Genetically
 Manipulated 


 

 
 
 Food


 News

4 August 2000

Table of Contents

Monarchs hit by field GM pollen – Iowa Study
Bt corn and swallowtale
More Efforts To Release Mercry To Rainfall Over Cities
Testing Bt refuge strategies in the field
Neem tree patents: an immodest victory
Genetic Mutations Accumulating Rapidly, Scientists Say
Major survey on GE foods released!
Awareness of Genetically Modified Foods Wide but Knowledge not Deep
Rising Consciousness Of Biotech Leaders
Pesticides: Endosulfan Deaths in Benin
Flourescent Pseudomonads Good Biotech Without Genetic Modification
Can a deadly spider replace chemical pesticides?
Buffer zone for GM crops 'does not work'
Bacillus Thuringiensis And Its Relatives
Context of Possible Traceback Epidemiology on Harm from GEF
Dead Birds Are a Portent Of Return of West Nile Virus
James Watson endorses scientists "playing God"
Commandments from James Watson
Author of World Bank report resigns in protest of muzzling

Top NextFront Page

Date: 6 Jun 2000 12:24:30 +0100
From: wytze geno@zap.a2000.nl

Monarchs hit by field GM pollen – Iowa Study

"NLP Wessex (by way of Jean Saunders )" wrote:

The researcher confirmed to me that increased Monarch mortality by Bt pollen was found in the field.

Earlier debate about the possible effects of Bt corn in the US on Monarch butterflies has centered around the relevance of work carried out in lab conditions where milkweed is articificially dusted with Bt pollen. Monarchs larvae feed on milkweed.

However, research work carried out by Iowa State University would seem to indicate that there are real effects from natural levels of Bt pollen dusting arising in the field as well. See:

http://www.ent.iastate.edu/entsoc/ncb99/prog/abs/D81.html

In this study milkweed leaf samples taken from within and at the edge of the corn field were used to assess mortality of first instar monarch, D. plexippus exposed to Bt and non-Bt corn pollen. Within 48 hours, there was 19% mortality in the Bt corn pollen treatment compared to 0% on non-Bt corn pollen exposed plants and 3% in the no pollen controls.

[Non-target effects of Bt corn pollen on the Monarch butterfly (Lepidoptera: Danaidae) *L. Hansen, Iowa State University, Ames , IA 50011 and J. Obrycki, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011 Contact e-mail: lrahnsen@iastate.edu ]

Natural Law Party Wessex
nlpwessex@bigfoot.com
http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 8 Jun 2000 07:43:02 +0100
From: "jcummins" jcummins@julian.uwo.ca

Bt corn and swallowtale

Current safety experiments, good to know about!

Published online before print June 6, 2000 Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 10.1073/pnas.130202097

Agricultural Sciences: Absence of toxicity of Bacillus thuringiensis pollen to black swallowtails butterfly under field conditions

C. L. Wraight, A. R. Zangerl, M. J. Carroll, and M. R. Berenbaum*

Department of Entomology, University of Illinois, 320 Morrill Hall, 505 South Goodwin, Urbana, IL 61801

Contributed by M. R. Berenbaum, May 4, 2000

A single laboratory study on monarch butterflies has prompted widespread concern that corn pollen, engineered to express Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) endotoxin, might travel beyond corn fields and cause mortality in nontarget lepidopterans. Among the lepidopterans at high potential risk from this technology is the black swallowtail butterfly, Papilio polyxenes, whose host plants in the midwestern U.S. are located principally in narrow strips between roads and crop fields. A field study was performed to assess whether mortality of early instar black swallowtails was associated either with proximity to a field of Bt corn or by levels of Bt pollen deposition on host plants. Potted host plants were infested with first instar black swallowtails and placed at intervals from the edge of a field of Bt corn (Pioneer 34R07 containing Monsanto event 810) at the beginning of anthesis. We confirmed by ELISA that pollen from these plants contained Cry1Ab endotoxin (2.125 ± 0.289 ng/g). Although many of the larvae died during the 7 days that the experiments were run, there was no relationship between mortality and proximity to the field or pollen deposition on host plants.

Moreover, pollen from these same plants failed to cause mortality in the laboratory at the highest pollen dose tested (10,000 grains/cm2), a level that far exceeded the highest pollen density observed in the field (200 grains/cm2). We conclude that Bt pollen of the variety tested is unlikely to affect wild populations of black swallowtails. Thus, our results suggest that at least some potential nontarget effects of the use of transgenic plants may be manageable.

* To whom reprint requests should be addressed. E-mail: maybe@uiuc.edu.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 8 Jun 2000 07:55:02 +0100
From: "jcummins" jcummins@julian.uwo.ca

More Efforts To Release Mercry To Rainfall Over Cities

More incredibly dense pr on mercury phytoremedaition. No mention is made of mercury fallout in rain and the current problem of mercury deposition over cities. Mercury in rain is converted to toxic methyl mercury in soil and waterways.

