Science, Not Mysticism, Will Save the American Chestnut Tree

Human ingenuity can restore these majestic giants to their rightful place in American forests

(Page 2 of 2)

Heinrich concludes his op-ed by crossing his fingers once again. “It is possible to bring back the American chestnut to the forests where it belongs without genetic engineering,” he asserts. “In the meantime, I’ll be roasting my own homegrown chestnuts in the peace of my cabin in the Maine woods. It is a sacred act for me. If the trees were wheat-gene tweaked freaks, I don’t believe I would have much appetite for their nuts.”

Declaring something "sacred" is not science; it's pure mysticism. Heinrich evidently believes that American chestnuts are better dead than bred using a wheat gene. Heinrich’s anecdotal experience provides no assurance that "it is possible" to return American chestnut trees to the eastern forests without recourse to modern biotechnology or crossbreeding. While Heinrich might suffer some metaphysical dyspepsia, using human ingenuity to restore these majestic giants to their rightful place will be a gift to the rest of us.

Disclosure: I have re-upped my membership in the American Chestnut Foundation.

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  • UnCivilServant||

    All three of the processes described are genetic engineering, just two of them are not terribly precise, and are a lot slower. And this talk of "Genetic purity" reeks.

  • Brett L||

    Fucking eugenecists. Nazis of the plant world.

  • Anne Petermann||

    Crossing two completely unrelated species is called horizontal inheritance. It is not and cannot be confused with hybridization within a species, which is vertical inheritance and has been going on for millennia. Genetic engineering has been going on for a few decades. How about a little science please?

  • UnCivilServant||

    Are you next going to argue that alchemy wasn't proto-chemistry?

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    It never ceases to amaze me that so many Lefties understand evolution and selection pressures, are OK with selective breeding (nothing more than crude genetic engineering), and are religiously opposed to anything more precise like genome therapy. I'm sure Heinrich would be fine with a mutant strain of tree that just happened to "naturally" acquire the wheat gene or similar resistance genes from their Chinese cousins.

    Why is it that for so many Lefties "progress" is a euphemism for stasis?

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    Why is it that for so many Lefties "progress" is a euphemism for stasis?

    Because often times it is evil profit-seeking corporations that are innovating or applying new technologies to build and create products and services that people want?

    The Left's fear of science stems from their hatred of de-centralized progress.

  • Charles.H.Anziulewicz@wv.||

    I don't think support for or opposition to genetic modification is necessarily a "left-wing" vs. "right-wing" issue. I'm about as "leftie" as they come, and I don't have any objection to genetic modification. As you point out, human beings have ALWAYS been engaged in genetic modification; we call it "selective breeding."

    Consider food irradiation, for example. This is a proven way to eliminate foodborne pathogens from things like meat, vegetables, and dairy products. But some people are frightened by it, and I don't think it has anything to do with their political leanings.

  • fish_remote||

    I'm about as "leftie" as they come, and I don't have any objection to genetic modification.

    SPLITTER!!!!!!!!

  • mtrueman||

    As you point out, human beings have ALWAYS been engaged in genetic modification; we call it "selective breeding."

    You seem to be missing the point. Transgenic engineering has not always been with us. It is relatively new. It involves mixing the genetic material of dissimilar species. And the Left has been very interested in the potentials of this technology. Joseph Stalin long toyed with the idea of creating a man/ape warrior race.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Transgenic engineering has not always been with us. It is relatively new.

    There is archeological evidence that the mule dates back to at least 8000 BC in what is now Turkey.

    So it's relatively new geologically speaking, sure.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Fuckin sick, sadistic Turks.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I think if we were able to examine the history of early agriculture, we would find that the majority of it would be humans placing different types of animals in stalls to mate and seeing if anything came of it.

    They would also be rolling on the floor laughing their asses off.

  • mtrueman||

    Mules come from similar species. Transgenic means dissimilar. I'm not the one to turn to on these matters, and I'm quite surprised that nobody but me here seems to be familiar, however vaguely, with the work of scientists like Kary Mullis who made gene splicing possible. These techniques date back to the 80s and make it possible to splice the genes of dissimilar plants and animals.

    Donkeys and horses are both members of the genus equus, and their interbreeding in not an instance of transgenic. Trans means across. Genus is a slightly larger grouping than species, like horse or donkey. Really, I'm not the one to lecture on this subject, but I am certain that the mule is not an instance of transgenic engineering.

  • SKR||

    That's not what transgenic means. Transgenic refers to a genome that has had a gene transplanted into it. It is not a reference to genus. What you are thinking of is 'intergeneric' breeding between genera. This has happened, for example Gasteraloe hybrids which as crosses between a Gasteria species and and Aloe species. Now if the hybrid is within the same genus but of different species it would be an interspecific cross.

  • mtrueman||

    Has transgenic engineering always been with us? I thought it hadn't. I thought it came along with techniques developed rather recently.

  • Bill||

    Kary Mullis is a surfer, dude!

  • Harvard||

    [the mule dates back to at least 8000 BC in what is now Turkey.]

    Necessity. The mule is closer to the ground making it easier for copulation. Progress extended through the "fertile" crescent and next produced the goat.

  • subpatre||

    ". . .closer to the ground making it easier for copulation"

    Not true, in fact the opposite. Mules are the cross between male donkeys and female horses only. The mating can only be accomplished with the mare in a pit to 'shorten' her so the jack can reach. Often the jack must be trained to mate with the bigger mare. The opposite cross (stallion to jenny) is called a hinny and is a small, weak, poorly tempered animal with no endurance.

    Experiments are continuing in modern times. Almost every feline has been crossed with every other feline within a 3:1 size range, and foxes are being bred toward domesticated pets. All the equine combinations have been explored and many of the bovines.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    That's not the kind of copulation that mules were needed to facilitate.

  • Harvard||

    Hush...he's probably gay.

  • Bill||

    You missed his sick, racist (but funny) joke.

