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Pathogens: problem of the cause or cause of the problem
In a message dated 11/3/2002 9:00:42 PM Pacific Standard Time, LISTSERV@LISTS.IFAS.UFL.EDU writes:
E.coli has been the most common target of bacterial genetic
engineering. ie, all kinds of genes and plasmids have been inserted
into E.coli. Another question for Joe Cummins: is it possible that
these genetic manipulations created the pathogenic strains of
This brings up the interesting debate between Pasteur and Bechamp: how important is the environment in the propagation of pathogens? If a growth medium (human, animal, plant, soil, etc.) manifests pathogens, is this the result of contamination from external sources and/or the result of amenable growth conditions? Do pathogens and microorganisms in general evolve of their own accord or respond to changes in the growing environment? While manipulation of microorganisms can result in the creation of new strains, it is important to remember that they need a suitable environment to grow in. I would suggest that the corruption of farming and animal husbandry practices has resulted in an environment that is currently more suitable for pathogens.
As Albrecht would have emphasized, it is not the invader that we must worry about, but the condition of the host. I will stick my neck out and suggest that the old adage that garbage in equals garbage out applies very well to food production. Albrecht's biotic pyramid with soil at the base and humans at the apex (no implication of superiority, refers only to the food chain) suggests that growth is a process and very dependent on the inputs. While pathogens can be an input, there are many other variables that define the environment and whether pathogens can propagate.
The greatest issue at this juncture is whether pathogens are "endemic" and the "natural" consequence of farming and animal husbandry; or whether they are the consequence of misguided farming and animal husbandry practices. I believe that the latter to be true. Inferior practices can lead to the propagation and susceptibility of soils, plants, and animals to pathogens. I would even suggest that superior practices can lead to the protection from pathogens. You can''t grow water lilies in the sand.
Alan Ismond, P.Eng.