ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

5 February 2003




1. Dawkins wrong

The Times, 1 February 03
Letters to the Editor

Sir, Professor Richard Dawkins's assertion that  genes are a "software sub-routine", which can  therefore be moved with precision by genetic  engineering between totally unrelated organisms  (T2, January 28), reflects the naivete of  individuals who theorise about genetics rather  than those working with it first-hand.

Genetic engineering, either in an animal or plant  context, always has unpredictable outcomes and they  are frequently greater than the intended change. This is because it is wrong to consider genes as  independent units of information, which can be  accurately slotted into the genetic code of any  organism. Genes have evolved within a given organism  to work in combinations in the context of an immensely  complex genetic, biochemical and ecological environment.

The "Luddism" of the Prince of Wales and Peter Melchett  in objecting to GM food on this occasion is supported  by empirical scientific observation.

Michael Antoniou (Lecturer in molecular genetics)
King's College London
St. Thomas' Street, SE1 9RT


PR crisis manager Nick Nichols, who advises companies to use attack-dog strategies against pesky activists, delivered another fiery speech this weekend at the Conservative Political Action Conference, branding environmentalists as terrorists and comparing them to Hitler. "A lot of [my] clients look like food to the more extreme environmental groups," he said. "Government and industry have to start fighting these folks." Similar sentiments came from other speakers at the conference, which included a long list of corporate-friendly names such as Bob Barr, L. Brent Bozell III, Pat Buchanan, Mona Charen, Tom DeWeese, Lucianne Goldberg, David Horowitz, Alan Keyes, Steve Milloy, Grover Norquist, Oliver North, Daniel Pipes, Phyllis Schlafly, Craig Shirley and Ken Starr. U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney delivered the keynote speech, while vendors at exhibition booths sold anti-Muslim hate paraphernalia. More web links related to this story are available at:

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