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The Terminator Gene

On the bottom of page 2, I briefly mention the potential for disaster by cloning and genetic engineering. More and more news surfaces in this area and it's clear that it has got out control. Although many corporations are involved, the chemical giant, Monsanto seems to be the main culprit at the moment. This is the company that blessed us with Agent Orange, PCB's and growth hormones, altering the genes of cows and other farmyard animals.

First, we had genetically modified organisms [GMO's] - it is reported that in 1998. over 18 million acres in the US were planted with Roundup Ready soybeans, which were first introduced in 1996. Plus corn, canola and cotton - all can now be indiscriminately sprayed with herbicide from the air, without affecting the crops. So we now get heavier chemical residues as well as the new genes and proteins that make the crops tolerate the poison.

That was not enough. We now have the Terminator Gene. In March last year, US Patent 5723765: 'Control of Plant Gene Expression' was 'awarded'. Although the patent is broad and covers many applications, the principal one is the ability to engineer crops to kill their own seeds in the second generation, making it impossible for farmers to save and replant seeds.

This seems to have become a necessity, as far too many billions of dollars are being invested in seed engineering and, in their words, ". . . these few growers who save and replant patented seed jeopardize the future of innovative biotechnology for all growers. And that's not fair to anyone!"

How plaintive. My heart bleeds for them! Poor Monsanto. Seriously, this is real bad news. You see, it's bad enough that staple foods have been tampered with, now we take already altered seeds and further alter their genes and then ADD the Terminator Toxin! This toxin is very well named - RIP - Ribosome Inhibitor Protein. But that is still not enough! After that, we must bathe the seeds in a toxic antibiotic, tetracycline, to activate the killer gene!

How mad are we going to let them be? Oh, they sweep any thought of potential danger under the carpet very nicely indeed. On the patent papers, on the bottom of page 8 for example, they say, "... only selected lethal genes could be used [in food seeds] since these proteins could impact the final quality of seeds . ... If the seed is not a factor in the commercial value of the crop [eg in forage crops, ornamentals or plants grown for the floral industry], any lethal gene should be acceptable."!

How will this effect birds, insects, bacteria and fungi, or the already fragile ecology of soil organisms? Nor is there any mention of cross pollination with birds and the wind, nor the effect of the RIP toxin on seeds crushed for oil and protein, then eaten by people and livestock.

On page 7, line 30, it states:

". . . since tetracycline has no harmful effects on plants or animals, it's presence "would not otherwise impede normal development of the plant, and residual amounts left on the seed or plant after treatment would have no significant environmental impact."!

Now at the risk of taking up too much space, not to mention boring you, let me tell you what the AMA has to say about this drug. Not me, your medical authority!:

"Tetracyclines have a broader spectrum of activity than any other class of antibiotic. However, increasing bacterial resistance to their effects has limited their use, although they remain widely prescribed. In addition to the treatment of infections, they are also used in the long term treatment of acne, although this application is probably not related to their antibacterial action. A major drawback to the use of tetracycline antibiotics in young children and pregnant or nursing mothers is that they can discolour developing teeth.

These drugs are poorly absorbed through the intestines, and when given by mouth they must be administered in high doses in order to reach effective levels in the blood. Such high doses increase the likelihood of diarrhea as a side effect. The absorption of tetracyclines can be further reduced by interaction with calcium and other minerals. Drugs from this group should not therefore be taken with iron tablets or milk products!!?]. Tetracyclines deteriorate and MAY BECOME POISONOUS WITH TIME. Left over tablets or capsules should always be discarded."

In another section, it continues to say, "Common side effects are nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Rashes may also occur. It is not prescribed for people with poor kidney function because it can cause further deterioration. Can reduce the effectiveness of oral contraceptives. May increase the action of anticoagulants" . . . . !


In a recent article in the Melbourne Herald Sun, Adrian Tame had this to say:

". . . Monsanto's latest corporate atrocity is emerging as a genuine threat to one of humanity's basic rights.

Since we graduated from all fours, humankind has grown crops. The eternal cycle of planting, harvesting and regrowth has sustained us since pre-history.

And the simple practice of saving seeds until the following spring and replanting them for next year's crop is an integral part of this cycle.

Nobody owns these seeds, nor this process - they are at the heart of the natural world and, as such, are an ancient and inalienable right enjoyed by us all."

". . . Private ownership of land, water and seeds is only a start. Somebody is no doubt already working out how to sell us the air we breathe or the fire that keeps us warm."

Adrian also said that he "wouldn't want Monsanto for a neighbor. I'd rather live next to serial killers with a stockpile of nuclear missiles glowing in the basement." . . .OK, so he mixed his serial killers with terrorists but we get the point.

Monsanto has reportedly spent over US$6 billion on Terminator, with the complicity and financial aid of the United States Government.

Money is not the motive - according to Melvin Oliver, the inventor of Terminator, "We are simply protecting US technology"! Well, hooray for the good old US of A!

Where does our government stand on these issues? As usual, in noddyland. For years, groups like the GeneEthics Network has been lobbying and trying to explain the dangers to our governments, to little or no avail.

Present rules say, only Genetically Engineered food classed as substantially different must be labeled. This means that there are no labels on foods, fresh or processed, such as tomatoes laced with insect killer, antibiotic resistance genes or virus particles. Yet all GE foods are new, have no history of safe use and undergo no premarket human tests. Not that any testing could be sufficient - with some of these things it will take a decade or so before we know what the true penalties are.

So - please be aware, if you get a chance, let your feelings known, contact your Minister [Rob Knowles in Melbourne], contact GeneEthics Network if you want more information or updates. They are at 340 Gore Street Fitzroy 3065, ph: 9416 2222 fx: 9416 0767.

In case you have not had enough of this . . . what can I call it, subject? and while on the subject of tetracycline, look at the next item!

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