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March 30, 2000


Multiple Postings


- http://www.agbioworld.org, http://agbioview.listbot.com

Dear Friends: As I have received many postings to Agbioview, I have
combined a few of them below and in the next few postings.
- Prakash
From: Casey Subject: RE: Organic Farming
and toxins....

>There is also another, more recent interview with Bruce Ames >to be
found at: > >http://reason.com/amesint.html

Many thanks for the web reference to Ames' recent interview. I have
long used Bruce Ames' data to bring sanity to discussions of the
attributes of 'natural' and 'organic' produce. Unfortunately, the EPA
& NGO firestorm that followed his 1990 publications seemed to scare
off further research, including his own, so I have been unable to
access rational data beyond then. (The politics of science mandate
that some questions simply cannot be asked.) A couple more Ames' refs
from that era:

Ames, BN, Profet, M and Gold, LS (1990) Dietary pesticides (99.99% all
natural). Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 87:7777-7781. Ames, BN and Gold,
LS (1991) Natural plant pesticides pose greater risks than synthetic
ones. Chemical Engineering News 69:48-49.

In similar vein but on a different topic...

The bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis is the only approved organic
pesticide, yet it is the same SPECIES as anthrax (B. anthracis) and
the common food poisoning bacterium, Bacillus cereus (the food
poisoning toxin is chromosomally encoded; the genus-specific toxins of
B. anthracis and B. thuringiensis are plasmid-encoded). Epidemics of
food poisoning and at least one death have been attributed to spraying
of B. thuringiensis. The broader concern is that, with 500 tons of the
live bacterium sprayed each year in the USA, it is now coming into
regular contact with B. anthracis and B. cereus, inevitably leading to
transfer of the minor genetic material (plasmid) that until now has
differentiated their separate pathogenicities

Why is it deemed acceptable (desirable even, by the organics industry)
to spray this intact, living pathogenic bacterium on our fresh food
crops for pest control, yet unacceptable to use a single, defined,
well-characterised product from the organism?

Dr Ken C Reed

Tom.Schuler@aventis.com RE: Fallacy of Superweeds

It would be nice to have a few population geneticists and evolutionary
biologists step in on to this one.

As as addition to the thoughts presented below, it is important to
recognize that for the last couple of hundred of years that we have
been "enhancing" (plant breeding) our various field crops around the
globe, what we have really be doing is INCREASING their "fitness" for
human culitivation, while concomittantly REDUCING their reproductive
fitness from an evolutionary perspective.

ie, we want to harvest the seeds ourselves, so we have bred out the
natural seed dispersal mechanisms inherent in most wild plants. We
want to harvest once a year, so we breed out the indeterminate growth
charactersitics and select for plant types which produce seeds and/or
fruit uniformly and simultaneously. We breed out seed dormancy to make
annual production more efficient, etc.

What we have effectively done, is create create such "environmental
cripples" that no amount of genetic engineering could possible
overcome the fitness reductions we have imposed as minimum
requirements for human cultivation.

I maintain, that were you to plant all of North America as per normal
on a given year, and then leave, and not disturb the land any further
for ten years, when you returned you would not find a single,
cultivated crop plant anywhere, and that they would all have been
completely supplanted by wild, weedy species.

The targetted achievements of a few plant breeders and molecular
biologists will never be able to compete with the organisms that
Mother Nature has created over the millennia (on her turf!!)

From: SKHARLAND@aol.com
Subject: Re: negative labelling

Consumer research tells us that consumers prefer the phrase "food
biotechnology." Genetic anything causes concern. SKH
From: "Antonio Cordeiro"
Dear all I have been reading so much so good about the impact of the
modern Molecular Genetics that I decided to forward some excerpts from
the best of this discussion between the scientists and the laymen
organizations. It is very ease to Greenpeace, and other NGOs, to
raise public against modern methods of genetic improvement. For us is
very difficult to teach the laymen enough Molecular Genetics and
Biotechnology for them to make a rational choice. In this situation
the proposed Food Labeling by Dra. Zancan in name of the SBPC is not
fair. A simple "Food Safety Stamp" on all types of food would be more
Cordially, Antonio