Science in Society Archive

Science in Society #43 - Letters to the Editor

Science in Society 43

Roundup roundly condemned

Your report Glyphosate Herbicide Could Cause Birth Defects (SiS 43) shows that the sooner Roundup is banned from stores and garden centres the better. Growers of sustainable food cultures should feel threatened by such products, as well as possible insidious GM and other contamination resulting from blinkered advice to use any old animal waste on soils. Perhaps the final paragraph in bold should also apply to GM oils and foods from GM fed animals.

Peter Brenton, London, UK

The research by Argentine scientists may be considered an extension of Rick A. Relyea's work on Monsanto's Roundup herbicide in the United States [Ecological Applications 2005, 15, 618–27; 1118–24], (reported in brief in Roundup Kills Frogs, SiS 26). There was a hostile attempt from some science politicians to suppress Relyea's findings, and many ploys to show that his statistics were poor, but Relyea roughed up all these buffoons in his sharp response [Ecological Applications 2006, 16, 2027–34] and wondered why some scientists who had earlier proved the detrimental effects of glyphosate suddenly changed their view.

Dr. Debal Deb, ecologist, Kolkata, East India

Thank you again for informing citizens worldwide. I forwarded Ban Glyphosate Herbicides Now (SiS 43) to Dr. Alison Bleaney in Tasmania, who is doing very good work on pesticides and cancer. I also sent it to the Dutch minister of Agriculture and their team. I am not a Dr. or Professor and it is crazy when I as (a very noisy) beekeeper must teach our Dutch scientist what they must do for the insects especially bees. I am studying everyday because I want to know all the details on the subject

Hans van den Broek, beekeeper, Stalen Enk, BR Velp, The Netherlands

New medicine needed whether climate changes or not

You end Medicine in a New Key (SiS 43) referring to “the increase in disease burden forecast for times of climate change.” I have written to you before regarding the fact that you’re invalidating your highly interesting work in biophysics by placing it in the context of a climate change forecast. Medicine in a New Key has always been a necessity. The influence of climate change forecasts on the current disease burden is zero. So, why refer to it at all, when millions are victimized by Domo medicine and pharma without climate playing any role whatsoever in it.

Bert Schwitters, The International Nutrition Company, Loosdrecht, The Netherlands

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho replies

I agree with your sentiment, but global warming is going to increase the burden of infectious diseases even further, and more than ever before, the importance of primary healthcare, sanitation and nutrition must not be understated or overlooked in damning domo medicine.

Darwin’s pangenesis & Francis Galton’s Record of Family Faculties

I`m interested to see you writing about Francis Galton in Darwin’s Pangenesis, the Hidden History of Genetics & the Dangers of GMOs (SiS 42). We have an edition of his Record of Family Faculties dated 1884, filled out in detail by my great grandfather. It itemises characteristics of his children, both physical and mental, and also of our ancestors and relations. My great grandfather had bought Galton’s book, available at the time, which was a sort of list of all possible relations and a questionnaire of their characteristics; the idea being to build up a record of trends over the generations.

So far as I know, this `eugenics` project was abandoned after the Nazis took it up in World War 2 and has hardly been touched since. This seems a pity in a way, as I think Francis Galton`s spirit of enquiry was probably quite innocent, if perhaps naive.

Henry Nicholls, organic farmer, East Sussex, UK

Fire and water expanding horizons

Thanks again for your wonderful essays in the series Fire and Water (SiS 43), which gloriously informs and expands our horizons. Like you, I am always on the prowl searching for first principles. I continue to seek for the unifying precepts that explain why inactivity is so universally catabolic. I am writing on frailty which is a summation of down-regulation of ensembles of genes with decreased energy flow. I discovered papers of Schiffmann who writes of a “morphogenetic couple” involving ATP.  Eugene Yates sanctions the proposition of an energy field as a relevant heuristic, but my buddy Richard Veech rails at the term stating that such use is only poetry and not real science. So I turn to you, my mentor about energy flow for instruction about how to think about the translation of activity to the phenotype. Is matter “frozen energy”, or is that poetry too?  I run the San Francisco marathon in 6 weeks.

Dr. Walter Bortz, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, USA

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho replies

You are too generous with your praise. Your questions are always deep and thought-provoking, not least because you and the colleagues mentioned are leading physiologists who have dedicated a lot of time and effort to these issues, and well ahead of the mainstream community. Inactivity starves our tissues and cells of oxygen and hence  energy for synthetic activities. It also leads to a build-up of reactive oxygen species that cause oxidative damages to the cells including DNA, that would further inhibit  anabolic activities, if not encourage downright catabolic tendencies. In the wider context, inactivity leads to a loss of  (quantum) coherence and balance in the ‘energy field’, which I certainly would not dismiss. There’s more to this ‘energy field’ that warrants further research...

