genetically engineered crops

Jim Wright jwright at
Sun Sep 20 13:21:48 EST 1998

<> wrote:
> >In fact, biotechnology, including genetic engineering has the capacity for
>infinite harm.
>Please give one, just one, example of any GE food  which has caused harm?

I didn't say any GE food had caused harm. I said GE had the capacity for 
infinite harm, which seems self evident. I eat GE food (canola oil for 
sure) without fear. 

>There are at least 3 crops now in production which are products of
>biotechnology which have been approved by the US EPA and Canadian Regulatory
>Affairs. These crops include canola, corn and soybeans. These three crops
>have a naturally occurring enzyme that allow the plant to the non-selective
>herbicide, glufosinate. The chemistry of this enzyme has  proven safe
>through many years of environmental studies and allows crop production at a
>lower cost due to less herbicide use at much lower rates of active
>ingredient than has been used before.

Well yes, I know all about that, being a user of it. Did you mean 
"glyphosate"(Roundup)  I don't know that "glyphosinate" (Liberty) is 
much cheaper or more effective, although I don't doubt that it is 
relatively safe. It didn't work for me, last year, and I ended up 
respraying with conventional herbicides. Of course the rate that I was 
assured was completely adequate that year has now been adjusted higher 
this year. So much for years and years of testing. Always something new 
to learn, eh? 
>>That being said, I think GE also has the capacity so help solve many of
>>the problems of agriculture. What determines it's uses in the future will
>>depend on a vigilant population.
>I agree 100%.

>>"Engineering" implies intent. Are you suggesting natural evolution is
>Plants have through  millions of years evolution developed chemical defenses
>against insect and animal which feed on leaves, roots and flowers. Pyrethrum
>is a natural occurring insecticide which comes from chrysanthemums. This
>compound has be used for many, many years as an effect insect control. But
>it is highly toxic to fish and other animals. So yes plants have
>"engineered" defenses  in order to survive against those organisms that
>could do them harm. Intentional or not the important note is it happen long
>before man was around.

Well, my dictionary defines engineering only with repect to the 
intentional designs of man, not to the products of evolution. 
Any change, natural mutation or 'engineered' has the capacity to create
great dislocations in our environment. But we're responsible for the
engineered ones!
>> No one has any reason to be concerned with
>>No fool, perhaps.
>As a scientist I know the science. I don't believe the pseudo-science that
>is based on fear, misinformation and political intent. Again what food
>produced by biotechnology has harm anyone? Assumption of something new is
>dangerous is itself a foolish

Well, it's a lot safer than assuming that something new is safe.
Millions of years of evolution have ingrained that in us.  I think it is 
only natural to be suspicious of things that are new and unknown, and 
proponents shouldn't expect a free hand in introducing novel
>>I'm willing to accept that nothing produced so far is dangerous, but I
>>respect others who aren't so sure.
>Who are these who say biotechnology is unsafe? Scientist who have done
>research on these products? Government officials who have scientific
>evidence of harmful effects? Or maybe people who really don't know anything
>about biotechnology and are basing assumptions on faulty data and may have
>some political agenda in mind?

Ease up on the paranoia, my friend. There is ample evidence over the 
years that the machinations of obscure, secretive organisations with 
connections to power and in pursuit of profit should not be trusted, 
carte blanche. However you see yourselves in the biotech industry, I 
think you haven't done much of a job of explaining the science, so far.
Understandable, considering the pace of change. The last people I'd hand
my future over to would be a 'brain trust'.

Biotechnology is inherently unsafe.  Ethical, informed people can use it 
relatively safely. Don't expect me to assume that everyone in the biotech
industry is ethical. In my experience, salesmen will tell the public 
whatever they need to to keep their jobs. The exceptions end up doing
something else, eventually. 
>I know the science. I have tested these products. As one who has first hand
>knowledge,  biotechnology is safe and as more products become available to
>the consumers worldwide, the  science of fact will supercede the fear based
>in ignorance.

I look forward to great things from biotechnology. 



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