Bill Gates says Anti GMO threatens hunger fix - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 10-26-2009, 08:31 PM
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DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) - The fight to end hunger is being hurt by environmentalists who insist that genetically modified crops cannot be used in Africa, Bill Gates, the billionaire founder of software giant Microsoft, said on Thursday.



Gates said GMO crops, fertilizer and chemicals are important tools -- although not the only tools -- to help small farms in Africa boost production.



"This global effort to help small farmers is endangered by an ideological wedge that threatens to split the movement in two," Gates said in his first address on agriculture made during the annual World Food Prize forum.



"Some people insist on an ideal vision of the environment," Gates said. "They have tried to restrict the spread of biotechnology into sub-Saharan Africa without regard to how much hunger and poverty might be reduced by it."



?

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#2 Old 10-26-2009, 08:43 PM
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Bill Gates should stick to making crappy software and keep his mouth shut about things he knows nothing about.
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#3 Old 10-26-2009, 08:55 PM
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Not saying he's necessarily right but his foundation certainly knows a lot about the topic.
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#4 Old 10-26-2009, 09:07 PM
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I'm torn. I'm all about reducing starvation around the world, but in the long term, is it just going to make everything worse, over all?



I also worry that GMOs are not completely harmless.

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#5 Old 10-26-2009, 09:22 PM
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Y'know what WOULD solve the problem of world hunger....



'Cause it ain't GMOs... Most of them actually have LOWER yields, not higher, and just put the farmers into a constant cycle of debt and poverty to Monsanto....



Just stop eating meat. Voila! We now have around ten times as much corn and soybeans as we used to, now available to feed the starving. Yay!
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#6 Old 10-26-2009, 09:53 PM
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I just heard Stewart Brand, the original green guru, arguing the same thing tonight on NPR.



He has a new book out - Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto.
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#7 Old 10-26-2009, 10:05 PM
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GMOs aren't all necessarily bad or a threat to the environment. Thoughtful use of GMOs can definitely have benefits.



A lot of environmentalists have this tunnel vision point of view that makes them immediately claim anything having to do with biotechnology is automatically evil and against their morals when in reality many of them have little or no understanding of the real science behind the concepts they're protesting.
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#8 Old 10-26-2009, 10:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red View Post

I just heard Stewart Brand, the original green guru, arguing the same thing tonight on NPR.



He has a new book out - Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto.



I actually am on the final chapter of this book and I think that every environmentalist should read it and really think deeply about what he has written and why he has changed his positions (His two chapters on cities were very eye opening for me). The vast majority of environmentalists with scientific training (Lovelock, E.O. Wilson etc) agree with Brand.



Edit: Just for fun I am going to post the first page of chapter 5 (Brand's first chapter of biotechnology). It starts off with a quote from Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring."



"A truly extraordinary variety of alternatives to the chemical control of insects is available. Some are already in use and have achieved brilliant success. Others are in the stage of laboratory testing. Still others are little more than ideas in the minds of imaginative scientists, waiting for the opportunity to put them to the test. All have this in common: they are biological solutions, based on understanding of the living organism they seek to control, and of the whole fabric of life to which these organisms belong. Specialists representing various areas of the vast field of biology are contributing - entomologists, pathologists, geneticists, physiologists, biochemists, ecologists - all pouring their knowledge and their creative inspirations into the formation of a new science of biotic controls." --Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, 1962.



I daresay the environmental movement has done more harm with its opposition to genetic engineering than with any other thing we've been wrong about. We've starved people, hindered science, hurt the natural environment, and denied our own practitioners a crucial tool. In defence of a bizarre idea of what is "natural," we reject the very thing Rachel Carson encouraged us to pursue - the new science of biotic controls. We make ourselves look as conspicuously irrational as those who espouse "intelligent design" or ban stem-cell research, and we teach that irrationality to the public and to decision makers.



We also repel the scientists whose help we most need to develop a deeply sustainable agriculture: the agronomists, ecologists, microbiologists, and geneticists who are fulfilling Rachel Carson's dream. (Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Discipline, page 117)



Stewart Brand, Rachel Carson, and a few pages later he reprints Paul Ehrlich's letter of resignation from Friends of the Earth.

