BioSource Genetics Corp. on Tuesday disputed concerns raisedby the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) about the companyLsproposed field trials of tobacco mosaic virus (TMV).

BioSource of Vacaville, Calif., has filed an application with theU.S. Department of Agriculture to begin field-testing its TMV-based plant vector system in May. The non-profit EDFannounced on Monday that it was urging the USDA to reject theapplication on the grounds that genes from the virus could bespread to edible crops.

Dr. David McGee, BioSource's chief operating officer, on Tuesdaytold BioWorld that the EDFLs concerns were Iunfounded.J

IThe EDF does not understand adequately the biology of TMV,Jsaid McGee. He added that TMV infects tobacco plants innature, but can be forced to infect other plants in thelaboratory. Tomato plants are infected in nature by a differentvirus, called tomato mosaic virus, he said.

BioSource plans to test the expression of five genes in thetobacco plant, including alpha-trichosanthin, a potential AIDStherapeutic naturally produced by Chinese cucumbers. McGeesaid trichosanthin is not harmful when ingested, and addedthat it is unlikely that animals or humans will eat tobacco plantleaves. -- Carol Talkington Verser, Ph.D.

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