Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Study of Wildlife at the Park

It's the web of life at work that keeps the balance;    
truly, silently, the wildlife is part of our lives.
Dr Abe V Rotor 

House sparrow (gurdiun) and Billit China, both of the finch family, share company as gleaners at Disneyland HK. Visitors, particularly children, are amused of their closeness to humans for food and shelter.  Surprisingly they have always remained wild, and resist domestication unlike other birds. They would rather die struggling when confined in cages. Mackie and Markus with their grandma Lima stroll on the feeding grounds of the park, Disneyland HK 2017. Photos by the author.  

Finches to which our maya and house sparrow belong,
are Nature's janitors like the janitor fish;
gleaners of food leftovers, and often beg in number, 
friendly but shy, eyeing at any risk. 

They follow man wherever he goes, his home is theirs;
 in parks, plazas, churches, marketplaces,
they are attractions themselves posing for photographs; 
Audubon studied their species and races.  

 Pavlov recorded their instinct as conditioned learning, 
key to survival. True they are here to stay. 
 in  relationship with humans called commensalism
in return sing with our peace, work and play. 

Tree lizard camouflaged, mimicking the color and texture of its immediate environment, a protective mechanism against predators on one hand, and in lurking for its own prey. Authors's family stroll on the park among trees and natural vegetation. First photo modified from Internet, other photos taken by the author. Disneyland HK 2017  

Reptiles today are older, outlived the dinosaurs, 
What made them survive the Meteor's blast?
Wonder if being small is advantage after all;  
If so, insects, other minutiae are here to last.

Walk pass through, you think the way is clear,
Unseen they mimic the trees, rocks, their abode,
Silence too, is their weapon save the Gecko,
Beware when trespassing into their threshold.

They are Nature's biological agents in science,
Friends of farmers, gardeners and housewives;
     It's the web of life at work that keeps the balance;    
Truly, silently, reptiles are part of our lives.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Disneyland - Canned Entertainment (Article in Progress)

Genetic engineering, contrary to triumphant claims, could be the beginning of the descent of man.

 No one can stop a floodgate. Once open, it is beyond man to control the deluge. Start with one Genetically Modified Organism (GMO), another follows, and another ad infinitum. 
Dr Abe V Rotor 
Living with Nature School on Blog  
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class Monday to Friday

A GMO makes money, another enters the competition, two-, two-, new genetic traits added. Now a GMO with another GMO combined, and another, ad infinitum.

A GMO in the tropics is grown in the Cold Countries, or vice versa, profit is good, more areas expanded, new technologies introduced.  Result: destruction of the ecosystem, natural food webs and pyramids disturbed, another ecosystem falls, another, and another, ad infinitum.

Genetic Engineering is actually playing god.  The creator Frankenstein went farther than that – that god only exist in the mind – that man is god.
The Philippines is among the countries in the world that have openly voiced condemnation to genetically modified food. More and more countries have closed their doors from the benevolent donors of food aid, and farm aid.   
 Rice the natural and rice the genetically modified  as we see here are in separate samples.  In Nature there is no way to separate the two.  GM rice carries the foreign genes through its pollen that fertilizes the natural rice.  Progeny: genetically modified rice, 100%.  The progeny when planted will continue polluting the natural gene pool. This is genetic pollution. Progressive, devastating, continuing, defying Mendelian laws, and ultimately modifying Drarwinian evolution, this time on the molecular level, which is more radical than on the species level.   
This is of course exaggeration at the present, but not in the near future. Genetic engineering is changing the natural shape, color, taste, size etc of fruits and vegetables. Apgranate, pls.  Pardon? Oh you mean apple-pomegranate. Mangorange. Any one can understand that, but how does this new fruit taste, look like?  Glowing bright tomato in your stomach! with "ulam" flavor in your burp.  

Genetic engineers have been splicing genic materials in living plant for weight reduction, higher ascorbic acid, carotin and xanthophyll, perhaps with mint to mask the fungal antibiotics - spliced in the name of a new science in pharmacy and medicine called PHARMING - embedding these genetic materials permanently in the DNA of the carrier plant. By planting the super plant again and again we will consistently get the "benefits." 

