back to article Japanese sat tech sinks Sea Shepherd anti-whaling activists' hopes

The anti-whaling organization Sea Shepherd Global has said it won't be going after the Japanese fleet of cetacean "research vessels" in their annual pilgrimage to the Southern Pacific – because satellite technology has made the job impossible. For the past 12 years, the group, set up by former Greenpeace activist Paul Watson, …

Anonymous Coward

I don't get it...

You can buy whale meat in Tokyo, and I'll admit I've tried it. But I don't know why the Japanese go to such extra-ordinary lengths to acquire it. It's not even tasty.

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Re: I don't get it...

I tried it in Iceland. Wasn't bad at all; would definitely eat again. Tasted oddly exactly as you might expect - bit like a cow that had lived in the sea!

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Re: I don't get it...

Apparently it's not even popular, and a very large proportion of the harvest simply ends up being processed into pet food. I think Japan's continued insistence on whaling has more to do with resistance to being told what to do by "the west" than for any genuine desire to continue the industry.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't get it...

Apparently it's not even popular, and a very large proportion of the harvest simply ends up being processed into pet food. I think Japan's continued insistence on whaling has more to do with resistance to being told what to do by "the west" than for any genuine desire to continue the industry.

Yes, the Japanese whaling industry was basically on its knees and coming to an end, and then the whaling ban came in in 1982. That stoked national pride, tradition, etc. And it's was always seen as a poor man's meat, still is. Why eat whale when you can eat pork or beef?

Arguably the Sea Shepherd's campaign has delayed the decline of the Japanese whaling industry. Looks good on TV, causes the opposite of the intended effect. Leave them to it and the Japanese government won't then have any reason to support it and economic reality will likely kill it off.

In other ways the Japanese are actually quite far thinking. They're pretty close to being able to farm Tuna, which will save having to catch them in the wild. They have a way of harvesting caviar that doesn't kill the fish, so that can be sustainable instead of wastefully destructive. They developed pearl farming, which ironically has made pearls not very valuable but has meant that oysters are no longer over fished and discarded.

As for the technology being used; AIS? ESM (C and R)? A submarine tailing a ship? There's many ways of finding out where ships are that don't necessarily require satellites. Satellite coverage is either expensive or patchy or taken from 36,000km.

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Re: I don't get it...

"Arguably the Sea Shepherd's campaign has delayed the decline of the Japanese whaling industry" Arguably it hasn't.

"There's many ways of finding out where ships are that don't necessarily require satellites" Such as?

Anyway, satellite AIS is now quite cheap and widely used by merchant vessels. No military needed.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Re: I don't get it...

This was my thinking. They're bleating about "military satellite spy technology!!11!" essentially because they're being unsuccessful and can't figure out why.

I'd have thought any competent sailor would have immediately thought of AIS, though I don't know what flag of convenience Sea Shepherd's flotilla is registered under or what its rules are on keeping ADS-B turned on. Even then, if you're trying to stay out of visual range, civilian maritime radars are plenty good enough to keep you over the horizon. Or, for that matter, a straightforward radar receiver to detect another ship's emissions long before you're in radar return range.

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Re: I don't get it...

Do you know what ADS-B is? Do you know the difference between ships and aircraft?

wrt AIS. Ships fitted with AIS must keep AIS in operation at all times, except where international agreements, rules or standards provide for the protection of navigational information. OK?

"a straightforward radar receiver to detect another ship's emissions long before you're in radar return range." Please explain

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Re: I don't get it...

'wrt AIS. Ships fitted with AIS must keep AIS in operation at all times, except where international agreements, rules or standards provide for the protection of navigational information. OK?'

It would be a shame if the circuit breaker popped and you didn't notice though right? Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men, which are Sea Shepard?

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Re: I don't get it...

"It would be a shame if the circuit breaker popped and you didn't notice though right?"

Wrong. You don't know much about AIS do you? Or shipboard electrics

"Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men" So you think SOLAS etc. are for the obedience of fools? The opposite is true. SOLAS is to combat the actions of fools. or don't you know anything about SOLAS and the sad history of safety at sea?

"which are Sea Shepard?" I suggest you are an idiot for even contemplating that post in the context you made it.

Fools rush in springs to mind.

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@gandalfcn

You seem like you could bring some useful information to the thread but being so aggressive in tone just makes you out to be a tetchy idiot.

Calm down, it's just an IT forum.

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Re: I don't get it...

