|| 104 sor
||re: felmelegedest (mind)
|| 21 sor
||Goldsmith a TermeszetBuvarban (mind)
|| 8 sor
|| 116 sor
|+ - ||Meadows (mind)
Most en kuldok nektek Meadows cikket. (Ha mar az Ecologist miatt
nehanyan panaszkodnak...) Ha jol tevedek, itt meg nem jott le /ha
megis, akkor bocs/, en ma kaptam az listan.
* * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * *
How It Happened That We Don't Regulate Biotech
by Donella Meadows
Back in the 1970s the awesome news that scientists had learned how to
redesign genes started a regulatory flurry. Distinguished panels met to ask
imponderable questions. Could some human-created form of life carry
self-multiplying havoc into the world? How can we prevent such a disaster?
Back then genetic escapes were considered so likely that gene-splicing
research was carried out in sealed labs. The citizens of Cambridge,
Massachusetts, home of Harvard and MIT, forbade such labs within their city
limits. Congress debated dozens of bills to regulate genetic engineering.
Then, suddenly, the concern disappeared. Genetic engineering became
routine in academia and a hot field of competition in business. Nowadays
scientists and corporations create gene-spliced organisms and release them
into nature with astounding little oversight.
I always wondered how that happened. It's not as if the serious questions
about "genetic pollution" were ever answered. Our ignorance of the health
and ecological and evolutionary impacts of gene-spliced crops and other
products is still enormous. But somehow the biotech enterprise got a social
and regulatory green light. No questions asked. Full speed ahead.
Why? How? When?
A partial answer to that question has appeared in the July issue of "Gene
Watch," the bulletin of the Council for Responsible Genetics. Susan
Wright, a science historian at the University of Michigan, writes about an
MIT archive in which she found the transcript of a fateful meeting that
took place in 1976 at the National Institutes of Health.
Then, as now, the greatest area of concern was microbes. Higher organisms
carry their DNA around in discrete packages inside cell nuclei. They
release genes into the world only under relatively controlled acts of
reproduction. Bacteria and viruses, on the other hand, slosh genes around
in a shockingly messy way.
They pick them up and drop them off, shuffle them, trade them, insert them
into the supposedly organized genomes of higher forms of life. That's how
viruses infect us. It's also one of the ways geneticists paste genes from
one kind of critter into another. First they insert a snipped-out gene,
from a flounder, say, into a virus or bacterium. Then they use the microbe
to smuggle the flounder gene into, say, a salmon or a tomato.
The problem is that once the gene has been loosened from the organized
flounder into the disorganized microbial world, there's no telling where it
might end up. One single-celled creature could pass it to another. For all
we know, it could end up in a minnow or a whale or in our own guts.
In 1976 an august committee of NIH virologists was asked to test this
danger. They were to snip out from a virus a gene that causes tumors when
the virus infects mice. They were to paste that gene into bacteria and then
see whether the bacteria could cause tumors in other animals. If so, it
would not only be evidence that some kinds of gene-splicing might turn
cancer into a communicable disease, it would also be evidence that genes
unleashed into microbes could spread beyond anyone's recall.
The committee debated what kind of bacteria to use in the test.
Scientifically the answer was obvious; you seek out the worst case. You use
bacteria likely to thrive and infect the test animals. But the virologists
had more than science in mind. They worried about politics, about public
controversy, about their own work being regulated. So they chose to use
weakened bacteria that were unlikely to do harm.
In short, they fudged the test. Here are some of the things they said,
recorded in the transcript of the meeting. "By using known pathogens, it
seems to me we go politically in the wrong direction even though
scientifically it does make more sense." "If we want to get these
experiments done so we can go about our work quickly, maybe one shouldn't
introduce problems of this level." "It's molecular politics, not molecular
biology, and I think we have to consider both, because a lot of science is
They wanted "a slick New York Times kind of experiment." But even the
weakened bacteria they ended up using did infect some test animals with
tumors. That result, says Wright, "had the NIH campus buzzing at the time."
So they fudged again. The disturbing results were never published in a
major journal. To the contrary, a 1979 NIH press conference announced that
"this form of research is perfectly safe." The New York Times reported that
"the risks are considerably less than had been feared." All through the
1980s and 90s, this study was cited as evidence that bioengineering poses
no threats. Only in 1988, at a meeting of federal regulators, did one of
them honestly articulate our government's actual policy: "If the American
public wants progress, they will have to be guinea pigs."
Next time you hear a scientist asserting that gene splicing is safe,
remind yourself that there is no scientific evidence for that statement. We
are profoundly ignorant about what we are doing to the code that generates
all life. And unfortunately some scientists, including those entrusted with
public safety, are willing to lie.
Donella H. Meadows is an adjunct professor of environmental studies at
|+ - ||re: felmelegedest (mind)
HK> Felado : [Hungary]
HK> ...Szoval tavolrol sem okoz klimakatasztrofat az Eszaki-sarkvidek
HK> felolvadasa onmagaban, vizszintemelkedest pedig semennyit sem.
HK> A globalis folmelegedes pedig paradox modon itt Ny-Europaban
HK> valoszinuleg jelentos lehulest fog eloidezni rovid tavon.
Szerintem pedig az idojarasi mintazatok felborulasat okozza. Mint ahogy azt
tapasztalhattuk az elmult idoszakban. Arvizek, homersekleti csucsok, stb.
