Genetic engineering is a Good Thing?

Oz Oz at upthorpe.demon.co.uk
Thu Oct 8 00:49:32 EST 1998


In article <1998Oct7.134428.20146 at jarvis.cs.toronto.edu>, Beverly
Erlebacher <bae at cs.toronto.edu> writes

>One of he worst legacies of the Vietnam war is the very high incidence of
>children born with limb defects and neurological abnormalities after their
>parents were exposed to Agent Orange.  

I don't think anyone would consider AO an example of a properly applied
pesticide and the amount of dioxin it sometimes contained was way in
excess of that allowed for pesticide use.

>Dioxins and other congeners are both
>mutagenic and teratogenic.  They break down slowly, so people in areas heavily
>dosed with Agent Orange continued to be exposed to them for years afterwards.
>How many seriously disabled people do you think a subsistance farming village
>can support?

OK, so no deaths, but some evidence of known teratogens/mutagens causing
birth defects.

>>>> >and probably at least a few other "properly
>>>> >handled" pesticides have all caused the deaths of many,
>
>The incidence of leukemias and other cancers has increased remarkably in
>US corn and grain farmers and their families over the past 20-30 years, 
>out of proportion to the incidence of these cancers in other rural residents 
>or the population as a whole.

Strangely we have such statistical clumping, but it seems to be
associated with nuclear reactor sites and children of city people moving
into country areas. I am always minded of the statistical probability of
something sometime being significant somewhere. Ie amongst all the
myriad of really improbable things that could happen, some are
statistically bound to.

>A survey of veterinarians found that pet dogs are four times more likely
>to get leukemia if they belong to families that use commercial lawn services
>to spray their lawns with pesticides on a regular basis.  It's too hard to
>gather data on the children who play on the lawns with the dogs, however.

I wouldn't mind betting that those families also had children with
significantly more plastic toys than the rest too.

-- 
Oz



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