Genetic use restriction technology (Suicide Seeds)

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BattleMoose
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Genetic use restriction technology (Suicide Seeds)

Postby BattleMoose » Mon Feb 23, 2015 2:08 am UTC

Hello,

Firstly, I am aware at how deeply unpopular this technology is. And I understand the fear too, that farmers, particularly vulnerable ones, get manipulated into using this product and get trapped into a cycle they cannot escape. Although at the sale of the harvest, the choice of what seed to buy still exists? So I am not entirely convinced that such a fear is rational.

On the flip side it does protect the intellectual property of whoever it was that engineered the seed. And such plants were also engineered to have very favourable traits, crop yield et cetera. Having plants with favourable qualities is , by itself, a good thing and protecting the intellectual property of those who developed it is necessary to ensure that plants with favourable traits continue to be developed.

So the questions I really have are, can easily abused farmers, benefit from using GURT seeds? Essentially that the additional profit they can get from their harvests is greater than the cost of the seeds.

And if they aren't content with the technology, can they easily, with the profits from the previous harvest, choose what seed to buy, the more expensive GURTS or traditional/natural plant varieties?

EDIT: I think I figured it, the nature of these companies is such that they will do their level best to make sure that traditional/natural plant seeds are simply not available, getting everyone to switch at the same time, buy out available stocks et cetera. :-/

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Re: Genetic use restriction technology (Suicide Seeds)

Postby Qaanol » Mon Feb 23, 2015 2:26 am UTC

That’s part of it. Another part is that the seed-tweakers advertise their product as having substantially improved yields, albeit under very precisely-defined conditions. When farmers do not see the promised yields, the company sends out an “expert” to do all sorts of soil testing and checking the farmer’s log-books to find any possible excuse for why it’s not the seed-maker’s fault.
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Alexius
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Re: Genetic use restriction technology (Suicide Seeds)

Postby Alexius » Mon Feb 23, 2015 2:52 pm UTC

A few pieces of relevant information:

No genetically-engineered seeds using GURT have ever been sold. There is currently a UN moratorium on their sale.

Farmers in the "first world" are not, in the main, using "traditional/natural plant varieties". They are using F1 hybrid seeds- in other words, crossbreeds that give offspring with seeds that, while viable, will not retain the desirable features of their parents if grown. These have been in use for almost 100 years (the first commercial hybrid seed corn was sold in 1921), and are patentable in most countries.

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Re: Genetic use restriction technology (Suicide Seeds)

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Feb 23, 2015 3:43 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote:Hello,

Firstly, I am aware at how deeply unpopular this technology is. And I understand the fear too, that farmers, particularly vulnerable ones, get manipulated into using this product and get trapped into a cycle they cannot escape. Although at the sale of the harvest, the choice of what seed to buy still exists? So I am not entirely convinced that such a fear is rational.


Nah. Farmers know *exactly* what it does. It's also nothing new. A ton of hybrids don't breed true, and require frequent repurchasing of plants or what not.

The whole thing is a non-issue. We gave nature the middle finger decades ago, and it's been great ever since.

EDIT: I think I figured it, the nature of these companies is such that they will do their level best to make sure that traditional/natural plant seeds are simply not available, getting everyone to switch at the same time, buy out available stocks et cetera. :-/


For most crops, this simply is not possible. There are simply too many seeds out there, and too many companies whose existence depend on purveying seeds of all sorts. If the companies scare you, there's tons of small farms that deal with each other for such things. Farms for a given crop are often fairly co-located, and your local grainery or whatever will have at least some kinds of seed(whatever's popular there). If someone tries market manipulation, this mostly just helps out all the little guys with stocks of now-valuable seeds.

