Richard Wolfson <firstname.lastname@example.org>: GE News
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From: Richard Wolfson <email@example.com>
Subject: GE News
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 1997 22:21:33 -0500
Here are excerpts from three recent articles on genetic engineering,
followed by one complete article in the New Scientist.
AGRICULTURE - MISSISSIPPI INVESTIGATING MONSANTO'S COTTON
Source: 08-18-9, MEMPHIS COMMERCIAL APPEAL
JACKSON, MISS. - MEMPHIS COMMERCIAL APPEAL from Dialog via Individual
The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce said Friday it is
investigating complaints that Monsanto Co.'s Roundup Ready cotton isn't
growing properly in some areas.
Lester Spell, commissioner of agriculture, said the department is
complaints from at least four farmers in the Mississippi Delta who say
genetically enhanced cotton is producing bolls that are malformed or are
falling off the plant. ``This is a big concern to us,'' Spell said. ``I
have dedicated time to the issue and will continue to do so until we get
New Scientist August 16, 1997
Clones unlimited, by Daniel Pendick (Milwaukee)
HERDS of cloned farm animals could be a common sight within a few years,
following a breakthrough by the American company ABS Global of De
Wisconsin. The company has developed a technique for mass-producing
Last week, it showed off its first success, a six-month-old calf called
Gene was created from a cell removed from a fetal calf. But the process
works just as well with the cells of adults, says Michael Bishop, ABS's
director of research. This is important because it allows the cloning of
animals that have proved their worth. More than 10 clones of adult cattle
have been implanted in cows and are due to be born over the next few
months. Earlier this year, Scottish researchers revealed that they had
cloned Dolly from the cell of an adult sheep (This Week, 1 March, p 4).
New Scientist August 16, 1997
Sting in the tale for bees by Charlene Crabb
It was only supposed to kill pests, but genetically engineered rapeseed
could turn out to be a very mixed blessing. PLANTS that have been
genetically engineered to ward off destructive insects could also harm
beneficial ones such as bees, shortening their lives and impairing their
ability to recognise flower smells, researchers have found.
New Scientist August 16, 1997
Fields of genes by Kurt Kleiner (Washington DC)
They have the biotechnology, but it may be running out of control, and
the US is starting to worry RENEWED fears over the safety of plants
carrying genes from viruses may lead to curbs on genetically engineered
crops in the US. Moves to clamp down on altered crops come as the
biotechnology giant Monsanto awaits permission to market a potato that
carries a viral gene. Meanwhile Canadian research shows that the risk of
wild viruses hijacking genes from engineered crops could be far higher
At a meeting in Washington DC last week, the US Department of Agriculture
outlined possible restrictions aimed at reducing the risk of creating
harmful new plant viruses. Crops are given viral genes to make them
resistant to attack by the virus they come from, but the USDA has become
increasingly concerned that that genes might be hijacked by other viruses
to create new hybrids and new diseases.
The USDA called the meeting to sound out opinion on the need for
restrictions. These include a possible limit on the length of genetic
sequences introduced into crop plants and the banning of genes that make
functional proteins. The department is also worried about particularly
high-risk sequences, such as those that trigger the process of viral
Advocates of the technology argue that there is no evidence that
recombination - swapping of genetic material between viruses - will
produce dangerous hybrid viruses. But critics believe that not enough is
yet known to say what the risks of recombination are. And some of those
the meeting suggested that it might be a smoke screen. "Will this be used
to make people like me feel that these issues have been addressed ?"
Jane Rissler of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
There is, however, evidence that existing viruses may pick up a trait
a transgenic plant. Some viruses seem to be recent products of
recombination that arose naturally. And in laboratory experiments,
from which a genetic sequence has been removed have reacquired it from
transgenic plants carrying the missing genes. Traits such as the ability
move more efficiently from cell to cell or to infect other kinds of
could prove dangerous if transferred to another virus.
The technology's proponents claim that if recombination were likely, new
hybrid viruses would be turning up all the time. "You can go to a potato
field or a tomato field, or corn or wheat, where all these viruses are
living together. You don't get new viruses jumping out of these fields
infecting dogs and small children," says Chuck Niblett, a plant
at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
But Allen Miller, a plant virologist at Iowa State University, points out
that transgenic plants will contain the viral genes in all their cells
the time, increasing the risk of recombination. "It's really hard to
predict what's going to happen if you have a million acres all
a viral gene," he says.
The risks may be much higher than bio-technology companies want to admit.
D'Ann Rochon, a plant virologist with Agriculture Canada, described how
infected plants with a cucumber mosaic virus that lacked the gene to make
protein that allows it to move from cell to cell, and then took an
equivalent gene from another virus and inserted that into the plants. She
found that there were properly functioning mosaic viruses in one in
of the plants - which must have arisen through recombination.
"Within 10 days you get a virus which is very, very fit," says Rochon.
appears to be the first time anyone has shown recombination between two
different kinds of viruses within a plant. Only two weeks ago, Monsanto
applied for a permit to market the transgenic potato it calls Newleaf,
which carries the replicase gene from the potato leaf roll virus.
is responsible for making copies of viral genes. With a plant's cells
awash with such genes, says Miller, recombination would be even more
likely. For more science news see http://www.newscientist.com
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
Our website is: http://www.natural-law.ca/genetic/geindex.html
It now contains previous biotech articles from Alive, articles
from Joe Cummins and John Fagan, other GE website links, etc.
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