Saturday, August 22, 2015

"Day of the Triffids" or "Monolith Monsters" ? (Mexican Fan Palm - Washingtonia robusta)

Korny 1950s Sci-Fi flicks beautifully illustrate some of today's dangerous landscape practices that have gotten out of control
Courtesy of Civano Nursey, Tucson, Arizona

Mexican Fan Palm (Washingtonia robusta)

Well, not exactly "Day of the Triffids" or "Monolith Monsters", but you wouldn't know that by some of the bad public relations they are receiving lately. And yet it is fair to say there are certain maintenance challenges and wildfire dangers that people should be aware of and educate themselves about before installing them in their landscape. A century ago when it came to landscape palms in California, two were the most prominent, the native California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera) and the Canary Island Date Palm (Phoenix canariensis). Both have pretty much fallen out of favour with Southern California landscapers and gardeners. Why ? Well, the date palm is messy and when young a major challenge when it comes to space. Also extremely difficult to prune or trim because at the base of the palm frond where it's attached to the tree trunk are some of the most vicious spines you'll ever not want to tackle. The native California Fan Palm is much cleaner maintenance-wise, but it also when mature after some years will also produce date fronds, though much smaller dates. It does have one advantage in that it is much slower growing, but that is also why it was replaced by the Mexican Fan Palm which is much faster growing and provides instant landscape for the Nurseries, landscapers and homeowners who want instant tree. Nobody has patience any patience anymore. Today, it's almost impossible to find a nursery that carries the California Fan Palm and even many native plant nurseries don't carry them or if the do, they are limited and sell out quickly. And while the Mexican Fan Palm has become the typical landscape symbol and taken over the California popularity contest, there are also some major problems with this palm tree.

The Monolith Monsters (1950s monster invasion movie)

image: Desert USA
It was 1957 in a desert town where a geologist found a mysterious rock which grew bigger and propagated itself when it came into contact with water. Towards the end of the movie these monolithic black crystal spires move down this canyon headed for the town. Now where do you suppose these writers got such a crazy idea for such a Sci-Fi script ??? Oh yeah, it's a common sight on the desert side of mountain ranges in SoCal. You can even visit the Palm Springs name sake, Palm Canyon as seen in the photo at right. There are however three negative things to be said about the presence of the Mexican Fan Palm in Southern California's landscape. First it easily escapes the urban landscape and naturalizes into the wilds of Southern California. Second, because of the ease of naturalizing, it has become so invasive that it has smothered many native riparian habitats which effects all the native wildlife. Third, it has become a major component of wildfire spread and loss of homes. This palm tree explodes like a Roman Candle and over a period of 30 minutes while burning can create innumerable sparks or embers which may travel as far as a mile depending on the extreme high wind conditions causing spot fires ahead of the main fire. It and other non-native trees like Salt Cedar or Tamarisk have changed the physical barrier of a riparian habitat which while not fire proof, always could slow a fire down, but it's presence acts as a sort of transportation bridge to newer drier vegetation on the other side of a valley. This naturalizing ability was mentioned a while back in an article in the L.A. Times:
LA Times: "When many of us think of Los Angeles, there’s a palm in the picture. That palm is likely Washingtonia robusta, the Mexican fan palm."
But the region’s palmy past is seeding trouble. “Most of the dates fall nearby,” says licensed herbicide applicator Bill Neill, “but some will eventually go down the storm drains into the river channels.”
And there is another serious problem with this palm so easily invading the infrastructure of Los Angeles, San Diego and other Southern California city's storm drain outlets.
Mexican fans also reduce the flood-control capacity of the L.A. River (and others). Any vegetation will slow water flow, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rips out invasives before it touches native plants. “Willows don’t burn easily,” says Corps ecologist Carvel Bass, “but fan palms and arundo do, and they don’t contribute to the habitat in any positive way.”
While the Mexican Fan Palm does have some wonderful qualities as an ornamental in the landscape, there are those fire safety issues which everyone should understand. They seriously need to have their dried coat of fronds trimmed by professionals. They are dangerous for rookie inexperienced homowners to do this themselves. It's dangerous also for the professionals, this is why so many of them die each year and their business insurance is insanely high. Therefore, watch this video below which is about eleven minutes long and illustrates the tree's ability to create 1000s upon 1000s of burning embers as high as 100 feet in the air and during horrific Santa Ana wind events that are common in Southern California, can blow as far away as a mile and start spot fires, or even house tract in neighbourhoods on fire as was the case with the Witch Creek Fire in 2007 which burned numerous homes in the Rancho Bernardo area of San Diego. On December 25th, 2014, LAFD Engine 68 on scene at Mansfield Avenue & Venice Boulevard in Mid-City encountered a palm tree on fire up against high-tension power lines. Unable to put water directly on the fire due to the high voltage, they requested Department of Water and Power to shut them down. With high winds gusting up to 45 miles per hour fanning the flames, millions of embers flew across Venice Boulevard, threatening cars, businesses and other palm trees down the block. An additional Task Force was called in to handle the flying ember problem that started to collect and pool around the edges of buildings and roof-tops. Firefighters knocked down the burning embers with hand-lines at trash piles across the boulevard and in the alley behind other properties. Eventually Engine 68 set up a stream with its “wagon battery” below the power lines, knocking down most of the fire. 

How Mexican Fan Palm has taken over the city of San Diego, wildlands between housing tracts
I've always wanted to do historical documenting of this tree's spread, mostly because I've never found where anyone else ever has. That is to document the massive invasive takeover within the city limits of San Diego, California by the Mexican Fan Palm, not only in wet riparian stream beds, but also up dry washes and canyons where water traditionally hasn't always present or available. At least before housing and human water wasting changed all of that. Again, thus far I've never seen or heard any authority in San Diego County mention any of this before.

Google Earth: Interstate 8 Freeway just west of College Avenue

Image: Google Earth
These two photo locations above and to the right are the Interstate 8 freeway and College Avenue overpass. The photo above from Google Earth is just west of the College Ave overpass. The photo to the right is on the south side of I-8 and exists to San Diego State University. When I was a small kid in the early 1960s, those palm trees in the creek bed didn't exist. I know because almost few times a month our family often drove back and forth over this route on our way to the beach or to visit a great uncle who lived in Allied Gardens off Navajo Road. However, one day in the middle 60s, I noticed some young palms on the north side of I-8 in the top photo. Also a couple on the south side where the creek bed routed from. Further upstream all the way into the city of La Mesa, they kept getting even bigger. Over the several next decades they all just got bigger and more numerous. Further up the road it was obvious where the source of the seed came from. 

Image: Google Earth

This is the the old former Alvarado Trailer Park on Alvarado Rd in La Mesa which is now called the San Diego RV Resort. Before the change, I seem to recall the old park as going down hill, like so many other older trailer parks in that county which originally started out as roadside Auto Kamps for travelers later converted to permanent residential trailer parks. But back in those early days, almost every single one of them planted a Mexican Fan Palm in each small lot or trailer space. This Resort now has greatly reduced and thinned out considerably the Mexican Fan Palms from what it once was. When I was head landscaper for the property management company in San Diego before moving here to Sweden, one huge mobile home trailer park in El Cajon on Bradley Avenue was also loaded with these palms. The owner of that Mobile Home Park was also a board member of the San Diego Wild Animal Park and years back donated many of them in the early development of the San Diego Wild Animal Park which has since changed it's name to Safari Park. That old Mobile Home Park still has some, but not as it originally did. They are a maintenance nightmare and expense to have professionals come out which is the only was to have it done. But that Trailer Park up on Alvarado Rd in La Mesa was definitely the source of seed for everything down stream. These trees over a life time can produce millions upon millions of seeds. There is something more interesting that most folks living there probably don't know about that first photo next to Interstate 8, although many do, especially the college kids. It's a location below those palms along the freeway which drops off dramatically and is named Adobe Falls.

