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« Preparing the ground | Main | A civil liberties post »
Monday
Mar212011

More unintended consequences

An excellent article in the Guardian, looking at the effects of misguided greenery on poor people, and in particular how scaremongering over GM crops is leading to massive hikes in food prices.

The continuing distaste for [genetically engineered plants] and their consequent absurd over-regulation means that the most up-to-date, environmentally benign crop protection strategies are used almost exclusively for the mega-crops that are profitable for biotech companies. The public agricultural research sector remains largely excluded from using modern molecular technology. Will this change soon? I don't think so."

H/T The Englishman.

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Reader Comments (124)

Good article, but dear me just look at the comment thread - typical Guardian.

Mar 21, 2011 at 8:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterBaxter75

How depressing!
The comment that points out that Miller works for a "right-wing" organisation which is funded by "a company which has a huge vested interest in the development of GM foods" gets 121 recommends!
Never mind the facts, fellers. Who does he work for? Oh, them! Must be a load of b******s then.
Yik!

Mar 21, 2011 at 9:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterSam the Skeptic

Baxter 75

Yes! Even worse than what you could read at a comparable Swedish thread. Where are the informed Britts? All cannot be at this site.

Gösta Oscarsson
Stockholm

Mar 21, 2011 at 9:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterGösta Oscarsson

The Grauniad's moderators seem to have pursued a course of cleansing of dissenting voices over the lats few months. You used to have be abusive to get banned from the Graun; now you only have to disagree with it.

Mar 21, 2011 at 9:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

News of the spread of that rust is going to test the 'organic is good for you' lobby a bit.

Mar 21, 2011 at 9:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

News of the spread of that rust is going to test the 'organic is good for you' lobby a bit.
Not as long as they still have fingers to put in their ears, Charlie!

Mar 21, 2011 at 9:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterSam the Skeptic

The big problem for the Greens is that they see the world's poor as being part of one big social experiment.

The West has gridded electricity, the environmentalists insist that world's poor use solar stoves and solar powered fridges.

The West has DDT, and uses it, the environmentalists insist that the world's poor use only mosquito nets forcing people to live indoors after dark.

The West utilises mass food production methods, the environmentalists gave the world's poor bio-fuels.

Mar 21, 2011 at 9:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

The greenish have a love hate mindset over the poor! they see them as a useful tool to hoist their guilt trip on the west and to fund their feel good jamborees like red noise day and the such and use the aid line to offer their government's bribes to support green ideals at the U.N! mind that's only on the understanding the bribes are not spent on the poor as that would help them to better their lives and have bigger family's which is the bit the greenish hate as They want their poor to be photogenic and celibate!

Mar 21, 2011 at 10:03 AM | Unregistered Commentermat

Obviously Foreseeable Unintended Consequences?

Mar 21, 2011 at 10:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

@ mat

Greenies take every opportunity to profess their concern for the world's poor, as if all that's required is to make the right noises. Unfortunately, green Luddism, sentimentality and knee-jerk doctrinaire anti-intellectualism are the main reasons the poor will always be with us.

Mar 21, 2011 at 10:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

I think any shortages are a lot more to do with biofuels (approaching 40% of US grain, according to the author) and distribution than GM, about which I still 'hae ma doots'.

Making certain crops herbicide-resistant sounds like one of those ideas that will invoke the Law of Unintended Consequences in Spades.

Mar 21, 2011 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Justice4Rinka. A fascinating case in point is the Graun's current embarrassing attempt to link the Tsunami and Climate Change (or not, as they insist).
The 'denier' responses are gradually being deleted ('hunsrus','spanish woman') but still up there is 'NeverMindtheBollocks' comment 'There is no 'but'.And no 'may',Climate Change is NOT responsible for the Tsunami. There is no need for you to continue'.
I'm sure the mods would love to see the back of this one !

Mar 21, 2011 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered Commentertoad

James P

When it comes to GM, it has always been the pesticides the crops have been modified to cope with which I have the issue with, not the modification of the crop. I remember seeing a snippet on the net regarding the cooking needed to remove the pesticides and there still being traces even after boiling for 45 mins at really high heats. You never know with the net these days. Nice to know GM soya bean is used as an E-Number in a fair number of foods.

