26 April 2000

Table of Contents

Bioengineered crops and human health
Book: Soil Microorganisms and Higher Plants
Jumping Gene "sleeping beauty" from GM Fish to People
Japan: Gov't submits bill to Diet to ban human cloning
correction on Bt
Giant GM salmon on the way
Despite Alarms GM Salmon is inevitable
Canada's GM salmon grow five times faster than normal
General references and links- Biotech & Forestry
rBGH: FDA Lies Continue
Danger: Naked DNA: Routes of human uptake
University: repositioning, competitivity, and Research(r)
Unintended gene silencing in GM crops
Brain at Risk from the Environment
New genes protect trees from insects, disease

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Date: 21 Apr 2000 04:19:45 +0100
From: Robert Mann

This author is one of the few critics of GE active from the start in the mid-1970s (as you can see by looking up the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists).

The website where he has this good little piece is mainly Val Giddings and acolytes, but also some good critics.


Bioengineered crops and human health

By Professor Sheldon Krimsky,
Department of Urban & Environmental Policy, Tufts University, Medford, MA

Europe is the epicenter of what has been described as an "all out war over the acceptance of genetically engineered foods." Controversy over health effects has centered around simple and complex models of transgenic modifications. Proponents of the simple modelsemphasize familiarity with the host plant and the well-characterization of the transgene.

Advocates of the complex models consider the genome to be more like an ecosystem than a set of Legos. They emphasize the indeterminancy and unintended outcomes of foreign geneinsertions. Evolving concepts of health that embrace health promotion and sustainable agriculture set additional standards for transgenic crops (GENFOOD). In addition, healthconsiderations are intertwined with trade and equity issues posing a challenge to transnational harmonization of regulations and the globalization of food production.

I make three points.

Thus, the health risks are embedded in other national and international concerns and may serve as a proxy for issues that are not obvious or transparent.

Robt Mann, consultant ecologist, P O Box 28878 Remuera, Auckland 1005, New Zealand (9) 524 2949

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Date: 21 Apr 2000 17:29:28 +0100
From: wytze

Highly recommended! w.

Keith Addison wrote:

Book: Soil Microorganisms and Higher Plants

FYI, Steve Solomon has just uploaded this great book to the Soil and Health Library. It's public domain, so you can download it.

Krasil'nikov, N.A. "Soil Microorganisms and Higher Plants". Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Moscow 1958. Translated in Israel by Dr. Y. Halperin.

This, the ultimate study of the microbial process in soil, is one of the most important books in the library. It has been little known since its publication. Rendering it into html took hundreds of tedious and rewarding hours. The book contains 100 photographic illustrations and heaps of tables, so downloading the chapters can be a bit time consuming. Here's my "take" on this book.

In the Soviet Union of the 30s, 40s and 50s, industrial production was scanty. Had Soviet agronomic research focused on chemicals spread voluminously, the remedies could not have been implemented. So Krasil'nikov focused on the biological process, and he found ways to improve plant growth by crop rotation and the production of special composts and microbial ferments of the sort that could be produced by the farmer in an old barrel.

All these solutions are based on a very high-level understanding of the microbial process in soil and the interactions between soil microbes with each other, of how crop species interact with each other via long-lasting soil residues (root exudates), and how plants and microbes interact with each other. Soil Microorganisms and Higher Plants is public domain material. Anyone wishing to publish the book in print on paper is invited to contact this library. They will receive all possible assistance. Apologies in advance for the many errors that must be in the html text.


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Date: 21 Apr 2000 18:35:40 +0100
From: "j.e. cummins"

Jumping Gene "sleeping beauty" from GM Fish to People

GM fish that have a jumping gene called sleeping beauty. Reconstructed it moves from fish to human. Having that fishy thing jumping into our genes would cause disease. More reasons to label! Even more reason to make genetic engineers and their masters criminally responsible for damage and injury.

Cell, Vol. 91, 501-510, November, 1997, Copyright © 1997 by Cell Press

Molecular Reconstruction of Sleeping Beauty, a Tc1-like Transposon from Fish, and Its Transposition in Human Cells

Zoltan Ivics 1, Perry B. Hackett 1, 2, Ronald H. Plasterk 3, and Zsuzsanna Izsvak 1, 4

1 Department of Genetics and Cell Biology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota 55108-1095
2 Institute of Human Genetics, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota 55108-1095
3 Division of Molecular Biology, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, 1066CX, The Netherlands
4 Institute of Biochemistry, Biological Research Center of Hungarian, Academy of Sciences, Szeged 6701, Hungary

Corresponding author: Zsuzsanna Izsvak#, 31 20 512 2089 (phone), 31 20 512 2086 (fax),

Members of the Tc1/mariner superfamily of transposons isolated from fish appear to be transpositionally inactive due to the accumulation of mutations. Molecular phylogenetic data were used to construct a synthetic transposon, Sleeping Beauty, which could be identical or equivalent to an ancient element that dispersed in fish genomes in part by horizontal transmission between species.

