So if Greenpeace get offered the job, they won't take it?
Yesterday seemed a great day for science in Europe, with the European Space Agency setting down its Philae lander on comet 67P - but even as this took place the European Commission quietly sent a rather different signal, as it hit "delete" on the role of its Chief Scientific Advisor. Since 2012 the EC Chief Scientific Advisor …
Friday 14th November 2014 09:40 GMT g e
Saturday 15th November 2014 10:17 GMT Anonymous Coward
"So if Greenpeace get offered the job, they won't take it?"
They don't need to. Their shit headed thinking has driven EU energy, waste and climate policies for many years now. As a result you're paying fat subsidies for ineffectual wind and solar power, fossil generation is unprofitable across Europe (cue yet more subsidies because the renewables are useless). Their policies have triggered widespread closure of coal fired plant, so we'll be even more at Russia's mercy, even as the EU meddles in Ukraine's affairs along with the US, and they've worked hard to ensure that Germany, Belgium and Italy make precipitate exits from nuclear. Even France is being pushed to add crappy renewables to its generation mix, instead of persisting with its hugely successful nuclear programme.
And Europe's economic malaise will be further prolonged by expensive power. The mis-investment in unproductive energy assets will linger on as an economic drag for at least a generation.
The purpose of removing the role of CSA is probably because Greenpeace are concerned that there's a danger of somebody sensible pointing out how their Canute like policies are dragging Europe back to the Victorian era, and have failed to make much of a dent on emissions. Most of the reduction in Europe's emissions since 1990 comes not from Greenpeace's EU energy policy, but from the hemorrhaging of EU industry to the far east, and the relative decline of the EU's major economies.
Facts have no place in Greenpeace's view of the world, as evidence by their lies over Brent Spar.
Friday 14th November 2014 09:12 GMT returnmyjedi
Friday 14th November 2014 10:01 GMT Voland's right hand
Next time you see a GM refusenik ask him how much potatoes did he eat lately.
All potatoes are (albeit primitive) GM. They are a product of early work on radiation induced mutagenesis + cross-species hybridization of the resulting mutants in the 30-es and early post-war (both sides of the curtain). None of the currently cultivated varieties is something you can obtain via normal breeding and selection techniques. If you create something like this today it should require the same clearance for deployment as GM - it is a cross species hybrid with unknown properties.
Friday 14th November 2014 11:48 GMT Hans 1
Friday 14th November 2014 13:02 GMT ElReg!comments!Pierre
Re: That's OK
Ohh, because that is the same as creating a gene artificially that makes the plant produce insecticide or a Round'Up neutralizer ?
Besides, Monsanto, the main GMO producer, is also known for agent "orange"
I find this line of reasonning extremely disturbing. Unfortunately that's what all anti-"GMO" resort to as a last-line defense in my (rather extensive) experience. In the end after a lot of arguing and explaining everyone (but the religioud nutters) agree that "GMO" are but a tool, neither good nor evil per se BUT they resort to the "ban them anyway because Monsanto" argument because noone likes a nuanced and balanced opinion nowadays: it doesn't sell. That attitude has lead to disastrous scientific setbacks, and will continue to do so.
I rather dislike Monsanto; in fact I would gladly welcome a law preventing some of their malpractices*. But a blanket ban of "GMO" as the spawn of the Devil? Not acceptable.
*actually on a side note one of the worst, the "Terminator" system, has actually been forced on them after the pressure of "green" groups, Greenpeace most notably.
Friday 14th November 2014 14:42 GMT James Micallef
Re: That's OK
I'm with Pierre on this one. Monsanto are a company whose practices I am extremely uncomfortable with, and using GMO techniques to create plants resistant only to your own pesticide/herbicide is evil because (a) it locks in farmers to Monsanto and (b) the end result is more poison on our food.
However GMO can also be equally used to develop pest-resistant strains that allow us to grow food with LESS poison on it, to grow food with more vitamins and nutrients etc. There is nothing inherently wrong with GMO techniques and nothing provably wrong with the methods or end results that is ONLY the result of GMO techniques. the problems are with specific applications.
Greenpeace idiots cannot see this because for them it's all black and white and blanket bans.... just like they want to ban all nuclear power because 1960s-designed nuclear power plants are unsafe
Saturday 15th November 2014 08:05 GMT Voland's right hand
Re: That's OK
Ohh, because that is the same as creating a gene artificially that makes the plant produce insecticide or a Round'Up neutralizer ?
