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[生物的未來-生物多樣性]

每週評論:救救我們的世界
中國的太空種子-奇蹟還是生態災難?

 

Healing Our World: Weekly Comment
Space Seeds in China - A Miracle or Ecological Disaster?

作者 傑奇艾倫•朱利安諾 博士

<<山中問答>>
問余何意栖碧山,笑而不答心自閑,
桃花流水窅然去,別有天地非人間。
-- 李白 (中國唐朝詩人)

  農業上,使用基因改造的種子,在地球的生態系統上的影響無法預測,而且可能導致災難發生,生態學家對此已經關心多時。沒有人真的知道,混合這些突變種和野生種,會對我們環境有什麼長期影嚮,可能是意想不到的新植物,同時可能會對原生種子血統造成傷害,而人類和動物吃這些作物的長期影嚮,則是未知。

  上星期等待針灸治療時,在醫生的候診室中,我拾起一本「今日中國」雜誌,第一次認識到中國的太空種子計劃。我並不知道,在過去10年,中國已經把種子送上了距地表400公里的高空中,讓其接受來自外太空的高能輻射。美國把「太空」定義為距地表80公里以上的高空。

  利用氣球和人造衛星的方式,已經處理了好幾噸重的種子,並回到地球種植。

  新華社報導,這些被輻射照過的蔬菜種子,種植在7萬公頃的土地上。其它資料估計,種植太空種子的土地,可能超過42萬公頃。去年,另外有24萬3千公頃的土地種植了太空稻。

  奧地利的國際原子能總署報導,在1997年,有140萬公頃的突變稻被種植。

  小麥、稻米、胡椒、西瓜、蕃茄、蘿蔔、青椒、玉米、大麥等,超過30種不同的草本植物和混合物,和三百種以上其它常見的穀類,已經被中國給送上了太空接受基因突變.

  「今日中國」雜誌在1999年5月報導,廣西農業大學聲稱,被送進過太空的稻子比正常的種子多生產20至30個百分比。大學研究員並聲稱新產品口感較好。也有人說,飛過太空的哈密瓜種子比正常種子長出來的瓜,來的大和甜。

  在北京附近的大興鄉,大家所知的太空胡椒,報告指出,它可以重到350至500克,且維他命C含量較多。中國報刊報導,這些胡椒種子較正常種子的產量多出了三十個百分比。

  其中一種經太空突變的番茄品種,能夠製造重量超過800克的蕃茄。

  中國十二多億人口,需要更多的太空種子來處理食物短缺的問題。一個超過1萬公頃的苗圃,已經在建造當中,以提供優良的種子到太空去接受輻射。

  新華社報導,中國科學院遺傳學研究所的助理研究員李經國(音譯)表示,食用太空種子的農產品,對人類應該是安全的,他強調,與一般在實驗室中、靠引進其它種類的基因來改造的作物不同,太空作物是靠自己基因的突變。

  我不覺得這種說法令人放心,這些作物對人類、動物、或是對生態系統的影響,還缺乏長期研究。

  美國也在作太空種子的實驗。1984年,「長期曝曬設備」被發射進入太空,於1990年回收。在此次任務當中,番茄種子接受太空輻射後,被分送至各個學校去實驗,然後和地球番茄做對照。

  美國也種植了數百萬英畝的基因改造作物,而消費者和環境組織,對抗此種作物的擴散,已經好幾年了。由許多實例得知,基因改造作物會導致嚴重生態問題。(Misinterpreted, here "many examples" means the genetically modified crops not the mutated seeds from the space.)

  一份1997年的研究,蘇格蘭的科學家發現,用吃基因改造馬鈴薯的蚜蟲養的瓢蟲,和用吃正常馬鈴薯的蚜蟲相比,產的蛋較少,壽命也減少一半。

  另一個基因改造的油菜籽植物(芸苔屬)對蜜蜂影響的研究發現,基因工程對這類植物花蜜和花粉的化學組成起了微妙的變化。發現蜜蜂搜尋糧食的模式有所改變,而且死亡率大量的增加。油菜籽是用來榨油的種子。

  跟才開始起步的訂製動物養殖和人類複製比較起來,成長中的太空種子也許不算嚴重。不幸地,人類的歷史充滿著因熱衷使用科技去超越自然,結局悲慘的例證。DDT和其它有毒殺蟲劑的使用,至今日仍在摧毀物種撒利多邁德胺原是用來減輕害喜症狀的,卻造成胎兒畸形,是兩個科技發展錯誤的例子。

  難以計數的例子,昔日被認為安全,後來發現對人類和其後代是致命的。幾乎每天都有政府單位或其它機構,會發佈新的報告說,過去某些物質、食物、化學品或其它產品的使用太早,對今日成人和小孩造成傷害,畸型和死亡。

  長期的研究,周全的測試、和防患未然的常識,在我們只滿足於快速成果的貪婪世界堙A看來已被遺忘。

  大部份企業的心目中,社會大眾不過是他們的試驗對象,那些心亂如麻的受害人親屬所提出的違法致死的民事訴訟,每年只要花幾百萬元就可解決。

  也許,將來會證明太空種子對環境和我們的健康是有益的。不幸的,我們可能永遠無法知道,因只有少數人對尋找真正答案有所興趣。你我也許永遠不會知道,但是我們的後代子孫可能得經歷痛苦來發現事實。

  未來有多少代子孫,將為我們的潦草馬虎而付出代價?

