January 17, 2000
Subject: Food Safety Files 4: The beginning of the end for the Frankenfood/biotech industry?... EPA Restricts Gene-Altered Corn in Response to Concerns + Time Magazine feels a need to re-poll everybody about GE foods + Particularly telling article on MONSANTO which hired protester @ $25 each for DC + Is Environmentalism a religion? + FDA Seeks To Destroy Alternative Health Web Sites + Prescription Drugs - The Reason Behind The Madness + GM BACTERIA IN RADIOACTIVE WASTE
I've been busy with lots of things this past week. One of my focus was to clear my Out folder of accumulated material I intended to send you but never got around to do so. So contrary to what I told you last week, there will be a temporary increase of emails this week from me before it drops again to a below-average level. If you cannot review this material right now, perhaps you may save it for consultation at a later time.
We have some good news to report here as the pressure is mounting in the U.S. to greatly restrict the Frankenfood industry in its drive to expand at the expense of our health and our environment. The pressure is also mounting to reform -- or disband - the corrupted FDA responsible for so many fraudulent approval of unsafe and untested food products. More on this soon! And on many other different subjects too...
Earth Rainbow Network Coordinator
EPA Restricts Gene-Altered Corn in Response to Concerns
Farmers Must Plant Conventional 'Refuges' to Reduce Threat of Ecological Damage
By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 16, 2000; Page A02
The Environmental Protection Agency has placed new restrictions on the cultivation of
genetically modified corn, a response to concerns that gene-altered crops may be
causing ecological disruptions.
The new restrictions, which were released late Friday and are effective immediately,
make unprecedented demands on the producers of biotech seeds and on farmers who wish
to plant so-called Bt corn, which has been endowed with a gene that allows the corn
to make its own insecticide.
Among the new restrictions is a requirement that farmers plant 20 percent to 50
percent of their acreage in conventional corn, which some farmers have said would be
burdensome and some experts said could lead to a decline in plantings of the
Bt corn has enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity among farmers since it was approved
for sale in 1996, and was planted on more than one-third of U.S. corn acres last year.
But some experts have warned that large-scale plantings of Bt corn may be speeding
the evolution of "superbugs"--insects resistant to standard insecticides.
Then, last summer, Cornell University scientists presented preliminary evidence from
laboratory studies that pollen from Bt corn could blow onto milkweed plants and kill
monarch butterfly caterpillars. Although field studies aimed at measuring the true
ecological impact of Bt corn on monarchs are not yet complete, the EPA suggested
Friday that farmers voluntarily plant their conventional cornfields upwind of their
biotech fields so the Bt corn pollen won't blow onto these refuges.
Milkweed, the only plant on which monarch butterflies lay their eggs, grows around cornfields.
Environmentalists praised the new regulations, which the EPA negotiated with the
biotechnology industry, as a step in the right direction, if not as strong as they
might have liked.
"Many of the companies and industries have gone to great lengths to belittle concerns
about toxic pollen on butterflies and the development of resistance in insects," said
Rebecca Goldburg, a scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund in New York and a
member of a National Academy of Sciences panel that is preparing a report on the
environmental impact of gene-altered corn. "What EPA has done is to confirm that
there are some serious environmental problems concerning the widespread planting of
Several varieties of genetically modified corn have been rejected by European
consumers and others because of environmental and health concerns, costing U.S.
farmers more than $200 million in exports last year. With trade tensions rising over
the crops, and insect populations holding at modest levels in many parts of the
American corn belt, some experts were already predicting that sales of engineered
corn might decline this spring for the first time.
A straw poll of 400 farmers conducted by Reuters last week at the annual meeting of
the American Farm Bureau Federation found that some farmers are planning to call it
quits with biotech varieties. Farmers said demands by U.S. consumers that engineered
food products be labeled, and ongoing European rejection of the crops, could depress
the prices farmers will get at harvest for the costly new varieties.
The poll results predict a 24 percent decline in plantings of Bt corn compared with
last year, and a 26 percent decline in plantings of Bt cotton. They also predict a 15
percent decline in RoundUp Ready soybeans--a gene-altered variety of soy that
protects the plants against the popular weed killer made by St. Louis-based Monsanto
Co. and was planted on more than half of all U.S. soy acres last year. And it
predicts a 22 percent drop in RoundUp Ready corn.