A consensus sequence of a transposase gene of the salmonid subfamily of elements was engineered by eliminating the inactivating mutations. Sleeping Beauty transposase binds to the inverted repeats of salmonid transposons in a substrate-specific manner, and it mediates precise cut-and-paste transposition in fish as well as in mouse and human cells. Sleeping Beauty is an active DNA-transposon system from vertebrates for genetic transformation and insertional mutagenesis.

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Date: 22 Apr 2000 15:11:31 +0100

Japan: Gov't submits bill to Diet to ban human cloning

Gov't submits bill to Diet to ban human cloning

COMTEX Newswire, 2000 Kyodo News © Established 1945 ©Copyright 2000

TOKYO, April 14 (Kyodo) – The government on Friday submitted a bill to the Diet to prohibit human cloning following the cabinet's endorsement of the measure earlier in the day, government officials said. Under the bill, those who violate the ban on research into human cloning and cloning using a combination of human and animal genes will be punished with imprisonment of up to five years or a fine of up to 5 million yen. If enacted, it will be the first law in Japan to prohibit and penalize a specific field of research.

But political sources said the bill's enactment during the current 150-day ordinary Diet session, which ends June 17, may be difficult as some parliamentarians have already expressed opposition to the measure. The New Conservative Party, one of the three coalition parties, has demanded the government revise the bill to make penalties more severe.

The 20-article bill bans the transplanting of a human somatic cell into a human egg cell from which the nucleus has been removed and the putting of the cloned embryo into the uterus of a human or an animal. It also prohibits the implantation of an embryo created by combining human and animal cells into a uterus. The legislation would penalize the violators as well as the institutions to which they belong.

It would also require researchers to obtain government approval before undertaking permissible types of cloning research. Science and Technology Agency chief Hirofumi Nakasone told a press conference Friday that he hopes for an early enactment of the bill. The legislation is important for Japan, the host of July's Group of Eight (G-8) summit in Okinawa Prefecture, for it to fulfill its commitments to the international community, said Nakasone, who concurrently serves as education minister.

The G-8, which groups Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States, agreed at its June 1997 Denver summit that each country would take measures to implement a human cloning ban, he said. In February 1997, the state-run Roslin Institute, based in Edinburgh, Scotland, announced the successful cloning of a healthy lamb, named Dolly, using genetic material taken from somatic cells in the udder of a 6-year-old ewe. It marked the first time a mammal had been successfully cloned from an adult cell.

The announcement of Dolly's birth prompted widespread concerns that cloning technology might be applied to make human clones. Britain and Germany have enacted laws to prohibit human cloning, with the British law stipulating a maximum 10-year prison sentence and the German law up to five years' imprisonment for violators.

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Date: 22 Apr 2000 17:57:08 +0100
From: Robert Mann

correction on Bt

CompostgalA has asked me to post the following para which I have edited from within her recent piece.

Neither Monsanto nor the USDA or EPA or FDA guessed that pollen from corn, genetically engineered to have a modified version of the Bt toxin in every cell, would kill Monarch butterfly caterpillars. The gene for a modified, "engineered" protein toxin is forced into the cells' DNA. This was meant to kill pests who dare eat its leaf, root, grain - or pollen.

I would only add that I strongly suspect several of those operatives actually DID guess this possibility was on, but didn't want to slow the flow of commerce to investigate such a 'minor' possibility.


Robt Mann, consultant ecologist, P O Box 28878 Remuera, Auckland 1005, New Zealand (9) 524 2949

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Date: 23 Apr 2000 10:55:48 +0100
From: wytze
From: Transgenic Fish and Marine Life

Transgenic Fish and Marine Life wrote:

The BBC's Robert Piggott reports on:"the latest revolution in GM food"

Giant GM salmon on the way

BBC News Service, Tuesday, 11 April, 2000

Genetically-modified fish
Trojan horse' fear
Scottish tests

Genetically-modified fish

Natural salmon could become a thing of the past Genetically-modified fish, which can grow up to 10 times faster than normal, could be cleared for human consumption within a year. A US firm - AF Protein - is developing the GM fish on Prince Edward Island, Canada. The fish would become the first genetically modified animal cleared for consumption, and the technology involved could cut the cost of raising salmon and trout by half.

The Massachusetts-based company has inserted two sets of fish genes into Atlantic salmon. The first set are growth hormone genes and the second, from a different fish, activate them. As a result, at the age of 18 months, the salmon are five times the size of their unmodified siblings.

Traditional fish farmers fear being undercut by GM salmon. There are also fears from environmentalists. AF Protein says it has made sure all of its experimental fish are infertile.

