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Mae-Wan Ho (b. 12 November 1941, Hong Kong; UK citizen) is a geneticist  known for her critical views on genetic engineering and neo-Darwinism. Ho has authored or co-authored a number of publications, including 10 books, such as The Rainbow and the Worm, the Physics of Organisms (1993, 1998), Genetic Engineering: Dream or Nightmare? (1998, 1999), and Living with the Fluid Genome (2003).
Ho received a Ph. D. in Biochemistry in 1967 from Hong Kong University, was Postdoctoral Fellow in Biochemical Genetics, University of California San Diego, from 1968 to 1972, Senior Research Fellow in Queen Elizabeth College, Lecturer in Genetics (from 1976) and Reader in Biology (from 1985) in the Open University, and since retiring in June 2000 Visiting Professor of Biophysics in Catania University, Sicily.
Ho is the director of the Institute of Science in Society (ISIS), an interest group that campaigns against what it sees as unethical uses of biotechnology. The group published about climate change, GMOs, homeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, and water memory.
Ho has expressed concerns about the spread of altered genes through horizontal gene transfer and that the experimental alteration of genetic structures may be out of control. One of her concerns is that the antibiotic resistant gene that was isolated from bacteria and used in some GM crops might cross back from plants by horizontal gene transfer to different species of bacteria, because "If this happened it would leave us unable to treat major illnesses like meningitis and E coli." Her views were published in an opinion article based on a review of others' research. The arguments and conclusions of this article were heavily criticized by prominent plant scientists, and the claims of the article criticized in detail in a response that was published in the same journal. A review on the topic published in 2008 in the Annual Review of Plant Biology stated that "These speculations have been extensively rebutted by the scientific community".
Ho, together with Joe Cummins of the University of Western Ontario, has argued that a sterility gene engineered into a crop could be transferred to other crops or wild relatives and that "This could severely compromise the agronomic performance of conventional crops and cause wild relatives to go extinct". They argued that this process could also produce genetic instabilities, which might be "leading to catastrophic breakdown", and stated that there are no data to assure that this has not happened or cannot happen. This concern contrasts with the reason why these sterile plants were developed, which was to prevent the transfer of genes to the environment by preventing any plants that are bred with or that receive these genes from reproducing. Indeed, any gene that caused sterility when transferred to a new species would be eliminated by natural selection and could not spread.
Ho has also argued that bacteria could acquire the bacterial gene barnase from transgenic plants. This gene kills any cell that expresses it and lacks barstar, the specific inhibitor of barnase activity. In an article entitled Chronicle of An Ecological Disaster Foretold, which was published in an ISIS newsletter, Ho speculated that if a bacterium acquired the barnase gene and survived, this could make the bacteria a more dangerous pathogen.