- The Flying Jellyfish
Monsanto's genetically engineered cow milk hormone
was the first of many genetically engineered products to
be introduced into America's food supply. That bovine
growth hormone was approved under great controversy
and protest. This summer, those protests will continue,
and today's news should fuel the fires of discontent.
As a ten-year-old monster movie fan, I remember a
favorite film in which a giant moth rescued two 6"
tall twin singing fairy sisters. The creature's name was
Mothra, and to the best of my memory, this giant moth
either flatulated or burped out a most horrible poisonous
yellow gas that ended up killing Godzilla.
We have a new monster about to be released in
America. Today it's resting in larva form and
tomorrow this genetically engineered monstrosity
may take over your city.
The summer, 4,000 genetically engineered moths will
be released in a three acre cotton field in Arizona.
These moths are super eaters, having been
modified by the insertion of jellyfish genes
inside of their own genetic material.
The scientists running this experiment have
sterilized the moths, and will conduct their test in
a sealed puncture-proof building.
I spoke with the architect of this experiment, Thomas Miller
of the Department of Entomology, University of California.
We spoke about genetic engineering and our current
state of knowledge. Dr. Miller told me:
"We've got a runaway freight train with no engineer,
and precautions have to be taken."
Dr. Miller was quick to paraphrase Rachel Carson,
who said something like:
"I'm not against pesticides, I'm just against the way they are used."
Field trials will be conducted in test fields, and I am convinced
that Dr. Miller is doing all that he can to prevent even one
moth, however sterile, from leaving its temperature
controlled test environment. I am also reminded of the Juraissic
Park scientist who predicted of monsters to come by warning:
"Nature finds a way."
The pink bollworm loves to munch on cotton plants.
Immune to many pesticides, this nightmare of a bug
has caused many cotton pickers to go bankrupt.
The genetically modified insects contain a
fluorescent protein derived from jellyfish which
makes the moths grow green under ultraviolet
In speaking with Dr. Miller, I did learn that the
funding for his research was not provided by
a pharmaceutical company. The cotton industry
was the sponsor. The patent and bugs now
belong to the University of California. Dr. Miller
and the cotton industry are seeking an alternative to
the terrifying levels of pesticides now being used to
treat crops. Will their research and discoveries
prove to be a plus or minus for mankind?
Should you wish to reach Dr. Miller, here is his
EMAIL address and website. He's a nice guy, so
please be respectful: thomas.miller@...