Was: Space trav Now: "Gene" Splicing
Jim email (remove spam text)
----- Original Message -----
From: "Russell McMahon" <PARADISE.NET.NZ> apptech
To: <MITVMA.MIT.EDU> PICLIST
Sent: Tuesday, August 20, 2002 8:10 PM
Subject: Re: [OT]: Was: Space trave Now: "Gene" Splicing
> Ken (not on list)
So *that's* why I couldn't find his original reply!
> > I am continually amazed by what I percieve as a widespread belief that
> > natural always equates to good and artificial often equates to bad.
I would concur with this observation.
> > rest of post at end
> Agree. But not sure whether that is agreeing or disagreeing with something
> said :-)
Does that really matter? I took it as simply an observation
Ken made, and I would assume, one made of "lay" (non-
scientifically trained) people overall. Translate that
to mean the "pop-science subculture"/free energy crowd
and no one in particular.
> I am trying to be, while not in the middle, at least be wandering the
> ground and not far out on one side. I am PRO GE in the general sense but
> also pro common sense.
> I am well aware (as you might expect) of the bad things that are
> specifically human infecting. What I have been commenting on is the
> or normality of "greeblies" to infect cross species or bring in new
This needs further explaining are you addressing only, for
instance, grain crops or animals as well?
If you're addressing grain crops, then I need a bit of
enlightenment as to what specific mechanisms come in to
play that represents the danger of said product when
consumed by humans.
Are you projecting that certain toxins would be produced
by such GeneEng'd plants? We already have toxic plants
inhabiting this planet so this would not be new ... as
an example I am mildly allergic to certain uncooked 'greens'
like green beans and even watermelon. There is some
constituent part of these 'greens' that affect me mildly - if
left uncooked that is (after cooking the green beans *lose*
their irritating effect).
Are you projecting that new proteins or sugars would be
synthesized by such GeneEng'd plants? I don't see how
this would be possible - without a significant change
in plant chemistry and make-up or "operation" if you
will. This would seem to involve "plant design" and
involve a near complete reworking of the botanical
> material via pathways previously unused, at least recently. Nature appears
> to have erected largish barriers on almost all such pathways. We are in
> process of leaping high over the barriers and depositing genetic material
> locations that nature has chosen not to allow its own processes to get at.
> It is hard to see how undesirable and unpredictable results would not be
Again, are you referring to crops here or animals and livestock?
> The lessons "learned" by long term infectors are matched by the lessons
> "learned" by our bodies against them. Usually. Arms Races, when found,
> to be relatively balanced, else the race would be over. Hopefully it's not
> our race.
Whoa. How did this lurch in here? A bit over the edge I
think for a pure discussion of the mechanism by which
GeneEng'd crops would potentially affect mankind ...
> Smallpox lost by being too dangerous. Or so we hope - it may yet be back.
Here we diverge a bit off the pathway into areas where (as Ken
eventally writes further down) I think nature still and will
continue to hold 'the upper hand' in contagin development.
It seems the BEST we have been able to do is take what nature did
(e.g. Anthrax) and commercially produce it. Mankind won't be
'inventing' viri (sp?) in our lifetimes.
> Interestingly - AIDS is PROBABLY natural (some suggest a germ warfare lab)
> but probably resulted from massive human contact with green monkey
Any truth to the hypothesis that it's also a lifestyle influenced
Take it as two separate issues: 1) where did it originate and 2) how
does to continue to propagate in 'advanced' society.
> Ebola appears not to have had the interfering human hand involved, yet.
> (Some suggest it as a prime germ warfare candisdate but I suspect that it
> a little too hair-triggered for that). BSE probably rose from feeding
> Scrapie infected sheep central nervous system (CNS) material to cows. New
> variant human CJD "probably" arose from feeding cow CNS material to
> BUT cross species prion diseases appear to have occurred from cows in 1947
> in USA when many mink farms were wiped out about a year after receiving
> from a central feed plant that rendered "downer" cows. (Note that this
> seems to be another prion disease in cows and NOT BSE/CJD). So it appears
> that we may have had about 30 years warning of cross species prion disease
I haven't studied these enough to take a position.
I recall one case in Michigan where the feed mill
combined something inorganic (can't remember what
it was, sometime in the 70's I believe) in with
"cow feed" - and it had a pretty drastic result ...
Note: This didn't appear to be a case of "Cross species
prion transfer" either.
> transfer caused by rendering animals and using them as feed. Cross species
> prion transfer in the wild was already known. If we ever get (or cause to
> arise) a prion disease that attacks non CNS area in its final form (ie in
> body tissues etc) we are in deep trouble. Prion infectiousness is high,
> small physical infector size (<virus and << cell) makes containment
> "interesting" and destruction by normal means just doesn't work. The only
> known cure for a person with CJD is to incinerate them at 1000 C . Not
> such little things are liable to stop us though ...
Feeding complex (animal proteins, etc?) compounds to
livestock? Whose bright idea was that?
I don't and would not propose something along those
lines without a LOT of consideration! (And I don't
mind admitting I don't have the proper background
at this point to do the technical work-up/detail
on something like this!)
> > Nature (i.e. natural processes) has long proven that it is very good at
> > producing "bad" things and the likelihood is that it will continue to do
> > so.
Wholeheartedly agree with Ken.
> > Obvious examples include the pathogens of old (B plague, poxes
> > influenza, polio, diptheria), and (probably) more recent ones (AIDS,
> > Ebola,
> > CJD and other prion nasties, etc.) Then there are diseases of direct
> > genetic or cellular origin where patahogens are (probably) not involved.
> > There are probably other categories too which I can't think of right now
> > (some might even want to add obesity and diabetes to the list).
> > All of these are undeniably natural.
> > If nature is so good at coming up with these "baddies", then given that
I suspect and would bet that these so-called
'pathogens' have existed since the beginning of
life on this planet - could *their* predecessors
have been the first forms of life, able to adapt
and live in somewhat harsher environs? Were
they the real first forms of life?
> > is generally agreed that it does so very slowly through whatever
> > mechanisms, is it not reasonable to assume that humankind will do
> > much better (in terms of baddies created per unit time) by
> > actively exploiting essentially the same mechanisms on a large scale ?
Right - mankind will not be as successful ... we might err and
allow one of nature's old baddies to propagate - but don't expect
any *new* lifeforms to be successfully designed by man (that's
God's domain to be sure).
> > In a nutshell - if nature can produce such baddies are we perhaps
> > deluding ourselves that we won't ?
> > While I wouldn't want to see GE held back unnecessarily I think many in
> > authority need to be made more aware of the possibility of the
> > and put in place proper safeguards which are actually taken seriously.
> > the moment many are only paying lip-service and some are deliberately
> > obstructive.
We need to apply objective science and avoid hyperbole at
nearly all cost. An understanding of some basic principles
and 'plant' operation (botany?) and biology would go a
long ways towards avoiding the mindless howls at every
turn from the more vocal "Luddites" among us ... no
finger pointed at *anyone* here!
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