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Online Conference on GMO for Management of Animal Populations

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GMOs in use of mammalian population control [#170]
Genetic manipulation, or GMOs definitely have an impact on the natural gene pool. Do we have a right to introduce these organisms into our natural environment for any reason - population control, etc.
(edited on 2004-10-20 01:13 UTC by Igor Ferencik)
posted on 2004-10-19 02:11 UTC by Zulfiqar Ali
general discussion of genetic modification of life [#374]
The arguments for genetic modification and the use of GMOs are many, compelling, and promoted by some of the most respected scientific minds on earth.  A thorough compilation of these arguments can be found at http://www.agbioworld.org and I strongly advise spending as much time as you need reviewing the knowlegable opinions and scientific reports expressed there.  As far as modifying our world, we do it whether or not we have a right; that is how we have crops and domesticated animals, and products based on wood, metal, plastic, glass, etc.  Genetically modifying organisms offers progress in both a beneficial sense and the potential for devastation, just like any other technology.  The public discussion offered by a forum such as this and many others is what can keep the technology progressing in a beneficial track, both for humankind and for the earth.
(edited on 2004-10-20 01:15 UTC by Igor Ferencik)
posted on 2004-10-19 12:19 UTC by Margaret L. Allen, USDA Agricultural Research Service
Re: general discussion of genetic modification of life [#397]
This is to follow up the message posted.  To put things in perspective may I strongly advice all to look at the compelling reasons on the dangers and uncertainties GMOs present to human and animal health and biodiversity. Many arguments and scientific reports may be found in http://www.i-sis.org.uk.  The CBD follows the precautionary principle/approach and as such the proponents of GMOs must prove it's safety beyond resonable doubt and not the people to prove that it is unsafe, for the good of humanity and the earth.
posted on 2004-10-20 02:58 UTC by Javier M. Claparols
Re: general discussion of genetic modification of life [#398]
Dear Friends and Dr. Allen

You are right.

I quote  you "Genetically modifying organisms offers progress in both a
beneficial sense and the potential for devastation" - the question is
can we, again I quote you " .. what can keep the technology progressing
in a beneficial track, both for humankind and for the earth"

I express my fear that the way we are going we can not, so why do we
take that 'big' risk ?

(edited on 2004-10-27 09:38 UTC by Elena Angulo)
posted on 2004-10-25 04:35 UTC by m.i.zuberi, university of rajshahi
Re: general discussion of genetic modification of life [#442]
Dear Friends,
Whether we practice genetic modification or not it goes on in nature. Man learned it from nature since the domestication of plants and animals started and has applied it what may be called modern plant/animal breeding to produce desired results. In this process, man modified gene frequencies or chromosome numbers, etc, resulting in genotypes different from genotypes in the preceding generation(s). While expected results(positive effects of modification) were realized, negative effects(expected or unexpected) such as genetic erosion, loss due to negative genetic
correlation,increased competiveness due to increased fitness in various ways(eg ecological effects on rangelands and other species) resulted. It is known that man again developed ways to handle/manage all these negatives while benefitting from the positive ones. I believe strongly that this is the direction we
should be taking with each step being evaluated and decisions taken on the way forward.
Daid A. Mbah
Biosafety Support Project, Cameroon
(edited on 2004-10-27 11:44 UTC by Ryan Hill)
posted on 2004-10-27 11:31 UTC by David A. Mbah, Cameroon
general discussion of genetic modification of life [#470]
Dear Friends,

I agree with David, but I think the science must be developed in a way that is safe to health and the environment.

Genetic modification will be "sustainable" per se if we ensure policy and strong regulation in biosafety that is both supportive to development and sustainable for new generations.

Miguel Biosafety regulator, Cuba
(edited on 2004-10-27 15:34 UTC by Ryan Hill)
posted on 2004-10-27 14:50 UTC by Miguel Lorenzo, National Centre for Biological Safety
Re: GMOs in use of mammalian population control [#375]
Well, as specifically concerns "genetic manipulation", there is a blurry
line between "right" and "choice".  In some cases, I do not believe we have
a choice to NOT manipulate.  For instance, Screwworm.  While the control
programmes do not genetically modify, they certainly genetically

US dept of Agriculture estimates that if screwworm were to reinfest in the
US, livestock losses would be in excess of US$844 million/yr.  During the
1960's, US livestock losses due to screwworm were in excess of $250

Releasing sterile flies from low lying airplane has been the hallmark of the
USDA control programme.  1982-Mexico, eradicated in 1991.  In 1992, USDA
assisted Mexico with $9.2 million to relase 531.8 million sterile flies.

US has had similar efforts in Guatemala, Belize, El Salvado and Houndras,
all declared free from screwworm.

Since 1992 USDA campaign in Nicaragua has released over 25 billion sterile
flies.  In Costa Rica, USDA effort is releasing 60million flies/ week in 2
mile swathes across the entire country.

Jamiaca just began its program with $8million USDA dollars to release 20
million sterile flies/week.

