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Genetic Engineering


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#1 jes

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 01:33 AM

I'd like to start a discussion about genetic engineering of plants. I'm feeling that it is nothing more than continuation of human agriculture and does not alter or destroy the spirit of the plants anymore than regular agriculture. If anyone has any thoughts about it, I'd love to here it.
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#2 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 01:44 AM

People have been manipulating plant and animal genetics for aeons, for good or ill, through selective breeding, destroying habitat or otherwise disturbing the natural (free of human intervention) ecology. I agree that fooling around with nucleotide sequences in laboratories is a direct extension of that.

The problem with people is that their range of vision, in terms of the potential consequences of what they do, is quite limited, and even when it's good enough to see current practices leading to severe problems down the road, greed too often drives people to find justification in "current needs" or what have you for some really bad things that could have been avoided.
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#3 Spraypaint

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 01:45 AM

Quote

I'd like to start a discussion about genetic engineering of plants
Any chance you would be willing to have a discussion on how to make it more beneficial while minimizing the possible downsides of such technology?

If yes, i would have to say it would require a 4th type of organization suited for the purpose. The three previous organizations would be public, private and non-profit, all which share the same weakness in regards to the needs of genetic engineering.

Edited by Spraypaint, 09 October 2012 - 01:46 AM.

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#4 jes

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 02:13 AM

View PostR. Eugene Laughlin, on 09 October 2012 - 01:44 AM, said:

The problem with people is that their range of vision, in terms of the potential consequences of what they do, is quite limited, and even when it's good enough to see current practices leading to severe problems down the road, greed too often drives people to find justification in "current needs" or what have you for some really bad things that could have been avoided.

Do you think that greed plays a bigger role in todays alteration of plants than it has in the past?


edit-
Eugene, I had also tied this idea in with what you had said in another post about humans not being able to create anything original, they can just move the pieces around. In my own thoughts, there is nothing new under the Godhead.

View PostSpraypaint, on 09 October 2012 - 01:45 AM, said:

Any chance you would be willing to have a discussion on how to make it more beneficial while minimizing the possible downsides of such technology?

If yes, i would have to say it would require a 4th type of organization suited for the purpose. The three previous organizations would be public, private and non-profit, all which share the same weakness in regards to the needs of genetic engineering.

What kind of organization would this be? I can't really see how one alteration is more beneficial than the next as long as you you make the desired alteration.

Edited by jes, 09 October 2012 - 02:17 AM.

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#5 voidgazing

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 02:29 AM

Well, that's just the problem innit? Monsanto desired maize that produced its own pesticide, and just about wiped out the monarch butterfly after they created it.
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#6 jes

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 04:00 AM

I was just thinking about a lack of vitamins, but that's definitely an extreme downfall of genetic engineering. I just hope that these plants don't get labelled as 'bad plants.'
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#7 Imperial Arts

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 05:26 AM

View Postjes, on 09 October 2012 - 01:33 AM, said:

I'd like to start a discussion about genetic engineering of plants. I'm feeling that it is nothing more than continuation of human agriculture and does not alter or destroy the spirit of the plants anymore than regular agriculture. If anyone has any thoughts about it, I'd love to here it.

In theory, yes, modern genetic engineering is just a recent development in the ongoing manipulation of food plants. We have been creating better strains of grains and fruits since the dawn of agriculture, and some of them are far less perfect than others.

That's the theory, but to be frank I am appalled and terrified of the current food situation in the US. We are able to eat almost entirely as a result of giant corporate agricultural interests. These dominate both publicly sold food and government contract suppliers. They own the land, the seed, the supplies, and the food itself, so that if you want to eat without digging and shooting, you have to eat what they want to sell you. As businesses, they want lower expenses and higher profits, and often that is bad for the health value of their products.

I suppose that is to be expected from depending on large (distant) suppliers for foods. I must admit my favorite Mexican restaurant is probably not winning awards with the health department, but I go there anyhow. Many people have recently begun to suspect something more sinister, and suggest that the large corporations are using their well-entrenched positions to act as enforcers in population control and other schemes. Be very careful about what you eat, but this is essentially the Saturnine nature of corn. The tyranny of the Titans of industry and the reaping of the slain are all Saturnine elements and we should not be surprised if GMO corn causes tumors and serves the cruel or the avaricious.
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#8 Spraypaint

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 11:26 AM

Quote

What kind of organization would this be? I can't really see how one alteration is more beneficial than the next as long as you you make the desired alteration.
Unlike chemicals and other innovations of the 20th century which created havoc when released, then revamped as time went on (or negative effects countered), a genetic thing is alive. It evolves. It moves. It cannot be contained nor recalled unlike a poorly made model of a car. Voidgazing mentioned the possible fall outs with genetic outcomes that as a result were an "whoopsie's thats a small nuance we didnt consider!"

This means all design flaws have to be dealt with before release.
This only can be done with careful and close monitoring for a very long period of time.