Trojan horse' fear

But campaigners say it is impossible to guarantee sterility and they are worried about the dangers to the wider fish community. Christopher Poupard, of the Salmon and Trout Association, said: "Salmon are unique and highly complex. They migrate thousands of miles and still manage to return to their home river. This has evolved since the last Ice Age. We are concerned that escaped genetically-modified fish might breed with wild fish and interrupt that process."

In December researchers warned that the release of just one GM fish could wipe out local populations of the species. It is the so-called "Trojan gene scenario.

Scottish tests

Tests on GM salmon were carried out in 1996 at a salmon farm on Loch Fyne, on Scotland's west coast. Last year, Scottish Secretary John Reid pointed out the experiments had been carried out under the previous Conservative government and he said all 50 fish involved had been destroyed afterwards. But many Scottish salmon producers are pressuring the government to allow GM fish to be sold. They fear being outdone by other countries, such as Norway, which could adopt the technology.

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Date: 23 Apr 2000 10:55:48 +0100
From: wytze
From: Transgenic Fish and Marine Life
From: "Dr. J. Rubin"

Despite Alarms GM Salmon is inevitable

By Annika Martin,2960,43007-101000412,

Genetically modified salmon causes an uproar in Europe. But it may be only a matter of time before you're eating it. Though environmentalists are raising loud alarms about the dangers of a genetically modified "super salmon," continued overfishing and increasing demand for cheap protein sources probably mean its advent is inevitable. An American firm is reported to have developed genetically modified (GM) salmon that grows 10 times faster than normal farm-raised varieties, according to a BBC report, a development that could cut the cost of raising salmon by more than half.

The news has caused consternation in Europe, where GM food has become a particularly hot issue, with environmentalists concerned about the modified fish's potential impact on wildlife. They say that although the experimental fish are bred to be sterile, one mistake – one fish that escapes – could ruin wild populations. The GM fish are known to have a lower egg-survival rate, weaker muscle structure and poorer swimming performance than normal salmon. But the economic arguments seem sure to outweigh the environmental ones. "After all, we've practically fished out our oceans already," says TIME science writer Frederic Golden, "and we need an alternative supply."

To counter the risks, the developers of GM fish say they will apply an electric shock to the super salmon embryos, causing infertility in adulthood, and that the fish will be raised in closed or inland tanks.

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Date: 23 Apr 2000 10:55:48 +0100
From: wytze
From: Transgenic Fish and Marine Life
From: "Howard Breen"

Canada's GM salmon grow five times faster than normal

By Tom Spears, The Ottawa Citizen, April 13, 2000

Fish farmers excited, environmentalists alarmed

A Newfoundland company will ask the federal government this spring to let it start commercial production of transgenic salmon that grow five times faster than regular Atlantic salmon. Aqua Bounty Farms has been producing the AquAdvantage salmon for 12 years.

The fish uses a genetic "promoter" from other fish – flounder or ocean pout – to make its growth hormones flow all year long instead of for only a season at a time. The result is a fish that reaches full size a year or so before its genetically unchanged cousins. It doesn't grow any larger in the long run, but could potentially save farmers money by reaching the market a year earlier.

Now, says the company, the fish is fully developed and ready to sell. But first it needs permission from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Its application is already filed in the U.S., and company spokesman Elliot Entis expects to submit formal research data in Canada "in the next couple of months."

If approved, the salmon would be the first transgenic animal raised commercially in North America. And already it's making conservation groups nervous, especially those like the Atlantic Salmon Federation that worry escaped transgenic fish will breed with wild salmon and change the species forever in the wild.

"We are always concerned about the problem of fish farm escapes," said Jeremy Read of the Atlantic Salmon Trust, which oversees wild salmon in Britain. Domestic salmon are already known to escape from pens and breed with wild fish, weakening the gene pool, according to British, Canadian and U.S. fisheries officials. Escapes by genetically modified fish, says Mr. Read, "could be even worse."

Won't happen, says Mr. Entis.

The AquAdvantage fish are sterilized by applying heavy air pressure to their eggs, he said. This makes the salmon cells grow a third strand of DNA for each of the two normal strands in a cell, and this "triploid" DNA makes the fish sterile. The result, he says, is a fish that looks and tastes just like any salmon, only it grows faster and can't breed.

A company called Ovatech, a marketing group representing fish farmers in Prince Edward Island, has an agreement to market the fish. "Our fish have no environmental advantage. All work ever done on this kind of modification suggests you give your fish a disadvantage (in the wild) when you give it these traits," he said. Wild fish thrive by remaining small in their early months in streams, and only putting on a growth spurt later when they leave for the ocean.

A fish that grows too fast from the start, like AquAdvantage, "are remarkably unsuited to survive in the wild," Mr. Entis says. "That means that these problems are self-limiting," because an escaped AquAdvantage fish wouldn't likely live long and breed successfully.

"I feel this is far safer than what we have today," which is a system where ordinary domestic fish escape in healthy breeding condition.

