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How would Permies feel if Rats were to go extinct?  RSS feed

 
Emerson White
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Location: Alaska
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Specifically Rattus Rattus (the black rat) and Rattus Norvegicus. A while ago I figured out a way that I'm relatively sure we could drive rats to extinction (or more likely drive them into a periodical boom bust population growth cycle using a trojan gene [size=5pt](keep in mind that study was BS, salmon have a matting sytems that is more or less exactly unlike the medaka)[/size] which has very little ability to jump species.  You can count on your hands and feet the number of truly wild colonies of these animals, most are Feral or man associated.

I stopped because I couldn't see a way to turn a dime on the project with out being incredibly evil, that and I figure if I succeed I'll have to hire full time body guards to protect me from Ecoterrorists.

but these species of rats (and less so the Polynesian and Himalayan  rats) are essentially a human derived strain of rat, and do tremendous ecological damage, have driven several species to extinction or near it, and lead to a lot of crop spoilage and the like.

So what are your thoughts?
 
                                
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Personally I think if there was a "kill all rats on the planet instantly" button and I was asked to push it, I would. I wonder what animal would adapt to fill the niche tho, surely something would. Would it be worse??
 
Chuck Freeman
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Location: Southcentral Alaska
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I don't care much for them but every living thing is in somethings food chain. You do them all in you are taking a food source for something else out of the chain. We would be better off enhancing or creating an environment that would bring in their natural predators.
 
Emerson White
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Archaological evidence suggests that it took rats about 500 years to move from the periferie of human society to its place right now, gnawing on the heart. Presumably another rat would eventually move in (there are 56 species of them). rats do probably eat a certain number of cockroaches and getting rid of them might increase that problem, but rats also gnaw through containers and open up tunnels for roaches. Mouse and vole populations could probably also be expected to rise, as well as bird and snake populations. Rats really eat every living thing.
 
Chuck Freeman
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Emerson White wrote:
Archaological evidence suggests that it took rats about 500 years to move from the periferie of human society to its place right now, gnawing on the heart. Presumably another rat would eventually move in (there are 56 species of them). rats do probably eat a certain number of cockroaches and getting rid of them might increase that problem, but rats also gnaw through containers and open up tunnels for roaches. Mouse and vole populations could probably also be expected to rise, as well as bird and snake populations. Rats really eat every living thing.


That is why I said if you want to reduce rat numbers create a favorable environment for animals that eat them.

How do you feel about eradicating wolves they destroy ungulates, ungulates feed people.

Big Game Population Statistics

Lolo Elk Herd, Idaho
Before Wolf Introduction: 20,000
After Wolf Introduction: 1,700

Yellowstone Elk Herd
Before Wolf Introduction: 20,000
After Wolf Introduction: 6,500

Jackson, WY Shiras Moose
Before Wolf Introduction: 1,200
After Wolf Introduction: 120

Gallitan Valley Elk Herd
Before Wolf Introduction: 1,500
After Wolf Introduction: 200
 
Emerson White
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Location: Alaska
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And you know what, I do worry about the effect it will have on the very small (300 square mile?) area in western China where these rats are native too. Humans do a remarkable job of mimicking wolves in the ecosystem (we readily eat the exact same animals, and wolves are not an important species for any plants) but then we stop hunting and stop killing coyotes and pretty soon the system is out of balance. However, in the other 45 million square miles that rats occasionally occupy they are there as an introduced species, subsidized by human presence, basically extending our ecological footprint. Ecosystems are moving changing, living things, but introducing a mover and shaker like a rat can push them too far.
 
Haru Yasumi
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I feel pretty skeptical about genetically modifying animals this way.  We've just scratched the surface of knowledge of genetics and I don't feel like we have adequate knowledge to know the full implications of genetically modifying organisms, especially when deliberately trying to pass the genes onto essentially wild populations.  With the rapid reproductive cycle of rats there would be no stopping them once they are released and it is impossible to test all scenarios in a controlled setting.  Also you mention that instead of eliminating them it may drive them into periodic boom/bust cycles, which to me sounds worse than having a steady active population.  I have heard about places in India and SE Asia where bamboo forests bloom causing a large boom in rat populations due to increased food availability, then once the bamboo is finished the rats move into human areas and devour all of the crops and stored food causing human starvation.  Then there's the sanitary issues of having all those dead rats everywhere afterward.  Even if it's not to that extreme, boom/bust of rat populations does not sound pleasant.  I'll take what we've got now over boom/bust cycles, extermination by genetic manipulation, or whatever other unpredicted results that may arise.
 