參考資料

1. 去看看那篇登在「今日中國」的文章。

2.有關消息,請上「太空日報」的網站閱讀:http://www.spacedaily.com/news/china00zb.
html

3.參看培育太空種子苗圃的細節。http://www.spacedaily.com/news/china-00e.html

4.有關中國的太空計畫的更多訊息。http://www.dailyrevolution.com/
tuesday/chinaspace.html

5.參考中國政府的「人民日報」網站,瞭解太空種子的相關發展。

6.瞭解國際原子能總署對於此事的觀點。http://www.iaea.org/worldatom/
Press/Booklets/UndpBook/more_rice.html

7.閱讀一篇詳細介紹基因改造食物的文章http://www.home.intekom.com/
tm_info/rw90104.htm

8.基因移植作物的生態衝擊,此網站有詳細紀錄。http://www.pmac.net/
miguel.htm

9.繼續支持有機食品運動。http://www.purefood.org/index.htm

10.找出誰是你的國會代表,並且email給他們。要求他們努力讓基因改造或太空突變的食物,遠離我們。根據你的郵遞區號,可在這網站找到他們:http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/
ziptoit.html
,或者你可按各州搜尋:http://www.webslingerz.com/jhoffman/
congress-email.html
,你也可在此找到你的代表:http://congress.nw.dc.us/
innovate/index.html

傑奇•艾倫•朱利安諾博士,是西雅圖的教師兼作家。他的兒子即將在5月出生,他正在想,迎接他兒子的、將是個什麼樣的世界。請將你的想法、評論與觀察寄到以下的信箱給他:jackie@healingourworld.com,或是造訪他的網頁如下:http://www.healingourworld.com

原文網址:http://www.ens.lycos.com/
ens/jan2001/2001L-01-26g.html

版權歸屬Environment News Service(ENS),環境信託基金會(林修誼 譯,蘇崧棱、蔡麗伶 審校)

中英對照全文:http://news.ngo.org.tw/issue/biotech/2001/issue-biotech01042501.htm

 

By Jackie Alan Giuliano, Ph.D

You ask me why I dwell in the green mountain. I smile and make no reply for my heart is free to care. As the peach blossom flows down the stream and is gone into the unknown, I have a world apart that is among no one.-- Li Po (Chinese poet of the T'ang Dynasty)

Concern has been expressed by ecologists for some time that using genetically altered seeds in agriculture could yield unpredictable - and possibly catastrophic - results in the ecosystems of the Earth. No one really knows what the long term effect on our environment will be of mixing these mutated seeds with wild strains. New, unexpected plants could result and damage could be done to the original seed stock. The long term effects on humans and animals of eating these crops is unknown.

While waiting for an acupuncture treatment last week, I picked up a copy of "China Today" magazine in my doctor's waiting room and learned for the first time about China's space seed program. I had no idea that for the last decade China has been sending seeds to altitudes as high as 400 kilometers (250 miles) above the Earth's surface to be bathed in high energy radiation from outer space. The United States defines space as anything above about 80 kilometers (50 miles).

Using balloons and satellites, tons of seeds have been treated in this way, returned to Earth, and planted.

China's state run Xinhua News Agency has reported that 70,000 hectares (175,000 acres) have been planted with these radiated vegetable seeds. Other sources estimate that the number of hectares planted with space seeds may exceed 420,000 hectares (1,037,805 acres). An additional 243,000 hectares of space rice fields were to be planted last year.

The International Atomic Energy Agency in Austria reports that 1.4 million hectares (over 3.4 million acres) of mutated rice was planted in China as of 1997.

Wheat, rice, peppers, watermelon, tomato, Chinese radish, green pepper, corn, barley, wheat, over 30 varieties of herbal plants and compounds and over 300 other common crops have been sent into space by China to be genetically mutated.

"China Today" magazine reported in May 1999 that the Guangxi Agriculture University in southern China claims that rice seeds sent to space have yields 20 to 30 percent greater than normal seed. University researchers also claim that the new products taste better. There are claims that hami melon seeds flown in space were larger and sweeter than normal seeds raised on Earth.