'Wrong. You don't know much about AIS do you? Or shipboard electrics'

I know most things have an on/off switch, even if you have to disconnect them from a supply bus to do it.

'So you think SOLAS etc. are for the obedience of fools?'

Yes, or do you think they should be ignoring it?

My point remains, if you're trying to sneak up on a whaling fleet at sea you may want to take a greater risk in order to achieve your aim. Turning off AIS increases your collision risk, marginally in the areas of ocean they're likely to be hunting whales, but greatly increases your ability to sneak up on them. So it's a question of what risk are you willing to take to achieve your aim, personally I would have thought it a risk worth taking, while looking for what other mitigations I could put in place, such as extra lookouts etc.

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Re: I don't get it...

'"a straightforward radar receiver to detect another ship's emissions long before you're in radar return range." Please explain'

All things being equal you can detect a transmitted radar signal over twice as far away as the transmitting antenna will get a usable return. I mean you seem to know a lot about maritime electronics so I would have thought that was obvious...

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Re: I don't get it...

"'So you think SOLAS etc. are for the obedience of fools?'" Wrong.

The point yo now make is not what you were saying.

It is however a very sensible point. You should have made it earlier.

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Re: I don't get it...

"All things being equal you can detect a transmitted radar signal over twice as far away as the transmitting antenna will get a usable return."

It would therefore appear the military have wasted rather a lot of money on developing radar warning receivers.

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Re: @gandalfcn

Fairy Nuff. but when people make inane comments it does tend to annoy.

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Re: I don't get it...

After WWII there were food shortages and whale meat was one solution (as was imported US wheat) which changed Japanese tastes. As a result it, and bread and wheat noodles, were widely used in state school dinners. That means there is nostalgia value for many Japanse of that generation. Demand would probably fall off naturally were it not for the other factor, mentioned elsewhere, of no-one liking to be told what they can and can't do.

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Re: I don't get it...

"All things being equal you can detect a transmitted radar signal over twice as far away as the transmitting antenna will get a usable return."

It would therefore appear the military have wasted rather a lot of money on developing radar warning receivers.

Errr... no. Radar works by sending a signal to the target. The signal bounces back and is received by the radar set. If the target has a receiver, on the right frequency, and as good as the receiver on the ship sending the signal, and the radio signal is of a type which can be picked up over the horizon (many can't) then yes, the target can pick up a signal at twice the range of the radar set. If the radio signal tends to bounce around due to atmospheric or other conditions, then the signal can be picked up at quite a long way, much further than twice the range, if the target is in the correct convergence zone https://books.google.com/books?id=bs-9BwAAQBAJ&pg=PA89&lpg=PA89&dq=radar+convergence+zone&source=bl&ots=8F67rWAWWq&sig=Mqi__ja-zRx-YTW9BL-1MG1JIoA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwijjJT0i__VAhXGJCYKHQWtD3kQ6AEISzAG#v=onepage&q=radar%20convergence%20zone&f=false

I'm afraid that the OP was perfectly correct: you can pick up radar signals at better than twice the range that the senders can see you.

This is old tech; during the Second World War, the RAF developed the Monica tail-warning system for its night bombers. The Luftwaffe responded with the FuG 227, which detected Monica at long range, and used the RAF's own systems to home in. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monica_(radar)

Modern military radar warning receivers use exactly this principle: they pick up inbound radar signals, just like the FuG 227, at a range beyond which the radar system can track whatever is carrying the radar warning system. And it's not even military tech, as nice civilian radar detectors, as fitted to cars around the world, including mine, use the same principle. (Note: this doesn't work with lasers. Some car and some military systems detect inbound lidar and sounds a warning. In cars, this is to tell you that you're about to get a ticket. http://l7.alamy.com/zooms/4f9fd9d85c1d484aabf8eda06a46cecb/traffic-police-officer-using-speed-trap-laser-gun-united-kingdom-cechjd.jpg In military systems, this is to tell you that a supersonic missile is on the way. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AGM-114_Hellfire)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't get it...

"Anyway, satellite AIS is now quite cheap and widely used by merchant vessels. No military needed"

Or one of the Sea Shepherd crew has the "where's my shiny " app switched on

I would be more inclined to support these people if they were not trying to justify their terrorist style tactics as "legal means" to stop the whaling, like someone said, the indusry would have died a natural death if they didnt highlight it and similar to the national outrage in the UK when the EU they were going to outlaw Lb's and Oz weights, we had been using imperial and metric together for years, but threaten our beloved measures?

