GM Science Review - Comments on First Report

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Name: Norman Maclean Location (optional): Southampton Date: 19 September 2003
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The first report is primarily focused on GM crops. Some people working in my research group at Southampton University are involved in work with transgenic fish, both zebrafish and tilapia. One of our projects is the production of "autotransgenic" GM fish, that is fish that are transgenic only with respect to DNA sequences derived from the species receiving the transgenes, in our case tilapia. This topic has a relevance to crops also, in that,when none of the DNA sequences used are novel to the organism, it becomes clearer that such GM organisms,although produced by the GM technology, are little different or not at all different to crop plants or exploited animals produced by conventional breeding. This follows because genetic recombination, which occurs naturally when plants and animals are bred, achieves genetic reassortment analagous to that which happens when transgenes are introduced.

What follows from this arguement is the suggestion that seperate legislation might be developed to deal with autotransgenics, since they would be percieved as being more "natural" than normal GM organisms, and would probably not have the same potential for unforeseen effects.

Norman Maclean [Professor of Genetics]