Breeding mercury-breathing plants for environmental cleanup [Research News]

Elizabeth Pilon-Smits and Marinus Pilon
Trends in Plant Science, 2000, 5:6:235-236

Abstract

In an elegant study, Richard Meagher's research group has succeeded in introducing a bacterial mercury detoxification pathway into plants. The resulting plants show enhanced mercury tolerance and can convert highly toxic forms of organic mercury to less toxic elemental mercury, which is volatile. The significance of this study is that it could lead to the more efficient and affordable cleanup of environmental mercury pollution, and in a broader context, it proves the power of genetic engineering for phytoremediation.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 8 Jun 2000 08:02:11 +0100
From: "jcummins" jcummins@julian.uwo.ca

Testing Bt refuge strategies in the field

The article shows that the refuge has to have plenty of pests to work! Recollect that the Guelph experiment I described previously plans to compare sale of Bt sweet corn with nonGM corn from the refuge, they beleived that was best test of consumer acceptance of GM crops!!

Testing Bt refuge strategies in the field [Headlines]

G.E. de Vries Trends in Plant Science, 2000, 5:6:237

Abstract

There is no abstract for this article. The text below is the first paragraph of text within the article.

Bt transgenic plants can greatly reduce the use of broader spectrum insecticides, but there is concern that this technology might be short-lived because of insect resistance. Field tests on managing resistance to Bt-engineered plants using Bt-transgenic broccoli plants and the diamondback moth as a model system have been reported recently. Insects with a known frequency of resistance alleles were released, and the manner in which the refuge influenced both resistance allele frequency and pest population density was examined. The study shows that a separate refuge will be more effective at conserving susceptible larvae than a mixed refuge.

When spraying the refuge to prevent economic loss to the crop, insects from the 20% sprayed refuge treatment and the 20% unsprayed refuge treatment showed no difference in changes in allele frequency, indicating that insects do not evolve resistance more rapidly. However, great care must be taken to ensure that refuges produce adequate numbers of susceptible alleles. Nat. Biotechnol. (2000) 18, 339-342.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 9 Jun 2000 03:24:53 +0100
From: Robert Mann robt_m@talk.co.nz

Neem tree patents: an immodest victory

The significance should not be exaggerated of this victory announcement from Vandi.

If they think successfully opposing one out of 150+ neem-related patents was worth all the time, expense and effort then I say good for them. They used patent law to get a patent thrown out and it worked this time. But it's nothing more than a very small victory – and it's not a victory for ecofeminism over capitalist patriarchy!!

A lot of men were involved in this campaign by the way ...

R

The Hindustan Times, Friday, June 9, 2000, New Delhi http://www1.hindustantimes.com/nonfram/090600/detOPI01.htm

Free tree

Vandana Shiva on the neem tree and freedom from Western biopiracy

ON MAY 10, the anniversary of the day when the first Indian movement for Independence was launched, a major milestone was crossed in the contemporary movement of freedom from biocolonialism and biopiracy.

The European Patent Office (EPO) struck down Patent No. 0436257 B1, jointly held by the United States Government and the multinational W.R. Grace. The EPO stated categorically that this patent was based on the piracy of existing knowledge systems and lacked novelty and inventiveness.

...


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 9 Jun 2000 22:38:11 +0100
From: "Gerard Owmby" rickved@bellsouth.net

Genetic Mutations Accumulating Rapidly, Scientists Say

By Nicholas Wade
© Copyright 1999 The New York Times Company, January 28, 1999

Biologists analyzing human genetic data in the DNA data banks have given fresh meaning to the saying that no one is perfect. Harmful mutations have accumulated so fast in the human genome, according to a new study, that the immediate question is why the human species has not become extinct.

Although human populations are evidently doing fine, common minor afflictions like weakened eyesight, headaches and stomach upsets could reflect this inherited baggage of adverse mutations. And some biologists fear that as the bite of natural selection is relaxed by medical advances, the mutational baggage could become more significant in the centuries ahead.

The effective mutation rate in the human genome is estimated in the new study as being at least 4.2 mutations per generation, of which at least 1.6 mutations are harmful. This is a high number considering that a harmful mutation can be eliminated sooner or later only by the "genetic death" -- death without progeny – of its carrier.

The study also found that humans have retained a much larger proportion of adverse mutations in their genome than have other animals, like mice and rats. The authors of the study, which appears in Thursday's issue of Nature, are Adam Eyre-Walker of the University of Sussex in England and Peter D. Keightley of the University of Edinburgh.

The high retention of adverse mutations probably reflects the fact that human populations have been extremely small throughout their evolutionary history. In small populations it is easier for a mutation to become fixed.

"Our genome appears to be degenerating in one sense," said Eyre-Walker. But he noted that the seriousness of the adverse mutations was unknown and in any case had been outweighed "by some key adaptations that have made us very successful," presumably intelligence.

The new finding is principally of interest to those engaged in human evolutionary history and has little immediate bearing on the genetic health of present-day populations, because the adverse mutations that were found are all probably small in effect, even if large in number.

One theoretical implication of interest to evolutionists is that the high mutation rate confirms a long-standing speculation about the purpose of sex. Biologists have often wondered why a species would go to the bother of sexual reproduction when division without sex, the way the amoebas do it, would seem to be more efficient. A favorite answer is that sexual reproduction, in which the genomes are shuffled between generations, is an relatively efficient way of shedding adverse mutations.

The high rate of adverse mutation found in the new study confirms that some efficient mechanism – presumably sex – is required to remove bad mutations from the genome. "To flush out these deleterious mutations we need sex," Eyre-Walker said. "If we were asexual we would probably be dead."

