Today in AgBioView from www.agbioworld.org : November 2, 2005
* Sowing Fear
* 'San Luis Obispo GE-Free' Doesn't Use Science
* California Fruits and Nuts Against Agriculture * Designer Genes
* Responding to Julie Newman's Response
* Chapela Debunked Finally?
* Indian Cotton Coming on Strong
* India: Greenpeace Files Complaint Against Monsanto's Ad
* Bt-Cotton: Protein Expression in Leaves is Most Critical
* On Technology's Frontier, Life Gets Better and Longer
* Transgenic Tombstone - Intertwining Your DNA with a Tree!
* Animal Rights Leader Dr. Jerry Vlasak Endorses Murder of Scientists
p.s. Yesterday, a few of you received multiple copies of this newsletter due to a server malfuction. I am sorry about it. - VSP
- Editorial, The San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 2, 2005
It's Regrettable that both sides of the campaign on Measure M, which would slap a 10-year moratorium on the cultivation of genetically engineered crops in Sonoma County, are trying to scare voters in their campaign literature.
The fact is, the advocates on both sides know their science and can make reasoned, compelling arguments for and against what would become the fourth county measure in the state to outlaw the use of genetically modified seeds and other organisms.
After hearing the arguments of the two sides in a recent hour-long debate at The Chronicle -- and reviewing the supporting literature each provided -- we recommend the rejection of Measure M on Nov. 8.
Among the arguments for Measure M is that the federal government has not done sufficient studies on the health and environmental implications of genetically engineered crops and foods. One of the proponents' concerns is that a significant expansion of genetically modified crops in the county -- now limited to a few hundred acres of corn -- could hurt the nearby organic farms. Dave Henson, one of the measure's authors, warned that "contamination is inevitable" from the migration of pollen and seeds from field to field.
However, opponents of Measure M -- who include a significant bloc of farmers and ranchers -- assuage such fears by pointing out that modern agriculture employs an array of techniques to protect the purity and integrity of crops. Some large operations have fields of organic, genetically modified and conventional crops on the very same farm.
While we share the proponents' desire for further studies, there is nothing inherently frightening about genetically modified crops. They open the possibilities for feeding more people on less land -- including areas that would otherwise be unproductive -- with less water, fewer pesticides and herbicides, less fertilizer and less fuel and pollution.
There are about a billion acres of fields with genetically engineered crops in the world, and many of those products now end up in Sonoma County grocery stores and restaurants -- and will continue to do so even if Measure M passes. This technology is not going away, no matter what happens on Nov. 8.
Further research -- yes; Moratorium -- no. Sonoma County voters should defeat Measure M.
SLO GE Free Doesn't Use Science
- The San Luis Obispo Tribune, November 2, 2005
I strongly agree with The Tribune's Oct. 28 editorial regarding the GE Task Force of the Health Commission. The action of SLO GE Free comes as no surprise, as its concern over biotech food/crops has never been based in science.
SLO GE Free is a small group of nonagricultural, nonmedical individuals who have been duped by a group of lawyers in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., into spreading fear and concern over an issue members know almost nothing about in order to raise money to support the out-of-town lawyers.
I challenge anybody anywhere to show just one "documented" case of an adverse human health effect caused by biotech food, even though everyone in the United States and much of the rest of the world has consumed biotech food on a daily basis for the last 10 years.
- Lowell Zelinski, Templeton
Measure M: California Fruits and Nuts Against Agriculture
- Henry Miller, MD; AgBioView, Nov. 2, 2005. www.agbioworld.org
California's liberal referendum process leads to incredibly dumb issues appearing on the ballot - and to some preposterous outcomes. Among the most egregious examples this year is Measure M, a Sonoma County anti-biotechnology proposal that would prohibit the cultivation of plants or seeds improved with state-of-the-art techniques. Its approval would be direct participatory democracy at its absolute worst, damaging the interests of all consumers, and of farmers in particular.
