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Lecture to Oxford Farming Conference, 3 January 2013

Lecture to Oxford Farming Conference, 3 January 2013
[Comments are now closed - it was getting impossible to manage them given the volume.] Chinese translation… Italian translation… German translation… Spanish translation… French translation… Vietnamese translation (shortened)… Italian version (also shortened) Thai version and Slovak version. NEW – Portuguese translation. 07 Mark Lynas from Oxford Farming Conference on Vimeo. I want to start with some apologies. For the record, here and upfront, I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counter-productive path. So I guess you’ll be wondering – what happened between 1995 and now that made me not only change my mind but come here and admit it? When I first heard about Monsanto’s GM soya I knew exactly what I thought. This was also explicitly an anti-science movement. So I did some reading.

OGM, gaz de schiste...La démocratie des crédules - Du fil à retordre Les Français ont soif de connaissance : c’est l’enseignement d’une étude réalisée par TNS Sofres pour les Presses universitaires de France. Pour 95 % d’entre eux, « acquérir un bon niveau de savoir s’avère primordial », juste derrière la vie de famille et la sécurité financière (95 %), mais avant l’obtention d’un emploi intéressant (93 %). Que recoupe précisément ce savoir ? L’information au sens large diffusée sur l’ensemble des médias, dont le volume aurait été multiplié par huit au cours des cinq dernières années ? L’étude s’avère assez floue sur ce point. Et pourtant, dans nos sociétés démocratiques, l’avis des hommes et des femmes de sciences est de plus en plus assimilé à une opinion comme une autre. « La démonstration est parfois placée sur le même plan que le ressenti », nous confiait récemment la philosophe Monique Canto-Sperber, directrice de Paris Sciences et Lettres.

Silver bullet or Frankenstein? 5 februari 2013 - The potential of synthetic biology seems limitless, ranging from vaccinations to the solution to the world’s energy problem. However, it could also become a threat when not dealt with correctly. Synthetic biology: the design and construction of biological devices and systems for useful purposes, is a scientific field of growing importance. Therefore the Rathenau institute organized a seminar to show the stunning variety of this field’s possibilities. The Rathenau institute pleads that politicians and civil society should join the discussion on the future of synthetic biology as soon as possible for an optimal development of this promising field. At the moment the discussion on safety, security and ethics is solely held within the scientific community. Synthetic biology is not only able to create vaccinations or medical treatments to for example, malaria. Solution to energy problem? The full potential of synthetic biology is still unknown.

China's Toxic Sky - In Focus Since the beginning of this year, the levels of air pollution in Beijing have been dangerously high, with thick clouds of smog chasing people indoors, disrupting air travel, and affecting the health of millions. The past two weeks have been especially bad -- at one point the pollution level measured 40 times recommended safety levels. Authorities are taking short-term measures to combat the current crisis, shutting down some factories and limiting government auto usage. Use j/k keys or ←/→ to navigate Choose: Rooftops of Beijing's Forbidden City, obscured by thick smog, in Beijing, China, on January 16, 2013. (1 of 4) The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite acquired this pair of images of northeastern China on January 14 (smoggy) and January 3 (clear), 2013. - javascript required ] (NASA, Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE MODIS Rapid Response) Heavy smog hangs over a road in Qingdao, east China's Shandong province on January 29, 2013.

‘Chasing Ice’ changed this climate-denying Bill O’Reilly listener into a believer Whenever you feel discouraged about working to fix global warming and convince people that it’s a real problem, watch this video: In the documentary Chasing Ice, filmmaker James Balog shot photos of glaciers in Iceland, Greenland, and Alaska at 30-minute intervals for months and months. As Grist has reported: The resulting time-lapse movie can condense months and years into a few mesmerizing moments. So horrible and so scary that it can erase even the teachings of Bill O’Reilly.

Mark Lynas, environmentalist who opposed GMOs, admits he was wrong. Photo by NIGEL TREBLIN/AFP/Getty Images If you fear genetically modified food, you may have Mark Lynas to thank. By his own reckoning, British environmentalist helped spur the anti-GMO movement in the mid-‘90s, arguing as recently at 2008 that big corporations’ selfish greed would threaten the health of both people and the Earth. Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project of Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State that looks at the implications of new technologies. But Lynas has changed his mind—and he’s not being quiet about it. I want to start with some apologies. As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counter-productive path. So I guess you’ll be wondering—what happened between 1995 and now that made me not only change my mind but come here and admit it? I can’t think of another environmentalist.

Communiquer la science, mais comment? (Agence Science-Presse) Les scientifiques ont beau avoir la réputation de ne pas être souvent de bons vulgarisateurs, n’empêche que plusieurs s’emploient activement à changer la donne, à pousser leurs pairs à s’approprier les nouveaux outils, et à modifier le rapport entre le citoyen et la science. Cliquer sur la photo pour agrandir À notre émission cette semaine, trois regards en provenance du congrès annuel de l’AAAS, l’Association américaine pour l’avancement des sciences, qui avait lieu du 14 au 18 février à Boston. Un congrès où il a été beaucoup question de communication, communication vers le grand public, ou vers les décideurs politiques. Et ce, en particulier à l’heure d’Internet, où les uns expérimentent et proposent en modèles ceux qui ont déjà défriché le terrain, dans la blogosphère, sur Twitter ou ailleurs. Mais il y a des bémols aux médias sociaux: autant ils démocratisent, autant ils polarisent. Nos invités à Boston :

