Genetically altered food - evidence of benefit or harm?

Eli Hestermann ehestermann at whoi.edu
Wed Apr 23 08:12:32 EST 1997

Oz wrote:
> >- Danger associated to the outcrossing of specific DNA strains to
> >intestine-flora/-fauna.
> >The most appealing theory in this is the danger associated with the
> >outcrossing of antibiotic-genes from fresh products (for example
> >lettuce) to pathogenic micro-organism in the intestines.
> Apart from Monsano's stupidity in including this as a marker, which
> should IMHO henceforth be prohibited I can see little advantage in
> introducing antibiotic genes into plants and NO advantage to including
> antibiotic resistance genes.
> There are very few bacterial diseases of plants, just my luck that I
> have a serious outbreak of one (pea bacterial wilt), the first I have
> come across in 20 years. I don't in any case think that introducing an
> antibiotic gene is a good way to solve this particular disease anyway.

I believe you have missed the point of antibiotic resistance genes in
engineered plants.  They're left-overs from the process that tranferred
the gene of interest to the plant, not, as you imply, the gene of
primary interest.  The point is not to introduce these genes into
plants.  Correct me if I'm eeming wise and remaining ignorant :)
Eli V. Hestermann
ehestermann at whoi.edu
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
"Vita brevis est, ars longa" - Seneca

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