Emerson White
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Just because you don't know doesn't mean we don't know. I'm not going to explain how it would be done until I apply for a patent, but it's not something that is even likely to create problems beyond the species of rat disappearing over time, not even any dead rats lying around to stink up the place.
 
Robert Ray
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" Just because you don't know, Doesn't mean we don't know"?  Sorry Paul but WTF?
Who is we and what can you provide as any empirical data that this would be a good thing without consequence?
Just as I am cautious to give carte blanche  to GMO  modification of food I would be cautious as to any genetically modified animal for the sole purpose of the eradication of its species.
 
Emerson White
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We being people in general. I hear that canard all the time "we just don't know how these genes will play out" but the fact of the matter is that the people who do this for a living know a tremendous amount about what is going on, and what they don't know about is actually the result of changes in the plant that happen naturally when it's not a GMO. Tomorrow a farmer in Mexico might plant a seed that was struck by a UV ray and some protein was changed that will slip past the human digestive tract and trigger allergies in 1.3% of people. But maybe this tomato is also super delicious and the farmer eats one and saves the seeds from the rest, and plants a whole patch of them next year, and then a whole field the next, then brings in a seed buyer and sells the field and the year after that the garden center sends seeds out to homes across america. and a whole bunch of people develop allergies and some maybe die. With GMO's we serologically test to see if what we put in can get through, but not with wild products. Yes that whatif is extremely unlikely to happen, but so is an event with a GMO, yet when there is that same risk with GMO's people get up in arms and start saying things like "we don't know what could happen". There are hundreds of GMO organisms out there, and so far not a single human issue can be traced back to them with any kind of burden of proof, its just a bunch of people who don't know whats going on vaguely waving their hands in the air and saying maybe. GMO's have caused some problems, but they are all problems we knew about before anyone even make the organism (or legal problems, which should have people chanting about patent laws, not GMO's) . And we know a whole lot about whats going on, we have libraries filled with papers, probably at least 20,000 papers on the subject, if you are a machine you can read a heavy science paper in two hours if you read for 16 hours a day that is 2640 papers in a year, it would take you eight years of doing nothing else to read through them all, by which time there would probably be another 3,000 papers.

You know who else loves to chant "We just don't know"? Climate change deniers.
 
Robert Ray
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Unfortunately personally I feel that to much credit is being given to projected/predicted assumptions. To say with certainty that  anyone would be completely cognizant of all effects from a genetically initiated eradication is  a bold claim.
Where does the figure of 1.3% potentially  affected by a triggered allergy come from? It could easily be 98.7% of people potentially affected.
Naturally occurring modifications procede at a much slower rate than the genetic tweaking that is currently possible allowing for that beautiful Darwinism adaptation to occur.
Eradicate termites since they produce more methane than any other organism, that would address your climate change fears.  Would there be no impact if that were to be the next critter on the hit list?
I'm no Ecoterrorist but I would definitely have strong objections to any omnipotent decision to kill off any particular species of plant or animal.
"Roundup" ready seeds are a current (in the news) indication that GMO's might not a really be an intelligent choice.

 
 
Emerson White
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Counter intuitively enough a crop that 98.7% of people are allergic too is less likely to harm a lot of people, because it will probably be caught fairly early on. Think of it this way, which is safer a pet cobra or a pet labridore? Labs kill more people each year than cobras because no one exposes themselves to cobras plenty of people expose themselves to labs. The total risk is volume times relative risk, The volume is determined by comparing relative risk and utility. GMO crops are only more dangerous in that they have higher volumes because they are so useful. Compare GMO's to cars for instance, far more people die in traffic accidents but we still use cars (well I walk everywhere ... but I digress) because they are very useful (like 40,000 each year in the US alone).

You may not have great faith in the predictive efforts of the developers but I don't see why you don't, what exactly happened that wasn't predicted? The pollen carrying Bt Toxins was predicted by monsanto before the corn was even made, that's how they knew to look for it (and it isn't nearly as deadly to nearly as many things as the pesticides it replaced were) and then people looked for it, I forget what they put it in but a team put a gene from the Brazil nut in some other crop, then they had the foresight to test for it serologically, they all ate the nuts, found the polypeptide in their blood and decided not to go through with the project because it might trigger Brazil nut allergies, no other lab even got to test it because of what those scientists developing it looked for. There is a review process, done by people who know a whole lot about what is going on.

