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June 12, 2000




Subj: Biotech Revolution


DATELINE AMSTERDAM JUNE 12, 2000 (Agence Deutsche Presse)

Scientists in the Amsterdam-based Biotech Zentrum, aided by

previous advances in plant and medical biotechnology, have

succeeded in producing marijuana (Cannabis sativa) plants

which produce 100 times as much THC.

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the active ingredient in

marijuana, and it has been used by native cultures around

the world for thousands of years for medicinal, religious

and recreational purposes. The substance has lately been the

subject of numerous experiments at medical hospitals, as it

has been shown in clinical trials to alleviate nausea and

other adverse reactions associated with chemotherapy for


Using site-directed mutagenesis, also known as

"chimeraplasty," Dr. Wim van Halder and colleagues at the

Biotech Zentrum used research from the US-based Nokomis

Biochemistry Project to target a genetic promoter in the

marijuana plant which leaves the THC-producing gene

permanently in the "on" position, vastly increasing the

drug-like powers of the plant.

At the Amsterdam headquarters of Greenpeace, a $120-million

multinational activist group located immediately across the

street from Biotech Zentrum, opinions were mixed about the

development. "This superweed is wicked," said Chuck

Margelues, Greenpeace's specialist on genetic engineering.

"Anything this like totally bad could give me totally

unknown consequences," he added.

"In accordance with the precautionary principle," said

Margelues, "It is imperative that we have properly conducted

trials of this superweed, carefully restricted to Amsterdam

Greenpeace staff under controlled conditions where we can

monitor its impact on their intake on snack foods. We

already have a large control group of human volunteers on

site who are ready to compare their long-term intake of THC

with the stupendous impact of this totally bad weed."

Vandana Shiva, during a luncheon in New Delhi, said about

the development: "It is about time that the native wisdom of

religions and so on have finally been acknowledged by male

rapist scientists and people like that. We must make this

technology available to the developing nations. Surely, all

women with a knowledge of herbs understand this will give

starving millions the munchies, and they won't be so

appallingly skinny any more. Every mother knows a proper

appetite will fix them proper and they'd be right as rain,

they would."

Security officials preparing for riots at the US Democratic

and Republican conventions were much more skeptical. "We've

seen what these people do when they smoke [marijuana] in

Seattle, Boston, Washington, London, Genoa, Berlin, Windsor

and Detroit," said one police official, who asked not to be

identified. "Even without this superweed, they are breaking

into McDonalds' restaurants. What will they do if they get

this stuff?"

Bob Smarms, of the London branch of Friends of the Earth,

said the group had a secret source of the genetically

engineered (GE) marijuana which they could not reveal.

"Man," he said, "If pollen from this stuff like got around

and escaped with its genes and stuff, you know, got on

vegetables or even on cows and things, we could mellow out

on this bio-DNA contro-debate."


To: Francis Wevers <
Re: Biotech in New Zealand

Dear Dr. Wevers:

I have followed the biotech "debate" in New Zealand with much interest.
I hope

that your Royal Commission meets with success. The eco-reactionaries

already for a month and a half demanded that the Commission impose a

on biotech, while 113 biotech experiments in NZ have been declared

and many scientists are considering fleeing the country because
regulatory burdens

eat up more than half of their research budgets.

I would point out that in the US, the National Academies of Science
dabbled in

an experiment similar to that which the Royal Commission is about to

The US experiment included both scientists and activists, and generated
a report

which delivered what activists have been demanding for years. To the
surprise of

the National Academies, the report was criticized by activists as not
going far

enough, and used as a basis for a lawsuit against the US Department of

sponsored by the Amsterdam-based multinational activist group

I wish you well, sir, it is a noble undertaking; but the activists do
not wantpeace,

they want the continuation of a controversy which swells their coffers

and expands their political influence. I would gladly offer you hope in

this effort if I credibly could do so. I cannot.

Kindest regards,

Andrew Apel, editor

AgBiotech Reporter


Francis Wevers wrote:

> I have read with interest comments from subscribers about the

> outcome to the global debate about GE.