Sunday, March 22, 2015

"Arctic" apples could be better than organics

After years of research and extensive field testing, the Okanagan’s own GMO apple is going to the big leagues.

Genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) are routinely attacked by urban organic activists in spite of the fact that not a single ailment has ever been linked to this technology. And now, as a testament to the baselessness of such attacks, the rights to the GMO Arctic Apple have been purchased by the U.S. biotechnology company Intrexon (owners of GMO salmon), for the princely sum of $41 million.

This acquisition stands as a textbook example of how to stand up to organic activists.

Rather than compromise, Neal Carter, the Summerland developer of this non-browning apple, stood firm as organic activists claimed falsely that a GMO apple threatened organic orchards. The only question that remains is whether the organic industry will take former U.S. president Bill Clinton’s advice from 1997 and include the Arctic Apple in organic production.

Unlike some GMO crops that incorporate pesticides, the GMO Arctic Apple could, in theory, be grown under organic management with composted fertilizer and holistic pest management, according to the original version of the world’s most-widely adopted organic standards – the USDA National Organic Program.

I grew up on an organic farm and worked for five years as a USDA-contract organic inspector. I left when the organic movement became a bureaucratic scam designed to propel an anti-GMO, anti-scientific political agenda.

I still support the true principles of organic production. But with three-quarters of organic food being imported from countries like China, and with 46 per cent testing positive for prohibited pesticides — pesticides that do cause harm and can lead to death — it has long been my position that the organic industry has a massive problem on its hands, a problem that has nothing whatsoever to do with GMOs.

Organic crops are not tested. Record-keeping and record-checking are all that’s required to get a crop certified.

Imagine if we quit testing athletes at the Olympics. Do you think maybe athletes might take this as a licence to cheat? This is how the anti-GMO organic industry runs.

No wonder multimillionaire organic execs like John Mackey (Whole Foods) and tax-subsidized activists like Ronnie Cummins (The Organic Consumers Association) pretend GMOs threaten organic farms. By maligning this field of science, they’ve carved-out a sizable niche for themselves, giving consumers the false hope that they’re eating a better diet when they purchase premium-priced, certified-organic food, all based on the fact that it’s non-GMO.

The reality is quite the opposite.

The lack of organic field testing not only results in 46 per cent of organic food testing positive for prohibited pesticides, but also in un-composted fecal matter making its way into the organic food chain.

As Carter and his new corporate masters at Intrexon will surely attest, this causes serious illness, and can lead to death. How is this “organic” exactly?

GMO Golden Rice, papaya and brinjal are all examples of non-proprietary (no patent) GMO crops that could be grown organically. The time is long overdue for the organic industry to follow Clinton’s advice and embrace GMOs. And what better place to start than with Carter’s GMO Arctic Apple?

By standing up to organic “pseudo-science and naysaying fearmongers,” Carter proves that when the enemies of science can’t beat you, they might someday be forced to join you.


Waiting for a Guardian outcry

So, in the wake of Pielke Jr's comment yesterday, we know that Kerry Emanuel has been citing a paper without disclosing that he had been involved in its preparation. We know that the paper was commissioned and paid for by green billionaire Tom Steyer.

The question that now springs to mind is whether Emanuel has disclosed this activist cash in his academic work; in the wake of the recent rumpus over Willie Soon's papers, readers will recall that environmentalists are very keen that such disclosures are made.

Emanuel has disclosed in one of his papers that his own business, WindRiskTech, is involved in the same line of work:

"Conflict of interest statement: The technique used here to estimate the level of tropical cyclone activity in CMIP5-generation climate models is also used by a firm, WindRiskTech LLC, in which the author has a financial interest. That firm applies the technique to estimate tropical cyclone risk for various clients."

However, the argument made about Willie Soon's COI disclosures was that all of his papers should disclose his funding from an oil company, whether directly connected or not. So in this case I feel certain that environmental activists will be loudly condemning Emanuel's failure to disclose Emanuel's income stream from a green billionaire.

No? Why ever not?


Building a crony capitalist society

A few days ago I noted the comments of the UNFCCC's Christiana Figueres about the UN's desire to transform the basis of daily economic life:

"This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for the, at least, 150 years, since the industrial revolution."

I couldn't help but think of this when considering a couple of developments on the underground coal gasification front over the weekend. Firstly was the news that a successful UCG pilot plant in Queensland is to be closed down after legislators decided that they didn't want to deal with the flak from environmentalists. The second is the vigorous attempts by greens to prevent UCG getting off the ground in Scotland, with enormous pressure being applied to Holyrood politicians to slam on the brakes.

This is very much a transformation of the economic development model that has been reigning for 150 years. For most of that time, if you wanted to start a new industrial business you started it. Now it is necessary to suck up to politicians and to buy off the environmentalists first. Free markets are replaced by crony capitalism and protection rackets.

You can see why UN bureaucrats would be in favour.


