From the Editor
Death of the Central Dogma and beyond
The biotech industry was launched on Francis Cricks infamous
Central Dogma of molecular biology, the scientific myth that
organisms are hardwired in their genes, and hence, by moving genes across
species separated by billions of years of evolution, new genetically
modified organisms could be created to serve our every need.
The Central Dogma has been thoroughly exploded by scientific findings
accumulating since the mid-1970s, and especially so after the human and other
genomes have been sequenced (see Living with the Fluid Genome, by
Mae-Wan Ho www.i-sis.org.uk).
We bring you the latest surprises that tell you why our health and
environmental policies based on genetic engineering and genomics are misguided;
and more importantly, why the new genetics demands a thoroughly ecological
approach to life.
"GM crops are a dead end, invest in non-GM sustainable agriculture
The Independent Science Panel (ISP) (see SiS 18) took its
campaign for a GM-free sustainable world to the European Parliament on 20
October 2004. One hundred and twenty registered for the special briefing
including 27 who crossed the channel with the scientists from the UK. The event
made a big impression and the participants could not stop congratulating us
afterwards. We thank all our sponsors and supporters for making it such a
success. Cordis News, the official EU news service for science and
technology reported the event the very next day with the title "Politicians,
professors and protestors target sustainable non-GM agriculture". Further media
coverage was still coming in five days later.
The ISP message is crucial as GM battles are raging across the
world. The high point of the briefing was the talk by Sue Edwards, Director of
the Institute for Sustainable Development, who helped convinced the Ethiopian
government to adopt an organic composting, water and soil conservation package
as its main strategy for combating land degradation and poverty throughout the
country (see SiS 23). It brought home the proven successes of low-input,
health enhancing agricultural practices that should be adopted all over the
Sustainable agriculture is particularly important under climate change
when oil and water on which industrial agriculture, and even more so, GM
agriculture are heavily dependent - are both running out. Industrial
agriculture uses up to seven times the energy per tonne of food than organic
agriculture; it also turns organic soil, which is a carbon sink, into a carbon
source, and generates other green house gases that exacerbate global warming.
In order to feed the world, we must invest in sustainable, non-GM agriculture
across the globe right now, which will also ameliorate the worse consequences
of climate change.
At the same time, important changes have to be made in international
agencies and institutions, which have hitherto supported the dominant model of
industrial agriculture as well as policies that work against poor countries,
where farmers are also desperately in need of secure land tenure.
Biological effects of EMFs still in search of a mechanism
More and more biological effects of electromagnetic fields are
documented at weaker and weaker field intensities, suggesting that the current
exposure standards which are aimed at preventing outright heating of
tissues may be up to 10 million fold too high, if we are to really
protect the public. Researchers are finding long-lasting brain damage in rats
exposed to mobile phones, as well as a range of health problems among people
living near the mobile phone masts.
Still, the regulators profess themselves powerless to lower the exposure
limits because of the lack of plausible mechanisms within conventional
mainstream science - that could explain how fields with such minute energies
could have any biological effects. Leukaemia, DNA damage in brain cells and
other electromagnetic field effects cannot be explained unless scientists
communicate and collaborate across the disciplines, which they are currently
unable to do, partly due to the lack of interdisciplinary education, partly due
to existing funding structure in research and the general culture of mainstream
science that overwhelmingly discriminates against innovative people and ideas
(see also SiS 17). Will our government take the radical steps needed in
scientific research funding and in science education to improve both the
quality of our science and its ability to protect the public?
Water, the medium of life
Entire biochemistry and cell biology textbooks will have to be rewritten
to put water at the centre of living activities. It is indeed water inside
cells and in the extracellular matrix thats stage-managing the continuing
drama of life. Enjoy and marvel!