What I figured out how to do is not patented, and I don;t have the money to patent it. so I'm not going to talk about it, but for the sake of the original question you should just assume that I know what it is and what it will do to rats and that it will not leave piles of dead rats everywhere. Keep in mind that the technology will be discussed and publicized long before a single trojan rat got released. If I get the research done, and patent it, I will even come here and post up the exact gene sequences I used, what organisms they came from, and how it works, just for you (which reminds me, I need to finish writing that essay for the others...).

The worry with RU seeds is that we are using them and that roundup is becoming less effective, something I would think you would be all for.

Termites are a different story, I think I'd be more inclined to engineer that crazy symbiotic organism in their guts to produce less Methane before anything else, for one thing termites play a vital role in many ecosystems, point me to the ecosystem where Rattus norvegicus or Rattus rattus is playing a role and you can make that comparison convincingly. One fortunate thing is that these organisms will always exist in labs, and there fast rate of colonization means that if they are driven completely to extinction that they would be very easy to reintroduce.
 
Robert Ray
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If the organism currently exists and it dies, it's corpreal body lies somewhere. So there would be dead rats somewhere.
Horses are responsible for more human deaths than dogs and yet there are far fewer horse owners per capita than dog owners. So volume of dog owners versus horse owners comparatively speaking shows a different result than you have presented in your cobra illustration.
The Roundup issue comes into play when the chemical is sprayed on a food crop that has been engineered to be resistant to the effect and the chemical is ingested, not that the Roundup is becoming less effective.
Your initial query was how would I feel about the eradication of rats through GMO means and my answer is I wouldn't like it.
 
Emerson White
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I'm not going to explain it.

Horses have other costs that reduce their net utility, like the land they take up. Are you sure about that though? I thought it was around 30 deaths from dogs and 20 from horses.

The RU gene works but breaking down Glyphosate, it does not function any other way, so while glyphosate can remain on the outside of the plant it wont be found on the inside. If it were on the inside then the RU gene would not be able to prevent the death of the plant. Most farmers are not concerned with weeds towards the end of a growth/production cycle, so they are unlikely to waste chemicals spraying that late in the game, where it really wont improve yield (and in some crops actually hurt it).

If you had a magic button to get rid of all rats you wouldn't press it then?

 
Robert Ray
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Why?

 
Emerson White
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Because that is the information I was seeking in my original question.
 
Robert Ray
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Why should I press the button?

 
Emerson White
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Because rats live in sewage and track in into homes, chew through walls and into graineries, eat the eggs of ground nesting birds on islands all over the world, lead to food spoilage which prevents food from reaching the poor and starving, kill as many people each year globally as traffic accidents kill each year in the US ...
 
gary gregory
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There is a review process, done by people who know a whole lot about what is going on.


Until the accountants and lawyers decide that review and safeguards cut too heavily into the corporate profits and market the product anyway.
 
gary gregory
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Robert Ray
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Genetic modification isn't the answer for me.
We can look at recent medical news and see that what once was considered a proven methodology is now questioned or debunked.
   For instance reviews done by pharmaceutical companies on drugs that they are asking to be approved and have a financial stake in, are not an unbiased review. A proper peer review process is required for me to buy in.
Your faith in the scientific checks and balances is much greater than mine.
We could spar and a response on a yet to be patented genetic modification would still be "I'm not going to explain it."
  Far to little information for one to make an informed and educated response on something that has the potential of undiscovered consequences.
 
Ray McIntyre
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See, here is the problem. Rats fill an evolutionary niche, they are necessary for the well-being of the planet and all of it's inhabitants. If we remove them ask yourself a: what effect that removal will have on the ecosystem and b: what will replace them?
 
Brice Moss
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The rats are there and are a problem because we have created a nich for them with the sewers and landfills and all of that, thus if I were to press a "kill the rats" button and all the rats died something else would come in to eat the food and live in the tunnels and chances are good that it would be every bit as nasty as rats.

I think any such solution would be ass backwards what we need to do to get the rats back to a natural state is stop providing them such nice homes and food with our waste.
 
Emil Spoerri
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Emerson, if your idea is to ever work, first your GMO must be able to survive in the wild. My hope is that any GMO released into the wild will die out because of a lack of ability to compete in a natural circumstance. Of course with human interference in an ecosystem they will probably last a really long time. 
 
Andreas L. Pitters
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Dear Emerson,

I can see it has been 6 years since your original post but I have just come across it. I found your discourse fascinating and your passion for the subject equally so; After 6 years, what has come of your idea? Have you managed to work on it or have you managed to make any progress? I am really interested in any solution you might have found or if you encountered any problems, perhaps I could help you overcome them.

Get in touch if you still follow the thread.

Regards
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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