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PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2013 7:31 pm 
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This film answers lots of questions the FDA should have been asking. I wasn't aware of any dangers these altered foods posed . . . of course, prior to this film, my only information came from Monsento ads! Please watch! Please tell your friends and family to watch.

http://www.youtube.com/v/a6OxbpLwEjQ?hl=en_US&version=3&rel=0

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2013 1:10 am 
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http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/0 ... -get-there

I'm not against all GMO foods, but I don't trust Monsanto in the slightest and I think they're a pretty terrible company, all things considered.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2013 5:51 am 
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I'm having as much problem watching this as I have watching a Michael Moore movie. We're to buy a storyline as fact, when in fact it's a contrived piece put together by someone with an anti technology agenda.

Technically any purebred animal is genetically modified. The difference is that natural selection takes a lot of time, whereas gene manipulation can be done extremely quickly. The same happens with food. The companies which produce the seed are going to create superior products (high yield, high disease resistance) either slowly with natural selection or quicker with gene manipulation. What we're able to do has changed dramatically since Watson and Crick discovered DNA. And just as man screws up with natural selection and traditional farming methods, so too will he do so with gene manipulation.

Not all technology is bad. We wouldn't be here arguing without the invention of the transistor. Not all technology is good. We ended a world war with nuclear fission, and opened Pandora's Box.

It's also worth mentioning that I've worked both in the ivory tower and in industry. There is a never-ending battle between the two. We're taught in school that profit is bad - by professors whose lifestyles are protected by tenure. And in industry they know that money drives achievement faster than altruism. Both sides claim a high ground. Both can be right, and both can be woefully wrong.

And let's not forget the lawyers who make a mess of all of this. Without lawyers and patents and lawsuits, where *would* we be?

I for one just don't get worked up about it. We'll find lots of ways to screw up our lives. In the end it's a lot easier for folks to do that by smoking, drinking and driving, eating processed food, and having unprotected sex with strangers.

Meanwhile... the next great slaughter of mankind is just as likely to come about because of some bacterium or virus which manages by chance to break through man's medical defenses. It happened in 1918 - killing 20 to 40 million people worldwide and ending a world war. It *will* happen again. When it does, we're going to want these smart people who can manipulate DNA. In my line of work we try to get people to receive their flu vaccinations every year - all while whistling by the graveyard. One year, a new virulent virus will break through very quickly. Gosh... if only we could manufacture a billion or so vaccinations to a superbug in a month. Maybe if...

My personal opinion is we're better off developing smart, ethical citizens. I'll let the liberal arts majors fret over the alarmist "documentaries." It's what they do.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2013 4:43 pm 
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Monsanto gets away with an absurd amount of legal shennanigans, courtesy of their paid representatives in Congress. If it weren't for that, I'd have no problem with them. Call them the Microsoft of their field.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2013 7:11 pm 
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Most people are not against "safe" and "controlled" advances in medicine and technology. But how can a former Monsanto lawyer be put in charge of FDA and responsible for what Monsanto is passing off as GMO testing?

Bill. . . after viewing the film, do you really believe Monsanto has acted responsibly in all this? And how about our government?

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2013 8:36 pm 
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gmattson wrote:
But how can a former Monsanto lawyer be put in charge of FDA and responsible for what Monsanto is passing off as GMO testing?

Who better to judge it, George? Not the typical politician who is a lawyer. People become lawyers because they suk at science and math, so it's one of the only other ways to make a lot of money. They go into politics and feather their own nests. They haven't a bloody clue what biotechnology is. They cannot tell you whether you can patent a *process* that manufactures DNA (yes) or if it means you have patented that DNA per se (no). I'm sitting there listening to this frankly mind-numbingly stupid documentary.... The guys are saying that folks from Monsanto are talking out of both sides of their mouths when they say their food product is no different than most other products on the shelf (theoretically it *could* be) but then "go across the street" and tell the patent office that their process of making it is unique and patentable (it *could* be). Listening to the morons on that video makes me want to reach through my screen and beach-slap them. My 14-year-old kid could be explained the nuance and this "PhD" being quoted doesn't get it? Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!!!! So THAT is the reason, George, why a smart president hires an expert in the field to regulate something he doesn't understand. You hire them for their knowledge, and with the understanding that they're going to be a professional and remember whom they are working for at any one point in time.

