International Health News

Genetic engineering kills ladybirds

DUNDEE, SCOTLAND. Biotechnologists at the Scottish Crop Research Institute and Cambridge University have just released a report providing evidence that ladybirds feeding on aphids found on genetically engineered potato plants die prematurely. Their experiment involved potato plants which had been engineered to kill aphids. While the potato plants did indeed prove lethal to some aphids the effects on the ladybirds feeding on the aphids were far more disturbing. Female ladybirds feeding on the "contaminated" aphids lived only half as long as ladybirds feeding on "normal" aphids and laid up to 30 per cent fewer viable eggs. The Scottish report comes hard on the heels of a study published by France's national agricultural research institute. This study found that engineered rapeseed plants spread their genes to surrounding plants and weeds thereby making them more resistant to herbicides. If the findings of the French study are verified it would mean that one of the primary purposes of genetic engineering, namely to make crops resistant to herbicide sprays, would no longer be viable. These recent findings have hardened the steadily growing resistance to genetic engineering in Europe.
Gledhill, Matthew and McGrath, Peter. Call for a spin doctor. New Scientist, November 1, 1997, pp. 4-5

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