Name any current form of organization that is willing or capable having a product in R & D for a couple human generations before releasing a proto type?

Edited by Spraypaint, 09 October 2012 - 11:28 AM.

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#9 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 02:05 PM

View Postvoidgazing, on 09 October 2012 - 02:29 AM, said:

Well, that's just the problem innit? Monsanto desired maize that produced its own pesticide, and just about wiped out the monarch butterfly after they created it.

There's a couple of things to say about that. First, the general idea of crops that need less water, that withstand a wider range of weather conditions, that repel insects that would otherwise diminish yield and quality, etc... of course people want that. There are a lot of us in the world and we gotta eat.

Then there's the complexity issue you and I touched on before and Spraypaint is suggesting above. If we recognize that Microsoft can't completely debug their software before releasing it into the wild, we can't expect industries that might impact systems that are orders of magnitude more complex than any software we might create to completely "debug" their products either.

With that in mind, we also bear collective responsibility for standards of public safety and environmental policy, and we're shamefully failing on that front for two main reasons: ignorance and apathy. The ignorance is overwhelmingly evident in common political rhetoric concerning public oversight of private businesses like Monsanto, drug companies, the oil and gas industry, etc. Roughly half of the U.S. voting population is poised to re-elect or install new candidates who are committed to reducing the inadequate oversight we have in place now, right across the board. Stated plainly, the voter who votes for a candidate with that philosophical ideal is saying: we believe we'll be better off if we monitor Monsanto less. If that's not ignorance, I don't know the meaning of the word.

The apathy is evident in the level of oversight we have now, and the fact that we don't take to the streets by the millions when our government fails to protect us from business concerns that are at odds with public safety and rational environmental practices. Political candidates that outwardly promote public safety and sane environmental policy, on the whole, take massive amounts of campaign money from the very businesses we need them to regulate, and so long as that's true, the businesses themselves will have far too great a hand in writing what regulations we do enact, and in how they're enforced and what the penalties are for harming the public.

Things don't have to stay this way. These problems (the ignorance and the apathy I mean) aren't intractable, but they are very very large and very complicated. The most significant thing we could do to start down a better road would be getting all private money out of electoral politics, but with a supreme court that recently enshrined money as speech in politics, it's clear that's not in the offing.
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#10 voidgazing

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 03:00 PM

It's going to take disaster, with a capital D, to turn the ship away from this particular iceberg. Nobody's going to be willing to alter course until after everyone in steerage gets wet and we've ground against it for awhile.
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#11 Chasmodai

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 03:54 PM

Yes, some form of genetic manipulation has occurred since the dawn of agriculture, however, what we have now is genetic modification. Companies like Monsanto take genes from bacteria and insert them into corn so that the corn doesn't die when it is sprayed with round-up. Is this plant still a plant, or is it bacteria, or is it both?

Ever look at your food labels? Ha-Ha! Just about everything has corn or soy, and if it's not organic, it's been genetically modified.

I pay more for organics - even meat, which is extraordinarily expensive, but I can turn a whole chicken into 4 meals.

Remember when people used to do things like during the depression instead of just throwing things away? It's not that organics are really all that more expensive, we have just gotten used to paying less money for food, and we view it as a disposable commodity instead of something precious.

#12 Whispers

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 05:29 PM

If you pick a tomato and insert a onion gene that alters it's taste in a way that most people can't detect it, but makes it unsavory for bugs, that's one thing.
Quite another is if you insert inside that same tomate a chrisantemum gene that kills most bugs and after a few years of being consumed by people may cause testicular/ovarian cancer.

#13 Topaz Lili

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 06:46 PM

I am inclined to believe that genetic alteration of plants does change the spirit of the plant. Before I give you my reasoning for this belief, I must first give a brief historical example of genetic alteration. Here goes:

Corn, Wheat, and Soy are the three biggest crops that are engineered. For our example, let's look at the evolution of wheat.

The first wildly cultivated wheat variety was called einkorn. It contained 14 chromosomes. Then came the emmer variety of wheat which was the natural offspring of einkorn and wild goat grass. The result of this was that emmer contained 28 chromosomes. The reason for this is that some plants retain the sum of the genes of their forbearers. Unlike more complex orgainisms, such as humans, whose genes are mixed to create the 46 chromosomes that most humans have.

Back to wheat: The Sumerians ate emmer, just to give you a frame of reference. Today wheat has evolved either wildly or by human hand many times over. Present day varieties may contain up to 3 times the number of chromosomes contained in emmer.

The process of hybridizaion happens when people crossbreed wheat with with different grasses to produce a more desirable type.
Currently, most of this accomplished by the IMWIC (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center). This is done without any type of safety testing.
Hybridiaztion changes types of proteins the offspring plant contains. 95% of the protein strain could be found in the parents but 5% were unique to the offspring. Small changes in wheat protein can result in the difference between a devastating immune response, and no immune response at all (allergy.) Incidentally, hybridized plants cannot reproduce. They need to be planted annually unlike heirloom varieties, which is why Monsanto likes them so much. Still with me?

