Science in Society Archive

Science in Society #48 - Letters to the Editor

Science in Society 48

Glyphosate does poison

Re Lab Study Establishes Glyphosate Link to Birth Defects (SiS 48), it sounds like these scientists in Brazil have gone to an extreme lengths to prove their point! And about time too. It’ll be very interesting to see how the media and Monsanto et al are going to spin this one. Hopefully this will end the GMO debate quickly as it will no longer be profitable to grow them. But of course they’re moving into GMO animals (eg salmon) now so we'll have to wait for that one to blow up in their face.
David Russell, Carbon, Alberta, Canada

10 years ago, I presented a report to my local council about Roundup from the research that was available. I have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and when the council sprayed, I would end up very sick. They ignored my health effects, they also ignored the research I presented and kept using. Even with this information, studies showing it causes cancer & birth defects, they will continue to keep using it, until someone bans it. They just dont believe the studies - why?
Dianne Gebert, Denmark, Western Australia

Reader replies to Dianne
Councils have a 'Duty of Care', that means if they spray a public place, they have to go beyond standard procedures to ensure public safety. Should councils breach their 'Duty of Care' it may be very costly for them in court. They may also face charges of misconduct from the CMC (Crime and Misconduct Commission). Don’t let them get away with it. Send letters to the editor of your local newspaper. Ask your local newspaper how to write your letters so as they can print them without fear of being sued. Take photos for evidence.
Allen Simon, Yeppoon, Queensland, Australia

I am sending Argentina's Roundup Human Tragedy to my elected government officials, press and community. We have thousands of acres in GMO seed production here in Kauai.
Kenneth Taylor, GMO Free Kauai, Hawaii

Cloned food animal not a health concern?

Regarding ‘Cloned’ Food Animals Not True Clones (SiS 48) I appreciate your concern for my diet, but calm down, it's bad for your health. As your own article points out, there is no health concern. Heteroplamic mitochondria derived from somatic cell nuclear transfer have been known about yes, but it is also more common in nature than you might think. Even supposed "pure breed" equine have been shown to exhibit this. Also, the sperm contains its own mitochondrion. Far less than a donor cell, but even in nature there is dreaded heteroplasmy a least for a while. OK, technically speaking they may not be an exact replica, but have you seen the cloned equine being produced. They are beautiful! You think people are going to buy a steak from a sick animal? No, only the strong will survive. So instead of playing lawyer over a technicality, why don't you go work on something useful.  And finally, there were not and aren't any laws being broken!
Justin Meredith,, Austin, Texas, USA

Prof. Joe Cummins replies
Thank you for your interesting comment, on behalf of the cloning company Viagen, I presume. Perhaps you think your diet is not a matter of concern; it does seem to be a matter of grave concern, and I hope that you survive it.

FDA defines an animal clone as a genetic copy of a donor animal, similar to identical twins. Identical twins arise as a split of an embryo and those twins have identical maternal mitochondrial genes. In contrast, clones contain mitochondria from the egg and from the somatic cell donating the nucleus to the clone. FDA made false claims about somatic cell nuclear cloning and any regulation of food flowing from knowingly false claims is certainly illegal. Your comments on equine clones are peculiar and it is not clear whether you are eating cloned horses or riding them or both. I find that your comment on frequent heteropasmy in horses is not borne out by the scientific literature. For example, it is stated in one relevant publication: “We detected no heteroplasmy or deviations from strict and stable maternal inheritance when examining four maternal lineages, each represented by six to eight horses, separated by up to five generations from a common ancestral mare” (S Marklund et al Extensive mtDNA diversity in horses revealed by PCR–SSCP analysis. Animal Genetics Volume 26, Issue 3, pages 193–196, June 1995).

Sciencing with love & hope

To Science With Love (Sciencing with Love, SiS 17), is exactly the treatise that I have been searching for from a scientist.I suppose it takes a woman to feel and write as passionately as you do about the interconnectedness of life. Every woman intuitively knows about this connection from her own body where the universe speaks to us and implies this connectedness, naturally and painlessly (childbirth apart).

I am a simple layperson, (history teacher, mother of three, artist, lover of science who tries to read her Nature magazine and understand what those crazy words and numbers mean) and what you spoke about so eloquently and scientifically. I have felt in my heart of hearts and hoped that somewhere, some scientist could someday put to words rationally with a compassionate bent.Compassionate, because I too have felt, like you, that real science, the science that inspired Galileo, Marie Curie, Pasture and you, has been lost to our generation's youth. They are dispirited by a corporate world of science whose only aim is to gain wealth and power. Where is the joy of science in that? Men and women in the past have died for their love of science, not for the wealth and power it never gave them.

Compassionate science is all but dead in our world of patents and global markets. When millions die of malaria and AIDS yearly when there are medications to control if not cure these diseases, one knows that the original reason for science, curiosity and compassion, are shoved to the back burner of corporate interests.

I wish more people, scientists included, felt as you do. I would then have hope for our species and our poor little planet. You have completely inspired me, intellectually and spiritually. Just maybe, maybe there is hope?

I am having my 13 year old (who I am now home-schooling) read your article for her science studies. Her public school has completely failed her in all aspects of education, but mostly in science, which is typical.
Pauline Schneider, Katonah, New York, USA

Article first published 11/08/10

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