HomeRoast Digest


Topic: GMO Coffee (37 msgs / 1332 lines)
1) From: Edward Bourgeois
There isn't much we eat that doesn't contain some amount of a GMO
plant crop in it. Personally I have grave concerns with GMO crops.  My
cuppa Tom and an occasional splash of milk (from a local dairy that is
grass fed and is able to go non-GMO corn in his area without cross
pollination) is one of my decreasing havens of enjoying something
good. I had not thought much about GMO coffee until I googled it last
night. I guess there are already several to accomplish different
purposes. Saw one that makes the coffee more soluble and of course
some with toxins to deal with various pests. I assume there are many
others to deal with weather conditions, production yields, uniformity
etc. etc. Since these are all patented and can cross pollinate, small
farmers using the varietals we enjoy and doing traditional on farm
selective breeding could lose that ability!  Same as has happened in
this country with those trying to grow traditional varietals and seed
save in areas where GMO crops are also grown. I saw that Hawaii has
tried to keep GMO coffee away for a number of years now but not sure
if that's still the case? From now on when I'm asked about one of my
coffees I will add that the beans are non-gmo
-- 
Ed Bourgeois aka farmroast
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2) From: cherry carter
I hope that Tom and Maria can convince coffee farmers worldwide that GMO is
a dreadful path to follow. It is scary how crop after crop eventually
succumbs to pressure from the powerful seed providers. We don't buy local
corn anymore because it is all GMO, and proudly stated on each farmer's
fence. Instead, we buy frozen organic corn. It would be tragic if our
beautiful pots of coffee became contaminated, as well. You are right, I
think of our coffee as a haven -- and the milk we drink is from our own
grass fed goats and water buffalo. We need to protect our food supply, not
only for ourselves, but for future generations.
On Sun, Jul 18, 2010 at 11:27 AM, Edward Bourgeois wrote:
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3) From: Frank Parth
<Snip>
I understand your opinion, but the counter-argument is that the traditional way of "protecting" our food supply from 
pests and diseases is by massive doses of chemicals. Millions of tons of chemicals every year. So whichdo you want - 
food crops which have been bathed in chemical baths or food crops that have been genetically altered 
toprotectthemselves. The types and amounts of nutrients in both is the same according to the research published in the 
science journals.
The industry pushing organic products has their own very valid arguments, but realistically there's not enough 
farmlandin the US to provide organic food and protein for everyone. I grow my own vegetables (Burpees loves me), but 
it's because I love the better flavor of fresh grown veggies, not because I have any arguments with how the commercial 
productsare grown.
Just my 2 cents.
Frank
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4) From: Ryan M. Ward
I can certainly respect your opinion- it is very practical. Sometimes the option which seems dangerous and drastic is actually the better of two evils. For example, I would consider Nuclear power a far superior energy option to burning coal- in terms of efficiency, and safety. I don't like the idea of nuclear waste myself(quite frankly, I think solar energy is the best option, but the technology needs some work- things are improving though and new solar technologies have been developed which are making it more affordable), or the potential for another Chernobyl incident, but the fact remains that Coal causes FAR more damage to the environment and human health than nuclear power.
(I can find references regarding this if needed) 
One very fundamental concern regarding GMO crops; however, is that GMO contamination is almost impossible to contain. If a dangerous gene sequence were to be accidentally injected into a crop(IE the dangers were not known), and that crop spread pollen to neighbouring crops, those other crops would be affected and would carry that gene. There have been cases of Organic farms losing their certification due to genetic contamination from other neighbouring GMO crops (Organic certification places very strict limits on generic alteration of crops). 
(If anyone is interested I can find references- I am not making this up.)
In short, I very much do respect your concerns regarding pesticides- we have learned that lesson the hard way a few times. (Pesticides particularly hit home for me as they have found correlations between childhood exposure to pesticides and ADHD. I have ADHD myself. Of course, correlation does not imply causation, but it does cause question naturally- since I got diagnosed a few months ago and became aware of this correlation, my family and I are switching over to organic foods slowly. I do not normally react this way to young science- but I would not wish ADHD on anyone, especially my daughter).
The difference here is that pesticides are poisonous yes, but you can stop dusting crops. The environment may be polluted, yes, but this can often be repaired with time(no I am not defending crop dusting, I am not taking a position on it at all, I am just trying to draw the distinction). With GMO crops, containment is difficult at best. The consequences are practically permanent, and hard to forsee. Although our knowledge of Genetic Engineering has increased by leaps and bounds over the last few years, I have little confidence that we have mastered the field yet.
Genetic modification, non-the-less, does give us some great things. Insulin is now produced via genetically modified bacteria. Most cheese rennets are as well (which is great for us vegetarians, we can eat more cheese with confidence that we are not eating cow stomach lining juice- yuck!). I am very hesitant about GM, but cannot deny the great things it has granted us. 
Personally, I am not completely opposed to it being used for food (although VERY cautious about it) so long as it is STRONGLY controlled, and food using GMO foods are labeled. People should have the right to know what they are eating. 
My $0.02 , please be advised, I am not an expert on this though- I am a Mathematician, not a Biologist. I am sure my Biologist cousin could comment more reliably, I am just a dumb Mathematician with an opinion.
-- 
Ryan M. Ward
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5) From: Ryan M. Ward
"realistically there's not enough farmland in the US to provide organic food and protein for everyone"
I am not sure I believe this. Also, technology is developed according to supply and demand just like everything else in a capitalist market. Pesticides have been the conventional way to protect crops for years so they have been developed into their current efficiency. Organic methods have not been in demand, so they have not. If we were to most to a more organic direction, perhaps the technology could be developed to make organic farming just as efficient as conventional.