Representatives from major producers of biotech seeds could not be reached for
comment, but a spokesman for Monsanto told Reuters last week that farmers have been
pleased with the new varieties and that it's too soon to say what farmers will do in
The new EPA restrictions, described in letters to biotech seed producers from Janet
L. Andersen, director of EPA's biopesticides and pollution prevention division, could
influence those decisions for corn.
They demand that farmers plant large "refuges" of conventional corn near their Bt
corn to reduce Bt pressures on insects and delay the evolution of resistance in pest
populations. Farmers will not be allowed to spray refuges with conventional
insecticides unless they can prove that pests have exceeded certain levels.
And biotech seed producers and farmers will have to monitor insect populations for
the emergence of insecticide resistance. At the first sign that such resistance is
occurring, sales of the new seed varieties must be halted.
The rules also demand that seed producers develop grower agreements that farmers must
sign or produce educational materials and programs such as workshops and publications
to ensure compliance with the rules. Companies must submit details of those plans to
the EPA for approval by Jan. 31.
© Copyright 2000 The Washington Post Company
Date: Fri, 07 Jan 2000
From: Debbie Ortman <email@example.com>
Subject: Urgent - GE Poll - here we go again - send to everyone on your lists
Please vote on this poll by Time Magazine. Some of you may have already
voted before but they have restarted their poll on GE foods and it now
shows a majority of "not concerned". This is obviously a ploy by Time (owned by industry)
to cancel the old poll where a 56% majority as of yesterday, were "very
concerned" about GE foods.
They show a poll start date of 12/1/99 but I accessed it just yesterday and
it showed a poll start date of 10/1/99. I emailed Time Editors yesterday
and asked them when the cutoff date for this poll was going to be and how were they
going to use the results? No response yet other than they have now restarted this poll.
Due to a large amount of robotic voting during the last several weeks the
tally file for this poll has been corrupted. We have reset the tally to
zero and relaunched the poll.
Genetically Modified Foods: Are You Afraid of Eating Them?
More and more food is being produced from plants and animals that have been
genetically modified. Are you concerned about consuming meals made from
SOMEONE ELSE ALSO SENT THIS:
Time Magazine feels a need to re-poll everybody about GE
foods. Was it because their last poll showed a majority "very
concerned" about eating them, and this was not the result that
their advertisers wanted? Am I being hopelessly cynical even
*thinking* such a thought? Bottom line: please take a minute
to go vote at their web site:
4. OCA Organizes Successful FDA Hearing Protest In DC - Oakland Next
Carrying a 25-foot ear of corn with the sign "Safety First"
written on its side, OCA along with USPIRG, Friends of the
Earth, Center for Food Safety, and Community Harvest helped
organize a rally of over 150 people outside of an FDA
hearing on genetically engineered foods in Washington, DC.
The hearing was the second of three being held by the FDA,
designed to explain their regulatory system for genetically
engineered foods - and hear from citizens. The protests and
hearing received extensive news coverage including CNN, USA
Today, and New York Times - while sharing the spotlight with
massive protests in Seattle over the WTO.
The rally was highly successful despite an effort funded by
the Monsanto corporation in which around 100 people were
hired at $25 apiece to travel from a local Baptist church
and protest in favor of genetically engineered foods. In an
embarrassing story for Monsanto, the New York Times reported
on the paid protestors in a December 8 article - detailing
the work of giant public relations firm Burson Marsteller,
which has been working for Monsanto at the FDA hearings.
The last FDA hearing on genetically engineered food will be
held in Oakland, CA on December 13. The FDA is following a
similar pattern to the previous hearing. It has already
moved the site location, less than a week before the
hearing. The agency is still putting together the panels for
the hearing at the last minute. Additionally, the biotech
industry is expected to bus in hundreds of pro-biotech
supporters from Davis, California - home of Monsanto
subsidiary, Calgene, and Berkeley - where biotech giant
Novartis has a partnership with the University of
DENIGRATION - YET ANOTHER WEAPON USED BY THE BIG CORPORATIONS TO OPPOSE ENVIRONMENTALISTS
Date: Sun, 26 Dec 1999
Subject: First Amendment/Pagan Pertinent NEWS - 26 Dec '99
Updated December 23, 1999
Is Environmentalism a religion?
Loggers file suit against unlikely co-defendants
Two Minnesota logging companies allege that the
United States Forest Service "has allowed itself to be
used as a tool, agent, or instrument of Defendants SWAN
and Forest Guardians for religious purposes." (AP Photo)
By Laura Barandes
If ever a person committed body and soul to the cause
of environmentalism, its Julia "Butterfly" Hill, who spent
two years atop a redwood tree in California to make the
point that irresponsible logging is an unacceptable
squandering of natural resources.