And I agree entirely, Bio-Fuels hit the stocks the hardest.

Mar 21, 2011 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoss H

This just underscores, again, the fear culture that permeates the Western nations driven by "alarmists" with a potpourri of agendas. Once a fear is fanned and bursts into flame out come the designated expert with the most ridiculous solutions. Politicians take up the solution and impose it to cull votes to stay in office followed with all sorts of laws and regulations and the inevitable lawsuits. And it's easy to do. It's highly profitable to all that take the Fear Road. Hugely profitable if the proper resonance is found. The list is almost endless.

Millions upon millions killed. Lives diminished. Misery spread around. Incredible needless costs added. Each and every year and the effect is usually cumulative. From Silent Spring's bird eggs, apple spraying, spotted owls mia, snail darters, irradiating food to kill pathogens and preserve it without special care - it's truly endless. CO2 alarmist are maybe the worst and vile since they end up denying cheap, plentiful electricity. If anything, the alarmist are a Religion of Death in that they do all they can to preserve their comforts while demanding other be needlessly killed on their alter of Green. No wonder they don't believe in an after life and a day of judgement.

Mar 21, 2011 at 10:52 AM | Unregistered Commentercedarhill

I have mixed feeling regarding GM, terminator genes and such.

I also think agricultural research is skewed towards industry, not industrial farming (scale) as such, but industrial herbicide, pesticide, fungicide, fertiliser companies pushing unsustainable (in the longer term) practices, which condemn the farmer to use these products because they kill the soil biota in the first place.

Soil degradation/erosion is currently the biggest problem facing modern farming IMO. There are other ways to go about it.

see this lecture:

Professor Alan Gange, from the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway, University of London, provided an insight into the fascinating world beneath our feet in his inaugural lecture looking at how soil microbes affect life above ground.

Communities of organisms are linked together in food webs. Until recently, it was assumed that the soil food web existed more or less in isolation from the organisms in the above ground web. Using examples from different biological scenarios, Professor Gange explained how soil microbes are fundamental to the functioning of above ground communities and can affect things as diverse as the size of a caterpillar, the quality of the food you eat, or your round of golf.

Through his research, Professor Gange found that a fungus, called an arbuscular mycorrhiza, which grows in plant root systems, can change the biochemical and architectural features of plants which in turn affects the insects that feed on the leaves or visit the flowers.

“The fungus is very good at absorbing phosphate from the soil. Phosphate is extremely useful in helping a plant to grow at the seeding stage and important in helping it to flower and fruit, but most plants are very limited in their ability to absorb it from the soil. The fungus takes up phosphate and donates it to the plant. In return, it receives a supply of carbon from the host plant”, he said.

To establish the consequences of these changes for insects Professor Gange said he and his colleagues conducted various experiments, one of which focused on the Garden Tiger Moth. The results showed the insects were smaller when they fed from the plants where the fungus was present.

In a similar experiment using Vine Weevils and strawberry plants, the results revealed that not only were the insects smaller but the strawberries on those plants were sweeter, suggesting the fungi affects the quality of the fruit as well.

According to Professor Gange, “If we can identify the resistance features concerned then we may be able to manipulate plants so that they are resistant to pest insects.” This would open up an entirely new area of biological control and greatly reduce our reliance on chemical pesticides.

To view the lecture in full ( 70mins) visit:

http://mediasite.rhul.ac.uk/rhul/Viewer/?peid=bc4c10c44e3342e1882e8c7f57a743b2

Look up Dr Eline Ingham http://www.soilfoodweb.com/ for further info, and check out the corn trials in Mexico http://soildoctor.org/?p=310

Doug Weatherbee did a good interview explaining the food web institute approach http://soildoctor.org/?p=849

I remain convinced this approach is the future of farming, I think most farming will utilise these techniques within the next 20-30 yrs.

(sorry for long post)

Mar 21, 2011 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrosty

David S

"Obviously Foreseeable Unintended Consequences?"

:-)

We need a regulatory body, like the Office of Unintended Consequences.

Mar 21, 2011 at 11:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

I may be paraphrasing, but I'm pretty sure that Stephen Hawking once said that the most likely thing to finish us off would be a GM organism that no-one had any natural resistance to.

