controversies & ethics

Patrick O'Neil patrick at corona
Fri Feb 10 01:52:53 EST 1995

On Wed, 1 Feb 1995, Howard M. Bomze wrote:
>    Steve Bonne has been saying that there are no new ethical
> considerations for agricultural biotechnologies.  However, he has been
> missing one very important one, that is the possibility of an engineered
> gene to be transfered to a different species. 

This already happens in nature by various means, one of which is viral.  
There is no absolute genetic sanctity in nature.  As for transgenics, 
especially in plants, one tool for introducing foreign genes is 
agrobacteria.  This microbe is fully capable of vectoring interspecific 
DNA without lab manipulation.  The DNA so introduced in the lab does not 
carry any special DNA destabilizer, rather, it depends on the rather 
scattershot and low-yield natural method of homologous recombination or 
illegitimate recombination.  Another method has absolutely no danger of 
transfering a new DNA transfer method to nature:  the gene gun.  DNA of 
interest bound to microscopic gold beads and shot into cells offers 
absolutely no threat of tranfering into an uncontrollable means of 
interspecific gene transfer in the wild.

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