At present, USDA is building US$40millino laboratory in Panama.  When
finished it will release 40million flies/wk.  A yearly budget of $20

It is generally recognized that these high control expenses are dwarfed by
the devastation caused by the parasite.....
(edited on 2004-10-20 09:56 UTC by Kirsty Galloway McLean)
posted on 2004-10-20 09:51 UTC by Scott A. Muller
Re: GMOs in use of mammalian population control [#373]
Caution should be taken in using GMOs to control mammalian population.
It must be recalled that several other forms of scientific efforts in
the past which were ordinarily introduced for the benefit of mankind
turned out to be problems to mankind.  such example includes the
introductions of various agro pesticides.  In doing so, potential
impacts on the ecosystems should also be considered.

M. John Ugolo, Esq
Legal Drafting Department,
Federal Ministry of Justice
Federal Secretariat (10th Floor)
Abuja. Nigeria
(edited on 2004-10-21 14:16 UTC by Ryan Hill)
posted on 2004-10-21 13:38 UTC by JOHN UGOLO, FEDERAL MINISTRY OF JUSTICE
GMOs, ethics and ecosystem management [#372]
Hello everyone,

I find interesting the contrasting comments from those who oppose the use of GMOs for ecosystem (or farming system) management and those who see it as important and perhaps inevitable. Elsewhere in this conference people have also used the analogy between treatment in a medical situation and use of something to help protect an ecosystem. There are clear parallels but also clear distinctions. Most people would be prepared to use GMOs or GMO products (eg viral capsid proteins assembled in a yeast) as vaccines if it protected them from disease - but using a GMO to reduce the impact of a species invading an ecosytem differs in several immediate ways. First there is an element of personal choice in deciding to be vaccinated, although compliance of the majority is needed to prevent spread through the wider community; second, production of a vaccine in a laboratory should be under better control than the liberation of a self-spreading GMO into the wider environment; and third we generally have very different opinions at a public level on how ecosytems work (probably because we know so little about them) and we generally understimate their complexity.

So, in principle we may have no basic problems with the use of GMOs if they protect our personal health yet draw the line as a precautionary principle when it comes to larger ecosystems. Nevertheless, we can't get out of things that easily. In the case of conservation of ecosystems we have a very difficult dliemma. Do we simply watch common invasive species continue to eliminate unique endemic species as has been the case with cats, foxes and rabbits and the native ground-living  fauna in inland Australia, or with invasive plants in Galapagos or avian diseases and endemic birds in Hawaii ? Or do we try to take some action?

Clearly, we are not obliged to use GMOs for these purposes, but they potentially open up new opportunities that are worth exploring. The benefits may not simply relate to the efficiency of management, such as their use in otherwise unmanagable rangelands, but they could also lead to greater acceptability of control methods by the public. The use of diseases to control wild rabbits in Australia is cruel and readily observable and it is not simply enough to point out that the the death of native wildlife because of starvation due to competing rabbits has been equally cruel but simply not observed.  Drastic action needed to be taken against rabbits to halt the enormous damage being caused but it is not the rabbits' fault ' that they became a pest in Australia, and if there were a more humane method for reducing the problem it should be considered. 

One of the objectives of investigating GMOs for rabbit control (virally-vectored immunocontraception) was to consider whether rabbit populations might be managed by limiting fertility rather than killing large numbers of juvenile rabbits. If it ever proves feasible it would certainly be better in terms of humaneness and there might be better  vectors to use in place of the myxoma virus. For example, rabbits in Australia are parasitized by apparently host-specific, non-pathogenic trypanosmes which might be modified genetically (as has been the case for some other trypanosomes), and, needing fleas as an intermediate host, they have a more complex life cycle than viruses and so may be less likely to be inadvertently spread into the rabbit populations in other countries

Many might say that most of the problems caused by rabbits now lie in the past and we should allow the present 'status quo' to continue by accepting rabbits as part of the present Australian ecosystem. However, this is quite unacceptable to those people who are working hard to save remnant native plant and animal populations. To allow damaged ecosystems to recuperate we need to remove the problem species, and  despite myxomatosis and RHD, rabbits remain a measurable threat to many native plants species even though their excessive overgrazing is no longer evident.

The use of methods such as those outlined above depends on a very detailed understanding of the ecosystems where they would be applied and a good assessment of the risks to other ecosystems or industries that could become involved inadvertently.  That part of the equation is more difficult than the construction of a GMO from my perspective.

Finally, I think  that some method must be forged so that work to consider GMOs for use in this way can continue in an acceptable way with wide international exchange of ideas as seen in this forum. The world is littered with evidence of poorly thought out biological control programs (eg Green and Black Poison Arrow Frogs and Mongooses in Hawaii) and I think that having a clear pathway to allow the full investigation and evaluation of GMO agents would be preferable to simply arguing that no further work should be done. The Genie is out of the bottle and it would be very difficult to push it back in again.

Brian Cooke

Vertebrados introducidos y mamíferos endémicos
Estación Cientifica Charles Darwin
Puerto Ayora, Galapagos, Ecuador
posted on 2004-10-25 13:27 UTC by Brian Cooke, Charles Darwin Foundation