Dr. James F. Crow, a population geneticist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, confirmed Eyre-Walker's interpretation. "The existence of a high deleterious mutation rate strengthens the argument that a major advantage of sex is that it is an efficient way to eliminate harmful mutations," he writes in a commentary on the paper. The cleansing action of sex arises because bad mutations are brought together and eliminated.

Sex has not been completely efficient, however, and many adverse mutations still remain in the human genome. Crow is concerned that the mutational baggage may increase in the future because of higher living standards that allow most infants to reach reproductive age. "Can we keep this up forever?" he wondered. "I don't know."

Using DNA sequences now on deposit in DNA data banks, the study compared humans and chimpanzees. Each DNA difference was declared to be a human mutation if in a third species, usually a gorilla, the DNA was the same as the chimp's.

Some mutations are inconsequential because they do not change the sequence of amino acids in a protein and therefore have no effect on the organism's survival. By measuring the numbers of inconsequential and of effective mutations, the researchers were able to compute the rate at which mutations entered the genome over the last 6 million years.

Copyright 1999 The New York Times Company


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 10 Jun 2000 05:04:47 +0100
From: GMOStuff@aol.com

Major survey on GE foods released!

By Craig Winters, Executive Director
The Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods

Dear Health Freedom Fighters,

A major worldwide research study on consumers awareness of genetically engineered foods has been released. As the press release from the Angus Reid Group states, "The more North American consumers hear about genetically modified (GM) foods, the less they like them."

The report of the survey is called "New Thoughts for Food: Consumer Reaction to Biotechnology in Foods." The biotech industry is probably not going to like the results of this survey because it indicates growing negative feelings towards genetically engineered foods worldwide. Even in the United States, in spite of the public relations efforts of the biotech industry, "Americans are growing more disenchanted with the concept." Consumer negativity towards genetically modified foods in the United States has grown from 45% in 1998 to 51% in 2000. The negativity figure is up to 82% in Japan, 73% in Germany and 71% in France.

2,001 adult consumers from the United States and Canada were surveyed. Another 3,000 people from Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom were surveyed.

Posted below are two press releases. The first one discusses the results from the United States and Canada. The second discusses the results from a global perspective.

In addition to the press releases below, if you have Adobe Acrobat on your computer, you can view some great charts that show the results of the survey.

The first chart shows the awareness level of Americans and Canadians: http://www.angusreid.com/media/content/pdf/mr000608_2ch.pdf

The second chart rates the growing negativity towards genetically modified foods in all of the countries surveyed: http://www.angusreid.com/MEDIA/CONTENT/pdf/mr000608_ch1.pdf

The third chart lists what consumers feel are the perceived benefits and risks of genetically modified foods in all of the countries surveyed: http://www.angusreid.com/MEDIA/CONTENT/pdf/mr000608_tb.pdf

Apparently the survey did not address the issue of labeling. However, the issues it did address show that there is significant worldwide concern and opposition to genetically engineered foods. There is little doubt that the demand for labeling will continue to grow in the United States.

Craig Winters
Executive Director
The Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods

The Campaign
PO Box 55699, Seattle, WA 98155
Tel: 425-771-4049    Fax: 603-825-5841
E-mail: mailto:label@thecampaign.org    Web Site: http://www.thecampaign.org

Mission Statement: "To create a national grassroots consumer campaign for the purpose of lobbying Congress and the President to pass legislation that will require the labeling of genetically engineered foods in the United States."


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 10 Jun 2000 05:04:47 +0100
From: GMOStuff@aol.com

Awareness of Genetically Modified Foods Wide but Knowledge not Deep

55% Admit They Know Little About The Issue

Angus Reid Group

Sections:
Benefits And Risks
Methodology
About Angus Reid
Contact information:

New York, June 8, 2000 – The more North American consumers hear about genetically modified (GM) foods, the less they like them, new research from the Angus Reid Group shows. But while awareness of the issue remains high – 65 percent of Americans and 79 percent of Canadians have heard of the issue – understanding remains low.

In fact, only 4 percent of Americans and 5 percent of Canadians feel they know "a lot" about genetically modified foods. Slightly more (15 percent of Americans and 24 percent of Canadians) feel they have "some" understanding. More prevalent, however, is the feeling that they only know "a little."

More than half (54 percent) of Americans and more than two-thirds (68 percent) of Canadians want to learn more about GM foods, especially about the technology of genetic modification. Another 13 percent of Americans and 9 percent of Canadians are possibly open to learning more.

"An interesting paradox is emerging," says Joanna Karman, managing director of the company's agri-foods research division and co-author of the Angus Reid report New Thoughts for Food: Consumer Reaction to Biotechnology in Foods. "Consumers say they want to learn more about genetic modification and they need more information about the technology itself. Some are even interested in learning what benefits there are to GM foods.

"But at this point in the debate, consumers aren't yet convinced that genetically altered foods represent scientific advancement. They simply haven't made that leap yet. Most believe this issue is about health and safety. That's where we believe the debate should focus."

Benefits And Risks

About 43 percent of Americans and 41 per cent of Canadians surveyed recently by Angus Reid say that in the long run the potential benefits will outweigh the potential risks. Further, one-quarter of Americans and 29 percent of Canadians are concerned about the unknown impact or experimental nature of GM foods. About 28 percent of Americans and 32 percent of Canadians cite food safety and health concerns when asked about perceived risks. Nearly as many (25 percent of Americans and 29 percent of Canadians) say they are concerned about the unknown impact of GM foods.

