GENTECH archive


Re: Bt pesticides, archive 2357

Dear Rick
We know foods are full of naturally occurring chemicals/toxins e.g. potato, tomato.  Some foods are just within the bounds of being safe to eat. Most of us have consulted allergy dietitians and been through a process of elimination and challenges.  This protocol was developed by the Allergy Clinic at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. 
There are very few studies on the combination of naturally occurring substances in foods and added substances and herein lies a major problem with additives, agrochemical residues etc.  It is highly likely that the naturally occurring phenolic compounds in food will enhance the activity of bacteria added by man.  In fact, I have one such study here somewhere and will find it for you when I get a break in the traffic.  Currently, I am involved in some individual advocacy for a member of ASEHA who is being treated badly by the health care system. If she doesn't get some real help soon she will take her own life - and that, along with the Queensland Review of the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemical Control Act is taking up all of my time.
I object to anything being used on/in food that wasn't put there by nature.  Adding Bt toxins, antibiotic marker genes, enzymes to confer chemical resistance etc to food is absolute madness in my view.
Any testing done is only as good as the research questions asked.  If the right questions don't get asked we don't get the right answers.  Further, any research is limited by what is known at the time the research is done and within the limitations of the science involved.  It would be more honest for you to say - according to the assessments done we think the risks of Bt sprays are very low...  Toxicology and medicine are incomplete sciences.  Stuff ups are expensive in terms of health and quality of life (DES, thalidomide...)
Like fire, I believe science is a good servant but a bad master.  Unfortunately, overriding this is the holy dollar that seems to take precedence over all and is driving science too fast.  Lets have a moratorium on GE crops and gene technology in the food supply until we are sure that there is no harm to humans and sustainability is assured.  I don't think that is too much to ask.
No Rick, this is not just a GE thing.  I am very concerned about the use of food additives, agrochemical residues, food processing aids, food irradiation, food packaging, the quality of the air I breathe and the water I drink. 
I don't want ANY nasty little surprises....
-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Roush <>
To: Dorothy Bowes <>
Cc: <>
Date: Tuesday, 14 December 1999 19:43
Subject: Re: Bt pesticides, archive 2357

Dear Dorothy:

I look forward to your coming back to the debate with some specifics about the risks of Bt Cry proteins in food, but let me ask you something. If you and yours are so keen aboyut mandatory testing and the precautionary principle, can I ask where you stand on long term feeding studies for kiwi fruit, parsnips, adn other sorts of non-traditional or novel foods and herbal remedies? Kiwi fruit cause allergies, parsnips are full of carcinogens, St John's wort is toxic even to sheep and goats. Where was the mandatory testing? More specifically, where was there any sort of scientific assessment that comes close to what has already been done for Bt crops?

Or is this just an anti-GM thing?

The risks of Bt sprays are still very low. What else would you have organic farmers use to control insect pests? I can think of at least one option; many Bt spray products are now recombinants; the Bt gene was placed in another bacterium, Pseudomonas, which is killed before application. No other Bt hazards. Is this better?



Dear Rick

Putting Bt in food does not necessarily compensate by sparing farmers the Bt spray. If Bt is expressed in the food it may be simply taking the problem from the farmers and putting it on the consuming public. Yeah, great thinking Rick. I don't think this is good science. I shall continue to look for more studies before I make an informed comment and you can look forward to further comment then.

Only long term human feeding studies are acceptable as risk assessment. In the meantime I support a moratorium on Bt crops as a safeguard for both the environment and human health - what happened to the precautionary principle......

For the record, I don't support the use of Bt in organic farming.