  • Harvard||

    Hush....he's probably not a racist.

  • Cyto||

    Transgenic engineering has not always been with us. It is relatively new. It involves mixing the genetic material of dissimilar species.

    This is not true. Transgenic "engineering" is as old as life itself. A large portion of your DNA was transplanted there by some virus some millions or hundreds of millions of years ago. This process is ongoing today.

    Chunks of DNA from all over the panoply of life are in your body. Life is a messy, complicated thing.

  • robc||

    But some people are frightened by it, and I don't think it has anything to do with their political leanings.

    If it doesnt have anything to do with political leanings, then where are the libertarians opposed to food irradiation or GM foods.

  • mtrueman||

    "then where are the libertarians opposed to food irradiation or GM foods."

    But that's not the issue. The question is fear of GM foods, not support. Where are the libertarians who fear GM, or are leery of it, concerned about it etc. Fear seems a reasonable reaction to something new and radical, and denying this fear or casting it as Leftist or religious mysticism has the stink of political posturing about it.

  • robc||

    But that's not the issue.

    Yes it is. I dont give a damn if someone fears something if they dont try to outlaw it.

    Fear seems a reasonable reaction to something new and radical

    No it doesnt. Curiosity and wonder seem the reasonable reaction. Fear is the mind killer.

  • mtrueman||

    Curiousity, unleavened with fear, killed the cat. A fearful cat is a living cat.

  • Ron Bailey||

    But not a cool cat.

  • mtrueman||

    Ron, you put your finger on it. Coolness, or maintaining an attitude of ironic detachment, is what this board is all about. God forbid anyone admits to fear of the unknown, or worse still, admits to being motivated out of a concern for children's welfare. A lot of worthless, cynical posturing, is what I see in these pages.

  • SKR||

    won't someone please think of the children?

  • SKR||

    you mean like those poor children going blind from vitamin A deficiency? Yeah I'm pretty sure plenty of people around here have voiced concern about that.

  • Bill||

    Google Golden Rice.

  • KPres||

    "where are the libertarians opposed to food irradiation or GM foods."

    infowars.com?

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Really? So anti-nuke is a universal concern? You don't think a majority of those opposed to irradiation are of the Left persuasion? How about for organic foods?

    Not buying it.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Yes, the gripe seems to be more specifically that graduate students and bureaucrats do not have a monopoly on the practice, no the practice itself.

  • Charles.H.Anziulewicz@wv.||

    "The Left's fear of science?" Excuse me, but I think there is a far greater fear of science on the Right than there is on the Left. The ongoing battle over the teaching of evolution in public schools comes to mind.

  • fish_remote||

    Chuck,

    We're not the "right".

    Cheers!

  • mtrueman||

    Many here argue as though we were.

  • fish_remote||

    It seems that the majority of reasonoids dislike the right but actively recoil in horror at the nanny state left.

    That doesn't mean that the "right" is supported here.

    My opinion only.

  • mtrueman||

    I recoil from the reflexive impulse to cast these issues as though they were issues of left and right. I think it comes from older contributors here, who since birth were propagandized with cold war rhetoric and still haven't shaken off those dynamics.

  • OO=======D||

    PUT ME UP YOUR ASS, DIPSHIT.

  • OO=======D||

    @ mtrueman by the way.

  • KPres||

    "I think it comes from older contributors here, who since birth were propagandized"

    Ugh. You're pretty dumb. Splitting into binary factions is the natural outcome of the democratic process. Has nothing to do with "cold war propaganda". Nice elitist sentiment, though.

  • JParker||

    How so? In many places the voting-based "democratic process" consists of more choices than 2, and other "democratic processes" such as the free market, usually have more than 2 choices.

  • KPres||

    "Many here argue as though we were."

    Libertarians are on the right. It's a fact. Self-identified libertarians vote Republican over Democrat at a 70/30 clip.

    That being said, there are factions on the right as well, and libertarians are distinct from the religious right, so any appeal to creationism or what-not isn't going to be relevant here.

  • mtrueman||

    "Self-identified libertarians vote Republican over Democrat at a 70/30 clip"

    I think that's because Republicans favour lower taxes. I would have thought that most other Republican or Democrat positions leave Libertarians cold. Weird isn't it that self-identified libertarians vote the way they do. According to your figures, and I'm sure you know what you're talking about, not one in a hundred cast a ballot for the Libertarian party. Wonder how it gets its 1% of the vote come election time.

  • Bill||

    I disagree that libertarians are on the right. (I initially read it as librarians).

    First of all left/right is not a very good way of defining it as there is so much confusion - were Hitler, Mussolini who were socialists and for progressive big government really on the right?

    And even liberal/conservative is not meaningful. Should "conservatives" be for Social Security now that it has been around for 80+ years? As most who post here know, a libertarian is essentially a classical liberal.

    I have voted republican (4 times) more than libertarian (1 time) and way more than democrat (0 times) but I have not voted (4+ times) even more. I voted for G.W. Bush the first time since he was not going to ruin the economy with CAGW nonsense and was for free trade and improved relations with Mexico and I hoped this would morph into improved immigration policies. Then 9-11 happened.

  • Cyto||

    To his credit he did try to push immigration reform. And Social Security reform. Not that anyone got on board those trains to nowhere.

    So instead he gave us the USA Patriot Act and the Prescription Drug Benefit.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Excuse me, but I think there is a far greater fear of science on the Right than there is on the Left.

    So? Fear is not mutually exclusive. Especially when "Right" and "Left" are just two sides to the same debased Statist coin.

  • Raston Bot||

    Agreed. The Right is also anti-science and also has no qualms using Government to force their anti-science rules on the pro-science rest of us.

  • Ron Bailey||

    All: My article "Who's More Anti-Science: Republicans or Democrats?" might be of interest.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    That begs the notion that Rs and Ds are opposites or something. That one is "Left" and the other is "Right". I challenge anybody to find a true difference that is more than semantic.