Last job I worked at, George, the company tried to get me to sign a noncompete before hiring me. I sent it to my lawyer, and he told me to tell them I wasn't going to sign it. Why? Because everyone knows everyone else in my field. My noncompete said I couldn't work for anyone in my line of work if - for WHATEVER reason - I stopped working for them. It would mean I'd basically be unemployable. So I took my lawyer's advice and told the company I wasn't going to sign it and why. They changed it. Then there was a merger-acquisition and I lost my job. Thank God I didn't sign the dang thing they first wanted me to sign. I still work in my field now, only for a *potential* customer. That happens all the time. At any one time, I make it clear to my employers that I understand whom I'm working for.

gmattson wrote:
Bill. . . after viewing the film, do you really believe Monsanto has acted responsibly in all this? And how about our government?

Not in *all* of this. Monsanto is a big company that's made many products over a long, long period of time. Most of what they've done is top rate. As Jason put it, they are the Microsoft of their field.

Not everything that Microsoft has done through time is good and/or ethical.

However I don't like the argumentum ad hominem employed by the film maker. Typical Michael Moore bullsheet. It's just as irresponsible as the behavior they're accusing Monsanto of. Whether or not DDT is bad has nothing to do with whether or not GMO is bad. And if one GMO product is bad, it doesn't mean another can't be good (and vice-versa).

Most of what I see here is petty sniping. Some bitter old academic who couldn't hack it in the publish-or-perish business who wants to impugn Monsanto because they are driven by profit. Well if I'm a Monsanto share holder, they'd BETTER be driven by profit. Otherwise I'm going to take my money out of them and invest in a company that will be successful and - as a consequence - will make a profit.

If the business world creates good rules, companies will play by those rules. If the business world has unfair rules, companies will play by those unfair rules. Sometimes we need to step back and see why markets behave as they do. It isn't always industry's fault. Case in point... Two days ago there was an article in the WSJ about carbon tax rules in the EU. They have caused European companies to shut down their coal-burning power plants and start burning wood. Can you believe that? Yes... WOOD. Because that works under the existing stupid rules imposed by the "climate change" econinnies. And how are they getting that wood? By clearcutting hardwood forests in North Carolina. Hmm...
WSJ wrote:
WINDSOR, N.C.—Loggers here are clear-cutting a wetland forest with decades-old trees.

Behind the move: an environmental push.

The push isn't in North Carolina but in Europe, where governments are trying to reduce fossil-fuel use and carbon-dioxide emissions. Under pressure, some of the Continent's coal-burning power plants are switching to wood.

But Europe doesn't have enough forests to chop for fuel, and in those it does have, many restrictions apply. So Europe's power plants are devouring wood from the U.S., where forests are bigger and restrictions fewer.

This dynamic is bringing jobs to some American communities hard hit by mill closures. It is also upsetting conservationists, who say cutting forests for power is hardly an environmental plus.

Image


So you're going to blame the companies for this bad behavior? I think not. Stupid thinking and stupid rules begat stupid behavior. Fiscal conservatives call this the law of unintended consequences.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 9:43 am 
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Much to my surprise and appreciation, when I mentioned the film I saw, Sue told me that she had seen it and was aware of the potential dangers of GMO and. . . had been reading labels and avoided buying any food that was associated with GMO for over a year.

I wonder Bill, knowing how careful you are with your diet and your family's diet. how many GMO altered foods do you buy and eat?

I understand that 3 Monsento scientist were asked to do testing on GMO milk and after completing the study, all three stopped drinking milk!!

It is also of general interest that the FDA approves so many drugs with what must be flawed testing methods, since so many drugs are found to be more dangerous than the symptoms they were designed to help. Yet, when over a million people marched in protest of GMO modified foods throughout the world recently, and hundreds of individuals reported and in some cases documented with film, their very negative experiences with GMO, the FDA doesn't recognize these experiences as valid enough to be taken seriously.