Hill admits that her demonstration took a great deal of
personal strength and even spirituality but she
vehemently rejects the notion that environmentalism is, by
any definition, her "religion."
Meanwhile, thousands of miles away in Minnesota,
two logging companies are trying to prove Hill wrong.
They are trying to convince a court that Superior
Wilderness Action Network (SWAN) and Forest
Guardians, both environmentalist groups, subscribe to
a religious belief system called "Deep Ecology."
The complaint further alleges that the United
States Forest Service (USFS) "has allowed itself to be
used as a tool, agent, or instrument of Defendants
SWAN and Forest Guardians for religious purposes."
Though SWAN does advocate an end to logging on
federal land, it does not oppose all logging, nor does it
believe that cutting down a tree is sinful.
The director of SWAN was disturbed to learn that the
complaint compares his group to "the neo-Pagan religions
of Druid practices, Wicca and Gaia worship."
Fenner said that when he read the complaint, he didn't
even know what Wicca was.
"I had to look it up on Yahoo!," he said, "and then I
realized that they were trying to make us look like Witches
or something I'm a practicing Methodist, for goodness
Apparently, only the Associated Contract Loggers
(ACL) and Olson Logging, Inc., their lawyers, and most
recently Rush Limbaugh think the suit has any merit.
Young [lawyer who represents ACL and Olson Logging]
insists that his case has merit.
"You can preach that trees are sacred, that the Earth is my
mother, the sun is my father and all that," Young told the Los
"But in demanding that the government accept your beliefs,
you've crossed the line."
He [lawyer Young] insists that the "USFS threatens
to allow any challenge to a timber sale, even challenges
masking suspect religious motives."
As though these environmentalist groups, which survive
through donations and volunteer work, have somehow
brainwashed the government into accepting some kind of
fictitious Pagan religion.
Let's forget for a moment that the government wins
almost every case filed by SWAN and Forest Guardians,
that the groups operate with almost no budget, that Deep
Ecology is no more a religion than is the Capitalism of its
FDA Seeks To Destroy Alternative Health Web Sites
By William Faloon
(The following is from JC Spencer, one of our Associate Advisory Council
members. It is quite long, but shocking - the FDA is out of control.
You may want to contact your congressional representative. - Suzanne)
The FDA's history is one of incompetence, fraud, deceit and the continuous
striving for more power. Over the past 25 years, the Food and Drug
Administration has sought to gain authoritarian control that Congress never
intended it to have. In every attempt to seize this kind of power, the FDA
has been beaten back by a swell of public protest.
The FDA has just launched a disinformation campaign to deceive Congress into
believing that the agency needs to "protect" the public from health
information on the Internet. The FDA is seeking ten million tax dollars a
year to attack alternative health and pharmacy web sites.
If the FDA convinces Congress to give it the power and money to do this,
American consumers will be denied access to innovative therapies, and will
be forced to pay a good deal more for the nutrient and drug therapies the
FDA allows them to buy over the Internet.
One of the FDA's proposals is to be able to fine Internet pharmacies
$500,000 every time they dispense a drug without a prescription authorized
by the agency. With this kind of excessive fining power, the FDA will be
able to bankrupt any online pharmacy it targets. To make it easy for them to
shut down large numbers of web sites, the FDA wants the power to issue
subpoenas without first obtaining a court order, a totalitarian tactic the
American public revolted against when the agency proposed it in 1990.
Finally, the FDA says it wants to set up "a rapid response team" to
identify, investigate, and prosecute web sites. In other words, the FDA is
seeking to establish an army of cyberspace storm-troopers to enable it to
shut down large numbers of web sites quickly.
The alleged purpose of these new powers is to "target and punish those who
engage in illegal drug sales over the Internet."
This may sound reasonable to the average person, but as members of The Life
Extension Foundation well know, the FDA's history is one of ineptitude and
corruption that has caused millions of Americans to suffer and die
needlessly. In 1994, the FDA Museum was established to document FDA
malfeasance, and show that the agency hasn't the scientific legitimacy to be
allowed to police the healthcare of the American people.