  • mtrueman||

    Not sure there is any 'true difference,' whatever that means, but Rs tend to be whiter, more rural than Ds. I agree that it's error to think of them as opposites in any but the most contrived and artificial way - like the way they vote, yay or nay, on the legislation they cook up.

  • ernieyeball||

    "There's not a dime's worth of difference between the Republicans and Democrats," George Corley Wallace Jr 1968 ( that's about 67cents today)

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Which "Right" are you talking about? The statists like Mao, Stalin, and Hitler, or the opposites of them?

  • OneOut||

    The Left loves science. Especially when science has a consensus. Then the debate is over.

    Like when there was a scientific consensus that the world was flat and the consensus that Sun revolved around the Earth.

    That comes to mind as well.

  • Jesus H. Christ||

    Charles.h... Some recent polls suggest knowledge of science is higher for the Right than the Left.

  • David Case||

    It seems to me that when people have concerns over science pro or con, whether they are from the right or the left, their concerns tend to be very specific and that people tend not to care about the *whole* of science. Creationists care about the theory of evolution, others GMO foods, others look for support for AGW or banning smoking, etc. Nobody except physicists care much about the search for the Higgs Boson. I don't see much generalizing of the form - 'I don't like that one little bit of science, so the rest must be all bunk.' Creationists will still avail themselves of medical treatment when the need it, for example.

  • mtrueman||

    "The Left's fear of science stems from their hatred of de-centralized progress."

    Whatever happened to the Right's fear of government and government funding of science? Michigan State University. Doesn't that name ring any alarm bells?

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Yeah, there's certainly no evidence that government funding of science could ever lead to something bad.

  • mtrueman||

    There is no shortage of evidence for the corrupting nature of government funding. Apparently when these corrupt, conspiring scientists come up with a finding to bolster a libertarian's argument, all their corruption and venality is forgiven and forgotten.

  • mtrueman||

    "so many Lefties understand evolution and selection pressures"

    Can't speak for 'Lefties' but it seems like you could beef up your understanding of evolution. Skepticism or opposition towards transspecies genetic engineering does not amount to stasis. There is no stasis in the natural world, constant change is mother nature's way. A very rudimentary knowledge of evolution would tell you this.

    Also to confuse evolution with progress does nothing to make your point persuasive.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    constant change is mother nature's way

    She might want to let Order Crocodilia in on that.

    Jus' sayin'

  • mtrueman||

    "She might want to let Order Crocodilia in on that."

    I take your point, but let's not forget that the environment, their surroundings, in which the crocs thrive is under constant change and they wouldn't be around today if not for their ability to adapt to these changes.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Absolutely.

    I was just trying to be funny.

  • sasob||

    ...let's not forget that the environment, their surroundings, in which the crocs thrive is under constant change and they wouldn't be around today if not for their ability to adapt to these changes.

    Yeah, one could also say that about Homo Sapiens Sapiens :-)

  • Cliché Bandit||

    HM, you choose Crocodile but why not horseshoe crab? Or even Celocanth (sp)(good luck with spell checker on that shit).

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Yeah, I remember seeing my first live horseshoe crab when I was in Thailand. It was like seeing an alien life form.

  • Cyto||

    They have copper-based blue blood. It is an alien life form.

  • sasob||

    It's coelacanth - screw spell checker.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Seems to me you could beef up your understanding of genetic engineering. You do understand that not all engineering is transgenic, don't you? Mutations can be induced using either radiation or chemical mutagens, neither of which involve taking genetic material from one species and inserting it into another.

    There is no stasis in the natural world, constant change is mother nature's way.

    Which is precisely why I point out the irony of the static Left position. We can't tamper with nature because it's perfect just the way it is. Except that it's changing all of the time, Dr. Pangloss.

    I think you were trying to make some point there but damned if I can figure out what it was.

  • mtrueman||

    "I think you were trying to make some point there but damned if I can figure out what it was."

    You only have to ask. Happy to oblige even if it means repeating myself. Questioning the wisdom of this sort of transgenic engineering, where genes of dissimilar species are mixed, does not come from a desire for stasis in nature. It's just caution. Heinrich has found he can bring back native chestnuts from the brink of extinction using well known methods of raising trees and is doubtful of the transgenic methods being introduced. Read his opinion piece in the NYT.

    By the way, are you saying that Heinrich is a Leftist? You evidently know more about him than the scant info I've dug up on him here and elsewhere on the web. Care to share? Or was it just more pseudonymous internet bluster and name calling?

  • mtrueman||

    "Seems to me you could beef up your understanding of genetic engineering"

    I'm sure you are right about that. I'm not a genetic engineer and I know very little about the subject. Honestly I'm not sure what you mean by the term 'engineering.' Let's say I graft two trees together to make a hybrid. Am I doing genetic engineering? I would have said no. I'm doing horticulture. Or better yet, gardening. I don't think using impressive sounding terms to describe rather humble activities helps us much.

  • SKR||

    You really need to do a bit more research. There is so much wrong here. First, grafting is not making a hybrid. There dna of the rootstock and the dna of the scion don't interact. Gardening includes horticulture (ornamentals) and agriculture (consumables). There are plenty of horticulturists that have biotech labs and work with mutagenesis. And that's just the hobbyists. The professional horticultists are using the most advanced GM techniques.

  • mtrueman||

    Thanks for taking the trouble to correct my many mistakes. Grafting is not making a hybrid. I've known plenty of horticulturists, none yet with biotech labs. I'll take you at your word. What exactly does the term 'genetic engineering' encompass? Is it used in a politically charged sense?

  • ||

    This guy sounds like a eugenisist, not a geneticist. "Can't have out purebred chestnut seedlings interbreeding with them mongrel halfbreeds."
    I'm not sure why this guy gives a shit anyways. He laments directed processes being used on his precious hobby tree? How does he feel about drout-resistant strains of grain or crossbreeding of cattle?

