Greenpeace launches biotech-food scare

The radical environmental outfit Greenpeace has launched a war against Monsanto's "Roundup Ready" soybeans. Monsanto developed the bean to resist a herbicide contained in its "Roundup" spray, so that it can be applied to both weeds and plants alike without destroying the desired crop.

When the New York Times reported that a small amount of alien genetic material had been found in Monsanto's altered soybeans, Greenpeace pounced – declaring that Monsanto "has created a new life form, but doesn't know what will happen when it's turned loose in the world."

  • However, Marc De Loose, the chief Belgian researcher who detected the genetic material, rejected Greenpeace's demands that safety approval of the beans be withheld – adding that there are "no scientific data to support this idea" that the soybeans could pose any harm.

  • The European Commission in Brussels also declared that there was no reason to believe the soybeans were unsafe.

  • According to Monsanto, the heretofore unknown sequence was 534 DNA "letters" out of a soybean genome of about 1.5 billion letters.

  • Washington State University toxicologist Allan Felsot points out that the DNA "contains no functional genes and therefore can't affect a plant one way or another."

    Observers say that this latest incident demonstrates that Greenpeace's reputation for scare mongering is richly deserved.

    Source: Michael Fumento (Hudson Institute), Not Worth a Pile of (Soy)Beans, Washington Times, September 6, 2001.

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    FMF/11 September 2001
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