The United States, Canada and Europe are grappling with standards for genetically modified plants, which promise economic and health benefits along with irreversible ecological damage.
In San Francisco, a federal judge issued the first-ever ban on growing Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa after tests showed it was contaminating non-genetically engineered crops — something FDA officials did not consider when approving the product.
In Canada, the government has supported the nascent “biopharming” industry, which engineers plants to produce pharmaceutical ingredients, CanWest News Service reports.
But that support has been limited to research, and officials have prohibited the outdoor cultivation or import of modified plants and seeds, to the frustration of the industry there.
Taxpayer-funded research produced safflowers with seeds that can be used to make insulin and heart-disease medications.
Another type of safflower produces a growth hormone used in aqua- culture; 200 tons of the seed intended for a Canadian fish farm had to be grown in Chile due to the ban, and are now sitting on a ship that has been barred from docking in Vancouver.
In Europe, officials declined to ban U.S. crop imports after Greenpeace discovered two kinds of unauthorized biotech corn in a U.S. shipment to the Netherlands.
E.U. officials said it was up to the Dutch to prevent the import of illegal crops.
The incident was the fourth time in two years GM crops have been found on the cusp of illegally entering the E.U. market.
“GM seed stranded at Chilean seaport”
CanWest News Service, April 29, 2007
“Judge extends ban on planting genetically engineered alfalfa”
San Francisco Chronicle, May 3, 2007
“Greenpeace says it found illegal GM corn in U.S. shipment”
Associated Press, May 2, 2007