Three, sixteen-year old American girls have won Google’s “global science competition” prize. These three girls leaned that many crops germinate in direct proportion to the presence of a particular bacteria in the soil. Thus, they hypothesized that by increasing the amount of that bacteria in the soil, crops might germinate more quickly and produce greater yields. They tested their hypothesis over a period of eleven months and discovered that by increasing the concentration of bacteria in the soil, some crop yields might be increased by up to 50%.
This is no small thing. Increasing crop yields by 3% is interesting and profitable. Increasing crop yields by 50% can save lives. This increase might help feed millions of hungry people. These three teenage girls have achieved a ground-breaking scientific discovery in their kitchens and backyards that’s eluded college-educated scientists working in the multi-million-dollar laboratories of major corporations. Children with little more than laptops, test tubes, seeds, patience and an understanding of the scientific method may have changed the world.
Google gave the girls $50,000 college scholarships, a trip to the Galapagos Islands and and an opportunity to participate in a summer program for possible astronauts.
Here’s a video of these three teenagers (sometimes wearing ill-fitting laboratory smocks like little girls dressed up in their mom’s dresses and high heels) which explains how they achieved their extraordinary discovery.
I’m blown away.
I don’t know if the world’s major corporations are impressed or terrified. It’s not news, but it’s more evidence that the world of scientific discovery is no longer confined to big money and big corporations. Even kids can change the world. This capacity for individuals defies the ideas of “central planning” and “central control” that underlie the New World Order and global government.
Incidentally, I’m not a scholar–or even a student–of GMO crop issues. But, if I understand correctly, GMO plants include a built-in genetic pesticide to help protect them from insects and such. More, GMO plants are designed to be resistant to herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup (glyphosate). As a result, farmers can plant GMO seeds, spray the field with glyphosate and thereby kill other plants (weeds) that would compete with the GMO crop. By killing the weeds and leaving the GMO crop, yields can be increased. The GMO theory seems irresistible.
GMO practice reportedly leaves something to be desired. Insects are developing resistance to glyphosate and are becoming something like “super-bugs”. Persistent use of glyphosate may cause long-term damage to the soil.
So, I’m wondering–if the three girls are right and increasing the concentration of certain, beneficial bacteria in the soil can increase crop yields by up to 50%–is it possible that the Roundup/glyphosate used as an herbicide with GMO plants not only kills weeds, but also stunts or kills the beneficial bacteria in the topsoil? If so, once the beneficial bacteria were killed, how long would it take before that bacteria were naturally restored to the topsoil? What would happen to crop yields so long as the beneficial bacteria were reduced or eliminated? Could repeated applications of glyphosate “sterilize” the topsoil and render it incapable of growing crops?
Again, I’m not knowledgeable about GMO science. Bacteria are not exactly animals, insects or plants. But the GMO technology is supposed to kill just about every other plant and pest in the field other than the GMO plant. So, I can’t help wondering if glyphosate can kill weeds, can it also kill bacteria? And, if glyphosate can kill bacteria in the soil, would the increased yields that we might get by using GMO seeds and glyphosate today be worth whatever diminished yields might result tomorrow?
I’ll probably have to find some teenager to answer that question for me.
(When I was a kid, we always thought we were smarter than our parents–but we weren’t. Today, thanks to the internet and computers, kids may not only think they’re smarter than their parents–they might even be right.)