Cites for "Need Safeguards for Gene-Tinkered Foods"

Don Christie dc_ags at
Mon Jun 28 06:57:11 EST 1993

In article <C97sr8.LHG at>, wcsbeau at (OPIRG) writes:

>J.E. Cummins provided the following references for his article
>_Tinkered_Genes_in_the_Supermarket_. He mentioned that he has had
>trouble with popular press publishers stripping references out of
>the texts of articles he has submitted.  He should be faxing us more
>next week; he's doing work on an Oneida reserve this weekend.

Tell Dr. Cummins `thank you' for the list of references. It's too bad
he doesn't have net access so I could thank him more directly.

>[NB (again, for those who missed it the first 2 times),
>OPIRG-Carleton posts this to further informed debate on this important
>subject, not to take sides.  As part of our mandate, we have often
>sponsored speakers many (if not all) of us do NOT completely agree
>with (eg., Paul Watson, Murray Bookchin, Naomi Wolf, David Cliche),
>and who certainly wouldn't agree with each other. (Bookchin
>had some choice words about Watson...)] 

Here's a suggestion: Perhaps OPIRG-Carleton could sponsor Dr. Cummins
to the extent that he has direct net access... that way, those of
you who do not agree with his point of view would not be forced to
publish his words for him. 

>In addition, Cummins sent along some other information including an
>example of what he called a "typical trial approval from Agriculture
>Canada". Condition #7 says "no alfalfa will be grown after the site
>for 3 years after the harvest." Condition #8 says "all volunteer
>plants will be destroyed before setting seed following the test",
>and condition #9 is "no seed or harvested plant matter will enter
>human or livestock food/feed chains". Cummins says that this points
>out that AgCan realizes the risk of gene transfers.

You say that the document you cite is a `typical trial approval'...
couldn't it be that AgCan has a general set of guidelines vis-a-vis
research projects and that these are some of them? I disagree
with Dr. Cummins' conclusion. The fact that AgCan has a framework of
established guidelines for researchers only points out the fact that
AgCan recognizes that *no* research materials should be allowed to
escape control... just common sense, I would think... and not
necessarily a case for the dangers of biotechnology. 

>He also sent along a copy of a news report from the *Kitchener-
>Waterloo Record*, dated Jan. 4th, 1993, about Agriculture Canada
>"losing" a report on a monitored plot of genetically-engineered
>corn. In the article Cummins is referred to as "an outspoken critic
>of government regulation of research trials with transgenic plants".

I take it we are expected to draw the conclusion that since the
report was `lost' *and* since it criticized Dr. Cummins, that the
`loss' was actually an act of censorship... perpetrated by the good
Doctor's opponents?

>For a more cool-headed popular discussion of this issue, Friday's
>(June 25, 1993, OpEd) *Globe and Mail* had an article by Abby Lippman
>(@ McGill's dept. of epidemiology, & chair of the human genetics
>committee of the Council for Responsible Genetics) and Philip L.
>Bereano (@ U of Washington's College of Engineering, & chair of CRG's
>commercial biotechnilogical and environment committee). A short
>excerpt: "Despite the surrounding hype, genetic engineering is not
>only about alleviating pain and suffering. The image of the altruistic
>scientists expanding the frontiers of knowledge to cure disease has
>been compromised by the reality of the entrepreneurial scientists...
>more and more of whom are intimately linked to multinational
>corporations and venture capitalists." (NB: the *Globe* is a
>conservative business-oriented newspaper.)

The `image' to which these respected authors refer does not, and in
fact never has existed... call me cynical if you will, but it seems
to me that researchers and scientists have to live in the same world
as the rest of us.... and as such, are required to make a living and
pay bills... many enter their professions with high ideals and dreams
of `shaking the world' but eventually the realities of the work-a-day
world catch up. 

The decline in university-sponsored and government
sponsored research funds has forced this group to look more and more
to the corporate sector to fund projects. In view of this, it is
hardly surprising that many projects would focus on topics which are
of interest to those corporate sponsors. This is a far cry, however
from the notion that corporate funding compromises the objectivity
of the results. Most researchers publish their work in peer-reviewed
journals... a forum in which `mercenary science' is quickly exposed.

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