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Re: I don't get it...

'It is however a very sensible point. You should have made it earlier.'

It's exactly the same point. I just laboured it more.

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Re: I don't get it...

'"All things being equal you can detect a transmitted radar signal over twice as far away as the transmitting antenna will get a usable return."

It would therefore appear the military have wasted rather a lot of money on developing radar warning receivers.'

That's literally what the military ones do.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't get it...

> Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men, which are Sea Shepard?

Brilliant and rather greedy marketers, and mediocre seamen (though you probably already knew that).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't get it...

> Wrong. You don't know much about AIS do you? Or shipboard electrics

I would tend to think he rather does (and so I used to, though it's been a while now).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't get it...

> Turning off AIS increases your collision risk, marginally in the areas of ocean they're likely to be hunting whales, but greatly increases your ability to sneak up on them.

Alternatively you can send a minimal set of messages, excluding ship ident and other stuff, although unless you fake your MMSI I would imagine it would not take long for the rest of the world to google you up, assuming they don't already have a post-in on the bridge with your MMSIs on it.

It may also be that AIS is not mandatory on their boats. I have no idea what they use or what the current rules are.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @gandalfcn

> when people make inane comments it does tend to annoy.

Yes it does, I was starting to think you would never get the hint from all those downvotes.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't get it...

> In cars, this is to tell you that you're about to get a ticket.

Why not just slow down then? I never understood people's obsession with speeding (and I drove my own car at 270 kph, once, but on a private track). Only ever got a speeding ticket once, doing 62 kph (39 mph) on a 50 kph zone, which was my mistake.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't get it...

> I'd have thought any competent sailor would have immediately thought of AIS,

They may not have it, or not switch it on, or send only basic info (position, course, speed, and the vessel's "licence plate").

> though I don't know what flag of convenience Sea Shepherd's flotilla is registered under or what its rules are on keeping ADS-B turned on.

ADS is an airborne system, thought loosely inspired by AIS. The rules are set, IIRC, by the IMO so do not depend on which register you're on.

> Even then, if you're trying to stay out of visual range, civilian maritime radars are plenty good enough to keep you over the horizon.

More to the point, marine radars work out the targets' velocity vectors and (if fed with your own vector from a GPS) calculate and display something called the CPA (closest point of approach). They get all whingy if the CPA goes below a certain threshold, and it tends to be pretty fucking obvious when someone is actively aiming at you because a) they will ignore your calls and signals and b) the CPA will stay close to zero even as you take evasive action, unless your vessel is faster than the attacker.

> Or, for that matter, a straightforward radar receiver to detect another ship's emissions long before you're in radar return range.

That doesn't tell you much apart from the fact that there is another vessel somewhere out there, which of course there will be (the ocean is far from being a lonely place), and a general direction.

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AIS

> satellite AIS is now quite cheap and widely used by merchant vessels

Actually many of them switch off the public access to it when in waters at risk from pirates. No doubt the Japanese whalers switch it off when in waters at risk from Sea Shepherd, and vice versa. So I see no reason to doubt what Sea Shepherd says: that the Japanese are using military technology instead.

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AIS

> Ships fitted with AIS must keep AIS in operation at all times

Sure, but they are free to switch off public access to their position at any time.

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Re: I don't get it...

> you can detect a transmitted radar signal over twice as far away as the transmitting antenna will get a usable return.

I think that the inverse square law applies, so it's going to be a lot more than twice as far in fact. But it seems irrelevant since this will help equally well or badly for both sides. I have no doubt that Sea Shepherd know more about this than the commentards here assembled, myself included.

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Re: I don't get it...

> I don't know why the Japanese go to such extra-ordinary lengths to acquire it.

"Tradition" and "we're not going to be told what to do by bloody foreigners"

Never mind that widespread eating of whale meat only dates from the immediate post-ww2 era when there wasn't much else to eat (UK consumers were having whale meat foisted on them at the same time and had similar distaste for it)

> It's not even tasty.

Younger japanese refuse to eat it. Japanese authorities have been trying to push different ways of making it acceptable for a few decades but it's made little impact on consumer resistance.

This is about governmental bloodymindedness, not about consumer desires.

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Re: I don't get it...

"As for the technology being used; AIS? ESM (C and R)? A submarine tailing a ship? "

Sea Shepherd claim to have evidence of Japanese whaling in Australian economic zone waters where whaling is banned. One of their complaints is that the Australians won't send out observation aircraft to verify - remember that a P8 has more than enough range to do this and they're supposed to be patrolling the areas anyway.

