Vol. 1, No. 3 ------------ < for cleo community> --------- November 16, 1992

Waging Seed Wars

Debate asks who owns the genetics of plants

by John Willoughby (Houston Chronicle Feb. 18,1991)


For seven years the controversy locked gene-rich Third World nations in a bitter tug of war with technologically advanced industrialized countries, but now the stage may be set for a long- sought truce.

At stake are not only the profit of the $5 billion U.S. seed industry and the advance of biotechnology, but also the worldwide effort to slow the disappearance of many genetically valuable plant varieties. Since 1983, a loose coalition of Third World countries has been pressing for financial compensation for use of their genetic resources, an effort that has been resisted by the U.S. and other Western nations. The issue prompted the United States to boycott the major international organization devoted to preserving plant genetic diversity, the 125-nation Commission on Plant Genetic Resources. A truce may be at hand, however. The U.S. finally joined the commission in October, and American officials were present when the commission's working group convened in Rome in December to discuss "farmers' rights" proposals.

At the center of the dispute is plant germ plasma, as the genetic information encoded in seeds is called. Germ plasm determines whether a particular plant is, for example, wheat or barley, as well such attributes as its yield. It is also raw material for plant genetic engineers.

Techniques developed over the past decade allow geneticists to identify a single gene that contributes a particular characteristic to a plant, extract the gene, and introduce it into another plant. The method is similar to the crossbreeding that plant breeders have always used, but the speed and accuracy of the process are revolutionary, as is the ability to use genes from one species to alter another species.

Scientists at Calgene Corp. in Davis, Calif., for example, are perfecting a new version of the rapeseed plant, a very efficient producer of canola oil. By extracting genes from other plant sources and injecting them into the rapeseed, they can block the process by which the plant converts unsaturated fats into saturated fats.

The result will be a high-yield plant that provides the first oil with none of the saturated fats that are linked to heart disease and high cholesterol levels. Such research can be extremely costly, but the potential profits can be significant. For both reasons, biotechnology corporations moved early in the 1980s to seek exclusive paten rights for their products.

--to be continued

Magnetic Disk vs. Optical


Any computer by today's standard, must have a storage device. A computer with out storage is the same as an automobile with out a gas tank. This article addresses and compares two area of storage devices; namely, magnetic disk and optical.

Part II


Because of time constraint, I was unable to complete part II for this edition. I will have it ready by next issue. Please your forgiveness!


--next issue


The Development of Quantum Theory


Joseph John Thomson

Joseph John Thomson was born in 1856 near Manchester, England. Unlike his parents business tradition, Thomson studied science at Trinity College, Cambridge. After completing his college education, Thomson became a professor at age 28. Thomson begun his experiment in the Cavendish Laboratory, while updating the Cavendish Laboratory, at Cambridge and introducing new methods of teaching.

In 1887, Thomson confirmed the corpuscular nature of cathode rays and measured the velocity and ratio of charge to mass of the corpuscles. It was demonstrated that cathode rays were negatively charged particles. Thomson also was the first person to observe the deflection of cathode rays when he introduced a perpendicular magnetic field to those rays passed through a "discharge tube." Based on his experiment and results, Thomson was able to compute the total amount of electricity using the following relation,

Ne = Q

where N is the number of particles, e is the charge, and Q is the total charge. He also computed the Kinetic energy of a microscopic particle and the e/m, where m is mass.

This is a project I did a while back

--to be continued

Abass Belay Alamnehe /