Amber Waves of Antibodies

12/14/2008 05:12 am 05:12:01 | Updated May 25, 2011

Another week, another hole ripped in our food safety net. This one is courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which last month proposed a rule change that will weaken regulations on the outdoor cultivation of food crops such as peas, corn, and rice that have been genetically modified to produce drugs and industrial chemicals.

The decision comes at a time when the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is calling for a complete ban on growing such GM crops outdoors.

Until recently, most GM food crops were designed to repel insects or survive applications of herbicides. The goal was simply to produce better yields. But these second-generation GM plants are engineered to produce chemicals that they would never make under normal conditions. "Pharma" crops are grown for antibodies, hormones, anticoagulants, and vaccines. Other "industrial" plants yield chemicals used in the manufacture of detergents and plastics.
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