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Re: Genetic use restriction technology (Suicide Seeds)

Postby cphite » Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:59 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
BattleMoose wrote:Hello,

Firstly, I am aware at how deeply unpopular this technology is. And I understand the fear too, that farmers, particularly vulnerable ones, get manipulated into using this product and get trapped into a cycle they cannot escape. Although at the sale of the harvest, the choice of what seed to buy still exists? So I am not entirely convinced that such a fear is rational.


Nah. Farmers know *exactly* what it does. It's also nothing new. A ton of hybrids don't breed true, and require frequent repurchasing of plants or what not.

The whole thing is a non-issue. We gave nature the middle finger decades ago, and it's been great ever since.


Exactly right.

People seem to have this perception of farmers as being clueless hayseeds who are at the mercy of evil geniuses in the seed industry. Most of the farmers I know are extremely knowledgeable on the subject, and some of them will talk your ear off about the subject... endlessly... whether you want them to or not. The point is, to successfully run a commercial farm today requires that you, or someone who works for you, have a very strong handle on this stuff.

The trade off to having to repurchase is bigger crop yields, healthier plants, more product per plant, etc; all of which translates to more money for the farmer. The difference between a GURT crop and a crop that merely produces non-optimal seeds is moot - farmers are planning to repurchase anyway.

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Re: Genetic use restriction technology (Suicide Seeds)

Postby KrytenKoro » Wed Mar 04, 2015 8:25 pm UTC

Wouldn't it also be important to make sure that GMO crops aren't cross-pollinating with the "natural" versions surrounding the fields? We want to be ecologically safe, after all.
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Re: Genetic use restriction technology (Suicide Seeds)

Postby qetzal » Thu Mar 05, 2015 4:15 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:Wouldn't it also be important to make sure that GMO crops aren't cross-pollinating with the "natural" versions surrounding the fields? We want to be ecologically safe, after all.


Is that really specific to GMO crops though? Why is it necessary to prevent cross-pollination for GMOs, but not for non-GMO crops? Especially since some conventional breeding methods can generate crops that are much more different from "natural" versions, in ways that are much less-well characterized, than a typical GMO.

If a particular GMO crop contains a gene that poses specific risks, then that's an obvious rationale for taking special measures to prevent escape. But I don't see that as a GMO issue per se. It's a gene/trait issue, and IMO it should logically apply regardless of how the gene/trait was introduced.

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Re: Genetic use restriction technology (Suicide Seeds)

Postby KrytenKoro » Fri Mar 06, 2015 12:57 am UTC

qetzal wrote:
KrytenKoro wrote:Wouldn't it also be important to make sure that GMO crops aren't cross-pollinating with the "natural" versions surrounding the fields? We want to be ecologically safe, after all.


Is that really specific to GMO crops though? Why is it necessary to prevent cross-pollination for GMOs, but not for non-GMO crops? Especially since some conventional breeding methods can generate crops that are much more different from "natural" versions, in ways that are much less-well characterized, than a typical GMO.

If a particular GMO crop contains a gene that poses specific risks, then that's an obvious rationale for taking special measures to prevent escape. But I don't see that as a GMO issue per se. It's a gene/trait issue, and IMO it should logically apply regardless of how the gene/trait was introduced.

I'm not sure why that would be more important in GMO, or even if it is more important (it could just be that the GMO crops are trying to be even more ecologically responsible than the normal crop breeders). All I know is from a friend who worked with Monsanto GMO crops as part of her PhD, that preventing escapes was a significant factor in the rationale for making the crops not reproducable.
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Re: Genetic use restriction technology (Suicide Seeds)

Postby BattleMoose » Fri Mar 06, 2015 2:48 am UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:I'm not sure why that would be more important in GMO, or even if it is more important (it could just be that the GMO crops are trying to be even more ecologically responsible than the normal crop breeders). All I know is from a friend who worked with Monsanto GMO crops as part of her PhD, that preventing escapes was a significant factor in the rationale for making the crops not reproducable.


