Pharyngula

Like plums? Do something right away!

This is the first I’ve heard of this, but there is a devastating disease called Plum Pox Virus that kills trees bearing stone fruits, like plums and peaches, and the only way to deal with infected plants is to rip them out of the ground and destroy them. There has been a recent outbreak in Pennsylvania; don’t rush out to buy the last of the fruits in an apocalyptic terror, it’s just a hint of a potential problem for the future, but you can worry a little bit. And maybe you can promote some science that will help.

A new variety of plum called the Honey Sweet has been genetically engineered that is completely resistant to the virus. It is just now in the process of being deregulated by the EPA, and they’re looking for public comment (it’s a confusing site: look for “Public Participation for Coat Protein Gene of Plum Pox Virus”, and “Comment Due”; click on it and you can tell the government what they should do).

Work fast, this is the last day for input. For the plums!

Comments

  1. #1 greg.bourke0
    April 30, 2010

    As a furnur I don’t know if my voice shall be considered, nevertheless, done!

  2. #2 Sili, The Unknown Virgin
    April 30, 2010

    We had problems with our sloe some years, but I don’t know if it was the same thing. Destroyed the … :wikipeeks: … Damsons as well. Tough to clean, but made for awesome jam.

  3. #3 Glen Davidson
    April 30, 2010

    Work fast, this is the last day for input. For the plums!

    Will no one speak for the viruses?

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  4. #4 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 30, 2010

    If you dry plums they turn into prunes. Let’s support regularity.

  5. #5 ckitching
    April 30, 2010

    I just wish that commercial fruit growers would stop growing all their fruit trees with clones. Unless this practice is stopped, diseases like these have the potential of destroying entire crops.

  6. #6 mck9
    April 30, 2010

    I suppose the virus makes a drupe droop.

  7. #7 Jadehawk, OM
    April 30, 2010

    I just wish that commercial fruit growers would stop growing all their fruit trees with clones. Unless this practice is stopped, diseases like these have the potential of destroying entire crops.

    it’s not going to be stopped; instead, now you’re going to get GMO clones.

  8. #8 Crommunist
    April 30, 2010

    Plums are just socialist liberal pinko apricots. I hope they all die.

  9. #9 cyan
    April 30, 2010

    My comment:

    We like plums and we have the ability to do this.

    So what is the reason for public comments on this matter?

    What is not in the comment: does this mean that some funds for disease research will be switched to plum virus research if the latter is okayed?

    Can’t those funds be instead come from the military budget?

    Wait, of course they could, but will they – prolly not.

    Do we really have to have no funding available for matters which are a benefit to most, even if not an immediate life-threatening matter? If I were to be able to designate what proportion of my taxes go to this or that – this would be something that I would designate.

  10. #10 Pamela Ronald
    April 30, 2010

    PZ. You are awesome. Thanks so much. I owe you a plum cake. Please let me know next time you are in davis

  11. #11 Chelydra
    April 30, 2010

    I wonder if there’s any danger to native wild plums. It seems like that would be a far greater concern than losing domestic orchards.

  12. #12 fishyfred
    April 30, 2010

    I’m guessing PZ posted this because the anti-GM food folks are nearly as bad as the anti-vax nuts. You can bet that they’ll be opposing this new plum.

  13. #13 mck9
    April 30, 2010

    Oddly, I couldn’t find a link to the document I was commenting on — just to a one-page memo authorizing the posting of the unposted document. So I found myself commenting on something I had never seen.

    That’s a peculiar way to invite public participation.

  14. #14 The Count
    April 30, 2010

    Thank you PZ. I added my comment as well.

  15. #15 ckitching
    April 30, 2010

    it’s not going to be stopped; instead, now you’re going to get GMO clones.

    Of course. Why fix a problem when you can apply a band-aid? In a few more years, we’ll have another outbreak of a similar virus/parasite/pest, and they’ll need a new GMO clone. Good business model for the GM research company, I guess.