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Re: I don't get it...

"That's literally what the military ones do."

Or for a more prosaic example, it's what radar detectors do and why they can sound a warning at a useful distance from the speed trap.

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Re: I don't get it...

I write about both floaty things and flying things. Sometimes I get the "oi, world, I'm here, don't crash into me" system names mixed up, as I once did while at a Royal Aeronautical Society event - they couldn't figure out why someone would put an automated Aerodrome Information Service broadcast system on a drone, but were polite enough not to press the point. You know (and clearly understood) what I meant.

As for questioning radar warning receivers, you are aware that the principles of operation of RWR systems are precisely those that I mention in abstract and SkippyBing explains in detail, aren't you?

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Re: I don't get it...

'But it seems irrelevant since this will help equally well or badly for both sides.'

The trick is for the the platform using the radar warning receiver to turn its own radar off and passively track the other one*. You could then just follow the bearing until you saw the other vessels, although obviously they'll get a return at some point.

*Yes this does break a few rules about using your navigation radar, again there's a risk/reward pay-off to consider.

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De gustibus non est disputandum

Not sure why some people obsess over the diets of others. I'd sooner eat wild caught sustainably hunted *anything* than most 'products' of modern intensive farming. And it *does* appear that whale hunting at current levels of currently hunted species is sustainable.

I probably won't win many friends with this comment but it is what it is!

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Re: De gustibus non est disputandum

I don't think it's necessarily the diet they're concerned about, moreover they're concerned about what'll happen if the whale population number is detrimentally reduced or becomes extinct and what effect that'll have to the food chain in the ocean.

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Re: De gustibus non est disputandum

Beginning to think it's more of an issue to go after intelligent, even sentient species for food and/or sport. It's a grey area for sure, but cetaceans in general seem no-go.

And to be fair, the appetite for (some) seafood is driving other species to the brink of extinction, such a blue tuna. The tragedy of the commons and all that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: De gustibus non est disputandum

Not sure why some people obsess over the diets of others. I'd sooner eat wild caught sustainably hunted *anything* than most 'products' of modern intensive farming

With 6billion+ people on the planet, we'd starve if we relied on wild caught / harvested everything. All farming is "intensive", every farmer throughout history has used every trick they know to maximise their harvest. We just know more tricks these days.

For a fixed population size, more "intensive" farming reduces the amount of land required for food production. Unfortunately as a species we're not very good at population growth control... Population size tends to stagnate only when economic and food security has been established. Japan (declining birth rate), Singapore (declining birth rate), etc. The European birth rate isn't that great...

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Re: De gustibus non est disputandum

"For a fixed population size, more "intensive" farming reduces the amount of land required for food production."

Spot on. World population is around 7bn and expected to peak at 9bn. It is estimated that if farmers around the world had continued with traditional farming methods rather than modern, intensive ones, we would have needed an area the size of the Amazon forest in extra farmland to feed the world 'organically'. In the next 20-30 years the world will not only have to feed 2bn more people, but to feed much better the 3bn or so of the current 7bn who are undernourished.

The tragedy is that there are many GMO strains that increase yields, increase nutritional content, are pest-resistant (so less pesticides are needed) and fix their own nitrogen (so less fertilizer is needed). Unfortunately GMO got a bad rap* and is generally banned or highly disapproved of in many areas, which is a pity. 'Good' GMOs would allow feeding the world with increased population without increasing farmland. In other words, GMOs can be good for the environment... but try explaining that to some environmentalists!!

* Mainly from the Monsanto GMOs that were pesticide-resistant (rather than pest-resistant), so they got sprayed more rather than less (and with Roundup = glyphosate which was thought to be less harmful when introduced but now is classified as 'probable carcinogen by WHO). I think a lot of anti-GMO feeling come from Monsanto's business practices rather than teh product itself.

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Re: De gustibus non est disputandum

"Not sure why some people obsess over the diets of others..."

The point isn't (just) the sustainability, it's the fact that you're hunting highly intelligent creatures pretty much for sport, since I doubt the meat would be missed if no more was ever caught. It's basically like hunting elephants

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Re: De gustibus non est disputandum

Depends what you mean by sustainable..

Whale numbers (across majority of species, for some species not enough data to know) are a tiny fraction of what they were centuries ago (as far as best estimates go, ironically lots of the information comes from records of whaling vessels).

