Chapter 29 : Questionable Experiments

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The intention of David Bishop of the Institute of Virology in Oxford was to use a baculovirus carrying a scorpion toxin gene to attack pests, such as the pine beauty moth. Some sections of the media were reflecting and amplifying the research concerns, yet David behaved in an exemplary fashion, proceeding exceptionally cautiously, both technically and socially, toward his goal. He showed scientific prudence by first developing a labeled virus, in order to demonstrate that he could monitor its movement and distribution if it was released into the environment. Again supported by extensive laboratory assays, the modified virus was tested at the university's field station on plots of cabbages infected with the cabbage looper caterpillar. It is possible that the furor in Oxford over the baculovirus work, amply reflected in national media coverage, had nothing to do with Bishop's demise. However issues, like the dilemma of whether the world’s remaining stocks of smallpox virus should be destroyed, upon which even specialists have been divided.

Citation: Dixon B. 2009. Questionable Experiments, p 133-137. In Animalcules. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817442.ch29
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1. Bishop, D. H. L. 1986. UK release of genetically marked virus. Nature 323: 496.
2. Cory, J. S.,, M. L. Hirst,, T. Williams,, R. S. Hails,, D. Goulson,, B. M. Green,, T. M. Carty,, R. D. Possee,, P. J. Cayley,, and D. H. L. Bishop. 1994. Field trial of a genetically improved baculovirus insecticide. Nature 370: 138 140.
3. Wang, C.,, and R. J. St Leger. 2007. A scorpion neurotoxin increases the potency of a fungal insecticide. Nat. Biotechnol. 25: 1455 1456.

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