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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Llareta in the Andes, Corn in Kaua'i, and GMOs: Slow Versus Fast Growth



     Llareta is the extremely slow-growing evergreen plant featured on yesterday's NPR Science Friday blog:


     Yes, llareta is real. The photo above is not a poorly photoshopped creation (for you bloggers resizing and reshaping your images ;-)). Azorella compacta is a perennial evergreen and grows close to rocks or soil in order to conserve heat at elevations of 14,000 to over 17,000 feet. Llareta is related to parsley and is quite slow-growing, adding only 1-1.5 centimeters per year. Some of these dense mats of llareta in the Andes Mountains of Chile, Peru, and Argentina have been carbon-dated as being over 3,000 years old. [Alternate carbon-dating definition: chemists getting together for dinner and a movie.]


     The complete article about these dense mats that have, unfortunately, been used in South America as non-renewable fuel is linked here:


               LLARETA OR YARETA


     In comparison, the fast-growing, 3-crop-per-year corn crop in Kaua'i, Hawaii, takes a mere 3-4 months for the entire life cycle. The genetically modified organisms (or GMOs) are pushed to a level of ever-faster change in growth so that modifications to the corn seeds can be made in just 3 years (or, by some accounts, 7 years) instead of at least 13 years in a one-crop-per-year acrigulture. In any case, it's rapid, push it out to market food. In between every corn cycle, the fields are sprayed with Roundup herbicide which kills every broadleaf. Seed agriculture is now Hawaii's number one agricultural business, ahead of cane sugar, pineapples, and other native plants.

     


     More on GMOs here from earlier this month (the photo credit is in the link below):

GMO Seed Agriculture Growth in Hawaii

     Slow-growing, ancient organisms that have been around for thousands of years or fast-growing corn that has been genetically modified every few months, treated with three rounds a year of Roundup? Which seems safer for animals, including humans, to be around or, in the case of the corn, to actually eat?

       This week's blog honors my mom, June, who has been active in getting people to understand what corporations like Monsanto and its product, Roundup, in their GMO research, are doing with our food. (Over 90 % of U.S. corn is now a GMO product).

        Her best suggestion for us? Plant our own gardens!

         And a final, favorite photo of another very old friend, the bristlecone pine (nearly 5,000 years of very slow growth in CA and other high elevations):








Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the slow and the fast, the unchanged and the modified, llareta and GMOs (I can wait...),

Word Woman (aka Scientific Steph)






     

   

29 comments:

  1. Enjoy for 3 minutes >>> Wait for it. . .

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIEIU9S30l8&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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    1. SS,

      The elk video made me cry. Road-crossing: One of life’s little metaphors.

      Why did it appear as if the dusty chicken didn’t cross the road?
      He was a dirty double-crosser.

      The one-L larieta is a lasso.
      The two-L llareta looks like grass, though
      There’s not in hell (ask Harriet) a
      Shot there’s three-L lllariettas!

      Nice llareta photos! They look to be perfectly sized ;-). And an “in-size-ive” shout-out. First one looks like pea-soupy lava. The second, like topiary of walri.

      Liked the carbon-dating quip too. Good carbon-dating flicks might be “Multiplicity” or “The Parent Trap.”

      It is a wonderful PEOTS subject: slow natural growth contrasted with speedy (but sometimes artificially accelerated) growth. And a very entertainingly readable treatment of the subject, too.

      GMO and related genetic technologies seem like a new, more insidious form of Silent Spring. The euphemism “modified,” as in GMO, is often a red-flag raiser.

      It is a perfect PEOTS for honoring your mother, June. Thanks to you, June, for your efforts to wake people up { ;-) } regarding how their food is being grown. We shoul all recognize and applaud your perceptiveness, concern and activism. We need more good people like you.

      And more good blogs like PEOTS.

      LassoLambda

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    2. So true about road-crossing, Lego.

      I am intrigued by how the first llareta does look photoshopped, due to the dark shadows on the right. The other image I liked shows some snow-capped peaks semi-echoing the llareta shape. That image is in the link.

      My mom is quite the forerunner on GMOs and pesticides, saying this for decades. She wonders if the exponential increase in cancer, autism, and other diseases all goes back to the pesticides in our food and genetic modification.

      And thanks, LassoLambda.

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    3. While rates of cancer and autism have increased, neither has done so exponentially. The increase in cancer is almost entirely due to an aging population. The main risk factor for cancer is old age; if people live longer, cancer becomes more prevalent. The increase in autism is primarily due to changes in diagnostic criteria, awareness, referrals, and availability of services. This is not to say that environmental factors play no role in either condition, but they are secondary at best.