Mar 21, 2011 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

@ Ross H

When it comes to GM, it has always been the pesticides the crops have been modified to cope with which I have the issue with, not the modification of the crop. I remember seeing a snippet on the net regarding the cooking needed to remove the pesticides and there still being traces even after boiling for 45 mins at really high heats.

Ross, that's the trouble with Greens, they smear and deceive and disinform from every conceivable angle. The herbicide most associated with use in GM crops is glyphosate, which is also invariably described as 'proprietory' - which it isn't, and hasn't been for about 20 years. It's made by anybody who wants to, and because of this is very cheap. It's also practically non-toxic to mammals since the target biochemical pathway is only found in plants (shikimic acid production), and modern formulations carry no Hazchem labelling. It presents no hazard to human health.

The other pesticide most associated with GM crops is Bt toxin, an insecticidal protein synthesised by Bacillus thuringensis - the green movement in the form of the Soil Association are delighted if you spray it all over your crop, killing target and non-target organisms alike, but if you dare get your crop to produce the toxin directly, thereby only controlling pests that are eating the crop, then this is an act of rarely paralleled evil.

At least they're consistently inconsistent.

Mar 21, 2011 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterSayNoToFearmongers

Thanks SNTFM, that's most helpful.

Mar 21, 2011 at 12:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterBaxter 75

@ SayNoToFearmongers

Thank you for the reply. Learning something new every day. Cheers!

Mar 21, 2011 at 12:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss H

Green and other Eco initiatives that turned out well with a shed load of unintendeds:

DDT - millions die as various governments around the world adopt the precautionary principle and ban it:

Ozone hole - total oblate spheroids but billions $ wasted in engineer's, industrial chemists etc time solving a non-problem;

Murcury - banned in work place, therefore workshops making and repairing barometers closed, jobs lost, but, on the other hand:

Curly lamps - 3mg mercury x 20,000,000 households UK x 15 average number of curly lamps = 900 kg of mercury spread around, probably every year, as most of these things do not last as long as advertised. What can possibly go wrong? Also incandescent lamp factories close down, jobs lost.

Biomass electricity generation - wood now only affordable by power stations, furniture manufacturers close and jobs lost.

Wind (subsidy) farms - a recipe for a return to the stone age within a few years (National Grid know this, but bury the information in reports in clumsily constructed sentences designed to mislead and/or avoid "telling the whole truth")

CCS - another recipe for wasting billions of $ in engineer's time in solving a non-problem.

Now having an effect on new CCGT power stations because the design has to accommodate "carbon capture ready" plus sterilisation of up to 22 hectares (30 Wembley football pitches) of adjacent land for decades just in case CCS becomes viable.

Of course, the minute that goverment tries to force this insanity down the throats of CCGT power station owners, they themselves will shut down the power station as it will be no-longer be a sound business proposition, or, if they continue generation by ignoring CCS, the goverment will rush in and withdraw their permit to operate anyway! More unintended etc....Trebles all round!

Solar power - beyond parody! But do not forget that Simon Hughes (QT last week) is a rabid supporter of "Desertec", whereby solar power is generated in all those stable, friendly North African third world basket cases and then cabled into Eutopia. We are probably OK from this waste of trillions of $, because it was also endorsed by a certain Gordon Brown, Master of the Universe for a couple of years or so recently, He isn't called Jonah for nothing.

My head is aching, must stop.

Mar 21, 2011 at 1:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

Brownedoff

Bang on target, as usual.

Anyone interested in a pretty picture of the dreams of Desertec can see the pan-European Supergrid here:

http://www.trec-uk.org.uk/images/DESERTEC-Map_reduced.jpg

That's what the energy fantasists have cooked up so far. That's what lies behind the insistence that we (as in the industrialised economies of the West) can displace 50% or more fossil fuels from the energy mix by around mid-century...

Mar 21, 2011 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Aah, so rewarding to get positive responses - not like the CiF cesspit of despond...

Frosty's mention of terminator genes is a further example of the green lobby's duplicitousness.

Responding to fears (as ever) raised by activists of 'contamination' by GM pollen, the intelligent move was to produce plants which don't have pollen. Therefore necessarily sterile ones. Therefore dubbed in true marketing/fearmongering fashion 'terminator'...

The concession to the green demands was more marketable than the original alleged problem.

