25.9.06

Estimates of Rice LL601 contamination

According to reports by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) the level of contamination of US-rice shipment to the EU with GMO-rice LL601 is 6 per 10,000 kernels of rice. The BfR reports only 5 in 10,00 kernels of rice.

Details in my blog: http://info-innovation.blogspot.com/

RAEM

24.9.06

Stop wasting other people's time

A friend send me today the link to Gene Weingarten's piece in the Washington Post of Sept 24th 2006, "Hurry up and read this ... and stop wasting my time." Gene describes the mental and emotional agonies that he has to go through when other people don't act as speedily as he would want them to.

For example, Gene suffers at traffic lights:
"Sometimes, I actually do scream aloud, but it is only when I am in my car, with the windows rolled up. Frequently this will occur when I am the third car in a line waiting at a left-turn signal. The light will change to green, but the driver at the light will not move. An interminable second or two will pass.
That is not the point at which I scream. That is the point at which I honk my horn. Often when this happens, the driver directly in front of me will angrily throw up his hands, as if to say, "What do you want me to do about it?" To the practicing Glass Bowl, that is the last straw. That is when I scream:
"I WANT YOU TO STOP BEING A PASSIVE JACKASS. I WANT YOU TO HONK AT THE GUY IN FRONT OF YOU SO WE CAN BOTH MAKE IT THROUGH THE LIGHT INSTEAD OF ONLY HIM AFTER HE FINALLY WAKES UP A NANOSECOND BEFORE THE LIGHT CHANGES AND BLGDGF SPRTRLFF."

From an economic point ov view, Gene gets excited about negative externalities, i.e. costs that someone imposes on somebody else whithout taking these costs into account. But occasionally, social institutions emerge that take the pressure of the externality-challenged. In Syria, for example, when you reach a crossing with a red traffic light, you are expected to drive as far as possible into a crossing and stop where you can't see the light any more. But no worries: as soon as the traffic light turns to green a violent honking starts right behind you. I always considered this as uncivilized madness. From the perspective of Gene Weingarten's article I now see it as an act of sublime politeness: By driving beyond the light you induce crowd-honking and any one driver behind you is not in need to impose on himself insufferable honk-restraint.

RAEM

GMO-Rice LL 601: How much in our food?

Currently, the press is full of reports about GMO-contaminated rice. For example, ABCNews reported on Sept 21st 2006, "EU chases GMO-tainted rice strain in four countries", the Economist speaks on September 16th 2006 about "Grains of doubt", Gretchen Vogel writes in Science, September 22nd 2006 about "Tracing the Transatlantic Spread of GM Rice", and the German Greenpeace website carries a long list of stories about where in the EU GMO rice has been found in rice sold to consumers. LL Rice 601 was developed by Aventis CropScience which was bought by Bayer but I could no find anything about the subject on Bayer's websites.

To stop "unauthorised GMO entering the EU" the EU Commission requires certification of US rice exports to the EU. Greenpeace EU called for the termination of all rice imports for the USA.

Strangely missing from all the reports is any indication of the quantities of LL Rice 601 found in the rice shipments from the USA. Some will say that this is irrelevant because of zero-content rules that are in place in Europe. Such rules may be fine for administrative reasons. As a consumer and believer in the heuristic that quantative information is superior to qualitative information, I would still like to know how much GMO has been found in the contaminated shipments. Even if GMO-traces would be a threat to consumers' health (and not only a threat to some consumers' state of mind), the quantity of GMO would most likely matter. It is unlikely that Paracelsus' dictum has lost its validity: "Alle Ding' sind Gift und nichts ohn' Gift; allein die Dosis macht, das ein Ding kein Gift ist. " ("All things are poison and nothing (is) without poison; only the dose makes that a thing is no poison.")

RAEM

18.9.06

The Pope and the madness of Muslim crowds

The pope, an erstwhile German professor of theology, has delivered an academic lecture at his former home university, the University of Regensburg. The lecture is on the web but it does no make for easy reading. Nevertheless, the lecture has infuriated many Muslims, most of whom are unlikely to have read - much less understood - a single word of the lecture.

What has happend in many countries of the Muslim world is more likely to be a sort of faschist ritual: Send a crowd into the streets, threaten an enemy, burn his or her effigies, flags and other symbols, and hope that real violence happens later. It is unfortunate that some Muslims employ this tactic for kindling real violence with madening regularity.

Was the Pope, Prof. Dr. Ratzinger, wrong in choosing words that gave Muslim faschists a pretext for violence? Most likely not. Sometimes it is better to know where the enemies are than to pretend that they do not exist. The anti-Pope demonstrations make clear who and where the enemies of Christianity and the values of enlightenment are.

Spiegel online has a good commentary on the recent events.

RAEM