Friday, June 10, 2011

Cow-human milk

Scientists launch rival claims over cows that produce mothers’ milk
Herald Sun
June 10, 2011

SCIENTISTS in two countries looked set to lock horns today over who had produced the world’s first human milk … from cows.

An Argentine laboratory announced yesterday that it had created the world’s first transgenic cow, using human genes that will allow the animal to produce the equivalent of mothers’ milk.

The claim came only days after reports emerged from China saying scientists there had genetically modified dairy cows to produce human breast milk and hoped to be selling it in supermarkets within three years.

The researchers at the Agricultural University in Beijing said they had a 300-strong herd of transgenic cows, which had been bred by inserting human genes into cloned cow embryos which were then implanted into surrogate cows.

However, AFP reported that Argentina’s National Institute of Agrobusiness Technology said of their research, “The cloned cow, named Rosita ISA, is the first bovine born in the world that incorporates human genes that contain the proteins present in human milk.”

Rosita ISA was born on April 6 by caesarian because she weighed more than 99 pounds (45kg), about twice the normal weight of Jersey cows, according to the statement.

As an adult, “the cow will produce milk that is similar to humans,” the statement said.

In China, workers at the university’s dairy farm have already tasted the milk — and said it is sweeter and stronger than the bovine variety.

“It’s good,” said worker Jiang Yao, according to Sky News. “It’s better for you because it’s genetically modified.”

The scientists there said they have also produced animals that are resistant to mad cow disease, as well as beef cattle that are genetically modified to produce more nutritious meat.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Gene alarm

Gene alarm on GM crops
The Telegraph
June 2, 2011

New Delhi - Indian scientists have discovered that the genetic modification of plants with a gene already used in crops worldwide may severely damage the plants, a surprising finding that may stir a debate on current crop biotechnology science.

The scientists at the University of Delhi have shown that inserting a bacterial gene that makes a protein named Cry1Ac into genomes of plants appears to cause developmental defects, growth retardation and sterility in the plants.

Several experimental and commercial genetically-modified plants, including GM cotton cultivated in India and other countries, make the Cry1Ac protein which is toxic to some insects. The insects die when they try to eat parts of these GM crops.

The Delhi scientists have now shown through laboratory experiments that modifying cotton or tobacco with Cry1Ac has a detrimental effect on these plants. Their results have appeared in the Journal of Bioscience published this month by the Indian Academy of Sciences.

“This is a completely unexpected finding,” said Durgadas Kasbekar, a senior biologist with the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad who was not associated with the study, but is the editor of the Journal of Bioscience.

“Until this point, if you asked someone in the plant biotechnology community what the Cry1Ac toxin does in plants, they would say it kills insects. No one has yet demonstrated harm to plants as this study has done,” Kasbekar told The Telegraph.

[Read More…]

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Trial for GM mozzies

IMR completes field trial for GM mozzies
The Star Online
January 27, 2011

PETALING JAYA: The Institute for Medical Research (IMR) has completed one run of its field trial involving genetically-modified (GM) male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes at a forest near Bentong, Pahang.

IMR director Dr Shahnaz Murad said the institute released about 6,000 GM mosquitoes at the site on Dec 21, along with a similar number of normal male mosquitoes.

“The experiment was successfully concluded on Jan 5,” she said in a press statement here yesterday.

“Fogging with insecticide was conducted on Jan 6 to eliminate all mosquitoes but monitoring will continue for up to two months,” she said.

Dr Shahnaz said no further release of GM mosquitoes was planned until the post-trial monitoring was completed and the results analysed and presented in peer-reviewed scientific journals and meetings.

[Read More…]

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Toxicity in GE Eggplant

Signs of Food Toxicity in Genetically Engineered Eggplant (Brinjal)
January 14, 2011

Commercial planting in India currently barred

Plans for India’s first genetically engineered crop for human consumption have triggered a safety report that reveals signs of food toxicity. According to this study prepared independently from industry, there are serious indications that the consumption of this genetically engineered (Bt) eggplant (also called brinjal in India) can cause inflammation, reproductive disorders and liver damage.

The Monsanto subsidiary, Mahyco, applied for GE eggplant to be commercially grown in India and the Philippines. Eggplant is genetically engineered to produce insecticidal proteins (called Bt toxins) that target certain pests. Brinjal is one of India´s most important vegetable crops. The report was requested by Aruna Rodrigues of ‘Sunray Harvesters’ to inform both India´s Government and Supreme Court. In February 2010 India´s Minister for Environment & Forests had revoked the approval for genetically engineered eggplant and imposed a moratorium citing the need for independent risk studies. The report evaluates data from feeding studies on rats commissioned by Mahyco to demonstrate the safety of the genetically engineered eggplant.

Lou Gallagher, the epidemiologist from New Zealand who prepared the report says that “The safety claims made for these plants are not supported by existing data. On the contrary, there are alarming signs that the consumption of food derived from these plants could result in adverse health effects. In addition the feedings studies show major deficiencies in the protocol used for the feeding trial and do not meet international standards.” Dr. Gallagher concludes that on the basis of the existing data genetically engineered eggplant cannot be recommended for human consumption.

Testbiotech supported the evaluation of the data in cooperation with the GEKKO Foundation. “This independent expert assessment provides a critical counter to the Monsanto-sourced analyses, which deny any health safety risks: It exposes deficiencies in the risk assessment that was presented to the Indian government. We must ensure that safety standards are not sacrificed to satisfy commercial interests.” says Christoph Then, on behalf of Testbiotech.

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