Food crops in Texas have been contaminated by an experimental pig vaccine that was put into GM corn. The newest genetically-engineered crops are “biopharmed,” which means genes containing drugs and industrial chemicals are put into food crops. But if these GM crops contaminate ordinary food crops, it could destroy the food supply. “The incident overall just reaffirms our concerns that something could go wrong,” says Stephanie Childs of the Grocery Manufacturers of America.

Prodigene of Texas was fined 3 million dollars for contaminating half a million bushels of soy bean meal with genes from corn that was genetically-engineered to contain a trial vaccine used to prevent stomach upsets in piglets.

“Pharming” can turn an ordinary-looking crop into a drug factory, producing insulin, chemotherapy drugs, and other products for much less than it would ordinarily cost to make them. The biotech firms say this new technique can revolutionize health care, especially in the developing world, where contaminated needles can be replaced with edible drugs. But it’s vital that genes from pharmed foods are prevented from getting into the regular food supply. Guidelines under consideration include moving experimental pharms away from the Midwest grain belt and requiring growers to dye the leaves of the altered crops.

We could learn a lot if we could just convince scientists to perform seven experiments.

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