>Date: Thu, 2 Apr 1998 16:41:00 -0500
>From: Richard Wolfson <email@example.com>
>Subject: two articles and comments
>Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
>New Scientist: April 4 1998
> Named and shamed, By Andy Coghlan
>Leading biotechnology companies that failed to stick to agreed plans for
>field experiments with genetically engineered plants have had their
>knuckles rapped by Britain's gene police. Though not fined, the culprits
>have been named and some have been forced to rip up the plots. The Advisory
>Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE), which advises the British
>government on the safety of releasing genetically engineered organisms,
>last week publicised a rogues' gallery of companies and research labs that
>have breached the terms of their consents to carry out field experiments.
>The companies are Monsanto of St Louis, Missouri, the world's largest
>agricultural biotech firm; Plant Genetic Systems of Ghent in Belgium;
>AgrEvo of Frankfurt, Germany; and Nickerson Biocem of Cambridge. The other
>miscreants are the Scottish Crop Research Institute near Dundee and the
>National Institute of Agricultural Botany in Cambridge.
>"This should help to show that the government is not acting like a
>doormat," says John Beringer, a microbiologist at the University of
>Bristol, who chairs ACRE. "I'm all for naming and shaming, as this is worth
>many times more than fines."
>A Reuters release from March 31, 1998 (based on a recent article in the
>journal Nature Biotechnology) made the following statements:
>Team finds safer way to genetically engineer plants
>WASHINGTON, Reuters : Scientists said on Monday they had found a new and
>potentially safer way to genetically engineer plants so that they do not
>mutate into ``superweeds'' immune to all weedkillers.
>The secret lies in manipulating the chloroplasts, the solar-powered energy
>generators of plant cells, Henry Daniell and colleagues at Alabama's Auburn
>... ``The escape of foreign genes via pollen is a serious environmental
>concern ... because of the high rates of gene flow from crops to wild weedy
>relatives,'' according to a report in the journal Nature Biotechnology.
>... While chloroplasts contain genes, these do not go into the pollen
>used by plants to reproduce, so the dangers are greatly reduced.
>Dr. Joe Cummins, Professor Emeritus of Genetics, University of Western
>Ontario, comments below, explaining that the above is very misleading,
>because genes from chloroplasts can indeed be passed on to other plants:
>Dr. Cummins says:
>This report is false in a very elementary way, I am shocked that Nature
>Biotechnology would publish such gross falsehoods.
>Higher plants exchange cytoplasmic genes from chloroplasts and mitochondria
>mainly by by-parental inheritance (where genes from both parents are
>blended in a way which does not follow Medelian laws).
>Species also exchange cytoplasmic genes by uniparental inheritance.
>Maternal inheritance does occur (cytoplasmic genes solely from eggs).
>Paternal inheritance (cytoplasmic genes in pollen) is also very common,
>particularly in evergreens.
>The facts I describe above are available in any good elementary genetics
>text, and well described in advanced texts. I taught advanced genetics and
>cytoplasmic inheritance for twenty-five years at a major university.
>I am staggered by such reports, but not surprised. In my experience with
>regulation of genetic engineering in Canada, such reports by "experts" are
>taken as "true facts" and accepted by lawyers and judges. Few involved with
>genetic engineering seem to be hampered by mere science. The main assurance
>of safety by biotechnology are frequently equally glib and groundless.
>Prof. Joe Cummins
>Richard Wolfson, PhD
>Consumer Right to Know Campaign,
>for Mandatory Labelling and Long-term
>Testing of all Genetically Engineered Foods,
>500 Wilbrod Street
>Ottawa, ON Canada K1N 6N2
>tel. 613-565-8517 fax. 613-565-1596
>Our website, http://www.natural-law.ca/genetic/geindex.html
>contains more information on genetic engineering as well as
>previous genetic engineering news items
>Subscription fee to genetic engineering news is $35 for 12 months
>See website for details.
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