To begin with, the proposal is unscientific and logically inconsistent, in that its restrictions are inversely related to risk - in other words, they permit the use of microorganisms and plants that are crafted with less precise and predictable techniques, but ban those made with more precise and predictable ones. They turn science-based regulation on its head - which alone should be reason enough to defeat the poorly-worded and confusing measure.
California boasts a strong environmental movement, but by outlawing the cultivation of insect-resistant crops developed with the assistance of biotechnology, voters would ensure the increased use of chemical pesticides and persistence of these chemicals in the area’s ground and surface water. (It would also result in increased occupational exposures: Let’s not forget that homo sapiens are part of the environment.)
Most important of all, the county prohibitions would block sophisticated genetic approaches to the eradication of blights such as sudden oak death, phyloxera, powdery mildew and Pierce’s Disease, a bacterial infestation carried by a leaf-hopping insect, the glassy-winged sharpshooter.
Pierce’s Disease, which threatens California’s multi-billion dollar wine and table grape industries, is of special concern to Sonoma County, which produces some of the world’s best wines. Genetic improvement of grapevines may well prove to be the definitive solution -- one that should not be denied to California farmers merely because of the willful ignorance of the voters.
Biotechnology’s potential is not just theoretical. By inserting a single gene into squash, sweet potatoes and other crops, scientists have made them virus-resistant. Gene-spliced papaya varieties have resurrected Hawaii's $64 million-a-year industry, which was moribund a decade ago because of the predations of papaya ringspot virus. In addition, because of the way that gene-splicing enhances the resistance of plants to pests and disease, the natural environment already has been spared the use of scores of millions of pounds of chemical pesticides.
The future holds out even greater hope. The technology makes it possible to remove dangerous allergens from wheat, peanuts, milk and other commonly allergenic foods. Gene-splicing will allow crop varieties to thrive in conditions of drought or near-drought. Imagine the boon to water-distressed countries - and to California during its next drought: Irrigation for agriculture accounts for roughly 70% of the world's fresh-water consumption (and is even higher in agriculture-intensive regions).
Moreover, gene-splicing techniques increasingly are being used to program common crop plants such as rice, barley, corn and tobacco to synthesize high-value-added pharmaceuticals. The plants are harvested and the drug is then extracted and purified. Future research may well lead to important products, or even life-saving cures, but agbiotech now is completely off-limits in three California counties that have adopted bans. Local ordinances could have a "chilling effect" on the state’s agricultural research, according to David C. Nunenkamp, deputy secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
Activists are relentless in promoting The Big Lie about gene-splicing - namely, that it is unproven, untested and unregulated. After more than 20 years, none of the hypothetical concerns about safety has been substantiated. For more than a decade farmers have cultivated gene-spliced plants on more than 100 million acres annually (currently in at least 18 countries) -- and not a single ecosystem has been disrupted, or person injured, by any gene-spliced product. (California farmers currently plant more than 600,000 acres of gene-spliced crops annually, primarily corn and cotton.)
Arbitrary and illogical ordinances raise other issues. All citizens should be concerned about the implications of subjecting safe, legitimate commercial products - in this case, plants crafted with a proven, superior technology -- to surveillance, confiscation and destruction by local officials. This is the tyranny of the majority over the rights of minorities.
Flawed regulation -- especially when it is as nonsensical and counter-productive as Sonoma’s Measure M -- makes a mockery of government and diminishes us all. Letting ideology and misguided activism trample science and common sense is not the route to sound public policy. ----
Henry I. Miller is a fellow at the Hoover Institution. Barron’s selected his latest book, "The Frankenfood Myth: How Protest and Politics Threaten the Biotech Revolution,” as one of the 25 Best Books of 2004. He headed the FDA’s Office of Biotechnology from 1989-1993.
- Jarrad Pilkington, The Advertiser (Australia), Nov. 1, 2005
'Is genetic modification science gone mad or the key to a treasure chest of miracles?'