"Have they tried it?" wonders Jeremy Read of the Atlantic Salmon Trust, the British association that oversees wild salmon. "No? Therefore, I'm sorry, but this is one of those cases where I prefer to err on the side of being over-cautious."

"I know that the stock are triploid and therefore guaranteed sterile. (But) I think I'm right in saying that sterility cannot be absolutely guaranteed," he said. "We're very concerned about the risk."

Now it will be up to regulators in Canada and the U.S. There's no formal timetable in either country for making a decision. "One of the things we absolutely need to be able to tell the public is that this product is absolutely,100-per-cent safe, period," Mr. Entis said. "We know that that's the case, but we have to prove that to regulators." Beyond transgenic salmon Aqua Bounty would like to raise transgenic versions of other fish commercially.

"In addition to Atlantic salmon, similar techniques are being applied to other finfish, such as Arctic char, trout, tilapia, turbot, and halibut," its Web site says.

Mark Ritchie, President
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
2105 First Ave. South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404 USA
612-870-3400 (phone)    612-870-4846 (fax)    cell phone 612-385-7921

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Date: 23 Apr 2000 11:07:01 +0100
From: wytze
From: Biotech Activists
Posted: 04/20/2000 By

General references and links- Biotech & Forestry

General references and links concerning biotechnology and the forestry sector.

An Overview of GM Technology in the Forest Sector. - a scoping study for WWF-UK and WWF International by Rachel Asante Owusu, October 1999.

Biotechnology in forest tree improvement. Forestry Paper 118. FAO, Rome, Italy, 1994 (out of print) Biotechnology. Note for the 15th Session of the FAO Committee on Agriculture (January 1999):

Biosafety issues related to biotechnologies for sustainable agriculture and food security. Information document CGRFA 8/99/Inf.11 for the 8th Regular Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (April 1999).

Burdon, R.D. The role of biotechnology in tree breeding. Forest Genetic Resources No 22. FAO, Rome, 1994.

Butcher, P.A., Glaubitz, J.C. and Moran, G.F. Applications for microsatellite markers in the domestication and conservation of forest trees. Forest Genetic Resources No 27. FAO, Rome, 1999

Convention on Biological diversity - Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (2000)

Dendrome (a forest tree genome database)

FAO statement on biotechnology (1999)

Haines, R.J. and Martin, B.E. Biotechnology and the sustainable production of tropical timber. Forest Genetic Resources No 25, FAO, 1997

International Congress on "Applications of biotechnology to forest genetics". Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, September 22-25, 1999

International Union of Forestry Research Organisations (IUFRO): Position Statement on Benefits and Risks of Transgenic Plantations (September 1999)

Ledig, F.T. The relevance of biotechnology to forestry in developing countries. In: Plant Biotechnologies for Developing Countries. CTA and FAO, 1989 (out of print).

Meeting Forest Biotechnology'99 (Oxford, U.K.)

OECD's Database of Field Trials.

Sederoff, R. R. Tree genomes: what will we understand about them by the year 2020? In: Forest Genetics and Sustainability. C. Matyas, editor. Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1999.

State of the World's Forests, FAO, 1999.

Szmidt, A.E. and Wang, X.R. Genetic markers in forest genetics. In: Forest Genetics and Sustainability. C. Matyas, editor. Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1999.

Tree Biotechnology in the New Millennium. Forthcoming meeting, July 22-27, 2001 Skamania Lodge, Stevenson, Washington.

Which DNA Marker for Which Purpose? Final compendium of the research project 'Development, optimisation and validation of molecular tools for assessment of biodiversity in forest trees' - European Union DGXII Biotechnology FW IV Research Programme - 1999 -

Whiteman, A. and Brown, C. The potential role of forest plantations in meeting future demands for industrial wood products. International Forestry Review - Vol 1(3), September 1999, 143-152

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Date: 23 Apr 2000 11:18:43 +0100

rBGH: FDA Lies Continue

Dear Friends,

FDA delivered a ten-page letter denying the citizen petition to revoke Monsanto's bovine growth hormone. That letter contains inaccuracies and incorrect conclusions. There is evidence of fraud, deception, and there may have very well be criminal activity at FDA. Does breastfeeding work? According the FDA letter of denial, breastfeeding cannot possibly be of any biological significance to human infants.

FDA's decision and my comments: for the rest of the story.

Robert Cohen

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Date: 23 Apr 2000 22:30:33 +0100
From: "j.e. cummins"

Danger: Naked DNA: Routes of human uptake

Prof. Joe Cummins, April 16, 2000

Maewan Ho, Angela Ryan, T. Traavic and I prepared a report

Unregulated Hazards `Naked' and `Free' Nucleic Acids
Institute Of Science in Society Jan. 2000

That report reviewed the evidence showing that exposure to naked DNA may pose unique hazards. Naked DNA is DNA that has been stripped of protein in the laboratory or exposed to natural detergents or phenols in the environment. For example, viruses stripped of protein may be taken up by cells and infect animals or people that are not a part of the normal host range of the virus. Such findings are important considerations for laboratory researchers and even more to people exposed to transgenic crops (particularly the pharmcrops that contain human genes).

