The Viva Vine: vol #1, no #4: September / October 1992
Frankenstein Food

"In the short twenty years since its birth, the new technology of genetic engineering has changed our world more profoundly than any of history's discoveries. Yet the world is generally unaware of, and fully unprepared for, the changes this new science has brought." (A quote from VOTING GREEN reviewed in this issue. )

According to the latest EarthSave newsletter, genetic engineering techniques today are able to "paste" together the genes of two species, even if one species is a plant and the other an animal. Needless to say, for vegetarians as well as people with allergies, this is a scary prospect. A new "improved" potato has been created which resists bruising because a gene from a moth has been spliced into it.

Genetic engineering strays so far away from anything that has gone before, because, unlike the development of chemicals for instance, a living organism is created, perhaps for all time (perhaps until a time after man is extinct). For this reason, insurance companies will not insure genetically engineered life forms. They could never guarantee the cost for a clean-up of a "mistake" that got into the biological mainstream. So, why should we allow this? Ask the FDA, whose jurisdiction is rather shaky, why they are allowing genetically altered foods to go to market without any identifying labels next summer.

The FDA ruling has served to create a powerful economic incentive to biotech companies. In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1980 in favor of allowing patents for "man-made" micro-organisms. Today, the U.S. patent office has received nearly 20,000 biotech patent applications. According to VOTING GREEN, there are at least 145 patents pending for created animals through genetic engineering. Animals may be designed for hamburger; they may be automatically born with cancer -- ready made for lab research.

Write: FDA, Dockets Management Branch, Docket No. 92NO139, 12420 Parklawn Dr., Rm 1-23, Rockville, MD 20857 to express your concern.

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