A flagrant example of FDA deception can be found in their current attempt to
control the Internet. The FDA has identified one person who died after
obtaining Viagra from a Web pharmacy without a prescription. The FDA is
using this one death as an example of why the FDA needs to impose
dictatorial power over all health Web sites. One problem with this position
is that, as of November 1998, at least 130 Americans died from taking Viagra
legally prescribed by their doctors. (The total number of Viagra-related
deaths for 1999 has not yet been calculated.) The FDA approved Viagra as
being safe, even though many Americans have died when the drug has been
legally prescribed. The FDA failed to detect this lethal side effect of
Viagra, yet it is now seeking gestapo-like power to attack any Internet
health company it wishes to, without due process. It's time for the public
to speak up again to let Congress know that this kind of FDA tyranny will
not be tolerated by tax payers.
WHY INTERNET REGULATION IS DOOMED TO FAIL:
The powers the FDA is seeking are unconstitutional, and the agency has
neither the competence nor the integrity to police the Internet; but even if
it did, it would be impractical for the agency to do so. There are currently
an estimated 8,000 health sites on the Internet. If Congress gives the FDA
$10 million a year, the best the agency could do is shut down a couple of
hundred sites a year. Within a few years, the FDA would create a litigation
monster whose appetite would far exceed their $10 million annual budget. The
FDA would be bogged down in a quagmire of judicial proceedings, while
thousands of new health Web sites would be springing up that the agency
would be at an utter loss to control.
The end result of the FDA's war against the free flow of information on the
Internet would be tens of millions of tax dollars wasted, with less
so-called consumer "protection" than exists today.
THE FDA ALREADY HAS THE LEGAL POWER IT NEEDS:
The charade the FDA is parading before Congress is that they need more money
and stricter laws to regulate e-commerce. The facts are that the FDA already
has the regulatory structure to "protect" the consumer on the Internet. Much
of what the FDA wants is already covered by existing Federal and State law,
but the agency is seeking to add another bureaucratic layer of law and money
to suppress the dissemination of health information.
AN ALTERNATIVE PROPOSAL
The FDA has its own Web site (http://www.fda.gov ). For a
fraction of the cost of becoming the health police of the Internet police,
the agency could post its own evaluation of alternative health Web sites
that it thought were promoting fraudulent or dangerous products. Americans
would then be free to make their own decisions about whether to believe what
the FDA says about health web sites.
However, the FDA has no interest in trying to persuade Americans with
evidence. It wants (and has always wanted) authoritarian powers and as much
money as possible from Congress because it is a political organization
rather than a scientific one. As a result, FDA suppression of information
has been, historically, the leading cause of death in the United States,
while adverse reactions to FDA approved drugs is currently the 4th-to-6th
leading cause of death. Clearly, the FDA lacks the constitutional authority,
the competence, the integrity or the scientific credibility to be given
additional power and money to police the Internet.
A HISTORY OF VICTORIES OVER THE FDA
The Federal Courts, Congress and the public have dealt the FDA severe losses
over the past 25 years. The first citizens' victory occurred in the 1970's
when the FDA tried to turn vitamin supplements into prescription drugs. An
uproar from the public resulted in Congress unanimously rejecting FDA's
brazen arguments that vitamins are so "dangerous" that they should only be
prescribed by doctors. This blatant power grab came at a time when the vast
majority of doctors had little or no knowledge of the health benefits of
In 1990, the FDA tried to have a law passed that would have enabled the
agency to make summary seizures of products from companies, and institute
wire taps without a court warrant. The public again defended the Bill of
Rights by inundating Congress with so much mail that the FDA's proposed law
In 1993, the FDA stated that it wanted to classify all amino acids and many
minerals as prescription drugs. The public expressed such a high degree of
outrage over the FDA's draconian proposition, that Congress passed the
Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (in 1994) that significantly
limited the FDA's authority to regulate dietary supplements.
Since 1994, the FDA has circumvented the will of the people and Congress by
seeking to censor what the public is allowed to hear about supplements and
drugs. The FDA has been defeated repeatedly in the counts, and has been
forced to retreat because of an onslaught of public opposition to all forms
of censorship the agency has proposed.
ORWELLIAN COMPUTER ROBOTS
A nightmare scenario sometimes portrayed in science fiction novels involves
a totalitarian government using advanced computers to monitor the activities
of citizens. In these novels, people who don't behave according to
government standards are targeted for persecution or summary elimination.
The Orwellian prophesy is becoming reality as the FDA is proposing to spend
a million dollars a year on artificial intelligence computer robots that
would scan the Internet for phrases such as "prevents cancer" and
"prescription drug" so the FDA could "swiftly gather the information needed
The new law the FDA is proposing would mandate that on-line pharmacies first
receive FDA-approval to operate. Pharmacies are currently regulated by the
States, but the FDA is seeking to impose a new Federal bureaucratic layer
that will greatly increase the cost of purchasing products on the Internet.