  • UnCivilServant||

    How does he feel about drout-resistant strains of grain or crossbreeding of cattle?

    It can probably be summed up as "Let them starve"

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    The starvation is preferred over gluten crowd.

  • AlbertP||

    Genetically modifying chestnut trees is EVIL since they are majestic and beautiful and the nuts are delicious. Genetically modifying corn, for drought, disease, and insect resistance is EVIL since it allows modern farmers to produce several times the amount of corn per acre that their grandparent's could produce. Modifying ANY food crop is EVIL because it might mean that we can actually feed everyone on the planet, instead of letting them starve to death, or kill each other trying to get enough to eat. Pure EVIL.

  • SusanM||

    "What we need to do is make everyone else live like Iron Age peasants while I keep my Prius!"

  • Sevo||

    ..."a threat to his "sacred" naturally evolved nuts."...
    A1, pal. Keep your religion to yourself.

  • AlbertP||

    Yeppers. And I find myself completely void of any interest in his "nuts." :)

  • Jordan||

    a threat to his "sacred" naturally evolved nuts

    I'd recommend he steer clear of Radley Balko then.

  • Anomalous||

    I'm sure that Balko can provide him with a nice punch recipe.

  • Tim||

    Racial purity must be preserved!

  • fish_remote||

    I'd like to know of your struggles.

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    like the eucalyptus currently being tested across the southeastern United States to satisfy an expanding industrial demand for pulp and biofuels.

    Yeah, can't have people wanting something and then having private actors create a way to satisfy that demand. No one really needs eucalyptus salve or biofuels anyway.

  • Raven Nation||

    "a threat to his "sacred" naturally evolved nuts"

    The potential double entendres would seem to be infinite.

  • Joao||

    The professor is showing his elitism, telling us of his sacred chestnuts that he has and we can't get.

    Great article tho. The loss of the American chestnut ranks among the greatest of natural disasters. What a HUGE resource loss they were in lumber (bark used as shakes, even). Let's get em back - and fast!

    Still a little suspicious of laboratory genetically engineering. It is not the same as cross-breeding and we have always been so presumptuous regarding the genome; ten years ago the claim by scientists was that 98% of the genome was "junk DNA" that didn't code for anything; that's now down to to 20% and projected to be 0. It's that complex.

  • fish_remote||

    The loss of the American chestnut ranks among the greatest of natural disasters. What a HUGE resource loss they were in lumber (bark used as shakes, even). Let's get em back - and fast!

    Apparently, according to the Heinrich, the overall improvement to conditions...both economic and biological...are worth sacrificing in order to preserve purity!

    Frankly a copse of 15/16th short Chestnut trees would be a good thing in my estimation!

  • gaoxiaen||

    I live in Miao-Li (Chestnut Seedling) City, Taiwan. Believe me, Chinese chestnuts are as tasty as any I've eaten in the US of A. I don't see a problem. My sister near Philly and my friends in the Beaver Valley area have Chinese chestnut trees. No complaints from them either, except for sqirrels. 15/16 American? Better to have productive living trees than dead ones.

  • mtrueman||

    The flowers of asian chestnuts smell like male sperm. Do you enjoy that smell? I don't.

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|12.27.13 @ 10:39PM|#
    "The flowers of asian chestnuts smell like male sperm. Do you enjoy that smell? I don't."

    So?

  • mtrueman||

    I used to live next to a grove of these trees. Lovely trees, but strange smell.

  • ||

    "Still a little suspicious of laboratory genetically engineering."

    Suspicious of what?

  • robc||

    It is not the same as cross-breeding

    Yes it is.

  • OneOut||

    Well maybe not. You can cross breed different breeds of dogs just by letting them run around together. It'a a little different cross breeding dogs with salmon, even if the dogs are allowed to swim in salmon infested waters.

  • SKR||

    why, because they are in different genera? That can happen. Maybe your idea of breeding is just really limited to the familiarity you have with the way genes proagate themselves in humans. However, the ways genes propagate themselves vary considerably throughout the natural world.

  • SKR||

    Because the microscopic world is so incredibly varied and populated it has been speculated that horizontal gene transfer is the dominant form of breeding on the planet as opposed to the vertical gene transfer most people are familiar with.

  • ||

    No, it's not. It's much more precise, controllable, and safe. Therefore, it is to be opposed.

  • OldMexican||

    The American Chestnut Cooperators Foundation is trying to breed blight resistant native chestnut trees by cross breeding two native trees that had survived the blight epidemic[...]


    "I shall perfect my own race of chestnut trees... a race of atomic supertrees that will conquer the world!"

  • Cdr Lytton||

    "We offered the world ROASTED CHESTNUTS!"

  • OO=======D||

    "A chestnut tree, if you can keep it."

  • fish_remote||

    What a great name for a bar or cafe!

    "The Chestnut Tree Cafe"...nice ring to it.

  • Raston Bot||

    ...nice ring to it

    groan

  • fish_remote||

    im sorry

  • OneOut||

    If you like your Chestnut trees you can keep them, period.

  • Anomalous||

    Home? I have no home!

  • robc||

    Man is part of nature.

    Therefore, any thing that man does is natural.

    Genetic engineering is evolution in action.

  • mtrueman||

    "Man is part of nature"

    The word nature has several meanings. The one you seem to be missing is natural opposed to artificial, or man made. Artificial intelligence, for example, is intelligence created by humans. Natural intelligence is the quality shared by all animals to some degree.

    Not all languages lead to this kind of ambiguity. You might learn yourself Chinese for example. Popular is another word with multiple, even contradictory meanings. Means everyone likes something, also means something coming from the people. Again, knowledge of a second language, where these terms are not so ambiguous, is helpful.

