March 24, 2008

In The News: Franken-Corn? No, Merci

Two thumbs up to the French.

On March 20,"the top court upheld, at least for the time being, a ban on a corn variety produced by the American seed company Monsanto."

Said variety is genetically modified, leading to fears by environmentalists and farmers that "the corn, which confers resistance to pests, could pollute other crops and pose a threat to the environment and human health."

One prominent threat is gene transfer, also known as outcrossing.

This entails genetically modified seeds "cross-breeding" with non-genetically-modified crops as a result of something as simple as pollen spreading due to wind or animals.

Apart from the impact this has on the stability of flora in any given environment, unfortunate financial repercussions are felt by farmers.

There are cases of farmers in Canada being sued by -- and losing to -- Monsanto after the company's patented genetically modified rapeseed seeds blew over onto their property.

The most famous case -- Monsanto Canada v. Schmeiser -- is excellently summarized by Wikipedia.

Remember, Monsanto is the same agricultural biotechnology company that produces recombivant bovine growth hormone.

Europe is generally less tolerant of genetically modified foods than the United States. In fact, milk containing rBGH is banned in the Old Continent.

Let's finish off this post with some humor.

Here is a funny -- but true! -- tidbit from 2000 about a Monsanto cafeteria in British Columbia proudly advertising the absence of genetically modified soy and corn in their food.

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