Bullshit reasons/excuses are often invoked to hide the true intentions or motivations of an action. Not reproducible crops are great for Monsanto because of IP protection and ensures farmers have to buy new seeds for every planting. Preventing escapes could be nice, but yeah.

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Re: Genetic use restriction technology (Suicide Seeds)

Postby qetzal » Fri Mar 06, 2015 3:00 pm UTC

I don't think it was really a bullshit reason. At least, not for everyone. I don't doubt that Monsanto et al. recognized that mechanisms to prevent escape could also be used to retain control. But I also clearly recall a lot of academic GMO researchers back in the 80s were very concerned about escape.

I just think it's incorrect to consider that as a GMO-specific issue. (And to be fair, I expect lots of researchers knew that.)

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Re: Genetic use restriction technology (Suicide Seeds)

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Mar 06, 2015 7:46 pm UTC

qetzal wrote:
KrytenKoro wrote:Wouldn't it also be important to make sure that GMO crops aren't cross-pollinating with the "natural" versions surrounding the fields? We want to be ecologically safe, after all.


Is that really specific to GMO crops though? Why is it necessary to prevent cross-pollination for GMOs, but not for non-GMO crops? Especially since some conventional breeding methods can generate crops that are much more different from "natural" versions, in ways that are much less-well characterized, than a typical GMO.

If a particular GMO crop contains a gene that poses specific risks, then that's an obvious rationale for taking special measures to prevent escape. But I don't see that as a GMO issue per se. It's a gene/trait issue, and IMO it should logically apply regardless of how the gene/trait was introduced.


Cross pollination affects everything. *shrug* Is a known issue. Less so now, as farms are often pretty big in size, and a given field is likely a monoculture. But it's not even necessarily a bad thing. It can be sure, and often is on a factory farm level, because you want uniformity, but it can be intentionally embraced as well.

Controlling pollination is fairly widely desired, though. You can pretty much assume that it's something that gets considered by professional farmers. They may, for instance, spray a field with an herbicide some time prior to planting to minimize heritage plants under some circumstances.

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Re: Genetic use restriction technology (Suicide Seeds)

Postby KrytenKoro » Fri Mar 06, 2015 10:41 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote:
KrytenKoro wrote:I'm not sure why that would be more important in GMO, or even if it is more important (it could just be that the GMO crops are trying to be even more ecologically responsible than the normal crop breeders). All I know is from a friend who worked with Monsanto GMO crops as part of her PhD, that preventing escapes was a significant factor in the rationale for making the crops not reproducable.


Bullshit reasons/excuses are often invoked to hide the true intentions or motivations of an action. Not reproducible crops are great for Monsanto because of IP protection and ensures farmers have to buy new seeds for every planting. Preventing escapes could be nice, but yeah.

Like qetzal said, and also...dude it was the topic of her PhD. I think she would have figured out pretty early on that it was nonsense if it was bullshit.
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Re: Genetic use restriction technology (Suicide Seeds)

Postby BattleMoose » Sat Mar 07, 2015 1:08 am UTC

I didn't say it was nonsense. Just the motivation for doing it. I am sure it is a perfectly valid PhD topic.

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Re: Genetic use restriction technology (Suicide Seeds)

Postby NerdNumber1 » Tue Apr 28, 2015 8:04 pm UTC

Considering how much trouble invasive species of flora and fauna have caused as well as certain hybrids (like the extra-aggressive African bee hybrids), ecological responsibility should be a significant concern when introducing new genetic strains or species into an ecosystem. While corporations like Monsanto no doubt benefit from requiring their customers to buy batches each season, they have legitimate reasons to worry. Plus, hybrid organisms tend to be sterile anyway, so it might take MORE effort to make a plant that has all the traits you want AND has the ability to reproduce as well.

Heck, controlling GMO reproduction is a way of Monsanto-like companies to cover themselves. Creating an invasive strain of corn that spread out of control could be a Oil-company scale screw-up (and/or solve world hunger, probably not the latter).