Slightly more Americans (15 percent) than Canadians (9 percent) don't think there are any disadvantages associated with GM foods. Another 12 per cent of Americans and 14 percent of Canadians are unsure about any risks.

Some 20 per cent of Americans and nearly one quarter of Canadians (24 percent) expect GM foods to provide no benefits or advantages at all. The main benefits noted by about one-third of North Americans are believed to involve improved efficiency or higher yields in food production, an improvement in food quality and a reduced need for pesticides.

"Genetic modification is becoming one of the most important challenges facing the agriculture and food industries in North America," Karman says. "But given that consumers don't readily see what's in it for them personally, their reaction is, in fact, quite normal and rational. They see themselves as shouldering the risks, but not reaping the benefits. It should be no surprise that there is a pushback. Consumers are becoming less confident and less comfortable with this technology.

"In both countries, genetically modified food has become less of a science and technology issue and much more of a matter of health and safety," Karman said.

Currently the main message consumers are taking home is that GM foods are not safe, she adds. They have already begun to demand non-GM foods and are likely to continue to.

About New Thoughts for Food New Thoughts for Food is a global, syndicated study designed to provide key players in the biotechnology food debate with a better understanding of consumer perceptions of genetically modified food. For more information, please visit http://www.angusreid.com/services/p_agrifd.htm

Methodology

Angus Reid Group Worldwide surveyed 2,001 adult consumers in both countries earlier this year, and an additional 3,000 consumers in six countries. (Findings from the global survey can be found at http://www.angusreid.com/MEDIA/CONTENT/displaypr.cfm?id_to_view=1039

About Angus Reid

Established in 1979, the Angus Reid Group is among the world's leading research companies, providing a full array of marketing and social research services to the private and public sectors. Founded by Dr. Angus Reid, the Angus Reid Group has conducted extensive research in 80 countries and in 40 languages and serves clients around the world through 11 offices and 300-full-time and 800 part-time staff.

Contact information:

Joanna Karman
Senior Vice President and Managing Director, AgriFood
Angus Reid Group (204) 949-3100


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 10 Jun 2000 14:18:28 +0100
From: "Gerard Owmby" rickved@bellsouth.net

The following quotes from Shapiro and Crosbie may help to explain their increasing emphasis on aspects of biotechnology which do not use recombinant DNA (rDNA) technology. Hmmm. Could it be their twice-daily group meditations?

Rising Consciousness Of Biotech Leaders

"Almost everything we grow, everything we eat is the root result of human intervention, human breeding and so on. But this is unnatural in a different sort of way from the kinds of breeding programs that have characterized humanity for ten thousand years....

"So the question which people have, I believe, not only a right but a duty to ask, is how wisely will we use these unprecedented new powers? What are the risks associated with doing something this new and this profound at the very wellsprings of life? How are they going to be managed? How will we have credible oversight? How will we have credible and effective monitoring of the introduction of this technology? Certainly, humanity's record for using technology wisely, sensitive to its potential effects on society, on people, on environment is, at best, mixed and hardly encouraging....

"We have not yet identified, yet alone cloned, the gene for wisdom, and some skepticism about our ability to manage powerful new technologies is appropriate.... "

Robert Shapiro, Chief Executive of Monsanto – speech on genetic engineering presented at State of the World Forum, Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco, CA , October 27, 1998

"Genetic transformation is just one particular wrench in the biotechnology tool box. We have lots of other tools to accelerate the development of new wheat varieties.... It's a numbers game and ultimately NON-TRANSFORMATION biotech offers the greatest potential."

Tom Crosbie, Monsanto's global head of plant breeding (Farmers Weekly, 25 February 2000)


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 13 Jun 2000 22:47:36 +0100
From: "Ericka " doodles@netins.net
From: PANUPS panupdates@panna.org

Pesticides: Endosulfan Deaths in Benin

P A N U P S
Pesticide Action Network Updates Service
Endosulfan Deaths in Benin
June 13, 2000

Official sources in Benin state that at least 37 people died due to endosulfan poisoning during the 1999/2000 season in northern Borgou province. Another 36 were poisoned and became seriously ill. These cases of death and poisoning can be directly linked to the fact that decisions about pesticide use in cotton production in the region are made without adequate consideration of the wider context in which pesticides are managed and used.

Endosulfan, a highly toxic pesticide, is particularly dangerous when used without proper equipment and protective clothing. A number of countries, including Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belize and Singapore, have banned the chemical; Colombia and Indonesia are in the process of banning it. Many other countries severely restrict the use of this chemical.

During the 1999/2000 season, endosulfan was introduced in cotton production throughout Francophone West Africa as part of a regional program to combat the American bollworm's resistance to pyrethroids. American bollworm is the main cotton bollworm pest in West Africa, as is the case in many cotton-growing countries worldwide. The pest's resistance to pyrethroids was reported in numerous countries during the 1980s. In West Africa, farmers first reported the pest's decreasing sensitivity to pyrethroids during the 1996/97 season.

In 1998, national cotton research institutes in West Africa, the French cotton company CFDT, CIRAD (Centre de cooperation Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Developpement) and the Insecticide Resistance Action Committee (IRAC) of the Global Crop Protection Federation started a project to deal with the growing resistance to pyrethroids. A report produced by the project called for countries in the region to use endosulfan during the first two sprayings over a period of 40 days, corresponding to one generation of American bollworm.

