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Canada Scientists Warn of Contamination by Bio-Pharm Crops

Scientists fear Biotech will Harm Food Supply
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/ news of 2 May 2001.
By COLIN FREEZE
Globe and Mail (Canada)

The human food supply is in danger of being contaminated by
crops genetically modified to create better drugs and industrial
chemicals, a group of veteran scientists and academics is warning.
The warning is in a strongly worded letter by four PhDs - among
them the former dean of science at McMaster University in
Hamilton - who advocate mandatory food labelling and better
testing of genetically modified foods.

The letter, obtained by The Globe and Mail, says there is a "high
probability" the food we eat could be contaminated as a result of
sloppy farming practices and the "arrogance" of biotechnology
researchers and regulators. Genetically modified foods have sneaked
up on Canadian consumers, many of whom don't know plants that
engineered with foreign genes to be resistant to pesticides or herbicides
have been researched, grown and consumed here for years. The letter
specifically warns that the pollen of modified plants can transfer
engineered genes to unmodified plants growing in nearby fields and that
modified traits can spread by "spillage of seed or dispersion of seed by
the wind." Such questions have long been raised about genetically modified
conventional crops. Research into molecular farming - the practice of
designing plants that grow proteins used to make plastics or medicines -
has added to the fears.

The researchers call Canada's introduction of genetically modified food
insidious and argue that the only crops that should be used in molecular-
farming experiments are those not consumed by humans or animals.
Already, some molecular-farming projects are considered risky enough
to be held in mine shafts or under glass covers to protect against the
spread of seeds and pollen. The letter - signed by retired Agriculture
Canada scientist Bert Christie, former McMaster University science
dean Dennis McCalla, McGill University animal-science professor Dick
Beames, and Hugh Lehman, an expert in agricultural ethics at the
University of Guelph - is a submission to the federally appointed
Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee, which is gathering feedback
on genetically modified foods as it prepares to advise federal cabinet
ministers.

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