Ecol. aspects of transgenic crops summary (fwd)

Chris J. Durden drdn at
Wed Apr 19 12:42:20 EDT 2000

At 02:13  19/04/00 -0700, you wrote:
>This has been of considerable interest on this list in the past, so I
>thought I would post it. 
>Jim Kruse
>University of California at Berkeley
>Dept. of Environ Sci, Policy and Mgmt.
>Div. of Insect Biology
>201 Wellman Hall
>Berkeley, California, 94720-3112
>Voice: (510) 642-7410    Fax: (510) 642-7428
>---------- Forwarded message ----------
>Executive Summary of the workshop on ecological impacts of transgenic
>crops held on UC Berkeley Campus March 2-4, 2000.
>International Workshop on the Ecological Impacts of Transgenic Crops
>(March 2-4 ,2000)
>Attended by 21 scientists from Universities (Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Cornell,
>Guelph, Iowa State, Minnesota, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology,
>Elmhurst College and Open University) , International Agricultural Research
>Centers (CIMMYT, CIP), NGOs (Union of Concerned Scientists, Food First,
>Consumers Union, AS-PTA Brasil) and Private Organizations (Dynamac Corp.)
> >Ecologists can provide valuable input in the planning and evaluation of
>high-risk genetically engineered plants, but does documenting the risks of
>such crops entails the best use of scarce ecological talent?  Or should
>ecologists devote their time and skills to developing the best
>environmentally sound approaches to deal with real agricultural
>limitations, which in many cases are management options not related to
>biotechnology but rather to agroecology?
>Overall the group felt that although biotechnology is an important tool, at
>this point alternative solutions exist to address the problems that current
>GMCs are designed to solve. The dramatic positive effects of rotations,
>multiple cropping, and biological control on crop health, environmental
>quality and agricultural productivity have been confirmed repeatedly by
>scientific research. Biotechnology should be considered as one more tool
>that can  be used, provided the ecological risks are investigated and
>deemed acceptable, in conjunction with a host of other approaches to move
>agriculture towards sustainability.
>Miguel A. Altieri, Ph.D.
>University of California, Berkeley
>ESPM-Division of Insect Biology
>201 Wellman-3112
>Berkeley, CA 94720-3112
>Phone: 510-642-9802  FAX: 510-642-7428
>Location: 215 Mulford, Berkeley campus
  This looks like a step in the right direction, one that should have been
taken years ago.
  The emphasis here seems to be on the production end, covering much ground
that has been neglected, especially in soil ecology. One point that was not
addressed was -
     what happens downstream to the pollutant bt insecticide bonded to
micro-particulate clays and to humic acids? What are the effects to limnic
and fluvial productivity or oxygen budget of polluted streams? What happens
when the bound bt enters the estuary and marine bays? Does it affect the
productivity of shrimp or other important crops? How will it influence the
dynamics of a system susceptible to red-tide events? Do potential effects
penetrate farther into the marine biome as do surfactant pollutants and
their possible involvement in coral bleaching events?
  The whole area that was not investigated is on the consumption end. How
does GM crops used as food, affect the ecology of the consumer? The
interesting study on rat digestion problems with the Scottish GM potatoes
was discontinued by the research sponsor. It needs to be replicated and
expanded upon. How does bt GM corn/maize affect the biotic component of the
normal digestive system of consuming humans and livestock? Has any
investigation of this taken place? How does the GM food affect the immune
system of the consumer? Is there an allergenic effect that is not predicted
by Occam's Razor chemistry that should be investigated?
  Thank you for passing on this long report.
......Chris Durden 

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