  16. #16 Kurt1
    April 30, 2010

    I’m guessing PZ posted this because the anti-GM food folks are nearly as bad as the anti-vax nuts. You can bet that they’ll be opposing this new plum.

    too bad, they don┤t head for bankruptcy

    hmm one should announce this to the media and tell them, it could infect humans as well. the mass hysteria would be fun to watch.

  17. #17 ihateaphids
    April 30, 2010

    The aphids I studied for my phD are major vectors of this disease. Not sure if they are the PA culprit, but majorly problematic in the ol’ world.

  18. #18 Zernk
    April 30, 2010

    Agree with mck9. It’s like going into a voting booth without knowing the issues, and saying “hmmm… I guess that sounds good, so I’ll vote for it.” Dangerous move, with Orwellian names around like The Blue Skies Act.

    I’m all for plums, and all for GMO, but where is the documentation of what we’re supposed to be supporting? Maybe it’s not it. It says it’s the “Pum Pox Virus” Maybe “Pums” are Republican Mind Control Agents and we need the Pox Virus to wipe them out.

  19. #19 Ben Goren
    April 30, 2010

    My comment:

    I’m concerned about the threat of Plum Pox Virus, especially since I’m planning on planting some stone fruit in a small backyard orchard in the next year or two.

    Genetic engineering is nothing more nor less than Mendelian selection with a precision scalpel. If we are to stop this (and other) threats, we can either do it with GE, or try to breed resistant trees the old fashioned way with the same end result…except that the old fashioned way might well take many decades longer than we have.

    I know that the approval, development, and marketing process is far too slow for resistant trees to be available by the time I’ll be planting, but, should the epidemic spiral out of control, I really, really, really want to be able to re-plant with resistant trees and know they’ll be healthy and fruitful.

    Therefore, I ask you to approve the GE trees and fruit for sale.

    Sincerely,

    Ben Goren

  20. #20 Ryan F Stello
    April 30, 2010

    ihateaphids (#17),

    Exactly! The aphids have eaten your garden and they’re all so confused.

  21. #21 ned best
    April 30, 2010

    I must admit that I am confused about how you think we should exercise our public comment. Are you telling us that we should write in and insist that they approve this new plum for immediate cultivation? How on earth are we supposed to know if it is a good idea to introduce this newly engineered plant? Public opinion isn’t really be the basis upon which they decide this, is it?

  22. #22 Darren Garrison
    April 30, 2010

    It isn’t a “traditional” disease in that the plants are killed by an infectious agent. The trees are just plum tuckered out.

  23. #23 Kel, OM
    April 30, 2010

    Being afraid of genetic engineering is essentialist thinking in a non-essentialist reality. If people would learn more about how DNA works, perhaps their fears would be abated.

  24. #24 Ben Goren
    April 30, 2010

    Hmmm…PZ, it seems it might be necessary for you to do some edumacatin’ of the Pharyngulites as to what genetic engineering is and isn’t.

    I’ll also observe that, yes, monocultures are stupid and Monsanto’s aggressive tactics with its intellectual so-called property are pure evil. But neither are more than peripherally related to genetic engineering. Might as well cite those two facts to condemn the use of fertilizers.

    Cheers,

    b&


    EAC Memographer
    BAAWA Knight of Blasphemy
    “All but God can prove this sentence true.”

  25. #25 raven
    April 30, 2010

    I just wish that commercial fruit growers would stop growing all their fruit trees with clones. Unless this practice is stopped, diseases like these have the potential of destroying entire crops.

    Not very practicle or workable.

    Fruit growers use clones because seedlings don’t breed true. There is a huge variation in the F1. The vast majority of the progeny are inferior at best and many are inedible.

    Where I used to live, pear seedlings have naturalized and are something of an invasive species. Each tree/bush produces a different type of fruit. Few of them are edible and none as good as the commercial parents.

  26. #26 howard.peirce
    April 30, 2010

    “I’m all for plums, and all for GMO, but where is the documentation of what we’re supposed to be supporting?”