Compared to that an interspecies hybrid with additional unknown properties from radiation induced mutagenesis is even worse. The main argument against GM is the environmental impact and "we do not know what effect do these have on us and the environment".
So let's see.
On one side we have a plant which produces an insecticide or Round'Up neutralizer. We have surgically inserted that gene and we have used a virus to do so so we know what other DNA went there. That is a known value.
On the other side we have an interspecies hybrid from a plant family where nearly anything is toxic (potato family has a whole raft of poisonous plants) with a whole raft of genes with point mutations from radiation induced mutagenesis. Do we have a clue what will happen if it is left out in the wild? Do we know if any of the toxic genes which are suppressed in the normal potato get expressed occasionally? Do not think so.
Now, ask the greenies to eat a spud. BIG BAKED one (the big "McDonalds" varieties are multiple interspecies hybrids with 4 or 8 sets of chromosomes compared to the wild potatos).
Saturday 15th November 2014 15:37 GMT Jaybus
Re: That's OK
And why, exactly, does it matter how the GM is accomplished? Even a directed breeding program is a form of GM. In general, all crops (and livestock) are the result of GM. Bottom line is we'd all starve without it. More and more I am becoming convinced that mass starvation is exactly what Greenpeace is hoping for. It would drastically reduce human consumption, wouldn't it?
Friday 14th November 2014 09:21 GMT Dr Stephen Jones
Friday 14th November 2014 09:28 GMT Dan 55
Friday 14th November 2014 09:45 GMT jake
Friday 14th November 2014 09:58 GMT The Axe
Re: Greenpeace is neither green, nor peaceful.
In the 70s we were warned about reds under the bed. Now I think we should be warned about reds in our vegtable beds, specifically watermelons.
Greenpeace use "green" as a marketing label, underneath they are promoters of the reds, socialism. And if you thought Labour was left wing, Greens are even further to the left.
Friday 14th November 2014 11:43 GMT Hans 1
Well, some modern GMO's are dangerous to public health, without doubt - a number do not even need scientific evidence, common sense usually is sufficient. So a bold statement like that means she should STFU, as she has no clue.
There are many examples for GMO's that are a threat to public health, any that have genes that produce an insecticide, and there are quite a few of them. Common sense.
Then you have those that are resistant to Round'Up, again, common sense, not only will Round'Up end up in your plate, the chemical used to neutralize it does not look too healthy, if you ask me ... again, common sense.
GMO's are proprietary crops complete with patents. This means they are uncontrollable - You sow on a windy day and your neighbor has to pay.
GMO's have advantages, though, they are resistant to specific insects ... until the insects in question evolve, which they have done, so new GMO's are required with stronger insecticide.
So, apparently, she is not very knowledgeable on the matter.
So "experts" (ROFL), you know where the down-vote button is, he ;-).
Friday 14th November 2014 13:06 GMT Kugutsu
Can we have some citation please? What GMOs produce insecticides?
The normal mode of operation is that the GMO is modified to resist pesticides, which are then added later. This has the added bonus for the company making the GMO, as normally they also make the pesticide, and that is where their profit lies.
While I agree that we don't really want to be eating pesticides, it is important to distinguish between where the harm is coming from. The act of GMing an O does not make it inherently bad. It is just a quicker way of doing what humans have been doing with their food crops since agriculture began, in a more directed fashion. Some GMOs are pesticide resistant (and I imagine this is the type you are worrying about in your post), while others do fairly benign things, like increase the vitamin content of a crop, or make it synthesise particularly tricky amino acids or fatty acids that are commonly lacking in people's diets... This is the problem with a greenpeace-style ban of GMOs, as they seem unable to distinguish between different types of GMOs, and only want an all out ban.
Monday 17th November 2014 18:01 GMT Hans 1
There are dozens ...
Several varieties of maize, like MON810, contain a gene which produces a bacterial toxin to protect the plant from insects such as the European corn borer.
Most toxins like these are accumulated by the body (they do not end up in excrements/urine) and cause diseases like cancer and other serious ailments.