Lesson one - this is not a force that will meet you half way - it is a cancer that will destroy you by any means at its disposal. It has no concept of ethics.

It also depends on its audience being largely detached from agriculture. A large number of modern crops (maize being a prime example) are grown from hybrid seed, because hybrid plants display heterosis, a marked tendency to grow bigger and stronger and therefore yield more than 'normal' plants. Because of this, hybrid seeds command a premium. Which is good for seed houses, because you can't save seeds from hybrid plants because they don't breed true (simple Mendelian genetics at play) - so we already have a subtle form of 'terminator' at play which is actively supported by farmers who want superior seed, and which benefits breeders because they get sufficient guaranteed returns to reinvest into superior, better yielding and disease resistant varieties for the future.

In non-hybrid plants such as wheat, growers who save their seed for replanting are required to pay 'breeders' rights' fees (parallel with IP/copyright fees) for modern varieties - simply to make it worthwhile for breeders to continue their vital work in feeding us.

Not really very scary, is it?

Mar 21, 2011 at 2:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterSayNoToFearmongers

SNTF

The pitch of loathing for GM expressed by greens never ceases to amaze me.

Our local paper recently ran a piece in its usual, syndicated agriculture column which deal with feeding a growing global population. GM was cited as one aspect of enhancing productivity to achieve this.

Not one but two letters appeared the next week (one from the local hand-wringer for the Union of Concerned Scientists). Both attacked GM virulently. The UOCS lady claimed that escapes of GM pollen were going to lead to frankenweeds everywhere, while the other correspondent had read somewhere that GM crops were the cause of bee colony collapse disorder.

Neither mentioned the words 'global' or 'starvation' or 'poor'.

It was clearly much more important for them to register their outrage and get some fear-mongering done than to consider the implications of blanket opposition to GM.

By which I mean the future cost of misery and death inflicted by starvation.

*

A note on the Supergrid for those interested in the pretty picture I linked to earlier. I should have mentioned that the larger a grid gets the less stable it becomes (supergrid = national/regional grids linked via interconnectors). Load balancing goes from being merely complex and difficult to being very nearly impossible. Too many variables.

Also, security of supply is diminished as a fault in any interconnector can have catastrophic consequences for a huge geographical area. The wider the supergrid, the less secure it is.

Mar 21, 2011 at 2:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Mar 21, 2011 at 2:12 PM | BBD

Thks for the bucket (or is it bouquet?).

What got left out by the onset of migraine, but which causes anguish amongst members of the disgruntled group from Tunbridge Wells, is the "LCPD" rule from Eutopia.

Today, there is about 11.6GW of LPCD "opted out" generation across 9 power stations, 6 coal-fired plus 3 oil-fired.

These proper power stations will close on 31 December 2015 unless they are forced to close earlier because they have used up their 20,000 hours allowance.

Now the DGfTW say that the UK should break the law and ignore this rule, but even if those gentlemen (euphemism) in Westminster were minded to change the rule (do not hold your breath) it is already too late (in the geological time scales required to take action in The Mother of Parliaments).

By the end of December 2012 (ie about 21 months from now) about 4GW of coal-fired will have closed down and by summer 2014 (ie about 38 months from now) another 2GW of coal-fired will have disappeared, all due to using up their 20,000 hour allowance.

So, more than half of the doomed proper power stations capacity will be deceased just over 3 years from now.

Hemlocks all round!

Mar 21, 2011 at 2:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

Mar 21, 2011 at 2:38 PM | BBD

Interconnectors:

Do not worry, everything is in safe hands at Westminster.

That lovely little fellow (euphemism) Zac Goldsmith asked Charles Hendry another genius (euphemism) how he was getting along with the interconnector from ICELAND, (no not the frozen food specialist), the island paradise and host to a coven of financial wizards, 700 miles away towards the North Pole, in the North Atlantic.

( http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110317/text/110317w0004.htm
see Zac Goldsmith just below: "17 Mar 2011 : Column 581W")

These people are seriously insane and yet nobody in the MSM gives a whit (euphemism).

Roll on the Grim Reaper.

Mar 21, 2011 at 3:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

Horrible but true re LCPD. I know this stuff but often wish I did not.