Here is a link map to the Adobe Falls area along I-8

Adobe Falls Open Space & SDSU Expansion
It's unfortunate that the majority of California College youth who visit here have zero respect for the natural beauty of the area. The irony is that these college types are the so-called Ecology people. Same people who went to Woodstock and Standing Rock Dakota Pipeline protesters labeled themselves as champions of ecology, but their actions spoke louder than their words. Clearly there is no arguing the area has that exotic attraction factor going for visiting it, but after all the drinking and partying they engage in, they leave it a complete mess and have ruined most of the namesake adobe tan bedrock strata loaded up with their graffiti. The photo to the right here is at the top of Adobe Falls just before it takes the plunge down the canyon. I highly doubt that most people are even aware that the palms are all non-native and unnatural to this area. The stream drops sharply and meanders down and around through the valley on it's collision course with the real San Diego River which comes out of Santee, Lakeside and Cuyamaca Mountains to the northeast. But what most don't realize is that every single side canyon on both sides of I-8 is loaded with hundreds of these same large Mexican Fan Palm colonies up and down all the dry washes. Actually the washes are not all that dry any more as they have been utilized by the building industry and city as part of the municipal storm drain infrastructure, Hence the reason for so much extra water which allows palms to thrive. The other reasons for water's permanent presence is basically public wastefulness. Washing cars, watering landscapes, and any number of ways and reasons people use and waste water. Thousands of small curbs and gutters all collectively trickling their cargo together into larger culverts and other flood control channels all meeting upstream and contributing to what was and technically is Alvarado creek. Many references will call this water course north of SDSU as the San Diego River, but Adobe Falls is on Alvarado Creek, not the San Diego River. Alvarado Creek joins the San Diego River at the mouth of that canyon at a district of San Diego called Grantville. They even have a Trolley Station there now. Now let's venture a little further west of Adobe Falls and visit one of the many watershed tributaries along either side of that canyon east of Grantville.

Image: Google Earth

The photograph here is again brought to us from Google Earth. This is about halfway between Waring Road and College Avenue on the south side of Interstate 8 freeway. The bridge you see is fairly new as it is the newer extension of the San Diego Trolley line. So from this east bound shoulder lane looking back up the hillside here of homes just west of SDSU there are a number of tributaries to the main canyons and these were historically almost always dry, except of course now that has all changed with the water run off from public streets above. This is also a north facing slope so evapo-transpiration is going far less than on the south facing slope on the north side of this same canyon which is almost totally lower growing coastal sage scrub. Notice the Mexican Fan Palms. There are actually far more extensive long colonies than the photo here gives credit for. But this is common all the way to the Pacific Ocean on both sides of the greater part of the wide Mission Valley. A simple drive and exploration of canyons and side streets can verify the massive extent to which Mexican Fan Palm has taken over all canyon courses that flow down to Mission Valley. Now lets take a short side trip to the opposite side of Interstate 8 freeway to Waring Road which travels up Navajo Canyon up to Allied Gardens. 

Image: Google Earth

Once again, here's a Google Earth of Waring Road well north of Interstate 8 freeway and just before you drive out of the canyon to the Allied Garden's flat plateau area. The canyon on the left is yet another example of how Mexican Fan Palms have taken advantage of an unnatural circumstances and crowded out the native dry canyon vegetation, but this canyon is no longer dry. It is fed from waste water and storm runoff from the city neighbourhoods above. This has been replicated throughout the entire city and surrounding municipalities. Of course the City's use of the natural geography and dry washes makes sense because these gullies and canyons  efficiently divert flood waters during rainstorm events to keep streets safer and drier. Now I say flood waters because the collectively, all storm water buildup is made by all man the made concrete and asphalt surfaces which eventually come together and causing the flooding. In this Allied Gardens region there are also a number of other plants which have ultimately invaded San Diego's natural riparian corridor of infrastructures and made them a hostile environment to not only native biodiversity, but wildfire hazard to human habitation during these present times of later day mega-wildfires. For example there are three major invaders along with the Mexican Fan Palm, Arundo Cane [Bamboo or sugar cane looking plant], Brazilian Pepper [water loving, unlike the California Pepper which prefers drier circumstances, hence lack of invasive qualities even it will naturalize sporadically] and last but not least the Salt Cedar or Tamarisk [also another major player in not only riparian ruin, but wildfire spread]. The other problem appears to be that in some locations, these fan palms are becoming a storm drain nuisance by hindering flood water movement by impeding it's flow. Here is a photo below where some Fan Palm removal has been taken in Navajo Canyon Open Space.

Image by Eric D. Bier

Navajo Canyon Open Space below Allied Gardens

A slow drive up Waring Road and glancing side to side and you'll just about find them everywhere. Clearly at the top of the plateau where all the 1950s housing tracts are located, people have them in yards everywhere. The Mexican Fan Palm is a heavy producer of seeds and hundreds of seedlings can be found almost anywhere. One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to plants is the mis-label or mis-identification of trees of the same species and generally [believe it or not] by those who are supposed to be experts. I wrote about this earlier where San Diego Safari Park botanical experts have labeled American Sycamore or London Plane tree as California Sycamore in the Chaparral habitat exhibit. I've seen many Retail Nurseries do the exact same thing. 
So what's the Difference between the two look alike Palms ???
California and Mexican Fan Palm are always incorrectly identified in journals, government reports and science literature. The two couldn't be more different despite some of the obvious similarities in physical appearance. For one the Mexican Fan Palm comes from Mexico, is more slender trucked, eventually getting 70' - 90' or 100' foot tall or more. They are probably the most iconic tall skinny palms seen around Hollywood and other Los Angeles' boulevards, Riverside city streets and orange groves around Redlands, etc. Take a look at the picture to the right. One negative about the fronds and maintenance, unlike the fatter trunk California Fan Palm, the Mexican Fan Palm will shed their fronds in wind storms which creates a dangerous pedestrian or homeowner hazard below. Fire has nothing to to with them falling although they will fall off when on fire and blow far away from the tree creating spot fires well ahead of the main fire front line. The native California holds almost all their fronds throughout life unless they catch fire of course. The leaf frond of the Mexican is also much smaller and brighter green.

The California Fan Palm on the other hand has a much fatter or larger diameter trunk than slender Mexican Fan Palm. The California Fan Palm is also not as high, perhaps to 60 foot. The fronds are a duller olive green and not as bright green as the Mexican Fan Palm. Those fronds are also much much bigger and wider spread than Mexican. The growth of the California Fan Palm is far more slower than the Mexican Fan Palm and this is why they have mostly fallen out of favour with the professional landscaper and their clients who want instant landscape. The reasons you see them in older neighbourhoods of Southern California is because that was the only palm available other than the other icon Canary Island Date Palm, which also naturalizes very well behind the Mexican Fan Palm. There is just no patience anymore for waiting for a tree to actually become a tree. The California Fan Palm also doesn't necessarily naturalize as well as it's Mexican cousin on the western side of the Southern California mountains. not that they can't, but it's not as common. Interestingly, another problem in identification could also come from the fact that both of these Fan Palms will hybridize very easily which I found out in the 1980s-90s was a problem for growers dealing with purebreds in Coachella Valley. 

Call you tell which are California and which is Mexican Fan Palms

Now as a quick example of what I am talking about when it comes to experts who should know better when it comes to plant identification, take a good read of this city of San Diego canyon rehabilitation and maintenance planning report. When you scroll down to page 35, notice the photograph of Rancho Bernardo Canyon and the reference to the trees described as California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera) which in reality are clearly Mexican Fan Palms. Not even any mention of the Canary Island Date Palms presence there either. There is simply no excuse for mistakes like this where the city hires expensive experts to do their studies. This is the same irresponsible work that was done by supposed experts  at the San Diego Wild Animal Park's chaparral exhibit. The term California Fan Palm in this instance can be likened to the California Pepper Tree designation. Neither of these trees are natives, but their favoured place in our history of California landscapes is done by humans who as time goes on simply forget the history and consider them as indigenous as they consider themselves. But highly paid experts have no excuses.
It wouldn't be right if I neglected to mention another kool Fan Palm native to Baja California
Mexican Blue Fan Palm (Brahea armata)
Image: Google Earth

