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Picking the web

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What is with the automotive advertising lately on TV? It seems that every scene is of some SUV (even the more politically correct brands) are shown raising dust in four wheel slides. On the beach, in the parking lot or on country roads each car is depicted in a full out controlled skid. No caption saying "Don't try this at home!" The message is simply drive like a fool and ignore any consequence. I'm wondering how many lives the ill- considered advertising is going to cost society.

I occasionally click on the World Wide Web offering of an outfit that calls themselves the "Nation of Change." They are a green outfit promoting an environmentally sound, whatever that is, agenda and have a strong hatred for Monsanto, the international Ag related mega-corporation. To them Monsanto is pure evil. Gleefully Nation of Change reports that a Brazilian court has ruled that Monsanto has to pay back "the exorbitant amounts of cash" that the company has collected from farmers (presumably Brazilian farmers) since 2004. The total cost could amount to 15 billion reais or some $7.5 billion in American dollars.

Untold is the story within the story. Monsanto is a pioneer in the development of new and improved varieties of agriculture crops and the various chemicals currently used in crop production. They have learned how to manipulate genetic plant material so that the resulting seeds, and crop, become resistant to chemicals used for weed control. For instance in this area, most corn and soybeans planted are "round-up ready'. The result is that the farmer sprays the crop with round-up herbicide and all the weeds die leaving the corn or beans unscathed.

It is cheaper, more fuel efficient and preserves soil moisture over mechanical tillage methods. Now hybrid corn is not a problem as when seed is saved back from harvest and planted next season, the plants do not retain the hybrid vigor that produced the great yields the prior year. Soybeans are another matter and the saved back seed retains all the characteristics of high yielding crop of the prior year. Monsanto has patented their soybean seed varieties so when the farmer plants the seed that he grew the year prior Monsanto collects a royalty to pay for the costs of research that produced that GMO variety in the first place.

That is the way it works and that requirement is printed on every bag of seed that the farmer buys. In Brazil however a court has decided that Monsanto's patent no longer counts after 2004. That court decreed that the royalties, understood by the dealer that sold the seed and the farmer that purchased it, that Monsanto collected since then are actually taxes and must be paid back.

Lots of luck with that dumb-headed decision. Brazil is not alone. Monsanto is subject to a proliferation of lawsuits in America, also. Some people tend to be anti-everything and bureaucrats stand in line to find another facet of life to regulate. The antis produce nothing and stand ready to hinder progress at every step. Sadly the antis have been winning as of late.

For the greens, Genetically Modified Organisms or GMO is a terrible thing. They can conjure up all sorts of reasons why GMO crops should be banned. All the crops that feed the world have in reality been genetically modified over the thousands of years since mankind has learned to do agriculture. Corn for example was originally a tall grass in Mexico, modern name teosinte. Over the past six thousand year Indians (Oops that is "Native Americans") selected characteristics in those to be corn plants and planted carefully selected seeds to repeat those favorable characteristics. By systematic selection the plants grew in stature, developed multi-seeded ears, and through cross breeding produced the high yielding hybrids that I planted while farming twenty some years ago. Modern GMO hybrids are vastly improved since then.

To insert a new characteristic into a corn plant takes about 25 years using natural selection. With GMO a characteristic can be inserted and breed true in a five year time period. Better crops to feed an ever expanding world population yet the greens have to be against something--anything.

These anti-GMO people are of course the same people that push natural foods, organic, free range with about their latest huge effort gluten free products. They are in a big way against any sort of chemical fertilizer or man made herbicide or insecticide but I've noticed that in the display case they invariably pick over the fruit or vegetables that show any insect damage for the unblemished article that is produced by synthetic insecticides. Do as I say do, not as I do!

In closing I pass along a little snippet that I picked off the web recently. The author writes: "I'm not concerned that men can marry men or that women can marry women. Let all the women that abort their babies for any frivolous reason abort. In about three generations there won't be any more Liberal Democrats left!" Author unknown but she has a good point!

That is the way I saw it.

Dick Trail

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Dick Trail
The Way I Saw It