Janice M. Glime jmglime at MTU.EDU
Wed Oct 27 17:19:07 EST 1999

  I don't think the issue of genetically modified food is a black and
white issue where I can give a cover vote.  For one thing, I would like to
know when the foods I eat have been changed because it changes the ratio
of food content.  For example, higher CO2 causes a change in the ratio of
carbohydrate to protein, and certainly gene changes are likely to do the
same by changing efficiencies and the proportion of carbon put into
various components.  For another, I do not want antiherbivore compounds
put in my foods.  While a small amount in my diet is not likely to hurt
me, if this becomes a common practice, like the use of artificial
sweeteners did, my diet will no longer contain just a small amount and
some of these may prove to be detrimental to my health.  Our diets are
balanced among a variety of foods that we have learned to combine in
certain ways, to avoid because of food allergies, or whatever, and the
rapidity of change that is possible with genetic engineering leaves us
with no history from which to learn what will make a healthy diet. 
  When I know that moss genes are being moved into tobacco to prevent
desiccation damage or to prevent herbivory, I can expect the next step to
be to move them to food plants.  But I question how healthy it is for us
to eat foods with compounds that prevent nearly every animal on this
planet from eating mosses!
  The effects of genetic engineering on our foods has the potential to be  
much more rapid than any manipulation we have experienced in the past, and
the effects on us are likely to be slow, insidious, and difficult to
recognize.  It may be decades before we learn what we have done to
  Therefore, I am not ready to support or to reject a wholesale ban on
genetically engineered food.  But I do think the public has a right to
know what has been "added" to their foods, what has been altered, and why.
If the general public would prefer to pay more for food because more of it
has fed the pests, then the general public should have that right.
 Janice M. Glime, Professor  
 Department of Biological Sciences
 Michigan Technological University
 Houghton, MI 49931-1295
 jmglime at mtu.edu
 FAX 906-487-3167 

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