Bruce Sterling on 20 Nov 2000 03:08:03 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] FW: Researchers Seek Treatment for Mad Soybean Disease

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Subject: Researchers Seek Treatment for Mad Soybean Disease
Date: Sun, Nov 19, 2000, 06:38 PM

August 3, 2058

Researchers Seek Treatment for Mad Soybean Disease

NEW YORK--Officials for the World Health Organization announced today the
funding of a special initiative dedicated to discovering improved treatment
and diagnosis of Bovine-Derived Tofuiform Encephalopathy (BDTE), more
commonly known as Mad Soybean Disease.  "Though confirmed cases of BDTE
have not been many in number, their global distribution, coupled with the
widespread consumption of bovine-derived soy products, is a matter for
prudent concern," explained WHO spokesperson Wilfred Inkling.

 The disease is closely associated with the consumption of bovine-derived
tofu.  Prior to widely publicized recent cases of BDTE, few consumers
realized that some 30% of tofu sold worldwide was at least in part
bovine-derived.  "The tofu industry doesn't want to talk about
bovine-derived tofu because they know the market will be suspicious,"
claims Haril Paltry, executive director of transgenics watchdog group
Generation One.  "And we should be suspicious.  The public needs to know
about how this stuff is produced."

 Bovine-derived tofu is harvested from a proprietary, transgenic Soy Cow
developed and patented by Soystock inc., a soy industry collaborative
standards and research corporation.  A full-grown Soy Cow resembles a
traditional cow whose flesh is composed of food-grade tofu.  The tofu is
harvested three to four times each season using techniques derived from the
traditional shearing of wool.  A freshly-shorn Soy Cow begins to re-grow
tofu-flesh on its lean, grey-houndish frame within hours.  During its
ten-year lifespan, the typical Soy Cow will produce more than 32 tons of

 "People naturally react negatively to unfamiliar innovations," points out
lead Soystock researcher Phillipa Reade.  "I think the public is ready for
this.  We haven't been advertising the Soy Cow, but we haven't made it a
secret either.  The control we have over the product through control of the
Soy Cow genome is phenomenal.  We've been able to very closely link Soy Cow
behaviors with desirable product qualities.  The firmness of the tofu, for
instance, is tied to the exercise regime of the stock animals."

 Reade is more circumspect when questioned about BDTE:  "BDTE is a serious
concern, but I don't think all of the evidence is in yet.  People tend to
jump to the conclusion that it is related to Soy Cow tofu when it may be a
consequence of engineering of traditionally grown soy, or even of centuries
of traditional soy husbandry.  We know much more about the Soy Cow genome
because we planned every nucleotide in it.  We know much less about
traditional soy."

 BDTE's symptoms include the rapid development of tofu-like plaques in the
spine and in the frontal lobes of the brain, causing dementia, amnesia,
uncontrollable body tremors, periodic seizures, and, ultimately, brain
death.  To date, few treatments have been effective.  Public domain drugs
for treatment of BSE-1, BDE, and BSE-211 have produced noticeable, but
temporary relief of some symptoms.

 "We don't yet fully understand the BDTE's vectors," notes WHO's Inkling.
"Because of the lengthy incubation period--as long as 15 years in some
cases--we have determined that research dollars should be allocated now,
rather than later.  If preliminary investigation indicates that BDTE
causative agents are relatively uncommon in the population, then we'll
re-evaluate our decision.  Until then, however, a dedicated research
initiative is the only humane response."


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