Corner of Vulcan St & Danny St , El Cajon California, USA

I know, the yard doesn't look like much, but it use to before it was sold. For four years I walked back and forth from home to work as head landscaper and passed by this house on the corner of Danny St and Vulcan St in El Cajon California. Sometimes I'd just stop in front to gaze at this amazing blue fan palm. What really made the house and yard was this singular giant Mexican Blue Fan Palm standing all by itself in the lawn, much like the ones in the photograph at the right. The palm frond foliage is a beautiful unique blue green with gray haze. Even when it flowers, it's far more beautiful and impressive than the two palms I have described above. This one also had an amazing large diameter trunk as well, the largest I've ever seen. Apparently not long after this house was sold the new owner took a chainsaw to the Blue Fan Palm and removed all but what looked like a perfectly flat round table which they placed potted plants on top for a while. Eventually that stump decayed and they completely removed it as you can see in the above Google photo where the scar is still evident in the lawn. Aside from the shock one day passing by and seeing it being gone, I realized that as a result of the owner's ignorance, he or she lost out on many 1000s of dollars. Such large trees like this one are worth that kind of money because they are so rare to come by and take so long to grow. In that respect they are much like the large Sego Palms in value. The other draw back to these Palms besides people preferring green palms is that this palm is even slower growing than either of the Mexican or California Fan Palm. But apparently this guy didn't know that. One thing I did learn from the growers in Coachella and Thermal is that the Blue Fan Palm when dug out and hauled to a new location has to have it's roots burned to cauterize the wounds because otherwise the palm even if planted will bleed to death. The other fan and date palms you see hauled around on large flat bed trucks and planted do not have this problem. Speaking of hauling palms and planting whole large ready made trees, here is an amazing house transformation below in the Coachella Valley where older 1970s house was remodeled and yard transformed. Beautiful job and I'll close this post with this picture and link of the story underneath the photograph.

Ashley Hacksaw: "A Tour of our House the exterior"
In Defense of the Mexican Fan Palm (Washingtonia robusta)
While it's true I have targeted the Mexican Fan Palm here as the main subject of this article and referenced it's invasive nature as we have labeled it within this Southern California environment, the plant itself is not to blame. It's people. The palm isn't no more invasive than say the Salt Cedar is. The word invasive comes from another word more commonly used with human beings, "invasion". Take a look at the dictionary definition of this word: 
Invasion: "an act or instance of invading or entering as an enemy, especially by an army. the entrance or advent of anything troublesome or harmful, as disease. entrance as if to take possession or overrun"
Today it his becoming popular and hip to assign description of plants as sentient beings. They are not. While scientists utilize many metaphors and euphemisms in describing some of the incredible behavioural traits and complex sensory mechanisms within plants and their cooperation with each other in all  ecosystems, they do so through their genetic programming and sensory epigenetic mechanisms. They simply grow successfully or unsuccessfully within the environment they find themselves placed. When humans in ignorance change their environment it brings consequences. Rather than admitting error on their part, they tend to blame the plants, animals, birds, insects, etc etc etc by assigning to them negative terminology or labels normally used for people, in that they can now justify to their fellow human being why they should be allowed to pursue yet other irresponsible actions [mostly likely of a deadly stupid chemical or mechanical nature] in eliminating them, which often results in further unforeseen consequences. Mexican Fan Palms, like Canary Island Date Palms or Brazilian Pepper Trees are not scheming planning invaders, their sensor mechanisms are simply responding to the changes provided by people who in this case are merely wasting water. Take the water away and the plants will eventually decline in vigor and propagation of themselves will likely also cease. But homeowners and planners should bear in mind the present catastrophic circumstances of Climate Chance they [worldwide] have collectively created and now understand the newer need of  maintaining their landscapes accordingly. I'll have another post on human mistreatment of the natural world is a reflection on how they have treated each other throughout history. Stay tuned!

Update: "Say good-bye to Buena Creek's palm trees"
Image - Gig Conaughton - UT San Diego Staff Writer
"Standing out like sore thumbs in the midst of lush, green willow trees and native plants, every one of the huge palm trees in the environmentally-protected creek are brown from top to bottom, deader than doornails. 
Environmental groups said Friday that the public should not be alarmed. The nonnative palms -- along with towering Eucalyptus trees and fast-spreading Pampas grass -- are being intentionally killed off because they were threatening the creek's native willows, scrub and protected birds and animals."
(Source - San Diego Union Tribune) 
Update: December 15, 2017
NBC San Diego
NBC San Diego: Palm Trees Removed From Rice Canyon in Chula Vista
"A helicopter will be removing more than 80 palm trees from Rice Canyon in Chula Vista Friday.  The Mexican Fan palm trees, which can grow to 60 feet, hinder the growth of native plants, city officials said.  Crews began cutting the invasive trees Monday. Now, the helicopter will pick up the trees one at a time and take them to an area where they can be properly disposed.  Residents of Rancho del Rey Parkway may notice the noise of the helicopter until 4 p.m., officials said.
Further Important Reading References
Southern California and Palm Trees 
Important (September 2015)Update for Landscapers who have chosen Mexican Fan Palm over the California Fan Palm because of it's faster growth for instant tree 
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera) growth explosion with Mycorrhizal Fungi 
LA Times: Gardening Hangovers Part-II - Mexican Fan Palms
Piety and Perversity: The Palms of Los Angeles by Victoria Dailey
Examples of Fire Hazards 
Palm trees help spread fire in Yorba Linda



Jesusita Fire likely a sign of things to come Wildfires Drought, invasive weeds, warming put much of state at risk, experts say

Check out the video below of why it is so stupid to allow fireworks any time of year to the public. Trust me, palm trees are prime targets for these creeps
Adobe Falls, San Diego California - SDSU Area
Hidden San Diego: Adobe Falls
 The Daily Aztec: "Trespassers resort to Adobe Falls"
San Diego Reader: "Roam Adobe Creek Falls"
Navajo Canyon Open Space
Navajo Canyon Open Space Trail Map
San Diego Reader: "Navajo Canyon Open Space"

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Replicating Designs found in Nature (Biomimetics) should be what defines the Biotech Industry

Unfortunately, recent News from the Biotech Industry itself says that we live in a world without purpose, therefore GMOs are necessary. Seriously folks, this is exactly what motivates & justifies their actions
I wasn't going to make anymore mention on this topic, but I had this draft post for some time now and haven't done anything with it. However, with the recent revelation from the Biotech Industry that our natural world has no purpose and the collective intellect of Geneticists & Biologists employed by the Biotech Industry know how to correct this problem, well, who could resist. I've changed the title because some fascinating things have been discovered in the natural world that have important practical application in maintaining the Earth can be made and helping serve mankind in general. However, often times the only roadblock in such wonderful amazing discoveries is reasoning like this, "Yeah, sounds great. But can we make money with it ?" What I'll do is highlight two of the most spectacular biomimicry news reports lately out of the 100s which seem to be coming through the science news feeds lately and make comparison to what else is needed with regards balancing many of Earth's ecosystems. Keep in mind, there is no one fix-it-pill cure all for what ails our planet.
Opossum-Based Antidote Provides New Route For Treating Deadly Snake Bites
"Researchers from San Jose State University recently presented the findings of a new study at the 249th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, in Denver. Lead investigator Dr. Claire Komives explained the initial research into the opossum’s immunity was done in the 1940s, but since then the data has remained mostly stagnant. With new evidence that a certain peptide can be utilized in an antidote, fatal snake bites could one day be a thing of the past."

Im-possum-ble! (Credit: Thinkstock)

Previously last year, I reported on the research work done by the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies who found that Opossums are quite literally tick magnetics. Of what importance is this ? Opossums are meticulous in keeping themselves clean, despite their notorious habit of digging in rubbish bins for food. Sadly their other claim to fame is often roadkill. But the researchers found that because of both being a magnet for ticks and their fanatic hygiene grooming allows for a  large part of their diet to include eating ticks as this was discovered in their feces. This revealed an extremely important reason for their purpose within any ecosystem. Now it appears that Opossums are a super source of antivenom: Medical Daily reported that “Opossum-based antidote to venom from snake bites could save thousands of lives.” Sure enough, it does appear that the opossums are immune to some forms of snake venom. They make a peptide that binds to the venom protein, rendering it harmless. This could lead to antivenoms that are easier to produce and have no side effects. Dr Claire Komives said that the Mice she injected with the peptide showed no signs of being sick. Below is a 17 minute video of a conference earlier this month in Colorado with the American Chemical Society. I'll let her talk more on what they have found, but I'll have a further comment about the usual critics who no doubt are jealous of both the discovery and results. 
Video: "Opossum-based antidote to poisonous snake bites could save thousands of lives"

