Building knowledge: corn & biomass

Outre le documents dont question dans le message précédent, ci-dessous, quelques premier échanges d’information pour comprendre …

– Ten myths about biomass

– “Earth Grabs” and “The century of the gene”


Ten myths about biomass:

pg 38-41.

corn sticks to be used as biofuel and biomass reduce composting, plastics based on corn be be extremely polluting the farmers are more and more contractor.

the link between bioplastics and biotech is everywhere

Some quotes from the ETC paper:

“Energy economists have calculated that once the energy costs of agricultural inputs are factored in, corn ethanol production requires 29 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced.”

the Big Dream of 2004 in Iowa: ““What if you took half the corn stover off the fields [of Iowa], leaving half for erosion control. How much would you have in any given year? The number comes up to about 24 million tons.

If you turn 24 million tons into two cents per pound, that’s a billion dollars. What if we could move it further up the value chain and take that 24 million tons and make it worth as much as an ag plastic, worth about $1.50 per pound? Then, you’re talking about adding $72 billion to the state’s economy. You’re in essence almost doubling the state’s economy.”

– Floyd Barwig, Director, Iowa Energy Center, 200465”

“Packing harvested stover tightly enough to be transported economically to a processing plant, for example, turns out to be a major hurdle as does ensuring that the collected biomass dries enough to store without gathering mould and does not contain soil that could interfere with fermentation processes. Sam Acker, director of harvesting & precision farming marketing at Case IH North America, told Corn and Soybean Digest in November 2008 that “it may be difficult for stover to become a major ethanol feedstock based on moisture and densification challenges.”88”

“Genetically Engineered Biomass Crops – While plant breeders have been trying to increase yield for centuries, the focus has always been on increasing the seeds and fruit of food crops. Now, with cellulosic biomass gaining value, agribusiness is working on increasing the quantity of stalks, leaves, husks and other cellulosic components of common agricultural crops. For example, a suite of patents filed by BASF discloses methods of genetically engineering corn and other crops for increased biomass yield.148 The patents also claim ownership over the biomass itself when produced in maize, soybean, cotton, canola, rice, wheat or sugarcane.”

“188 Agri-biotech company Agrivida has developed similar corn in conjunction with synthetic biologists from Codon Devices189 (now defunct), while Chromatin Inc., in conjunction with Monsanto and Syngenta, is also using synthetic biology to ‘reprogram’ commodity crops such as corn, cotton and canola as more efficient biofuel feedstocks.190”

“From the short lived corn ethanol boom of 2006-2008 to the new wave of venture capital and big oil companies sinking billions of dollars into biofuel startups, the biofuels industry is still regarded as a massive new source of revenue in an age of peak oil and carbon pricing. Although predictions from 2006 that biofuels would make up 30% of all transport fuel by 2030232 now look overblown, nonetheless the sector is still growing rapidly – buoyed by government mandates,”

“The ‘first‘ or ‘failed’ generation of biofuels refers to either fermented alcohols – almost entirely ethanol from corn and sugarcane – or to refined biodiesel from oil crops (soy, rapeseed, sunflower, mustard) and tree oils (palm, jatropha).”

“The links between genetic engineering and bioplastics are everywhere. In March 2010, the first genetically modified crop to gain approval in Europe in over a decade was a high-starch GM potato from BASF aimed squarely at the bioplastics market.323Meanwhile corn, the chief feedstock for bioplastics, is almost universally sourced from GMO harvests. In fact, only three major bioplastics producers, Italy’s Novamont, Germany’s Pyramid Bioplastics and EarthCycle of Canada, tout their product as non-GMO although Cargill’s Natureworks offers a bizarre scheme where purchasers can “offset” the use of GMOs in their product by paying Cargill to buy a specified quantity of non-GMO corn. Genetic engineering is also being applied to create a nextgeneration bioplastic in which the plastic is produced directly in the plant itself.”


“Earth Grabs” and “The century of the gene”

hello all,

this latest news that VIB likes to develop a GMO giant corn field based on
Ga20Oxidase-1 gene seems to confirm that Ghent follows the very latest
global bio-tech trends. in an article from only two months ago, Vandana
Shiva comments a new interesting book called “Earth Grabs” by Diana
Bronson, Hope Shand and Jim Thomas
<;. in this book they also
seems to connect 1. geopiracy, 2. biomass and 3. climate genes.
“‘Geopiracy’ analyses how Northern governments and corporations are
cynically using concerns about the ecological and climate crisis to
propose geoengineering ‘quick fixes’. These will wreak havoc on
ecosystems, with disastrous impacts on the people of the global South. As
calls for a ‘greener’ economy mount and oil prices escalate, corporations
seek to switch from oil- to plant-based energy. ‘The New Biomassters’
exposes how a biomass economy threatens the peoples and cultures of the
South, accelerating the wave of land grabs that are becoming common in
Africa, Asia and Latin America. ‘Capturing Climate Genes’ shows how
agribusiness is pouring billions of dollars into, and claiming patents on,
‘climate-ready crops’. Far from helping adjustment to a warming world
these crops will allow industrial agriculture to expand into the lands
peasant farmers currently cultivate. They are not a solution to hunger,
they will feed only the gluttony of corporate shareholders for profits.” i
just ordered the book on-line and will study it closer once i have
received it.

in the meantime i am reading “The century of the gene” by Evelyn Fox
Keller. she is a historian of science and she has been studying the
history of genetic scientific research from close. what is very
interesting is that she uses current existing scientific research in order
to prove that biotechnology’s redundancy of “genetic determinism” and
“genetic stability” is completely outdated in terms of scientific
knowledge. science has moved way beyond such concepts. “DNA sequences does
not automatically translate into a sequence of amino acids” (p. 146). “New
kinds of data gathered over the last few decades have dramatically fleshed
out our understanding of the parts played by genes in cellular and
organismic processes, and in doing so they they have made it increasingly
apparent how far the weight of such a load exceeds what any one single
entity can reasonably be expected to bear, and hence, how appropriate that
it be distributed among many different players in the game of life. Indeed
even taking these burdens separately, evolution has apparently seen fit to
distribute each of them among a variety of players.” . (p. 145)  she
states “we can read at least a tacit acknowledgement of how large the gap
between genetic “information” and biological meaning really is” (p.8). so
although scientific research moved already beyond “genetic stability”
deterministic concepts, then she wonders why there is still so much
gene-talk around today. and she warns us: “gene-talk is an undeniable
powerful tool of persuasion, useful not only in promoting research agendas
and securing funding but also (perhaps especially) in marketing the
products of a rapidly expanding bio-tech industry” (p. 10). in a way,
Evelyn Fox Keller brings to the front existing scientific research results
that seem to prove in a stunning way what Gilbert Cardon described to me
as the reciproc life that takes place on a genome level. having read this
books, makes me think that it would be tactically very interesting to play
out in next actions a call to the universities for actually “more science”
in this debate.




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