The FDA needs to convince Congress that American citizens should be
subjected to Orwellian investigative tactics and that tax payer dollars
should be appropriated to pay for these Web robots to assist the FDA in
detecting words it does not want Americans to read.
American citizens who cherish their Constitutional rights against undue
government intrusion should contact their members of Congress and demand
that the FDA not be given the money, nor the legal authority to control the
Internet. This is more than just a health freedom issue. The FDA's Orwellian
proposals are unprecedented and would create lead to a serious breakdown of
our civil liberties if enacted into law.
JUST TELL CONGRESS TO SAY "NO" TO THE FDA
The FDA is using the free-flowing popularity of the Internet in a ploy to
deceive Congress into appropriating ten million tax dollars a year to fund
an unconstitutional witch hunt against free speech. The new powers the FDA
is seeking are blatantly un-American and resemble the kinds of police- state
tactics employed by totalitarian regimes such as communist China.
The FDA's latest fabrication will fail if Americans tell their Congressional
representatives to say NO to any new proposal or law that would give the FDA
more power or money. Included in this message is a letter that can be sent
to Congress. To obtain the name, e-mail address, voice phone number, and fax
number of your member of Congress, check http://www.house.gov or phone the
Congressional switchboard at 1-202-224-3121.
Note: the House Directory at www.house.gov <http://www.house.gov was not
working despite repeated attempts between 7:30 and 8:00 pm EST 1/5/00 but
you can find both e-mail and mailing information for your Representative by
selecting Member Offices.
We suggest that you also send a copy of this letter to:
The President The White House Washington, DC 20500
You can E-mail the President at this White House page
We encourage Foundation members to defend the Constitution against the FDA's
latest attempt to gain repressive power over the individual's right to
choose. Please send the following letter (and/or your own letter) to your
To the Honorable ____________________ Date:____________________ U.S. House
of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515
The Fiscal Year 2001 budget to be submitted by the Executive Branch of the
government contains a provision whereby the Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) is to be appropriated ten million dollars a year to police the
Internet. I am vehemently opposed to my tax dollars being used to fund the
FDA for this purpose. I believe that additional FDA power and funding would
be used to deprive the American people of valuable health information and
In the FY 2001 budget proposal, the FDA is asking Congress to pass new laws
that would give the agency repressive powers that would restrict the free
flow of information on the Internet. I ask that you vote against any
proposed law that gives the FDA more control over what I am allowed to read
and put into my body. Some of the unconstitutional authority the FDA is
(1) Issuing subpoenas without a court order. Giving the FDA this new power i
s unconstitutional, and would will create a litigation monster whose annual
appetite would rapidly exceed the ten million dollars a year the agency is
(2) Fining Internet pharmacies $500,000.00 every time they sell a drug that
does not meet the FDA's definition of a legal prescription. This type of
excessive fine would enable the FDA to bankrupt any online pharmacy it
decides to target in a capricious and arbitrary manner.
(3) Setting up "a rapid response team" to identify, investigate, and
prosecute Web sites, i.e., the FDA is seeking to establish an army of
storm-troopers to summarily shut down any web site it chooses.
Please do not be misled by the FDA's attempts to convince you that they are
trying to protect the health of the American people by regulating the
Internet. According to the April 15, 1998 issue of the Journal of the
American Medical Association, adverse reactions to legally prescribed
FDA-approved drugs are the fourth-to-sixth leading cause of death in the
United States. Since this article was published almost two years ago, the
FDA has done nothing to reduce the number of Americans dying from dangerous
drugs, yet the FDA now seeks ten million tax dollars a year to attack health
and pharmacy Web sites.
If the FDA convinces Congress to grant it more power and money to attack
health web sites, American consumers will be denied access to innovative
therapies and pay a lot more for their prescription drugs.
I therefore ask that you write to me with your position on this issue so I
will know how to cast my ballot when you up for election.
YET ANOTHER PROOF THAT THE FDA SHOULD BE DISBANDED OR AT LEAST SERIOUSLY REFORMED...
Prescription Drugs - The Reason Behind The Madness
By Dr. Julian Whitaker, M.D.
Health and Healing: Tomorrow's
Medicine Today - November, 1999
As I was writing last month's issue of Health & Healing, Buford O'Neal
Furrow Jr. walked into the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Los
Angeles and, without a word, fired 70 rounds with a Uzi-type gun, wounding
five people. A month earlier, Mark Barton murdered his wife and two children
and then methodically and dispassionately gunned down 21 people in two
brokerage firms in Atlanta, killing nine.