One day soon, a blue rose may well bloom. And scientists, horticulturists and gardeners around the world will applaud the powers of genetic modification that made it possible. They will see it as an example of man's ability to improve upon nature. The same techniques, GM supporters say, could help rid the world of hunger, exterminate pests and generally create higher-quality, healthier food.
Meanwhile, opponents of this most controversial of sciences continue to label it "playing God". They are suspicious of the long-term results of GM technology, saying GM food may be dangerous to our health. These arguments have raged ever since scientists started altering the genetic makeup of plants and animals - manipulating the building blocks of life.
The quest for a blue rose offers a glimpse of how it all works, as CSIRO biotechnology co-ordinator Dr Mikael Hirsch, a strong supporter of GM technology, explains. "Breeders have been trying to create a blue rose for a long long time and can't do it because within the rose genes there is nothing that can make them blue or black," Dr Hirsch says. "But other plants can do it, so geneticists can take the genes that cause a certain plant to have a blue flower and put that into the rose - there is now a blue rose under development."
This same technology has been used on cotton to cut the use of pesticides. The gene in pesticide which affects insects or bacteria is placed into the cotton plant's genetic structure, so the plant creates its own immunities to the pests. "Doing that has reduced pesticide spraying by 90 per cent and in turn fixed all the other problems associated with it such as spray drift, allergies and other animals becoming affected," Dr Kirsch says.
Manager of public awareness for federal government agency Biotechnology Australia, Craig Cormick, says there are about 80-85 million hectares of GM crops being grown worldwide. Genetic modification also is used to produce medicines such as insulin, a life-saver for diabetics. Insulin, like many other enzymes and chemicals, is produced by genetically modified bacteria. This is an alternative to using animals to produce the drug.
Mr Cormick says most people don't have problems accepting the GM component of products other than food. For instance, because medicines are seen to be helping people, they are accepted. "But GM food is down the other end. People can't see the benefit and, to be honest, the GM foods available at the moment don't really have an extra benefit," he says. "They also see many products as being produced by multinational companies - and many people don't like that. But if GM foods had health benefits - things like foods that have extra omega 3 oils or tomatoes that could reduce some types of cancer - we might expect to see some attitude changes. Public support would be higher for foods with some of the benefits of GM medicines."
As it is, GM opponents are nervous about the long-term effects of the process. GeneEthics Network executive director Bob Phelps says there are too many concerns for the production of GM foods and crops to continue. Australia has four main commercialised GM crops: soy, corn, canola and cotton.
"The main intrusions into the Australian food supply come from cotton seed products, cotton seed oil and cotton seed linters (cellulose gums used as emulsifiers, stabilisers and thickeners in many food products)," Mr Phelps says.
He says many GM foods find their way indirectly on to our plates - they are fed to animals. He scoffs at claims GM foods can end hunger. "The world actually has around one and a half times enough food to feed everybody. However, because of the geopolitics of the trade in food, poor people and countries can't afford it," Mr Phelps says. And the dangers of GM food have not been explored enough anyway, he says. "The British Medical Association has expressed concern, the Canadian Academy of Science, the Australian Medical Association here and people are very concerned about what they put in their mouths, so there are many uncertainties," he says.
Dr Hirsch rejects the notion we have not been cautious enough in introducing GM foods. "Everything put into the human mouth is regulated and Australia has strong regulations both in terms of what is allowed to be bought into the country and what is allowed into the human food chain," he says.
He counters claims genetic modification is unnatural, saying humans have been changing crops for hundreds of years. For instance, the peacherine is a natural cross-pollination between nectarines and peaches. "That is what this GM technology is, an extension of those things to make better crops - we can short-circuit the breeding program and the trial-and-errors by taking the genes and developing them to optimise our development of crops," Dr Hirsch says. "It doesn't mean if you take a gene and put it into a weed, the weed becomes a strawberry. There are a lot of benefits, but it is mostly in the research stages and not on the supermarket shelves."