EFSA Press Release: EFSA publishes initial review on GM maize and herbicide study Press Release 4 October 2012 The European Food Safety Authority has concluded that a recent paper raising concerns about the potential toxicity of genetically modified (GM) maize NK603 and of a herbicide containing glyphosate is of insufficient scientific quality to be considered as valid for risk assessment. EFSA’s initial review found that the design, reporting and analysis of the study, as outlined in the paper, are inadequate. To enable the fullest understanding of the study the Authority has invited authors Séralini et al to share key additional information. Such shortcomings mean that EFSA is presently unable to regard the authors’ conclusions as scientifically sound. Therefore, based on the information published by the authors, EFSA does not see a need to re-examine its previous safety evaluation of maize NK603 nor to consider these findings in the ongoing assessment of glyphosate. EFSA’s preliminary review issued today is the first step in a two-stage process. Notes to editors:

The Greening of the Arctic you're gonna get a lot of methane release as all the dead organic matter in that thawing permafrost rots, and methane's the really dangerous greenhouse gas. I believe it's bad, because an over abundance of CO2 makes temperatures excessively high. It's not the vegetation, but the methane trapped within the melting ice and soil. Furthermore, the melting ice reflects the suns rays, and therefore heat. Less reflection means more heat, more heat means more melting, less ice means less reflection... I do not believe the ratio of greenhouse gases produced is equal to CO2 consumed by vegetation. I'm probably getting mixed up with my information, but I think I have the general idea down. The abstract of the study states that the possible outcomes of the shift are not well understood, but merit continued monitoring. People are basically conservatives. Dumping gigatonnes of garbage into the air is a bad thing.

Global Warming 101 What is global warming? Think of a blanket, covering the Earth. When CO 2 and other heat-trapping emissions are released into the air, they act like a blanket, holding heat in our atmosphere and warming the planet. Overloading our atmosphere with carbon has far-reaching effects for people all around the world—more extreme storms, more severe droughts, deadly heat waves, rising sea levels, and more acidic oceans, which can affect the very base of the food chain. What causes global warming? The primary cause of global warming is human activity, most significantly the burning of fossil fuels to drive cars, generate electricity, and operate our homes and businesses. Tropical deforestation , also by human hands, is another major contributor. Who can reduce global warming? To address global warming, we need to significantly reduce the amount of heat-trapping emissions. But we can also help by calling for government and corporate decision makers to reduce the threat of global warming by:

Farmer's Fight With Monsanto Reaches The Supreme Court : The Salt hide captionVernon Hugh Bowman lives outside the small town of Sandborn, Ind. Dan Charles/NPR This week, the Supreme Court will take up a classic David-and-Goliath case. On one side, there's a 75-year-old farmer in Indiana named Vernon Hugh Bowman; on the other, the agribusiness giant Monsanto. The farmer is fighting the long reach of Monsanto's patents on seeds — but he's up against more than just Monsanto. Bowman also is battling a historic shift that's transformed the nation's seed business over the past 20 years. Despite all that, Bowman seems remarkably cheerful about his situation. Bowman is leaning back in an easy chair, where he says he also sleeps at night. Out back, there's an array of old farm equipment collected during decades of growing corn and soybeans. Bowman is wearing a Monsanto hat. "It made things so much simpler and better. hide captionBowman bought ordinary soybeans from this small grain elevator and used them for seed. Those late-season soybeans are risky.

Des erreurs fécondes Regards sur la science par Georges Jobert - SPS n°302, octobre 2012 C’est le sujet apparemment paradoxal que traitent D. Le premier, en mécanique quantique, est celui d’un schéma conçu par N. Le second exemple de nos auteurs porte sur les recherches menées en 1943 par M. Comment soutenir des recherches audacieuses, éventuellement fondées sur des erreurs, mais qui peuvent conduire à des avancées inattendues ? 1 Dans certaines conditions, on ne peut décrire séparément l’état quantique de deux objets, même s’ils sont spatialement séparés. 2 Il s’agit en fait de méthodes permettant de donner à deux communicants accès à une même clé de chiffrement en assurant la sécurité de la transmission.

Veredelaar kan ecologisch risico van gmo’s minimaliseren Wilde sla, vermeld in een oud apothekersboek D e ecologische risicoanalyse is vaste prik voor toelating van nieuwe gm-gewassen. De hamvraag daarbij is of het ingebrachte gen in het gm-gewas kan uitkruisen naar wilde planten en die planten zoveel voordelen biedt dat het natuurlijke ecosysteem wordt beïnvloed. De Wageningse aio Brigitte Uwimana testte dit uit door gecultiveerde en wilde slasoorten te kruisen en de nakomelingen enkele keren te kruisen met wilde slasoorten. Wil dat stukje genoom zich blijvend vestigen in het genoom van de wilde sla, dan moet er een fitness-voordeel zijn. De test met de sla - overigens geen gmo - wees uit dat je ‘sterke' en ‘zwakke' plekken kunt aanwijzen op het genoom en dat je daar rekening mee kunt houden bij genetische modificatie, zegt Smulders.

Bizarre GMO wheat mystery in Oregon Seeds are usually only guaranteed for one year; after that, the percentage of those that won't germinate tends to climb. Tends to. Scientists have successfully germinated seeds from medieval trash dumps, from plants covered over in the last ice age, and from every other source you'd think were too old. Heck, I overplanted pumpkins this year, thinking that my fairly old seeds would have a high failure rate. Instead, nearly all of the seeds I planted took, and now I can't walk through half my garden without playing Twister. So I'd say that it's not at all improbable that these seeds are fourteen years old, accidentally mixed in, and mostly viable. Seeds last for thousands of years if they are kept from rotting situations !

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