In Benin, the cotton research institute supported adoption of this program, and in early 1999, endosulfan (Callisulfan 350 EC TBV made by the French company Calliope) was distributed to cotton farmers throughout the country. The first reports of cotton pesticide poisonings were published in August and September 1999. The extension service in Borgou claims that 37 people died in that province between May and September due to Callisulfan use, while another 36 suffered serious health effects. Deaths and poisonings were reported from 16 villages in seven out of 12 districts.

Borgou represents approximately 50% of the total cotton growing area of Benin. If poisonings occurred at the same rate throughout all cotton growing areas, at least 70 people may have died as a result of endosulfan use.

In one village in Borgou province, three brothers between the ages of 12 and 14 were weeding in their father's field planted with cotton and corn that had been sprayed with endosulfan the previous day. When they finished their work, they ate some of the corn. Within 15 minutes, the boys began vomiting. In spite of being hospitalized, one of the children died.

It is common practice for farmers in Benin to grow other food crops around cotton fields, to leave voluntarily emerging food crop seedlings in cotton fields, to spray food stocks and to re-use pesticide containers. Farmers cannot afford and do not have access to proper protective clothing for pesticide application, and tend to spray barefoot or in sandals and without use of safety goggles, gloves, long sleeves or respirators. Men, women and children, as well as sheep, goats and chickens, can be in the field during spraying. In addition, many farming families live on diets low in protein which often results in a higher susceptibility to pesticide poisoning.

Cotton insecticides are virtually the only pesticides available in the rural area of northern Benin and the only ones delivered on a credit loan basis. This may account for some of the hazardous uses of the insecticides, such as on food crops or in storage. In addition, farmers are not adequately informed about the hazards associated with the products they use.

Such inappropriate uses of cotton pesticides in West Africa are well known to cotton research institutes and should have been taken into account when selecting insecticides for large-scale application. The project should re-examine the problem and invite other stakeholders to participate in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of strategies to manage cotton pests, pesticides and pesticide resistance. IRAC was formed by the world's agrochemical companies in 1984 to assess the growing threat of pest resistance around the globe.

Source: Pesticides News 74, March 2000.
Contact: Pesticide Action Network UK
Eurolink Centre, 49 Effra Road, London SW2 1BZ UK
phone (44-020) 7274 8895    fax (44-020) 7274 9084
email admin@pan-uk.org     http://www.pan-uk.org

PANUPS is a weekly email news service providing resource guides and reporting on pesticide issues that don't always get coverage by the mainstream media. It's produced by Pesticide Action Network North America, a non-profit and non-governmental organization working to advance sustainable alternatives to pesticides worldwide.

You can join our efforts! We gladly accept donations for our work and all contributions are tax deductible in the United States. Visit our extensive web site at http://www.panna.org to learn more about getting involved.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 14 Jun 2000 13:22:53 +0100
From: "jcummins" jcummins@julian.uwo.ca

Flourescent Pseudomonads Good Biotech Without Genetic Modification

The paper below deals with bacteria called fluorescent psuedomonads that provide excellent organic control of microbial pathogens. Some governments are reluctant to approve such excellent organic controls and will not allow their sale. However, GM psuedomonads have been sold to organic farmers who have not been fully informed of their genetic modification.

"Biocontrol ability of fluorescent pseudomonads genetically dissected: importance of positive feedback regulation"
Dieter Haas, Caroline Blumer and Christoph Keel

Root diseases caused by fungal pathogens can be suppressed by certain rhizobacteria that effectively colonize the roots and produce extracellular antifungal compounds. To be effective, biocontrol bacteria need to be present at sufficiently high cell densities. These conditions favor the operation of positive feedback mechanisms that control the production of antifungal compounds in biocontrol strains of fluorescent pseudomonads, via both transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms. Addresses

Laboratoire de Biologie Microbienne, Universite de Lausanne, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland e-mail: Dieter.Haas@lbm.unil.ch Current Opinion in Biotechnology 2000, 11:290-297


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 15 Jun 2000 12:02:45 +0100
From: jill davies rivercare@blackfoot.net

I have placed some question marks in brackets...[??]...

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: 14 JUNE 2000 AT 14:00 ET US

New Scientist authors: Mark Robins and Michael Le Page
New Scientist issue: 17th June 2000

PLEASE MENTION NEW SCIENTIST AS THE SOURCE OF THIS STORY AND, IF PUBLISHING ONLINE, PLEASE CARRY A HYPERLINK TO: http://www.newscientist.com

Can a deadly spider replace chemical pesticides?

US CONTACT – New Scientist Washington office
newscidc@idt.net 202-452-1178
http://www.newscientist.com

VIRUSES given a gene for a toxin from one of the world's deadliest spiders could replace chemical pesticides, say researchers in the US. They plan to carry out field trials, although there are fears about the wisdom of releasing such viruses.

Glenn King of the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington and his colleagues recently identified a unique family of toxins in the venom of a funnel-web spider. These neurotoxins are lethal when injected into insect tissues, yet have no effect if eaten by insects or other animals (Nature Structural Biology, vol 7, p 505).

