Results 1 to 6 of 6
  1. #1

    • back to WDW in January
    • Offline

    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    971

    Listening To the Science Of 'The Land'

    Deep inside the laboratories of Epcot's The Land pavilion -- beyond the world-record tomato tree or the Mickey Mouse-shaped pumpkins -- a tiny part ofone of Walt Disney's dreams is being kept alive in petri dishes.
    Visitors' only brush with science there might involve Epcot's programs togrow lettuce in water or to shape vegetables like Mickey Mouse. Yet morecomplex, far-less-known, potentially more practical and possibly controversialwork has been going on side by side with those show projects for years.
    In some of those tiny dishes, within microbiology laboratories walled offfrom the public, one of Epcot's primary missions is being cultivated specimenby specimen, cell by cell, gene by gene.
    Scientists working in The Land labs for Disney and the U.S. Department ofAgriculture's Agriculture Research Service are trying to alter nature'sdesign for the pear tree on a molecular level.
    Funded by and operating as a branch laboratory for a research project underway at a federal agriculture laboratory in Kearneysville, W.Va., the Epcotscientists want to create a new rootstock for pear trees that would stunt thegrowth of the trees, making them shorter and easier to grow and harvest, andtherefore more productive and more commercially attractive.
    And they are doing so by genetically altering the cells of pear-treerootstock specimens.
    "It's more than just a show," said Frederick L. Petitt, Walt Disney World'sdirector of Epcot science. "This is pretty long-term research."
    Low-profile, but controversial
    But unlike most Epcot research -- such as projects involving pestmanagement or dolphin communication -- it risks powerful controversy. Geneticengineering of crops draws a high level of public suspicion and has harshcritics who deride the products as "Frankenfoods."
    While the pear-tree work should not affect the genetic makeup of the pears,earlier projects at Epcot have had the goal of designing better food.
    "I wouldn't think Disney would touch this project with a 10-foot Cinderellawand, but Disney isn't your grandfather's cartoon company anymore," said NancyAllen, an activist with the Green Party.
    Her group is part of an environmental coalition campaigning against thecreation of genetically engineered trees -- though not specifically the Epcotwork -- arguing that genetic engineering must be slowed so the consequencescan be studied more carefully. "There just is no way to know what is going tohappen in the long term, even for the growers," said Anne Petermann,co-director of the Global Justice Ecology Project.
    Research-project director Ralph Scorza of the U.S. Agriculture ResearchService said he thinks such critics overlook the extreme care taken in theresearch -- and its potential benefits. That's one reason Epcot's labs wererecruited.
    "It does give us a chance to talk to people about the whole process, andabout the safety of it, and the oversight," Scorza said.
    Disney's dream
    One of Walt Disney's original plans for Epcot -- which didn't open until16 years after his death -- was that it would be a center of cutting-edgescience and technology. Walt Disney's vision was to build a full-fledged city,called the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, or EPCOT for short.
    Throughout today's version of Epcot, visitors are treated to "shows" ofinteresting but often old and relatively simple technology, such as The Land'shydroponic gardens, which allow Disney to grow the world's most prolifictomato "tree" or to create Mickey Mouse-shaped vegetables.
    There is nothing simple about the pear-tree project.
    "That laboratory in Epcot could just as well be a laboratory down thehall," Scorza said, talking recently by phone from his Kearneysville office."People are doing the work that we need them to do for our program. It's notmade for show. It's real research that we're doing. It's very important forthe program. But also, we think, it has a story to tell."
    Petitt said the public has raised almost no concerns about the research atEpcot. And the pear-tree project is not the first there to involve geneticengineering.
    In the early 1990s, Epcot and the Agriculture Research Service teamed ongenetically altered peanuts, to create more nutritious peanut oil. Later, theyworked together on genetically altered peach trees, seeking to create peachesthat stay firm longer. Epcot's Innovations pavilion also housed a multimediaexhibit espousing genetic engineering for several years and got little publicbacklash, he said.
    Cutting-edge, behind the scenes
    Sometimes visitors floating past the laboratories on tour boats in the"Living with the Land" ride or wandering backstage in the "Behind the Seeds"walking tour might see people in white coats doing some sort of laboratorybench-top work. But tour guides often don't mention the work'sgenetic-engineering aspects, unless a tourist asks.
    The scientists are using molecular-transfer techniques to extract from asmall, specific weed, genes that are associated with dwarf growth so they cantransplant them into the root cells for a pear tree. If the new genes cancontrol the growth of the new culture, they could produce pear-tree rootstocksthat would produce only shorter-than-normal pear trees.
    Contrary to some Internet rumors, nothing from the genetics lab ever isserved to people in Epcot restaurants. The work is expected to take many yearsbefore any viable rootstock specimens might proceed far enough to outgrowpetri dishes or small glass jars.
    The development of actual trees capable of bearing fruit likely won'thappen at Epcot, Scorza said. And long before anything edible could beproduced, the research would have to receive scrutiny and approval from avariety of federal agencies, he said.
    "I don't understand what scares people," he said. "I think it's [becauseit's] something new. It's something different."