  • SKR||

    ok how about natural meaning things that happen in nature without the assitance of man? Is that acceptable? Because if so, then horizontal gene tranfer between species, genera, hell even kingdoms happens in nature and is perfectly natural. One of the major techniques used for genetic modification involves using agrobacterium to insert the gene into the target genome because researchers found that that bacterium would move genes between genera in nature and they decided to refine the process.

  • mtrueman||

    "ok how about natural meaning things that happen in nature without the assitance of man? Is that acceptable?"

    Acceptable to me, at least. As I said, natural has many meanings, one of which is 'not artificial.' Was the creation of these new chestnut trees natural or artificial?

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|12.27.13 @ 10:54PM|#
    "Man is part of nature"
    The word nature has several meanings. The one you seem to be missing is natural opposed to artificial, or man made"

    That is not a 'meaning'' that's a religious statement.
    You really aren't too bright.

  • mtrueman||

    What's wrong with religious statements?

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|12.28.13 @ 12:18PM|#
    "What's wrong with religious statements?"

    If I have to answer that, there's no reason to do so.
    Please take your silly bleefs and go.

  • mtrueman||

    I have to say I'm baffled by your insistence on bringing religion into the conversation. Religion is a set of beliefs and practices aimed at communicating with the spiritual world beyond. Is that really what you want to discuss?

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|12.28.13 @ 11:34PM|#
    "I have to say I'm baffled by your insistence on bringing religion into the conversation."

    Uh, I didn't 'bring it into the conversation'. I pointed out that you are making religious statements; *YOU* brought religion into the conversation.
    I can see you're confused, but that's to be expected. And I'm not the one to educate you. Are you proud to be an ignoramus?

  • mtrueman||

    I strongly advise you to drop this whole religion business. I understand you are just parroting the authors and dozens of his colleagues and almost all of the commenters here, and using religious as an offensive epiphet, but I think this reveals an unattractive, shallow side to libertarian thought, or at least in people like you who would claim to be libertarian. Sorry if that sounds harsh but it's tame by the standard of abuse that you set, on a daily basis almost. Very alienating to people who put stock in spiritual matters, and without purpose - even damaging to a political movement that needs to attract numbers, build coalitions etc to gain power and influence in this system.

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|12.29.13 @ 2:51AM|#
    "I strongly advise you to drop this whole religion business"

    I strongly advise you to find a brain-cell.
    Sorry if that sounds harsh, but it's tame by the standard of bullshit you sling,.
    Very alienating to those who put stock in logic.
    Oh, and I'm not worried about influencing idjits.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Did he say something about vagina dentata?

  • fish_remote||

    Did he say something about vagina dentata?

    The charming Disney tune?

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    "seduce the public into accepting other genetically engineered trees—like the eucalyptus currently being tested across the southeastern United States to satisfy an expanding industrial demand"

    Dickheads like this want to keep me from finding any termite hollowed eucalyptus trunks around here to make an authentic didgeridoo. Didgeridoos made from native logs cut in half, carved out, and then glued back together with gorilla glue just don't produce the same warm, fat sound.

  • Knarf Yenrab (prev. An0nB0t)||

    Would you be surprised to discover that he is the principle shareholder of America's sole fed-sanctioned didgeridoo manufacturer? I wasn't.

  • OneOut||

    Barney Frank ?

    Ish that you Barney ?

  • Knarf Yenrab (prev. An0nB0t)||

    Objection to the Randian slur on mysticism. Plato and Plotinus were mystics. This guy's no mystic, but a confused neoluddite who draws arbitrary lines not just between human activity and "natural" activity, but between ancient, inefficient human action and modern, superefficient human action. The good doctor is demonstrating the same sort of technological anxiety that drove religious communities to accept buttons but not zippers, all for purely arbitrary reasons.

    I put out quite a few fun fruit and nut trees a few years ago & was disappointed to discover that the American chestnut was all but gone. Will have to look into getting some of these alt-chestnuts if seed or cuttings are available.

  • Bruce Hall||

    Interesting political conversation, but I'd guess mostly by those who have never seen an American chestnut tree. We live close to the "breeder" in Michigan who has developed the 15/16 American chestnut trees. They've only been around for awhile, so they are not very impressive. But pictures from the late 19th century show trees that make old-growth oak look puny.

    Anyone who opposes human interference in the saving of these fabulous trees has conveniently forgotten that it is human interference that has endangered them. Unlike some genetic engineering efforts, this should be viewed as a restoration effort. The fact that a genetic trait has been passed on by a "great-grandparent" should be seen as "unnatural" as, say, having a Chinese great-grandparent that introduced a gene for thick, black hair to a clan of blonde Norwegians.

    By the way, if you buy one of these trees, be sure that you have a clear area at least 100 ft. in diameter where it can grow undisturbed.

    http://media.npr.org/assets/im.....s6-c30.jpg

  • Harvard||

    I've considered myself to be a chest nut ever since my first drive in movie.

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  • mtrueman||

    It was the introduction of foreign trees that brought the fungus that killed billions of chestnut trees. I can understand Heinrich's concerns over the solution proffered here, essentially the introduction of yet more 'foreign trees,' transgenic ones this time. No doubt, those who first introduced the fungus bearing Asian varieties were just as fearless and confident about what they were doing when they brought them over.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Best of all possible worlds. Precautionary Principle!

  • mtrueman||

    What is wrong with caution? If you have an argument, I'm prepared to read it. Your parroting slogans is not enough.

  • SKR||

    Well the precautionary principle is unscientific bullshit wherein someone is asked toprove safety which is actually the abscence of harm. It is possible to prove harm but proving no harm is to prove a negative and that is impossible. I think a couple decades with any substantial harm should pretty well satisfy any reasonable amount of caution. Especially when the proposed harms are outladish speculation.

  • mtrueman||

    "Well the precautionary principle is unscientific bullshit"

    I understand that it is unscientific, science operates under rather strict self imposed restraints and much falls outside these confines, but how is it bullshit?

