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Europe and transgenic crops
by Bob Hartzler
March 1997 - Although there is still considerable controversy here in the U.S. concerning the acceptability of transgenic crops, what we face pales to what is occurring in Europe. An article in the 21 February issue of Science described the latest debate over BT corn. The president of France's Biomolecular Engineering Commission (CGB), a group which regulates the use of genetically altered organisms, recently quit this position following the government's decision to prohibit the cultivation of transgenic corn in France.
Axel Kahn, who is also director of a biomedical research agency, said he had no choice but to step down due to the government's 'incoherent' action. The government's ban on production of BT corn came one week after they approved transgenic corn for consumption by humans and animals. The concerns apparently were not on whether it was safe to eat BT corn, but rather on the potential for movement of modified genes to other plants or organisms. The article stated that the BT corn also carries a gene that confers herbicide resistance as well as a gene for resistance to the antibiotic ampicillin. 'Some scientists believe that the ampicillin-resistant gene could be taken up by infectios bacteria, thus eliminating the effectiveness of the antibiotic.'
Prepared by Bob Hartzler, extension weed management specialist, Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University
more information contact:
ISU Extension Agronomy
2104 Agronomy Hall
Ames, Iowa 50011-1010
Voice: (515) 294-1923
Fax: (515) 294-9985
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