This brief message includes references that focus on the routes of exposure to naked DNA that may effect by-standers in proximity to the transgenic constructions. The experiments here are from development of DNA vaccines which have proven to be effective improvements over conventional vaccines.

Naked DNA may be produced during exposure to GM crops during ingestion of the crop as food, breathing pollen , exposure to cut or wounded plant parts or to exposure to decaying plant material in the field or waste. Once plant DNA or plant virus DNA is taken up by human cells the protein coding sequences may be spliced to the chromosomal DNA downstream of a promoter or the LTR sequence of a retrotransposon and be expressed under control of the human regulatory sequences.

DNA from the birch pollen allergen elicited a strong allergic response when injected into the muscle tissue of a mouse (Hartl et al 1999). In nature injection may correspond to exposure of an open wound or prick. Oral uptake of peanut DNA generates immunologic protection against peanut allergy (Roy et al 1999). DNA associated with inert micro particles proved effective in producing an antibody response when plasmid DNA was ingested (Jones et al 1997) or when virus was ingested (Chen et al 1998,Herrmann et al 1999 and Roy et al 1999).

The inert micro particles are similar to a number of natural materials such as soil or plant roughage. Nasal ingestion of DNA , resembling breathing pollen or debris from plants, elicits immune responses (Klavinskis et al 1997, Kuklin et al 1997,Sasaki et al 1998 and Sasaki, Sumino et al 1998). Vaginal insertion of naked DNA elicits immune response (Sasaki et al 1997 and Livingston et al 1998), such findings should be required knowledge for genetics laboratory workers and for those working with transgenic organisms.

Naked DNA is fairly readily taken up through human skin (Hengge et al 1996 and Birchall et al 2000). Studies with naked DNA applied to mouse skin show that the uptake and immune response is comparable to injection of the DNA (Fan et al 1999,Udvardi et al 1999 and Yu et al 1999).

In the past it has been assumed that naked DNA is rapidly destroyed on exposure to the animal digestive systems or microbes in water or soil. As experimentalists became daring it was found that DNA may be taken up by cells and express its genes . Transgenic DNA provides novel hazards, particularly the crop plants bearing human genes for pharmaceutically important proteins that are being tested in the field. Such field tests have suffered from the tunnel vision of those doing the experiments and hoping to rapidly enjoy huge profits from their constructions.

The impact of the proteins and their genes in pollen and pollution of surface and ground water has been dangerously underestimated. Genes such as human cytochrome p450 have been introduced into trees as well as crops to provide herbicide tolerance. The impact of such releases on human health and on the environment bears much further study and field test should be curtailed until the constructions are proven safe.


  1. Birchall,J,Marichal,C,Campbell,L,Alwan,A, Hadgraft,J and Gumbleton,M. Gene expression in an intact ex-vivo skin tieeue model following percutaneous delivery of cationic liposome-plasmid DNA complexes IntJ Pharm 2000,197,233-8

  2. Chen,S,Jones,D,Fynan,E,Farrar,G,,Clegg,J,Greenberg,H and Hermann,J Protective Immunity induced by oral immunization with a rotavirus DNA vaccine encapsulated in micro particles J Virol 1998, 72,5757-61

  3. Fan,H,Lin,Q,Morrissey,G, and Khavari,P Immunization via hair follicles by topical application of naked DNA to normal skin Nat Biotechnol 1999,17,870-2

  4. Hartl,A,Kiiesslich,J,Wiess,R,Bernhaupt,A, Mostbock,S,Scheiblhofer,S,Ebner,C,Ferreira,F and Thalamer,J. Immune responsws after immunization with plasmid DNA encoding Bet v1, the major allergen of birch pollen J AllergyClin Immunol. 1999,103,107-13

  5. Hengge,U,Walker,Pand Vogel,J. Expression of naked DNA in human pig and mouse skin J Clin Invest 1996,97,2911-6

  6. Hermann,J,Chen,S,Jones,D,TinsleyBown,A,Fynan,E and Greenberg,H. immune response and protection obtained by oral immunization with rotavirus DNA Virology 1999,259,148-53

  7. Jones,D,Corris,S,McDonald,S,Clegg,J and Farrar,G. Encapsulated plasmid DNA elicits systemic and mucosal antibody response to encoded protein after oral administration Vaccine 1997 ,15,814-17

  8. Klavinskis,L,Gao.L.Barnfield,C,Lehner,T and Parker,S. Mucosal Immunization with DNA liposome complexes Vaccine 1997,15,818-20

  9. Kuklin,N,Daheshia,M,Karem,K,Manickan,E and Rous,B. Induction of mucosal immunity against herpes simplex virus by plasmid DNA immunization J Virol 71,3138-45

  10. Livingston,J,Lu,S,Robinson,H and Anderson,D. Immunization of the female genital tract with a DNA basedvaccine Infect. Immun. 1998,66,322-29

  11. Roy,K,Mao,H,Huang,S and Leong,K. Oral gene gene delivery with DNA generates immunologic protection in a murine model of peanut allergy Natur Med 1999,5,387-91.