Quiet a few other countries have banned GMO completely - are you saying that they are not smart enough to recognize a dangerous product and the USA should allow Monsento continued free reign in their very profitable effort to make all foods modified with their new dna modified products? (FDA Head and former emloyee of Monsanto stated that it is Monsanto's responsibility to determine the safety of GMO, not the governments)

Granted, nature has its own way to genetically change humans, animals and foods - based on a method that is very slow and methodical. Mistakes die off before infecting other generations of humans, animals and foods.

Granted that Monsento can do all this faster and more dramatically. Mistakes aren't recognized until there is no way to turn back. The first film I saw on the subject showed interviews with what to a layperson, were pretty smart people. These Doctors said that, based on first hand "experience" and many examples within their studies, that GMO should be taken off the market immediately. According to their findings:

1. there is no long-term savings in GMO products. With use, crops decrease in size and nutritional output. Weeds killed by GMO crops, develop an immunity requiring higher doses of Monseto products. (resulting in more profits of course to Monsanto)
2. GMO feed for livestock result in serious problems with the animals. Returning to a non-GMO feed bring back health within weeks.
3. humans eating GMO foods develop all kinds of stomach related problems and allergies that have been attributed to drinking GMO related milk and eating GMO treated foods. Those interviewed claimed that a strict diet of non- GMO foods reversed the problems.
4. MDs were interviewed who were concerned that eating GMO foods negatively affected human's digestive system and appeared to be altering the stomach and intestines. Their concerns were that at some point, these changes would become permanent. . . that the dna of the human would become altered. (I don't remember the exact description, only that it was quite alarming to me. The interview was accompanied with MRI scans and other photos.)

Bill, I ask you again. . . Would you feed your family GMO altered products?????

Or will you wait for the TV commercial by "Sleazy-make our day- Law firm" with the message: "If you or a loved one purchased GMO altered foods and notice that a third arm is growing out of your belly or you have developed uncontrolled allergies to everything, please call us today! You may be entitled to money!!!! :) Call 123-baddrug today.
The m
I agree with you Bill on one point - the film was too long and obviously had a very small budget.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 11:15 am 
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Well...don't believe this should be about how the movie resembles a Michael Moore film...regardless of how boring or not entertaining this piece is, the fact remains people are getting degenerative health problems through the consumption of GMO food. When the consumption ceases, the symptoms abate. Simple logic which applies not only to humans but to also the cattle fed this outrageously insane fake food. Of course, the defense is the same as the dentists with the case of sodium fluoride to prevent tooth decay. As I recounted a story to George yesterday morning over breakfast, of a local dentist who "swears" by the efficacy of fluoride on teeth in a conversation we had recently. The "come to Jesus moment" came from my awakening of the "true efficacy" of his statement as a dentist trained in his field, which happens to be correct, although beyond the positive result of reduced tooth decay, the rest of the body typically creates significant and replicable degenerative health issues, due to sodium fluoride, and hydrofluorosalicic acid http://tinyurl.com/mkhlc4x and how and why one must understand this "sleeping giant" and when this knowledge is garnered, must actively remove (detox) this substance http://tinyurl.com/n8vz3m to maintain optimal levels of health. So, the reality of Monsanto optimizing the output of corn, soy, wheat, alfalfa, etc. for the farmer is correct and verifiable, at what expense to the overall health and well-being of the population does this come? I happen to like the perfection of food grown by "Mother Nature" without the limited viewpoint and intervention by those who do not see the bigger picture... Classic example is the effect of bees and the accelerated "die off" of their kind by the BT toxin which just happens to be a large part of this whole GMO "experiment. Too many variables are not considered and the result is an overall degeneration of our health. And lastly, since it's inception, there has not been one point of value GMO food has shown to offer the end user....not one!

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 3:31 pm 
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The benefit to the end user is cost. I don't like Roundup-ready GMOs for a number of reasons, but cost is almost always the focus for the american consumer. We don't want quality, we want quantity.

I think GMO has great potential to increase nutritional value and produce products that are genuinely better, but the problem is that the market pushes companies to make things that are superficially better (prettier tomatos instead of tastier tomatos) and cheaper. Cheap isn't bad, but it blinds people because it's a readily understood benefit. A riper tomato costs more to ship, but is more nutritious and better tasting. And this isn't the government's fault, or industry's fault it's people's fault.

