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[GreenYes] non-petroleum based plastics
Brown, Rebecca wrote:
> Happy Holidays!!
> More questions!  Where do non-petroleum based plastics fit into all of
> this? Do they create the same environmental problems?  Can they be
> used to make the same kinds of petroleum-based products? Can one make
> HDPE from a non-petroleum based source?   I'm assuming it is more than
> the petroleum-based component of the polymers that causes problems-is
> that a correct assumption? If they can safely be used to replace
> petroleum-based plastics, are they?  If not, why not?  And so on.....

A polymer may originate with a kernel of corn, but in the end, what industry
does to that poor little kernel has nothing to do with the natural world. It
has been removed from the natural world. (for a glimpse of the
polymerization process, take a look article from the 50's, "The Reign of

One major objection I have to non-petroleum plastics is that they could, and
most likely will originate as an abomination of
agbiotechnology--Frankenkorn, if you will. GMO corn-, or potato-based
starches. GMO's are the latest tool of choice for this next phase of the
highly toxic 'Green Revolution'. Now called the 'Gene Revolution,' it is
just as toxic (and more) in regards to the synthetic chemical inputs that
are required for monocultured crops. The Gene Revolution carries with it a
new danger; the genes of the natural world are being polluted by these genes
reassembled in a lab by humans. They are a sad display of the inadequacies
of technologocical fixes that are based on profit rather than
sustainability. This month, a French scientist presented a paper on the
pollution from Bt crops in the St. Laurence River in Quebéc. The study found
Bt toxin in the sediment of the river at a rate 5 times higher than the
runoff directly from the fields where the Bt corn was growing. The Bt toxin
kills worms that get in contact with it.

The following is a small part of an article in progress that describes some
of the uncertainty in GMOs:

Uncertainty is extremely high at each level of GMO production.(41)  The
unknown dwarfs the known. But we are told repeatedly that they are safe.
Biotech scientists and their sponsoring agbiotech corporations are presently
incapable of predicting the risks of their actions. There has been no
long-term testing of GMOs at any level. No corporation, academic
institution, private laboratory, or governmental agency has done so because
it would necessitate the forestalling of a big moneymaker in favor of

Let me offer an extremely simplified illustration of the absurdity of these
claims of safety. On one hand, the human body's complexity and infinite
interconnectivity with itself, those around it, and its entire
environment-both natural and manmade-as compared with state-of-the-art human
technology. The number of genes in the human genome ranges between 27,462
and 153,478 (as of July 2001). There are about 100 trillion cells in the
human body. If all DNA in the human body were put end to end, it would reach
the Sun and back more than 600 times. And on the other hand, there are
80,000 chemicals in
commercial use, and only a small percentage of them have been tested. Then
consider ASCI White, the most powerful computer on earth. To calculate the
movements of a mere 240 molecules (600 atoms) in an explosion-produced
mixture of hydrogen fluoride and water vapor for 1-trillionth of a second,
scientists have had to tie up the most powerful supercomputer available for
about 15 days.(42)

Not being a mathematician, I will not attempt to scale up the time
requirements for predicting adverse outcomes of GMOs, but it would certainly
be longer by many magnitudes of order. Most likely, ten years would be
inadequate to study an organism to be released into the vast world of
nature. Also consider that it will be a very long time before
state-of-the-art computers will be powerful enough to handle the task.

The greatest absurdity in allowing the widespread sowing of GMOs is that
they have received no such scrutiny. GMO safety research budgets are about
1% of total spending. Virtually no long-term testing has been done on any
GMOs. And if the regulatory agencies have seen any of the so-called
long-term testing, it has not been made public. Contrary to the claims of
Industry--that the biotech industry is the most regulated industry in
history, it is quite the opposite; the least regulated.

(41)    de Visser, AJC., Nijhuis, EH., van Elsas, JD., Dueck, TA. Crops of
Uncertain Nature? Controversies and Knowledge Gaps Concerning Genetically
Modified Crops: An Inventory. Plant Research International B.V., Wageningen
(The Netherlands) 12aug00.

(42)      New initiatives scale up supercomputing. Science News v.160, n.8

*note: these links may

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