    Damn! — if only there were some sort of “internetwork,” or “information freeway” that could be easily searched for all sorts of public information.

    Ah, well, I’ve sent in my postcard.

  27. #27 Carlie
    April 30, 2010

    Being afraid of genetic engineering is essentialist thinking in a non-essentialist reality. If people would learn more about how DNA works, perhaps their fears would be abated.

    You know it’s more complicated than that. A gene like virus resistance in a plum? Fine. A gene for herbicide resistance? Hell of a lot more troublesome, especially if you’re growing canola and there’s a lot of garlic mustard around. One can’t simply say “good” or “bad” wholesale about genetic engineering; it depends on what genes are being introduced and to what organisms.

  28. #28 howard.peirce
    April 30, 2010

    Adding, did it ever occur to anyone that the EPA’s website just might hide the issues from the casual web surfer specifically in order to discourage public participation?

    If you were trying to limit public participation to lobbying interests with an axe to grind, hiding the documentation would be exactly the thing you’d want to do.

    It seems to me that a Pharyngulation of the EPA’s comment page might be just the thing to encourage transparency and usability.

  29. #29 Kel, OM
    April 30, 2010

    You know it’s more complicated than that.

    Well yeah.

  30. #30 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    April 30, 2010

    The sweetest, most wistful song ever written about a plum.

  31. #31 Kel, OM
    April 30, 2010

    Just to add, I’m talking about the general fear in some people over the very notion of genetically modified foods. Of course the whole situation is more complicated than that, but I still think some fear would be abated if people stopped with the notion that to genetically modify the food is to change its essence.

  32. #32 Carlie
    April 30, 2010

    I still think some fear would be abated if people stopped with the notion that to genetically modify the food is to change its essence.

    Hm, do you think this might be tied in with all the soul stuff that’s been discussed? It’s a bit of a stretch, but it’s the same kind of woo idea, isn’t it? There’s something special and unique and perfect about the “natural pure” state of the organism that is somehow tainted by scientific meddling in that way of thinking.

  33. #33 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 30, 2010

    Kel, OM:

    I’m talking about the general fear in some people over the very notion of genetically modified foods.

    Years ago, I used to get an Herb Garden magazine. It had good recipes and articles about various herbs and gardening. The very first sign of it going woo-soaked and OMGZ scary was an article on “Frankenfoods” which was woefully misinformed.

  34. #34 ned best
    April 30, 2010

    “Being afraid of genetic engineering is essentialist thinking in a non-essentialist reality. If people would learn more about how DNA works, perhaps their fears would be abated.”

    If it is as cut and dry as you suggest, why do they need an approval process? Apparently everything that has been made through genetic modification or will be made in the future is completely 100% safe.

    You have me convinced on the safety of GM, but an organism doesn’t have to be genetically engineered in order to be an environmental hazard. All over the world introduced species are wreaking havoc on ecosystems. Cane toads in the outback, zebra mussels in the great lakes, purple loostrife across North America. A little bit of study before introduction doesn’t seem like a bad thing, and frankly I can’t see what the input of people who never heard of this plum before 24hrs ago, let alone seen or touched one, contributes to the decision.

  35. #35 Cinnamonbite
    April 30, 2010

    sounds like the freak out Florida had with the citrus canker a few years ago.
    See, it makes the fruit ugly. So sad. It came this way before in the 50s and all the growers (much stronger then) made everyone rip out all their citrus. Yes, the canker stopped in it’s tracks and the growers had no competition for years. Sweet gig, if you can get it.
    This time, they tried it again and the general populace told them to blow. Then huffed and they puffed and we kept our citrus.

  36. #36 CalGeorge
    April 30, 2010

    Yuck! Why would anyone want to eat non-organic plums?

  37. #37 Ewan R
    April 30, 2010

    Good business model for the GM research company, I guess.

    If I’m not mistaken this GMO is from USDA research, and therefore I’m not certain a business model applies does it?