Even if we keep pesticides, the issue with pesticides is in environmental contamination and residue on foods. Instead of jumping to GMO, why not try to work on making pesticides safer? Find new ways to process crops to remove more of the chemicals? 
Another option not considered is expanding our use of hydroponic farming- this technology is expanding rapidly. 
Now, regarding the not enough farm land comment. I am not saying that I believe there is enough, per se, but I am not willing to accept yet that there is not(without some justification). Another consideration is that if our culture were to move in the direction of growing some of our food at home, this could free up a lot(I am not sure how feasible this option is but I will mention it). Cutting back on meat would help as well. Our culture is WAY to dependent on meat- which is a very energy inefficient food. I am not saying we all need to be vegetarians, but cutting back a bit- eating a few less steaks each week could free up some grazing land for produce. Honestly, do we really need to eat a burger every day? If we do not have enough land, part of the reason could plausibly be because we are inefficient eaters(I speculate this, but based on some calculations I have read agricultural requirements).
In summary, "So which do you want - food crops which have been bathed in 
chemical baths or food crops that have been genetically altered to protect themselves."
I feel this dichotomy is false- other options exist, some feasible, some not, some not feasible yet but have the potential to be. Instead of jumping strait to an option which although seems plausible now- carries a lot of liabilities, lets think about what we can do to improve the options we have which carry less long term liability, and require less assumptions.
Note: I have not even mentioned the ethical dilemmas associated with genetically modifying another species' gene pool for our own purposes because most people do not respond to such arguments- but I encourage you to think about it. 
-- 
Ryan M. Ward
*Note: This email was sent from a computer running Ubuntu Linux 9.10 (Karmic Koala)http://www.ubuntu.com**Note: This signature was placed here by me and is not automatically-generated-annoying-end-of-email-spam placed here by anyone other than myself. I am a Linux nut and am doing my part to support open source software and the Linux and Ubuntu communities by getting the word out with each email I send, I encourage you to do the same.
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6) From: John A C Despres
Let's be careful to define GMO - GMO does not always mean chemically
modified. Splicing two plant together is Genetically Modifying either of the
two plants...
Exercise caution, look carefully and stay healthy.
John
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7) From: cherry carter
I was under the impression that this created a hybrid and the original stock
of each plant was preserved -- that's why seeds revert to one of the parents
in the original cross. The genes from one plant do not contaminate those
from another.
On Mon, Jul 19, 2010 at 5:44 AM, John A C Despres wrote:
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8) From: mike
In the discussion of GMO, it always means artificially and directly
modifying the genetics of the organism in question, bypassing natural
mechanisms in favor for artificial mechanisms. Of course everything we do
to plants affects their genes, be it selective breeding, crossing and
hybridizing, however when GMO is being discussed, it's about the product
of direct genetic manipulation in the lab. It's the same difference as the
term "Organic." Technically, petroleum is organic. However the
term Organic used in discussion isn't referring to technicalities, but to
methodology - a subset of agriculture that is managed in an accepted
earth-friendly and sustainable manner without the use of petrochems. With
GMO, the same is inferred. Technically, we're tampering with the genetics
regardless and have been for ages, but this isn't technically that's being
discussed, but methodology. Essentially, GMO has already been defined.
Be well,
Mike
-- 
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On Mon, July
19, 2010 5:44 am, John A C Despres wrote:
<Snip>
define GMO - GMO does not always mean chemically
<Snip>
Splicing two plant together is Genetically Modifying either of
<Snip>
the two plants...
<Snip>
and stay healthy.
<Snip>
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9) From: Ryan M. Ward
Technically speaking, "genetic modification" has been done for years in the form of selective breeding or artificial selection. The term GMO is a slight misnomer in this sense. Artificial selection is different in the sense that one is esentially speeding up the process of evolution. Changes are more or less gradual. This process is why we have so many different breeds of cats, dogs and fish.
Genetic engineering, however, involves actually cutting out a portion of a gene from an organism and physically cutting a portion of the DNA of another species to glue the gene in. This is usually done (last time I checked) by inserting the gene into a retrovirus and infecting the new organism with this virus. The virus then implants the gene into the organism where the gene embedds itself into the host DNA.
The change is very abrupt, I argue too abrupt for comfort. It is MUCH different than making a hybrid. A hybrid is when you mate two different types of compatible organisms together- such as mating a donkey and a horse to get a hybrid- a mule. 
Genetic enginering has been used to insert cow genes into tomatos to produce tomatos with a brighter red color. - know fish genes have been injected into another vegetable for something but cannot remember the details. Human DNA has been spliced into bacteria to produce insulin producing bacteria, etc...
Now, regarding the concern regarding genetic contamination. Genetic contamination does not occur at gene splicing time- this is true. It occurs during mating season. Pollen can travel a long way. If a farmer grows non-GMO corn, and his neighbor grows GMO corn, the GMO genes cannot infect the adult corn plants and alter them in any way. But, if the GMO plants spread pollen to the first guys corn plants, the seeds will contain the altered DNA. Those seeds now carry GM DNA. Any crops produced from those seeds will be genetically modified- and more importantly, if those crops pollenate other crops- they will become genetically modified.
This has already happened, and has been documented. I mentioned before some organic crops in Hawaii (I think it was Hawaii) that lost their organic certification, not because of anything the farmer did, but because genetic testing of his crops revealed genetic contamination from a neighbors GMO crop.
When I am at my computer I will type up info about some other issues that have popped up with Genetic Modification.
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10) From: Lynne
Thanks to Mike & Ryan. I wanted to contribute something to the conversation,
as it is something that really concerns me - but, I'd have to do a lot of
research to find the right words (in too much pain to do that right now).
Ryan, you explained it very well.
I am very concerned about the big picture - how this will effect all people
of this earth. As you said, already it's happened w/organic farmers. Some
poor farmers in India have committed suicide over how it effected their
livelihood.