    Source: Orlando Sentinel

  2. #2

    • Circle of Ancients
    • Offline

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    22,687

    Re: Listening To the Science Of 'The Land'

    Thanks for that, quite interesting. I think it's a great idea. Can't understand why people have to complain about it though.

    The Orlando Sentinal needs to space their words a little better.


  3. #3

    •   
      MiceChat Moderator
    • Where should we go next?
    • Offline

    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    All smiles at the DL!
    Posts
    20,517
    Blog Entries
    4

    Re: Listening To the Science Of 'The Land'

    Quote Originally Posted by sir clinksalot View Post
    Thanks for that, quite interesting. I think it's a great idea. Can't understand why people have to complain about it though.

    The Orlando Sentinal needs to space their words a little better.
    Or the person who cuts and pastes the articles should use spell check
    Good morning, son
    In twenty years from now
    Maybe we'll both sit down and have a few beers
    And I can tell you 'bout today
    And how I picked you up and everything changed
    It was pain
    Sunny days and rain
    I knew you'd feel the same things...





  4. #4

    • Banned User
    • Offline

    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    2,624

    Re: Listening To the Science Of 'The Land'

    thanks for the effort and the info.

  5. #5

    • back to WDW in January
    • Offline

    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    971

    Re: Listening To the Science Of 'The Land'

    Quote Originally Posted by NeverNeverland View Post
    Or the person who cuts and pastes the articles should use spell check
    Ouch but you are right, I should have at least done that. Now where is that spell check feature on Mice Chat again?

    Anyway, here is a link to the original article if you want to see how the Sentinel does it
    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/...,7796621.story

  6. #6

    • MiceAge Columnist
    • Moderator
    • Offline

    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Orlando, FL
    Posts
    2,023

    Re: Listening To the Science Of 'The Land'

    Actually, we shouldn't be cut and pasting whole articles. At the least, it's inconsiderate, and may be more like actually illegal
    Kevin Yee
    MiceAge Columnist

    I am the author of several Disney books:
    Jason's Disneyland Almanac - a daily history of Disneyland
    Walt Disney World Hidden History - tributes, homages, and ride remnants at WDW
    Your Day at the Magic Kingdom
    Mouse Trap
    Tokyo Disney Made Easy
    101 Things You Never Knew About Disneyland
    Magic Quizdom (The Disneyland Trivia Book)

    “The press [should be] a watchdog. Not an attack dog. Not a lapdog. A watchdog. Now, a watchdog can't be right all the time. He doesn't bark only when he sees or smells something that's dangerous. A good watchdog barks at things that are suspicious.” – Dan Rather

Similar Threads

  1. What are you listening to?
    By stitchon in forum Disney Interactive and Game Industry Discussion
    Replies: 42
    Last Post: 09-06-2008, 06:52 PM
  2. What are you listening to RIGHT NOW 2
    By Jessicalover in forum Fun and Games
    Replies: 66
    Last Post: 04-16-2007, 11:17 AM
  3. They're Listening
    By I.M. Fearless in forum Disneyland Resort
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 03-24-2007, 10:31 PM
  4. Hey Everyone.. I am Listening too...
    By asoccerchicka in forum Disney Interactive and Game Industry Discussion
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 07-23-2006, 10:28 AM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •