Some agricultural biotechnology interests (Monsanto and Syngenta) have found a new humanitarian ways of dodging the real concerns surrounding the use of biogenetically-altered plants in food crops.
Cultivating a New Image: Firms Give Away Data, Patent Rights on Crops,
by Justin Gillis for the Washington Post.
Posted by Lisa at June 03, 2002 03:25 PM | TrackBack
But the long-term environmental impact of the crops remains a serious question. Many scientists wonder whether foreign genes inserted into crops can spread to the wild relatives of those plants, doing some kind of unforeseen environmental damage.
In fact, several incidents have suggested that the ag bio companies, whatever their intentions, won't be able to control where their altered genes wind up. Agricultural biotechnology's biggest debacle to date occurred when an altered crop called Starlink corn, approved only for use as animal food, turned up in the human food supply, forcing widespread recalls of taco shells and other products.
That mess forced all the biotechnology companies to pledge never to put a crop on the market for animal use only, because it would be certain to wind up in the human food supply. For similar reasons, many American farmers are worried about Monsanto's efforts to commercialize a genetically engineered wheat. The farmers, though they may support biotechnology in principle, are afraid the altered wheat will taint the entire American crop in the eyes of foreign buyers.