Dr Hirsch says scientists are trying to improve certain foods by enriching them with vital nutrients. "We are starting to improve the nutritional value of food using GM," Dr Hirsch says. "For instance, we need more fish oils in our food, but the oil comes from the fish and we already have enough problems getting enough fish on our plates. But the oil actually comes from the algae the fish are eating, so we can take those genes and place them into plants which can produce the oil."
Response to Julie Newman's Response
- Christopher Preston, Australia
Re Julie Newman's response. I would like to respond with an assertion that the quotation I attributed to Julie Newman was correctly quoted. In addition, I would like to provide documentary evidence for my case.
My first exhibit is a Press Release from the Network of Concerned Farmers from 18th September 2005 (available from: http://www.non-gm-farmers.com/news_details.asp?ID=2434 ). I quote: "…This is simply not true. GM gives lower yields, higher costs and market risk to a range of commodities and in no way represents a benefit to Australian farmers," said Julie Newman, National Spokesperson for the Network of Concerned Farmers. Mrs Newman explained that the GM debate was centred around GM canola with two different traits. Bayer Cropscience is offering a hybrid canola variety resistant to the chemical glufosinate ammonium and Monsanto is offering a variety that is resistant to glyphosate. "Even Bayer admits their variety yields 20% less than non-GM hybrids….”
Second exhibit, an ABC News report from Mount Gambier 20th September 2005 (available from: http://www.abc.net.au/news/australia/sa/gambier/200509/s1464042.htm). I quote: “…Julie Newman from the Network of Concerned Farmers says ABARE's claim that Australia's failure to adopt GM technology could cost $3 billion is misleading.
Ms Newman says the modelling is based on the assumption that GM crops will yield 10 per cent more, but actual trials of GM canola have produced yields of up to 20 per cent less than non-GM varieties.”
Third exhibit, identical news reports from ABC in Renmark, Alice Springs, Longreach, Bunbury, Bundaberg, Broken Hill, Sunshine Coast, Coffs Harbour, Launceston, Albury/Wadonga, Kimberly, Geralton, Newcastle, Townsville, Lismore and Central Queensland.
I could go on, but I think there is ample evidence that Julie Newman made the quotation I ascribed to her and it is even in her own press release!
As to the NCF wanting trials, I think Julie Newman is being a little disingenuous. A quick look through the Network of Concerned Farmers website, which Julie manages, indicates an organisation totally opposed to GM crops. They even have attacks on Bt cotton on their website, which we know uses less pesticides to grow than conventional cotton. If InVigor canola were to be shown in trials to outyield conventional hybrids as it has in Canada, would the Network of Concerned Farmers stop their opposition? I doubt it.
Chapela Debunked Finally?
- Alex Avery, Center for Global Food Issues, Hudson Institute
Roger Morton asks an incredibly important question about a totally overlooked (by all of us!) assumption: that transgenes were growing widely in Mexico. Everyone has basically ASSUMED that Chapela's iPCR and CONABIO's preliminary PCR search for 35S promoter and T-NOS sequence were reliable. These assumptions were then repeated by others, who were incorrectly cited as corroborating the findings when in reality they only parroted other's assumptions based on preliminary, false positive-prone analysis.
Given the 2003-4 results of a total lack of ANY positive findings and the lack of any corroborating evidence for the preliminary/false-positive-prone iPCR/PCR analysis, can we not finally say that Chapela's work has been debunked?
If so, I would like this fully characterized so we can finally say Chapela was wrong and did sloppy work (as he was told by the Swiss iPCR expert he consulted). Let's bury this rotten horse once and for all.
