GENTECH archive


Re: Reply to Rick Roush

Dear Rick,

After reading your reply I definetely think you are mislead. I made some comments about your reply.

     > The >new genetically engineered seeds require high-quality soils,
     >enormous investment in machinery, and increased use of

     >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 in
     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.

Rick wrote: 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.

Rick, you are probably right if you talk about the process in itself, but you also have to consider that breeding in general is done by a much larger number of individuals (including traditional people) and companies, implying in a higher diversity. However, we have to analise the deeper impacts of genetic enginnering. If this means less varieties available in the market, varieties more uniform in terms of their genes, we have a problem.

     >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.

Rick wrote. 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.

I would like to see your data. I repeat that profits are not necessarily related to high yields, on the contrary, in the case of many commodities they depend more on less product available in the market. Producing more in a saturated market means less profits or none at all. The thing is, can you prove that you do not need to increase inputs to compensate the loss (that you consider insignificant) of energy used to produce natural defences, to maintain the same yield?

     > >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

     >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 persistant.

     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

Rick wrote: 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.

Not necessarily. You would be right in a perfectly competitive market. This is not the case. It is an oligopoly. I think you are naive when you say that a monopoly would be blocked. That´s true in theory but it is not real. If the present contracts Monsanto have with farmers oblige them to buy only their Round-up (but they are buying seeds, aren´t they) are not being questioned, it is not wrong to suppose that nothing will be done by the regulators to prevent them from overcompeting their few competitors with questionable practices. Do not subestimate lobbies!

Rick wrote. 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.

As we all know, Monsanto and other giant companies are much more interested in evading regulators than in having superior products. What are superior products, after all? Probably the products that you can sell more than those of your competitors (being better or not, it is more a question of marketing). If you kill your competitors, how can anyone choose? Big companies are very good indeed in reducing the number of competitors and the globalisation process is their most powerful ally. 
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