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Reply to Camargo de Miranda, archive 833



Even after thinking about the message from Luiz Camargo de Miranda, I
don't believe that I was mistaken.



<excerpt>

> The >new genetically engineered seeds require high-quality soils,

>enormous investment in machinery, and increased use of

>chemicals.


>Rick replied:  Blatantly wrong. The key genes have been introduced
into widely used current varieties and require no more special
treatment than do the traditional versions of the same varieties. In
fact, the insect

resistant crops require much less chemical.


Luiz wrote:  Based on what can you say they are wrong? Most varieties
are developed to high yields in ideal conditions. They are not suitable
for marginal soils. If you introduce key genes and reduce the
diversity, it is logic to suppose that you are going to use more
chemicals as it is also logic to suppose the crops will be more
vulnerable to diseases and plagues.  


</excerpt>

What you have written is an indictment of breeding in general. There is
nothing about the genetic engineering itself that makes these varieties
require special treatment, or any more likely to reduce diversity.  



<excerpt> 


>There is evidence that their per-acre yields are >about 10% lower than
traditional varieties (at least in the case

>of soybeans),[1,pg.84] ..


>Also wrong, the clearest evidence of which is that growers are so
happy with yields that they are planting even more land to the crops.


Luiz wrote: Planting more does not mean producing more. It may mean to
expect higher profits in the next season, or many other things. It is
logic to suppose that if a plant uses more energy in producing
chemicals to protect itself, it is going to be less productive. The
plant diverts energy that would be used to produce seeds to protect
itself.  

</excerpt>


The logic would be right if the costs of energy diversion were
significant.  Yield data clearly show that they are not.  Growers have
seen that and are planting more of the crops.  Growers are not stupid;
they don't plant more unless they make more profit, and that means they
must get a sufficient increase  in yield to justify the extra seed
costs. 



<excerpt>


> >The plain fact is that fully two-thirds of the genetically

>engineered crops now available, or in development, are designed

>specifically to increase the sale of pesticides produced by the

>companies that are selling the genetically engineered

>seeds.[1,pg.55]


>Perhaps true but certainly misleading. The farmers may be using more
of Monsanto's herbicide but they are using a lot less of the
competition's pesticides, which are generally more persistent.


Luiz wrote: Why misleading? The companies are interested in increasing
profits not in altruism. It is obvious that they want to monopolise
whatever they can (or the regulators allow them to) as this is the
easiest way to increase their profits. Any graduate in Economics can
tell you that.

</excerpt>


In increasing their own profits, the individual companies are cutting
into someone else's.  In soybeans, Monsanto is making more money, but
at Cyanamid's expense.  Still Monsanto does not have a monopoly (which
in the US WOULD be blocked by the Federal Justice Dept), and if they
get too expensive, the growers can go back to conventional soybeans and
Cyanamid's herbicides.


Unless you can evade regulators, any economist would tell you that the
easiest way to increase your profits is to have a superior product. 
It's an old fashioned principle.  Like it or not, Monsanto does in
soybeans. 


Rick

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