That said, Monsanto goes about fulfilling the will of the people in a despicable manner. We've argued about this ad infinitum, Bill, but I don't agree that the profit motive is sufficient justification for unethical behavior. You can say "oh but the inveeeeeeestors" but the fact is you don't *have* to abuse the legal system to maximize your profits. You don't have to create massive misinformation campaigns to push products that would be (literally, sometimes) unpalatable if people knew what was actually going on. You don't have to corrupt the government by pouring money into lobbying and buying officials. The argument "but everyone else is doing it" doesn't hold water.

I agree that biotech is an incredibly important and useful technology and that we should encourage it. What I do think however is that the genes they add or modify (or the proteins expressed by those genes) need to be regulated the same way other food additives are. I don't think there's anything fundamentally different about DNA changing in the context of biotech vs evolution, but the problem is a lack of oversight. And that problem is compounded by the behavior of companies like Monsanto.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:28 pm 
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Justin's views are the closest to my own. Imagine that!!!! :lol:

A Michael Moore style movie - as much as it influences a lot of people (or not) - is not evidence. *Evidence* is published results that pass the scrutiny of the peer-review process. Show me articles in the literature that make a claim, and I'm good with it. Otherwise it's just one more example of logic by emotion. You know... like John Edwards parading horribly disfigured babies in front of a jury and then claiming it was the fault of that bad, bad OB. Science catches up, and we find out it's not true. Did John Edwards give back his ill-gotten gains? No. Was he finally exposed as a slimebucket? Yep... Karma's gonna get you sooner or later.

Not everything that is "natural" is good. Botulin toxin is natural. E coli is natural. Salmonella is natural. That wiregrass invading my lawn is natural. Sugar is natural. Pig fat is natural. Smegma is natural. Death is natural.

Weeds, locusts, and drought that destroy our food are all natural.

Don't get me started on some fluoride debate. That's off topic and way over the top. Please... Start another thread if you wish.

My biggest criticism of your post, Justin, is when you slip into strawman mode. Busted... Being ethical is good business. Being Dow Chemical after killing a bunch of people in India is not good business. (See Bhopal disaster.) For that matter, there is good academic research and bad academic research. (See Tuskegee syphilis experiment.) I work for a Fortune 100 company, Justin, that fights hard to be an ethical player. EVERY SINGLE YEAR I have to complete 3 days of ethics training - complete with tests I have to pass. Being a good guy makes money. Being a good guy makes investors happy because they in turn make money and can feel good about what they own a piece of. Unlike what you're trying to convey, profit and ethics are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary... in the long run they're usually compatible.

Otherwise I really like what you posted.

George:

I have no position on any specific GMO issue until I have more information. However I know enough about first principles to appreciate that GMO is what you make of it. Fear of it is similar to fear of fire, refrigeration, and microwave ovens when they first came out. The capacity is there for BOTH great good and great harm. So really... it's irrational to take a position without talking about something specific and getting the research done.

Do I think some things (e.g. new foods and pharmaceuticals) come to market too quickly? Yes. Am I cautious? Yes. Do I have an opinion on whether or not this or that GMO product is good or bad? Not until I see the evidence.

Caution isn't a bad thing. However I'm going to make one thing clear. The DNA Genie is out of the bottle. Better get used to it, and find out all you can about it.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 8:30 pm 
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I didn't say profit and ethics are mutually exclusive. However, while it may be true in some sense that it's better business to be ethical, wall street is notoriously short-sighted, and Monsanto in particular has a long history of misbehavior. I would say that being ethical *can* be good business (it seems to be working for Google), but that it isn't always. There's no shortage of examples of companies doing nasty things to eek out a little (or a lot of) extra profit. You can say that it isn't profitable, but if that fact were as definite and obvious as you seem to think, it wouldn't keep happening. After all, the market is self-correcting, no? Sure, in the long run you can claim cheaters always get caught, but that's meaningless if it's not changing behavior enough to stop these kinds of things from happening.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 8:40 pm 
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Valkenar wrote:
Sure, in the long run you can claim cheaters always get caught, but that's meaningless if it's not changing behavior enough to stop these kinds of things from happening.