Indian Cotton Coming on Strong
- Elton Robinson, Delta Farm Press, Oct 31, 2005 http://deltafarmpress.com
Cotton producers in India have made huge strides forward in cotton production, increasing their average yields from 294 pounds per acre nationally to 391 pounds per acre over the last three seasons, a 33 percent increase. As a result, Indian cotton production rose from 10.6 million bales in 2002-03 to 19 million bales in 2004-05. The huge 2004 crop produced 4 million bales of excess supply.
This upsurge in production was due to a combination of great weather and of Bt technology's ability to reduce risks and costs and save Indian cotton producers from the worm invasions that used to frequently destroy their crops.
The great weather was shared across almost the entire planet in 2004 and the yields produced will likely go down in history as a once in a lifetime happening.
Technology's impact on cotton production in India and around the world is still evolving. The International Cotton Advisory Committee estimates that 27 percent of world cotton area was or will be planted to officially approved biotech varieties in 2005-06, up from 2 percent in 1996-97. That 27 percent contributes to 36 percent of world production and exports.
Meanwhile, world average yield has climbed from 534 pounds per acre in the 1990s 'before Bt technology' to a surprising 652 pounds per acre in 2004-05. For individual growers, higher yields can have the effect of lowering break-even costs, which makes these farmers competitive at lower prices.
It's sort of a double-edge sword. According to the ICAC, the world's most efficient cotton producers are producing cotton at below 55 cents per pound in several countries.
The consequence of increasing efficiency in world production could be a run of lower prices over the next decade compared with the 70-cent average of the last 30 years, according to Gerald Estur, ICAC statistician, speaking at the ICAC's 64th Plenary meeting in Liverpool, Sept. 27.
India is a country to keep an eye on, as it could start to export more cotton as their yields increase. In 2002, India's Genetic Engineering Approval Committee approved the commercial release of three hybrid Bt cottons. Indian farmers took to the new technology quickly because of increased financial returns. According to a report from the ICAC, the illegal use of Bt cotton seed is decreasing, and the percentage of Bt cotton acres is rising.
Indian farmers have found that Bt cotton has provided consistent yield and fiber quality. While Bt cotton is only produced in hybrid varieties in India, there is a movement to place the technology in conventional varieties. Meanwhile India's imports of raw cotton have decreased from 1.95 million bales in 2001-02, to around 800,000 bales in 2004-05.
Currently, India is responsible for roughly one-fourth of the planted cotton area in the world with about 22 million acres planted to cotton. If its yields keep moving toward the world average, the country could become a big player in world trade very quickly.
India: Greenpeace Files Complaint Against Mahyco Monsanto's Misleading Ad
- AGENCY FAQS, Nov. 2, 2005 http://www.agencyfaqs.com/
New Delhi - NGO Greenpeace and its local partner, Pasumai Thaayagam (Green Motherland), have filed a complaint with the ASCI (Advertising Standards Council of India) against a print campaign by seeds company Mahyco Monsanto Biotech, alleging it to be misleading.
BT cotton seed-manufacturer Bollgard had published an ad titled, 'True Stories of Farmers who have Grown Bt Cotton', in the monthly Tamil magazine, 'Indraya Velaanmai'. The ad showed a farmer standing in front of a tractor. The message conveyed to other farmers was that if a farmer sows Bt cotton, he will be able to afford assets such as a tractor, lorry, etc. According to the NGOs, this is far from the reality. The NGOs claim to have interviewed the farmer and learnt that he was approached by a company re.presentative and told that if he registered for a contest, he might win a ticket to Mumbai. He was asked to pose for a photograph in front of a tractor, which he had purchased on a loan, and was not informed what his photograph would be used for.
Greenpeace feels that there is a plethora of advertisements by seed corporations that misrepresent farmers. Such advertisements take advantage of the farmers' vulnerability and lure them buy Bt cotton when there has been consistent failure of the crop. The result is that the gullible farmers incur tremendous economic losses.
