Friday, January 04, 2013

Another Turnaround

Patrick Moore of Greenpeace changed his mind on nuclear power, and now Mark Lynas is changing his on genetically-modified foods:
But Lynas has changed his mind—and he’s not being quiet about it. On Thursday at the Oxford Farming Conference, Lynas delivered a blunt address: He got GMOs wrong. According to the version of his remarks posted online (as yet, there’s no video or transcript of the actual delivery), he opened with a bang:
I want to start with some apologies. For the record, here and upfront, I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.
As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counter-productive path. I now regret it completely.
DDT isn't the evil it was supposed to be, but Rachel Carson is dead and can't apologize to the millions of malaria victims she helped kill.

What's the next leftie totem to fall?

Update, 1/6/12:  I guess we have our answer:
The state’s Health Department found in an analysis it prepared early last year that the much-debated drilling technology known as hydrofracking could be conducted safely in New York, according to a copy obtained by The New York Times from an expert who did not believe it should be kept secret.


allen (in Michigan) said...

Hard to say.

It could be the whole greenie-weenie movement. There are quite a bit in the way of strains there - the left has to carefully ignore or carefully misrepresent the state of enviro-politics outside the U.S. and Europe.

It might be public education. Here in the U.S. the public education system's is under a sustained assault such as has never been seen before and the system is fracturing on an almost daily basis with no reason to hope for a turnaround in public sentiment.

A collapse of support for market-interference is building with quite a number of third world nations looking to knock down tariff barriers to help get out from under the deadening hand of the foreign aid money of the richer countries.

Support for socialized medicine is eroding as its cost, inefficiency and brutality become harder to ignore. Canada, England and German, to name three, have begun to snip delicately around the margins of their socialized medicine systems. I think more's to follow.

There are actually quite a few candidate.

mmazenko said...

Yes, and when Monsanto sues independent farmers and literally takes their farms for "using GMO patented seeds" without permission after they were cross-polinated from nearby farms. That's just peachy. Wonderful use of the "free market."

Anonymous said...

Next totem? Here you go:

Darren said...

Mazenko, are you just throwing something against the wall hoping it will stick? I agree with you that Monsanto's conduct is deplorable, but that has *nothing* to do with this particular post.

You don't like Monsanto, but you *do* like government? When Monsanto does something you don't like, you can appeal to the government for help (through laws or courts). You're screwed when government does what you don't like.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Monsanto's conduct deplorable? What would you have Monsanto do? Not defend the commercially-valuable technology it developed at considerable expense? Care to try to make a cogent case for that course of action?

Also, Monsanto's actions aren't based on the free market but on the coercive power of government which, in other circumstances, you find so laudable. The patent system is, after all, nothing more then a temporary, government-conferred monopoly so maybe we need a finer distinction between applications of government coercion.

Of course I know what that "finer distinction" is and it's not particularly defensible by people who consider themselves adults. After all, what rationale can you construct for the use of the brutal power of government to suppress anything you don't like and require everything you do like?

There is no possible rationale to justify that sort of narcissism so the world's treated to an endless series of seemingly worthwhile explanations that, upon any close examination, fall apart. So they're defended by name-calling, insults and a careful ignoring of the evidence. Like the fact that all socialist solutions fail, many fail immediately and quite a few end up failing by harming those they were ostensibly enacted to help.

Darren said...

Allen, I won't defend Monsanto's conduct here. If you play your concert so loud that I hear it in my house, you then shouldn't be able to then try to charge me for a concert ticket (with all of Ticketmaster's deplorable fees!). Likewise, if the winds take Monsanto's seeds and blow them onto my fields, it's not *my* fault. They should prevent their seeds from getting to *my* fields.

But again, that's not the topic of this post. So-called Frankenfoods is the topic, and there's nothing wrong with them. How many more children must go blind before Golden Rice can be grown, shipped, and eaten?

Ellen K said...

AGW is going the way of the ZPG moguls of the 1980's. Remember the dire threats that we would be living in multi-story rabbit warrens and suffering from famines? While the recent drought is certainly hurting domestic food prices, much of that would have been alleviated had the Feds not continued the corn ethanol program and refused access to that corn for livestock feed even at the falsely propped up higher prices.

Dean Baird said...