James McWilliams also just published an excellent book outlining the science - the real data and where it stands - on GE food and organic agriculture called "Just Food."
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#9 Old 10-26-2009, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Kenickie View Post

I'm torn. I'm all about reducing starvation around the world, but in the long term, is it just going to make everything worse, over all?



Probably not. Population growth is in freefall all over the world. Most experts suspect that we will peak at anywhere from 8 - 10 billion people and then start a long decline. This is not a case where more food will lead to more and more people. It is a case where if we face a food shortage those who are starving will do whatever they can to get food and that would not be a good thing for the rainforest, any natural habitat or the other speciest hat inhabit this earth.



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I also worry that GMOs are not completely harmless.



Nothing is completely harmless. The key is to assess the risks of biotechnology vs the risk of no biotechnology.
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#10 Old 10-26-2009, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by rosiem View Post

Y'know what WOULD solve the problem of world hunger....



Sure that would solve the problem. I don't see it happening in time (or probably ever).



Quote:
'Cause it ain't GMOs...Most of them actually have LOWER yields, not higher, and just put the farmers into a constant cycle of debt and poverty to Monsanto....



Can you provide legitimate resarch and/or data to support any of those assertions.



Quote:
Just stop eating meat. Voila! We now have around ten times as much corn and soybeans as we used to, now available to feed the starving. Yay!



Sounds good. Although I hope you don't support organic agriculture because without the animal poop they just ran out of fertilizer.
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#11 Old 10-27-2009, 03:26 AM
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Its quite simple, really. Africa has seen what Monsanto has done in other countries and is simply refusing to have one company control most of its food supply.



"Today in India, Monsanto controls nearly all of the cotton seed market, forcing the locals to buy its seeds at prices four times higher than conventional varieties. Small farmers must turn to money lenders, who charge high interest rates. If the harvest is poor, it means bankruptcy."



And it gets worse in India, thanks to Biotech firms introducing patented genes into the food supply:

http://food.change.org/blog/view/wor...o_pt_8_control



Why doesn't Gates have conversations with Monsanto and other biotech firms to create 'open source' GM combinations that allow anyone to produce fertilizers and pesticides for their seeds?



Africa has learned the hard way that foriegn powers aren't always acting in their bests interests. They were promised riches by former colonial overlords that never materialised. Its no wonder turning over their control of the food supply to foriegn bio-tech companies is met with some skepticism.



Africans also realise their natural biodiversity is one of their strengths. To introduce patented genes and geneticially modified plants into their biosphere is a risk. Insects crawl on GM plants and spread pollen and other materian into the natural surroundings. What effect will this have? We don't know. Is it a risk worth taking?



As everyone knows, one of the main issues of food poverty in Africa is not availablity of food but conflict and corruption. Just getting food to certain regions requires bribes to warlords or corrupt government officials. GM food does nothing to help that. In fact, it can make it worse as to do business with biotech firms, one needs to buy seeds from a central seed seller (farmers cannot harvest seeds from GM plants to use again next season). Central control of farmers seeds/fertilizers/pesticides means more of an opportunity to use food as weapon to control farmers and populations.



Africa has learned how GM crops destroy lives in India and the USA. Yes, the USA: read this: http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/f...monsanto200805



Why on earth would Africa be stupid enough to take on the pain of GM?



But the reality is Africa has been trialing GM crops for years. The results are at best 'mixed', but also some spetacular failures:



South African farmers suffered millions of dollars in lost income when 82,000 hectares of genetically-manipulated corn (maize) failed to produce hardly any seeds.The plants look lush and healthy from the outside. Monsanto has offered compensation.



Of the 1,000 South African farmers who planted Monsanto's GM-maize this year, 280 suffered extensive crop failure, writes Rapport.



http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/270101



So, we have 1) handing over food supplies to biotech firms with a known reputation for destroying small farmers 2) Not addressing one of the real problems of food poverty 3) Introduction of risk to biodiversity 4) spectacular failures of GM crops in experiment after experiment.
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#12 Old 10-27-2009, 07:55 AM
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Well activists are trying to ban all GMO foods, people are dying.



