Tuesday, October 25, 2005

remedial science

You will have to read the paper for yourself today (tomorrow), as I have other plans, but, through the magic of the internet, some links from yesterday (today) for you to enjoy:

  • speaking of the Assyrians: irrigation is unsustainable [Schoups et al., "Sustainability of irrigated agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley, California," PNAS Open Access]

    In the same issue, also open access: no evidence of increased Bt resistance in cotton bollworms after 8 years of GM cotton. Further evidence amassed in the new Environmental entomology.

  • Mazza et al., "Assessing the Transfer of Genetically Modified DNA from Feed to Animal Tissues," 14 (October 2005): 775-84. Abstract:
    In Europe, public and scientific concerns about the environmental and food safety of GM (Genetically Modified) crops overshadow the potential benefits offered by crop biotechnology to improve food quality. One of the concerns regarding the use of GM food in human and animal nutrition is the effect that newly introduced sequences may have on the organism. In this paper, we assess the potential transfer of diet-derived DNA to animal tissues after consumption of GM plants. Blood, spleen, liver, kidney and muscle tissues from piglets fed for 35 days with diets containing either GM (MON810) or a conventional maize were investigated for the presence of plant DNA. Only fragments of specific maize genes (Zein, Sh-2) could be detected with different frequencies in all the examined tissues except muscle. A small fragment of the Cry1A(b) transgene was detected in blood, liver, spleen and kidney of the animals raised with the transgenic feed. The intact Cry1A(b) gene or its minimal functional unit were never detected. Statistical analysis of the results showed no difference in recovery of positives for the presence of plant DNA between animals raised with the transgenic feed and animals raised with the conventional feed, indicating that DNA transfer may occur independently from the source and the type of the gene. From the data obtained, we consider it unlikely that the occurrence of genetic transfer associated with GM plants is higher than that from conventional plants.
  • The authors of the NBT paper [some background at the end of this post] on plant-derived marker genes discuss the work freely at ISB.

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