Message Number: YG4435 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Linda Iroff
Date: 2001-06-09 07:32:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Bob C: A MAD Look At Genetically Altered Foods

Sukie brought up some excellent cautionary points about genetically
modified foods.

I have a couple more to add.

Bob suggested that a plant could have a gene added to make it more
resistent to pests, and thus less pesticide could be used on the crop--a
good thing. But I've also read of a gene being added that made the plant
more resistent to herbicides, so more poison could be spread on the fields
to kill competing plants. I would not consider this a good thing.

Also, Bob also gives a hypothetical example of creating a cow that could
give both rich creamy milk and juicy hamburgers. This could result in fewer
breeds of cows, and Bob would be the first to tell you the loss of genetic
material is dangerous to the species as a whole. Of course this type of
loss of diversity can come from normal breeding practices as well. But
imagine a Scottish hill-side of Dolly-cloned sheep. Along comes a virus or
something that the original Dolly was susceptible to, and you've wiped out
a whole herd, where only a small percentage of a normal genetically diverse
population may have been effected.

To reiterate what Sukie said, eating genetically engineered food probably
does not pose a treat to most of the population, be it ferret or human. But
this is not the same as saying genetic engineering may not pose a treat to
the environment or to other species.

EXTREME caution is needed in what is being done, why, and what the
implications and possible consequences are. Even with this, something will
undoubtably go wrong somewhere at sometime. Technology is just like that.

Linda Iroff
a scientist by training and technologist by vocation
Oberlin OH

Linda Iroff
Oberlin OH