    As far as I know the regulatory process would likely make something like this too expensive to be worth doing commercially (possibly not) but it is great that academic/government funded research is doing this sort of thing – GMOs for the people, by the people. Or something.

    You know it’s more complicated than that. A gene like virus resistance in a plum? Fine. A gene for herbicide resistance? Hell of a lot more troublesome, especially if you’re growing canola and there’s a lot of garlic mustard around. One can’t simply say “good” or “bad” wholesale about genetic engineering; it depends on what genes are being introduced and to what organisms.

    Exactly – each GMO trait should absolutely be looked at individually on a case by case basis, blindly giving a green light to go ahead with whatever genetic modification you like (and subsequently releasing it) would be silly.

    If it is as cut and dry as you suggest, why do they need an approval process? Apparently everything that has been made through genetic modification or will be made in the future is completely 100% safe.

    Just because genetic engineering is safe doesn’t mean that everything produced by genetic engineering is safe. Herbicide resistnace traits we have so far – safe, insect resistance traits we have so far – safe, virus resistance traits so far – safe. However it would be spectacularly easy to dream up any number of traits which obviously wouldn’t be safe (like moving major allergens about, sticking cyanide production pathways into more crop plants) and others which would warrant a much closer look at than any ‘simple’ easily characterizable trait – say transcription factors which do something wonderful agronomically (but what else do they do) or some form of siRNA type change in a similar vein – each one needs to be looked at individually. However the underlying technique shouldn’t be needlessly demonized.

    Disclaimer:- I work for Monsanto, my views are my own, not theirs, yadda yadda, depending on how you swing I may or may not be completely untrustworthy because of this, and frankly I’m completely shocked that I’m not vehemently opposed to public use of GE because any and all GE that goes on should absolutely be at least partially paying for my retirement plan.

  38. #38 Logic H. Science!
    April 30, 2010

    If it is as cut and dry as you suggest, why do they need an approval process?

    Partly due to the risk of accidentally causing allergic reactions when genes from different kinds of food are mixed. In 1995 some scientists added amino acids from Brazil nuts to soybeans, and then discovered that it could cause a potentially fatal allergic reaction. Fortunately it was tested in the lab and never made it to market. Still not sure what public comment has to do with anything, but it is necessary to take safety precautions.
    (Example taken from Denialism by Michael Specter, which has a lot of interesting info about anti-GEI and anti-vax idiots among other things.)

  39. #39 Carlie
    April 30, 2010

    Yuck! Why would anyone want to eat non-organic plums?

    I find the inorganic ones difficult to digest, myself.
    ;)

  40. #40 Kel, OM
    April 30, 2010

    If it is as cut and dry as you suggest, why do they need an approval process?

    Did I suggest that it was cut and dry? No! I didn’t say anything about the process or the safety, just that the fear that some have is irrational and based on an outmoded way of thinking.

    Apparently everything that has been made through genetic modification or will be made in the future is completely 100% safe.

    Apparently if you point out that there’s an irrational aspect to the rejection of GM crops, it means that genetically modifying anything is always good. Like if you think that the fear of vaccinations is unfounded, giving a child 900 vaccines in a row is safe.

    Seriously, got straw-man?

  41. #41 John Morales
    April 30, 2010

    Logic H. Science!,

    Still not sure what public comment has to do with anything

    Probably a procedural requirement.

    (Not as bad as in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where the public notification and plans for the highway bypass proposal which resulted in Arthur’s house being demolished were in an unlabeled folder in a locked file cabinet in a disused bathroom in the lightless, stairless basement of the Town Planning Department.)

  42. #42 Kel, OM
    April 30, 2010

    Apparently everything that has been made through genetic modification or will be made in the future is completely 100% safe.

    Your argument is suffering from the idea that if something should generally be considered safe that it must in all circumstances be safe. This is exactly the same tactic that anti-vaxxers use to argue against vaccinations. That if I can’t recognise that 900 vaccines in a row is bad, then I shouldn’t say that one vaccination is safe. I would argue that vaccinations are safe. This doesn’t mean that every vaccination ever made, tested or untested and no matter the dosage, is going to be safe purely by the virtue of it being a vaccine. It also doesn’t mean that every vaccine considered safe won’t have people who have an adverse reaction to it. The word safe doesn’t mean infallible.