As for the proposed sub-sea Iceland interconnector supposedly bringing geothermal energy to the UK - well, I'll believe it when I see it laid. All 500 miles of it. And when (not if) this huge HVDC interconnector develops a fault, it will have to be found, the cable raised, and the problem repaired. But not unless sea conditions are ideal...

Oh it's so bloody, bloody stupid and mad.

Sorry for the delay in response but I was reading down the Hansard link you provided.

I was not aware that as of 2008 an estimated 1.275 million rural households in fuel poverty. That's about a quarter of all rural households in the UK. And things will be much worse now.

So lots of insane clap-trap about renewables and marine interconnectors to Iceland in one direction and the Sahara in the other is just what we need.

I can feel a head-ache coming on too.

Mar 21, 2011 at 3:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

May I point out that the Irish have long ago mastered the art of knitting really warm sweaters. They are generically called "Donegal" sweaters and are not only warm but also repell light rain. I have several and they have paid for themselves in the cost of fuel I have not burned.

While I realize that there are other little old ladies with knitting needles elsewhere, I feel it my patriotic (Irish) duty to tout the Irish made ones. Besides, we need the money to pay off all those stupid loans our government made to the Irish bankers. :)

ALL
This has been a most informative and interesting thread. I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks.

Mar 21, 2011 at 3:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Brownedoff said:

"By the end of December 2012 (ie about 21 months from now) about 4GW of coal-fired will have closed down and by summer 2014 (ie about 38 months from now) another 2GW of coal-fired will have disappeared, all due to using up their 20,000 hour allowance."

I understood we had a stay of execution, is this* all BS?

*http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/7678631/UK-power-plants-win-four-year-stay-of-execution-from-EU.html

If you are correct Brownedoff (I hope you are not but suspect that you are], then the cranes for the honourable gentlemen[euphemism] governing Britain from Westminster town council will be rolling out sooner than I thought.

Mar 21, 2011 at 4:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan

James P, your Office of Unintended Consequences would, perforce, have to make extensive use of the Foreseeable Unintended Consequences Knowledgebase.

Mar 21, 2011 at 4:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterTim Bromige

James P, your Office of Unintended Consequences would, perforce, have to make extensive use of the Foreseeable Unintended Consequences Knowledgebase.

Mar 21, 2011 at 4:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterTim Bromige

Re BBD

And when (not if) this huge HVDC interconnector develops a fault, it will have to be found, the cable raised, and the problem repaired. But not unless sea conditions are ideal..

Finding a shunt fault is sometimes easy, just look for the steam bubbles :p

I thought this cable idea had gone away with the collapse of Landesbanki, Kaputthing etc. I'd looked at it a while back when there were plans of combining it with fibre to improve comms to Iceland. There were questions then regarding whether there'd be much surplus electricity to export given plans for aluminium smelters and datacenters on the island.

Mar 21, 2011 at 4:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

On the terminator gene thing, it's not the GM scary stories bit that bothers me, it's locking farmers into a never ending cycle that requires them to buy seed every year, purchase & use more chemicals to grow them, degrading the land further, and increasing the costs.

As I understand it 'Heirloom seeds' used to be developed by government research centres.

Now it's all corporate, we still fund the science, or part fund it at least via universities, but the corporates take the lions share of the profits, a much lower proportion of the profit stays within the community.

This skews the focus of the science to a profit driven motive, rather than a productive motive IMO. Developing hybrid seeds until the strain is stabilised takes a bit longer, but in the long run it is much better for society as less money is removed from communities to international corporate banksters.

They didn't develop sterile seeds in an effort to prevent GM contamination (whatever industry might claim) they did it for profit motives. It reduces community resilience from a money perspective, and from a system perspective which is less robust, making farmers reliant on corporations for their seed stock, reducing self reliance.

Mar 21, 2011 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrosty

James P, your Office of Unintended Consequences would, perforce, have to make extensive use of the Foreseeable Unintended Consequences Knowledgebase.

Mar 21, 2011 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterTim Bromige

Mar 21, 2011 at 4:36 PM | Athelstan

Good link, but that was in May last year and there was to be a vote last July. What happened?

I think that if the reprieve had been granted, surely National Grid would have got wind of it, but they are planning for the worst whilst praying for devine intervention.