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Re: Genetic use restriction technology (Suicide Seeds)

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:06 pm UTC

These hybrid-but-non-GMO seeds that most non-GMO crops use - is it possible for a relatively small company to produce them, or are they coming exclusively from the big shops, like the GMO ones do?
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Re: Genetic use restriction technology (Suicide Seeds)

Postby ahammel » Thu Apr 30, 2015 12:45 am UTC

qetzal wrote:
KrytenKoro wrote:Wouldn't it also be important to make sure that GMO crops aren't cross-pollinating with the "natural" versions surrounding the fields? We want to be ecologically safe, after all.


Is that really specific to GMO crops though?
You might want to be more concerned about cross pollination if you've engineered in pesticide resistance or production of high-value biomolecules (read: medicine). The former because of weed control issues, the later because it's probably not a great thing to get antibiotics absolutely everywhere. Things like disease and herbivore resistance could also conceivably cause an issue, but you can get those from conventional breeding. Modifications for food value probably wouldn't do too much damage if they escaped.
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Re: Genetic use restriction technology (Suicide Seeds)

Postby Autolykos » Thu Apr 30, 2015 1:16 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:These hybrid-but-non-GMO seeds that most non-GMO crops use - is it possible for a relatively small company to produce them, or are they coming exclusively from the big shops, like the GMO ones do?
Nowadays, the question which crops count as GMOs and which don't is mostly academic anyway. And I can't even bring myself to be angry about it, since the dangers of GMOs are probably vastly exaggerated. The hacks used to create "technically-not-GMOs" are a lot more suspicious, IMHO, and I don't know of any problems with those, either - despite most of us eating the stuff for a pretty long time now. Welcome to the future!

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Re: Genetic use restriction technology (Suicide Seeds)

Postby qetzal » Thu Apr 30, 2015 1:59 pm UTC

@ahammel:

I don't disagree with any of that. I'll just say again that all those concerns relate to the introduced genes or traits, not to the method of introductoon. If it were possible to introduce the same genes/traits by non-GMO methods, all those issues would still apply, right?

@Autolykos:

AFAIK, radiation-induced mutation has been around much longer than recombinant DNA methods, and isn't usually considered GMO. Of course, my argument is that GMO vs. non-GMO is mostly a red herring, but plenty of prople disagree. (They're wrong, of course! :wink: )

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Re: Genetic use restriction technology (Suicide Seeds)

Postby ahammel » Thu Apr 30, 2015 2:14 pm UTC

qetzal wrote:@ahammel:

I don't disagree with any of that. I'll just say again that all those concerns relate to the introduced genes or traits, not to the method of introductoon. If it were possible to introduce the same genes/traits by non-GMO methods, all those issues would still apply, right?
Yeah, absolutely. It's just that, so far as I know, gen eng is the only way to get those particular traits at present.

Health Canada takes exactly the approach you describe in deciding which crops to approve for field-use, I believe.

@Autolykos:

AFAIK, radiation-induced mutation has been around much longer than recombinant DNA methods, and isn't usually considered GMO.
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Re: Genetic use restriction technology (Suicide Seeds)

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Apr 30, 2015 2:43 pm UTC

Autolykos wrote:
Copper Bezel wrote:These hybrid-but-non-GMO seeds that most non-GMO crops use - is it possible for a relatively small company to produce them, or are they coming exclusively from the big shops, like the GMO ones do?
Nowadays, the question which crops count as GMOs and which don't is mostly academic anyway. And I can't even bring myself to be angry about it, since the dangers of GMOs are probably vastly exaggerated. The hacks used to create "technically-not-GMOs" are a lot more suspicious, IMHO, and I don't know of any problems with those, either - despite most of us eating the stuff for a pretty long time now. Welcome to the future!

Okay, that does clarify a bit. I mean, I've never seen any percentage in preferring "non-GMO" stuff, but it's unsurprising to hear that it's not really much of a distinction.

