Monday, July 04, 2005

And so it begins

I got a pamphlet from Jim in my letterbox this morning. It seems he wants me to vote for him because they want to raise the drinking age back to 20, and ban party pills and NOs. Gotta say, not a winning strategy in my house.

When my daughter turns 18, I want her to be drinking in a relatively safe environment. Inside pubs and clubs. I said RELATIVELY safe. Safer, for instance, than down a back road in the back of some guy's car like I did when I was... okay, you got me there, 16. When I was in high school the drinking age was 20 but it was never enforced. Yes, as I get older teenagers increasingly look like idiots, but make it 18 and enforce it, and add education. Most other countries manage it. What I would like to see raised is the driving age.

Banning NOs, unbelievably pointless. What does he think those kids are going to do, all give up and go home and start studying? No, as far as I can see, from an ordinary-voter POV, all that the Progressives' drug and alcohol policy has actually done is double the price of my cooking sherry. Bastards.

So. The Greens. Piss me off. I find that on about 80% of issues, they make perfect sense. But they chose to make GE their landmark issue, and they made a hash of it. I don't mean they didn't get votes, they did. But they did it by tossing scientific credibility out the window and indulging in scaremongering.

And then you hit a really serious issue like climate change and alternative energy policies, where you really NEED scientific credibility, and lo, it's gone.

Genetic engineering isn't all toad genes in potatoes like my mother's bumper sticker says. Every time you eat, you're digesting the DNA of other organisms. Humans have been trying to improve on plants and animals as long as we've had agriculture. What GE allows us to do is cut out all the tedious and expensive mucking around cross-breeding things hoping to get the traits you want. You can, for instance, isolate the gene in one strain of apples that provides resistance to black spot, put it in another strain that taste really nice, and then grow those apples without having to spray for the disease - ie organically.

It was the GE policy that stopped me from voting Green last time, even though I agree with most of their policy platforms, and see a party containing some of the most sensible and talented MPs around. They may still get my PARTY vote this time around, but it is actually contingent on them not doing anything pink-bra stupid in the meantime. And if Metiria Turei was standing in Wigram, I'd vote for her.


Blogger Commie Mutant Traitor said...

As I understand it, your explanation of how GE works is a bit oversimplified. There isn't a straightforward gene=trait relationship; instead, each gene is part of a number of complex combinations of genes that produce traits, so you can't change one trait without affecting others as well. I'm not at all confident that we understand apple genetics well enough to fully understand the effects of our changes. And what if GE pollen fertilises a third variety of apple tree? A whole new set of interactions that haven't been tested at all.

There is a lot of loopy emotional/spiritual objection to GE which I have no respect for at all. I _like_ the idea of GE. Unforuntately, those "arguments" distract from serious scientific and economic concerns. The evolution of pesticide-resistant insects from bt GMOs is a real risk. Farmers becoming beholden to GE multinationals is a real risk.

4:20 pm  
Blogger Ghet said...

Yes, I've actually deliberately over-simplified that. One trait is normally controlled by 'pieces' of a whole different bunch of alelles.

How they interact, and how things like pollen drift can be controlled, can only really be determined by field trials. And the Greens advocate sabotaging field trials.

Allowing GE never means allowing everything people might want to do with it, and I'm deeply opposed to things like Monsanto's Roundup Ready seed. That's why you have ethics committees.

4:32 pm  
Blogger Commie Mutant Traitor said...

We already know things like pollen drift aren't adequately controlled when GMOs are planted commercially. Field trials pose a clear risk of spreading GE material beyond the field in question.

Do you really trust the ethics committee to ban Roundup Ready etc from NZ?

6:32 pm  
Blogger Ghet said...

Starting at the end, yes I do. It's not like bioethics is a new field for New Zealand.

When it comes to pollen drift from these hypothetic apples, given that all the genetic material comes from apples, it'd be the same as stopping pollen drift from Braeburns getting into Pacific Rose. Some but not all of the methods used to stop spray drift contaminating organic orchards apply.

Don't get me wrong. In general, we should be concentrating on organics, if only for economic reasons. I just don't want to see a lot of very valuable research thrown away because of scare-mongering.

10:20 pm  
Blogger stephen said...

Amen, sister.

The further problem for the Greens is that people who might bring some scientific rigour to the cause (eg my PhD in organic chemistry, early whistle-blowing-on-dioxin Dad) are actively put off by their wilful irrationality, so it's a vicious circle for them. And in the meanwhile he's a Labour stalwart instead.

3:18 pm  
Blogger Make Tea Not War said...

Hear, hear. I wish there was a pro science Green Party with all my heart. I'd vote for them in a second.

10:58 pm  

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