Perhaps we will get sick less often, Maybe we will not need a doctor anymore  Just read the label of the Pharmed Plants and presto! do-it-yourself medication. Because when we eat the plant we get its food value and medicinal value as well. We know that we don't really need these pharmed  ingredients - in kind and amount.  Why serve the GM yellow rice packed with vitamins, three times a day in our staple? What measure can we guarantee us and our children health and future? 
Genetically modified glowing fish in an aquarium.  Watch out!  Glowing mice under the table spliced with jellyfish phosphorescent gene material. Glowing bat in caves and in the night sky. Photo credits to  Wikipedia, Internet.

Genetic engineering is producing the ultimate biological warfare that threatens not only our society but us as a species.  The technology of producing Bt Corn, Golden Rice, and the like, is basically of the same principle - the splicing of the identified vital gene to a host or carrier organism.   It is not far from the hands of the terrorists that this can happen, and the detonation of a GMO bomb is not a remote possibility. _____________
Neo-Frankenstein Syndrome: Mankind's Greatest Fear   
A Genetically Modified Organism (or GMO) is a result of rapid genetic pooling or buildup of desirable traits by means of genetic engineering, rather than through the conventional method.
       The conventional agricultural breeding methods are tedious, and subject to uncertainty. Today’s biotechnology opened a frontier whereby the genes of organisms can be transferred and combined according to the traits one wishes to combine. It is actually opening a floodgate of possibilities, spectacularly including cross-species or cross-phyla transfer of genes.  This could mean a firefly gene implanted in a rat can make the rodent glow in the dark.  

God's design of the living world, the interrelationship of its members, and that with their environment; their composition as species and individuals - these have been irreverently altered by the genius of man, by men who play God. (Destruction of God's Design in acrylic by AVR)   

All these scenarios have their early beginnings with the DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) model proposed by F.H.C. Crick and J.D. Watson in 1953, the two later sharing the Nobel Prize in biology. So precise is the double helix model that with modern tools, one can insert a portion of the genetic material from one organism onto another, causing the latter to carry a desired trait.  Thus a gene of a bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis, spliced   into the genetic structure of corn produced the Bt corn, the first genetically modified crop. The plant is claimed to be caterpillar-resistant since B. thuringiensis causes disease in caterpillars that destroy corn.  Protein gene of one legume can increase the protein nutrients of another. Beta-carotene gene from daffodils, when introduced into rice produces golden rice.

The questions are, when introduced, what extent are the modifications?  What kinds, and what directions will they go? Could an organism, reaching a level of modification, lose its genetic identity, thereby becoming alien to its co-members and to the natural environment?
      We ask these questions in the light of the following premises:
1.     A single gene may control one trait, but where there are more traits controlled by multiple, blending genes, the process can get out of hand.   The collective expression of modified gene combinations, not to mention the effects of disturbed loci in the genes, can be dangerous. It will take time for us to know the adverse effects of GMO on human beings and the environment.
2.     Every trait of an organism, in one way or the other, has an affect on the environment, and vice versa.  This means that if the protein is elevated, the higher protein levels will need more nitrogen, thereby requiring fertilizer subsidy.  An increase in milk output means more cattle feeds, and antibiotic input to protect the animal from milk production-related stress.  There is a saying in ecology that there is no such thing as “free lunch”.
3.     Ecologically, how will a GMO relate to the natural members of the environment?  How will the new organism now fit into the ecosystem in which its “parents” were once a part, integrally built by laws governing seres, niches and evolution?  We may be only interested in how the organism serve our purpose for the moment, but unaware of its usefulness or destructiveness, when left alone in its own environment. 
4.     Genetic engineering may increase the number of plants and animals that now depend entirely on man’s care and attention.  Many genetically altered breeds and varieties may no longer be able to live and prosper in the open.  This is indeed an antithesis of natural farming.
Book of Life
After man has perfected the model of the DNA, the code of heredity, he has succeeded in cracking the code itself, which is the “code of life.”

This feat was preceded by the cracking the atom which brought out the first genie, the atomic bomb.  What would the second genie look like?

