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mbox: Organic food supply under attack all over


Lawrence F. London, Jr.
Title: mbox: Organic food supply under attack all over

Organic food supply under attack all over

Joe Toth (nntp-xfer.ncsu.edu!gatech!news-out.communique.net!news3.epix.net!cdc2.cdc.net!neJoe Toth)
Fri, 21 Feb 1997 15:21:16 -0500

At the moment organic foods are thought safe. But soon we will not
be so sure.

If that safety were gone, only home-grown food or community support farm food
grown far enough away from genetically manipulated / genetically
engineered (g.e)
plants, or sprouts could be natural and safe,
given that the seeds were not g.e'd. We would also have to consider the soil
in which they were grown.

1. In 1996 there were only about two seed companies that sold the
genetically manipulated seed. Next year Monsanto predicts that 90
seed companies will be established in the marketplace. These large
biotech-chemical companies are moving to control the entire world's
food supply through genetic manipulation of national and
international seed. Monsanto has made a deal with Empresas La
Moderna, a seed company with 22 percent of the world market share in
vegetable seeds to provide biotechnology-derived vegetable traits.
How will you distinguish these seeds from natural seeds? Or one
squash from another? (From Eileen Danneman)

2. The organic industry is under assault, just as the ecosystem is, by the
active, on-going cross-pollination of genetically engineered plants with other
plants and microorganisms. Given the range of insect and wind pollination
(birds, too) transgenes have been found at unforetold distances in nontargeted
plants and crops.

I might add that bees can bring pollen from genetically engineered crops or
plants to the hive and affect the honey.

Gene-altered organisms cannot be kept apart from their wild and
cultivated relatives

Here is a sampling of studies:

- - Scientific studies show the high frequency and wide range of gene flow
between ge'd crops and normal crops, eg, potatoes.
(Skogsmyr l (1994) Gene dispersal from transgenic potaotes to
conspecifics: A field trial. Theor. Appl. Genet 88: 770-774).

- - Much more pollen escapes from large fields of genetically engineered
rape (used for canola oil) than is predicted from earlier experiments on
smaller plots. Escaping pollen fertilized plants up to 2.5 kilometers away.
(Scottish Crop Research Institute Annual Report 1994. SCRI,
Dundee, Scotland)

- - Spillage of crop seeds in transport over the hundreds of miles between
merchant, farmer and processing factory, could be "more worrying" than the
threat through pollen spread. (New Scientist 6 July, 1996)

- - It was found with 4 ge'd plants all containing an antibiotic-resistance
(oilseed rape, black mustard, torn-apple and sweep peas) when grown together
with a fungus (Aspeergillus niger), or their leaves were added to the soil,
that the fungus incorporated the antibiotic resistance gene in all co-culture
(Hoffman T. Golz C & Schieder O (1994) Foreign DNA sequences are
a wild-type strain of Aspergillus niger after co-culture with transgenic
plants. Curr. Genet. 27: 70-76).
It is worth noting that micro-organisms can transfer genes through several
mechanisms to other unrelated micro-organisms.

Other unexpected effects

Soil bacteria ge'd to transform plant residues like leaves into ethanol
survived, competed successfully with parent strains and unexpectedly inhibited
growth or killed off grass in different soil types. It decreased beneficial
fungi in all the soils tested. These soil fungi are crucial for plant health
and growth because they help plants take up nutrition and resist common
diseases. In clay soils the ge'd bacterium increased as well as the number of
root-feeding nematodes.
(Holmes T M & Ingram E R (1995) The effects of genetically engineered
microorganisms on soil foodwebs. In "Supplement to Bulletin of Ecological
Society of America 75.2)

A bacteria ge'd for degrading an herbicide broke it down but also degraded
a substance that was highly toxic to fungi and destroyed them. These fungi
were crucial to soil fertility and in protecting plants against diseases.
(Doyle JK, Stotzky G, McClung G & Hendricks C W (1995) Effects of Genetically
Engineered Microorganisms on Microbial Populations and Processes in natural
Habitats, Advances in Applied Microbiology, Vol. 40 (Academic Press)).

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