Resonance and HIV

On re-reading your very important essay The Real Bioinformatics Revolution (SiS 33), I was enormously excited to learn of the application of molecular resonance to HIV. The reason is related to a recent Scientific American feature article updating on the efforts and frustrations in searching for a vaccine against HIV. What I found most striking in that article was the implicit dismissal of the molecular recognition dynamics and conservation of active-site affinity by HIV in spite of its vaunted mutability. I was so struck that I wrote the author to enquire into whether, to his knowledge, this was something that anyone had been exploring; but after a couple of months, the answer to date has been conspicuous silence.

My reason for writing you is to raise the question of how - by what systemic processes of measurement, feedback and control - HIV manages to achieve such affinity conservation while inducing profligate mutability elsewhere in the relevant molecule(s). This seems to me a remarkable accomplishment, and one that begs the question about the dynamic nature of local/global interactivity, and whether quantum coherent processes may be entailed to achieve this outcome. I'm curious if you're familiar with anyone exploring such questions?

Mark Reiners, Los Angeles, California, USA

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho replies

There is convincing evidence suggesting that HIV is either a (normally harmless) endogenous viral sequence lurking in the genome or assembled from such when the body is out of balance (see Unraveling AIDS, ISIS publication), i.e., no longer coherent, or quantum coherent, which I take to be the  ideal of health. In the quantum coherent state, each molecule intercommunicates with every other, which would enable molecules both to preserve and co-vary specific structures. In this respect, the organism is the most sophisticated quantum computer, a poor semblance of which people have been trying to fabricate for decades now, without much success (see Quantum Computer or Red Flag SiS 40).

GM chicken feed = GM chicken eggs?

After reading much of your literature concerning GMOs, I feel an urge to have my chickens’ eggs tested. Because before I brought them to my organic farm, they were fed with GM feed. I don’t know if an organic diet can reverse anything. I understand that naked DNA can infect any cell, including germ cells of the animal that eats it, as described in your articles (the latest, Horizontal Gene Transfer from GMOs Does Happen, SiS 38). Didn’t that happen with some rats, the moms were fed GM feed, and the offspring had the GMOs in their brains?

Lisa Todd, Qualicum Beach BC, Canada

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho replies

There were experiments in which GM DNA (not GM feed) fed to pregnant rats found its way into the tissues of the foetuses and newborn pups. The point is that a rather large amount of GM DNA had to be fed for that to happen. GMDNA in feed will be much less concentrated, and hence not nearly as likely to end up in the eggs. But you are certainly right that DNA can get into any cell in principle, especially GM DNA, which is designed to invade cells and inset into genomes. Testing for GMDNA in eggs can be done but is quite demanding (and expensive) and not very many people are doing it routinely. If your chickens are in reasonable health, chances are that the detrimental effects can be reversed, and your best bet is to switch your chickens to organic feed as soon as possible, as you have already done.  Of course, the best option is to have chickens that are never fed on GM produce, and you must now propagate your own chickens to make sure that is the case. There is a very strong demand from European consumers for non-GM animal feed (see Europe Holds the Key to a GM-Free World, 5th Conference of GM-Free Regions, Food & Democracy , SiS 43).

Article first published 01/09/09

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Jocelyn Braddell Comment left 3rd September 2009 05:05:27
Re. Chicken feed and the EU I think it necessary to add that the seemingly benign EU have issued a dictat that chiockens can now be kept in worse conditions than heretofore by reducing the amount of space allocated to each bird. 19 broilers to one square metre can now be amplified to 21 per sq.metre

Rory Short Comment left 4th September 2009 02:02:39
I really appreciate the work that you are doing in bringing back into society and not leaving it to the nefarious machinations of commercial corporations. Not that I am able to understand everything that appears in your publications but that which I do understand I thoroughly enjoy. Your comment [on Dr Walter Bortz's comment on 'Fire and Water'(SiS 43)] that 'Inactivity starves our tissues and cells of oxygen and hence energy for synthetic activities' spoke absolute volumes to me. As a regular Iyengar Yoga practitioner I see my asanas properly practiced, that is with as full a consciousness as possible, I am working with my body's natural energies.