Issues with Genetic Engineering

ClintonandGore at ClintonandGore at
Thu Feb 17 17:44:57 EST 2000

Rob Thorn rebuttal:

Rob did you ever dare consider:

0)I don't think the turnover of the entire E. coli genome is relevant to the 
point being made.  The only GMO success anyone has had that I know of is a 
single gene.  The simplest higher plants, like Arabidopsis must have 50,000 
to 100,000 genes.  Al and I are clueless as to how many E. coli has.  So 
perhaps we shouldn't be worried about the time and conditions necessary to 
replace E. coli with an organism that has little or no genes in common.  That 
is like saying, at what temperature will a protein turn into high energy 

1) Consider that your definition of "long," bless your soul to have a plain 
old human body, is still an instant where nature and evolution are concerned?

2) "I'm discouraged by your cavalier treatment," you say.  Might it be a dig 
at someone who you have differences with, just trying to express his basis 
and your adjectives are imply disrespect or that you think you are a divine 
judge?  Opinions are free and his didn't seem cavalier to me.

3) "Long and Random" sure is simply not true, even in human time terms, 
considering that viruses manage to genetically engineer themselves faster 
than scientists can keep up.  I woundn't think it neither long nor random in 
that area though of course plants and their interaction with other creatures 
seems more to be the point.

4) That your statements have no more accuracy nor less merit than Bruce's and 
are at best equally filled with opinions masquerading as facts (We believe 
some of your points are quite valid though feel negative vibes when reading 
your comments)

5) Short-term economics governs a lot more than companies in Genetic 
Modification research.  If you only knew the $$$ made by Iceland foods whose 
Head is a Board member of Greenpeace.  Everyone has an axe to grind, and 
being a big bunch of corporate dricks doesn't make their scientists less 
trustworthy than the next little guy.

6) Have you checked Monsanto's stock price lately?  I thought they were 
swimming in money.  Damn, how leveraged can a company make itself.  Maybe 
their farm will be foreclosed soon. 

7)  Did you know that Novartis teamed with Quaker Oats last week in a big 
Chicago Joint Venture, last week to bring you better foods?  Novartis 
separated the group that make the GMO corn into a separate entity they fully 
control.  Any guesses why:-)?

Disclaimer: Our statements are opinions not necessarily shared by any 
goverment.  Also, we never saw anyone argue with an opinion and win.

War, Misunderstanding and Arrogance,


Subj:    Re: Genetic Engineering does indeed have problems
Date:   2/17/00 1:24:49 PM Pacific Standard Time
From:   Thorn at (Robert Thorn)
Sender: owner-leps-l at
Reply-to:   <A HREF="mailto:Thorn at">Thorn at</A>
To: jbwalsh at (Bruce Walsh), Leps-L at

Bruce Walsh wrote:

> Thus Nature itself likes genetic engineering. Another example: most
> genomes of present-day bacteria contain large chunks for very
> different species. It has been estimated that the present genome of E.
> coli (our common gut bacteria) has had its genome turned over (via
> transfer from other bacteria, generally VERY unrelated) at least five
> times. Nature thus has a long (and quite glorious) history of swapping
> parts of genomes between very unrelated species.

I think that 'long and random' are a much better descriptor, and you are
well aware of this.  The rate of this swapping is quite low, otherwise
we'd be seeing genetic revolutions continually.  How long do you really
think it took E.coli to turn over its genome?  And the process is
stochastic; no telling whether the piece of genome being swapped is a
magic bullet or a hunk of junk.  So, while the process may have helped
evolution along, you'll have to convince me that it's responsible for
the riot of biodiversity we're presently in danger of flushing down the
I'm discouraged
More to the point,  by your cavalier treatment of a
fairly significant issue.  The changes that were formerly random and
slow will now be rapid and driven by short-term human economics.  To
splice in disease and pesticide-resistance genes into crops (which is an
accomplished fact) without adequately testing to see if those genes can
be swapped out to surrounding weeds (which has hardly been done at all)
risks a huge bio-calamity.  If gene-swapping is so common in nature,
then these genes will quickly accumulate in all sorts of weedy species.
Weedy species already get a huge assist from our severe habitat
modification.  These 'superweeds', presumably animal and plant, will
then erase the native biota that much quicker. To blandly suggest that
nature does this all the time is pure BS, but to imply that we should
not worry and let human economic short-sightedness assist it is
dangerous BS.

Peace and _Understanding_

Rob Thorn

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