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GE NEWS ARCHIVE
Mothers for Natural Law
What do Scientists Say about the Dangers of Genetic Engineering?
By taking a stand against genetically engineered foods, Mothers for Natural Law has come out as protectors of values that cannot be denied without placing all of humanity in jeopardy. These include the health and safety of our children and all generations to come; the welfare of the environment; and our fundamental human rights.from Genetically Engineered FoodsGood for us and our Planet?
Dr. John Fagan
Professor of Molecular Biology, Maharishi University of Management; President, Genetic ID
When genetic engineers disregard the reproductive boundaries set in place by natural law, they run the risk of destroying our genetic encyclopedia, compromising the richness of our natural biodiversity and creating genetic soup. What this means for the future of our ecosystem, no one knows.
Dr. John S. Hagelin
Professor of Physics, Maharishi University of Management
Presidential Candidate, The Natural Law Party
The fact is, it is virtually impossible to even conceive of a testing procedure to assess the health effects of genetically engineered foods when introduced into the food chain, nor is there any valid nutritional or public interest reason for their introduction.
Dr. Richard Lacey
Professor of Food Safety, Leeds University, UK
Genetic engineering bypasses conventional breeding by using artificially constructed parasitic genetic elements, including viruses, as vectors to carry and smuggle genes into cells. Once inside cells, these vectors slot themselves into the host genome. The insertion of foreign genes into the host genome has long been known to have many harmful and fatal effects including cancer of the organism.
Professor Mae Wan-Ho
Department of Biology, Open University, UK
In 1983, hundreds of people in Spain died after consuming adulterated rapeseed oil. This adulterated rapeseed oil was not toxic to rats.
Dr. Parke warns that current testing procedures for genetically altered foods including rodent tests do not prove safety for humans. He has suggested a moratorium on the release of genetically engineered organisms, foods, and medicines.
Professor Dennis Parke
School of Biological Sciences, University of Surrey, UK
Genes encode proteins involved in the control of virtually all biological processes. By transferring genes across species barriers which have existed for aeons between species like humans and sheep we risk breaching natural thresholds against unexpected biological processes. For example, an incorrectly folded form of an ordinary cellular protein can under certain circumstances be replicative and give rise to infectious neurological disease.
Dr. Peter Wills
Auckland University, New Zealand
Probably the greatest threat from genetically altered crops is the insertion of modified virus and insect virus genes into crops. It has been shown in the laboratory that genetic recombination will create highly virulent new viruses from such constructions. Certainly the widely used cauliflower mosaic virus is a potentially dangerous gene. It is a pararetrovirus meaning that it multiplies by making DNA from RNA messages. It is very similar to the Hepatitis B virus and related to HIV. Modified viruses could cause famine by destroying crops or cause human and animal diseases of tremendous power.
Dr. Joseph Cummins
Professor Emeritus of Genetics, University of Western Ontario
We see this as a multi-million dollar problem. In Europe, there is already a big problem with gene flow between wild beet and cultivated beet. Oil-seed rape (canola) also has close relatives and is going to cause problems in the future. One would expect that the kind of genes that are now being engineered are going to be the ones that have a higher potentiality for causing trouble.
Dr. Norman Ellstrand
Professor of Genetics, University of California
The generation of genetically engineered plants and animals involves the random integration of artificial combinations of genetic material from unrelated species into the DNA of the host organism. This procedure results in disruption of the genetic blueprint of the organism with totally unpredictable consequences. The unexpected production of toxic substances has now been observed in genetically engineered bacteria, yeast, plants, and animals with the problem remaining undetected until a major health hazard has arisen. Moreover, genetically engineered food or enzymatic food processing agents may produce an immediate effect or it could take years for full toxicity to come to light.
Dr. Michael Antoniou
Senior Lecturer in Molecpar Pathology, London, UK
Recombinant DNA technology [genetic engineering] faces our society with problems unprecedented not only in the history of science, but of life on the Earth. It places in human hands the capacity to redesign living organisms, the products of some three billion years of evolution.
Such intervention must not be confused with previous intrusions upon the natural order of living organisms; animal and plant breeding, for example; or the artificial induction of mutations, as with X-rays. All such earlier procedures worked within single or closely related species. The nub of the new technology is to move genes back and forth, not only across species lines, but across any boundaries that now divide living organisms. The respts will be essentially new organisms, self-perpetuating and hence permanent. Once created, they cannot be recalled.
Up to now, living organisms have evolved very slowly, and new forms have had plenty of time to settle in. Now whole proteins will be transposed overnight into wholly new associations, with consequences no one can foretell, either for the host organism, or their neighbors.
It is all too big and is happening too fast. So this, the central problem, remains almost unconsidered. It presents probably the largest ethical problem that science has ever had to face. Our morality up to now has been to go ahead without restriction to learn all that we can about nature. Restructuring nature was not part of the bargain. For going ahead in this direction may be not only unwise, but dangerous. Potentially, it could breed new animal and plant diseases, new sources of cancer, novel epidemics.
Dr. George Wald
Nobel Laureate in Medicine, 1967
Higgins Professor of Biology, Harvard University.
From The Case Against Genetic Engineering by George Wald
in The Recombinant DNA Debate, Jackson and Stich, eds. P. 127-128
(Reprinted from The Sciences, Sept./Oct. 1976 issue)
The truth is that some scientists are wholeheartedly against genetic engineering and some are wholeheartedly for it. In this situation the only scientific solution is to foster public scientific debate and to delay application until all fundamental questions are resolved. Corporations, however, have a vested interest in speedy application. They are not willing to wait and are attempting to gather the support of the public through extensive marketing campaigns. But there is a vast discrepancy between biotech claims and the simple facts.