ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

21 February 2002


"Things you don't expect to happen, can happen," Prof. Alan Wildeman, the University of Guelph's vice-president of research

Elsewhere Wildeman is quoted as saying, "It's not the kind of thing that we like to see happen, but having said that, in a complex research enterprise, sometimes things do happen." (Canadian transgenic pigs end up as chicken feed, Reuters, Feb 19)

After starlink, GE pig at a funeral banquet in the US, and cloned calves going into the food chain in Japan, it seems "can't happen" = "can happen" = "will happen". Roll on pharming!

1. Accident raises GMO-research flag
2. If you're planning for Fido's retirement...


1. Accident raises GMO-research flag
Modified piglets turned into chicken feed could force scientists to alter their methods [shortened]

The Globe and Mail, Canada, Tuesday, February 19, 2002

The accidental rendering of bioengineered piglets into chicken feed may signal a significant change in procedures governing how Canadian scientists are allowed to conduct their research on genetically modified animals.

Last week, scientists at the University of Guelph notified authorities in Ottawa that on Jan. 11, piglets weighing about 20 kilograms were inadvertently turned into pelletized food and fed to chickens and turkeys on Ontario farms. The pigs were part of the much-touted, environmentally beneficial Enviropig research effort at the university.

...Even though it is not considered dangerous, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has called for a return of whatever feed is unused because its release violates safety procedures. More importantly, the Ministry of the Environment is reviewing the procedures for allowing bioengineering research. Currently, if scientists think their research projects will not endanger the environment, they do not have to tell the government about their work.

"If you abide by those conditions, you don't have to tell us about what you are doing," said Jim Louter, head of the biotechnology section at Environment Canada. "Now we have to look at that whole principle."

However, regulators had already approved the self-containment procedures at Guelph. Alan Wildeman, the University of Guelph's vice-president of research, said Enviropig remains will now be put in a separate locked refrigerator and a more rigorous sign-in and sign-out procedure will be used. "Things you don't expect to happen can happen," Prof. Wildeman said.


2. If you're planning for Fido's retirement...

Huge publicity has been achieved for CC, the first cloned kitten
BBC News - Texas researchers clone cat
NBC More than nine lives for this cat
Texas A&M Clones First Cat  Carbon copy cat cloned

The Uni of Texas A&M researchers involved work for Genetic Savings and Clone (GSC) - "a new kind of biotechnology company, which markets advanced genetic services", including gene banking and cloning, to the "average pet owner" via the internet.

GSC, who are also linked to the Missyplicity Project which aims to clone the first dog, say they expect to begin commercial cat cloning later this year and already offer gene banking for all mammals bar humans.

GSC's chief exec is one Lou Hawthorne who according to the blurb, "directly coordinates the media, internet and software design aspects of GSC, as well as legal and financial matters". According to GSC, Hawthorne "has served as Project Coordinator of the Missyplicity Project since it began in July 1997. Prior to that point, Hawthorne coordinated large-scale media and technology projects... Hawthorne has also studied and worked professionally as a producer of video..."

It would be interesting to know whether there is any connection between GSC's chief exec - the science entrepreneur and video film producer, Lou Hawthorne - and science film-maker Louis Hawthorne sued by the University of Phoenix and Space Biospheres Ventures over accusations he had made off with equipment from the US Biosphere project (an experimental geodesic dome supposedly sealing scientists off from the outside world in order to check the feasibility of Mars exploration).

Louis Hawthorne was originally hired by the University of Phoenix to make an educational film about the Biosphere 2 project but the relationship appears to have broken down in a welter of accusation and litigation.
[New York Times, January 26, 1992, "Managers of Biosphere Project Are Accused of Compromising Experiment"]

Given that the Biosphere 2 project ended in tears, it might be useful to have the question of the antecedents of the driving-force-behind-pet-cloning clarified - at least, before finalising any plans for Fido's retirement.

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