I've done a little work in insurance fraud. Some of the best inferential statistical methods are used in this field, because as much as 15 percent of our GDP in health care is fraud. As a colleague and former FBI agent once used to say, "There's no rest for the wicked."

There will always be cheaters and there will always be sociopaths. And the good guys *do* usually win in the end. As I am want to say, it is what it is.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 3:04 am 
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Bill Glasheen wrote:
So you're going to blame the companies for this bad behavior? I think not. Stupid thinking and stupid rules begat stupid behavior.

Your kids must really like it if you also blanket absolve them of any bad/stupid behavior they choose to do! I however think that companies (and kids) should be held accountable for their choice of bad/stupid behavior. The carbon tax rules did not *cause* those companies to start burning wood, those companies made that choice themselves out of the options available to them. The rules certainly did not force them to clear-cut hardwood forest in NC, they could have gone with sustainable wood sources. Frankly their choice for wood can be construed as being made out of spite. These companies may not be able to control the rules or behavior of others, but they can control their own behavior and responses...sound familiar?

This is the same issue kids sometimes have with following the letter of parental (school, etc) law while spiting the spirit of the law, something my kids know is not tolerated. For example, let us say I set a rule for one of my older kids that her responsibility is to not let the grass get too tall this summer. If she then chooses to maximize her free time by making a one-time application of Round-up to the entire yard, you better believe I am going to blame her for making that bad decision, even though it follows the letter of my rule and the resulting barren yard could be classified as an unintended consequence (which is a common concept and not the lingo of only fiscal conservatives :roll: ). You better believe that she also would experience unintended consequences! And so should companies who choose to engage in bone-headed behavior, we should not hold companies to weaker standards.

One minor correction
Quote:
Technically any purebred animal is genetically modified. The difference is that natural selection takes a lot of time, whereas gene manipulation can be done extremely quickly. The same happens with food. The companies which produce the seed are going to create superior products (high yield, high disease resistance) either slowly with natural selection or quicker with gene manipulation.

All domesticated plants and animals are genetically modified, that is true, however this human-induced process of modifying traits to meet our needs is technically called "artificial" selection. "Natural" selection is anything that naturally (i.e. without direct human action) influences plant and animal traits.

However these points aside, I also am not a fan of this style of "documentary" and in general I agree with your premise that GMOs have both potential benefits and harms, and that the current opposition is (so far) largely based on fear of the unknown. It is hard to blame them though, when unintended consequences have become a norm, and a bit of a fallback excuse for corporations. As George alluded to, the airwaves are full of lawyer ads about how victims can be compensated for this or that unintended consequence. At some point we really should try to be proactive about avoiding these.

Quote:
The DNA Genie is out of the bottle. Better get used to it

This is absolutely true.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 2:02 pm 
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I appreciate your thoughts, Glenn. Mostly we're fussing about details.

You do make many of my points for me - whether you realize it or not.
Glenn wrote:
let us say I set a rule for one of my older kids that her responsibility is to not let the grass get too tall this summer. If she then chooses to maximize her free time by making a one-time application of Round-up to the entire yard, you better believe I am going to blame her for making that bad decision, even though it follows the letter of my rule and the resulting barren yard could be classified as an unintended consequence (which is a common concept and not the lingo of only fiscal conservatives :roll: ).

Whether you realize it or not, you prove my point.

If you arbitrarily set a rule that the grass cannot grow above a certain height - and we can assume that Roundup isn't in the budget or business plan - then you've just set a bad rule. You're the grasslands guy; you should appreciate this. Someone like my son would cut the grass close like a putting green so he wouldn't have to cut it as much. It would look fantastic - for a few cuts. Before long, the fescue is waning and the yard is riddled with wiregrass, chickweed, and clover. Go on down the road to my neighbor with the plush lawn and you'll see he cuts it at 3 to 4 inches every time - and no closer. He has what a female friend of mine once called "sex grass." Bottom line - the rule is a dumb one. Fescue likes to be a bit taller than Bermuda grass or some equivalent. I in fact won't cut my grass much at all if the temperature hits above 90. I'll wait until a cold front is coming and cut it hours before it hits. When I look around the neighborhood, I note a few other property owners are out there at the exact time I am. Hmm... coincidence? I think not.

