Genetic modifications

From: Douglas W. Darnowski (
Date: Wed Mar 31 1999 - 13:10:59 PST

Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 16:10:59 -0500
From: "Douglas W. Darnowski" <>
Message-Id: <aabcdefg1173$foo@default>
Subject: Genetic modifications

>If you're worried about mosaic viruses, then be very afraid of GM
>food. Viruses (eg cauliflower mosaic virus) are often used as
>carriers to transplant the required genes. However, as well as
>placing an incomplete gene or putting the gene in the wrong place,
>it is common for lumps or even complete copies of the virus to be
>incorporated as well. I'm afraid the US must bear a large amount of
>responsibility for this as their lax GM laws allow the latter to be
>commercially propagated and put into the food chain.

Dear NigelH,

I do this sort of work for a living and cannot keep silent when such a
deeply flawed message is posted, a message which shows a poor understanding
of publically available data and a lack of a resonsible examination of that
data. A merely cursory examination of the scientific literature would show
you several things, among others that viruses are not commonly used as
transformation vectors--the most common method uses a natural bacterium
(Agrobacterium tumfaciens or A. rhizogenes) and exploits its natural means
(Ri or Ti plasmids) of genetic transformation. Small pieces of the
cauliflower mosaic virus,
structural parts of genes, are often used. However, these pieces could not
produce virus particles, with absolute certainty. Please read the
scientific literature before sounding off next time.

Granted, some US companies have done a poor job outside the US when it
comes to PR relating to genetically modified material. However, to blame
the US system, which is a careful and well planned one, is unfair and

Please, this is off topic for this list, so reply to this further to my
personal address ( I could not allow a poorly considered
claim to go unchallenged, however.

Doug Darnowski
Douglas Darnowski Department of Crop Sciences 384 ERML 1201 West Gregory
Drive University of Illinois Urbana IL 61801 work ph: (217) 244-6150
     fx: (217) 333-4777
home ph: (217) 356-6606
     fx: (217) 356-4454

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