King's team is now engineering the gene for one of these toxins into baculoviruses, common viruses that infect certain moths and butterflies, and have long been used as "biopesticides". When the modified baculovirus infects an insect, the insect's cells [??] should start to produce the toxin, killing it faster than wild viruses. Because the host dies quickly, before much virus can replicate, the modified virus shouldn't persist in the environment, [???] say the researchers.

"I welcome a potentially environmentally friendly pest control but it's abundantly clear we need to be more firm about risk issues," comments George McGavin, an entomologist at Oxford University. "If we are not 100 per cent sure, it shouldn't be in the field."

There have already been several field trials worldwide of baculoviruses given a gene for a scorpion toxin (New Scientist, 21 January 1995, p 6). However, most of the scorpion toxin made in infected insects fails to fold into the correct shape, says King. By contrast, tests in bacteria [??] suggest that almost 100 per cent of the spider toxin should fold properly [??], making the virus deadlier.

King thinks engineering toxin genes into viruses is preferable to adding them to plants, such as Bt maize. Not only does it mean that people do not have to eat plants that produce insecticidal toxins, but only target insects will be affected, he says. "These viruses can be exquisitely specific, right down to infecting individual species," King claims. "This means that only the pest insects will be killed whilst beneficial insects such as bees remain unaffected."

However, critics fear that the virus will spread into the environment and affect other kinds of butterflies and moths. "A containment environment could not possibly hold a virus," says McGavin, who opposed trials of a scorpion toxin virus in Oxfordshire in the 1990s. "If you could get a specific baculovirus it would be great, but baculoviruses do pass on {to other species}."

There are also fears that the toxin gene might be transferred to other viruses. "There is no instance of a toxin gene jumping from virus A to virus B," says Bruce Hammock of the University of California, Davis, who is also working on modified baculoviruses. "But if it jumped, the new virus would become less effective." [????][what if it meets a CaMV promoter?]