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    4. You're right, jan. Exponential was not the right word choice. But, I do think environmental factors play an increasing role in many diseases, in a cumulative way.

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  2. Great elk video! We used to walk in the woods behind Bell Labs after lunch. One day, a doe comes crashing across the path ahead of us and tears off across a field, followed a second later, of course, by a buck. They run across the field, heading straight for a heavily travelled road. We hold our breath, waiting for a collision. At the last moment, she cuts right, and they race parallel to the road until they come to the traffic light at the entrance, where they cross. NJ deer are well-trained!

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    1. Wow, jan! That's amazing that they learned where to cross the road. Maybe the truly important road-crossing question ought to be "Where did the chicken, deer, turtle, etc. cross the road?" rather than "Why. . ."

      It's turtle road-crossing time again. Hope those deer sent a memo with a GPS map!

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    2. I've seen what I assumed were home-made Turtle Crossing signs on my rides through the Great Swamp, but your comment prompted me to search Amazon.com. Got over 100 hits. Compared to only 77 Chicken Crossing signs. None of which was as good as this one.

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    3. Big smile. Thanks for that!

      Q: What do you get when you cross a lucky turtle with a road?

      A: Across

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    4. This is weird: I just showed the "I dream of a world where chickens can cross the road without having their motives questioned" pic to my wife and her sister, an urban planner. I just saw that yesterday, my sister-in-law said. It appeared on a slide in an ethics session at American Planning Association meeting in Atlanta. What are the odds? As I learned on a recent This American Life: No Coincidence. No Story.

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    5. That is wild. No Coincidence. No Story? Why, I always thought paper currency was good enough for a tale. Oh, ...never mind.

      (With major mea culpas to Rosanne Rosanna Danna)

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  3. The New Yorker's headline of the week, from the Stillwater (Okla.) News Press:

    EDUCATION TO IMPORTANT TO CUT

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    1. I guess we can be glad they didn't say "Education Two Important Too Cut."

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  4. Animal topic jumping from elk to turtles to chickens to rats:

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/04/29/308107307/lab-rats-may-be-stressed-by-men-which-may-skew-experiments

    No comment ;-).

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  5. The llareta reminds me a bit of cryptobiotic soils. Throw in a crytoquip or two and we'd all feel right at home:

    http://eduscapes.com/nature/cryptsoil/index2.htm

    And a non-posting reader tells me there is a llareta tea. Has anyone tried it?

    "Get back, Llareta!" ;-) (It sort of works, even though it begins with the Y sound.)

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  6. Interesting how cryptozoology and cryptobotany are both pseudosciences, but cryptobiosis is real. Tardigrades are strange enough that they ought to be make-believe, but they're not.

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  7. Who is in charge of naming this stuff anyway, jan?

    Tardigrades are quite odd. I thought those were only late to class...

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  8. Neither on nor off topic:

    http://www.fastcoexist.com/3026742/5-things-well-grow-from-cells-in-the-future

    http://www.ted.com/talks/mitchell_joachim_don_t_build_your_home_grow_it

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  9. Thanks, Paul. The bone, meat, and house possibilities are so intriguing. And no more slaughterhouses!

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  10. We talked of jumping spiders a few months ago. Here is a spider with even better moves.

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  11. Wow. I might have called it the Tumbleweed Spider.

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  12. Speaking of flying and strange coincidences and Denver (as we occasionally have been), I find the details of this story hard to believe.

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    1. Pretty wild! I had not heard it was the pilot's former house.

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    2. Yeah, I figure he had to be buzzing a friend in the neighborhood when the engine balked. Plus, I'm generally suspicious when a volunteer firefighter just happens to be on scene when a fire breaks out, but I'll give him a pass on that this time.

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    3. Did you ever do that when flying, jan?

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    4. Unknowingly crash into my former house? No.

      Attempt to put out a house fire I started with aviation fuel? No.

      Tow a banner? Buzz a friend's house? No, and No.

      Boring. But still here.

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    5. I guess that question was a bit vague. Thanks for your boring answers, jan.

      Mostly I was wondering about buzzing a friend's house, assuming one could do that safely.

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  13. GMO BAN:

    http://www.collective-evolution.com/2014/05/22/jackson-county-oregon-approves-gmo-ban/

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  14. Linux for lettuce:http://www.vqronline.org/reporting-articles/2014/05/linux-lettuce

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