Reply To: Scrips 2011

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Round UP GENETIC DAMAGE

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

A team of senior plant and animal scientists have recently brought to my attention the discovery of an electron microscopic pathogen that appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings. Based on a review of the data, it is widespread, very serious, and is in much higher concentrations in Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans and corn – suggesting a link with the RR gene or more likely the presence of Roundup. This organism appears NEW to science!- This is highly sensitive information that could result in a collapse of US soy and corn export markets and significant disruption of domestic food and feed supplies. On the other hand, this new organism may already be responsible for significant harm (see below). My colleagues and I are therefore moving our investigation forward with speed and discretion, and seek assistance from the USDA and other entities to identify the pathogen’s source, prevalence, implications, and remedies.

We are informing the USDA of our findings at this early stage, specifically due to your pending decision regarding approval of RR alfalfa. Naturally, if either the RR gene or Roundup itself is a promoter or co-factor of this pathogen, then such approval could be a calamity. Based on the current evidence, the only reasonable action at this time would be to delay deregulation at least until sufficient data has exonerated the RR system, if it does.

For the past 40 years, I have been a scientist in the professional and military agencies that evaluate and prepare for natural and manmade biological threats, including germ warfare and disease outbreaks. Based on this experience, I believe the threat we are facing from this pathogen is unique and of a high risk status. In layman’s terms, it should be treated as an emergency.

A diverse set of researchers working on this problem have contributed various pieces of the puzzle, which together presents the following disturbing scenario:

Unique Physical Properties
This previously unknown organism is only visible under an electron microscope (36,000X), with an approximate size range equal to a medium size virus. It is able to reproduce and appears to be a micro-fungal-like organism. If so, it would be the first such micro-fungus ever identified. There is strong evidence that this infectious agent promotes diseases of both plants and mammals, which is very rare.

Pathogen Location and Concentration
It is found in high concentrations in Roundup Ready soybean meal and corn, distillers meal, fermentation feed products, pig stomach contents, and pig and cattle placentas.

Linked with Outbreaks of Plant Disease
The organism is prolific in plants infected with two pervasive diseases that are driving down yields and farmer income – sudden death syndrome (SDS) in soy, and Goss’ wilt in corn. The pathogen is also found in the fungal causative agent of SDS (Fusarium solani fsp glycines).

Implicated in Animal Reproductive Failure
Laboratory tests have confirmed the presence of this organism in a wide variety of livestock that have experienced spontaneous abortions and infertility. Preliminary results from ongoing research have also been able to reproduce abortions in a clinical setting.–The pathogen may explain the escalating frequency of infertility and spontaneous abortions over the past few years in US cattle, dairy, swine, and horse operations. These include recent reports of infertility rates in dairy heifers of over 20%, and spontaneous abortions in cattle as high as 45%- For example, 450 of 1,000 pregnant heifers fed wheatlege experienced spontaneous abortions. Over the same period, another 1,000 heifers from the same herd that were raised on hay had no abortions. High concentrations of the pathogen were confirmed on the wheatlege, which likely had been under weed management using glyphosate.

Recommendations
In summary, because of the high titer of this new animal pathogen in Roundup Ready crops, and its association with plant and animal diseases that are reaching epidemic proportions, we request USDA’s participation in a multi-agency investigation, and an immediate moratorium on the deregulation of RR crops until the causal/predisposing relationship with glyphosate and/or RR plants can be ruled out as a threat to crop and animal production and human health.

It is urgent to examine whether the side-effects of glyphosate use may have facilitated the growth of this pathogen, or allowed it to cause greater harm to weakened plant and animal hosts. It is well-documented that glyphosate promotes soil pathogens and is already implicated with the increase of more than 40 plant diseases; it dismantles plant defenses by chelating vital nutrients; and it reduces the bioavailability of nutrients in feed, which in turn can cause animal disorders. To properly evaluate these factors, we request access to the relevant USDA data.

I have studied plant pathogens for more than 50 years. We are now seeing an unprecedented trend of increasing plant and animal diseases and disorders. This pathogen may be instrumental to understanding and solving this problem. It deserves immediate attention with significant resources to avoid a general collapse of our critical agricultural infrastructure.

