May 2000


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Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 29 May 2000 12:57:48 -0500
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Why is nobody asking questions about the evolutionary biological
implications of this finding??

Monday May 29 10:55 AM ET

German Scientist Finds GM Genes Can Jump Species

BERLIN (Reuters) - A top German zoologist has found that genes used to
modify crops can jump the species barrier and cause bacteria to
mutate but he stressed Monday that the potential risk to human health
was minimal.

Jena University professor Hans-Hinrich Kaatz, whose four-year study
found that the alien gene used to modify oilseed rape could
contaminate bacteria in the guts of bees, declined to comment in depth
on his research before publication this summer.

But Kaatz, who fears a backlash from the scientific community on the
contentious topic of genetically modified food, confirmed that gene
transfer had taken place, albeit rarely.

``To the greatest possible extent though we can rule out danger to the
bees,'' he said, advising against overinterpreting a study which has
yet to be reviewed by his peers.

Although Kaatz recognized his and fellow researcher Stefan Woelfl's
findings were ``significant,'' he said he was not surprised and added
while there may be implications for bacteria in the human gut, there
were no grounds for panic.

``Research is being carried out on this, although not by us.''

Ivan Handler
Networking for Democracy
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