    How did you arrive at the decision that 'a couple of decades' was enough to throw caution to the wind? Wasn't it substantially more than a couple of decades before the hazards of smoking were known and well understood?

  • Anne Petermann||

    Yes, god forbid we should have any caution--especially with regard to a technology that is only a few decades old. Genetic engineering is NOT the same as hybridization. A little SCIENCE please--so tired of this Monsanto propaganda bs!

  • Sevo||

    Anne Petermann|12.28.13 @ 1:01PM|#
    ..."A little SCIENCE please--so tired of this Monsanto propaganda bs!"

    Yes, a luddite asks for SCIENCE!
    And why didn't you claim 'KOCK BROS!!!!' while you're at it; luddite talking points are so amusing.

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|12.27.13 @ 9:51PM|#
    "What is wrong with caution?"

    Define "caution". Objectively.
    You can't, as you're using it here.

  • mtrueman||

    You want an objective definition of caution, consult a dictionary. I can only offer that or my subjective one.

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|12.28.13 @ 12:33PM|#
    "You want an objective definition of caution, consult a dictionary. I can only offer that or my subjective one."

    Yes, I'm sure you couldn't define it as you're claiming.
    You could STFU when you don't know what you're talking about.

  • mtrueman||

    "You could STFU when you don't know what you're talking about."

    Yes I could but I prefer not to.

  • Sevo||

    "Yes I could but I prefer not to."

    That much is clear.

  • SKR||

    The problem here is the misperception of genes being foreign. Genes are genes regardless from which genome they originate. It makes as much sense to talk about tomato and salmon genes as it does to talk about widows and linux C++ functions. If you take gene A from a frog and take gene A from a human there is no difference in the chemical structure to indicate source.

  • mtrueman||

    That's not the problem. It's these new trees that would be foreign, ie not indigenous. The reason the indigenous trees were all but wiped out in the first place is because of the introduction of non indigenous trees. I'm not sure why you are talking about genes.

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|12.28.13 @ 12:37PM|#
    ..."It's these new trees that would be foreign, ie not indigenous."...

    So
    .
    .
    .
    .
    what?

  • mtrueman||

    As Ron and Heinrich both point out it was the introduction of non-indigenous trees that lead to the decline of domestic chestnut trees in the first place. Doesn't that give you pause? If not, what exactly is it about this new technology that instills such confidence in you?

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|12.28.13 @ 11:25PM|#
    "As Ron and Heinrich both point out it was the introduction of non-indigenous trees that lead to the decline of domestic chestnut trees in the first place. Doesn't that give you pause?"

    No, actually it doesn't. I'm sure it does to simplistic 'thinkers'.

  • mtrueman||

    " I'm sure it does to simplistic 'thinkers'."

    Actually, we prefer the term 'simplisticists'

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|12.29.13 @ 2:55AM|#
    "Actually, we prefer the term 'simplisticists'"

    Actually, you are a bullshitter.

  • cavalier973||

    "I suspect some miscegenation going on with your chestnut tree, suh!"

    The American Elm is another tree that is disappearing from the world. Stupid Dutch...

  • Jesus H. Christ||

    Those Elm's are wonderful trees. Northern CA used to be covered in them. I would gladly take a 15/16 elm over none at all.

  • Sevo||

    They were common in the mid-west when I was a yute; great climbing trees.

  • RishJoMo||

    Hit it man, I mean like wow.

    www.BeinAnon.tk

  • Ann N||

    seriously, who is man to pick darwinian winners and losers?

    preventing a species from going extinct is like propping up the auto industry and the bankers with TARP.

    you need a very convincing motive to ask others to suffer/sacrifice for your animal eugenics.

    setting out to convince them, on your own dime, is one thing, but govt coercion is quite another.

    i suppose someone is gonna say pushes like this are for fundraising, but it never ends there. fundraising scum always go to govt's teat.

    the article headline is awesome. science is gonna 'save' something. jesus saves. now science? saving requires some pretty strong moral axioms. primarily that the thing in question is worth redeeming.

    that needs to be not a hypothesis, not a theory, not a fact, but a scientific immutable law. its the same reason global warming is such hogwash. your money for my theories. ontologically its no different than papal indulgence.

  • Sevo||

    Ann N|12.27.13 @ 10:17PM|#
    "seriously, who is man to pick darwinian winners and losers?"

    ^?
    "We" do as we please; who else is to chose?

  • Tommy_Grand||

    "the Gault tree from Coshocton County"

    I oppose all except those sired by the Gault tree.

  • TBOU||

    A great example of Clarke's laws in action...

    "When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarke's_three_laws

  • Anne Petermann||

    Talk about a lack of science. Bailey asserts American chestnuts engineered to contain unrelated wheat genes are more native than those backcrossed with Chinese chestnuts. Genetic engineering and hybridization are not comparable. American chestnuts crossed with wheat are as natural as strawberries crossed with flounders.

    He goes on to address other GE trees: "What’s wrong with genetically engineered eucalyptus trees? [They] have been improved to be freeze-tolerant so that they can be grown in the southern U.S..."

    In fact GE eucalyptus trees are invasive and highly flammable. The US Forest Service reports they would use twice the water of native forests. Eucalyptus are documented as invasive in Florida, California and Hawaii. Freeze tolerance will expand their invasive range.

    Bailey says they will be sterile "so that it cannot escape..." Wrong. There is no GE tree that is 100% sterile. And eucalyptus can spread vegetatively.

    But Bailey insists, "improving the productivity of trees grown on plantations reduces the pressure to cut down trees in wild forests...[sparing] land for natural forests to grow..."

    Studies and satellite images disprove this. Tree plantations do not protect native forests, they replace them. In South Africa eucalyptus plantations are called Green Cancer. In Brazil, they are called Green Deserts. Do we really want these invasive, fire prone, water greedy GE trees growing across the US South?

    Science says this would be a very bad idea.

