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Open letter to Rolleston, Life Science Network

GE Free NZ Open letter to Rolleston, Life Science Network 5.6.03

"Time for industry to get honest on GE claims."

GE Free would like to have the scientific study from LSN that says No risk from HGT at Whakamaru. It is exactly this point that we are asking for assurance on.

Leading DNA expert, Prof. Alan Cooper of Oxford University recently revealed groundbreaking new DNA research that shows DNA has persisted in some soils for 400,000 years (1) yet the LSN assumption has been that DNA degrades rapidly. LSN is unequivocally assuring New Zealanders that there is no risk and asking GE-Free NZ to get their science right before rushing into print and we say " Please produce the evidence".

As Dr Rolleston fully knows the human AAT is part of the whole chromosome succinctly embedded in with its gene network, promoters, terminators and part of the cell that has evolved for humans. The transgenic sheep contain the hAAT gene as a foreign gene, this gene has been inserted into the sheep cell by fusing parasitic elements like viral and bacterial promoters, reporters terminators and antibiotic marker genes to the human AAT. Cells inserted with foreign genes and their promoters are far more unstable and more likely to be prone to horizontal gene transfer. In studies overseas these fusions of foreign viral and bacterial additions have been shown to persist in the soil and stomachs of animals and humans causing changes to the gut lining and bone marrow. (2).

Dr. Deborah Fass in 1997 of the Whitehead Institute said that "Retroviruses are a profound human medical problem. Natural retroviruses cause AIDS, leukemia, and other diseases in both humans and animals. But remodelled retroviruses, stripped of their ability to cause disease, can be ideal vehicles for gene therapy.

Retroviruses are designed by nature to transport their genetic information into the nucleus, or command center, of the cells they infect. The retrovirus DNA inserts itself into the cell's DNA where it is duplicated every time the cell divides. In a natural infection, the retrovirus DNA eventually subverts the cell's command machinery, forcing it to make thousands of new virus particles". (3)

In reality in 2002 a therapy using this model was withdrawn. Two young boys undergoing gene therapy for severe combined immune deficiency disease (SCID) containing a remodeled mouse leukemia virus (MLV) coated with a protein from a virus that infects gibbons. in an effort to make it more effective. The two boys contracted mouse leukemia that can only have been a jump from the genetically engineered viral fusion. This proves that we need to know much more about retroviruses and their action as of yet it appears that they cannot be stripped of their ability to cause disease. There is the now the possibility that the MLV now has a human host creating a species jump and the creation of a new cancer being carried in those who were in contact with the children. (4)

In light of this scientific result from clinical testing in a human case, GE Free NZ would like to know if there is a similar link to the hAAT ram born in 1997. The ram sired from imported transgenic semen and died of an unknown disease that caused spongiform changes similar to Scrapie has it got anything to do with the insertion of the hAAT gene? It is a pity that the two other rams who died of similar unknown causes were not submitted for the required tests as they also might have shown that they also died of a spongiform disease that is related to the insertion of the foreign protein. (5)

There fore we yet again ask for the scientific data or studies into this seven year experiment that LSN has, so as to reassure our members that there is no risk from HGT at Whakamaru.

Claire Bleakley. (06) 3089842


1. Diverse Plant and Animal Genetic Records from Holocene and Pleistocene


Eske Willerslev , Anders J. Hansen , Jonas Binladen , Tina B. Brand ,M.

Thomas P. Gilbert , Beth Shapiro , Mike Bunce , Carsten Wiuf , David A.

Gilichinsky , Alan Cooper

2. RI Vazquez Padron et al (1999) Intragastric and intraperitoneal

administration of Cry1Ac protoxin from Bacillus thuringiensis induces

systemic and mucosal antibody responses in mice. Life Sciences, 64,


2. NH Fares and AK El-Sayed (1998) Fine structural changes in the ileum of

mice fed on delta-endotoxin-treated potatoes and transgenic potatoes.

Natural Toxins, 6, 219-233.

2 SWB Ewen an A Pusztai (1999) Effects of diets containing genetically

modified potatoes expressing Galanthus nivalis lectin on rat small

intestine. The Lancet, 354, 1353-1354.

2 Transgenes in GM soya survive passage through the human small bowel but

are completely degraded in the colon (2002) Trudy Netherwood, susana M

Martin-Oure, Anthony O'donnel, Sally Gockling, Harry Gilbert and John


3. Whitehead Institute For Biomedical Research 1997-09-14

First Images Of Key Viral Protein Could Lead To New Strategies For Human

Gene Therapy

'Bubble Boy' Gene Therapy Halted

... leukemia-like side effect from gene therapy that cured him of the rare

but deadly "bubble boy ... Gesture Your Mouse Goodbye. Last Battle ... a

type of virus that permanently invades ...

ERMA Annual reports on compliance of controls on GMF98001from PPL (1999,

2000, 2001, 2002)

Extra references:

Huang C Y, Ayliffe M A and Timmis J N, Direct measurement of the transfer

rate of chloroplast DNA into the nucleus.

Horizontal gene transfer of viral inserts from GM plants to viruses,

Jonathan R Latham and Ricarda A Steinbrecher

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