Divya Raghunandan, campaigner, Greenpeace, says, "It is unethical for any company to take the route of misleading advertising to reach its target customers. The impact magnifies when the difference is between a lifestyle product and a product that is the base of a livelihood. In the case of Bt Cotton, misleading advertising can lead a farmer to the brink of poverty and, sometimes, drive him to commit suicide. In such cases, ethics in advertising becomes of grave concern."
After the complaint was filed with the ASCI, Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) Ltd clarified its stand through a press statement. The statement asserts that the 2004 IMRB survey reconfirms the benefits of Bollgard cotton to Indian farmers and establishes that both large and small farmers working in diverse agronomic conditions have benefited from this technology. The survey estimates that there has been approximately 58 per cent or 2.95 quintals per acre increase in Bollgard yields, when compared with conven.tional cotton. The net profit increase for Bollgard farmers is Rs 5,950 per acre or over 60 per cent. "In creating our advertisements and promotional campaigns, we abide by a strict code of ethics and the farmers that share their experience in advertisements do so willingly," stresses the statement.
When contacted, the Secretariat of the ASCI in Mumbai declined to comment as the matter is sub judice. However, spokespersons clarified that once a complaint was filed, it usually takes 6-8 weeks to come out with a verdict.
Bt-Cotton: Protein Expression in Leaves is Most Critical
- T. M. Manjunath, AgBioView, Nov. 2, 2005; www.agbioworld.org (Consultant in AgriBiotech, India; tmmanjunath1939-at-yahoo.com)
The paper entitled "Temporal and intra-plant variability of Cry 1Ac expression in Bt-cotton and its influence on the survival of the cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera (Hubner) (Noctuidae: Lepidoptera" published by Kranthi et al. in Current Science, 89 (2):291-298, 2005 (July 25, 2005) continues to be debated in the context of the usefulness or otherwise of Bt-cotton. The negative title and conclusions "Cry 1Ac expression levels were the lowest in the ovary of flowers and boll rind of green bolls, which constitute the most favoured sites of bollworm attack".The toxin expression was clearly inadequate to confer full protection to the fruiting parts" have been widely quoted in the Indian media and selectively exploited by certain NGOs to condemn this technology as unfit for bollworm control (1).
No doubt, the fruiting parts, especially squares and bolls, are the most preferred parts for feeding by H. armigera, causing direct damage and heavy yield losses. However, what appears to have been less realized is a significant fact that larvae move to these parts after completing their initial feeding on leaves.
H. armigera starts its activity when the crop is very young and still in its vegetative phase. Its most preferred site for oviposition is leaves, especially the upper canopy (2). It builds up its initial population by feeding on the tender leaves and terminal buds and completes one or two generations if not controlled. Its feeding and reproductive activities intensify as the crop enters the reproductive phase and plenty of squares and green bolls, the most cherished food, become available. Nevertheless, leaves continue to be its favoured site for egg-laying although a small number is laid on other parts as well. A great majority of the newly hatched larvae initially feed by scrapting the chlorophyll in the tender leaves and, as they grow, move over to the squares and bolls for further feeding and development (3).
The neonates that directly feed on squares and bolls are relatively very few. Furthermore, Bt protein is most effective only against the early instar larvae while the grown up larvae (3rd instar and beyond), even if they feed on Bt-plants, no matter whether it is flowers, squares or bolls, do not die although they suffer a set back in their overall health. Therefore, it is critical that in a Bt-cotton plant, the expression of Bt protein should be adequate in the leaves and sustained throughout or for most part of the plant life. As a result, a large number of larvae that feed on such leaves, where the protein expression is highest, perish with very little chance for them to advance to the next instar. Of course, if the protein expression is adequate in the fruiting parts also, it will add to further mortality of the larvae hatching on them however small their population may be.