Once more - the reason GMO crops are being developed is for the profit of
big farming-business. The very nature of farming on giant scales makes for
problems that have no solutions. It doesn't/won't solve hunger problems in
this world - that's just a cover, IMHNSO.
Just read about a roof-top exhibit in NY about the famine in Ireland - they
actually brought an actual house fr that time period & reenacted what it
would look like then. The people who created this amazing exhibit made a
statement that stayed with me:
Hunger is never about not having enough food in the world. It's about who
owns and controls the land.
(They also stated as an example, today, in Haiti, lots of the rebuilding
isn't taking place because of absentee land owners!)
Lynne
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11) From: Ryan M. Ward
"Some poor farmers in India have committed suicide over how it effected their livelihood."
WOW! I had not heard of this!
"Once more - the reason GMO crops are being developed is for the profit of big farming-business."
I agree with this statement completely (for the most part- some GMO research if for medicine and scientific research, but I think the overwhelming majority of motivation is bottom line.)
"It doesn't/won't solve hunger problems in this world - that's just a cover, IMHNSO."
Personally, I am a little more optimistic. I think that genetic modification does have the potential to aid in world hunger and malnutrition- but at what cost? Particularly, I have a hard time believing that 'more food' is the only solution. Your insight that world hunger is not due to a shortage of food but controlling of land seems very plausible to me. After all, how many mouths could we feed using the land on which a golf course has been built? (However, it is impossible to escape the fact that such considerations would also press other issues as well- such as should those golfers be obligated to give up their golfing land to feed the hungry, or since this is our land- are we entitled to build golf courses if we choose- despite the fact that people in the world are hungry. Seems to me that the ownership of land argument leads to a lot of very difficult philosophical considerations- not that they do not need to be discussed)
I also submit again, that part of our problem (in my not so humble opinion), is that we are very inefficient eaters. The energy and land requirements to raise cattle for food are much higher that growing produce. I am not suggesting we all become vegetarians (I think that would be great and would alleviate a lot more problems than just inefficient eating), but if we cut back a bit we could free up some of that grazing land.
"I am very concerned about the big picture - how this will effect all people of this earth."
IMO, this is the most fundamental flaw with our culture- there simply are not enough people with this big Picture mindset. Irrespective of particular issue, and criticising both all of any particular issue- a huge portion of the people that I argue with seem concerned with very short term issues, and less so with long term consequences. I am not suggesting that we should abandon short term thinking- not by any means. If a tiger is about to attack you and you need to decide how to respond- you really need to think short term! But proximate perspectives are very disproportionately represented in our considerations. 
Well, I better stop. I decided when I signed up on this list that I would not get into politics as this is a coffee forum. If I continue any longer I might accidentally bring up my position that Global Warming is a huge problem that needs to be addressed and that the only real controversy regarding the existence of Glogal Warming is the political controversy.
-- 
Ryan M. Ward
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12) From: cherry carter
Please read *Seeds* *of* *Deception*, by Jeffrey Smith.
In addition: "Evidence on health dangers has prompted the American Academy
of Environmental Medicine to say that according to animal feeding studies,
GMOs are causally linked to immune system problems, organ damage,
accelerated aging, insulin disregulation, gastrointestinal problems, and
higher death rates." A USDA report in 2006 showed that farmers don't
actually increase income from GMOs, but many actually lose income. And . . .
"We have now what I say is irrefutable, overwhelming evidence that the
current generation of genetically modified foods are unsafe, should never
have been approved, and should be withdrawn." "In *Genetic* *Roulette* I
show how industry-funded research is meticuloously designed to avoid finding
problems, how they have bad science down to a science."
These quotes are from ACRES USA,  The Voice of Eco-Agriculture. January,
2010, *Starving a Hungry World, The Lies and Bad Science of GMOs, by Jeffrey
Smith.*.
On Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 10:11 AM, Ryan M. Ward 

13) From: JanoMac
I hate to add to this thread, but my "Pseudoscience" button was finally
pushed:
...and before I'd EVER believe the likes of Jeffrey Smith with respect to my
coffee sources or safety, I'd like for him to answer to simple peer review
regarding his "studies" on GM foods and GMO safety as reported in his two
self-published books. No one in my field could get away with making such
un-cited claims, nor in reporting studies with so few test subjects
(c'mon...8 hamsters?! Really?). Biologists I have worked with wouldn't be
laughed out of the journal, they'd be removed from our research positions,
if not the entire institution.
Check here for some details that Smith has not, and apparently will not
respond to:http://academicsreview.org/reviewed-individuals/jeffrey-smith/I will agree that there are *some* people working ONLY for the bottom line
and are using unethical means to makes lots of money for themselves and
shareholders, but I refuse to paint ALL agribusiness and every person
working for chemical companies with the same broad poisonous brush as Smith.
There are a handful of GM/GMO problems that were not predicted and caused
unintended consequences (BT corn pollinating feed corn and also affecting
Monarch butterfly larvae eating nearby milkweed plants dusted with the
falling pollen -- but NOT affecting, by the way, the animals that ate the
feed corn.). A cruise through the literature (not the same as a cruise
through the Web, by any means) shows an interesting history of the topic and
many blind alleys as well as fascinating turns of events that show
scientists finding, solving, and avoiding problems. Contrary to Smith's
claims, this is all "out there" and not hidden away through some huge
conspiracy of big-Ag companies.
Having skimmed (reading was too painful) Smith's fear-mongering invectives
("Seeds of Deceit" (a deliciously ironic name) & "Genetic Roulette") : I
came away with these conclusions that Smith has failed to grasp... over and
over and over):
* Anecdotes are not the same as scientific evidence.
* 100 anecdotes does not equal "better" anecdotes, and therefore still does
not equal scientific or even necessarily valid evidence.