Genetic modification is different from crossbreeding because It is simply replacing one or two genes as opposed to creating a new species of plant. They do this for a variety of reasons including trying to make the plant more resilient.
Furthermore, most of the public outcry about plant safety was raised about GMO products. No such outcry was raised about hybridization. Also, most of the health issues that humans have with these products have to do with hybridization as opposed to genetic modification.

At the risk of sounding all kinds of preachy:
In other words, what we call "wheat" today isn't anything close to the original species of wheat. It is really more like a grass. That being said, I think that the spirit of the plant is changed. As above so below, right? So if spiritual work can affect the physical why is this not true the other way around?

#14 Imperial Arts

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 07:30 PM

View PostChasmodai, on 09 October 2012 - 03:54 PM, said:

I pay more for organics - even meat, which is extraordinarily expensive, but I can turn a whole chicken into 4 meals.


Sometimes people ask me why we are so adamant about the organic food thing. I give them this simple experiment. Take an organic apple, cut it in half, and set it somewhere on a plate. Do the same for a non-organic apple. In about a week, you can scrape up the brown goo that remains of your non-organic apple and then enjoy taking a bite out of the organic one. Try the same experiment with a variety of fruits (especially bananas), with similar results. Part of that is the artificial ripening given to mass-produced produce, but so what? The result is better food being sold under the organic label.

Our household rules on GMO: eliminate unfermented soy and refined corn altogether, minimize unrefined corn, and exchange wheat for barley if possible. I don't care what Monsanto or the FDA say about the stuff, or whether those French studies with the rat tumors are accurate or not. For myself and my household, GMO is something we expect to be poisonous and to be avoided. We also minimize meat and are picky about its origins. This is somewhat expensive as a household dietary policy, but again so what? I'd rather pay extra for food than put up with bargain-rate medical care.

Edited by Imperial Arts, 09 October 2012 - 07:33 PM.

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#15 moonchild39

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 07:42 PM

Oh no i don't like genetics at all. We can't be God so why try? :)

#16 voidgazing

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 09:09 PM

To make things better of course. Genetic manipulation used properly can cure diseases, increase crop yields, keep food edible longer, and make pigs that glow under a blacklight.

How can you be against flourescing pork products?
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#17 Chasmodai

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 09:23 PM

View PostImperial Arts, on 09 October 2012 - 07:30 PM, said:

This is somewhat expensive as a household dietary policy, but again so what? I'd rather pay extra for food than put up with bargain-rate medical care.

It may cost a little bit more, but it's helped change the way I think about food too. I have always had an aversion to throwing food away, but when your pork loin costs $15.00 instead of $7.00, you actually think about how it's going to taste.

It better taste good!

And for damn sure none of it's going to get thrown away.

#18 moonchild39

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 09:35 PM

View Postvoidgazing, on 09 October 2012 - 09:09 PM, said:

To make things better of course. Genetic manipulation used properly can cure diseases, increase crop yields, keep food edible longer, and make pigs that glow under a blacklight.

How can you be against flourescing pork products?

Nooo! Poor piggies! Hey, don't forget about the rats with human ears on their faces. :huh:

#19 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 03:28 PM

View PostTopaz Lili, on 09 October 2012 - 06:46 PM, said:

I am inclined to believe that genetic alteration of plants does change the spirit of the plant.

Thanks for drawing attention back to the central theme of the original question, the spirit of the plants, after I sort of steered the discussion around that for a moment.

I agree with that statement, and here's why. If you look at the 8 or so definitions of "spirit" in most dictionaries, the one I think is most broadly applicable is "animating principle," because it applies to any and all interactive agents and agencies, at all levels, and it fits the generalized shamanic axiom: everything is alive, aware, and responsive, which defines how I approach life in many ways.

With that as a starting point, the evidence for what a spirit is can be seen in the way the thing the principle animates manifests, the way it behaves, and most importantly, the way it interacts with any and everything else. Clearly genetically altered strains express qualities and interacts different that the base strain that was altered. That's the point after all, so yeah, a genetically manipulated strain has its own spirit that's different from the spirit of the base plant.

The way I practice magick evocation, such differences can be explored on an occult level. That actually inspires me toward a line of magical exploration I hadn't considered before.

Neat.
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#20 Iago

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 12:47 PM

View PostR. Eugene Laughlin, on 09 October 2012 - 01:44 AM, said:

People have been manipulating plant and animal genetics for aeons, for good or ill, through selective breeding, destroying habitat or otherwise disturbing the natural (free of human intervention) ecology.
You are indeed correct here, but of course, the "animal" genetics include our own human ones, with which we have also tinkered using the very same methods you describe (selective breeding on an individual level, destroying our own habitats and reconstructing them, developing social constructs etc.)

Is the genetic engineering of human beings, then, the next logical step? Because if so I would like to exempt my DNA now before it's too late.

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