The studies carried out to date (4), including the recent one by by Kranthi et al., have revealed that the Bt protein expression is highest in leaves. This matters the most. Hence Bt cotton is able to provide satisfactory control of H. armigera in India as in China,
Australia and other old world countries where the same species occurs; similar results were obtained with related species in the USA and other countries (5). It is important to realize that Bt technology enables controlling the pest in its very early larval stage (i.e. as soon as they are born) and also right from the early stage of the crop thereby preventing any potential serious crop damage. Bt-cotton was never claimed as a silver bullet for bollworm control, but it certainly offers a great degree of protection against these notorious pests and helps reduce chemical sprays significantly. It can serve as one of the major components of integrated pest management.
Research is a dynamic area and there is always scope for developing new technologies or refining the existing ones. In fact, Monsanto's Bollgard II®, stacked with two Bt genes, cry 1Ac and cry 2Ab2, which has been recently commercialized in the USA and Australia, is an improvement over their first version of Bt-cotton (Bollgard®). The paper by Kranthi et al. has brought out certain interesting issues like the importance of parental background for improving the performance of Bt-cotton which should be considered wherever possible.I believe this was their intention. If the authors had used neonates instead of the one-day-old larvae for bioassays, as other scientists did (4,6,7), it would have been closer to reality and they would have recorded higher percentage mortality in the tissues of all parts. Although the authors have mentioned that,"despite the variability in toxin expression, the pest control properties are unlikely to be affected significantly at least until the crop becomes 100-115 days old," it has been ignored by the critics who continue to oppose this technology. Let it be realized that Bt-cotton has entered into its 10th year of commercialization and is presently cultivated on about 9.0 million hectares in 8 countries, including India, with proven safety and significant benefits to farmers (5).
1. Suman Sahai, 2005. The Science of Bt Cotton Failure in India. The Hindu (India), August 29, 2005. (www.genecampaign.org - July 29, 2005). 2. Patel, R.C., Patel, R.M., Madhukar, B.V. and Patel, R.B. 1974. Oviposition behaviour of Heliothis armigera (Hub.) in Cotton, Hybrid 4. Curr. Sci. 18: 588-589. 3. Gore J, Leonard B.R, Church, C.E, Cook, D.R. 2002. Behavior of bollworm
(Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) larvae on genetically engineered cotton. J. Econ. Entomol. 95: 763-769. 4. Greenplate, J.T. 1999. Quantification of Bacillus thuringiensis insect control protein (Cry 1Ac) over time in Bollgard® cotton fruit and terminals. J. Econ. Entomol., 92: 1377-1383. Briefs No. 32, ISAAA, Ithaca, Ny 6. Farah Deeba, Nandi, J.N., Anuradha, K., Ravi, K.C., Mohan, K.S. and Manjunath, T. M. 2003. An insect based assay to quatify the Bacillus thuringiensis insecticidal protein Cry 1Ac expressed in planta. Entomon, 28 (1): 27-31. 7. Jalali, S.K., Mohan, K.S., Singh, S.P., Manjunath, T.M. and Lalitha, Y. 2004. Baseline-susceptibility of the old-world bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera (Hubner) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) populations from India to Bacillus thuringiensis Cry 1Ac insecticidal protein. Crop Protection, 23: 53-59.
On Technology's Frontier, Life Gets Better and Longer
- Book Review: Danny Lee, The Indianapolis Star, October 22, 2005 http://www.indystar.com (Forwarded by Andrew Apel,)
If you want to live a long life, you're in luck. Advances in medicine, gene therapy, agriculture and even nutrition have experts wondering if a boom in human life expectancy is right around the corner. It seems like a no-brainer. Who would argue for shorter life spans except the pathologically pessimistic and those ensnared in unwise record club deals?
But opponents there are, it turns out, and author Ronald Bailey takes them on in "Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution." His book is not an even-handed examination of the contentious frontier between those, like him, who believe in using nearly any tool -- genetic enhancement of crops and people, cloning, stem cell research, psychopharmacology -- to lengthen and improve human life, and those who do not.