* Correlation does not equal causation
* Just because you make money, it doesn't make you evil
Smith is either ignorant of proper and productive scientific research and
argument or is disingenuous with his readership. Either is problematic at
best and both are shameful for a writer who is swaying the minds of many
people through fear rather than verifiable evidence.
Skeptically yours,
Kirk (JanoMac)
(Resident biologist and scaremonger-hunter)
"".
On Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 2:02 PM, cherry carter wrote:
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14) From: Lynne
Thank you - I'm going to try to get it at our library.
On the surface, this might look like an off-topic subject for this list -
but it can have real implications for the small coffee farmer.
IMHO, GMO only benefits the huge farming industries - the same way
the small farmer was pushed out of existence here in the US years ago.
On Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 2:02 PM, cherry carter wrote:
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15) From: Sheila Quinn
I could go on and on about this subject, but I'm restraining myself. I 
will say, though, that I highly recommend the film "The Future of Food" 
for an honest look at some of the problems with GMO and with 
corporations controlling our food supply. It's a real eye opener, to say 
the least. You can watch it for free on Hulu:http://www.hulu.com/watch/67878/the-future-of-foodThere's another good one you can rent on DVD called "Food Inc." It deals 
with some of the same issues, as well as other problems with the food 
industry.
Sheila
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16) From: Rich
So, the possible choices are these, corporate control of the food 
supply, government control of the food supply, or do it yourself and 
control your own food supply.  The corporation has to make money for the 
stockholders by being profitable and selling/making unsafe products does 
not long produce an income.  Government can fix nothing and its too much 
bother to do it yourself.  There is way to much junk pseudo science out 
in the wild now.  With the swarm of ever present lawyers ready to sue at 
the drop of a seed I will trust agribusiness to be very careful and 
responsible.  While very carefully watching what they are doing.
Sheila Quinn wrote:
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17) From: Edward Bourgeois
We spent way to much time trying to control nature rather than work
with it. Tom probably has some great stories of creative approaches of
fitting coffee into a natural environment to the benefits of the care,
health and taste of the coffee. If we put the same effort in working
with the standard varietals as we did going hybrid and now gm I think
we'd have a better result, But seeds could not be controlled which
loses much of the corporate charm. I love the story that livestock are
inefficient. In a feed lot, absolutely, but when compared to a proper
managed graze veggies have way more shortcomings. Though fruit and
coffee can be done practically invisibly.
On Sun, Jul 18, 2010 at 2:27 PM, Edward Bourgeois  w=
rote:
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18) From: Ryan M. Ward
"I hate to add to this thread"
Why? Its an interesting thread, and if you are a research biologist, you probably have a very valuable perspective here.
"I will agree that there are *some* people working ONLY for the bottom 
line and are using unethical means to makes lots of money for 
themselves and shareholders, but I refuse to paint ALL 
agribusiness and every person working for chemical companies 
with the same broad poisonous brush as Smith."
I cannot comment on what Smith says because I have not read his book(Aside from the fact that biology is not my field). I agree with you; however, that just because you are an agribusiness professional does not automatically mean that you are intrinsically evil, selfish, or working ONLY in your own personal interests. However, having such a strong vested interest tied to money and personal wealth IS sufficient reason to call ones actions into question- and demand disinterested oversight if the issue is sufficient enough to warrant it. After all, the objectivity of any scientist who's research is funded in large part by a private interest which has strong interests in the outcome of the research is usually called into question. Case in point: the tobacco industry's research into the safety of tobacco is usually not respected.
Do you disagree with the assertion that a large portion (I speculate the vast majority) of genetic food research is done to produce crops which are more economically sound to grow and/or more competitive in the market place with lesser marginal cost- an idea related closely with bottom line(I include producing food to feed the world's hungry in this market place. The farmers that grow golden rice get paid too, unless the farmers are doing it purely as a humanitarian effort)? Judgements aside? 
Crops which are resistant to disease, produce more yield, etc... Yes, there are benefits here to the overall population. But I think the fundamental motivation is bottom line. You do not improve factories and efficiency in manufacturing for the purpose of improving your customers' way of lives, you do it to make your product at a cheaper price (maybe you improve your product now that it is cheaper to do so, but again the motivation here is still bottom line). Farms are really just factories of food. Farms are businesses just like any other. (I will grant that my parallel is not perfect, one could think of Farms as factories yes, but Food is not a typical product, neither is medicine. Advances in agriculture can have people's best interests at heart- but I do not believe all such advances are such. What I mean to address is the business side of farming which view a Farm as a factory.) Just like any other business which is manufacturing products that people depend on for their health- their intentions and actions must be scrutinized.
"Having skimmed (reading was too painful) Smith's fear-mongering 
invectives
 ("Seeds of Deceit" (a deliciously ironic name) & 
"Genetic Roulette") : I
 came away with these conclusions that 
Smith has failed to grasp... over and
 over and over):
 * 
Anecdotes are not the same as scientific evidence.
 * 100 
anecdotes does not equal "better" anecdotes, and therefore still does
 not equal scientific or even necessarily valid evidence.
 * 
Correlation does not equal causation
 * Just because you make 
money, it doesn't make you evil"
These sound good to me. 
"Contrary to Smith's claims, this is all "out there" and not 
hidden away through some huge conspiracy of big-Ag companies."
Again, can't comment on Smith, but I do agree that some people take their suspicion of "Big Business" a little too far. Just because a corporation is large does not make it unethical, and just because a business is local does not make it worth my patronage. It all boils down to a case by case consideration. Again, all should be scrutinized to some degree or other- and those who have the greater power to affect our lives need to be scrutinized the most. (Could you imagine a world in which Pharmaceutical companies were not overseen at all or produce had no regulations. Sorry totally-free-market people, I just don't buy it.)
