U.S. Farm Report Mailbag
By: U.S. Farm Report
, US Farm Report
Comments, questions, opinions...this is your chance to speak out regarding anything and everything reported on U.S. Farm Report. Viewer feedback updated regularly.
Jun 21, 2010
***The following comments were received following the June 18-19, 2010, edition of "U.S. Farm Report"
Hello U.S. Farm Report,
Just curious why you never show stock prices or mention the ever-growing sugar beet market? With the turn from grain ethanol to a grain/sugar ethanol, I'd think you would be giving more reporting to that market.
With the energy crisis of today, that crosses many issues such as energy independence, greenhouse gases, global warming, national security and a few others. America needs your help, farmers. I'm sure you all have heard by now that SUGAR is the most economical way to make biofuels (ethanol, biodiesel). It is fitting Brazil’s sugar mills turn out ethanol for fuel and liquor for drinking because Brazilians like to toast the success of their ethanol industry. Brazil long has been the world leader in production, thanks to policies dating back to the 1970s. While quadrupling its ethanol exports last year, Brazil even sent millions of gallons to the United States, where the industry has been heavily subsidized for decades to make it profitable. Why haven’t these forces joined together to make a real difference…corn supply is up and sugar supply is cheap… The farmers get their info from you. Inform them.
On June 19, John Phipps downplayed the vulnerability of US crops to genetic tampering, saying the terrorists are too incompetent to pose a threat.
I don't think the facts are quite that reassuring, however. The Southern corn leaf blight episode of 1970 pointed out how narrow a genetic base US corn germplasm was built on. Take the time to read http://www2.nau.edu/~bio372-c/class/sex/cornbl.htm , a very readable history of the event. The seed corn industry adopted the Texas male sterile gene because it would save money by avoiding manual detasselling. They would likely adopt any other trait that promises increased profits for themselves or their customers, as they have with Roundup Ready technology. If an enterprising graduate student were to find a weakness in Roundup Ready genetics and add a gene to exploit that weakness to a common insect, he could create a widespread crop failure in both corn and soybeans.
The shoe bomber and Captain Underpants may have been klutzes with explosives, but there are plenty of intelligent genetic engineers around the world, some of whom don't like us.
***Editor's Note: Below is the transcript of the Mailbag segment Lyle referred to in his email:
TIME NOW FOR OUR WEEKLY LOOK INSIDE THE FARM REPORT MAILBAG....WE HAD A CONCERN FROM JAMES ADAMS IN COLUMBUS, OHIO ABOUT BIO-TERRORISM:
"A POTENTIAL TERRORIST COULD ENGINEER A SET OF GENES AFFECTING CORN OR WHEAT WHERE THE PROMOTER OR INHIBITOR AVOIDS ACTIVATION UNTIL EXPOSED TO A SECONDARY ACTIVATING FACTOR, THUS PERMITTING THE GENES TO SPREAD WIDELY WITHOUT ANY SIGNS OF ACTIVITY UNTIL A SECONDARY ACTIVATING AGENT IS INTRODUCED. SUCH AN ATTACK COULD CRIPPLE AMERICAN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION."
JAMES, I SUPPOSE THAT COULD HAPPEN, BUT IT IS HIGHLY UNLIKELY. TO BEGIN WITH, THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF THE NEEDED BIOTECHNOLOGICAL EXPERTISE AMONG TERRORIST GROUPS LIKE AL QAEDA. IN FACT, A RECENT NEWS STORY MAKES A STRONG CASE FOR THE OPPOSITE. MANY WOULD-BE SUICIDE BOMBERS DON'T MAKE IT OUT OF TRAINING CAMP, SINCE THE SENDOFF INCLUDES A STRONG MANLY HUG WHICH OFTEN SETS OFF THE EXPLOSIVES. AND LET'S NOT FORGET THE SHOW BOMBER AND CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS.
MUCH OF THE BELIEF SYSTEM FOR TERRORISM IS ROOTED IN ANTI-SCIENTIFIC DOGMA AND RELIGIOUS FANATICISM - QUALITIES ANTITHETICAL TO SCIENTISTS. WHILE THE LEADERSHIP MAY POSESS POLITICAL CUNNING, THE TROOPS IN THE FIELD ARE UNSOPHISTICATED AND UNEDUCATED. THIS IS WHY TERRORISTS ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY RESORT TO CRUDE EXPLOSIVES.
THE SAD TRUTH IS WE EXAGGERATE THE ABILITIES OF TERROR GROUPS, IMAGINING THEM TO BE EVIL SUPERMEN, WHEN ALL THE EVIDENCE POINTS TO THE CONTRARY.
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