Common weed (Cattails - Typha dmingensis) revealed to diminish water pollution
"Francisco Delgado Vargas, from the Autonomous University of Sinaloa (UAS), researches the use of the plant Typha domingensis in reducing bacterial contamination of water for agricultural use. This plant helps to reduce up to 98 percent of pollution by enterobacteria (usually found in the intestines of mammals) involved in the development of disease."
Cattail, Bulrush, Corn Dog Grass, Cumbungi (Typha domingensis)

image: Gerry Ellis
This report revealed that a common weed that most people globally are very familiar with can reduce water pollution. The plant, which they mistakenly are labeling a weed is the common Cattail or Bulrush or Typha domingensis which already grows in polluted waterways.  “This plant helps to reduce up to 98 percent of pollution by enterobacteria (usually found in the intestines of mammals) involved in the development of disease,” the Mexican researcher found. No doubt somewhere out there, we have other so-called weeds we should learn to love not only for their uniqueness when under control, but the beneficial roles they play in nature. Of course we are also aware that under the right circumstances, this plant can become weedy and choke vast waterways, but this is mostly due to human caused pollution which creates excessive nutrients for which the plant responds by excessive multiplying. While they are great at removing nutrients, there must also be strategies for removal as a means of harvesting the biomass for other intended purposes. Here are a couple more quick paragraphs from the article.
"Vargas Delgado indicates that mankind has an impact on the drains, "most pollution comes from fecal waste; this indicates that there is other bacteria that can affect health." He adds that Typha domingensis is considered a pest in the drains, and is therefore removed; however, proper management helps the ecosystem. "We are invading the places where these plants develop, removing them, and don't see the great ecological benefits that they provide." 
"Properly designing drains so that there is space for plants to help reduce pollution without affecting the free flow of water would allow the agricultural drains to play their role in the evacuation of excess water from the mainland and also lessen the impact of pollutants that are thrown into these channels.

Dwarf Cattail (Typha minima)
Most people are probably unaware that there is a cute mini-variety of Cattail which can be used for small ponds in your urban landscape to keep was nutrients in check. Aside from the fact that unlike it's large standard relative, it won't invade and overwhelm the pond. This Dwarf cattail [Typha minima] - (also miniature cattail or least cattail) is native to marshes and wetlands here in Europe and Asia. So great for colder climates. As with most all cattails, their root tubers over winter very well. This is the smallest of the cattails, typically growing to only 18” to 24” tall. Its dwarf size makes it an ideal marginal aquatic perennial for smaller water gardens, natural swimming pools and tubs. It features narrow, upright, grass-like, linear, mostly basal, green leaves and a stiff, unbranched central flower stalk. You know, so much biodiversity has been lost where large animals are concerned. I am continually pondering over and over in my mind just what has been lost from a vegetation maintenance perspective where large herbivores have been removed from certain ecosystems, just what the impact has been on overgrowth of many plants, especially aquatic environments. What was lost by the removal of the Grizzly and other bears, not only as far as a chaparral scenario, but also an aquatic one. Bears love the Cattail tubers, which as also edible for human consumption. But as many studies warn, stay away from the polluted environments when harvesting.

image: Robert Weselmann

These are just two excellent examples of where biomimetics not only promise to improve human life and health, but also improve biology around the Earth overall. The inspiration for biomimicry requires focusing on the plants and animals to understand them better even when some may often viewed in a negative light. That almost guarantees vast improvement with science education, updated & improved textbooks, and inspiring a new generation to enter biology. On the other hand, the present biotechnology needs a massive overhaul and clearly there should be laws or rules on the books requiring the employment of several full time staffed bioethicists in each Industrial Biotech company. Below are just a couple of examples of things probably most people do not know have happened in the past with GMO experiments or have been forgotten with these horrible biotech failures [which thankfully did not hit the markets] and one wonders, how many other things haven't even seen the light of day ?
The earliest known public GMO which turned out to be more of a bio-hazard was unleashed on mankind around 1990. A Japanese Biotech company named Showa Denko genetically engineered an amino acid Tryptophan which is used as a food supplement. The process of using GMO technology was to cut corners and time on the fermentation process. This product was actually placed on the market in the late 80's, and within three months, 37 people died and 1500 were permanently disabled from using this product. A Lawyer named William E Crist took up the cause of investigation. Another Lawyer is Steven Druker has also written about this incident in history. Recently there was an GMO proponent named Wes Neilson of Onalaska Washington whom I had a discussion with on this very thing. He demanded that lawyers were inadequate to test safety and that only molecular biologists were qualified to examine possible problems. Here are his exact recorded words on the Missouri Organic Association's page:
"Wouldn't a molecular biologist have provided far more insight into GMO crops than a lawyer like Steven Druker who has no scientific background?"

Well, there is a huge hole in Mr Nielson's religious belief on this. The Geneticists and Biologists at Showa Denko deliberately destroyed any and all evidence that could have been used to determine scientifically the actual cause of the problem. They destroyed the genetically engineered bacterial stock samples, along with any potentially surviving specks that investigators might have recovered from the walls or on the equipment in their facilities. Clearly these molecular biologists and geneticists were less than honest. I don't have any doubts that they also may have been ordered to destroy such materials by their superiors at the Biotech Lab. I once wrote a piece of how important such negative data and research which generally never sees the light of day, could in fact be beneficial to other researchers so as not to make the same mistakes. But lo and behold there was more to this story. They concocted and fabricated some ridiculous story of the hazard being nothing more than a bad filtration problem with their new coal filters. However, the attorney William Crist actually demonstrated that this argument was totally false, because he found that hundreds of cases of eosonophil myalgia syndrome (EMS) occurred before reduced filtration was introduced. See here, it took an actual Attorney and not a Biotech Micobiologist or Geneticist to uncover the truth. And the so-called scientific consensus experts and Media wonder why people don't have faith in science [or rather their version of it]. So much for science being self-correcting. Clearly what goes on is not so much a correction as it is a cover up. That's all I'll say on this, but this is not a remote unique example of lab experiments gone wrong with Biotechnology and I'll post some more links at the bottom of this article.

There have been other incidents of gmo experiments gone terribly wrong, but fortunately these as far as we know of never saw the light of day in that they were mass produced and sold to the public. There was a past decade long genetic engineering project for developing a superior Pea with a transgene that would produce a toxin that would kill a common Weevil (Bruchus pisorum) pest in peas. This was a decade long project which revealed the same exact dangerous trend as the L-tryptophan fermenting process with the GM Bacteria by Showa Denko. However, this experiment with the peas and the transgene insertion was abandoned after tests showed it caused an allergic reaction in mice which also caused lung damage. Like other tests and studies done with experiments in toxicity of a certain protein extract from say, Organism A [in this case a bean], it had zero toxic effect on mice or humans. However, once this same protein producing gene is expressed within the context of Organism B [the Pea], it had just the opposite effect. In fact there were structural changes within the protein which did indeed cause certain allergic reactions. The informational content of this protein producing gene didn't jive well within the entirely different context of it's new host, the lowly Pea.
"The researchers - at Australia's national research organisation, CSIRO - took the gene for a protein capable of killing pea weevil pests from the common bean and transferred it into the pea. When extracted from the bean, this protein does not cause an allergic reaction in mice or people." 
 "But the team found that when the protein is expressed in the pea, its structure is subtly different to the original in the bean. They think this structural change could be to blame for the unexpected immune effects seen in mice."
Then there is also the case of Dr Árpád Pusztai, a Hungarian-born biochemist and nutritionist who spent 36 years at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland, who bucked the Scientific Religious Orthodoxy and came out against GMO Potatoes as a result of his own developmental research on them. He discovered through identical experimentation that when he isolated the prtein lectin from the Snow Drop which was to kill Aphids on potatoes, that no harm at all came from animals eating the purer natural form of the toxin. However, once inserted into the potato's genetic informational context, structural changes clearly took place within the gene's newer genetic context. For revealing his team's findings and exposing the flaws of the technology, he was fired and black balled from working anywhere else. Some of his research team members were likewise treated the same. But there was one statement in the Guardian's interview with him that stands out identical to the two statements in the other pea study I quoted above:
"The results that Pusztai had hinted at in his interview were a comparison of rats fed ordinary potatoes and potatoes that had been genetically modified with a lectin from snowdrops. The rats on the GM diet grew less well and had immune problems even though the lectin itself caused no adverse effects at high concentrations. His conclusion was that the GM process had somehow made the potatoes less nutritious. The GM potatoes were not a commercial variety and were never intended for human consumption, but the lectin modification - which made them poisonous to insects - was an experimental model for other GM varieties."
(Source: The Guardian)