"Either is problematic at best and both are shameful for a writer
 who is swaying the minds of many people through fear rather 
than verifiable evidence."
This is, unfortunately, too common. I don't know how many times I have defended the case for the building of the Large Hadron Collider. Some people honestly believe that it is going to create a black hole that will eat the Earth whole. Lets not forget political propaganda as well.
"There are a handful of GM/GMO problems that were not predicted and 
caused unintended consequences (BT corn pollinating feed corn 
and also affecting Monarch butterfly larvae eating nearby 
milkweed plants dusted with the falling pollen -- but NOT 
affecting, by the way, the animals that ate the feed corn.)."
As I recall, there were more cases, some more severe(I will have to check where I read this before commenting). The examples you have given are very trivial, are you aware of less benign cases? Have you exhausted all cases- or rather types of cases?
Again, I appreciate your perspective.
-- 
Ryan M. Ward
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19) From: Ryan M. Ward
"I love the story that livestock are inefficient. In a feed lot, absolutely, but when compared to a proper managed graze veggies have way more shortcomings."
Interesting, could you elaborate? This is very counter-intuitive to me. 
-- 
Ryan M. Ward
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20) From: Ryan M. Ward
"So, the possible choices are these, corporate control of the food supply, government control of the food supply, or do it yourself and control your own food supply."
I am not sure that I agree with this assumption. You have implicitly assumed that only 3 cases are possible(I read this out of the remaining points you outline):
1) Government essentially owns and distributes the food supply (Like a socialist- command based system)
2) Corporations control the food supply(I assume you mean no government oversight- or at least very very little, a free market system)
3) We grow our own (sort of like a homesteaders' approach)
Feasible alternatives exist, namely 
1) Corporate owned farms which operate under some regulations set forth by the government.
2) non-profit or community (non-government) run farms and Co-Ops
3) farms funded by the government but administered privately under some government regulation 
I am not advocating for these necessarily, but your assumption that only 3 possibilities exist (which I acknowledge you never explicitly said, but this intent was apparent) is false.
Lets assume for the sake of argument that the above assumption is cogent.
1) The corporation has to make money for the stockholders by being
 profitable and selling/making unsafe products does not long 
produce an income.  
2) Government can fix nothing and 
3) its too much bother to do it yourself.
1) two responses:
a) Unless people do not know or accidents are kept quite(Hush money mean anything?), why do company keep PR people on staff?
b) Unless the safety does not become an issue until later on. Often times the consequences of unsafe products are not known until later down the road. Case in point- DDT, Agent Orange, Fen Phen (did I spell that right?), yes the makers of these products suffered the consequences, but not untill after considerable damage was done. Further, the company that manufactured Fen Phen is still around and doing business.
2) Response: This needs some justification. This is a very lofty claim and quite subjective. To say that the government cannot fix anything would require us to disregard a lot of good the that Government has done. We live in the comfortable nation that we do (comfortable compared to many), in large part because of our government. Politics aside, our government does work, just not perfectly, and not every time.
3) I will not argue with this one, mainly because I think completely relying on people to grow their own food is inefficient.
"There is way to much junk pseudo science out in the wild now."  
Wont argue with you there, but who is generating all that Pseudoscience? Not all of it is those evil special interest groups. Business accounts for a lot of it(I cannot think of examples from agribusiness, but I have not paid attention either).
 
With the swarm of ever present lawyers ready to sue at the drop
 of a seed I will trust agribusiness to be very careful and responsible.  
I do not believe that Agribusiness is so powerless that it is afraid of all of those lawyers. If you have a lawyer coming after you- hire a better lawyer. Sure, they want to avoid law suits, but does this make them act responsibly or cautiously? IE, do those lawyers really scare them that much. I would love to think so, but have a hard time with that one.
While very carefully watching what they are doing.
Good idea, but honestly what can you actually do as one person- and what information can you actually watch for? We need government oversight as well. They have the resources and authority to see more.
-- 
Ryan M. Ward
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21) From: Rich
The three cases I cited are just the basic broad categories.  They can 
be blended and pureed to death.  That was not the point.  The point is 
there is way too much junk science out in the wild and this issue is of 
minimal merit at best.
Ryan M. Ward wrote:
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22) From: Ryan M. Ward
I apologize if I misunderstood your comments.
"The point is there is way too much junk science out in the wild "
I agree with you wholeheartedly
"and this issue is of minimal merit at best."
Which issue do you mean? Do you mean the not trusting Big Business issue? I am not sure I can buy the assertion that the issue has no merit- there is an entire field dedicated to it: Business ethics.
Do you mean that the GM issue has no merit? I also disagree with this and feel it is a very important and pertinent issue- VERY relevant to us. The implications of GM go past biology, public health, and politics. Bio-ethical considerations are also involved. But I am eager to hear your justification of this statement.
-- 
Ryan M. Ward
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23) From: Joseph Robertson
Rich,
With all do respect, while you watch very carefully what "they" are doing. I
will opt the a morphed version of your third option / or choice. Instead of
doing it myself I am going out of my way to support and hopefully bring back
the small farmers and food co-ops.
Food Co-ops are in and affordable. These small local co-ops are popping up
all over and I'm doing what I can to see this continues.
It is, has been and really always will be up to us as individuals to make
these changes that begin on a community level. I tend to agree with Lynne
that Big business is about and for big business. Not so with the small
farmers.
As far as this discussion on this list. The politics of Coffee and food are
very close indeed. I know Tom has all these concerns and issues on his mind
when he sources some of the wonderful small lots for us.
Joe
On Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 3:38 PM, Rich  wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
Ambassador for Specialty Coffee and palate reform.