1. Does GMO cause cancer and other diseases?  There is no direct evidence.   But cancer is too complex a disease for us to understand fully.  Whatever triggers the disease is not immediately determined until we accurately read it in the human genome map.  Questions are asked: “Where did prion (protein infective principle of mad cow disease) come from?  “How does it cause Bovine Spongioform Encephalopathy (BSE), and the human Crueztfeldt Jakob Disease (CJD) to which the mad cow disease is associated?”  “Other than cancer why are there more young people contacting diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases?”  We do not know the answers to these questions.  We cannot blame these to GMO either.  It is too early to say.  But we have to be wary.    
2. GMO and the Terminator.  In this case, the genie is a multinational organism placed by fate in its hands of the farmer.  This problem is worse than the conditions imposed by producers of hybrid corn seeds, where farmers are forced to renew their seed stock every time they plant. The Terminator is a GM corn variety carrying genes which automatically kill the crop embryo after harvesting. Consequently, the farmer needs to buy new seeds from the company.  The creator, Monsanto, got the ire of many people.  It projected a bad image of biotechnology.
3. Processed Food from GMO.   Seemingly, you do not see this kind of genie.  We do not know but we are eating GM Food, no matter how much we try to avoid it. There was no referendum conducted or public consultation before GMF was put to market.  Today, GM soybean is processed into cooking oil, soy sauce, TVP (Texturized Vegetable Protein), taho, tokwa, etc.  GM potato finds its way through fast food chain.  There are steaks, burgers, corned beef and milk which come from GM cows.  But who is accountable when things go wrong, and how can we seek redress?  
4. GMO touches the fiber of culture, beliefs and religion.  People are generally sensitive to many things: cultural, religious, personal.  Protests may be felt even in their silence. Could it be that people are silent since to protest can mean deprivation of food?  As they say: Beggars are no choosers. 
5. The Capitalist Syndrome.  Who’s afraid of the big, big wolf?  Ask George Orwell. Anyone who has read his book, “1984” will understand.  His definition of big brother is one that is both benevolent and abusive at once. Susan George, in her book, “How the Other Half Dies”, is equally provoking. She claims that part of the world is without sufficient food.  One half of the world’s population is hungry and deprived of many basic needs, while the other half simply has much more than it needs. What guarantees do we have that GMO will not fall into hands of Western capitalists? Monsanto gave the early signals. One wonders who controls (owns) the gene banks at the International Rice Research Institute, the International Wheat and Maiz Research Center (CYMMT,) International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT,) and other research centers. 

GMO, Medicine and Health.
Remember that a genie can be obliging, too.  Genetic engineering (GE) is as young as dawn.  As light breaks, we take a glimpse before the sun is up. Genetic engineering is perhaps the key to the control of malaria and dengue.  Entomologists have already isolated parasite-suppressing genes in mosquitoes.

GE in medicine, such as insulin production, has expanded into the production of more potent antibiotics and hormones.  The incorporation of drugs in genetically modified food plants opens a new field of pharmacology, called biopharming.  GMO mixed with vitamins can reduce infant mortality, blindness, and other associated defects.

Modern Frankenstein monster

It is inevitable that genetic engineering will be applied in human cloning.  Today, we have so far applied human biotechnology mostly in helping childless couples bear children, such as through in vitro (outside of the womb) fertilization.  But with current results in animal cloning, a technique is being developed to clone the human being without encountering the problems that beset Dolly the sheep, which is premature aging.  If this is not handled well, we may be bringing forth a new Frankenstein monster.        x    x    x     

SUPERWEEDS! Epidemic of Croplands - Spawned by Genetic Engineering

"Superweeds" spawned by genetic engineering threatens plantations of corn, soybeans, cotton in the US (and elsewhere) where these GMO crops are openly grown. 
Dr Abe V Rotor 

The controversial idea of developing resistance against weeds and other pests through direct gene splicing, say Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) into corn (Bt corn), has utterly failed. In nature, all organisms undergo  biological specialization, an adaptive 

mechanism in adjusting to changing conditions, thus the most important tool in evolutionary success. No man-induced resistance will ever overtake this continuing process. Bt Corn, thought to be caterpillar-resistant, is losing the race. So with Bt soybean et al.  And this holds true to all GMOs - plants, animals, protists and monerans. The worst consequence other than crop failure is the growing fear of consumers against eating GMO products. Ultimately, it is the danger of polluting natural gene pools - a living bomb that impairs the genetic order of the living world. 

Acknowledgement: Philippine Daily Inquirer, The World, January 14, 2014, Internet, Wikipedia, Scientific American, Time   

Children, Flowers and Butterflies

Dr Abe V Rotor

Mackie and Markus before a mural in tarpaulin of roses superimposed with 
oversize butterflies, Big Buddha Mountain, Hong Kong 2017

Once an artist drew flowers, and butterflies came;
He drew fruits, and birds came to pick them;
But there is something more the audience mused.
He drew the sun, its rays as bright as flame.