All over a rice whose genetic engineering consists of adding a few genes for vitamin A synthesis from maize, and which is licensed for free for any farmer who makes under $10,000 a year, and those farmers are also able to legally save and replant seed.
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#13 Old 10-27-2009, 08:06 AM
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Good for Africa. One day soon, GMOs are going to seriously **** something up. But it will be too late to contain them.
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#14 Old 10-27-2009, 08:23 AM
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Kellye -- I think some GMOs *are* potentially unbeneficial in the long run.



But I don't consider golden rice to be one of the non-beneficial strains.



ETA: I would like to see domestic breeding programs of the golden rice crossed with local strains once the patents run out. The goal would be to produce a rice that is better adapted to the local climes while preserving the high vitamin A content.
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#15 Old 10-27-2009, 08:35 AM
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While I think das_nut is making sense about golden rice, the easy way to get all the vitamin a you need, is to eat about One carrot a month, or just very modest amounts of yellow squash, orange yams, or a zillion other food all of which are high in carotene, one of the most ubiquitous pigments around. Or yea, simply grow some corn along with your rice. Why do some people insist on eating rice and refuse to eat corn even when it is widelay available and cheaper than rice? Easier to grow, calorie per calorie more productive than rice per acre. The same people whose culture makes them go "yech" at the idea of eating corn, are go to go "blech" at the idea of eating yellow rice.
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#16 Old 10-27-2009, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by soilman View Post

While I think das_nut is making sense about golden rice, the easy way to get all the vitamin a you need, is to eat about One carrot a month, or just very modest amounts of yellow squash, orange yams, or a zillion other food all of which are high in carotene, one of the most ubiquitous pigments around. Or yea, simply grow some corn along with your rice. Why do some people insist on eating rice and refuse to eat corn even when it is widelay available and cheaper than rice? Easier to grow, calorie per calorie more productive than rice per acre. The same people whose culture makes them go "yech" at the idea of eating corn, are go to go "blech" at the idea of eating yellow rice.



Corn and rice grow in the same areas of the world, in the same type of soil, with the same effects on soil fertility?



I didn't know that.



In that case, perhaps the issue needs to be educating the locals to plant different crops.
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#17 Old 10-27-2009, 09:22 AM
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Quote:
Kellye -- I think some GMOs *are* potentially unbeneficial in the long run.



But I don't consider golden rice to be one of the non-beneficial strains.



ETA: I would like to see domestic breeding programs of the golden rice crossed with local strains once the patents run out. The goal would be to produce a rice that is better adapted to the local climes while preserving the high vitamin A content.



I don't know enough about the golden rice issue to quell my overwhelming bias towards GMO products. But I'll have to look into it and see what you're talking about.
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#18 Old 10-27-2009, 10:32 AM
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"Corn and rice grow in the same areas of the world, in the same type of soil, with the same effects on soil fertility?



I didn't know that."



The answer is yes and no. Some places will support rice better than corn, some places corn better than rice. Many place will support either, approximately equally.



Corn does not do well in flooded soil. There are 2 main ways of growing rice. Flooded field and dry field. Flooded field was an older technology used to increase nitrogen availability, before the development of industrially produced nitrogen plant food, and which had the highest rice-yield at the time. Today, it only has about 3/5 the yield of rice fed with industrially produced N.



While I don't know if this is the case with golden rice, it is not uncommeon for genetically crops to be dependent on modern industrially produced N plant food.
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#19 Old 10-27-2009, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by MrFalafel View Post

Its quite simple, really. Africa has seen what Monsanto has done in other countries and is simply refusing to have one company control most of its food supply.



"Today in India, Monsanto controls nearly all of the cotton seed market, forcing the locals to buy its seeds at prices four times higher than conventional varieties. Small farmers must turn to money lenders, who charge high interest rates. If the harvest is poor, it means bankruptcy."



And it gets worse in India, thanks to Biotech firms introducing patented genes into the food supply:

http://food.change.org/blog/view/wor...o_pt_8_control



Why doesn't Gates have conversations with Monsanto and other biotech firms to create 'open source' GM combinations that allow anyone to produce fertilizers and pesticides for their seeds?



Africa has learned the hard way that foriegn powers aren't always acting in their bests interests. They were promised riches by former colonial overlords that never materialised. Its no wonder turning over their control of the food supply to foriegn bio-tech companies is met with some skepticism.