Clearly, the informational content of the Lectin producing gene of the Snowdrop was expressed entirely different within the context of the information contained within the potato. What many geneticists are discovering is that much of the non-coding genes within DNA which do not contain known instructions for the manufacturing of a specific protein, do however contain blueprinted instructions for guidance, regulation and purpose for which that protein under any certain specific situation or circumstances are to be used and directed. What apparently happens is that certain genetic switches are either turned on or off by the mere simple act of inserting the new gene. The trouble is knowing what those other genes are, what their switches turned on or off, do or don't do. The new field of Genetics, called Epigenetics, is revealing how far more complex DNA of living organisms really are. But Scientific discovery and moving forward in the field of genetics has been horribly held back because a handful of religiously driven ideologues within the prevailing scientific orthodoxy have in the past insisted that this non-coding DNA must be labeled Junk DNA for no other reason than because these geneticists decades ago found no function or purpose for it's existence within DNA. For no other reason than their own human ignorance and personal arrogance in admitting publicly that they had no clue as to what exactly that function was, instead gave the label Junk DNA and was supposed to be proof positive of being worthless evolutionary holdover from times past. Hence, one wonders how such religiously driven dogma has actually hindered rather than helped the Biotech industry who have used this as an excuse for taking shortcuts in the production, manufacture, patenting, packaging and labeling of a product to be sold on the global market as quickly as possible. There was another interesting quote at the end of that article. It was from Greenpeace Australia's campaigner on genetic engineering, Jeremy Tager. He said:
"It is rare for an investigation of the potential health effects of a GM product to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, he adds. "If it had been a private company doing this, it might never have seen the light of day"
Jeremy is absolutely correct. Had this Pea Research been some internal study & experiment conducted inside of a Monsanto, Bayer or a Syrgenta Lab, as opposed to a publicly funded organization like Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), none of the paperwork and other research papers would have ever seen the light of day. None of us would have known about the failures of such a technology and it's unintended consequences or inconvenient truth for that matter. This is not Biomimetics which replicates nature based on an actual understanding of knowledge based on facts of how nature operates by means of observation. This is Sci-Fi stuff based on a flawed blind faith religious beliefs that Biological information within DNA is not really true information as understood by humans. Now, how does that dogma go again ? Oh yeah, Biological information within DNA can be compared to rocks in a landslide or pebbles strewn along a beach or patterns of a snowflake. This information is not true intelligent information as we humans understand & know it, it's actually nothing more than meaningless patterns. As long as there are people like this in positions of power, obsessed with the pursuit of wealth and acquiring a global food monopoly at any cost, the entire planet will always be in serious danger. They are correct about one thing, DNA is NOT real information as humans know and understand it. In actual fact it is far more complex and sophisticated than all the collective thinking and understanding of things humans have ever invented or devised from the beginning, irrespective of what anybody with an opinion believes how that all originally happened. But never underestimate the power of religious blind faith and the Clerics which claim to be the guardians of such knowledge.
Detour Towards Epigenetic Switches 

For those with a further deeper interest in the subject of Epigenetics, I'll provide a couple of interesting links to videos which will illustrate and highlight what the Biotechs refuse to admit. The first is a documentary produced by Horizon referencing British Geneticist Marcus Pembry and Swedish Geneticist Dr Lars Olof Byrgen, who are considered heretics in the field, but found by accident how epigenetics switches can be triggered by environmental cues to turn on or off with the resulting effects being the different expression of the genetic information contained within a sequence of DNA. In fact the the documentary even reveals an example of where the mere act of placing a mouse embryo in a Lab  dish actually caused two switches in that embryo to be turned off. Why ? Who knows. No one really understands why. Does the same happen in humans within the procedure of In Vitro Fertilization which is the process of fertilization by manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish, and then transferring the embryo to the uterus. Is there also potential for switches here to be either turned on or off and if so what genes and what do they do when switched on or off ? Is such information important to understand ? Who knows. Does anyone really care ? Again who knows. Remember, this is also another big business model within the Biotech Industry. With that said, here is the BBC documentary and you may wish to bookmark it for later as it is 48 minutes long, but well worth the watch. 
BBC Horizon: "The Ghost in Your Genes"
SciShow: "Epigenetics"
Here are a couple of entertaining short videos illustrating the recent research work of the team of Scientists at ENCODE who have discovered that non-coding DNA does actually have function and purpose after all. Much to the religious outrage of the prevailing orthodoxy which claims to represent science today. Junk DNA is a dogma that will NOT go away any time soon. 
So 98% of your DNA is Junk ?
The Secret of your "Junk DNA" Revealed!   
 What the Encode project tells us about the human genome and 'junk DNA'
So the next time the Biotech Industry puts out another publicity P.R. stunt by either themselves or any of their Rent-A-Scientists and anonymous sock puppet trolls who will name call you an anti-science Luddite, you need to first remember who the anti-science people really are.
Important Illustrative Update May 8, 2015
 Here is an important update which was published by the University of Buffalo Scientists who are working on Stem Cell research. What they basically have stumbled upon is that there is a hierarchical structural arrangement within genomes and they have found a protein they have labeled as, nFGFR1, which is a protein that regulates the regulators. Wow, who would have thought ? But who or what are these Regulators ? Basically they are the non-coding genes within the genome are those genes which did not code for the manufacturing of a specific protein, hence the term non-coding. However they do contain codes for regulation, instructions tec for other functions like what happens with those manufactured proteins by other gees. Actually, it's far more complex than that. But the fact that they didn't code for proteins, researchers mistakenly stamped the label - "non-coding". Rather than admit that science new nothing of their purpose within any genome and let the public aware they they were still going to research, study, experiment and find out what tasks these genes do perform within the genome, they took it upon themselves to provide these Genes with the label, "Junk DNA". Why ? Because it was religiously assumed that these genes must be useless evolutionary experimental mistakes which they called leftovers from some mystic historical past.  for no other reason than a powerful collection of powerful influential religiously driven Scientists couldn't find any function or purpose to it's existence. Hence it was just leftover evolutionary baggage. As I stated, the only respected genes traditionally have been those genes that they know of which code for the manufacture of proteins as a necessary product for life and MOSTLY, these are the genes with which the Biotech industry are interested in identifying and inserting from one organism into the genome of an entire foreign organism. Yet further discoveries are proving that there is a hierarchical organization made up of the more important regulatory parts and lesser parts which code for the proteins. These protein coding genes are at the bottom of the hierarchy. Layered on top are those extremely important regulatory or control genes. This is where the Biotechs have blundered in their disrespect of the instructional components within the entire context of the gene when they place emphasis and importance only on the coding protein manufacturing genes, such as the BT Cry gene which manufactures the BT Toxin protein for killing insect pests inserted into Maize and Soybean which had an entirely different set of regulatory instruction than the bacteria from which the trans gene was taken. This is likely what went terribly wrong with the three experimental examples I referenced above. Below are some partial quotes and a link to the entire article:
Opening Summary:
"New research shows how a single growth factor receptor protein programs the entire genome. The study provides evidence that it all begins with a single "master" growth factor receptor that regulates the entire genome."
" Now we think we have discovered what may be the most important player, which organizes this cacophony of genes into a symphony of biological development with logical pathways and circuits."
"We found that this protein works as a kind of ‘orchestration factor,’ preferably targeting certain gene promoters and enhancers. The idea that a single protein could bind thousands of genes and then organize them into a hierarchy, that was unknown. Nobody predicted it."
Science Daily: "Master orchestrator of the genome is discovered, stem cell scientists report"

Below was an article from PBS website from 2010 where previous discoveries were just revealing how ignorant that Junk DNA dogma really was. They had one fantastic illustration which stood out to me and here it is along with the link:

“It’s like a recipe book,” Wray said. “It tells you how to make the meal. You need to know the amounts. You need to know the order. The noncoding DNA tells you how much to make, when to make it and under what circumstances.” 
PBS: "Mysterious Noncoding DNA: ‘Junk’ or Genetic Power Player?"
So how do such new science revelations expose the glaring  flaws within the Biotech Industry's technology ?
 So how does one make sense of the subject of just how genes work and function within any genome to an otherwise uninformed public ? It's not the public's fault really. Traditionally Scientists have never been the best communicators to the common people they view and label as "Layman", which is also a term used by those of the conventional religious leaders for the people who make up their so-called flocks who they view as ignorant of the more important matters that only they are capable of grasping. This is why I often make comparison between religion and science because in so many ways their behaviour and actions are identical, despite the promoted differences espoused by both sides of the argument. This is also why this world's massive Biotech and  Pharmaceutical Corporations, Academic Institutions, etc use Public Relations firms and journalists to take up the scientific data from the research and serve it up as a tasty meal for the average person to hopefully enjoy and benefit from. Unfortunately Journalists and PR Firms are prejudiced and biased too. Like other human beings with flaws and imperfections, these journalists and PR Firms are often shackled and committed to the business goals and aspirations of the business interests who employ them. 