    Yet with so much as suggesting that genetic engineering fears are in part caused by essentialist thinking (i.e. how could they put fish genes into rice?), it must mean that no matter what one does under the words genetic engineering it should be considered absolutely 100% free from any negative consequences. My suggestion was about the gut reflex that many have who know next to nothing about biology who rally against GM are doing so out of a particular way the mind works. What’s wrong with that?

  43. #43 ckitching
    April 30, 2010

    I find the inorganic ones difficult to digest, myself.

    Typical carbon-centric thinking!

  44. #44 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    April 30, 2010

    To oppose a GM crop merely because it is GM is simply ignorant. The DNA in the cell never makes it past your saliva. What matters is what the DNA does. Thus, you can genetically engineer very harmful organisms just as you can come up with astoundingly useful ones.

    The risks are the same as with the introduction of any new crop or organism–you need to ensure it will not run out of control and that any genetic advantages in the crop will not lead to super weeds and the like.

  45. #45 Ewan R
    April 30, 2010

    The risks are the same as with the introduction of any new crop or organism

    Not quite, I think that the risks are closer to the release of a new variety of a species already used, rather than the release of a completely new species. These things arent that vastly different.

    genetic advantages in the crop will not lead to super weeds and the like

    This could also be a tad misleading – obviously you don’t want genes conferring some ridiculous advantage crossing into weeds, but some things, like herbicide resistance traits, have an almost inevitability of leading to resistant weeds somewhere down the line (just as use of any given herbicide will to be perfectly fair) – although to call these ‘superweeds’ is taking things a tad far methinks – if a weed is only a ‘superweed’ with respects to the method of control being applied, then it makes no real difference (as far as I can see) if you don’t ever use the method of control so as to never see the resistance. (I think that perhaps tracks better in my head than written down, but whatever)

  46. #46 ned best
    April 30, 2010

    “Your argument is suffering from the idea that if something should generally be considered safe that it must in all circumstances be safe. ”

    I don’t think that at all. I just think that the process involved in approving its introduction shouldn’t be based on whether more people demanding cheap jam write in than those that fear some plum/pig hybrids will turn on us.

  47. #47 Kel, OM
    April 30, 2010

    I don’t think that at all.

    Then why did you argue that? I quote: “Apparently everything that has been made through genetic modification or will be made in the future is completely 100% safe.”

  48. #48 phoenixwoman
    April 30, 2010

    Quick O/T, but here’s something we can all get behind — helping poor kids study math and science:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/4/30/862339/-UPDATED-w-Teachers-Thanks!-These-kids-dont-even-have-PENCILS.

  49. #49 Basset_Fan
    April 30, 2010

    Science? Bah! Humbug! It’s not the science, it’s the religion.

    Here in Hawai`i GMO Taro has been banned because some native Hawaiians believe they descended from the Taro plant.

    ?It is no small matter when an indigenous people share the importance of their traditional knowledge and genealogy, and the dominant culture refuses to listen. This is the time when we are making it perfectly clear that there is a kapu [ban] placed on all genetic modifications and patenting of our genealogical brother the taro. There should be limits to academic research when it conflicts with indigenous culture. No one can own our traditional knowledge, intellectual property rights or our biodiversity.?

    - Walter Ritte, Native Hawaiian of Moloka’i

  50. #50 ned best
    April 30, 2010

    First off, I should apologize. I directed a comment at you specifically which really should have been addressed generally. I was a bit annoyed by the way approval of the introduction of a new organism is treated like an internet poll to be gamed, and along with that is a belittling as delusional conspiracy theorists people who think caution is warranted. Unless the risk of unintended consequences is so negligible that it is irrational to worry about it, I think we can agree there is a purpose to having an approval process. (or perhaps we can’t, I don’t want to assume) so shouldn’t that approval process be based on science rather than how many people with no knowledge of this specific organism write in saying they like plum jam?