Now, why do you not just use google to find others, I can never remember the MON<n><n><n>'s. Also look at seralini's works - with a huge pinch of salt, admittedly, those GMO's are madness - Roundup resistant means we will have roundup in our plates and glasses, because it will sieve through and reach ground water.
> [...] while others do fairly benign things, like increase the vitamin content of a crop, or make it synthesise particularly tricky amino acids or fatty acids that are commonly lacking in people's diets...
This has been debunked, besides, there is nothing like a varied diet.
You do not care? fine ... Lets take it further, imagine they come up with perfect crops that has not natural enemies, what happens ? It will spread like hell all over the place. Have you not read about the plants in your country that come from overseas and spread like hell, asphyxiating other plants ?
> This is the problem with a greenpeace-style ban of GMOs, as they seem unable to distinguish between different types of GMOs, and only want an all out ban.
The very idea of GMO is bad! Tell me, which part of the sentence:
"You sow on a windy day and your neighbor has to pay."
Do you not understand ?
You do not care? fine ... Lets take it further, then, imagine they come up with perfect crops that has no natural enemies, what happens ? It will spread like hell all over the place. Have you not read about the plants that come from overseas and spread like hell, asphyxiating other similar local plants as they have no local enemies ? This has a direct impact on the food chain as insects eating these local varieties will have to adapt or go extinct - their number will diminish, as will the predators of these insects and so on.
Besides, insects mutate pretty swiftly, so the very idea of GMO's is just useless.
Sadly, even the "superior yield" of GMO's have been debunked.
GMO's have been created to extort farmers and create a "license" on crops. Monsanto is a Microsoft - evil empire.
Now, I appreciate the time you took to ask, but you should simply use google and my "hints" - read the pros and cons, you will be able to make up your mind.
Friday 14th November 2014 13:44 GMT nijam
Friday 14th November 2014 15:18 GMT Swarthy
One of my favorite crops releases both a pesticide and an herbicide into its soil, and has done from before mankind discovered the plant. This chemical is 1, 3, 7-trimethylxanthine which acts as a neurotoxin in warm blooded creatures and prevents germination of seeds. I'm not sure what it does to insects, but they don't seem to like it either.
You say you don't want pest/herbicides in your food, I say I want more caffeine in my coffee.
Monday 17th November 2014 18:34 GMT Hans 1
See my reply to Kugutsu.
"Uninformed guesswork", right. What does round'up do in a river, in your tap water ? Think about it for a second.
Absolutely no arguments, no counter claims, no google knowhow - believe everything that is said on TV in ads .. fair enough.
I do not back everything greenpeace does, they are extremists, but I share many of their concerns.
Friday 14th November 2014 18:52 GMT Mark 85
GMO's do have their dangers but so does just about everything else in this life. I take a more moderate apporoach. If the GMO food has the same nutrient values as the non-GMO and requires less pesticides I'm for it.
As a side note, this may be how Monsanto (and others) will save their bottom line since pesticides are becoming more and more of a bad-thing.
Friday 14th November 2014 12:55 GMT David Pollard
With a track record including the Fipronil tests
In 1997 the EU funded a programme to control locusts in Madagascar using Fipronil, a pesticide for which field trials were needed before it could be sold in the lucrative American market. Apparently there didn't actually seem to be any major problem with locusts at the time, though a great deal of harm was done to wildlife by the tests.
Perhaps the EU record of impartiality in the field of plant science really is a bit tarnished.
Friday 14th November 2014 13:31 GMT bigtimehustler
Friday 14th November 2014 14:35 GMT Anonymous Coward
Commission do have a reserve of around 2750 spoke's-scientifics
though they are fairly low profile, and Juncker has just transferred them to Commission Education policy rather than Research policy, but that end-effect isn't yet known
Left over from the EURATOM initiative, there were 5 (or 6*) nuclear research facilities established in 5 (or 6*) EU nations. Over time these weird scientific centres have transmogrified themselves into fairly interesting and very useful, reasonably neutral places. (Ed Ball's dad used to run one of their biological research departments in Italy)
The brochure about the EC DG Joint Research Centre is here https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/sites/default/files/jrc_passport_en.pdf
and a mission statement is attached for your glory "Robust science for policy making
The mission of the JRC is to provide customer-driven scientific and technical support for the conception, development, implementation and monitoring of EU policies. As a service of the European Commission, the JRC functions as a reference centre of science and technology for the Union. Close to the policy-making process, it serves the common interest of the Member States, while being independent of special interests, whether private or national."
