Daily News Archive
Threatens Action Against Biotech Crops
August 16, 2002)
According to USA Today, the Environmental Protection Agency is
preparing to issue complaints against subsidiaries of Dow Chemical and
DuPont for not complying with strict rules governing experimental plots
of genetically engineered corn being grown in Hawaii.
This is the first time the EPA has threatened enforcement action against
an experimental biotech crop during field testing, says EPA spokesman
The experimental corn produces its own pesticides; it has genetic material
from bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a bacterium, inserted into it, making
it resistant to the Western corn rootworm. Such bioengineering of food
is controversial because the use of genetically altered Bt crops raises
serious safety concerns for agriculture . Plants can crossbreed and
share genes, spreading potentially dangerous attributes far beyond the
original experiment - and potentially into the general food supply.
In addition, the EPA has not considered the widespread allergenic effects
of Bt plant pesticides. Evidence suggests that protein manipulation
in plants can cause adverse reactions in humans that eat them. This
area needs further study and raises some of the most serious implications
for a technology that has not been fully evaluated prior to its widespread
introduction into the marketplace.
In letters sent Aug. 5 to Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a DuPont subsidiary,
and Mycogen Seeds, a Dow AgroSciences subsidiary, the EPA says both
companies are in violation of federal regulations. The companies have
until Aug. 30 to respond.
The EPA accuses Pioneer of planting the biotech crop in an unapproved
location and too close to other corn seed plots. Mycogen is accused
of using the wrong variety of corn as a buffer to isolate the biotech
crop and not planting trees as windbreaks to prevent the spread of transgenic
pollen to nearby plots.
The companies face minor fines of $5,500 for each violation.
For more information on genetically engineered corn read Beyond Pesticides
on Bt Engineered Corn.