So now, how exactly do this world's intellectuals go about explaining how genes work and function to the common man and woman on the street who are otherwise viewed as an ignorant "Layman" public ? The art of teaching here doesn't come easy for an intellectual. First, you should understand that most people who come off as intellectual are not geniuses in the communication game. The problem is when attempts are actually made to justify why GMOs are so simple and safe, the kooky explanations given are the result of the Biotech scientists believing that the public in general are idiots. Take Biotech Scientists, Monsanto's Chief Science Officer, Rob Fraley and UC Davis' Alison Van Eenennaam. Remember the opening statements made at that silly "Intelligence Square Debate" back on December 4th, 2014 (HERE) ? It was the, "Hey folks, Legos are just Legos and Tinker Toys are just Tinker Toys" justication argument. We are simply taking a lego block from Red Lego Man and inserting it in with the other white blocks of Lego Man. It's just that simple, except it's not that simple. So please folks, don't be so stupid. If you'll recall, Ms Van Eenennaam insisted GMOs were no big deal and there was nothing for anybody to worry about. 
"We're just talking about genes, genes are genes, you take one gene from one thing and you put it with some other genes" 
That was nothing more than one of those typical lazy "Just Add Water" quips to an audience they believed were basically morons and yet, from the voting at the end of that debate, who's to argue they were wrong in their appraisal of people in any audience. This was identical to what Geneticist David Suzuki said about his fellow geneticist colleagues, remember ?
"In discussions I've had with my fellow Geneticists, they say, Listen Suzuki, we're just talking about DNA. DNA is DNA [Alison Van Eenennaam - "Genes are just Genes"], what difference does it make what organism it comes from. We pull DNA from one organism and put it into another organism, it's just DNA."
Now these geneticists employed by Biotechs are either totally ignorant [which I doubt] or they are holding back because there is so much at stake financially [which is stupid]. The revelation in the recent finds I just posted expose everything they are doing as nothing but a money making scheme which does nothing but cause consequences which the rest of mankind and the natural pay for. When it comes to the common person's understanding of a gene, couple with the cupcake explanation Fraley, Van Eenennaam, Folta, Wager, Entine and others are feeding them, it's no wonder that the average person thinks of a single gene as no more than downloading a simple App for insertion into your iPad. But it's not. Genes work and operate within a context of information as that article on May 8th revealed. Genes are NOT just Genes and DNA is not just DNA, it's all about informational content. Clearly the average person have heard of genes, but they generally have no idea how they work. Most organisms have 1000s of genes with  some of them having more or less than others. But apparently all these genes can have the ability to code for different proteins, especially when working within a context. The idea the biotechs are pimping to the public is that the gene inserted is just making a simple protein toxin to kill the bad evil bugs, it's as simple as that. But that is dead wrong as the three examples I gave above that we are aware of clearly illustrate how things go dangerously wrong. When proteins are manufactured, they are done so from several different stretches of many different genes within DNA, not just a single gene. In other words, our genes are often a collection of smaller segments that are separated within our DNA. Think about your own body, how many different kinds of proteins do you suppose there  are for constructing the various of components which make you ? Different proteins make up different parts. Proteins for heart cells, lung cells, brain cells, muscle cells, live cells, kidney cells, bone cells, blood cells, etc, etc, etc. See, like DNA and Genes, proteins are not just proteins. I love illustrations. I use them all the time. I find them more effective in teaching than all the "intellect speak" used in most scientific papers for teaching people. So let me illustrate what is happening when *cough-cough* consensus science backs the less than intelligent bio-technology behind Genetically Modified Organisms:

Let's imagine for a moment that a single Cell is like a Skyscaper building. Many many buildings represent all the cells which make up a living organism. Buildings of course need building materials and the intelligent instructions from skilled organizational teams. Let's say that factories which manufacture raw materials for the construction of a skyscaper are like protein coding genes. Let's also say that all of the general laborers, crane operators, concrete masons, steel workers, welders, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, insulation installers, sub-contractors, foreman, supervisors, inspectors, Architects, Engineers, etc, etc, etc all represent "non-coding genes" [Junk DNA] Now in a real world construction project there is a vast array of intelligent educated people with specific trade skills and experience which which are necessary to cooperate in a sequence of of skilled specific timing in constructing various stages of this building project. It is the same in the real world of microbiology. There really is no such thing as non-coding DNA, let alone "Junk DNA". Nevertheless, this is what we are all force fed as truth. But in reality it's religious dogma.

We also need to keep in mind that all materials for building are not equal. Steel, bolts, nails, concrete, grades of lumber, brands of electrical, plumbing, etc, etc, etc  components are not equal. There is a lot of input of ideas, experience and understanding which comes from the people from various background assignments involved with the building project. Their input as to the actual grade and quality of materials is imperative or there could be disaster later on. The collective leadership of this building project may even require a factory to create special specific formulation of the concrete or steel to be used for this particular architectural design to actually succeed. After, they are following rules and regulations of building codes and other safety laws which are also legally required by the hierarchy which demands strict adherence to these rules. This is also what goes on with non-coding genes where regulation, guidance, strict direction of the exact type of specific protein to be contracted all must be obey or the project is abandoned. 

Now lets say that the the projects main building contractor [a Donald Trump type guy] who is also the owner of the property wants to cut corners with regard costs and speeding up the project to a finish so he can start making money off long term lease tenants and any other services he'll offer to Joe/Jane Q-Public. So he insists that expensive high quality structural bolts and Rivets are not necessary for fitting together the building's horizontal and vertical steel I-Beams which make of the strong skeleton of this building. Instead he insists upon the construction workers utilizing wooden pegs. He reasons that if it was good enough for wooden post and beam barn construction in the old days, than it's good enough for his project. I know it sounds ridiculous and asinine, but roll with me here. This Donald Trump building contractor represents the Biotech Corporations and their aspirations for having a monopoly on the food industry. Can you imagine the disarray and organizational collapse of all the construction workers, sub-contractors, supervisors, foreman, inspectors, architects, engineers, code enforcement officers etc, etc, etc, if this Biotech Donald Trump is allowed to move forward with his irresponsible plans ?

This is the same chaos which actually did happen within the organizational collapse of the three examples [Tryptophan, Peas & Potatoes] experiments I referred to above. And science really doesn't understand what truly went wrong with any of them in any intricate detail, although they do have a general idea. And that's what stinks, they know full well the potential of consequences, but a good public relations sugar coating smoke screen can just seem to make it all blow away, even if it's convincing their own minds. The Biotechnology being used is like taking a collection of tradesmen and those of oversight from a 3rd world developing country whose experience is in Bamboo Construction and asking them to build Trump's Tower. There never has been any such thing as Junk DNA and the term "non-coding DNA" is a lousy label for those amazing sophisticated genes which code for regulation, guidance, direction, and ultimately when brought together with the protein coding genes, create an incredible blueprint schematics for any beautiful organism in our natural world. The Biotech world has no respect whatsoever for a natural world where everything has purpose and function. Seriously, this is true as I have referenced below an article  by some Belgian Philosophers and Biotechnologists where they adamantly admit their flawed worldview of the natural world being nothing more than a mistake ridden bundle of compromises and make fun of every anti-gmo person who doesn't accept their technology because they supposedly are all right-wing Fundies. Hardly. You know they are losing ground when they come up with rubbish like this. Everybody who purchases any and all of the Junk Foods which contain GMOs and those proponents who will go to their dying breath defending them are allowing this taxpayer publicly funded religious cult to release onto our natural world a degenerate blueprint which eventually given enough time will collapse the perfection out there in the natural world which up until now has lasted for countless thousands of years. The video below beautifully illustrates just exactly what it is they are offering us as our future.