Jenny Cory of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Oxford agrees transfer of the toxin gene is unlikely, but thinks further tests would be helpful. "It's a vicious circle," she says, "you have to do a risk assessment before you do the experiment but we don't know all the risks without doing field experiments in the first place."

~~~~~ Jill Davies ~~~ River Care ~~~~
rivercare@blackfoot.net
To study the Way is to study the self.
To study the self is to forget the self
and to be enlightened by all things.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 15 Jun 2000 15:08:42 +0100
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk

Buffer zone for GM crops 'does not work'

By Melissa Kite And Valerie Elliott, June 14 2000
http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/news/pages/tim/2000/06/14/timpolpol....

THE row over genetically modified crops deepened last night when ministers said that there was no safe planting distance to prevent contamination of normal crops.

Michael Meacher, the Environment Minister, admitted that the best that could be hoped for was to minimise the level of contamination. It would then be up to consumers to decide what level of contamination was acceptable.

Mr Meacher's remarks come after last week's announcement by the Government that it was urgently reviewing separation distances between

GM and non-GM crops in the light of the Advanta oilseed fiasco.

The Soil Association has threatened legal action against the Government unless it moves to protect organic farmers, whose livelihood is in jeopardy if crops are contaminated by GM pollen. The Government has agreed to consult neighbouring farmers before GM trials are permitted.

At present the Government has laid down 200m (650ft) as the minimum distance between sweetcorn and GM maize, 50m (164ft) for oilseed rape and forage maize, and 6m (20ft) for sugar and fodder beet.

Anti-GM campiagners have persistently argued that GM pollen can travel over wide distances. Organic farmers believe there should be a buffer zone of at least six miles between their crops and a GM crop. This distance is based on the distance that a bee is likely to travel, usually no more than four to five miles.

Pete Riley, a Friends of the Earth Real Food campaigner, said yesterday: "At last a government minister agrees with us. What we need now is action to prevent the current farmscale trails and test sites contaminating crops."

He said that Mr Meacher had "let a large yowling cat out of the bag" and he denounced the present debate over separation distances as "a complete waste of time".

Mr Meacher's comments came during Question Time exchanges on separation distances. He told MPs: "It is false to pretend that there is any distance which is going to prevent some contamination.

"The question is how we can absolutely minimise that to a level which is acceptable to those buying the product because it is they who buy the product which will have to determine what degree of GM in a non-GM food is acceptable to them."


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 15 Jun 2000 18:25:15 +0100
From: "jcummins" jcummins@julian.uwo.ca

The paper below illustrates the consequences of lateral gene flow in bacteria. Can Bt toxin genes move from corn to conquer the world? B anthracis is the cause of anthrax disease and the loved one of fanatic dictators.

Bacillus Thuringiensis And Its Relatives

MICROBIOLOGY: One for All and All for One
Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 66, 2627 (2000).

Remarkably, it appears that the ubiquitous soil-living bacterium and occasional food-poisoning culprit Bacillus cereus, the widely used insect biocontrol pathogen Bacillus thuringiensis, and the life-threatening biological warfare agent Bacillus anthracis are the same species, despite the striking differences in phenotype. The secret appears to lie in the plasmids harboured by B. anthracis and B. thuringiensis.

When ten B. cereus-like strains were isolated for biochemical and genetic analysis from soil taken from anthrax outbreak sites, they were found by Helgason et al. to have the same chromosomal marker as the implicated B. anthracis strains, but no plasmids. In their natural environments these species have a relatively low rate of clone formation, and it is known that all three Bacillus species are naturally able to take up plasmids. Indeed, plasmid exchange between B. cereus and B. anthracis has been verified experimentally. However, before sounding a general alarm, it cannot be ruled out that there is some other special, but as yet undetected, feature of the B. anthracis genome that makes it alone of the three species particularly adept at retrieving and retaining virulence plasmids. – CA


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 16 Jun 2000 04:36:28 +0100
From: Robert Mann robt_m@talk.co.nz

Context of Possible Traceback Epidemiology on Harm from GEF

Advocates of GEF routinely claim no harm has been recorded from GEF.

The first answer to this deceitful line is the EMS caused by Showa Denko L-tryptophan impurities – thousands poisoned, scores killed by a "pure" natural compound which is indeed required by the human.

The second main answer is that large numbers of people could be seriously harmed by GEF while no medicos noticed. If the SDKK tryptophan had caused not the new illness EMS but a common illness such as asthma, or delayed harm e.g. severe mental retardation in some of those whose mothers took it early in pregnancy, we would still not know it to be harmful. I am astonished at medical school profs who deny this.

GEF is typically unlabelled, whereas the SDKK Trp was subject to traceback studies.

{I hasten to add that labelling is not an ethical answer if propounded as essentially the only governmental action needed. Tracing the cause is cold comfort to the crippled. I therefore despise politicians such as Susan Kedgley who claim labelling will cause market failure – GEF so labelled will be boycotted on her advice, causing collapse of the market, she claims. Even if this megalomania were plausible, it fails to protect people from the severe harm that GEF may do before she learns of it.}

Epidemiology on harm from GEF involves great difficulties even if the GEF is labelled. The ever-changing context is illustrated by the story below.

R


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 16 Jun 2000 04:36:28 +0100
From: Robert Mann robt_m@talk.co.nz

Dead Birds Are a Portent Of Return of West Nile Virus

June 10, 2000, New York Times

Three crows found dead – two in New York State and one in New Jersey -- were confirmed yesterday as this year's first known victims of the West Nile virus, the mosquito-borne disease that killed seven people in New York City last year, health officials said.

<snip>

Last summer's outbreak prompted widespread fear of the virus, and sweeping efforts by city, county and state health officials to monitor for the disease this year and to try to eradicate the mosquito population through treatment of breeding grounds with larvicide and public education campaigns.

Officials hope to avoid the aerial spraying that was used last year, when the outbreak was discovered late in the summer and many less-drastic methods of preventing mosquitoes from hatching would no longer have been effective.

Yesterday's cases surfaced much earlier in the year than the first cases last year, but Dr. Ostraff cautioned against any inference that the disease may be more widespread this summer. "Last year," he said, "nobody was looking for the virus."

- -
Robt Mann
Mulgoon Professor emeritus of Environmental Studies, U of Auckland consultant stirrer & motorcyclist
P O Box 28878, Remuera, Auckland 1005, New Zealand (9) 524 2949


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 16 Jun 2000 04:39:10 +0100
From: Robert Mann robt_m@talk.co.nz

James Watson endorses scientists "playing God"

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/UK/Science/2000-05/dna170500.sh....

At the annual meeting of the British all-party Parliamentary and Scientific Committee held in mid-May, James Watson argued that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the idea of scientists "playing god" by manipulating the human genome. Watson rejected criticism of human germline engineering by asking, "[I]n all honesty, if scientists don't play god, who will?"

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


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 18 Jun 2000 09:36:24 +0100
From: "jcummins" jcummins@julian.uwo.ca

Commandments from James Watson