Africans also realise their natural biodiversity is one of their strengths. To introduce patented genes and geneticially modified plants into their biosphere is a risk. Insects crawl on GM plants and spread pollen and other materian into the natural surroundings. What effect will this have? We don't know. Is it a risk worth taking?



As everyone knows, one of the main issues of food poverty in Africa is not availablity of food but conflict and corruption. Just getting food to certain regions requires bribes to warlords or corrupt government officials. GM food does nothing to help that. In fact, it can make it worse as to do business with biotech firms, one needs to buy seeds from a central seed seller (farmers cannot harvest seeds from GM plants to use again next season). Central control of farmers seeds/fertilizers/pesticides means more of an opportunity to use food as weapon to control farmers and populations.



Africa has learned how GM crops destroy lives in India and the USA. Yes, the USA: read this: http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/f...monsanto200805



Why on earth would Africa be stupid enough to take on the pain of GM?



But the reality is Africa has been trialing GM crops for years. The results are at best 'mixed', but also some spetacular failures:



South African farmers suffered millions of dollars in lost income when 82,000 hectares of genetically-manipulated corn (maize) failed to produce hardly any seeds.The plants look lush and healthy from the outside. Monsanto has offered compensation.



Of the 1,000 South African farmers who planted Monsanto's GM-maize this year, 280 suffered extensive crop failure, writes Rapport.



http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/270101



So, we have 1) handing over food supplies to biotech firms with a known reputation for destroying small farmers 2) Not addressing one of the real problems of food poverty 3) Introduction of risk to biodiversity 4) spectacular failures of GM crops in experiment after experiment.



Did you ever watch Food Inc? I'm just wondering because it shows how people like Monsanto can get and do anything they want with a little money.
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#20 Old 10-27-2009, 04:33 PM
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What law does Monsanto use in India to discourage competition?
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#21 Old 10-27-2009, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by MrFalafel View Post

Why doesn't Gates have conversations with Monsanto and other biotech firms to create 'open source' GM combinations that allow anyone to produce fertilizers and pesticides for their seeds?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

You funny.

Keep on freepin' on

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#22 Old 10-27-2009, 06:39 PM
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"Today in India, Monsanto controls nearly all of the cotton seed market, forcing the locals to buy its seeds at prices four times higher than conventional varieties. Small farmers must turn to money lenders, who charge high interest rates. If the harvest is poor, it means bankruptcy."





Yawn. When people can be truthful in their criticisms of biotechnology then they might be worth listening to. The farmers in India can no longer find non-Bt cotton is highly not believable at a time when almost 2/3rds of the cotton was non-Bt. Monsanto controls nearly all of the cotton seed market in India um....no. When it comes to Bt cotton in India Monsanto has a partnership with Mahyco. Several other companies use the Bt trait from Monsanto and pay a royalty. These companies include Ankur Seeds, Ajeet Seeds, Emergent Genetics, Ganga Kaveri, JK Agri Genetics, Krishidhan Seeds, Metahelix, Nandhi Seeds, Nath Seeds, Nuziveedu Seeds, Namdari Seeds, Pravardhan Seeds, Prabhat Agri Biotech Ltd, Rasi Seeds, Safai Seeds, Sygnenta India, Tulsi Seeds, Univ. Agri Sciences, Vibha Seeds, Vikkis Agrotech, Vikram Seeds, Zuari Agrotech. Monsanto no more controls those companies than Toyota controls Ford as they licensed their hybrid technology to ford instead of ford developing their own. Monsanto has far from the monopoly that opponents claim they have. When garbage films like The World According to Monsanto make ridiculous claims like Monsanto having more than 90% of the market share of GMOs I am beyond shocked that anyone watching can be stupid enough to believe it. And then it finishes up with the usual Vandana Shiva lie that spreads round the world: patented seeds sent farmer suicide numbers way up. Statistics to verify such a claim? Nope. A study that it is based on? Nope. Why not? Because it is surprise, surprise - not true. Thankfully, some newspapers like The Guardian printed the truth, but no one paid attention. The International Food Policy Research Istitute found that suicides among farmers had been decreasing since the introduction of GM cotton in 2002, along with finding a massive increase in yield, decrease in pesticides, increase in net income and so on.



