GMOs restoring nature

We live in the Anthropocene age. We may wish it otherwise, but Nature as our ancestors understood it no longer exists. We have already influenced natural systems to the extent that there is no going back. Humans now have the power and responsibility to work with natural processes to produce sustainable systems. The most urgent environmental challenge concerns invasive species. Humans have brought together species that never met each other before, telescoping evolutionary processes from centuries or millennia to decades or years. Natural systems cannot adapt quickly enough to respond to changes humans have ALREADY put in play.

An interesting development has to do with restoring the American chestnut. The American chestnut was once among the most common trees in the forests of Eastern North America. It was a keystone species, sometimes making up a quarter of the dominant trees and providing food for wildlife with its abundant fruit and soil protection with its deep roots and immense canopies. An Asian blight accidentally introduced in 1904 destroyed the chestnuts in less than a single human lifetime.

Attempts to breed blight resistant trees has been unsuccessful. But now there is hope from researchers in New York using genetic manipulation. With a little luck, chestnuts could be back in Eastern forests with a decade.

The chestnut is only the biggest example. There are many others. Most people will remember the American elm. Oak trees are dying in some places, especially the live oaks in places like Texas. Hemlocks are in steady decline due to another pest introduced in 1924 and ash trees are currently under fierce attack by the emerald ash borer, which in a few years will devastate those trees as much as the blight got the chestnuts.

There really is no hope to maintain healthy forests unless we fight back and the best tools to do this are GMOs. I write this with some passion, because I am afraid the superstition and fear will influence the Luddite pinheads (that is the technical name) to enter the political process and prevent us from restoring and protecting our forests.

We have to properly define the sides on this debate. This is not about greedy companies wanting to exploit GMOs for profit. The chestnut restoration is essentially a charity. I give my own money to it, as to many others. Nobody expects any rewards in his/her own lifetime beyond that knowledge that the trees are coming back.

Please research this yourself and when you hear some little shit complaining about GMO forestry, give him a quick (rhetorical) kick in the ass. Do not let him pass go. For this ignorance to succeed, it is only necessary that informed people keep quiet.

Posted by Christine & John at November 14, 2014 5:33 PM
Comment #385460

It seems to me C/J that liberals pick and choose the science they wish to promote and denigrate that which they don’t care for or that which doesn’t promote their selfish agenda.

Posted by: Royal Flush at November 14, 2014 6:18 PM
Comment #385466

It’s interesting that Chestnut, Elm, and Oak were common name s for streets in almost all cities and towns in America. I was recently asked if there were any more Paw-paw trees in the forests. We used to eat Paw-paws when we were kids.

Posted by: George at November 14, 2014 6:39 PM
Comment #385468

Genetic engineering will be an important tool when humanity is forced to adapt to a warmer climate. It took us millennia to breed plants and animals so that they fared well in the current climate. We’ll need to replicate that work in less than a century.

However, misuse of genetic engineering could lead to dire consequences. Strict regulation and cautious experimentation should be the name of the game. We need to avoid the temptation to embrace any “irrational exuberance”.

Posted by: Warren Porter at November 14, 2014 6:59 PM
Comment #385472

The chestnut trees are all good. They are the same as the old chestnut trees but for one gene that protects against the blight. I hope they spread. I have never actually seen a big mature American chestnut, but in the pictures they are magnificent.

Posted by: C&J at November 14, 2014 8:03 PM
Comment #385474

Man assuming they can best nature doesn’t keep me up at night but it does ring with ‘danger Will Robert’s’, etc.

We were able to survive Thalidomide and this thing Resperral (sic) that causes males to grow tits and so on - - -

Like, I’m somewhat wary of this fusion thing. What if they are successful and fusion just keeps on fuseing so to speak?

We just had a thread alluding how stupid we are. But, there is a big difference between stupidity and ignorance. The man on street has no choice but to be ignorant on most issues; ACA, Dodd-Frank, fusion and so on - - -

I do believe that greedy folks, in their ignorance, could take us over the cliff. What keeps us from losing it is that most scientific advancements can be reversed, so far.

Suppose we nudge a comet off a collision course with the earth with a causal effect of putting ten comets on a path to strike earth on the same day, etc.

Some of us has to worry about such things - - -

Posted by: roy ellis at November 14, 2014 8:30 PM
Comment #385481


The die is cast. We have the option now or managing poorly or well. Abdicating that responsibility means that we are doing it poorly.

Posted by: C&J at November 14, 2014 10:50 PM
Comment #385486


My grandfather apparently used to sing “Picking up the paw-paws and putting them in the basket” to his children when they were little. I haven’t thought of that in a long, long time.

Posted by: Adam Ducker at November 15, 2014 7:35 AM
Comment #385487


I’m a pretty big proponent of GMO, specially those organisms that could help us make food insecurity all over the globe a thing of the past.

Posted by: Adam Ducker at November 15, 2014 7:39 AM
Comment #385491


I think that most informed and reasonably rational people are in favor of GMO, of course with some regulation as we regulate all foods, plants and animals. We would not want a GMO to become essentially an invasive species.

The reason I write about this is that we have lots of activists who are not informed or rational. They can easily bring up horror stories based on incomplete or mistaken analysis. They also like to attack straw men. For example, implying that proponents of GMO research want to just introduce things thoughtlessly.

The most interesting oxymoronic anti-GMO argument is that they don’t work. Obviously some will be better than others, but if they don’t work nobody needs to protest since nobody will use them.

Anyway, people like us need to speak out, lest the morons control the debate. This issue will span the left-right chasm. Anti-science is no both ends. Most of the anti-GMO folks are lefties, but most of the anti-stem cells are righties.

Posted by: C&J at November 15, 2014 10:28 AM
Comment #385511

Anti-GMO often goes hand in hand with the anti-vax crowd as well. The idea that natural is better reigns supreme despite the reality which is that the natural world is most times relentlessly cruel, unkind, and random. Somewhere out there in space is a naturally occurring asteroid or comet that is headed our way. The countdown has been going for thousands of years. It maybe be in ten years, a hundred, a thousand or more. But somewhere it’s out there traveling. It’s all natural.

Posted by: Adam Ducker at November 15, 2014 4:23 PM
Comment #385518


Some people think nature is kind because they don’t understand nature.

Posted by: C&J at November 15, 2014 5:49 PM
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