Dumb rules begat dumb behavior. Overregulation begats the very arbitrary and rebellious behavior you abhor. Being reasonable and respecting "the market" tends to produce unexpected consequences as well, but often for the better.

As for artificial vs. natural selection... point taken. I used incorrect terminology.

The results of artificial selection...

Image

Man-made selection nonetheless. Takes longer than GMO, but the end result is the same.

But here's a brain twister for you. This is the common color of the peppered moth in Britain before the industrial revolution.

Image

Here is the common color of the moth during the industrial revolution, when coal-burning plants were common.

Image

Is this "natural" selection or "artificial" selection? Man after all caused this transformation - however accidental.

- Bill

P.S. - For the non-science readers, it's commonly used in the classroom as an example of evolution and natural selection. Man changed the environment, and birds ate the moths they could see easier. In a cleaner Britain, the darker ones went first. In a dirtier Britain, the lighter ones went first.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 2:38 pm 
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Here is where GMO could do great good.

Wikipedia wrote:
The American chestnut, Castanea dentata, is a large, monoecious deciduous tree of the beech family native to eastern North America. Before the species was devastated by the chestnut blight, a fungal disease, it was one of the most important forest trees throughout its range. There are now very few mature specimens of the tree within its historical range, although many small sprouts of the former live trees remain. However, there are hundreds of large (2 to 5 ft diameter) trees outside its historical range, some in areas where less virulent strains of the pathogen are more common, such as the 600 to 800 large trees in northern lower Michigan.[1][2]

I have some rare examples of the smaller trees living in the forest I protect on my piece of property. It by the way is also adjacent to wetlands that I'm fond of and protect.

Wikipedia wrote:
Several organizations are attempting to breed blight-resistant chestnut trees. One of these is the American Chestnut Cooperators Foundation, which breeds surviving all-American chestnuts, which have shown some native resistance to blight. The Canadian Chestnut Council is an organization attempting to reintroduce the trees in Canada, primarily in Ontario. Another is The American Chestnut Foundation, which is backcrossing blight-resistant Chinese chestnut into American chestnut, to recover the American growth characteristics and genetic makeup, and then finally intercrossing the advanced backcross generations to eliminate genes for susceptibility to blight. The goal is eventually to restore the species to the eastern forests of North America.

A century from now we'll be looking at methods used to modify the American Chestnut to make it blight resistant and save it as an important native tree. And by the advanced GMO methods developed by then, we'll be shaking our heads and considering how cumbersome, unproductive, and expensive it was doing it "the old fashioned way."

Bring my chestnut trees back to my property in their natural growth heights, and I will be a happy man. So will the wildlife and the industries which came from them.

Wikipedia wrote:
The nuts were once an important economic resource in the US, being sold on the streets of towns and cities, as they sometimes still are during the Christmas season (usually "roasting on an open fire" so their smell is readily identifiable many blocks away). Chestnuts are edible raw or roasted, though typically preferably roasted. Nuts of the European sweet chestnut are now sold instead in many stores. One must peel the brown skin to access the yellowish-white edible portion. The unrelated horse-chestnut's "conkers" are poisonous without extensive preparation.

The wood is straight-grained, strong, and easy to saw and split, and it lacks the radial end grain found on most other hardwoods. The tree was particularly valuable commercially since it grew at a faster rate than oaks. Being rich in tannins, the wood was highly resistant to decay and therefore used for a variety of purposes, including furniture, split-rail fences, shingles, home construction, flooring, piers, plywood, paper pulp, and telephone poles. Tannins were also extracted from the bark for tanning leather. Although larger trees are no longer available for milling, much chestnut wood has been reclaimed from historic barns to be refashioned into furniture and other items. "Wormy" chestnut refers to a defective grade of wood that has insect damage, having been sawn from long-dead, blight-killed trees. This "wormy" wood has since become fashionable for its rustic character.


Image

Image

Imagine what would have happened in Ireland had they been able to use GMO methods to handle the disease that destroyed the potato crops. A million Irish might not have died. But then I might be typing this from County Cork. :-) Food for thought.

- Bill


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