  12. Sasaki,S,Fukushima,J,Hamajima,K,Wang,B,Dang,K,Agadjanyan,M,Srikantan,V,Li ,F,Ugen,K,Boyer,J,Merva,M,Williams,W and Weiner,D. Mucosal immunization with a DNA vaccine induces immune responses against HIV-1 at a mucosal site Vaccine 1997,15,821-25

  13. Sasaki,S,Hamajima,K,Fukushima,J,Ihata,A,Ishii,N,Gorai,I,Hirahara,F,mMorhi ,H. and Okuda,K. Comparison of intranasal and intramuscular immunization against human HIV-1 with a DNA lipid ajuvant vaccine Infect. Immun 1998,66,823-26

  14. S asaki,S,Sumino,K,Hamajima,K,Fuckushima,J.,Ishii,N,Kawamoto,S and Mohri,H Induction of systemic and mucosal immune responses to human HIV-1 by a DNA vaccine formulated with saponin adjuvant via intramuscular and intranasal routes J Virol. 1998, 72,4931-39

  15. Udvardi,A,Kufferath,I,Grutsch,H,Zatloukal,K and Volc-Platzer,B. Uptake of exogenous DNA via the skin J Mol. Med 1999,77,744-50

  16. Yu,W.,Kashani-Sabet,M,Liggit,D,Moore,D,Health,T and Debs,R. Topical gene delivery to murine skin J Invest Dermatol 1999,112,370-5

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Date: 24 Apr 2000 19:13:01 +0100
From: Robert Mann

University: repositioning, competitivity, and Research(r)

Here is a glimpse of what has been happening recently in our universities.

Biologists are being purged, down the road to make room for gene-jockeys who (it is claimed) will bring in money from GE venture capitalists.

At Auckland, the local expert on ferns & mosses is thus purged. Who cares?

At VUW (Victoria University of Wellington, NZ), the country's only university expert on classification of fungi has been given the bullet (but is successfully resisting). Who cares?

Long after the bubble of GM bullshit has burst, the intellectual strands of our culture will be struggling to recover from this sabotage. Who cares?

Meanwhile, sideshows fill the media.


Date: Wed, 19 Apr 2000 17:51:02 +1200
From: Ann Haydock

I would like to welcome Ian McIntosh to the Faculty of Science. In his position as Associate Dean (Research and Faculty Development), Ian will use his expertise and experience in assisting the Faculty Management Team, the Schools and the staff to secure external funding from public and private providers for research and instruction.

Over the past 15 years Ian has had extensive experience in promoting science and successfully attracting investment for research and development, primarily in the agricultural sector. His principal work has been establishing an entrepreneurial philosophy within a public science division and appropriate supporting systems. Most recently Ian was a senior business consultant for Wrightsons, conducting major projects relating to biotechnology for the wool and dairy industries. Development of a vision and growth strategy for the Faculty is his primary task.

He will be working closely with Heads of Schools, and with staff to assist in identifying potential revenue generating opportunities to expand and develop teaching and research in the Faculty.

Ian can be contacted on X 5535, Rm C148, e-mail:

At this time I would like to thank Euan Smith for his considerable expertise and enormous investment in time and energy to improve the Faculty's success in Research. He has been involved in this area since 1 January 1996, (prior to devolution), and has continued in this role at devolution and beyond.

Euan will now return to a more realistic workload as Head of School of Earth Sciences and leadership in his research field of Geophysics.

Ann Haydock 
Faculty of SciencePhone: +64 4 463 5101
Victoria University of WellingtonFax: +64 4 463 5122
PO Box 600e-mail:
New Zealandnbsp;

Robt Mann, consultant ecologist, P O Box 28878 Remuera, Auckland 1005, New Zealand (9) 524 2949

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Date: 24 Apr 2000 23:19:01 +0100
From: "j.e. cummins"

Unintended gene silencing in GM crops

Prof. Joe Cummins, 24 April 2000

Unintended gene inactivation in genetically modified crops

Genetically modified (GM) crops are manufactured with genes foreign to the crop plant. Not surprisingly, but not well known to many geneticists, the foreign genes are recognized as intruders to the genome of the plant. The intruder defense likely originated to silence viruses and to maintain the self identity of the genome as unrelated DNA sequences are assimilated by chance accident.

Plant genomes contain retrotransposons and sleeping (endogenous) viruses that are silenced and provide spacers between active genes. Silencing is mainly achieved by adding methyl groups to DNA bases or by post transcriptional inactivation of gene messages (Kumpatia et al 1996). Post transcriptional gene silencing mainly involves combining the sense message with an anti sense RNA sequence. The combination is recognized by the plant as an invading virus and destroyed.

