A Bioengineered Plague
Phenotypes - New Insects/Plants Among Us

How we get new insects.
Transgenic and paratransgenic insects differ significantly in the way in which they are created, but the end results of their creation are the same, insects with new characteristics (or in genetical terms - phenotypes). In both cases, the new characteristics (phenotypes) of the insects are the result of the manipulation of DNA by scientists in the lab, and these new phenotypes are expressed in all insects descending from them.
Transgenic insects are the product of the physical integration of a piece of DNA manipulated in the laboratory (referred to generally as the transgene) into the chromosomes of a target insect. The technical issues, therefore, center around getting the DNA of interest to the chromosomes of the target insect, promoting the integration of this extraneous piece of DNA into the intact chromosomes and recognizing when you have actually been successful.
Genetically altering an insect so that all of its descendents will also be genetically altered requires that the initial integration of the transgene occurs in the chromosomes of cells that will produce sperm or eggs (most insect reproduction is sexual). The transgene must be delivered not just to the cells of the gonads but into their nuclei (the central compartment of cells containing chromosomes). Insect scientists accomplish this by performing a very delicate microsurgical procedure involving the physical injection of the transgene into the target cells of the host insect. But, the chromosomes in the nuclei of cells are each single, contiguous, very long strands of DNA. For a transgene to become part of a chromosome, the chromosome must be completely broken into two pieces and the transgene inserted into the resulting gap, and the gap must be completely repaired.
This process occurs naturally, but very infrequently. Insect scientists promote this fusion of chromosomes and transgenes by attaching the transgene to additional DNA sequences called transposable elements that have the unique capability of efficiently cutting and repairing chromosomes. The unique sequences attached to the transgene (transposable elements) essentially carry the transgene into the chromosome and are referred to as vectors. Finally, the problem of recognizing a genetically altered insect can be severe if the new phenotypes are not readily visible. Insect scientists solve this problem by attaching a second transgene to the initial vector-transgene combination that will result in new visible phenotypes and permit the efficient identification of transgenic insects. Transgenes used solely for assisting with the recognition of transgenic insects are referred to as markers.
Paratransgenic insects are not created by integrating transgenes into the chromosomes of the target insect but into the microbes that naturally inhabit their alimentary canal (gut). Genes expressed in these gut symbionts can alter the phenotype of the host insect. The technical issues focus on integrating the transgene into the chromosomes of the microbial symbiont, reintroducing the symbiont into the host and promoting its transmission to subsequent generations. Inserting transgenes into microbial symbionts has relied extensively on existing microbial genetic technology. Insect scientists have solved the problem of re-introducing the transgenic microbes by first "curing" the host insect of its gut microbes and then introducing them to the modified microbes. Limitations to the application of paratransgenic technology center on the identification, isolation and manipulation of appropriate microbial symbionts.
Chromosomes -- long, continuous strands of DNA comprising the genetic blueprint of the cell. Marker -- transgene that confers an easily recognized, and usually visible, change in the phenotype of an organism. Nucleus -- the central membrane-bound compartment of plant and animal cells that contains the chromosomes. Paratransgenic Insect -- an insect containing genetically altered microbial symbionts. Phenotype -- the physical characteristics of an organism. Symbiont -- a microbe that lives in another organism in a mutually beneficial relationship. Transgene -- a piece of DNA manipulated in the lab and inserted into a host genome Transgenic Insect -- an insect containing novel genetic material stably integrated into its chromosomes and transmitted to its progeny. Transposable elements -- unique pieces of DNA that naturally cut and paste themselves into chromosomes. Vector -- refers to DNA that plays the unique role of carrying a transgene and promoting its integration into chromosomes."
 For slides and biography of the Entomologist:
 The beginning of the alteration of nature and it's lovely bugs.  The devil is in the details:
Altering Plants, grass, forests, and the companies involved: Some scientists are concerned.  SPEAKING OF MYSTERIOUS ILLNESSES!
"....Risks are increased by the fact that the genes inserted into GM food not only survive digestion, but transfer into body organs and circulation.
Transgenes have been found in the blood, liver, spleen and kidneys.13 DNA can even travel via the placenta into the unborn.14 The only human clinical trial showed that transgenes from soy transfer into intestinal bacteria.15 · Claims that no one has gotten hurt from GM foods are misleading, since no one monitors human health impacts. We do know that soya allergies skyrocketed by 50 percent after GM soybeans were imported to the UK,16 and a GM food supplement killed about 100 Americans and caused 5,000- 10,000 to fall sick.17
· Some GM crops create their own pesticide called Bt. Their approval relied on the assumption that Bttoxin is not bioactive in mammals. But Bt-toxin caused powerful immune responses and abnormal and excessive cell growth in mice. Filipinos living next to Bt cornfields developed mysterious symptoms during the time of pollination - three seasons in a row - and blood tests showed an immune response to Bt.18 A November 2005 report from India claims that Bt cotton also creates allergic responses.19 What if Bt genes transfer to gut bacteria like soya genes do? They could turn our internal flora into living pesticide factories.
Despite the Public Relation spin, GM crops increase the use of herbicides20, lower average yield, and endanger food security. They are detrimental to sustainable and organic farming, and trap farmers in a cycle of indebtedness and dependence. They endanger biodiversity21, harm beneficial insects22, damage soil bacteria23, contaminate non-GM varieties24 and may persist in the environment for generations.25"
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 Crossing the threshold!



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