No wonder the British Greens are in a mess over economics

By Tim Worstall

Molly Scott Cato is their leading economist.  Hear her:

"Most important, she would not be focusing the narrative of her budget around the deficit. We believe that austerity is a political project, designed to reinforce the power of financial and corporate elites, and achieve the long-held ambition of those on the right in politics of bringing about the shrinking of the state. Closing the deficit is not our prime economic objective; the important thing is to build a more equal and ecologically sustainable economy. We would balance the current account over time, but are prepared to borrow to invest".

Molly Scott Cato apparently doesn’t know the difference between the current account (trade related) and the deficit (government budget related).



Federal land regulation continues to strangle energy production

Federal land ownership in the United States continues to grow despite the federal government already owning more than half of most of the western states. While some have been advocating for the return of this land to the states or protect it from being closed off from oil and gas operations, the Obama Administration has worked just as hard to increase the federal government’s land grab. Contrast:  As President Bush’s second term as president was coming to an end, 4 million acres of land in Alaska was released by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for drilling and exploration. Seven years later, President Obama has proposed to set aside 12 million acres in Alaska, designating it as “wilderness” and off-limits to up to 42 billion barrels of oil.

Most recently, the Obama administration has proposed the largest critical habitat designation ever, setting aside 226 million acres of ocean off Alaska’s coastline (an area twice the size of California) to protect the Arctic ringed seals who were listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act in 2012 after environmental activists petitioned the Obama administration.

Even though NOAA says that oil and gas activities have occurred in areas with protected species in the past, designating these Alaskan waters as a critical habitat would mean that all oil and gas activity would have to be evaluated based on how much it would impact ringed seals. Alaska’s outer continental shelf is considered to be one of the world’s largest untapped oil and gas reserves boasting as much as 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Other federal lands expansion that slipped into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would add 250,000 acres of new wilderness in western states and put thousands more acres off limits to drilling and mining in states.

In 2011, the U.S. Forest Service originally tried to ban fracking in the 1 million acre George Washington National Forest, but failed. It would have been the first outright ban on the practice in a national forest.

Much of the land targeted for government takeover holds great oil and natural gas resources which could provide jobs in the energy industry and a flow of resources from our own American supply. Once those lands become “monuments,” access to those natural resources is limited and in the hands of the federal government. The government currently owns 650 million acres, or 29 percent of the nation’s total land.

The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 and the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA). The Omnibus bill was passed with over 100 land grab measures. The NREPA included federal takeover of nearly 24 million acres of land in the American west and northwest; however, NREPA never made it out of the House subcommittee.

The ability of the White House to simply snatch land from under the feet of the American people comes from the Antiquities Act of 1906. The Act was initially intended to set aside small portions of land for monuments and national parks, but has since been abused by lawmakers to control large quantities of property. Federal government land control and land acquisition takes away opportunities for development, particularly when it comes to much needed energy resources. The land designated as “monument” space could have created jobs, boosted the economy and enhanced our energy security.


Florida  State employee banned for uttering ‘climate change’  -- contrary to instuctions

A Florida state employee has been reprimanded and told not to come to work after Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) administration banned the use of the terms “climate change” and “global warming.”

Earlier this month, reports said that officials in the Scott administration ordered Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) administrators not to use the terms in documents or meetings because they asserted that the climate science behind global warming was not a “true fact.”

According to the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Scott’s ban claimed its first victim earlier this month.

A press release from PEER said that Barton Bibler, who works as DEP Land Management Plan Coordinator, had attended a Florida Coastal Managers Forum and took notes when attendees discussed climate change.

“Mr. Bibler’s official notes on this meeting reflected all of that discussion. He was directed to remove any hot button issues, especially explicit references to climate change, and then was given a letter of reprimand for supposedly misrepresenting that the ‘official meeting agenda included climate change,’” the statement noted. “As he was given the reprimand on March 9th, Mr. Bibler was told to not return to work for two days which would be charged against his personal leave time.”

Before he was allowed to return to work, DEP required that that Bibler’s doctor complete a “Medical Release Form,” and evaluate him for an unspecified “medical condition and behavior.”

“Bart Bibler has fallen through a professional looking glass in a Florida where the words ‘climate change’ may not be uttered, or even worse, written down,” PEER Director Jerry Phillips explained. “If anyone needs mental health screening it is Governor Rick Scott and other officials telling state workers to pretend that climate change and sea-level rise do not exist.”

PEER has called on the DEP Office of Inspector General to investigate the department for mishandling Bibler’s reprimand.

“Not just the employees but the citizens of Florida should demand a full investigation into what the heck is going on inside DEP and whether we can expect more cases like this,” Phillips insisted. “Under Governor Scott, the Department of Environmental Protection functions like a gulag where those in servitude who show any spark of honesty are simply made to disappear.”

It was not immediately clear when, if ever, Bibler would be allowed to return to work.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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