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24) From: Edward Bourgeois
My concern was GMO getting into our cherished coffee varietals. In the
low lands I imagine a possible mess.  Farming works best when it can
be fit naturally into an environment without disruption. I think some
of the farmers Tom visits have some good simple stewardship going on
and it shows in the cup. Soil hates plows. It's a micro massacre.
Exposing soil is not a natural occurrence.  Plowed fields are a
environmental disaster IMO. It does like some aeration that worms,
cloven hoofs etc. normally accomplish naturally. The life and organic
matter at the surface can process needed nutrients from the soil if
not disturbed. A farmer can increase it's capacity by organically
feeding this surface system. We generally plow and just add tons of
oil and gas based crap or at best extra amounts of organic additives.
Perennial food plants like coffee work well because it keeps a root
structure in the soil year round.. Perennial grasses with good roots
are friendly with many soils and when grazing is managed similar to
how a prairie sustained.  There are a number of perennial varietals of
field crops what we generally plant as an annual  type. These are
being bred and selected to make more viable. These may be super tasty
also. We spent way too much time, effort and added crap going in the
wrong direction. Like the old commercial, .It's not nice to fool
mother nature
On Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 9:25 PM, Ryan M. Ward
 wrote:
<Snip>
ly, but when compared to a proper managed graze veggies have way more short=
comings."
<Snip>
mic Koala)
<Snip>
erated-annoying-end-of-email-spam placed here by anyone other than myself. =
I am a Linux nut and am doing my part to support open source software and t=
he Linux and Ubuntu communities by getting the word out with each email I s=
end, I encourage you to do the same.
<Snip>
My
<Snip>
mariascoffee.com
<Snip>
fee.com/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=7820
<Snip>
:ON:WL:en-US:WM_HMP:042010_3
<Snip>
ariascoffee.com
<Snip>
ee.com/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=7820
<Snip>
-- =
Ed Bourgeois aka farmroast
Amherst MA.http://coffee-roasting.blogspot.com/Homeroast mailing list
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25) From: Bryan Wray
Getting into this thread late so my point may have already been brought up.
At what point do you consider a coffee "modified?"
We have been crossing coffee varietals for years.  Mundo Novo, Catui, Pac=
amara, CaTimor, the Scott Labs  coffees.... these are all coffees that we=
re selectively and purposefully crossed and "modified" for disease resistan=
ce and higher yields.
Are we fearing something that is already here (and has been since the 1940'=
s) or did I miss something.
-bry
Bryan Wray
Nor'West Coffee
360.831.1480
Bryan
It is my hope that people realize that coffee is more than just a caffeine =
delivery service, it can be a culinary art- Chris Owens
--- On Tue, 7/20/10, Edward Bourgeois  wrote:
From: Edward Bourgeois 
Subject: Re: [Homeroast] GMO Coffee
To: "A list to discuss home coffee roasting. There are rules for this list,=
 available athttp://www.sweetmarias.com/maillistinfo.html"
Date: Tuesday, July 20, 2010, 9:11 PM
My concern was GMO getting into our cherished coffee varietals. In the
low lands I imagine a possible mess.  Farming works best when it can
be fit naturally into an environment without disruption. I think some
of the farmers Tom visits have some good simple stewardship going on
and it shows in the cup. Soil hates plows. It's a micro massacre.
Exposing soil is not a natural occurrence.  Plowed fields are a
environmental disaster IMO. It does like some aeration that worms,
cloven hoofs etc. normally accomplish naturally. The life and organic
matter at the surface can process needed nutrients from the soil if
not disturbed. A farmer can increase it's capacity by organically
feeding this surface system. We generally plow and just add tons of
oil and gas based crap or at best extra amounts of organic additives.
Perennial food plants like coffee work well because it keeps a root
structure in the soil year round.. Perennial grasses with good roots
are friendly with many soils and when grazing is managed similar to
how a prairie sustained.  There are a number of perennial varietals of
field crops what we generally plant as an annual  type. These are
being bred and selected to make more viable. These may be super tasty
also. We spent way too much time, effort and added crap going in the
wrong direction. Like the old commercial, .It's not nice to fool
mother nature
On Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 9:25 PM, Ryan M. Ward
 wrote:
<Snip>
ly, but when compared to a proper managed graze veggies have way more short=
comings."
<Snip>
mic Koala)
<Snip>
erated-annoying-end-of-email-spam placed here by anyone other than myself. =
I am a Linux nut and am doing my part to support open source software and t=
he Linux and Ubuntu communities by getting the word out with each email I s=
end, I encourage you to do the same.
<Snip>
My
<Snip>
mariascoffee.com
<Snip>
fee.com/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=7820
<Snip>
:ON:WL:en-US:WM_HMP:042010_3
<Snip>
ariascoffee.com
<Snip>
ee.com/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=7820
<Snip>
-- =
Ed Bourgeois aka farmroast
Amherst MA.http://coffee-roasting.blogspot.com/Homeroast mailing list
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      =
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26) From: Ryan M. Ward
The discussion in this thread is primarily concerned with explicit direct manipulation of the genome of coffee and other foods. IE, not with artificial selection as you have mentioned.
-- 
Ryan M. Ward
*Note: This email was sent from a computer running Ubuntu Linux 9.10 (Karmic Koala)http://www.ubuntu.com**Note: This signature was placed here by me and is not automatically-generated-annoying-end-of-email-spam placed here by anyone other than myself. I am a Linux nut and am doing my part to support open source software and the Linux and Ubuntu communities by getting the word out with each email I send, I encourage you to do the same.
