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Weekend reflections

March 15th, 2008

It’s time once again for weekend reflections.Feel free to write at greater length than for a standard comment thread. As always, civilised discussion and no coarse language.

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  1. melanie
    March 15th, 2008 at 20:10 | #1

    NSW farmers are understandably worried because they don’t know where the GM crops are going to be planted, they know there is (irrational?) public opposition to consumption of such products and they are afraid for the continuation of the market for their non-GM output. Most of them are used to selling their output to this or that corporation and what must be most unclear to them is which corporation is going to win the competition to monopolise the market for wheat, rapeseed, etc. Are they going to be sued because they were contracted to produce a non-GM crop and instead they have a contaminated one? These concerns seem reasonable to me, but the state Minister said that it’s none of his business and he’s not interested in the question. How do they know if a farmer 50 km upwind has planted GM or not. Answer: they don’t and nobody is going to help them find out. The very absence of regulation requiring information is, of course, a policy to favour the GM varieties/corporations over others.

  2. Kevin Cox
    March 16th, 2008 at 05:25 | #2

    melanie

    Most changes to food through GM techniques are benign and many can be good. Unfortunately like all mutations there can be bad ones. The whole concept of allowing patents and private ownership of life is clearly a bad thing in this area because it leads to secrecy. The best way to control GM foods is through transparency and through requirements of people to say what they want to do before they do it and having review boards who can publicly tell people to desist. If the groups do not obey the request then there should be some social sanctions brought against the people. The sanctions could be things like stopping a corporation and all its directors from doing any commercial activity in Australia.

    If you are worried about GM foods then take a look at http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/227

    I find it exciting but others will be appalled. We need to work out a protocol on how to handle GM foods because synthetic life is going to be a much bigger and more dangerous activity – but it will happen. Trying to stop these advances only makes them more dangerous because the people who will do them will hide what they are doing.

    Synthetic life techniques have the potential for everyone to build new life forms in their kitchen so we need to work out ways of controlling developments before that happens and GM foods is a good place to start.

  3. March 16th, 2008 at 10:07 | #3

    40 years ago today… On 16 March 1968 U.S. forces killed between 300 and 500 Vietnamese civilians in what came to be known as the My Lai (My Son) massacre. The military covered up the atrocity and President Richard Nixon and the Pentagon ignored it at first. Lieutenant William Calley who led the slaughter was eventually charged and convicted of murder but served only a few months in prison.
    For more:
    War Reflection #1: The My Lai Massacre

  4. observa
    March 16th, 2008 at 10:41 | #4

    We all know the problem of unsolicited phone calls and by and lrge there is a solution in registering your phone on the ‘don’t call’ site. However charities and political parties are exempted from that and in one respect therein lies a problem, as well as being compounded by doorknock collectors and cadge letters. Not a problem for most of us but for my 88 yr old pensioner father and his ilk, it may cause him to be driven from his home prematurely. Increasingly he is being preyed upon in his fading faculties by every ‘friend’ from Readers Digest, the utilities signing him up for dearer ‘green’ power, to a plethora of charities that now have him on their mailing list as a very soft touch. Now he’s not on the bones of his backside owning his own unit with a single pension supplemented by some modest investment income. However, I’m now constantly finding the litter of his plunderers like 8 sequential christmas lottery tickets at $40 a pop, among other charitable receipts and tickets. It’s become a massive headache now that the family don’t know how to deal with, but need to if he’s to remain in his unit now, albeit with our help as well as some extra taxpayer funded help now. A couple of times when I have intercepted a PO parcel collect note and attended the PO for some unsolicited ‘free gift’, the postmistress has been quite ready to RTS it as she is only too well aware of the problem in her elderly area. Do we need a ‘do not post/do not cadge’ register now to protect our pensioners and beneficiaries or whomsover wishes to avail themselves of it? The problem with restricting it to the aged only would claerly be to identify the vulnerable, should the list be accessed by the less well intentioned plunderers of the weak and frail.

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