Persze ezt lehet nem katasztrofanak ertekelni - foleg legkondi mogott ucsorogve
Ajanlom meg mindenkinek a szombati (aug. 26.) Nepszabi Hetvege mellekletben
megjelent cikket, amelyben a kozetekben vegzett furasok alapjan mutattak ki az
elmult 500 evben tobb mint egy fokos felmeledegest, s a felmelegedes uteme a
1850 utan megketszerezodott.
|+ - ||Goldsmith a TermeszetBuvarban (mind)
Az Ecologist ellen fanyalgoknak szeretnem figyelmebe, hogy a TERMESZETBUVAR
c. folyoirat (amely nem igazan sotetzold lap) 2000/4. szamaban 3
oldalas (!) interju van Eddie Goldsmith-szel. (Lehet, hogy a honlapjukon is
kint van www.matavnet.hu/tbuvar, nem neztem).
|+ - ||meadows-rovat (mind)
TAKING OVER FROM GOD ON THE SEVENTH DAY
"If I gamble, I usually gamble at high-stakes, high-payoff games."
boast not from James Bond, but from a chemist speaking to the prestigious
journal Science (the July 14 issue, from which all quotes but the last
this column are taken). His name is Peter Schultz. He works at Scripps
Research Institute and at a new Genomics Institute created by Novartis, a
company deep into genetic engineering. What he's gambling with is the chemistr
To understand his bold scheme, we need to take a short detour here to remind
ourselves of that chemistry.
Everything starts with the DNA molecule, a long chain with billions of links.
Each link is one of four chemical "letters," C, G, A or T. A sequence
letters (TAC or GCT, for example) makes up one "word" of genetic code.
Through a set of exquisite translations, the code tells living cells how to
build proteins. Proteins are chains with tens of thousands of links,
which is one of 20 different amino acids. Each triplet in the DNA code stands
for one kind of amino acid. CTA stands for leucine, GCA stands for
How does a code for proteins specify how to build a bacterium, a lily, a
chimpanzee or you? Well, the proteins coded by DNA are enzymes. They supervis
and enhance chemical reactions. If you have brown eyes, your DNA
code for an enzyme that helps synthesize brown pigment. Enzymes direct the
unfolding of the developing embryo, the branching of nerve networks in the
brain, the ability of the stomach to digest carbohydrates. DNA even carries
code for enzymes that turn on and off the production of enzymes -- so
pigment is made only in the eye and carbohydrate digestion happens only
The orchestration is stupendous. The chemistry of life, so common
not to mention within us, is awesome. Let us pause here for a moment of
humility and wonder -- feelings that, to judge from the Science article, Peter
Schultz is far too busy to indulge in.
"Here's a guy who runs at 800 miles per hour. You have a conversation
three thoughts ahead of you. You start to say something and he answers your
question saying 'I know what you're going to say.'" He even knows what
going to say. He summarizes his research question: "If God had worked a sevent
day, what would life look like?"
To put it more concretely, why should there just be four DNA letters?
boring CGAT? What if we put in an X or a Y? And why code for just 20 amino
acids? Let's invent some new ones that life has never seen before and then
invent some DNA to code for them!
"What we really want to do," says Schultz, "is build an organism -- a living
organism -- where you can add a 21st amino acid to the growth medium and it
takes up that amino acid and puts it selectively into a protein."
He hasn't done that yet, but a colleague says, "I think if anyone can do it,
Pete Schultz's lab is the place where it can get done." He has already tricked
cellular translators into sticking more than 80 non-natural amino acids into
proteins, but so far the process is low-yielding and hit-or-miss. He has
already added a new "letter" to DNA and gotten enzymes to copy it. "I think
it's no longer a question of will it work, but how long it will take."
The possible benefits of such research cited in the article are mainly
scientific. To add a fluorescent tag to show where proteins end up in cells.
To build in heavy atoms that will aid in protein crystallography. To
life might have evolved on another planet. Maybe to design better drugs or
better catalysts for industrial processes.
One of Schultz's colleagues sees larger consequences; it "means reengineering
3.5 billion years of evolution." That's not meant as a criticism. All the
scientists quoted, including the Science reporter, seem to be dazzled, maybe
jealous, but not disturbed. The only note of caution comes from a graduate
student. "I used to joke with [Schultz] that we would know the project was
complete when we saw people protesting outside the window."
The Science reporter does admit: "Such experiments are likely to make many
people a little queasy and raise prickly questions about safety and ethical
concerns." Then he quotes Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics
at the University of Pennsylvania, who says, "At the end of the day, I
any fundamental amorality to making synthetic DNA to regulate a synthetic
I would have quoted Erwin Chargaff, one of the grand old men of molecular
biology, who wrote in the mid 1970s, also in Science, "You can stop splitting
the atom; you can stop visiting the moon; you can stop using aerosols;
even decide not to kill entire populations by the use of a few bombs.
cannot recall a new form of life. ... It will survive you and your
your children's children. ... Have we the right to counteract
evolutionary wisdom of millions of years in order to satisfy the
the curiosity of a few scientists?"
(Donella Meadows is an adjunct professor at Dartmouth College and
the Sustainability Institute in Hartland, Vermont.)