Separately, I guess I'm just unsure how far seed production has gone toward a Microsoft-Apple, Coke-Pepsi sort of situation and whether there's any possibility for small shops still to compete in that space.
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Re: Genetic use restriction technology (Suicide Seeds)

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Apr 30, 2015 5:12 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:
Autolykos wrote:
Copper Bezel wrote:These hybrid-but-non-GMO seeds that most non-GMO crops use - is it possible for a relatively small company to produce them, or are they coming exclusively from the big shops, like the GMO ones do?
Nowadays, the question which crops count as GMOs and which don't is mostly academic anyway. And I can't even bring myself to be angry about it, since the dangers of GMOs are probably vastly exaggerated. The hacks used to create "technically-not-GMOs" are a lot more suspicious, IMHO, and I don't know of any problems with those, either - despite most of us eating the stuff for a pretty long time now. Welcome to the future!

Okay, that does clarify a bit. I mean, I've never seen any percentage in preferring "non-GMO" stuff, but it's unsurprising to hear that it's not really much of a distinction.

Separately, I guess I'm just unsure how far seed production has gone toward a Microsoft-Apple, Coke-Pepsi sort of situation and whether there's any possibility for small shops still to compete in that space.


Space exists, in the sense of heirloom seeds and such, because as long as you're actively producing crops, gathering these is fairly easy. It's...unreasonably hard to stamp out all heirloom seeds. Some techniques like grafting, etc are also ridiculously old, and are likely to be practiced regardless.

But as you get into the more heavily modified stuff, it requires a degree of specialization that only works on a certain scale. A single family farm is unlikely to get highly creative in this way. However, you do sometimes see coalitions of educational facilities, farmers, etc that research different varieties with a high degree of technical skill. The University of Minnesota, for instance, has some nice test field programs going on which is doing good work here. So, GMOs aren't just about mega-corps.

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Re: Genetic use restriction technology (Suicide Seeds)

Postby ahammel » Thu Apr 30, 2015 6:51 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Copper Bezel wrote:
Autolykos wrote:
Copper Bezel wrote:These hybrid-but-non-GMO seeds that most non-GMO crops use - is it possible for a relatively small company to produce them, or are they coming exclusively from the big shops, like the GMO ones do?
Nowadays, the question which crops count as GMOs and which don't is mostly academic anyway. And I can't even bring myself to be angry about it, since the dangers of GMOs are probably vastly exaggerated. The hacks used to create "technically-not-GMOs" are a lot more suspicious, IMHO, and I don't know of any problems with those, either - despite most of us eating the stuff for a pretty long time now. Welcome to the future!

Okay, that does clarify a bit. I mean, I've never seen any percentage in preferring "non-GMO" stuff, but it's unsurprising to hear that it's not really much of a distinction.

Separately, I guess I'm just unsure how far seed production has gone toward a Microsoft-Apple, Coke-Pepsi sort of situation and whether there's any possibility for small shops still to compete in that space.


Space exists, in the sense of heirloom seeds and such, because as long as you're actively producing crops, gathering these is fairly easy. It's...unreasonably hard to stamp out all heirloom seeds. Some techniques like grafting, etc are also ridiculously old, and are likely to be practiced regardless.

But as you get into the more heavily modified stuff, it requires a degree of specialization that only works on a certain scale. A single family farm is unlikely to get highly creative in this way. However, you do sometimes see coalitions of educational facilities, farmers, etc that research different varieties with a high degree of technical skill. The University of Minnesota, for instance, has some nice test field programs going on which is doing good work here. So, GMOs aren't just about mega-corps.

Yeah, I didn't think it was super unusual for startup-level concerns to be working on GMO seed production.
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Re: Genetic use restriction technology (Suicide Seeds)

Postby Copper Bezel » Fri May 01, 2015 1:10 am UTC

Oh, cool. That's ... kinda reassuring.
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