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27) From: Ryan M. Ward
I did some google searching for fun trying to find information on genetically modified coffee. http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/gm-beans-threaten-farmers-meagre-livelihoods-685032.htmlhttp://archives.starbulletin.com/2008/03/26/news/story07.htmlhttp://www.cbc.ca/news/story/2003/06/18/gm_coffee030618.htmlI do not have a lot of confidence that any of these articles have all of there facts strait(technically speaking) but they all seem interesting.">http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge/coffee060417.cfmhttp://www.newscientist.com/article/dn7438-coffee-trial-survives-insects-but-not-vandals.htmlhttp://www.independent.co.uk/environment/gm-beans-threaten-farmers-meagre-livelihoods-685032.htmlhttp://archives.starbulletin.com/2008/03/26/news/story07.htmlhttp://www.cbc.ca/news/story/2003/06/18/gm_coffee030618.htmlI do not have a lot of confidence that any of these articles have all of there facts strait(technically speaking) but they all seem interesting.
-- 
Ryan M. Ward
*Note: This email was sent from a computer running Ubuntu Linux 9.10 (Karmic Koala)http://www.ubuntu.com**Note: This signature was placed here by me and is not automatically-generated-annoying-end-of-email-spam placed here by anyone other than myself. I am a Linux nut and am doing my part to support open source software and the Linux and Ubuntu communities by getting the word out with each email I send, I encourage you to do the same.
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28) From: raymanowen
I've been reading *The World According to Monsanto* © 2008  by Marie-Moni=
que
Robin.
In my opinion, all should be conversant with the effects of the Chemical
Vampires on the good things of the earth.
No farmer is so vacuum-brained as to be unaware of his intimate relationship
with the dirt and water of the planet.  Follow the money trail.  Agent
Orange, obscured test results of lethal pesticides, HFCS and other
amendments finding their way into the Nectar of Our Love.
It may seem fantastic to many that coffee, being, as it is, the second
derivative of seeds, could become a source of royalty payments to the owner
of patent rights to every seed planted and harvested on the planet.
If caffeine doesn't disrupt your slumber, Ch 16- *How Multinational
Corporations Control The World's Food*, will do so.
If we can just convince more people to need better coffee, Monsanto will
engineer seeds that will grow bigger shrubs and harvests, with all the good
flavor of Robusta, to boot. Coffee for All. Marketing and Madison Ave will
teach us how good it is, and how Lucky we are to have *$ looking out for us.
Cheers, Mabuhay -RayO, aka Opa!
Persist in old ways; expect new results - suborn Insanity...
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29) From: Ryan M. Ward
I completely agree with the spirit of your position. I feel similarly about credit unions. I avoid banks at all costs and try to do all of my business with credit unions (When appropriate- most credit unions make lousy stock brokers for independent traders like myself- so I trade through TD Ameritrade).
"It is, has been and really always will be up to us as individuals to 
make these changes that begin on a community level."
Beautifully stated!
"I tend to agree with Lynne that Big business is about and for 
big business. Not so with the small farmers."
As much as I would like to agree with this, I am not really willing to grant small farmers quite that much credit. I would love to believe this is true but I have known too many small businesses and local farmers that definitely do not have this mindset and are looking out for number one. I do agree in the sense that, at least in my experience, the bad apples are in the minority. I hope that this is true in general and transcends my personal experience.
I would also advocate for giving Big Agribusiness a little more credit for a couple of reasons (since I am affiliated with few large agribusinesses, I will make the assumption that large agribusinesses and large businesses in general share many of the traits I will outline- correct me on any of them):
1) Many large businesses have the means to, and do, give back to the community in significant way
2) Many large businesses do have ethical standards that they follow fairly uniformly with respect to the handling of their products- IE, because they can afford discard mistakes, they are less likely to try to cover up mistakes in their products and try to sell them anyway (This is very speculative on my part and is partially based on experience working for both large and small businesses and seeing how they handle errors- but again is speculative and a very generous use of my experience- again, my experience does NOT include large agribusinesses)
3) Any business is made up of people, if a business is run by good people with sound ethics, the business will run soundly and ethically- irrespective of size. I think the problem with big business is in accountability to shareholders who's sole interest is money and profit, there are a lot more people and thus a lot more chances to get a bad one in, and last- the stakes are higher, more money, more greed.
4) Usually, big businesses started out as small businesses. After all, Starbucks was a small coffee shop in Seattle when it opened. If we assume all big businesses are corrupt and greedy, we have to assume that small businesses generally have the potential to become corrupt and greedy as well by virtue of the fact that they have the potential to become big business. This does not suggest that they ARE corrupt or greedy- but it causes me to wonder when a growing small business is not longer good in the eyes of small business supporters.
The fundamental idea here, I think, is it boils down to the fundamental philosophies of any business and how well they adhere to such a philosophy- irrespective of size of company. 
-- 
Ryan M. Ward
*Note: This email was sent from a computer running Ubuntu Linux 9.10 (Karmic Koala)http://www.ubuntu.com**Note: This signature was placed here by me and is not automatically-generated-annoying-end-of-email-spam placed here by anyone other than myself. I am a Linux nut and am doing my part to support open source software and the Linux and Ubuntu communities by getting the word out with each email I send, I encourage you to do the same.
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30) From: Ryan M. Ward
I have been waiting all day for you to Chime in! =
-- =
Ryan M. Ward
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31) From: Joseph Robertson
Very nice Synopsis RayO.
Well said.
Joe
On Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 11:14 PM,  wrote:
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er
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od
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ariascoffee.com
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32) From: Lynne
[note: messages snipped - always a good idea, IMO]
I, too, am very glad to read Ray-O's poetic words! and I totally agree.
Ray wrote:
<Snip>
Joseph wrote:
Rich,
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of
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As far as this discussion on this list. The politics of Coffee and food are
<Snip>
nd
<Snip>
I agree that a personal solution is to take part in food co-ops - also CSA's
and local
farmer's markets for our food source. As far as my coffee source goes -
since I can't
grow my own coffee here in New England, Tom is my next best choice. That was
what
was the deciding factor when I first ordered from Sweet Maria's - the fact
that he has a
close connection with the farms. I was amazed that I could actually read
about each
source, the farm, the people involved with the production - even photos.