    Once again sorry this was directed at you,

  51. #51 Kel, OM
    April 30, 2010

    . I was a bit annoyed by the way approval of the introduction of a new organism is treated like an internet poll to be gamed, and along with that is a belittling as delusional conspiracy theorists people who think caution is warranted.

    To my mind, the fact that they are asking for public submissions instead of treating it as a scientific issue is only asking for those who suffer from severe Dunning Kruger to put their misinformed opinion out there.

    The problem with GM crops is never that it’s a look at the efficacy of a particular crop. It’s that the very notion of GM puts people off. Where there’s public comment, the fight is against ignorance and revulsion. And for that, having pro-science types (who hopefully know enough to comment on it) really should be making their voices heard. A lot of people read this site, making the possibility to comment and counteract the ignorance that is undoubtedly going to come when issues like this are put into the public arena.

  52. #52 ned best
    April 30, 2010

    First off, I will admit not being particularly schooled in GMO issues, and so when I ask this, I am not being snarky, but generally want to know.

    Does the fact that you are scientifically literate mean that you know anything about the introduction of this particular plant. Is it really possible to say’ “there is so little to be concerned about with the introduction of GMOs, that even though I know nothing beyond the fact that this plant is a genetically engineered plum tree, I can state it can be safely introduced without any concern for unintended consequences.”?

  53. #53 PZ Myers
    April 30, 2010

    The decisions about this are made with input from scientists, but also with an opportunity for the public to comment — which is a good thing. Don’t be suspicious, say what you think!

    I was careful not to simply tell you to go leave a note saying “full steam ahead”, even though I favor the reasonable use of GM plants, because this isn’t simply poll-crashing: this is stuff that matters. Give your serious opinion on the matter. I’m trusting the commenters here not to be knee-jerk whatevers, in whatever direction, but to actually say something that policy-makers find useful.

  54. #54 Kel, OM
    May 1, 2010

    Does the fact that you are scientifically literate mean that you know anything about the introduction of this particular plant.

    It does not. But it might mean that you know enough about how it works to explain it and counter some of the misconceptions that people have.

    Is it really possible to say’ “there is so little to be concerned about with the introduction of GMOs, that even though I know nothing beyond the fact that this plant is a genetically engineered plum tree, I can state it can be safely introduced without any concern for unintended consequences.”?

    Are you arguing anything more than a caricature here? What are the kind of comments that you think people are making? Or are you merely concerned that pro-science types in the 21st century would be so careless as to advocate introduction of a species without looking at environmental impact?

  55. #55 ned best
    May 1, 2010

    I think I’m probably more guilty of confusing the way the world is run with the way I think it should be run. I’m perhaps making the assumption that the body that makes the assessment is made up of scientists and people who are literate in the issues and wouldn’t need to be told to use rational criteria in making their decisions, but that is perhaps naive. They could very well have gone to school in texas.

  56. #56 FrankT
    May 1, 2010

    I think if the pox affects peaches and plums equally, that the use of clonal plums is not the primary culprit.

    That being said, I can’t get it to let me comment. It may have to do with me being in Czech Republic.

  57. #57 https://me.yahoo.com/a/G_DrX4w61J9Hbc10sKw77Ui7Sih6JAwbn_Q-#dabcc
    May 1, 2010

    I worry more about ownership of GM seeds. Great, introduce the virus resistant strain. For me, the problem begins when the corporations that own the patent sue growers whose crops have been invaded by the modified species.

  58. #58 Sclerophanax
    May 1, 2010

    FrankT, after a bit of googling I found that the strain in question (D) infects plums, apricots and peaches. Also, it seems people on our side of the Atlantic aren’t allowed to comment.

  59. #59 Kel, OM
    May 1, 2010

    I worry more about ownership of GM seeds. Great, introduce the virus resistant strain. For me, the problem begins when the corporations that own the patent sue growers whose crops have been invaded by the modified species.

