One of the most interesting points Kneen makes is if the products are
"substantially equivalent" (a term used in Canada to speed regulatory
approval) to existing varieties why should a patent be approved. Companies
should not have it both ways.
"E. Ann Clark, Associate Professor" wrote:
> Pete: you asked -
> > Does this mean we will have to start labelling Brangus cattle, Quarter
> > horses and other crossbred animals?
> > These animals have been genetically modified through selection and
> > crossbreeding to produce superior animals.
> > What about grasses and clovers that have been selected for resistance to
> > pests, drought?
> Reasonable questions. One of the issues I've been exploring lately
> is the degree to which GE is fundamentally different from plant
> breeding, and hence, engenders fundamentally different ecological and
> food safety risks. I assume the same would apply to animals.
> As I state in a recent talk in Ottawa dealing specifically with risk
> assessment, conventional breeding is just reshuffling alleles -
> literally. Conventional breeding is just natural selection with a
> human face on it. No alien genes are brought in from across species
> or closely related species barriers, and the physical placement of a
> given set of alleles on a chromosome doesn't change. what changes is
> BB vs. Bb vs. bb combinations, or variations thereof.
> Conversely, GE goes to heroic extremes to violate both species and
> chromosome integrity and introduce novel genes. The two methods
> currently used in GE to insert genes - ballistic and vectors, as
> Agrobacterium tumefaciens - are both completely random events in
> terms of a) on which chromosome, and b) where on the chromosome, the
> new gene(s) lands. The point of insertion is unpredictable and
> unrepeatable - a completely random choice.
> This is not an esoteric point. Placement is everything. The gene
> itself is arguably less important than the placement, because order
> (among and within chromosomes) influences inter-gene interactions.
> Thus, a given gene produces different gene products (both itself and
> as it influences other genes) when inserted at point X vs. point Y.
> Specifically because of these inter-gene effects, a given gene
> insertion can cause multiple traits to be expressed - not just the
> one you intend - and expression is not necessarily predictable
> particularly with the very short testing interval commonly used in
> commercial GE. Access-to-Information protocols have revealed recent
> Canadian GE crop registrations based on 1-2 years of field testing at
> a few sites. And what is authorized, interestingly enough, is not
> just a single transgenic line, but a) the mean of several lines, and
> b) anything that might be bred from the registered lines.
> As a example, inserting the gene for herbicide-resistance
> transgenically (vs. a natural mutation) changed a selfing weed
> species Arabadopsis thaliana into a 10% outcrossing species.
> Outcrossing - apart from enhancing the risk of weediness - has
> nothing to do with herbicide resistance. It is a secondary,
> unintended trait. And it was caused specifically by placement of the
> novel gene within the chromosome because a) when it happened
> naturally, outcrossing was not affected, and b) the % outcrossing
> varied among transgenic lines given the same herbicide resistant
> gene. Numerous other examples exist - this is not unique.
> So, to get to your point, the potential for unintended side effects
> causing, for example, allergenic gene products or other effects such
> as immune system dysfunction (each of these has been documented), is
> much greater in a GE product than conventional plant (or animal)
> breeding. And if you bring in G x E effects, or the interactions of
> the new genetic construct with the environment in which it is grown,
> the risk increases again.
> These are some of the reasons for separately labelling GE products as
> distinct from conventionally bred products. Others are discussed
> more fully in my talks, so I would refer you to my homepage and end
> this overlong, grazing-unrelated message. Ann
> Dr. E. Ann Clark
> Associate Professor
> Crop Science
> University of Guelph
> Guelph, ON N1G 2W1
> Phone: 519-824-4120 Ext. 2508
> FAX: 519 763-8933
-- Peter Hoven firstname.lastname@example.org (403)746-3484 Eckville, Alberta, Canada Hoven Farms sponsors two internet mailing lists. Send me an email for directions on how to connect with other organic producers.
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