Sincerely,

COL (Ret.) Don M. Huber
Emeritus Professor, Purdue University
APS Coordinator, USDA National Plant Disease Recovery System (NPDRS)

 

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Asthma Tied to Bacterial Communities in the Airway

ScienceDaily (Feb. 19, 2011) — Asthma may have a surprising relationship with the composition of the species of bacteria that inhabit bronchial airways, a finding that could suggest new treatment or even potential cures for the common inflammatory disease, according to a new UCSF-led study.

Using new detection methods, researchers learned that the diversity of microbes inside the respiratory tract is far vaster than previously suspected — creating a complex and inter-connected microbial neighborhood that appears to be associated with asthma, and akin to what has also been found in inflammatory bowel disease, vaginitis, periodontitis, and possibly even obesity.[U1]—Contrary to popular belief, the scientists also learned that the airways are not necessarily entirely sterile environments, even in healthy people, while the airways of asthmatics are infected by a richer, more complex collection of bacteria. These findings could improve understanding of the biology of asthma, and potentially lead to new and much-needed therapies.-“People thought that asthma was caused by inhalation of allergens but this study shows that it may be more complicated than that — asthma may involve colonization of the airways by multiple bacteria,” said study co-author Homer Boushey, MD, a UCSF professor of medicine in the division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.–The study is published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.–Asthma is one of the most common diseases in the world, with approximately 300 million asthmatics globally, including 24 million in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The disease has been on the rise for the last 60 years.–“It has gone from 3 percent of the population to slightly more than 8 percent of the population in the U.S.,” said Boushey. “It is most prevalent in western, developed nations — and we don’t know why.”[U2]—In recent years, scientists began studying communities of mixed-species microorganisms (microbiome) found in both diseased and healthy people to better understand their role in a variety of diseases. But research on the microbiome in respiratory disease is relatively uncharted terrain.–“We know fairly little about the diversity, complexity and collective function of bacteria living in the respiratory tract, and how they might contribute to diseases like asthma,” said Yvonne J. Huang, MD, the paper’s first author. She is a research fellow and clinical instructor in the UCSF Pulmonary Division.–“Traditionally, the airways have been thought to be sterile. However, this study suggests this is not the case. Certain asthma patients who require inhaled corticosteroid therapy possess a great abundance of bacteria compared to healthy individuals, and have an increased relative abundance of specific organisms that is correlated with greater sensitivity of their airways.”In their three-year pilot project, the scientists collected samples from the airway linings of 65 adults with mild to moderate asthma and 10 healthy subjects. Then, using a tool that can identify approximately 8,500 distinct groups of bacteria in a single assay, the scientists profiled the organisms present in each sample to look for relationships between bacterial community composition and clinical characteristics of the patients’ asthma.–The researchers found that bronchial airway samples from asthmatic patients contained far more bacteria than samples from healthy patients. The scientists also found greater bacterial diversity in the asthmatic patients who had the most hyper-responsive or sensitive airways (a feature of asthma).–“People have viewed asthma as a misdirected immune reaction to environmental exposures, but few have thought of it in the context of airway microbiota composition,” said senior author Susan Lynch, PhD, an assistant professor of medicine and director of the UCSF Colitis and Crohn’s Disease Microbiome Research Core in the division of gastroenterology.—“We took an ecological approach, considering the bacteria in the context of their microbial neighborhoods to identify relationships between characteristics of these communities and features of the disease…This new approach will help us to better understand the microbiota-host relationships that define human health.”–The authors say that further studies are needed to determine how these specific bacteria identified in the study may influence the cause and development of asthma.

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The study was supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and by the Strategic Asthma Basic Research Center at UCSF, supported by the Sandler Family Foundation. Huang was funded by a National Institutes of Health grant and by a UC Tobacco-related Disease Research Program award; Lynch receives research support from the NIH; Boushey is an ad-hoc consultant for KaloBios Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is on the advisory committee for Pharmaxis, is on ad-hoc advisory committees for GlaxoSmithKline and Merck, and receives research support from GlaxoSmithKline.

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care.

Story Source-The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by University of California – San Francisco, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.–Journal Reference-Yvonne J. Huang, Craig E. Nelson, Eoin L. Brodie, Todd Z. DeSantis, Marshall S. Baek, Jane Liu, Tanja Woyke, Martin Allgaier, Jim Bristow, Jeanine P. Wiener-Kronish. Airway microbiota and bronchial hyperresponsiveness in patients with suboptimally controlled asthma. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2011; 127 (2): 372 DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2010.10.048