Re: SOC: Canadian poll on biotech issues

From: Robert Bradbury (
Date: Sun Jan 09 2000 - 08:44:54 MST

On Sun, 9 Jan 2000, Damien Broderick wrote:

> And of course this goes the other way when the first gengineered apples
> start an immune-compromising plaque that wipes out a third of the apple
> eaters... (Can't happen! Will never happen! Scientists know what they're
> doing! Corporations are too fearful of litigation! Yeah.)

Well, just to be balanced about this -- In '89 I went to Australia
to watch the America's Cup races, had my first encounter with Kiwis.
Ate quite a few of them while I was there. Came back to the states
and didn't eat any for a while. After a couple of years I tried one.
My face swells up, my eyes fog over with mucus, my sinuses clog.
Classic hyperimmune reaction. I suspect a couple of Kiwis could
come close to killing me. My father now has the same problem with
bee stings. I've got a pretty good immune system and don't get
sick very much, the downside is potential overreactions to rarely
encountered proteins or other chemical molecules.

While there is a slight chance that the reaction may be due to
some preservative or pesticide they put on Kiwi's in the U.S.,
I'd be more willing to bet it is the natural Kiwi chemical content.

Bottom line -- It doesn't tke Genetic Engineering to make foods
dangerous. There are millions of people with nut and other
allergies that are quite aware of this. What Genetic Engineering
will eventually offer is foods with the hyperallergic promoting
molecules removed. We have a way to go until we get there however.

So, to my mind all foods are potentially dangerous and *informed*
consumers, esp. those who tend to be hyperallergic, should have access
to all that information. But to the large fraction of the population
that doesn't experience these problems, a little information can be
a dangerous thing.


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