These and virtually all of the gun-related massacres that have made
headlines over the past decade have had one thing in common: THEY WERE
PERPETRATED BY PEOPLE TAKING PROZAC, ZOLOFT, LUVOX, PAXIL OR A RELATED
Last month, I warned you about the dangers of these selective serotonin
reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and detailed a few of the scores of murders,
suicides, and other acts of violence committed by people taking Prozac-like
drugs. THESE DRUGS CAN CAUSE AKATHISIA, MENTAL AND PHYSICAL AGITATION THAT
SPARKS SELF-DESTRUCTIVE, VIOLENT BEHAVIOR. They can also induce dissociative
reactions, making those who take the drugs INSENSITIVE TO THE CONSEQUENCES
OF THEIR BEHAVIOR.
This is the type of drug that Eric Harris was taking when he walked into
Columbine High School and massacred his fellow students. Kip Kinkel, who
killed his parents, then went to his high school in Oregon, killed two
students and wounded 22 others, was taking PROZAC. Joseph Wesbecker was
taking Prozac when he killed seven people with an AK-47 at a printing plant
in Kentucky, before taking his own life. It's Not Guns And It's Not Movies
Atrocities such as these have become disturbingly common over the past few
years. We as a society are searching for reasons to explain these grizzly
murders, which have torn at the heart and soul of the American culture. In a
desperate effort to stave off future catastrophes, we've been instituting
stringent gun control measures and considering censorship of movies.
Folks, guns and movies don't cause these tragically frequent episodes of
inexplicable violence. The real reason is written out on a prescription pad
by psychiatrists and doctors all over the country--these monstrous acts were
done not by criminals, but ordinary people high on prescription drugs.
Yet the overuse of PROZAC-LIKE DRUGS is not even a part of the national
debate, and those who sound the warning against them are ignored. I can only
surmise that the reason the FDA continues to disregard these mounting
SSRI-related casualties is because of this agency's close alliance with the
multi-billion-dollar drug companies. Just imagine what the FDA would do if
there were evidence that these massacres were performed by people taking
Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2000
Subject: GM BACTERIA IN RADIOACTIVE WASTE
From: j.e. cummins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The GM bacteria used to "purify" radioactive waste sites cause ionic
mercury to be released as volatile mercury metal. Such bacteria have
probably escaped into the environment to convert more ionic mercury in
geologic strata. Such mercury released has begun to cause major
problems in cold places like Canada, Alaska, and the northern
continental states. The Arctic is facing tragic injury to the top of
the food chain including people, polar bears, beluga, narwhal, walrus,
etc. Those victims have begun to show birth defects and nerve damage
from mercury in their only source of food. The question is" who in the
hell told the US department of energy that it was O.K.?
Articles Nature Biotechnology
January 2000 Volume 18 Number 1 pp 85 - 90
Hassan Brim n.1, Sara C. McFarlan n.2, James K. Fredrickson n.3,
Kenneth W. Minton n.1, Min Zhai n.1, Lawrence P. Wackett n.2 & Michael
J. Daly n.1
1. Department of Pathology, Uniformed Services University of the
Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD 20814.
2. Department of Biochemistry, Biological Process Technology
Institute and Center for Biodegradation Research and Informatics,
Gortner Laboratory, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108.
3. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA 99352.
Correspondence should be addressed to M J Daly. e-mail:email@example.com
We have developed a radiation resistant bacterium for the treatment of
mixed radioactive wastes containing ionic mercury. The high cost of
remediating radioactive waste sites from nuclear weapons production
has stimulated the development of bioremediation strategies using
Deinococcus radiodurans, the most radiation resistant organism known.
As a frequent constituent of these sites is the highly toxic ionic
mercury (Hg) (II), we have generated several D. radiodurans strains
expressing the cloned Hg (II) resistance gene (merA) from Escherichia
coli strain BL308. We designed four different expression vectors for
this purpose, and compared the relative advantages of each. The
strains were shown to grow in the presence of both radiation and ionic
mercury at concentrations well above those found in radioactive waste
sites, and to effectively reduce Hg (II) to the less toxic volatile
elemental mercury. We also demonstrated that different gene clusters
could be used to engineer D. radiodurans for treatment of mixed
radioactive wastes by developing a strain to detoxify both mercury and
toluene. These expression systems could provide models to guide future
D. radiodurans engineering efforts aimed at integrating several
remediation functions into a single host.
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