  • Sevo||

    Anne Petermann|12.28.13 @ 12:36PM|#
    ..."Bailey asserts American chestnuts engineered to contain unrelated wheat genes are more native than those backcrossed with Chinese chestnuts."...
    That "native" was qualified and you chose to ignore that. Strike one.

    ..."Genetic engineering and hybridization are not comparable."...
    Assertion absent evidence, strike two.

    ..."American chestnuts crossed with wheat are as natural as strawberries crossed with flounders."...
    Irrelevant PR statement, strike three, dipshit.

    "He goes on to address other GE trees: "What’s wrong with genetically engineered eucalyptus trees? [They] have been improved to be freeze-tolerant so that they can be grown in the southern U.S..."
    In fact GE eucalyptus trees are invasive and highly flammable. The US Forest Service reports they would use twice the water of native forests. Eucalyptus are documented as invasive in Florida, California and Hawaii. Freeze tolerance will expand their invasive range."...
    All of which applies to non-GE Yukes; says nothing about GE.
    Cont'd.

  • Sevo||

    Cont'd.
    ..."Bailey says they will be sterile "so that it cannot escape..." Wrong. There is no GE tree that is 100% sterile."...
    Cite missing

    "And eucalyptus can spread vegetatively."
    Irrelevant.

    ..."But Bailey insists, "improving the productivity of trees grown on plantations reduces the pressure to cut down trees in wild forests...[sparing] land for natural forests to grow..."
    Studies and satellite images disprove this. Tree plantations do not protect native forests, they replace them. In South Africa eucalyptus plantations are called Green Cancer. In Brazil, they are called Green Deserts. Do we really want these invasive, fire prone, water greedy GE trees growing across the US South?"...
    You are so full of shit that I'm sure you'll come up with some cherry-picked data which 'proves' this and is as phoney as a three-dollar bill.
    You're a lefty luddite; go back to your hole.

  • mtrueman||

    Anyone here have a problem with the use of the word 'mysticism' to describe Heinrich's position? Mysticism means a spiritual realm, and that's not what he's on about. 'Idealist' seems to me more accurate, someone who thinks in terms of ideals, such as 'the american chestnut.' It's about the notion that the american chestnut exists on some trancendental plane beyond the physical trees themselves. A rather tricky philosophical concept but Heinrich has plenty of company as an idealist here. Anyone who refers to 'the state,' 'the market' or 'the economy' is an idealist.

    I try to avoid idealist thinking. We have states, markets and economies, to be sure, but 'the state?' Such thinking just adds to confusion in my opinion. Are Libertarians comfortable with their idealism? What's with the attempt to dress it up as mysticism?

  • Knarf Yenrab (prev. An0nB0t)||

    I bitched about that yesterday.

    The dangers of engaging the word mysticism on a libertarian website is that most of us have only seen the word used by Rand or people who have been influenced by Rand, for whom it was basically a refined term for "bullshit." It has a completely different meaning for Rudolf Otto or Alan Watts, but there's no reason for people that share a common interest in libertarianism might also spend their time reading difficult theology or philosophy.

    I don't know that Heinrich is an idealist; can't tell that he believes that his chestnut trees are the more perfect image or Platonic form of the tree. He just writes that manipulated trees are "wheat-gene tweaked freaks" and that "the consequences of genetic engineering can be unpredictable — genes behave and are expressed in complex ways." The last part libertarians understand very well, as we spend most of our time complaining about unintended consequences of gov programs, but the problem is that nature's version of genetic engineering--namely breeding--is much more unpredictable and unstable than the relative stasis of genetic engineering. And, as RB points out, the choice isn't between "natural" American Chestnut trees and manipulated ones; it's between manipulated ones and no trees at all.

    I'm still leaning towards calling him a neo-Luddite, as he draws an arbitrary line between some human technologies (archaic selective breeding) and the more modern technology of genetic manipulation.

  • mtrueman||

    I think most scientists are idealists. In nature there are atoms with a proton and and electron. They are all individuals, they are all unique. Yet in the mind of the scientist, they are instances of hydrogen, something that exists outside and beyond these atoms that are found in nature.

    Maybe you could call him a neo-luddite, though I think this term is also widely missused here to describe someone who doesn't like technology. Originally the luddites were weavers etc who often made their own tools and equipment. They were technically adept, moreso than most of their contemporaries, had no animus against technology or machines per se. Their beef was against technology that was beyond their control. Consider the hackers who dedicate themselves to making computing devices do their bidding rather than remaining under the control of the manufacturers. I am proud to consider myself sympathetic to their aims. They are the neo-luddites, in my view.

    Don't see how a distinction between sex and the techniques developed in the past couple decades is arbitrary. Sex is not a human technology whereas gene splicing is. I really don't see what is to be gained by insisting that gene splicing is natural. The motivations seem purely political and tendentious.

    About Rand, you may be right. I've noticed that any knowledge or experience that resists scientific ratification tends to be dismissed as emotional, religious etc. Just another form of bigotry, in my opinion.

  • Knarf Yenrab (prev. An0nB0t)||

    Maybe you could call him a neo-luddite...

    My wiki-fueled knowledge of the Luddites is that they opposed technological improvements & industrialization that harmed them economically to the point of destroying the capital goods that were putting them out of business. People who are jailbreaking phones are making those consumer goods more operable by users; if they were neo-luddites, seems they'd want to make the OS as proprietary and complicated as possible to protect their economic and employment interests.

    Don't see how a distinction between sex and the techniques developed in the past couple decades is arbitrary. Sex is not a human technology whereas gene splicing is. I really don't see what is to be gained by insisting that gene splicing is natural. The motivations seem purely political and tendentious.

    Sex isn't a human technology, but selective breeding is, and I'd bet that the American chestnut has a significant history of artificial selection. The distinction is arbitrary in that there are no natural delineations between selectively breeding two strains of bean or tree for desirable mutations and just snipping genes for greater control. It's all part of the same process of technological evolution, but one is unfamiliar and frightening, whereas the other is nothing new.