(*)why the "or 6", well - the Oxford J.E.T Joint European Torus was allegedly supposed to be a sixth JRC, but as soon as UK gov saw how much they would have to pay the staff - they downgraded it - to avoid having 'technical staff wage inflation in the UK' or some such shenanigans... there was eventually a quiet court-case and some millions of euros quietly disbursed to some JET staff , probably, or maybe not?
Friday 14th November 2014 17:47 GMT airbrush
A bit one sided maybe?
If Greenpeace was the only lobbyist she annoyed then she wasnt doing her job, given the lack of background to the article I'm taking it with a hefty pinch of salt. Anyway here's a great article in the Guardian about the sterling work she was doing and hopes that she would carry on :
and then later an article about why the role is being questioned:
Seems like someones being cynical about the green lobby when its dwarfed by pretty much any other lobby group, the decisions made by the EU are pretty transparent at least compared to our Government that is. There's always going to be the scientific view about GM crops and the publics view, if a good proportion of the population don't want GM crops then politicians aren't going to alienate the voters without good reason (you'd hope).
Friday 14th November 2014 18:56 GMT Mark 85
I wonder which is better...
To have no CSA, or to have the head on funding committee for NASA to be a fundamentalist Christian who believes the universe is only 6,000 years old? Or maybe a Greenpeace type as CSA.
Politics makes strange bedfellows indeed and most are a variation of Coyote Love.
Friday 14th November 2014 20:37 GMT Brian Allan 1
Monday 17th November 2014 18:46 GMT Hans 1
Re: Another hit to science
See my reply to Kugutsu - just plain common sense, man.
Note that a lot of scientists are "sponsored" - aspestos, tobacco .... I could go on ...
I would love to hear what these scientists say when round'up ends up in rivers ... then again, the fish are now hermaphrodite in many rivers across the developed world because of the contraceptive pill - that does not seem to bother anybody. Who cares ? It is cheaper to trash our habitat we are told every day when in fact the contrary is true - so much true that UNILEVER would pay billions to prevent ppl from making their own washing liquid (washing machine safe) with soap and vinegar. 10 euro cents / liter + water + energy, probably 12 cents / liter total, fully comp.
Somebody has to pay those investors ...
Friday 14th November 2014 21:05 GMT synonymous cowherd
I see the light, anyone getting hot and bothererd about Monsanto should check out Syngenta. In the mid 1990's they see no moral/ethical issue at all with selling mercury (mercuric phenyl acetate) based fungicidal seed treatments to third world countries when they were not permitted to do so in developed first world nations(red list). I might know someone who worked at a facility that may have prepared and handled this material. ;))) Read about these agri-business' and feel the love
Saturday 15th November 2014 03:22 GMT HildyJ
Once again, science loses out to religion. When an organization, be it a church or a secular group like Greenpeace, declares one of their beliefs to be above scientific questioning, it becomes a religious doctrine, a sacred scripture.
Whether GMOs should be patentable or whether farmers should be able to buy GMOs and replant the crops from seeds they collect, these are matters for political debate and Greenpeace can have at it. Whether GMOs are harmful to people or the environment, these are matters for scientific study, and Greenpeace can either submit their studies to peer reviewed journals or shut up. Otherwise they are no more than creationists or climate change deniers.
Wednesday 26th November 2014 09:18 GMT Hans 1
I love you down-voters ... as soon as I come with facts, specific examples (coz apparently, you guyz don't know www.google.com), you vanish ...
I would have expected the same amount of down-votes on my comment with the details, would you not ?
I guess you are all ashamed of your naivety.
Tuesday 21st April 2015 19:34 GMT HOW many?
Minister for inconvenient truths?
Politicians can fog just about anything
But good science well packaged is one of the more effective constraints on their nonsense
And you wonder why they were happy to play Pilate to Greenpeace's Judas?
Its a bad day for everyone - Greenpeace most of all when mob rules drown rational assessment.
(Personally I greatly mistrust GM, but that doesn't alter the truth of the statement the scientific community really are all over the shop with regard the safety of GM. (Yeah, though well informed cynics may say that's because half the vimyd are in the pockets of GM interests)).