Science in Society Archive

Science in Society #36 - Letters to the Editor

Science in Society 36

AIDS vaccines dangerous and trials unethical

With regard to your article about the clinical trial of the Merck’s AIDS vaccine (New Strategy HIV Vaccine Fails, SiS 36), you will be interested to know that the same happened not so long ago in the clinical trials of VaxGen’s AIDS vaccine.

I have been warning over the past 15 years that AIDS vaccines are not only inefficient, but also harmful. For that reason, I have called repeatedly for a moratorium on clinical trials of AIDS vaccines and for reevaluation of the current AIDS vaccine strategy (Veljkovic  et al Vaccine 2001,1855; Lancet 2003, 361, 1743).

It is important to note that increased susceptibility to HIV infection is not only the problem with AIDS vaccines. The most important problem for volunteers is possible acceleration of diseases progression after infection. It is also of note that the EU AIDS
vaccine developed in the FP6 for clinical trials in South Africa is also an adenovirus- vectored vaccine (Controversy Over European Framework Programme AIDS Vaccines, SiS 36).

Unfortunately, clinical trials of dangerous AIDS vaccine candidates continue because money and politic are placed above scientific arguments. It is especially dangerous that companies refuse to release the data from clinical trials, because this could “compromise” further AIDS research. I agree with you that the release of clinical trials data must now be made mandatory.

Dr. Veljko Veljkovic, Director, Center for Multidisciplinary Research, Institute of Nuclear Sciences VINCA, Belgrade, Serbia

Cold Fusion a Hit

Congratulations on your excellent articles concerning Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENRs) (Cold Fusion Hots Up series, SiS 36). You have done a remarkable job in making arcane, controversial, highly technical subject matter comprehensible to a broad audience. ISIS clearly spent a great deal of time and effort doing background research and fact checking. Your hard work shows vividly in the high quality of the final product.

I have some minor issues about certain aspects of what you have written in these articles. For example, Allan Widom and I do not believe that there are energetically significant amounts of D-D fusion going-on in LENR systems.  In our view, energy production in LENR systems is dominated by the weak interaction (ultra low momentum neutron production and beta decays), not strong interaction fusion or fission processes.  Indeed, we believe that unique characteristic is exactly why LENRs are so much “cleaner” and “greener” than competing fission and fusion technologies.

You have made an important contribution to the ongoing scientific debate about LENRs and their potential use in environmentally sustainable generation of clean, low cost, carbon-free energy. Thanks to you and ISIS for such outstanding work!

Lewis Larsen, President and CEO, Lattice Energy LLC, Chicago, USA

Microwave more than “wireless”

Regarding your article, Mobile Phones & Vanishing Birds (SiS 34), you may be interested to know that a colleague of ours, the late Dr. John  A. Tanner of the Canadian National Research Council Control Systems Laboratory, developed in the early 1970s a method of distancing birds from airports by microwave emissions,  as these were painful to their sciatic  nerves. Prior research of this nature seems to have been done by M.  Nadasdi (1960) and B. M. Cameron (1961).
Andrew Michrowski, The Planetary Association for Clean Energy, Inc, Ottawa, Canada
In Special Consultative status with the United Nations (ECOSOC) and the Human Rights Council.

Great to see your article (Drowning in a Sea of Microwaves, SiS 34). I have been concerned about this for some time. An interesting point is terminology.  While the term “wireless” came into vogue more than 50 years ago with public broadcasting radio, in more recent times it has been picked up with glee by the advocates of “wireless
 communications” and “wi-fi”. This is not just a band-wagon effect.  It is also deliberate spin.  The great thing about the term “wireless” is that it tells you what the product isn't.   It isn’t wired.  But neither is the food you eat or the clothes you wear, or any living creature on this planet.   All of these, too, can lay claim to the term “wireless”.

So, why describe what a product isn’t?   Clearly a wonderful device to avoid describing what it actually is: a microwave communication device.  Keep up the good work.

Peter Renowden, Melbourne, Australia

Hurrah on Mosanto’s GM patents revoked

I was so pleased to see from your editorial (SiS 35) that successful moves have been made in the USA to invalidate some patents on GM seeds and crops. Ever since the furore aroused by Dr Pusztai’s experiments [on the harmful effects of feeding GM potatoes to young rats in 1998], it has been obvious to me that a lot of the pressure to adopt GM foods was not only commercial but political, in that it’s cheaper and less provocative to coerce people by controlling their food supply than by making war on them. How far US administrations will allow this attack on one of their weapons to go is another matter.
John Parfitt, Bristol, UK

Dream Farm right on

Regarding ISIS report, How to Beat Climate Change & Be Food and Energy Rich - Dream Farm 2 ( I have been advising farmers here in New Zealand and Australia for over 30 years on the finer points of sustainable agriculture, and have met with serious opposition and even more serious successes. The opposition has come from the vested interests and although they are very vocal, they have never challenged the philosophy, only attacked me personally. You can view our successes by going to our web at The world needs what we have, and I feel your organization may be the one to assist in dispersing the philosophy to a wider audience.

My wife Daphne runs our laboratory along with three others and I take care of the field work. Daphne worked as a lab technician for the grasslands division of our old D.S.I.R., in Palmerston North in the North Island of our country, and I studied soil science from 1968 through 1973 under the late Dr. Wm. A. Albrecht. After he died in 1974, I went on to study agronomy at Brookside in Ohio. I further studied animal nutrition under the guidance of Dr. Robert Scott of Minnesota and Dr. Tim Mason of Texas, returning to New Zealand in the late 70s to set up my own laboratory. Please get your readers to visit our website.

Peter J Lester, Soil Scientist and Animal Nutritionist, Managing Director, Quantum Labs, Victoria, New Zealand

Organic cheats

Thanks for your article Scientists Find Organic Agriculture Can Feed the World and More (SiS 36). But the German weekly Der Spiegel just produced an extremely worrying report on organic food. Since the supermarkets have found organic food is trendy with rich
people, and a lot of money can be made, one has to be very careful, it seems.

For example, the article says that Rainer Baechi from the Swiss certification &
inspection organisation IMO has been checking organic cereals, soy, vegetables and seafood in China for ten years. The difficulty? Roughly translated, it goes as follows: “According to our understanding of reality nothing is real,” says Baechi. “The Chinese certify everything. The problem is finding out what is real.”

I'm eating organic as long as I can get it. But my organic sunflower seeds bought at the largest Swiss surmarket chain Migros say “Origin China”, without any indication of the
entity that checks the certification. So I'm going to send it back to Migros headquarters as  “Uncertified Chinese sunflower seeds”, which have become non-organic.
Organic is good, but apparently there’s quite a lot of cheating.
Helmut Lubbers, ecoglobe - ecology discovery foundation. Geneva, Switzerland

Great thermodynamics

I've read your article Thermodynamics of Organisms and Sustainable Systems ( with great interest. I can imagine that your
sustainability approach will work in the production of food. Question is, can it be applied to industrial activities and using industrially made products? Let’s say the manufacturing and use of airplanes, computers, lightbulbs, etc.? How does one define industrial activities in
terms of Sustainable Systems without reducing these activities to pre-industrial crafts?
Bert Schwitters, International Nutrition Company, Loosedrecht, The Netherlands

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho Replies

The principles for industrial/manufacturing processes are the same. It has been applied to the manufacture of beer, for example. There is no reason why it cannot be applied to the design of cars and airplanes to increase energy efficiency.

Article first published 29/08/07

Got something to say about this page? Comment

Comment on this article

Comments may be published. All comments are moderated. Name and email details are required.

Email address:
Your comments:
Anti spam question:
How many legs on a cat?