I suspect that the reprieve was kiboshed by our enemies in Eutopia.

Mar 21, 2011 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

Mar 21, 2011 at 4:57 PM | Atomic Hairdryer

It is all up-to-date.

This is from Westminster, 17 March 2011:

"Charles Hendry: ................. my officials have had discussions with Icelandic power companies about the possibility of building an electricity interconnector between Iceland and Great Britain. .At the Prime Minister's UK-Nordic-Baltic summit in January this year......

.....We will be taking forward any legal and regulatory issues which fall to Government with the appropriate Icelandic parties."

-----------------------

Then there is this frae Bonny Scotland:

SCOTLAND - NORWAY INTERCONNECTOR

http://www.northconnect.no/2011/2/1/scottish-first-minister-announces-norway-interconnector-plan
(Properties says created 18 March 2011):

".......... For that we must achieve a connection across to Scandinavia and mainland Europe, something I pursued with my Norwegian counterparts when I visited them in August.

Initial studies show that an interconnector would require a subsea cable of between 550 and 700 kilometres in length, with landing points in Norway and the UK."

Phew! Its all kicking off.
=================================

Mar 21, 2011 at 5:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

Thank you, Tim. Trouble with the captchas? One for the knowledgebase.. :-)

Mar 21, 2011 at 6:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Atomic - Brownedoff answers (thanks!) while I've been busy...

Yes, the Krazy Kable Kaper is still very much on the table I'm afraid.

Mar 21, 2011 at 6:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Atominc re Iceland again:

But I think the aluminium smelters are still very interested in the cheap energy too... It will be interesting to see what happens.

Either way, we are being frog-marched towards a European supergrid with the very clear (if currently unspoken) intention of extensions to Saharan CSTP plant.

This, I think, is why the greens are so smug and cock-sure about their renewables rhetoric. They believe (perhaps with justification) that our political masters are actually stupid enough to ignore the engineering and physical constraints - and all advice from grid controllers - and go ahead with a Euro supergrid.

While we were sleeping, the advocacy has been tireless.

To those concerned with euphemisms - there is no need for them. Well, not here in the UK where we have members of parliament.

Mar 21, 2011 at 6:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

"a subsea cable of between 550 and 700 kilometres in length"

Preferably supercooled to reduce transmission losses...

Mar 21, 2011 at 6:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Frosty - I'm with you. I don't want fish genes in my tomatoes, either.

Mar 21, 2011 at 7:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Ever since Brownedoff mentioned Desertec a while back something's been niggling and I've finally made the connection:

Polly Higgins.

Doesn't ring a bell? Oh you are in for a treat.

First - here she is (number seven):

http://www.trec-uk.org.uk/members.html

Note the expression. What William Burroughs once described as the 'eyes of a sheep-killing dog'.

Now over to Ben Pile at Climate Resistance for some detail:

http://www.climate-resistance.org/2011/01/eco-nutcases-make-bad-law.html

Pile isn't prone to shoutiness or name-calling, but even he ended up characterising Higgins' insane position as eco-fascism - a rare example of a fully-justified use of the term.


Here's the long and detailed version for lovers of pain:

http://www.climate-resistance.org/2011/01/one-law-for-tree-another-for-ewe.html

Mar 21, 2011 at 7:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Re BBD.

I quite like the idea of her 'ecocide' law. She says

“the extensive destruction, damage to or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory have been severely diminished”

and one of her justifications is

2) 1,000 acres of peat bogs are excavated

Which Don Pablo may know something about given this story

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2010/1015/1224281155131.html

The proposed 375ft, eight-turbine windfarm in the Slieve Aughty mountain range in northeast Clare lies 17km south of a windfarm at Derrybrien, Co Galway, which was the scene of a landslide in 2003 that dislodged 450,000 cubic metres of material and which killed 50,000 fish.

So clear ecocide in that case, and also all the other cases where noise, shadow flicker or simply the physical presence of large wind turbines has meant "peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory have been severely diminished".

Not sure that's what she would have intended, but then these people seldom seem to think things through.

Mar 21, 2011 at 8:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

I think I have it re Polly, it's a job creation scheme for barristers!

