Monday, May 10, 2004

at night, all swans are black

Some guys at Monsanto got so freaked out by Traavik's research in the Phillipines [2nd item] on potential human health effects of Bt pollen that they recklessly published an un-peer-reviewed paper on AgBioView, possibly threatening the continued existence of civilization, in order to refute him. E. Sachs, et al., "Survival and Activity of Cauliflower Mosaic Virus Promoter in Mammalian Systems is Nothing New," link forthcoming. Note the beautiful strategy: whenever someone brings up a problem with the technology, they say, "but we've known about that for years". [cf. Ninagate, on the alleged precision of the engineering process for more of the same]. Now, in this case, it seems likely to me that the Cauliflower Mosaic virus, commonly engineered into GM crops, is not going to cause human health problems, but that's not the point.

Also note this title: Esther Badosa, et al., "Lack of detection of ampicillin resistance gene transfer from Bt176 transgenic corn to culturable bacteria under field conditions," FEMS Microbiology Ecology 48/2 (May 2004), 169-178, which in fact revealed shitloads (perhaps literally) of resistant bacteria, but was unable to detect any statistical difference between transgenic and conventional fields. And lets just say that their discussion of their methodology's limitations is not comprehensive:

As in other studies on horizontal gene transfer, the present work has several limitations, such as the insufficient sensitivity of the microbiological and molecular techniques available, the lack of detection of DNA fragments smaller than the spanned by the primer sets used in PCR and the selective nature of cultivation methods.
Which is fine: they don't make any unreasonable claims. What is funny is that someone sent this cite, without even its abstract, into AgBioView with the implication that it demonstrated the absence of horizontal gene transfer. It does not.

Also, NOAA says that farmed is wild [ScienceNOW], which should not surprise you.

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