In animals anti sense RNA is injected into the embryo and alters the individual but not its progeny. In plants the anti sense is introduced from trans genes which are believed to read through downstream sequences to produce unintended anti sense (Montgomery and Fire 1998, Jorgenson et al 1999). In transgenic plants gene inactivation (co-suppression) is permanent (it should be pointed out that not all transgenic plants cause co-suppression) and the silencing effect may be transmitted through phloem in grafts. A small anti sense RNA species has been identified in plants and found to move through phloem (Hamilton and Baulcombe 1999).

Post transcriptional gene silencing is primarily a means of coping with RNA viruses by destroying double stranded RNA (the replication intermediate for RNA viruses).The system also causes heritable genetic interference in transgenic plants (Waterhouse et al 1999,Fire 1999 and Chuang and Meyerowitz 2000). The silencing may extend to retrotransposons and sleeping (endogenous) viruses which make up a large proportion of the genome of most plants.


  1. Chaung,C. and Meyerowitz,E. Specific and heritable interference by double stranded RNA in Arabadopsis thalianaProc. Natnl. Acad Sci USA 2000,97,4985-90

  2. Fire,A. RNA-triggered gene silencing TIG 1999, 15,358-63

  3. Hamilton,A and Baulcombe,D. A species of small antisense RNA in posttranscriptional silencing in plants Science 1999 ,286, 950-2

  4. Jorgenson,R,Quideng,Q and Malke,S. Do unintended antisense transcripts contribute to sense cosuppression in plants? TIG 1999,11-12

  5. Kumpatia,S,Mahesh,B,Chandrasekharan,M,Iyer,L.,Li.G, and Hall,T. Genome intruder scanning and modulation systems and trasgene silencing TPS 1998,3,97-104

  6. Montgomery,M. and Fire,A. Double stranded RNA as a mediator in sequence specific genetic silencing and cosuppressionTIG 1998,14,255-8

  7. Waterhouse,P,Smith,N and Wang,M Virus resistance and gene silencing: killing the messenger TPS 1999,4,452-7

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 25 Apr 2000 04:38:34 +0100
From: Robert Mann

Here is a good glimpse of the toxic context into which the gene-jockeys want to insert their uncontrolled penetrations. (This jargon is intended to give the feminists a chance to show how relevant their ideology is to the cause of controlling GE . . . )

But seriously, the point being made by Dr Williams is extremely important: "We only have single-substance science, which does not account for compounding effects."

As one who began teaching this point to medical students 3 decades ago with very little discernible effect, I am naturally gratified that it now gets on the BBC. When will it get on FDA, USDA and dare I say USEPA official criteria?


Brain at Risk from the Environment

By environment correspondent Alex Kirby
BBC News: Dr. Chris Williams of London University
Saturday, 22 April, 2000, 23:07 GMT 00:07 UK

Pollution 'makes you stupid'
Global review
Chernobyl: Radiation link to Down's Syndrome
Growing threat to children
Need for action

Pollution 'makes you stupid'

Pollution and other environmental threats are harming the intelligence of millions of people across the world, says a United Kingdom review of the available evidence.

The causes are poisons such as lead, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls, synthetic compounds used in electrical equipment), and radiation.

The human brain is now at risk from its own behaviour, and nothing else in the ecosystem is harming itself in the same way

Dr Chris Williams

A further problem is the loss of micronutrients like iron and iodine through soil erosion, impoverishing food crops. And scientists say it is hard to know the full extent of the problem, because of the difficulty of gathering data.

The author, Dr Chris Williams, a social scientist at the Institute of Education, London University, said one problem could compound another, with iron deficiency in children, for example, able to increase their lead uptake.

"We only have single-substance science, which does not account for compounding effects. So the overall scale of the problem is far greater than previously estimated."

Global review

Dr Williams is a fellow of the Global Environmental Change Programme, a £15m social science initiative of the Economic and Social Research Council. He undertook a global review of science-based research into the impact of environmental factors on intelligence.

One of his most disturbing findings is that epidemiologists have detected a statistically significant increase in the birth of children with Down's Syndrome which is linked to radiation from the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor.

Chernobyl: Radiation link to Down's Syndrome

The increase was dependent on rainfall in the period following the explosion. Excess Down's Syndrome births were recorded in parts of Germany, Scandinavia and the Lothian region of central Scotland nine months after the disaster.

Dr Williams found a study by the Russian Academy of Sciences which said that radiation from a uranium mine had caused mental impairment in 95% of the children of one town in Russia.

In south east Asia 1.5bn people are affected by the iron deficiency of many Green Revolution crops, especially maize, and even more in the poor world are at risk from iodine deficiency.

In parts of the Himalayas and China the problem is exacerbated when deforestation allows rain to wash the soil away, taking with it nutrients which are essential in the human diet.

