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controversies and ethics

Wayne M. Barnes, Ph.D. barnes at BIODEC.WUSTL.EDU
Mon Jan 30 18:43:40 EST 1995

Dear Peter Schuerman,

       Your controversy No. 1. is only valid for 'weak Bt genes'.  Such 
genes could induce a low level of sickness that the insects could survive, 
yet possibly mutate resistance to.  

       In fact, the Bt genes that the companies have developed are very 
strong, and there is no way that an insect can survive a few bites.  

       I believe a valid analogy is that of selecting flies that are 
resistant to swatting by hitting them with a single sheet of paper for a 
few generations, gradually increasing the sheets of paper that they are 
swatted with.

        The current crop of Bt genes for transgenic plants are like hitting 
each insect with a hammer on an anvil.  No way can the insects evolve 
resistance to a hammer.  

        The Bt genes work so well not by delivering more ICP per acre 
than is currently done topically, but by delivering ICP so efficiently.  
And they only deliver to an insect which is actually eating the plant, and 
they are restricted as to which orders of insect they are active against.  

Barnes at biodec.wustl.edu    -------------------------
Wayne M. Barnes, Ph.D.             fax: 314/362-7183
Dept. Biochemistry 8231, Washington Univ. Med.School
4566 Scott Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri 63110 USA       ph: 314/362-3351

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