Robert Mann forwarded the following quote on James Watson"At the annual meeting of the British all-party Parliamentary and Scientific Committee held in mid-May, James Watson argued that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the idea of scientists "playing god" by manipulating the human genome. Watson rejected criticism of human germline engineering by asking, "[I]n all honesty, if scientists don't play god, who will?"

I was reminded of Watson's famous declaration to the students of MIT in 1987 in a banquet address he proclaimed that the opponents of genetic engineering were just "shits" and "kooks". That declaration set the attitude of genetic engineers ever since and established the basis for government policy in North America. Now that he openly admits that he is indeed ,god, it gives genetic engineers and bureaucrats something to pray to.


Top PreviousFront Page

Date: 18 Jun 2000 13:08:48 +0100
From: jill davies rivercare@blackfoot.net
From the Bretton Woods Project – London, UK

Dear Friends,

Attached and below is our statement on the resignation of Ravi Kanbur as lead author of the World Bank's forthcoming World Development Report on Poverty. This is apparently over a policy row on globalisation issues.

Author of World Bank report resigns in protest of muzzling

14 June 2000

Sections:
Resignation
Background notes
Kanbur statement on process integrity
About the WDR
About Ravi Kanbur
About the Bretton Woods Project
Resources available:

Resignation

Ravi Kanbur's resignation as World Development Report lead author: a serious blow for the World Bank and for sensible discussion of globalisation

Ravi Kanbur, lead author of the World Bank's forthcoming World Development Report (WDR) on Poverty, has tendered his resignation. He has sent a letter to senior Bank management expressing his concerns about what he saw as unreasonable pressure to tone down WDR sections on globalisation. Reliable Washington sources indicate that US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has got directly involved in re-writing the globalisation sections of this report, which is likely to be extremely prominent in future discussions of international issues and in guiding aid interventions.

Ravi Kanbur, T.H. Lee Professor of World Affairs, Cornell University, was appointed by the Bank in Spring 1998 to lead the team writing this report. His writings and the genuine efforts he made to commission research from and consult a range of groups across the world have won him much respect. Many people had hoped the World Bank's report for this year might break new ground compared to its predecessors and open up debates on issues such as free trade and political disempowerment.

Kanbur was at pains to stress that policy-makers must examine the detailed, disaggregated impacts on different population groups, rather than relying on general formulae. The organisations which have fed into this report are very concerned to know what will happen to it now that Kanbur has been forced out.

Alex Wilks, Coordinator of the Bretton Woods Project, commented: "The resignation of the lead author of this flagship Bank report confirms our view that the World Bank is unable to accept dissenting views, whether from insiders or outsiders. Coming soon after Joe Stiglitz departed as Chief Economist this is a major blow for an institution trying to position itself as a 'knowledge Bank' and a 'listening Bank'" "It raises questions of who really calls the shots at the Bank and what evidence or opinions about the impacts of globalisation they are trying to suppress".

At Ravi Kanbur's request, the Bretton Woods Project and New Policy Institue ran an electronic conference to discuss the WDR first draft which (a first for the Bank) was disseminated in January this year. The conference attracted 1,523 people from over 80 countries. Many respondents felt that the draft WDR 2000/01 reflected real progress compared to its predecessors, with a increased examination of non-income dimensions of poverty and recognition of insecurity, voicelessness and powerlessness.

It moved beyond national average figures on poverty incidence to examine the many factors which influence poverty outcomes for vulnerable population groups. A number of contributors, however, urged the WDR to be bolder in its conclusions, particularly on the political obstacles to implementing pro-poor policies, and the need for a rights-based approach to press Northern countries to do more on trade and environmental degradation. In his 19 May response to the conference, Kanbur said that his team was looking to strengthen their lines on some of these issues, in particular to: "revise the concluding recommendations to bring global actions to center stage".

Background notes

Kanbur statement on process integrity

In a letter to the Bretton Woods Project of 17 July 1998 Kanbur stated: "since you asked for my views, I wanted to let you know my own personal philosophy and perspective as we go into the processes leading up to the Poverty WDR. First and foremost, I want to stress that I would stand behind any Report that I put my name to, and would not submit to any substantive editing I did not agree with".

UK government funding, research input Many UK organisations were involved in submitting research or engaging in consultations on the WDR. The UK government gave the Bank an additional grant of £750,000, aiming to help the report team "give a voice to poor people in the preparation of the World Bank's millenium World Development Report" [DFID News Release, 4 December, 1998]. A number of UK organisations, including Oxfam, IDS, ODI, Christian Aid and CREDIT contributed research to the report. The WDR's findings are likely to be influential on the drafting of the UK government's white paper on globalisation, due this November.

About the WDR

The Bank produces World Development Reports every year. The ones at the start of each decade, however, are the most influential as they take an overall look at the 1990 report was very influential in the Bank and for many aid agencies and researchers across the world. This WDR is due to be signed off by the Bank Board this month, then printed in time to be launched in mid-September, just before the World Bank/IMF annual meetings in Prague.

WDR's are officially not documents of the Executive Board of the World Bank, and is thus not an official policy document, it is a document prepared by the Chief Economist's staff, and therefore ultimately represents the views of staff and management. At the same time, the process of preparation of WDRs to become more consultative, to include views of outsiders.

"There is no doubt that wide ranging consultation does indeed influence the team's thinking and perspective as alternative views are encountered and debated." Newsletter Update on WDR (World Development Report)2000/01, No. 1, January 1999 http://www.worldbank.org/poverty/wdrpoverty/newsl/newsl

Bank President James Wolfensohn, stated in a letter to the Bretton Woods Project of 26 August, 1998 that "I view WDRs as being one of the Bank's critical instruments for dialogue with the development community at large. I have also emphasized that we should not just be reciting generic answers but raising fundamental questions to which there are no easy answers".

About Ravi Kanbur

Ravi Kanbur, the T.H. Lee Professor of World Affairs at Cornell University is on leave of absence from his post for the academic year 1999-2000 to lead this report. A UK citizen, Kanbur was on the staff of the World Bank from 1989 to 1997, serving successively as Adviser, Senior Adviser, Resident Representative in Ghana, Chief Economist for Africa, and Principal Adviser to the Chief Economist.

About the Bretton Woods Project

The Bretton Woods Project works with UK-based NGOs to monitor the World Bank and IMF. Groups in the network which established the Project include Christian Aid, WWF, New Economics Foundation and World Development Movement. See: http://www.brettonwoodsproject.org

Resources available:

For more information on the e-conference, including a full archive of contributions, see: http://www.worldbank.org/devforum/forum_poverty.html

For more general background on the WDR (World Development Reports), see: http://www.worldbank.org/poverty/wdrpoverty

The letters and documents mentioned in this statement are all also available from the Bretton Woods Project by fax or post.

~~~~~ Jill Davies ~~~ River Care ~~~~
rivercare@blackfoot.net
To study the Way is to study the self.
To study the self is to forget the self
and to be enlightened by all things.