  • mtrueman||

    Luddites are about who control the machine. Is it the user or is it somebody else? The luddites of old and the hackers both believe those who operate the machines should be in control. Non-luddites are happy with the idea of the machine controlling the person.

    I get your point about selection and gene splicing being 'part of the same process of technological evolution' but that doesn't make the distinctions between them arbitrary. One is simply sex with an ulterior motive, which even insects can do, while the other leads to places where sex can't possibly go.

  • Knarf Yenrab (prev. An0nB0t)||

    The issue isn't sex vs. gene-splicing, but breeding. Artificial selection and gene-splicing are both technologically driven means of breeding via human action; no insect or even another ape could engage in artificial selection. Drawing a line between one and the other by claiming that one is "natural" and the other isn't is pretty much the definition of arbitrary. We're being bewitched by language here.

  • mtrueman||

    Ok, I take your point, though the idea that arranging two domesticated animals to bear offspring is a technology on par somehow with gene splicing is tendentious. But I'll concede.

    Now you called Heinrich a luddite, and I pointed out that a luddite was someone who insisted that technology remained under their control. That's the key, I think, to Heinrich's acceptance of sexual selection and his rejection to something like gene splicing. He is familiar with sex, and leery of gene splicing. A luddite is about control of technology and Heinrich doesn't trust the techniques or the people who supposedly control them.

    The difference between sex selection and the new gene splicing techniques only seems arbitrary to the non luddite. To the luddite, the difference is crystal clear.

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|12.28.13 @ 6:36PM|#
    "Luddites are about who control the machine. Is it the user or is it somebody else?"

    I don't know where you find your 'knowledge', but Luddites were anti-tech, in that the new machines supposedly threatened their livelyhood as artisans.
    So, no, it has nothing to do with who is controlling the machines.

  • mtrueman||

    "I don't know where you find your 'knowledge', but Luddites were anti-tech"

    You think they magicked their goods into existence without resorting to technology? I assure you this is not the case. The weavers had their own looms, often constructed and maintained by themselves. They opposed the new machines because they meant a loss of control over their livelihood. They were no more anti-tech than they were Bonapartist spies, another calumny that they were smeared with at the time. The Napoleon lie has died over the years, the anti-tech lie lives on in the minds of the ignorant.

  • Sevo||

    "You think they magicked their goods into existence without resorting to technology? I assure you this is not the case.
    [...]
    They opposed the new machines because they meant a loss of control over their livelihood. They were no more anti-tech than they were Bonapartist spies,"

    You stupid shit, do you think that somehow justifies your ignorant claim thus:
    "Luddites are about who control the machine. Is it the user or is it somebody else?"
    I know you presume your sophistry is clever, but it isn't. It should be embarrassing to anyone with half a brain.

  • mtrueman||

    "I know you presume your sophistry is clever, but it isn't."

    In fact it is. It's you who haven't thought this through. Brush up a bit on old luddites, the book you might read is the well regarded History of the Working Class in England, or something by E.P. Socialist. Over 800 pages and as most histories do, it gets tiresome. Lots of interesting stuff though, worth the read. For the modern hacker/luddite, start with Torontonian Cory Doctorow, winner, nay, twice winner of the Libertarian Futurists Society's Prometheus Award.

    You got to broaden your horizons a little if you want to keep up. Adapt or die, Sevo, mother nature's first and cruelest law.

  • Knarf Yenrab (prev. An0nB0t)||

    No search results on History of the Working Class in England. Do you mean The Condition of the Working Class in England or The Making of the English Working Class?

    Appreciate your posts, but also curious as to whether you identify as an Engels admirer, left-libertarian, or what exactly.

  • mtrueman||

    It's the Making of the Working Class in England. It's coverage of luddism is pretty tangential, and I'm sure there are better books out there. Perhaps others commenting could chime in with their suggestions. Don't get your hopes up too high though.

    I don't really self identify as anything in particular. I usually let Sevo have the last word, and according to him I'm and idiot and a bullshitter. I think he's pretty close to the mark.

  • Sevo||

    "In fact it is. It's you who haven't thought this through. Brush up a bit on old luddites, the book you might read is the well regarded History of the Working Class in England, or something by E.P. Socialist"

    Cite some comment to support your claim or it's bullshit.
    Any suggestion you read 'this book' without reference to specifics is so much crap, and you are famous for slinging it.
    Page and quote, or STFU.

  • mtrueman||

    "Cite some comment to support your claim or it's bullshit."

    You are assuming that there is someone out there who agrees with me, and that this agreement would somehow validate my claim. Wrong on both assumptions, Sevo.

    You want to take comfort in an appeal to authority, I understand. This is probably not possible. Take my claim and deal with it on its own merits. But first you really must educate yourself. You want to keep up with me, you can't afford to slack off and rely on wikipedia simplicity.

  • Knarf Yenrab (prev. An0nB0t)||

    I've noticed that any knowledge or experience that resists scientific ratification tends to be dismissed as emotional, religious etc. Just another form of bigotry, in my opinion.

    That's a perspective I share. My scientific education as a kid led me to believe that science was about discovering the underlying truths of nature rather than theorizing and developing accurate models. The view of science as discovery rather than modeling seems simplistic to me now, as a lot of those basic materialist assumptions got beaten out of me by very bright men who died ages ago. I spend a lot of time talking about the difference between maps and territories these days.

    Interesting point on scientific idealism. Hadn't thought about it that way and will have to look into it.

  • KimInGA||

    I had no idea there was so much interest in chestnut trees. We have a Chinese Chestnut in our yard and my husband has been campaigning to cut it down. The hulls are spiky as hell. I swear if you threw one hard you could embed it in exposed flesh. Maybe I should collect them all and roast them next year to convince him to keep the tree though ... I mean if they're really that delicious. Is there some way to remove the hull without stabbing yourself?

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