The mural graced the plaza, indeed a centerpiece
Days passed and the butterflies didn't return,
The birds just hovered, their song no longer heard.
People just passed by or took another turn.

One day children thought of planting seeds around
the mural: daisies, roses, lilies, and trees,
soon others joined until the place became a garden;.
now the home of birds, butterflies and bees. ~

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Zeus in children's imagination

Dr Abe V Rotor 
Author with grandchildren before Zeus in Bronze, Disneyland Hong Kong 2017

The most powerful ancient god, his throne on Mt Olympus,
He is Jupiter to the Romans, or father Jove - Jovis pater,
Thor to the Norse, Jehovah, the Hebrew name of God,
Zeus sounds Diyos or Dios, would homonym matter?

Dethroned, Zeus is but a myth, abandoned, forgotten,
So with his mistresses (goddesses and mortals), children:
Hercules, Perseus, Apollo, Athena, and the nine muses;
Brothers Hades, Poseidon, wife Hera, his whole reign.

Quick to anger, unfaithful, indecisive, carefree, deceitful,
yet called the "lord of justice", "father of gods and men";
his name means bright or sky, keeper of oaths, deliverer,
All praises and a list of epithets virtually without end.

Here we stand before the icon, not on sacred ground,
but on fairyland, apropos to my candid explanation.
my grandchildren all eyes and ears who the giant is,
Oh, he walked with giants in thoughts and imagination.

Time has changed, and change has put time behind,
In history, religion, tradition, into fiction and relics,
Zeus et al are myths, so with their power and abuses,
Goodness prevails upon the death of our beliefs. ~

Zeus has other names and versions: Thor, Jove, Jehovah, Jupiter, "Diyos or Dios" (homonyms). A familiar figure is seen in the Exodus, in Michelangelo's figures, and several icons of the church.  

Monday, September 18, 2017

Toddler - Keyhole to Growing Up (Markus 2+)

Everyone has a friend, but grandchildren; 
God-sent in age golden, that life has no end.

Dr Abe V Rotor   
Toddlers when the bed is upturned,
cave instinct, trench to hide; 
Jung's archetype often wondered, 
of life beneath and outside. 
Daddy's boy, bright as the sun,
and all the love and fun;
ephemeral the age in his arm,
'til weaning is no harm.   
Cable car ride, Honkong 2017
On a glass floor of a cable car, 
like flying or walking on water;
conquer height, space and gravity,
above all fear and anxiety.  
Are we there yet? Often asked again and again;
not yet little one, wait;
but early to ask ahead of others indeed a gain,
than those of little faith.       
Between two grandmas he's filled with love;
more than parents alone can give;
Confucius smiles from above to down below,
to see his creed well received.   
Large forehead and ears.
keen eyes, pursed lips,
tight jaw and tilted chin, say,
he is the man of tomorrow
Independence is all we need to give, 
trust and confidence to a child;
like sheep on a meadow sans the shepherd,
to live life without a guide.  
At a Hongkong restaurant 2017
Culinary art, visual expression of taste;
like humanities, expression of values,
crafts of the artisan at the grassroots,  
culture in different views. ~

Growing Up Challenges (Mackie 5)

"... young staying young, old as young,
whoever believes in Fairyland." 
Dr Abe V Rotor 
Little Narcissa seeing tomorrow
beauty ahead of her time and call,
a child becoming woman too soon;
beware of the mirror on the wall. 
Surprise or afraid, they come unexpected,
discovery for now and thence;
honing sensitivity, senses must respond
for courage and independence.
Demosthenes would roll pebbles in his mouth,
and follow the waves in rhythm and count;
Caruso's voice broke wine glass, his way to fame;
just sing your heart's content it's all the same.   
Tolstoy asked, in war and peace, what is the greatest test? 
adaptation, tolerance, enlightenment of the soul;  
challenge to the brave, doesn't matter to the mediocre;  
everyday is war and peace the greatest test to all.     
Disneyland Hong Kong 2017
Everybody's birthday in Disneyland, 
unifying the old and the young;
young staying young, old as young,
whoever believes in Fairyland. 

Toddler no more, dolls no longer dolls,
toys on the floor an oversight;
goodbye stroller, but don't get too far,
growing up is not overnight.  
Waterfront map, HK 2017
Literacy in a city to read map,
direction it tells, ride to take;
we're living in a jungle no less; 
don't get lost for heaven's sake. 
"Ate na si Mackie," 
 babysitter to a brother;
from crib to stroller, 
       title of her first story. ~