That was a big
step away from the corporate coffee production that has become the norm
today.
My concern, as with so many others - is the result of (or when?) genetically
modified beans
pollinating with normal beans (for Bryan & others who are late in this
discussion, when we are
speaking of GMO, or genetically modified seeds, we are speaking about seeds
that have been
artificially tampered with by scientists (a for instance: when the genes of
shrimp - a common
allergen, btw - opens up a whole 'nuther area of concern - could be added to
corn seeds, or
something like that).
Ed wrote:
<Snip>
Well, if anyone should know about this, it's you, Ed, since that's what you
do! I know this from my
little gardens of the past (I have a small one this yr, but honestly haven't
done much with it beyond the
watering part, letting my son do the rest), and from reading, of course. I
found that it was so much better
to work with nature, not against it, and was constantly (and joyfully)
amazed at the result. Even to the
point when I had put my house up for sale, deciding not to garden that year
- but the tomatoes reseeded
themselves (seeming to have a mind of their own). The veggies I got out of
that garden for those few years
I had it were amazing - in fact, I felt as though it gave an incorrect
impression to my kids that *I* had a
natural talent for gardening, when in fact, I just learned how to work with
nature.
Ryan wrote:
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is
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Totally true - human nature being what it is, it all depends on those humans
involved. And I also agree
that there *can* be big businesses that are ethically sound. The first that
comes to mind is Ben & Jerry's,
(many may disagree with what was their liberal viewpoint, but they had an
ethical stand they stood by,
and perhaps have continued it after the sale of their company. I'm sure
there are others I don't know about.
However, when it comes to big farming business, that, by it's very nature,
seems to be very difficult to achieve.
They would have to start out with the intention right from the beginning,
for instance, to use natural methods to
farm. I wonder how it would be possible. Forgive me if I'm making an
assumption, but 'natural agri-business'
seems to me to be an oxymoron! Yes, they can give back to the community, but
at what cost? Does that
justify what their basic greed might do?
I think this quote from one of the links that you provided sums it up:
<Snip>
ee.
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and
<Snip>
And I say amen to that!
Lynne
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33) From: Joseph Robertson
Where Poetry and Science dance the jig, RayO, it is, all the way to my
morning coffee. Thanks Ray.
Joe
On Wed, Jul 21, 2010 at 7:31 AM, Lynne  wrote:
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ariascoffee.com
<Snip>
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34) From: Ryan M. Ward
Well said as always Lynne. =
-- =
Ryan M. Ward
*Note: This email was sent from a computer running Ubuntu Linux 9.10 (Karmi=
c Koala)http://www.ubuntu.com**Note: This signature was placed here by me and is not automatically-gener=
ated-annoying-end-of-email-spam placed here by anyone other than myself. I =
am a Linux nut and am doing my part to support open source software and the=
 Linux and Ubuntu communities by getting the word out with each email I sen=
d, I encourage you to do the same.
<Snip>
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35) From: Lynne
Merci, Ryan. ¡Et gracias!
L.
On Wed, Jul 21, 2010 at 1:32 PM, Ryan M. Ward
wrote:
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36) From: Kirk Janowiak
I can comment here as it was a favorite topic of mine back in grad  
school in wildlife ecology (um..."several" years ago).
Simply put: ecologically balanced (i.e., "natural") grazing systems on  
the African Savanna require about 10-15 kilogram of vegetable matter  
going into an ungulate herbivore to produce about 1-kilogram of animal.
In a feedlot, it requires about 8-10 kilograms of feed to produce 1- 
kilogram of animal (beef steer).
Hmmm...looks like feedlots are more "efficient," right?
When teased apart a little further, it can easily be shown that a  
mixed herd of ungulates (kudu, wildebeest, gazalles, zebras, etc.) is  
as much as 3 times more efficient! How? Each population (species)  
feeds on different vegetable material; different plants.
Put cattle on that range and the conversion rate is about 15:1  
(feedlot 8-10:1); put in the mixed herd and while the 10-15:1 ratio  
still exists, you can support 3-5 times as many pounds of animals  
standing on the hoof as you can cattle alone because of the division  
of food resources.
The argument, of course, is strongest against grazing cattle on open  
rangeland, but is still a little more efficient than feedlot with  
almost none of the commensurate problems (waste disposal & polluted  
water resources, intra-specific disease, and so on). Managing such a  
herd is tricky, but doable.
But the efficiency argument doesn't seem to sway farmers. Bison on  
American prairies are more efficient (~10:1) than grazing cattle  
(~15:1), but the western farmers still graze cattle, because cattle  
are easier to manage.
Kirk
On Jul 20, 2010, at 9:25 PM, Ryan M. Ward wrote:
<Snip>
JanoMac
janomac
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37) From: Edward Bourgeois
Multi species gazing in best. On the new integrated farms sheep,
goats, cattle and chickens can be managed and rotated to keep pastures
efficient . Animals are gazed on appropriate(non-flat or sensitive to
tilling) land that is covered with grasses all year long so nutrient
replenishment is better. Livestock is also grazed to cleanup crop land
post harvest. A feedlot will use a lot of corn that uses crop land and
lots of energy to produce and process the feed and haul it to the lot
and remove the manure. Manure concentration is high in a lot. And
health issues are much high on a lot. I think I've heard Tom mention
that livestock are often used on coffee farms to manage vegetation and
at the same time add another resource. Farming is very complicated and
often is summed up to far too simple equations.
On Thu, Jul 22, 2010 at 1:51 PM, Kirk Janowiak  wrote:
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-- =
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