But from a writer for National Review and Forbes magazines, with a previous book titled "Global Warming and Other Eco-Myths," this pro-biotech spin shouldn't come as a surprise; you'd expect it to fit neatly into the politically conservative, quit-fussing-and-get-on-with-it camp. Which it does, for the most part.
Bailey says that the interesting thing about the biotech revolution is that the sides have gotten scrambled. For example, lined up together against cloning are longtime left-wing icon Jeremy Rifkin, who protested the Vietnam War, pushed a revisionist version of the U.S. bicentennial and blames hurricanes Katrina and Rita on global warming, and William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, a conservative political journal.
In hammering out the differences between the pro- and anti-biotechnology forces, Bailey provides a wide-ranging, detailed update on the field. Chapters deal extensively with topics such as stem cell research, extension of life expectancy, new approaches to fighting cancer and other diseases, genetic enhancement of crops and babies, and psychiatric medicines, all of which he insists promise to make life longer and better.
Opponents, he feels, are alarmist or, in the case of genetic crop enhancement, beholden to a strong anti-corporation movement that has more to do with political ideology than science. The stakes are huge, he says, including, if the naysayers have their way, "prolonged misery for tens of millions of real, living people." Bailey says that cloning in particular should never have sparked the debate that it has. "Which ethical principle does cloning violate? Stealing? Lying? Coveting? Murdering?" he asks. "What would a clone be? He or she would simply be a complete human being who happens to share the same genes as another person. Today, we call such people identical twins. To my knowledge, no one has ever argued that twins are immoral."
The one problem with the book, aside from whether you agree or disagree with him, is that Bailey's thorough research already is a bit outdated. The field is simply moving too fast to keep up with in print. This is especially true of gene research since the completion in 2003 of the Human Genome Project, the cataloguing of the complete human DNA structure. Not surprisingly, this is an area in which the fires of controversy burn hottest.
Bailey says tracking the genetic roots of disease will lead to prevention of familial disorders like cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease and muscular dystrophy. Note that the term is "prevention," not cure. It is a distinction some find worrisome. He cites the case of a woman facing early-onset Alzheimer's disease who "chose to test her embryos in vitro for the gene that causes the ailment. She then implanted into her womb only embryos without that disease gene. The result was the birth of a healthy baby girl -- one who will not face Alzheimer's in her forties."
Another result presumably was the destruction of less genetically fortunate embryos, which might have been saved from Alzheimer's by the same kind of medical advances that Bailey premises his book upon. You may find yourself agreeing with Bailey on one page, slamming your fist down in protest on the next, but you won't be bored. And if he's right, you may be alive for quite some time.
Transgenic Tombstone - Intertwining Your DNA with a Tree!
Animal Rights Leader Dr. Jerry Vlasak Endorses Murder of Scientists In U.S. Senate Testimony
Vlasak First Made Comments While A Spokesman For The Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine
Washington, DC – During yesterday’s hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public works, long-time former Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine spokes-doctor Jerry Vlasak reiterated his support of murder and other violence against medical researchers whose lifesaving work requires the use of animals.
Speaking of scientists who use lab rats in their search for cancer and AIDS cures, Vlasak insisted that if they "won’t stop when told to stop, one option would be to stop them using any means necessary.” Asked by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) if he endorsed the use of deadly force, Vlasak insisted that murder “would be a morally justifiable solution." "somebody that you don’t know, somebody’s kid, somebody’s parent, somebody’s brother, somebody’s sister" whose family members might be involved in medical research using animal models. Vlasak replied: "These are not innocent lives."
Jerry Vlasak was defending his 2003 statement (made as a Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine spokesperson) that political assassination against doctors and other laboratory researchers "could be used quite effectively from a pragmatic standpoint … for 5 lives, 10 lives, 15 human lives, we could save a million, 2 million, 10 million non-human lives." Great Britain has banned Vlasak and his wife (former child actress Pamelyn Ferdin) because of this and other threats.
More at http://www.consumerfreedom.com/pressRelease_detail.cfm/release/126