Stay tuned, I'll continue to add to this
 Why Biomimetics or Biomimicry are more important than ever Now!
As far as Biomimicry goes, there is some hope if it is done correctly. First, there is the hopeful antivenom from Opossums. There are of course a few hurdles to overcome such as corporate competition with competing researchers. This is true of the Pharmaceutical industry and exposes why they are so closely wedded to the biotech industry. There was a similar article in the National Geographic which was more skeptical. The National Geographic article referred to supposed snake expert, Jack Zoltan, who slammed Dr Claire Komives on several points he considered pertinent, all of which she actually addressed in that video conference interview in Colorado. Despite the criticism [which I generally chalk up to celebrity envy and jealousy], Dr Claire Komives and other researchers actually stand by their findings. 
"It was like a miracle, that this peptide really has this activity"
She also may have upset another apple cart as you may well understand. In that video, she revealed what most corporate exces would consider privileged insider information and that of course was the subject of Patents and the low cost for production. As she stated, cost of production per 1 gram would be about $1:00. But of course the Biotechs and Pharmaceuticals are definitely kool with that, but that is not generally information they like the public to be privileged in knowing. In their warped worldview, the public is only entitled to understand the retail costs of the wares they produce and sell. Go figure! These corporate giants and the research people who work for them are not really interested in finding cures to help people or feed them as their public relations departments feed the media. Their very nature is not doing something purely out of the goodness of their dear sweet hearts. The other issue as I stated above is that people need to understand that these researchers and other scientists are shackled to the same failings of jealousy, covetousness and adolescent pride as every other human being, despite the promotion that they as a group are above all that. 

And there are issues too with the Cattail as a solution for cleaning up water pollution. Humans cannot keep doing what they are doing as far as dumping filth into waterways and agriculture is the worst offender. As with most Eco-Green Solutions being promoted for cleaning up the environment, often times these solutions don't require a change of behaviour with regards industrial filth output or average world citizen consumption changes. Frankly I understand why because there ultimately is no profit in it. Humans excel at creating massive amounts of filth and contaminants on Earth and no amount of ideas for ridding the Earth of this filth is ever given which also at the same time requires for provisions in lessening the pollutants to begin with. With newer improved greener technology should also come responsibility of Joe/Jane citizen to also clean up their act.

Biotech Public Relations strikes again: Update April 24, 2015
Defending the Business Model by Bluffing#1: Definition Shell Games continue to mutate

Recently an article came out from the Ghent University, or should I say last year on October 13, 2014, but only now are we really hearing about this in many of the well known Science journals like Science Daily. It's curious that it should come out now, especially with the negative climate surrounding GMO Technology and the Biotechs behind them. In a nutshell, they are attempting to assert that Sweet Potatoes which contain DNA from what they have termed Agrobacterium which they assume, assert and speculate proves GMOs are natural. There is absolutely nothing to quote, but you may read the article from the link I post below. Clearly it is an attempt by the Biotech industry to normalize their less than clean technology. Frankly, from these lame attempts at looking for  justification arguments being invented for GMO Technology, all other examples in nature which can be infected with Agrobacterium like Oak Galls are apparently to be also considered natural gmos. This is further definition shell gaming at it's lowest. I guess the fact that humans have gut bacteria with foreign DNA would qualify humans as natural gmos. Or perhaps the photograph above of a human suffering from the infection of foreign DNA from a parasite which causes "elephantiasis" of the leg tissues would qualify this poor soul as a natural GMO according to the new warped definition we are all now to be force fed ? Oddly enough the bacterium symbiosis referenced in the article below is common in nature, but as I provided above, this has zero to do with their obscene profiteering business model that is attempting to monopolize the food supply around the globe. Here is the link:
Science Daily: "Horizonal gene transfer: Sweet potato naturally 'genetically modified'"
Bluff Defense #2: The Religious Component Argument

So why ? you ask, am I seeing a picture of Richard Dawkins and his famous quote ? Because the Biotechs are now using his religious affirmation here to justify genetic modification and to fabricate a lie as to why anti-gmo people are against GMOs. The same team of Belgium researchers apparently believe that MOST ALL anti-GMO people around the world [especially Americans] must be religious folks who have a belief that nature is something sacred and has a purpose that must not be messed with in any way. Take a look at these researcher's imaginary findings below:

“Anti-GMO arguments tap into our intuitions that all organisms have an unobservable immutable core, an essence, and that things in the natural world exist or happen for a purpose,” Blancke explains 
 “This reasoning of course conflicts with evolutionary theory–the idea that in evolution one species can change into another. It also makes us very susceptible to the idea that nature is a force that has a purpose or even intentions that we shouldn’t’ meddle with.”
 (Source - ScienceDaily: Psychology of the appeal of being anti-GMO)
Now I find this odd that they would make such a desperate argument utilizing religion to blame for the opposition against GMOs, but I'll address this at the bottom here. First, it illustrates  just how much the official Scientific view of Nature has been warped by these Secular celebrity icons and their obsession with changing worldviews. Frankly, I could care less what anyone believes as to origins of the incredible complex sophisticated mutualistic components found within any ecosystem which allows life to fire on all pistons as a well oiled machine. The fact is irrespective of how one believes Nature became that fine tuned piece of machinery in the first place, the fact is that is exactly what Nature is. The fact that this disturbs some secular religious ideologues out there is not my problem. Richard Dawkins and others of his kind are by the way, staunch Biotech supporters for no one reason than it sounds sciencey and must therefore be correct. In fact his warped view of nature is well illustrated in a conversation he had with an American Medical Physician and Evolutionary Biologist, Professor Randolph Nesse, who actually said this about what was holding back in his view, true progress in medical research:
Nesse says that progress is being hampered by the fact that many medics still think of the body as a machine designed by an engineer, when in fact it is a "bundle of compromises ... designed to maximise reproduction, not health".
Unbelievable! Seriously, what kind of medical doctor would you choose to work on you ? You know, in my profession of market research with well known giant pharmaceutical companies where we have projects for collecting data on side effects of various drugs for any assortment of medical conditions where I interview Doctors, Specialists and Scientists, I have run a cross a majority who unconsciously use Dice Theory when prescribing drugs. I had one doctor who switched a patient over 8 times. He just randomly selected a different type of drug for no other reason [knowledge of the drug had zero to do with decision to prescribe] than to see what it would do in correctly what ailed the patient. Sounds like the kind of Doc Professor Nesse and Richard Dawkins would approve of. But there is more behind this philosophy than things medical for Professor Nesse. Here he laments that most medical doctors and researcher just aren't getting his religious philosophical take on the matter when it comes to utilizing evolutionary philosophy when doing research and how damaging this is in guiding politicians who regulate and pass laws:
"There is no question about the importance of applied evolution. The trouble is, if biologists themselves are only just waking up to how relevant and crucial evolution can be, what hope is there of educating  influencing the leaders and policy makers who need to understand and act upon this research? Not much, I fear."
Source - New Scientist: " Putting evolutionary theory into practice" 
Can you see the similarity between these ideologues and the purpose of Biotechs ripping pages out of their religious playbook to get what they want ? This has nothing to do with science. This is an obsession with power and wealth of Corporations under the cloak of "Science" and challenging anyone who dares go against them and their product as anti-science religiously driven Luddites and that is just a flat out lie. The anti-GMO stance is about people who actually do respect science, but want it conducted responsibly. The fact is, far from an anti-science Luddite problem, this is a moral problem. But wait, there is more from Ghent University:
"While religious beliefs, particularly those that hold a romantic view of nature, have been accused of generating some of the negativity around GMOs, Blancke and his co-authors argue that there's more to the story. Using ideas from the cognitive sciences, evolutionary psychology, and cultural attraction theory, they propose that it is more a matter of messages competing for attention--in which environmental groups are simply much better at influencing people's gut feelings about GMOs than the scientific community."
(Source: Science Daily: "Psychology of the appeal of being anti-GMO")
There were a number of misleading and actually bizarre statements made by suspect sources being used to champion this Business model. Take a look:
 "A team of philosophers and plant biotechnologists have turned to cognitive science to explain why opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has become so widespread, despite positive contributions GM crops have made to sustainable agriculture"
"A team of Philosophers" ??? I understand the presence of Biotechnologists being there marketing their Wares, but what do philosophers have to do with ecological, biological and psychological issues ??? The Biotechs are clearly casting their fishing lines around hoping to hook other kinds of so-called expert opinion on the matter aside from the usual suspected "rent-a-scientists" they are most often known to employ. Maybe we should be also asking some famous poets and well known fiction novelist [hey how about Steven King?] to chime in with their take on GMOs and why most people dislike them so much. Then there was this quote in that same paragraph:
"despite positive contributions GM crops have made to sustainable agriculture"
Seriously ??? The genetically modified crops and the chemicals created by Industrial Agri-Business for them may have allowed for a time higher yields for nothing more than monoculture commodity crops for brokers on the Global Stock Markets to play price war games with, but at what cost environmentally ??? There is nothing sustainable agriculturally or ecologically about their Industrial business model. The main strategy being used here by the Biotech industry and their largely ignorant supporters is to muddle things up and make the educational landscape nothing more than a gray area. For example, have you noticed something largely bizarre about their labeling of all anti-GMO people as religious nut cases ? Let's just take the United States and those who are on the side of Biotechs like Monsanto. Does anyone realize that most of Monsanto's support comes from the pro-business rightwing side of politics who represent the very nut cases they are making fun of ? The God & Country flag waving GMO Farmers and those religious folks who support them ? A good majority of these pro-GMO gang who in reality have a strong scientific disconnect because they  either don't believe in climate change or if they do, they also believe it has zero to do with any type of human activities ? So again, why the religious component being used here ? Because there appears to be two types of opposing factions here who both support GMOs. There is the rightwing pro-business side I just mentioned and there is the Sciencey side that feels an obligation to defend Biotechnology because after all, it's Science. Now under normal circumstances, these two side absolutely hate each other, but for some strange reason come to bed with each other on the subject of GMOs. The other thing I find peculiar and at the same time interesting, is that the Sciencey types are also the "Occupy Wall Street" people who protested big evil corporate America and yet the very institutions they hate, are what they support when it comes to Industrial Agriculture who are a large part of what is wrong with business and politics. Again, strange bed fellows here.  But why this article now ? For the simple reason that it was created by ideologically driven European secular minded researchers whose concept of all Americans is that they are mostly all religious anti-science Luddites. This will backfire big time because the anti-GMO crowd comes from ALL global backgrounds and do indeed have a healthy respect for nature, something the Biotechnology industry lacks big time. Just one more important bit of news before I sign off here. The Biotech Industry utilizes a number of misinformation websites to propagandize and pimp their products.