Anti-GMO is not a "leftie totem", it's an anti-science totem, up there with creationism, anti-vax, and climate change denialism. Those totems are falling under the weight of facts and science, too. They can't fall soon enough as far as I'm concerned.

I voted against CA Prop. 37 and was happy to see it defeated.

Good to know you don't think of me as a leftie!

Darren said...

I don't see the anti-GMO crowd at the local right-wing meetings, so yes, they're leftie.

allen (in Michigan) said...

It would seem to me that the topic of the post is encapsulated in the last line of the post and that opens up considerations of the fate of all leftie totems, market interference included.

Also, your analogy is inaccurate.

If you sue the concert venue for damages resulting from too loud music you've got a legitimate cause of action. But if you put up bleachers and charge for admission to your property so you can benefit who's the injured party?

But even my modification of your example's inexact.

The patent system confers a monopoly, albeit temporary, for the developers of intellectual property which is enforced via the legal system. Monsanto has a temporary monopoly not on the seeds they sell but on the intellectual property that allows for the creation of those seeds. That monopoly confers a right to reclaim damages from infringers and where the terms of that right are determined is in the courts. It's the applicable law and precedent that provides the framework for those determinations not the complaint of a lack of fairness.

Does the applicable law and precedent provide support for the belief that the direction of the wind vitiates Monsanto's right to defend its intellectual property? I don't know but your position seems to be that the direction of the wind should be an absolute barrier against even exploring the question. I have a feeling the shareholders of Monsanto, to whom Monsanto has an ethical duty to produce profits, would disagree.

Oh, and Dean? Of course you're a leftie. The smirky self-congratulation of your deep cleverness at conflating creationism, anti-vaxxers and skepticism at the political movement known as anthropogenic global warming labels you a lefty more certainly then having "lefty" tattooed across your forehead.

Mike Thiac said...

Speaking of meetings Darren, the annual dues for the VRWC are due. :<)

Darren said...

Monsanto can protect its property. If it allows its property to grow on my land then it's *my* property--or at least they should clean up *their* mess on *my* land and compensate me for the trouble. They have a patent on the product, but *I* am not required to protect that patent.

I still think my concert example is entirely applicable.

allen (in Michigan) said...

You're not required to protect the patent. That's Monsanto's job which is what it's doing when it sues farmers who benefit by the direction of the wind.

Determining whether Monsanto has a worthwhile case is the reason they're going to court and judging by the eagerness with which the defendants are to come to terms Monsanto does have a good case. After all, if a money-filled bag falls out of an armored truck right at your feet - even onto your property - the money's not yours. Finders, keepers may work for kids but in the all-grown up world it doesn't.

maxutils said...

Allen, you raise interesting points. As per the concert analogy . .. I think either action would have merit. Someone who didn't enjoy music might see this as a detriment to property values, and have a legit case. Someone like me, on the other hand, who loves music enought to tolerate the bad acts and enjoy the good ones, might see it as a benefit -- and if I were to charge people to enter my own property and enjoy, The ampitheater would not have a legit claim against me. They could install sound buffers, or play less loud. In the Bay Area, where I grew up, the city of Mt. View allowed Bill Graham to build an ampitheater that would have exactly that problem: so, they negotiated, agreeing to a curfew, and to allow Mt. View residents first crack at tickets. In the Monsanto case, if they are not capable of confining their seeds to their lands, I agree with Darren: that is no fault of the farmer who inadvertantly receives benefits. They may have standing to sue, but I would hope it is thrown out early. The armored car case is entirely different: a dropped monnd an honest person should bag is an accident, and an honest person should be expected to return it. In the case of Monsanto, they are seeding land and have a reasonable expectation of can happen. If they don't want to have spillover, they should take steps to avoid it: buy up adjacent land;come up with a new seed delivery system.

maxutils said...

I also voted against prop 37.

Dean Baird said...

Oh Allen, don't hate me because I'm brilliant. Hate me because I'm beautiful!

I did indeed opine in a comment to a political blog. We should mark the calendar and celebrate the anniversary of this ground-breaking innovation.

The totem that is the GOP has fallen into complete irrelevance here in beautiful California. And California IS a national trendsetter, so it's just a matter of time before the GOP joins the Whigs in the graveyard of political parties.

dean (who was happy to leave Michigan to live in California)