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[SANET-MG] dangerous field test releases in third world
It seems to me that the third world is being conned into taking very
dangerous field tests. The problem of oral tolerance when vaccine
polluted food crops food crops are consumed repeatedly was not mentioned
in the article. Oral tolerance would allow rapider spread of the virus
diseases. The claim that field test releases in UK , for example, are
threatened with vandalism is just specious. The field test releases in
Britain have not been done with adequate security, If their field tests
are done in the third world than the companies or universities should
move , holus bolus, to the countries allowing the tests.
Human trials for GM vaccines
By Ian Sample
HUMAN TRIALS of vaccines produced by genetically modified plants could
begin within five years, scientists claimed recently. The researchers
outlined proposals to grow fields of crops that have been genetically
modified to produce vaccines and other pharmaceuticals to treat HIV,
rabies, diabetes and TB. They said field trials of medicine-producing
crops were likely to begin in 2006, with safety trials in humans
beginning three years later at St. George's hospital in London.
Although the team will consider carrying out trials on plots of a
hectare in Britain, the unfavourable climate and risk of sabotage mean
that field studies, and ultimately full-scale growing of the plants, is
most likely to happen in South Africa or southern Europe. Scientists
have long known that GM technology can be used to trick a plant's
molecular machinery into making a range of medically useful compounds.
Instead of using expensive pharmaceutical factories, advocates envisage
fields of GM crops being harvested to reap new medicines cheaply, a
process known as `pharming'. According to Julian Ma of St George's
Hospital Medical School in London and the leader of the Pounds Sterling
8m project, the primary aim is to provide medicines for the developing
``The major burden of disease is in the developing world, but these are
the countries that do not have access to vaccines,'' Ma said.
The number of people dying each year from the six major diseases for
which vaccines exist is around 3.3 million. The scientists have already
identified genes that can be put into plants to make them produce
antibodies or other compounds that can help treat rabies, TB and diabetes.
While no vaccine yet exists for HIV, genes that produce antibodies
capable of destroying the virus have been discovered. A cream containing
the antibodies could help reduce the risk of HIV being transmitted
during sexual intercourse, but the production technology cannot easily
be scaled up. ``Using traditional techniques, you just cannot produce
enough,'' said Ma.
Ma believes GM plants — probably tobacco or maize — offer a cheap way to
make vast quantities of vaccines and other drugs. ``It looks like the
cost of plant-derived products will be 10 to 100-fold less than
conventionally derived products,'' he said. If the technique is proved,
it may be adopted by developing countries, helping to breaking their
reliance upon pharmaceutical multinationals. ``Growing and harvesting
plants is low tech,'' Ma said. ``We see this as being transferred to
countries where they can start up their own industry at a low start-up
cost and produce the amounts they need.''
Philip Dale, an expert in GM safety issues at the John Innes Centre in
Norwich, eastern England, is advising on possible risks of
contamination, where genes from the GM plants get into others. ``The
ability to be able to isolate these from other crops is a crucial
factor,'' he said. ``There's a possibility of mixing with other crops
and that's the basic challenge we have to wrestle with.''
Land used to grow the crops will need to be remote from other crops and
dedicated machinery will be needed to process them, so that the medicine
cannot enter the food chain. Sue Mayer of the lobby group GeneWatch said
the researchers should pledge to make their technology free to all, to
prevent it being claimed by pharmaceutical companies.
Friends of the Earth's GM campaigner, Clare Oxborrow, said: ``A clear
set of criteria must be established to ensure that human health and the
environment are protected. Any benefits must genuinely reach those that
need them, rather than simply lining the pockets of the biotech and
pharmaceutical industry.'' — Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004
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