Quote:
Why doesn't Gates have conversations with Monsanto and other biotech firms to create 'open source' GM combinations that allow anyone to produce fertilizers and pesticides for their seeds?



Why should he? Golden rice has been developed so that the seeds would be distributed for free to small farmers. All the patents have been waved and it has a free licence (Humanitarian Use Licence) and environmental organizations are still as opposed to it as they are to any other GMO. Maybe Gates believes that if a bizarre situation had of occurred say a dozen years ago where before any field trials had started the evil company Monsanto had offered the Bt technology to the Indian government for a one time fee that was a pittance (say less than 1% of what Monsanto receives in yearly royalties from India). It would have been theirs to do what they want with, develop it in whatever way they desire, give to their seed companies for whatever price they want, or free. If such a bizarre world was to exist maybe Gates suspects that environmental groups and Vandana Shiva would have gone hysterical and claim the end of the world and been 100% opposed, and the government would have given in to them despite the position of the scientific community. Gates would be right to believe in such a possibility because that was the reality and it was the worst decision the government could have made and the best decision that could have been made for Monsanto. The people who should be blamed for that? Better look in the mirror.



Quote:
Africa has learned the hard way that foriegn powers aren't always acting in their bests interests.



It is Europe that is dictating the African position on GMOs for their own interests. Even still Egypt, Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe have been developing GM apples, cassava, cotton, cowpea, cucumber, grapes, lupin, maize, melons, pearl millet, potatoes, sorghum, soybeans, squash, strawberries, sugar cane, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, watermelons and wheat. As much as environmental groups try to keep Africa in desperate poverty, some of the nations are trying to enrich themselves by science and technology. There have and will be some failures, but there are always some failures when it comes to agriculture. But they see the successes in India for the small farmers. The increased net income, being able to afford basic health care and education for their children.



Quote:
Originally Posted by das_nut View Post

I would like to see domestic breeding programs of the golden rice crossed with local strains once the patents run out. The goal would be to produce a rice that is better adapted to the local climes while preserving the high vitamin A content.



I dont think that this is a patent issue. I think it is a government regulations issue. I am sure they talk about it in this document, but as it is 116 pages, I dont want to read through it again.



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Originally Posted by soilman View Post

The same people whose culture makes them go "yech" at the idea of eating corn, are go to go "blech" at the idea of eating yellow rice.



When Marie Antoinette was informed that the peasants had no bread she responded let them eat cake. Are you seriously making the claim that the million people (mostly children) who die each year from vitamin A deficiency and half million more who go blind are just from an extremely picky eater culture?



Quote:
Originally Posted by das_nut View Post

What law does Monsanto use in India to discourage competition?



I guess the law of providing something that farmers want to buy. Monsanto became the biggest player in the world ahead of others like Syngentia because it developed traits that others wanted and most importantly made them available to other companies for low royalty fees (the others priced their royalty demands higher). This is exactly what Monsanto did in India. They could have kept their Bt trait for their partner Mahyco and they could have had the whole market to themself for a decade or more while other companies tried to develop their own GM cotton. Instead they made their patent available to every company who wanted it and now a couple dozen companies produce about 140 different strains of Bt cotton. Some say that the GMO seeds are too expensive, but the reality is that more and more small farmers are using them, and achieving significantly higher profits among other benefits as a result.
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#23 Old 10-29-2009, 04:37 PM
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I have to say that I agree with Bill and Vegmedic on this one.
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#24 Old 10-29-2009, 08:21 PM
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There is no shortage of food in the world, only getting it to where it needs to go. Surplus is already subsidized as it is. In other words, when they can't sell something because they grew too much of it, your taxes pay for their losses. These insanely rich guys just like the idea of being able to patent seeds, and I somehow doubt allowing them to monopolize food is going to improve distribution.

"I'm not in this world to live up to your expectations and you're not in this world to live up to mine." Bruce Lee.

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#25 Old 10-29-2009, 08:29 PM
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There is no shortage of food in the world, only getting it to where it needs to go. Surplus is already subsidized as it is. In other words, when they can't sell something because they grew too much of it, your taxes pay for their losses. These insanely rich guys just like the idea of being able to patent seeds, and I somehow doubt allowing them to monopolize food is going to improve distribution.

Agreed.

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