    That’s an interesting point. I wonder how that would legally play out.

  60. #60 scanadensis
    May 1, 2010

    I’m not afraid of GMOs in a biological sense. I’m afraid of GMOs in a sense that companies like Monstanto are pure evil and sue small farmers if cross pollination just so happens to occur. When GMOs come into the picture, copyright somehow comes into the picture too. Suddenly, living things have patents and copyrights. There is something very wrong with that, and those wronged by Monsanto could tell you that.

  61. #61 va.terrero
    May 1, 2010

    ZOMG Zombie Plants! I take what I can get, ok?!

  62. #62 MadScientist
    May 1, 2010

    Goddamn, too late.

    What a stupid policy – why should luddites have a say in whether or not the plant is approved for production for consumption? There are too many ignorant people out there who whine about genetically engineered plants and make all sorts of ridiculous claims. If anything the government should just demand that the products be labelled – I’ll go for the cheap edible stuff and other folks can go for the super-expensive organic non-GMO grower-friendly environmentally friendly sustainable earth saving products.

  63. #63 Pierce R. Butler
    May 1, 2010

    Just don’t overfeed your draft animals, and you won’t have to worry about any virus that attacks plump oxen.

  64. #64 arakrys
    May 1, 2010

    For those who want to at least know what this is about before pharyngulating this ‘poll’.

    U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service; Availability of Petition and Environmental Assessment for Determination of Nonregulated Status for Plum Genetically Engineered for Resistance to Plum Pox
    says “As described in the petition, the C5 plum has been genetically engineered with a sequence from the PPV. This sequence was derived from the viral coat protein gene. The resistance to plum pox infection appears to be conferred through post transcriptional gene silencing. As a result of this mechanism, no detectable viral coat protein is found in the subject plum.”

    The ‘luddites’ -as MadScientist calls them to conveniently ignore any argument- say:
    “The second event is the submission of the first application in ten years for USDA/EPA approval of a transgenic virus-resistant plant: a plum resistant to plum pox virus (designated the C5 or Honeysweet plum). This plum contains and expresses a full-length gene for plum pox virus coat protein (Petition 04-26401p).” and then they proceed to quote people who worry about the genes allowing the formation of new viruses.
    Link to GMwatch

  65. #65 arakrys
    May 1, 2010

    #19 Ben Goren “Genetic engineering is nothing more nor less than Mendelian selection with a precision scalpel.”

    Obviously not. See the comments on I’m a starry-eyed techno-utopian, and proud of it for details.

  66. #66 CalGeorge
    May 1, 2010

    “I’m afraid of GMOs in a sense that companies like Monstanto are pure evil and sue small farmers if cross pollination just so happens to occur.”

    Exactly. Screwing around with plums means screwing small farmers.

  67. #67 Ewan R
    May 1, 2010

    “I’m afraid of GMOs in a sense that companies like Monstanto are pure evil and sue small farmers if cross pollination just so happens to occur.”

    Exactly. Screwing around with plums means screwing small farmers.

    1. Monsanto doesn’t sue if cross pollination just happens to occur. (there’s a discussion on ‘the thread’ about this, which may be a better place to maintain it if people insist on that line of reasoning here…)

    2. This transgenic was developed by the USDA, so even if Monsanto does go around eating farmers babies this has absolutely nothing at all to do with this. Screwing around with plums, in this case, means that small farmers can grow plums with one source of crop devastation removed. I’m sure that screws them over somehow, I just can’t quite figure out how.

    Arakrys – suffice to say quoting GMwatch is not unlike quoting AoA in a debate on autism. Also keeping in mind the linked document, in truly luddite fashion, calls for an absolute blanket ban on the use of viral coat protein transgenics, rather than what is a far more sensible approach of looking at them on a case by case basis – as is occuring with the plum in question.

  68. #68 arakrys
    May 1, 2010

    #67 Ewan R
    “Arakrys – suffice to say quoting GMwatch is not unlike quoting AoA in a debate on autism”

    Could you please clarify this, I don’t see the link.

