Attack of the Mutant Bollworms

Scientists Plan First Ever Release of Genetically Modified Bugs

On the microscopic front, a GM citrus viroid has been released in Florida, and the BioKyowa corporation filed an application to release a modified form of E. coli in Missouri. BioKyowa later withdrew that application for unspecified reasons.

Other countries are busy approving the release of GM animals, bacteria, and viruses (the microorganisms are often part of a vaccine). Belgium has released GM human adenovirus type 5, France has turned loose GM bacilli, Finland let GM streptococcus out of the lab, and Spain has been the site of four releases of GM infectious bovine rhinotracheitis virus. Seven countries, including the U.S., have approved the release of GM rhizobium bacteria. South Africa allowed the field trial of GM E. coli in 1995, as did New Zealand in 1999. It was the Kiwis who, more than a decade ago, approved the engineering of goats and sheep to produce human protein in their milk.

The genetically modified cat is out of the bag, but before issuing a permit for the pink bollworms to flutter around an Arizona cotton field, the government has opened up the issue to public comment, through July 23.

Miller and his colleagues welcome response. "It's important that the public knows what we're doing," he says.

To respond to the GM bollworm project, send four copies (an original and three copies) of your comments to: Docket No. 01-024-1, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Suite 3C03, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.

You'll need to state that your comment refers to Docket No. 01-024-1.

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