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From: MichaelP, INTERNET:email@example.com
To: Patricia Dines, 73652,1202
Date: Thu, Apr 24, 1997, 4:22 PM
Subject: Field testing of genetically-modified insects.
USDA reviews release of genetically-modified insects
without seeking prior public comment.
Release of GE Mites Considered
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is reviewing a request from a
University of Florida scientist to conduct a field test with a transgenic
mite that feeds on spider mites, a pest of strawberries and ornamental
crops. The USDA is not planning to have an official public comment period
or hearing on this application, and only intends to publish notice in the
Federal Register when the decision is made. The mite has been engineered
to contain a bacterial gene that functions as a marker, making it easy for
researchers to track the organism in the environment. Future experiments
will introduce new genes intended to modify the mite to enhance its
ability to kill pests.
The Union of Concerned Scientists http://www.ucsusa.org/ucs.agpub.html
said it is likely that this application will be followed by a number of
other requests to release transgenic arthropods. Genetically engineered
medflies, mosquitoes, honey bees, cotton bollworms and many other insects
have been created in laboratories for a variety of purposes.
Commercialization of these organisms would result in their widespread
release and use in the environment. Genetically engineering arthropods
potentially present significant environmental risks because many reproduce
rapidly, they play a variety of important ecological roles, they can move
considerable distances, and most would be difficult to control once