In Daxing county near Beijing, space peppers, as they are now commonly known, are reported to grow as large as 350 to 500 grams (nearly 18 ounces) with an increased vitamin C content. The Chinese press reports that these pepper seeds yield 30 percent more vegetables than normal seed.

One of the space tomato varieties produces tomatoes that weigh over 800 grams - over 28 ounces!

Plans call for increased use of space seeds in an attempt to cope with food shortages for the over 1.2 billion people in China. A nursery covering over 10,000 hectares (24,709 acres) is already under construction to supply high quality seeds for space exposure.

Xinhua reported that Li Jinguo, an associate research fellow with the Institute of Genetics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said produce grown from space seeds would be safe for human consumption. He stressed that unlike crops genetically modified in laboratories by introducing genes from other species, space crops undergo a mutation of their own genes.

I do not find this reassurance at all comforting, since there are no long term studies that show either the effect that consuming these crops have on humans, animals, or the impacts they may have on the ecosystem.

The United States has also experimented with space seeds. The Long Duration Exposure Facility was launched into space in 1984 and retrieved in 1990. Tomato seeds were exposed to space radiation during this mission. They were distributed to schools to experiments with and to see how they compared to Earth tomatoes.

The United States has also planted millions of acres of genetically modified crops, and consumer and environmental organizations have been fighting to prevent the proliferation of this practice for years. Many examples exist that suggest serious ecological problems could result from their use.

In a 1997 study, scientists in Scotland discovered that ladybugs feeding on aphids that ate genetically modified potatoes laid fewer eggs and lived only half as long as ladybugs who ate aphids that fed on normal potatoes.

In another study of the effect of genetically engineered rapeseed plants (Brassica napus) on bees, it was found that genetic engineering also subtly changes the chemical composition of the plants' nectar and pollen. The foraging pattern of the bees was observed to change and their mortality rate increased significantly. Rape seeds are pressed to produce canola oil.

With the breeding of custom designed animals and human clones just on the horizon, growing space seeds may seem like a minor concern. Unfortunately, human history is filled with examples of how the zeal to use technology to outpace nature has resulted in dire consequences. The use of DDT and other toxic pesticides that continue to destroy species to this day and the use of thalidomide to ease morning sickness that created a generation of deformed children, are but two examples of technological progress gone wrong.

Countless substances, once thought of as safe, have been found to be deadly to humans and their unborn children. Nearly every day, one government agency or another will issue a new report on substances, foods, chemicals or products that were released too soon and have caused injuries, deformities, and deaths in adults and children.

Long term studies, sound testing programs, and common sense precautions seem to be forgotten tools in our greed driven world that is not satisfied with anything less than instant results.

Most industries consider the public their test subjects, costing only a few million dollars each year in wrongful death lawsuits brought by distraught relatives of unwilling victims.

Maybe space seeds will turn out to be benign to the environment and our health. Unfortunately, we may never know since few are interested in really finding out. You and I may never know, but our children and grandchildren may find out - the hard way.

How many future generations will have to pay the price of our haste?

RESOURCES

1. Check out the article I found in "China Today" about space seeds.

2. Read more about this issue in "Space Daily" at: http://www.spacedaily.com/news/
china-00zb.html

3. See the details of the nursery being build to supply space seeds at: http://www.spacedaily.com/
news/china-00e.html

4. More about China's space program can be found at: http://www.dailyrevolution.com/
tuesday/chinaspace.html

5. Read about space seeds at the website, "People's Daily" run by the Chinese government.

6. Read about the issue from the viewpoint of the International Atomic Energy Agency at: http://www.iaea.org/worldatom/Press/
Booklets/UndpBook/more_rice.html

7. Read a detailed article about genetically engineered foods at: http://www.home.intekom.com/
tm_info/rw90104.htm

8. The ecological impacts of transgenic crops are detailed at: http://www.pmac.net/miguel.htm

9. Stay involved with the organic food movement at: http://www.purefood.org/index.htm

10. Find out who your Congressional representatives are and e-mail them. Demand that they keep genetically modified or space mutated food away from us. If you know your Zip code, you can find them at: http://www.visi.com/
juan/congress/ziptoit.html
or you can search by state at: http://www.webslingerz.com/jhoffman/
congress-email.html
. You can also find your representatives at: http://congress.nw.dc.us/innovate/
index.html

[Jackie Alan Giuliano, Ph.D. is a writer and teacher in Seattle. He can be found thinking about his son who will be born this May and what kind of world will greet him. Send your thoughts and ideas to him at jackie@healingourworld.com and visit his web site at: http://www.healingourworld.com]

http://www.ens.lycos.com/ens/
jan2001/2001L-01-26g.html

 

 
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