Growing threat to children

The phenomenon is not new, but is becoming worse with increased logging and growing population pressure.

Lead in the environment is a threat, with the blood-lead level of one child in 10 in the UK high enough for intelligence to be affected.

In some African cities the proportion is nine children in ten. The intelligence of Inuit children in the Arctic is being damaged by PCBs which originate in the tropics and arrive in Canada within a week.

Dr Williams told BBC News Online: "The big feeling I have about this is in the context of evolution.

"The human brain is now at risk from its own behaviour, and nothing else in the ecosystem is harming itself in the same way.

"Even lemmings don't really behave like lemmings. That's a myth. But we are acting like lemmings.

Need for action

"I've seen Indian villages where the wells have been poisoned with fluoride, causing a loss of intelligence. The bright people move out, the spiral continues, and you see what can happen to a community.

"I'm afraid there'll be many more underfed, poisoned people in the poor world unless we recognise what is happening."

The director of the Global Environmental Change Programme, Dr Frans Berkhout, said: "This issue reveals a wider problem that science has when faced with complex and uncertain environmental issues.

"Some of the most difficult environmental challenges are not being adequately addressed simply because of the difficulties of collecting the necessary evidence and establishing cause and effect."

Search BBC News Online

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites Links to other Sci/Tech stories are at the foot of the page.

Robt Mann, consultant ecologist, P O Box 28878 Remuera, Auckland 1005, New Zealand (9) 524 2949

Top PreviousFront Page

Date: 25 Apr 2000 23:03:51 +0100
From: "Maynard S. Clark"


New genes protect trees from insects, disease

Contact: Dr. Gopi Podila,, 906-487-3068
Michigan Technological University

Researchers at Michigan Tech are transferring altered genes into fungi that facilitate the flow of nutrients through tree roots to help trees protect themselves against disease and insects.

Using "doctored" genes to impart desired characteristics into fungi that live symbiotically with tree roots can ultimately help trees grow faster and live healthier lives, according to Project Leader Dr. Gopi Podila, a molecular biologist in Michigan Tech's Department of Biological Sciences. "Ectomycorrhizal (on top of the root) fungi provide a major network in the soil for making nutrients available to tree root systems," explains Podila.

" By breaking down minerals locked up by acidic soils caused by the decomposition of needles, leaves, and other forest litter, fungi facilitate the passage of those nutrients from the soil to the tree. The fungus, in turn, draws food from the tree, enhancing its own survival. Another benefit of this symbiotic relationship is that the fungus can grow wider and deeper into the soil –nd this greatly increases the outreach of the tree in its search for essential minerals."

Podila says that normally when you try to put a fungus on a plant, the two try to kill one another, but fortunately this mutually beneficial relationship has evolved in nature over the course of millions of years.

"One of the things we want to determine," he says, "is how they communicate with one another –ow do they each let the other know that they are friendly." He says the process is a long one.

"It's almost like a courtship. The fungus gradually approaches the tree root system and this can take as long as three or four months. And even then, the fungus is 'turned on' only to specific host signals. The fungus prepares itself to form the association with the host plant by expressing specific symbiosis-related genes. These genes are turned on by the right plant signals, and this process is controlled by DNA sequences called 'promoters.'

These promoters are responding to plant signals and determine the symbiosis-related expression of genes. If we can combine a specific gene with the right promoter, we can introduce a variety of genes into the fungus, where they will express their specific qualities to enhance the life of the tree." Podila says the fungus provides a protective "coating" around the tree's roots, protecting it from drought and attack by various microbial pathogens.

"Reforestation techniques use herbicides to prevent grass and weeds from covering up the reforested area and forming competition for tree seedlings," he says. "Insect pests, such as the white grub, which normally feed on grass roots, must then turn to tree roots for food. White grubs are voracious eaters that can completely chew away the roots of a young tree, leaving it unable to draw nutrients from the soil. We can prevent this from happening by altering the mycorrhizal fungus so it will produce insecticidal proteins that are unpalatable to the grubs, causing them to avoid the tree roots. The protein produced by the altered gene is biodegradable and completely harmless to humans." If these genes are put under the control of symbiosis-related gene promoters, then their expression will be limited to mycorrhizal roots and thus will not cause any unintended expression of these genes.

Podila says it is also possible to improve the ectomycorrhizal fungi to reduce the uptake of soluble metals by tree roots. He says this will be very useful in alleviating conditions caused by acid pollution and aluminum toxicity.

"The use of genetically-improved mycorrhizal fungi is a novel and feasible approach for increasing forest biomass," says Podila. "This system, when fully developed, also has the potential to be adapted to handle a variety of problems associated with plant health, and could lead to further research that will use mycorrhizal fungi to help the plant host in many beneficial physiological and ecological ways."


For more information, contact Gopi Podila at 906-487-3068
or by e-mail at:

Contact Jim Lutzke, 906-487-2343 or