Way back in the 80's I took my first course in genetic engineering. The subject was taught by an extremely competent woman on a Federal advisory board (Recombinant Advisory Committee). Walking away from that course, I had the overall feeling that, taking conservative precautions, genetic engineering is safe and will benefit humanity. Perhaps it may still. I was excited at the prospect of the wonder drug, "interferon," that was being taunted as the next cancer treatment; no more chemo! I also felt that non-swine insulin was tremendous help to diabetics. During my course, we learnt about the infamous "strawberries" experiment. For those who don't know the story, I will tell it to the best of my memory.

Strawberries are known to freeze at certain temperatures; this can ruin the crop. Researchers in SF decided to try to alter the plant so that it would not freeze at 32 F. This all took place on the roof of a building on the West Coast. It worked, and "ice minus" was created. It also created tremendous opposition because of the science of the technique. Since researchers had taken few environmental precautions, the operation was, sensibly, shut down.

Currently scientists (or are they farmers?) are allowed to grow food whose genetic make-up has been altered in some way. Last year in SF, I ate a G-Eng tomato. At the time, I thought that it compared to an average hothouse tomato. Today, just about everyone who drinks milk or eats milk-based products, enjoy it from cows who have been injected with BGH. This causes an increase in the production of milk. It also has negative ramifications for cows and humans. BGH causes cows to be more prone to infections (it would stand to reason if the cow is overproducing) and these infections lead to an increased use of antibiotics. Farmers need to use antibiotics to cure the cows infection. Ultimately the antibiotics are excreted in the milk. Get the picture?

Some of this stuff is quite harmless. Many researchers have taken impeccable precautions and true care about our environment and humanity. For example, in the days of the "strawberry" incident, researchers altered a gene in the plant in response to the natural environment. Heavy research in G-Eng lead to the current treatments for Multiple Sclerosis (interferon).

Now researchers have taken this a step further by altering their genetic make up of crops so they have an increased tolerance to pesticides. What this means to the average consumer is that, once these new crops are grown, harsher and more severe pesticides can be used on the crops, because they have been developed to withstand these chemicals. We are already in the days where every apple we eat can have up to 9 pesticides that do not all wash or peel off. Other researchers answer to their pay check first and provide big business with new breeds of fruits and vegetables that can survive harsher and harsher pesticides. One company in particular, Monsanto, has been cited by the Pure Food Campaign.


Pure Food Campaign - Provides a quickie lesson in some of the harmful effects of genetically engineered food products. Although they are a bit neurotic one should be familiar with the issues.

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Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882)

Gregor Mendel (JLH Lab)

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