So, given that the whale population is much, much less than it should be then many people would disagree with any concept of sustainable hunting.

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Facepalm

Re: De gustibus non est disputandum

Glyphosate. This chemical gets a bad rap simply because of its connection with the hated Monsanto and their GMO plant patents. In order to make Monsanto 'pay', the greens go after 'chemicals' which are bad, right? Bloody chemicals, increasing yields, making no-till farming a economic reality, reducing soil erosion. What have chemicals ever done for us? The irony is, they finally got some guy to say it was probably cancer causing, but long after the Monsanto glyphosate patents were out of date.

"The World Health Organization's cancer agency says a common weedkiller is "probably carcinogenic." The scientist leading that review knew of fresh data showing no cancer link - but he never mentioned it and the agency did not take it into account."

https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/glyphosate-cancer-data/

FWIW, I think coffee was also a WHO probable carcinogen. But they changed their mind when everyone laughed at them.

It's maybe the most tested agrochemical ever, and it is a safer herbicide than most anything else. In 'organic farming', they use pesticides too. They just have to be naturally occurring. Like copper sulphate.

"Copper sulfate is one of many pesticides approved under the USDA National Organic Program and a number of studies show that it has a great deal of toxicity to both humans and the environment. For example it is toxic to honeybees when used as a fungicide and a study showed extreme toxicity to bees in tropical environments(it was carried out in Brazil), where copper sulfate is used as a sprayed fertilizer (to provide heavy metal nutrients). In addition, some wineries in France, the United States and elsewhere have backed away from growing organic wine because of accumulation of copper in the soil."

https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2016/05/09/popular-organic-pesticide-copper-sulfate-compare-synthetic-ones-like-glyphosate/

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PTW

Re: Glyphosate and Monsanto

Nothing to do with the lies that it's only active for 2-3 days after spraying, rather than the fact it can remain active for up to 30 years in real life?

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Re: Glyphosate and Monsanto

If you believe the Greenpeace lot, that's up to you. However, here's some actual science.

http://forestinfo.ca/faqs/how-persistent-is-glyphosate-in-plants-soils-water-and-sediments/

"Glyphosate is considered non-persistent in plants, soils, water and sediments. This can be attributed largely to a number of microorganisms that break down glyphosate for food, removing it from the ecosystem. Studies show that it takes only a few days to a few weeks for 50% of the glyphosate to dissipate from various environmental compartments in a treatment site. In soils and sediments, low residue levels may be detected for up to a year following treatment; however, such residues are considered to be strongly bound, biologically unavailable and not of toxicological significance."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: De gustibus non est disputandum

"Beginning to think it's more of an issue to go after intelligent, even sentient species"

Not this whale! He lost all his money playing scratch off lottery tickets!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: De gustibus non est disputandum

The WHO said Glyphosate is safe. Monsanto said "Roundup contains Glyphosate therefore Roundup is safe". But Roundup contains a lot more than just Glyphosate and nobody said Roundup is safe, especially in the 10x-100x doses allowed by GMO Roundup tolerant versions.

It's like saying Agent Orange is safe, it is perfectly safe and was used here in Canada into the 1980s. The batches (coincidentally made by Monsanto) for use in Vietname which had very high levels of dioxin contamination on the other hand....

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Coffee/keyboard

It's basically like hunting elephants

Underwater?

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Childcatcher

Re: De gustibus non est disputandum

"Beginning to think it's more of an issue to go after intelligent, even sentient species"

Won't anyone think of the petunias?

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PTW

Re: De gustibus non est disputandum

OK my error, I was talking about Roundup rather than simply glyphosate.

Real point is Monsanto are CNUTS of the highest order, and the red mist descended that anyone would try to defend them. You know, that company that sues small farmers into oblivion because Monsanto GMOs drift uninvited onto their land. :rage:

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Pirate

a matter of pride?

perhaps it's just a matter of pride, NOT being told what to do by a bunch of eco-terrorists. Essentially.

I've seen the 'whale wars' show, and although it was interesting at first [with the presumption that the whaling was being done against international treaties or something] I think that it's in such small quantity now, and not EVEN close to endangering the species, that most people should just ignore it... and maybe that's their point?

If the whale species really DO become endangered, as bluefin tuna is close to becoming, they'll need to modify their quotas again. Otherwise, why not let them do what they want?

pirate icon because a pirate lives by his OWN rules

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