<<1. Agrogenetics--Genetic engineering and plant manipulation will
reduce agricultural impacts on the environment. Growing crops will
require less pesticide due to greater resistance to pests. Other crops
will be engineered to use their nutrients efficiently requiring less
fertilizer or water while providing higher yields. And, crops with
several new features -- such as soybeans that taste better, use less
fertilizer and resist pests -- will be available.>>
Would we really vote for all ten? ''..Agronomists are concerned that by
making Bt an integral part of crops, biotech firms will hasten the
evolution of Bt resistant insects, which are more difficult to control
and force farmers to used more toxic chemicals. Biotech companies admit
that it is only a matter of time before the bugs develop resistance to
Bt. Organic and non-organic farmers who have been applying Bt externally
as a natural pesticide for many crops will no longer find this effective
for controlling insect pests.''
Also, genetically modified crops that damage and reduce the reproductive
rate beneficial organisms. Example: in Scotland, Ladybugs feasting on
aphids that were on genetically altered potatoes that contained the Bt
Another example, is transgenic corn containing the Bt toxin gene which
not only killed European cornborers (insect pests), but also killed the
larvae of green lacewings, beneficial insects that feed on the
Will this new technology create more allergies and other health damaging
effects for consumers? Dr. Joe Cummins, PhD, Professor Emeritus of
Genetics, University of Western Ontario says that the herbicide
Glufosinate acts by causing the premature death of brain cells in the
embryo by a process called apoptosis. Glufosinate tolerant canola has
been grown in Canada and sold in the United States since 1995. Currently
not only canola but soybeans, corn and other crops are being grown with
glufosinate resistance. Dr. Cummins has cited a number of studies which
show birth defects in the embryos of laboratory animals. There is no
reason why such effects cannot transfer to humans, also.
With regards to Rhizobium meliloti, the nitrogen-fixing bacterium that
naturally colonizes the roots of legumes, converting nitrogen from the
air into soluble nitrates that plants can use. ''A new variety of the
bacterium has now been genetically engineered. It contains additional
genes coding for the nitrogen-fixing enzyme, in the hopes of increasing
yields. (Whether the genetically altered bacteria can actually enhance
yields is under question.) The new bacteria were also given foreign
antibiotic-resistant genes. The altered bacteria were approved by the
USA Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on September 16, 1997, and can
be used in alfalfa fields throughout the USA starting in the spring of
1998, according to an article in Biotech News by Richard Wolson, Ph.D.
Dr. Wolson reported that: **An expert scientist's evaluation of the
EPA's official scientific review showed that the risk assessment for
environmental effects contained little hard data. He said it was simply
"speculation" that the organism would be harmless.
The review didn't adequately address issues like whether or not the
bacteria would alter the ecology or fertility of the soil, or cause
increases in antibiotic-resistant organisms. The basis for approval was
that "the parent organism has been used without ill effect."
It is alarming that there is no standard process in the United States or
Canada to evaluate the hazards of GE organisms. There are no formal
risk assessment methodologies, no science policies, no significant
debate on the scientific and social issues of genetic engineering, no
understanding of the full range of hazards from GE organisms, and no
significant discussion of or consultation with the public to determine
what constitutes "unacceptable risk." There is no method to even
measure magnitude of risks.
Each risk assessment for genetically engineered organisms is done on an
ad hoc basis by different scientists in different departments or
different agencies. Some of these agencies have conflicting missions-
to promote and to regulate; to consider "benefits" as well as "risks."
There is rarely any formal peer review, and even when peer review panels
are put together, they are often biased. **
You can email Dr. Wolfson at: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Organic agriculture uses the premise of first, do no harm. Not so with
agriculture that supports genetic engineering. I misplaced the website
where Dr. Cummins and this article of Dr. Wolson are located. But if
you would like the full articles, let me know. I have them in folders
on genetical engineering.
I support the precautionary principle rather than risk assessment that
allows people and other life to die so that business as usual can
continued unhindered. Consider your children and their children. What
kind of world are we leaving them?
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