Genetic Engineering does indeed have problems

Stelenes at Stelenes at
Wed Feb 23 00:32:26 EST 2000

In a message dated 2/22/00 8:53:31 PM Pacific Standard Time, 
drdn at writes:

> GM/GE products are different from traditionally selected foods because
>  they are patentable life forms!
>    I am willing to take my chances with non patented food but I would like
>  some safety tests done first on food that is different enough to be
>  patentable.

Fruits, vegetables and ornamentals have PVP's (plant variety protections) 
issued by the USDA to the breeders who come up with them; conventionally bred 
plants may be patented when a good case for uniqueness is made, through the 
US patent office in addition to the PVP related the variety or class based on 
composition or use.

Regarding non-genetically modified plants tasting better, I can only relate 
one amusing story I recall.  Safeway in the UK came out marketing a 
genetically engineered tomato paste a few years back.  It was before the 
controversy broke and interestingly enough was labeled very prominently as 
being Genetically Engineered, as if this were a great benefit.  Well, 
consumers preferred it in taste tests according to the supermarket, repeat 
purchases and sales volumes.

Now there is one issue that was missed when you were all discussing dangers 
of traditionally or genetically altered using modern biotechnology laboratory 
vector techniques.  This particular example was actually from traditionally, 
artificial, breeding, or selection.  I can't remember it well but it was 
either in New Zealand or Australia, and I think it was food for sheep.  A 
plant component was overly concentrated and made them sick and I believe 
killed, also.  Perhaps someone else can research this further.

Finally, any suggestions that people should not have freedom to choose 
whether they want to eat genetically modified products or anything is 
mistaken.  Even if it is just the placebo effect in reverse.  Free market 
competition does turn science a bit democratic.  Beating up so much on the 
scientists who enjoy their research misses some claims are made in marketing, 
pro and con.  After all, if the product has no real benefit, it shouldn't 
last very long...

Best wishes.  Doug Dawn.
Woodland CA
Monterrey, Mexico

  The following is from the USDA website for your study:

"The Plant Variety Protection Act (PVPA), enacted in December of 1970, and 
amended in 1994, provides legal intellectual property rights protection, to 
developers of new varieties of plants that are sexually reproduced (by seed) 
or are tuber-propagated. Bacteria and fungi are excluded. The PVPA is 
administered by the United States Department of Agriculture.

A Certificate of Protection is awarded to an owner of a variety after an 
examination shows that it is new, distinct from other varieties, and 
genetically uniform and stable through successive generations.

The term of protection is 20 years for most crops and 25 years for trees, 
shrubs, and vines. The owner of a U.S. protected variety has exclusive rights 
to multiply and market the seed of that variety.

Who benefits from PVP?

The public benefits as the recipient of quality food, feed, fiber, and other 
products that result directly from improved plant varieties. Growers of food 
and ornamental, industrial, or medicinal crops benefit when higher quality 
varieties are available. Plant Variety Protection allows owners of new 
varieties to maintain control over the purity and the marketing of the 
variety. Such protection helps companies or individuals spending time and 
money developing a variety to obtain a return on their investment."

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