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GE and possible transference of antibiotic resistance

For your info - P. Dines

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From: Richard Wolfson, INTERNET:rwolfson@concentric.net
To: <dianne@sandelman.ottawa.on.ca>
Date: Sun, May 4, 1997, 12:25 PM
Subject: NLP Campaign, GE article


 Here is the most recent genetically engineered article , which just
came out in the May  1997 issue of Alive Magazine:

                Antibiotic Resistance Genes, By Richard Wolfson, PhD

                From Alive, Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition, May

Antibiotic resistance genes are found in many GE crops.  These genes
provide no direct benefit to farmers or consumers, but are relics of an
earlier stage of the genetic engineering process.

However, the antibiotic tolerance genes are causing great alarm.
Scientists are concerned that by flooding the environment with antibiotic
tolerance genes, these gene will be taken up by disease-causing bacteria,
which would then become uncontrollable by antibiotics.  While the biotech
industry argues that the transfer of antibiotic resistance genes from
plants to micro-organisms is not likely, several mechanism are known for
this to occur.

Dangerous Bugs

According to Joe Cummins, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Genetics at the
University of Western Ontario, "Resistance genes have been transferred from
resistant to sensitive bacteria on the surface of towels used to clean the
teats of cattle with mastitis, on the surface of meat cutting boards, and
in the feces of pigs.  Resistance genes in crop plants are bound to be
transferred from the crops to sensitive bacteria in the gut, feces, or
soil.  These bacteria could then mate with pathogenic bacteria, which then
acquire the resistance genes."

"Antibiotic resistant bacterial pathogens resulting from the overuse of
antibiotics are already beginning to overwhelm the public health control,"
warns Dr. Cummins.  "This has caused the return of tuberculosis and
cholera, in forms that have no effective treatment other than expensive
isolation and quarantine procedures."

"Because antibiotic tolerance genes are known to act on entire classes of
antibiotics, the use of these genes could be very dangerous to humans,
livestock, and other animals," he added. "Putting antibiotic tolerance
genes into crops could, by accelerating the growing loss in usefulness of
antibiotics, result in epidemics."

The United Kingdom Advisory Committee on Novel Food Processes recommended
in its July 1994 report that  "Genetically modified food micro-organisms
which are intended to be ingested live in human foods ... should not be
permitted to contain antibiotic resistance marker genes.  Alternative
markers, and procedures for the removal of antibiotic resistance markers,
have been developed and should be used."

Biotech Growing in US

In the United States, eight to ten million acres of herbicide-resistant,
"Roundup Ready" soybeans are expected to be planted this season,
representing about 14% of the total soybean crop, which is then distributed
worldwide.  This is a sharp increase from the one million or so acres of
Roundup Ready soybeans in 1996, which was about 2% of the total crop.

A recent study by the Dutch government concluded that in the long-term
herbicide resistant crops, such as Roundup Ready soybeans, will result in
increased chemical dependence, and eventual environmental harm.  Also, a
review in the Winter 1996 issue of Resistant Pest Management said that the
use of herbicide resistant crops will lead to herbicide resistant weeds
that disrupt the environment and compel farmers to move on to more toxic
pesticides. Meanwhile, the company that manufacturers both Roundup Ready
soybeans and the herbicide these soybeans have been altered to withstand
recently applied for a 200% increase in the allowable residues of
herbicides in the crops.

PD NOTE:  Notice that last sentence, and compare it their claims that one
of the benefits of GE is reduce the use of pesticides....

Altered Crops in Canada

The first season of biotech soybeans is expected to be planted on Canadian
soil this month and next, though genetically engineered soy products are
already coming in to Canada from the USA.

About 400,000 acres of genetically engineered herbicide-resistant canola
were grown in Canada in 1996, representing about 5% of the total crop.  In
1997, industry is estimating about 2-4 million acres, which will be about
25% of the total Canadian canola crop.

GE insect resistant potatoes from PEI also came on the market last year,
unlabelled and therefore indistinguishable from other potatoes.

Genetically altered foods that have been approved, are waiting approval, or
are under development in the USA include:

apples          barley          beets           chestnuts       corn
cucumber        lettuce         melons          peppers         papaya
potatoes        rice    soybeans        squash
strawberries    sugar cane      sunflowers      tomatoes        tobacco
walnuts         watermelons     wheat

Source: US Agriculture Dept.

For more information on genetically engineered foods or to get involved in
this campaign, contact Campaign to Ban Genetic Engineering Food, Natural
Law Party,500 Wilbrod Street, Ottawa, ON  K1N 6N2.  Tel. 613-565-8517, or
send an email message to rwolfson@concentric.net

Reprinted with permission from the May 1997 issue of Alive, Canadian
Journal of Health and Nutrition, 7436 Fraser Park Drive, Burnaby, BC V5J

Richard Wolfson, PhD is Health Advisor to the Natural Law Party of Canada

Richard Wolfson,  PhD
Campaign to Ban Genetically Engineered Food
Natural Law Party
500 Wilbrod Street
Ottawa, ON  Canada  K1N 6N2
Tel. 613-565-8517  Fax. 613-565-6546
email:  rwolfson@concentric.net
NLP Website:  http://www.natural-law.ca
To receive regular news from the Campaign to Ban
Genetically Engineered