Changing Nature's Course: The Ethical Challenge of Biotechnology

By Gerhold K. Becker; James P. Buchanan | Go to book overview
by temperature-gradient gel electrophoresis (TGGE) to detect Sat-RNA sequence variants. Secondly, the efficiency of aphid transmission of CMV in the presence of the Sat-RNA is reduced to about 10% of that in the absence of the Sat-RNA. The reduced transmission efficiency, due to the low concentration of CMV when the Sat-RNA is present, lowers the chance that the Sat-RNA will be released in the field. Finally, it is possible to maintain the benign property of the Sat-RNA by periodic and detailed quality control of the BCA stocks. It is our hope that the use of Sat-RNA as a viral control strategy will become increasingly safe as our knowledge of Sat-RNA structurefunction relationship increases. Indeed, it has recently been found that the Sat-RNA of CMV can lose its ability of being encapsidated into CMV CP by changing a few nucleotides; this in turn excludes the possibility of Sat-RNA transmission (D. Baulcombe, personal communication).
6. Safety of viral coat protein-mediated resistance . Transencapsidation of viral nucleic acid by transgenically expressed CP may induce heteroencapsidated virion, which might be transmitted by new vectors and to new host plants (Wilson, 1993). The CP of plum pox potyvirus has been shown to confer aphid-transmissibility on a non-transmissible isolate of zucchini yellow mosaic virus. However, recent studies showed that intentionally truncated, antisense or nonexpression (-AUG) CP genes could provide measurable protection or even complete immunity against the appropriate parent virus; 14 this in turn excludes the possibility of heteroencapsidation of viral nucleic acid by transgenically expressed CP.

In conclusion, safety, from a public view, was ensured by biologically containing the transgenic plants so that they would not induce risk. The emphasis on biological containment has meant that for release to be permissible it is necessary to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that the transgenic plants are safe. But nothing is completely safe, and safety per se is not always desired; for example, plant species without any toxic metabolites would be exquisitely sensitive to pests.


Notes
1.
Abel et al., 1986, 738-743.
2.
Baulcombe et al., 1986, 263-272; Wu et al., 1988, 948-956.
4.
Tien and Wu, 1991; Tien and Zhang, 1983.
5.
Qin et al., 1992; Tien, 1992.
6.
Wu et al., 1989.
7.
Zhao et al., 1990.
8.
Yin and Tien, 1993.
9.
Yie et al., 1992.
10.
Malpica et al., 1993.
11.
Beringer et al., 1992, 135-140.

-25-

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