  69. #69 Bert Chadick
    May 1, 2010

    Screw the plumbs. Save the peaches and nectarines!

  70. #70 MadScientist
    May 1, 2010

    @Bert #69: Nectarines? I prefer my peaches as Evolution created them – hairy.

  71. #71 scanadensis
    May 2, 2010

    “1. Monsanto doesn’t sue if cross pollination just happens to occur. (there’s a discussion on ‘the thread’ about this, which may be a better place to maintain it if people insist on that line of reasoning here…)”

    Yeah, I guess all the cases where that really, actually happened are just fairy tales huh? Silly me, believing stories from the farmers mouths. Silly me for believing stories from small farmers I know personally. I’ll go sit in the corner as punishment while you guys argue over it on the internet. I’m sure you’re right, and you’re not involved with farming in any way, so it doesn’t matter anyway right? :)

  72. #72 Ewan R
    May 2, 2010

    scanadensis – which cases? I haven’t heard of any cases where cross pollination has led to lawsuits – saving of seed, or the deliberate selection for and saving of seed which appear on the property initially accidentally are, as far as I am aware, the only cases where lawsuits have actually been filed. I’d be interested to hear however if you have other details on actual cases where cross pollination hs resulted in a lawsuit – rather than just rumour mongering.

    And as I’m pretty sure I made clear earlier in this thread – I am involved in farming – working for Monsanto as I do.

    Arakrys – to clarify – AoA is a site full of pseudoscientific nonsense and mysticism surrounding the “link” between autism and vaccines which completely ignores or denies the proven positive aspects of vaccines. GMwatch pretty much does the same but with the GMOs rather than vaccines – promoting dubious, bad, or non-peer reviewed science (and making unwarranted claims from peer reviewed literature) and promoting ideas which are clearly at odds with reality (and the peer reviewed literature)

  73. #73 arakrys
    May 2, 2010

    #72 I totally disagree with your assessment of GM Watch.

    Yes, they have a POV and they will likely approach GM critically in every case. Which is their niche, and there’s plenty of onesided propaganda from the pro-GM side.
    And I’ve seen them return to the same news item very often with very similar news, which can get a bit annoying.

    But they do have a clue, that’s one difference, and what’s more important, they are willing to adapt their opinion when information calls for it. I know because I’ve asked them to adapt introductions to one or two articles, and they did.
    (This in stark contrast with pro-GM channel AgBioView who repeat lies even after being informed)

    So you cannot brush them away as being similar to the AoA, Ewan, even if you would very much like to.
    “promoting dubious, bad, or non-peer reviewed science”
    Call them on it, see what happens. They are mostly a news collecting channel, so with every article you can decide whether you like it or not.
    Non-peer reviewed: that’s what your companies’ crops are judged on, so that’s not something I would expect to hear from you.

  74. #74 Ewan R
    May 3, 2010

    Arakrys – yeah, I’m going to guess calling them on supporting Seralini will get me exactly nowhere – just like calling AoA on supporting Wakefield (although obviously the needlessly poor manipulation of data doesn’t even remotely equate to needlessly performing colonoscopies on kids..)
    they also seem to still be on the whole “bee” thing, despite there being absolutely no evidence that GM crops are anythign to do with declining bee populations
    Perhaps I’m letting my pro-GM fervor get me slightly hyperbolic on GM-watch, but I’m not wholly convinced.

    Re: Non-peer reviewed science being what monsanto (or any GM)crops are judged on. Not really. The whole regulatory process is a peer review process. It’s not necessarily published to the public, but being published to the public isn’t what peer review is about – sure there is a sort of informal extended peer review process once an article gets published in the peer reviewed literature – but by this point it is already peer reviewed, formally – which happens to all the data around GM crops.

  75. #75 arakrys
    May 3, 2010

    Ewan R ” but being published to the public isn’t what peer review is about”

    Uhm… right. I suppose GMWatch has a secret review process as well.

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