Doesn't matter if it looks mad, doesn't matter if it looks ill thought out, pay day is guaranteed. In fact the wackier, and more complicated, the better, she can spend hours and hours on silly money per hour arguing to the nth degree.

Nice work if you can get it!

Mar 21, 2011 at 8:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrosty

Frosty

'[...] a job creation scheme for barristers!'

I though that was politics ;-)

Mar 21, 2011 at 8:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Atomic Hairdryer

In Higgins' baleful world-view, we are all guilty. She makes that plain. The question is: who gets to sit in judgement?

It's the same as the horrible 'climate justice' meme being pushed by the likes of Oxfam:

Imagine an international court where the poorest people in the world could sue countries such as the US or Britain for failing to keep to agreements to reduce climate emissions or for knowingly causing devastating climate change.

It's some way off, but this week has seen an extraordinary tribunal being held in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, with more than 1,200 people including British lawyers, politicians and economists, listening to the testimonies of villagers living at the frontline of climate change.

It was only a mock tribunal, organised by Oxfam, but it explored the growing idea that the largest carbon emitters should be bound by international law to protect the lives and livelihoods of those most at risk from the impacts of climate change.

Rushanara Ali, the newly-elected MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, who is already shadow minister for international development, was there along with Richard Lord QC, who will be looking at the legislation that is available for affected countries to pursue.

The rest - if you have the stomach for it - is (naturally) at Graun online here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2010/nov/12/dhaka-climate-court-criminals

Mar 21, 2011 at 8:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

I read some of the comments about the Guardian article. With all this rabbiting on about over population and population control does this mean we can hope that these nutters will practse what they preach and within a generation we will be rid of them ? sarc off/

Mar 21, 2011 at 8:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss

"these nutters will practise what they preach"

Fat chance of that while they jet round the globe to do their preaching. Gander sauce doesn't apply to them.

Mar 21, 2011 at 9:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

This is worth a read, seems well referenced, I've not read all the refs yet, the first few are good. It supports what I said earlier about development costs, and that heritage strains are generally more resilient.

http://www.gmwatch.org/component/content/article/12721

In his comment below, Dr Gurian-Sherman references data showing that the cost of GM crop development is high compared with the cost of conventional breeding. [Source: Goodman, M. M. (2002). New sources of germplasm: Lines, transgenes, and breeders. Memoria Congresso Nacional de Fitogenetica. J. M. Martinez et al, eds. Univ. Autonimo Agr. Antonio Narro, Saltillo, Coah., Mexico: 28–41.]

Dr Gurian-Sherman adds that conventional breeding is generally more successful in producing crops with desirable traits such as drought tolerance.

Seems the only people saying we "need GM" are industry promoters working towards a monopoly on the seeds.

I'm this far (does that finger and thumb smallest violin in the world thing) from calling BS on GM ;¬)

Mar 21, 2011 at 9:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrosty

Sometimes is best to turn an enemies weapons against them.

As I understand it, the EU's biofuel policy has it that qualifying crops can only be regular crops, not crops planted specifically for biofuel. So food crops converted to petrol or diesel that German car owners won't buy because it's dumb and it can damage engines. Food prices rise though because food's being turned into fuel. Using less productive or set-aside land that isn't now a golf course with fast growing or GM crops specifically for fuel might be more sensible. Assuming of course that any new crops introduced can be controlled and not cause biodiversity problems of their own. Fuel from hogweed or rhododenrons anyone? But the EU's policy is to burn food leaving less for us or even to donate as humanitarian aid.

Then there's GM, and like the Horizon/Nurse show said, there's good and bad in that. The good is we can make plants that grow in places they didn't used to, or have disease resistance, or even make drugs, plastics and other useful stuff. The bad is when groups like Monsanto use it for profit and pass all liability for crop contamination onto their customers. Monsanto regularly sues farmers for IP violations if their crop is found on a farmer's land without a licence. Why aren't farmers who's land is being contaminated by Monsanto's crops suing them? Ok, under the current contracts, it's Monsanto's customer who would be liable. That kind of behaviour is the dark side of GM, and dangerous when there's a monopoly growing in the seed industry. Monopoly encouraging monoculture and bad things are likely to happen when diseases spread. So much for biodiversity.

As for the rust, well, farmers have Ug shoots.

Mar 21, 2011 at 10:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

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