One of these is the Genetic Literacy Project website which I sarcastically refer to the "Genetic Illiteracy Project" because it's true purpose is to attack and dumb down, not teach real science. It is run by a collection of Rent-a-Scientists and a gaggle of sycophantic internet sock-puppets who dare not dispute the ignorant rantings of the Biotech authors for fear of being excommunicated from the collective. Most have zero experience in observing and understanding how the natural world is put together and operates smoothly. They don't understand that all commercial farm ventures should be put together and maintained like any other ecosystem on Earth and maintained as such through responsible and sustainable practices. Unfortunately, this completely ruins the profiteering business model of Biotechs & Industrial Agrichemical companies. Hence we see the reasons behind the vicious opposition against their opposers. It's these attacks will never convince people against their business model that they are legitimate and the reason is the low quality caliber of the proponents involved. Most are incapable of civil discourse. It would seem the new way to promote and champion science now days is to be as fouled mouthed, derogatory and annoyingly insulting as possible. Can anyone reading help me out to understand how this degenerate behaviour is suppose to help the cause of Science ?

But there is something even more insidious and hidden here about that "Genetic Illiteracy Project" that most people don't know unless they actually research their archived articles and recent articles on a subject called "Eugenics". Originally, Eugenics was created and promoted as an obscene scientific practice starting in the early 1900s, was further perfected by the Nazis from the late 1920s to 1945 and even further perfected by the Allies after WWII. Of course the degenerate motivation behind this is the ideological religious belief that certain flawed human beings do not deserve to pass on their DNA to future humankind and in the past were gas & murdered or later forced sterilized. But we now have the modern Eugenics movement which champions an even kinder and friendlier version of eugenics, thanks to the modern biotech industry who still believes in the original purpose of eugenicists of the past that in order to save the planet, we need to reduce human numbers, especially in the developing third world countries where birth rates are highest. This is where GMOs, which in some experiments have been found to reduce birth rates in lab mice or even sterilize, are a gentler method and solution to reverse the climbing birth rate trends globally. Hence this would make some sense of the reasons behind the strategy of giving out free samples of GMOs to those countries who don't actually have the funds to invest in them. This is a business strategy more commonly known to be employed by drug pushers who give out free samples at the neighbourhood elementary schools hoping to cultivate future clients. In turn they most likely learned their trade from the British Empire who gave out free opium samples from farmed Poppies in Pakistan and India to potential Chinese markets. Once an addicted clientele was established, the British could save their gold and silver and trade drugs for Chinese goods. This is what was behind the well known Boxer Rebellion for those who know their history. Isn't it incredible how people in positions of power and authority over mankind can manipulate the wealth for a small select few ? Ultimately when it comes to GMOs, I am against them not only because of the great ignorance which still exists within the geneticists world which promotes itself as otherwise, but also mainly because GMOs were never necessary in the first place. Biotechs have never attempted to biomimic our planet's ecosystem functions on a commercial scale. Every thing hinges on massive amounts of chemical sales. Irrespective of it being herbicides, insecticides, fungicides or fertilizers. Their entire concept is based on profiteering by off killing something. Not once have they considered looking for balance and working with nature instead of against it. To sum up, it's all about public relations, propaganda and misinformation being parroted over and over until they think their gamble has paid off by an ignorant public finally accepting them. It's all been done before, so why fix it.

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”Joseph Goebbels
Was Beethoven was a Biomimeticist ?
"Beethoven’s journals and letters reveal his love of nature, as when he wrote in 1810, “How delighted I will be to ramble for awhile through the bushes, woods, under trees, through grass, and around rocks. No one can love the country as much as I do. For surely woods, trees, and rocks produce the echo that man desires to hear.” Recognizing and appreciating the natural world was a cornerstone of the Romantic sensibility, as espoused by Enlightenment thinkers such as Rousseau. With the Sixth Symphony, Beethoven joined a common thread in music, art, and literature of the early nineteenth century that rhapsodized on the beauty and grandeur of the natural world, with a reverence that was in no small part spiritual."
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 6, Pastoral
In an odd twist, at the end of the 1972 film, Soylent Green, there is a moving death scene, Sol Roth (Edward G. Robinson in his final film role) final wishes of experiencing a painless and suicidal death in a euthanasia clinic's bed. He was put to rest in the assisted-suicide facility (within Madison Square Garden) with orange-hued lighting, classical music playing (Tchaikovsky's "Pathetique" Symphony No. 6, Beethoven's "Pastoral" Symphony No. 6, and segments of Grieg's "Peer Gynt Suite") and projected video of a peaceful and "beautiful" green Earth ages ago when animal and plant life thrived and there was no pollution. It's also a fitting end in describing where this world is headed without biomimicry's having any influence whatsoever on the consensus science.

Important Reading References
Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies: "Opossums - Killers of Ticks"
Medical Daily: "Opossum-Based Antidote Provides New Route For Treating Deadly Snake Bites"
American Chemical Society video: "Opossum-based antidote to poisonous snake bites could save thousands of lives"
PhysOrg: "Common weed revealed diminish pollution"
Cattail farming could help save troubled lake
Cattail Cutting Machines
Showa Denko KK - Tryptophan & GMO Peas
Summary of the Tryptophan Toxicity Incident, by John B. Fagan, Ph.D. Professor of Molecular Biology, Maharishi University of Management
Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Application of Science and Technology: "The Showa Denko Tryptophan disaster reevaluated New evidence indicates that genetic engineering was the cause"