I am concerned that the committee that is reviewing the health, safety, and
environmental impact of genetically engineered agricultural products is made
up primarily of scientists that derive their livelihood from genetic
work for organizations who rely on grants from bio-engineering companies, or
are official regulators of the technology (and therefore cannot easily take a
public stand against it).
It would almost appear that the role of this committee is to get an NAS
rubber-stamp to proceed, while many scientists in the US, Europe and Asia are
questioning the long-term environmental impact of this technology.
Ornithologists and entymologists are concerned about the destruction of
beneficial insects (through Bt ingestion) and mass death of birds that prey
on these (and pest) insects.
Ecologists are concerned about horizontal gene transfer to similar species
of plants (through cross-pollination), recombination of plant viruses used as
the DNA transfer mechanism, and genetic pollution of the biosphere.
Agronomists are concerned about the massive transformation of the
biodiversity of food plant species to monocultures.
Economists are concerned about the transformation of entire rural
economies from subsistence horticulture to cash commodity agriculture.
Medical doctors are concerned that the enzymes and proteins expressed by
the inserted or modified genes may have adverse health effects, such as the
increase in allergy to RRS soybeans found in Europe.
Geneticists have warned that the genetic material of the food we consume
survives our digestive process and impacts our cellular material.
Dr. Arpad Pusztai, of the Rowett Institute in the United Kingdom,
has shown in experiments that rats fed genetically modified potatoes
for 10 days presented damage to the brain, immune system,
spleen, thymus, liver and stomach lining. His work was peer-reviewed and
supported by 22 scientists.
Yet none of the many scientifically credentialed critics of agricultural
genetic engineering have been included on the committee destined to provide a
review of this technology in the name of the National Academy of Sciences.
Without such members on the committee, and an unrestricted open debate about
the full range of issues, any report that the committee prepares will, by its
very nature, be discredited before it is published.
I strongly urge you to reconsider the membership of the committee to include
serious critics of the technology, so as to make them at least 50% of the
membership of the committee.
Posted by: Steve Sprinkel ( from a recent post to BAN-GEF)
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