran at 20 mph in the beginning but they were improvements on horses. As for
tremendous waste of fossil fuels every technology improves with time. Then we learnt about insulation
and how eventually fossil fuels will run out. Contribution to global warming... I don't know that anyone is
sure yet whether mankind has really contributed to global warming. Only by trying do we find out how to
improve. We have something up in our heads called the ultimate resource. That deals with problems but
no problem is ever solved perfectly. If it was there wouldn't be any history.

As for the Boer war not an elegant chapter by any means in British history; ask the blacks what they
thought of rule by Afrikaaners. i.e.boers. Anyone can trade insults let me just remind you whose language
you are writing in.

People don't just do things for money. Bill Gates did it for power, a much greater aphrodisiac.

No I had always assumed that GM would be like the green revolution; just done for the public good. I had
never considered commercialisation and I regret it as many know but I accept that the world has changed
and that my views are limited. There is enormous suspicion in the UK of anything to do with GM
commercialisation because it is thought profit could be put before safety. Unfair I do not doubt but
tobacco is revealing how commerce can behave and probably does frequently. The need for profit can
become overwhelming when competition is fierce.

I am saying these things to an audience. If they don't like the commercialisation then they shouldn't
demean the knowledge. I think it is quite clear.

The citation to 35% increase in rice came over on the network late march and I would have to look back for
it. I wrote a short article for a major newspaper here on it which was published on the 30th March. I will
look at my archive when I have time but many on the network will know the research. A major achievement.

You should convey your remarks about Greenpeace to lord Melchett leader of GP in the UK. He has told
me it is a lie to suggest that Greenpeace has ever said any such thing about approval of starvation and
AIDS to eliminate the surplus population. Not of course strictly true but it's not in their policy documents.
What they think as individuals is another matter. Read the article by Patrick Moore on the network about
eco-extremists to get a perspective (14th April). All predictions of population increase see a levelling off
around 2050 anywhere from 9 billion to 11 billion with some sort of decrease thereafter. Of course
population predictions have not been particularly accurate in the past. However whatever the problem
mankind has the ability to solve it. What it needs is people like you not being cynical but seeing how you
can start the process of thought NOW. I will be participating in the nitrogen and carbon cycles of the
planet in about 20 years so for me the results of 2050 are academic.

Starvation is not an option for anyone civilised. We are all a community if we recognised that more often
then there we would all be pulling together instead of apart.

I disagree about death. It is the age-old argument really about capital punishment. No value is achieved by
state murder, it sets the wrong example to the population. We don't know what Custer might have achieved
had he lived; perhaps he would have come to realise that he was in the wrong and helped to change USA
attitudes towards its native brethren. As for Heydrich his death resulted in the immediate assassination of
thousands of hostages. It did not make an iota of difference to the final solution. In fact it infuriated Hitler
and may have resulted in a more vigorous prosecution of death camps and so on. Capture and
imprisonment for life in solitary would have been better. Same for Hitler. You need to expose the falsity of
reasoning of these people and you can't do it just by killing them.

Westerners have several reasons for being reluctant to give agricultural bounty to the third world. Firstly
who is going to pay. Secondly just giving food away destroys local farmers by destroying the price of
food. It is not a solution but people tend to be reluctant to give any amount. But charities in the UK have
people willingly driving thousands of miles to give food and other aid to those worse off in Europe and
Africa and elsewhere.

Vitamin A rice. I don't use it as some sort of talisman. I use it as an example of public spirited endeavour. It
doesn't ward of opponents; they criticise it like you. It is the job of the scientist merely to produce ideas
and a product . It is the job of politicians to solve consumption and distribution. Years ago Norman Pirie in
the UK designed a simple machine that took grass tissue, ground it and heated the filtered juice to
precipitate the protein, which was then turned into biscuits. The idea was to deal with protein deficiency
leading in children to kwashiokor. However when asked by Nkrume of Ghana how he was going to get the
population to eat the biscuits Pirie told him that was his problem. He had done what he was good at doing;
now it was up to the politicians to do what they are good at doing. I am fully aware of the difficulties of
getting education about healthy eating over to the populace i.e. changing white bread for wholemeal.
Believe it or not my opponents on golden rice tell me that education, about what to eat, is much easier than
issuing vitamin A as a food additive in rice which is all in essence golden rice is. Can't have it both ways.
We will deal with the problems with acceptability and edibility if they are scientific ones as they arise.
Seeing supposedly imponderable problems is a common property of pessimists and misanthropes and if we
all listened to them we would all end up twiddling our fingers instead of trying to tackle problems and
solving them.

Global warming. Hold onto your hats. It's here. Have a look if you can at the 15 articles or so in Proc Nat
Acad Sci USA (february 15th 2000) if you want to get the wind up, the new Scientist reported measurements
recently of deep ocean currents that do not look good for us here in Europe (27th November 1999). The last
mini glaciation took place about 8000 years ago, within a few years glaciers returned briefly to Scotland and
fractions of a decade only were required to cause the change. If you don't want to do anything about it
then don't. Although I notice that some predictions for regions of the USA have been recently made
including a 5 degree rise in average temperature. That's going to burn your tail. If the average goes up by
5 degrees then the extremes will go up by 20 now and again. Phew.

The 535 volcano is not a speculation; arctic ice cores and tree rings are excellent indicators of what went on
as well as the few written reports. The population of the UK at about that time was less than a million and
most of the UK was still forest full of wild animals. We are now 60 million and the only game are sheep and
cows. Anything like 535 would destroy us here. Mount St Helens by the way had a tangible effect on our
weather and volcanoes off Icleand have also ruined a number of summers. Another Krakatoa will have
more and more disastrous effects the greater the numbers of people. In evolutionary terms we are going
out on a limb, that is we are losing flexibility in our policies and without numerous agricultural technologies
we could well be sunk. Diversity in technology and that includes organic as well despite my caveats about
it provides a better chance of stability. It is all to do with networks.

Colliding asteroids have a certain probability of hitting the earth. Probabilities time scale is over infinity.
Probability does not tell you when you are going to be hit, just how many hits over a long long period.

The only disease on target at present is measles and possibly malaria and leprosy. Don't kid yourself that
other methods will deal with hepatitis and cholera. The data on food vaccines I should add is from the
horses mouth i.e. Arntzen.

I think that's enough comments for you

kind regards


Anthony Trewavas FRS
Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology
Mayfield Road
University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh EH9 3JH
Phone 44 (0)1316505328
Fax 44 (0)1316505392
email Trewavas@ed.ac.uk
web site http://www.ed.ac.uk/~gidi/main.html
To view the web site simply click on the address