Re: GE in OZ -Reply -Reply

Ann said:
What will convince 
people, I believe, is not the holism or ecological soundness of 
alternative approaches, but rather, their cost-effectiveness. 

I say "Amen" to that comment!   Under the current structure of production
and marketing, whoever supplies the marketplace with the cheapest
product of acceptable quality wins.   Many people who adopted reduced
tillage regimes a decade ago were surprised to see no reduction in yields
-- and sometimes an increase in yield.   Now, many of these people are
starting to back off on the herbicides they have been using to keep the
weeds in check -- and, again, being surprised at how successfully this
can be done (I'd add "some of the time").   My bet is that the strawberry
growers will find some other way to fill the supermarket shelves with
berries after methyl bromide is finally scrapped.  The point is that there is
a myriad of alternatives -- including a lot of cost-saving ones -- out there
waiting to be found and put into use.   The innovators take the risk that
they are trying a loser technique; if they are lucky, they come out ahead
and, over the years, convince others by their (economic) success.

An additional comment on the pest resistance issue:   I think if producers
sprayed the various Bt products as intensively as they do the (cheaper)
agro-chemical, and on as many acres, resistance would emerge pretty
rapidly.   Also, I am not prone to conspiracy theory and am not yet willing
to accept as concious strategy or intent the idea that promotion of Bt
resistance will lead to greater sales of chemical pest control agents.   I
am more likely to expect the big seed/chemical/GE companies to pursue
parallel courses (ie, cover all the bases they can).   My bet is that they
will continue to develop new chemical pesticides AND new biological
pesticides to replace those whose effectiveness is degraded by the
evolution of resistance in pest populations.   Economics pushes this
strategy, too; it is becoming cheaper, easier and more acceptable (from a
political/regulatory perspective) to commercialise some version of a
naturally-occurring biocide than to invent one in a chemical lab, then test
its effectiveness, toxicity, longevity, breakdown products, etc.etc.  
 A reasonable concern, in my opinion, is that these companies will not be
able to keep up with nature (as we are seeing now in human medicine
with antibiotic resistance ) and we will reach a point -- sooner rather
than later) where there are few tools left, except for mechanical means
(eg, pick 'em and squash 'em).