*Story 1*

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GM Battle Sprouts in the States -

Seed companies, pharmaceutical makers and biotechnology groups are pushing legislators to limit oversight of experimental crops designed to resist disease and insects or to produce chemicals and enzymes for scientific research. But environmentalists and food and beverage producers are urging caution, warning lawmakers of unknown economic and health risks of genetically engineered crops that could cross-pollinate with regular plants.

State lawmakers, so far, are siding mostly with biotechnology proponents. Seven states -- Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota and Pennsylvania -- have enacted laws to prohibit counties and other local governments from banning or regulating genetically enhanced seeds in their jurisdictions. A similar bill, supported by the agribusiness industry, is awaiting action by the governor in Georgia. And like-minded measures are being considered by legislatures in Arizona, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

At the same time, two states are considering new restrictions and penalties designed to limit bioengineered crops. A bill in the Vermont Legislature would make seed companies, instead of farmers, liable for damage from genetically modified plants. And in Oregon, a bill has been introduced to ban the outdoor growing of genetically engineered plants intended for industrial or pharmaceutical uses.

While genetically engineered plants have long been controversial in Europe, the issue erupted in the United States last year when voters in three California counties banned high-tech crops within their borders. Those actions have sparked a state-by-state effort to prevent local governments from enacting similar prohibitions.

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For full article/related info :: http://www.alternet.org/envirohealth/21868/

*Story 2*

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GM industry puts human gene into rice
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
24 April 2005

Scientists have begun putting genes from human beings into food crops in a dramatic extension of genetic modification. The move, which is causing disgust and revulsion among critics, is bound to strengthen accusations that GM technology is creating "Frankenstein foods" and drive the controversy surrounding it to new heights.

Even before this development, many people, including Prince Charles, have opposed the technology on the grounds that it is playing God by creating unnatural combinations of living things.

Environmentalists say that no one will want to eat the partially human-derived food because it will smack of cannibalism.

But supporters say that the controversial new departure presents no ethical problems and could bring environmental benefits.

In the first modification of its kind, Japanese researchers have inserted a gene from the human liver into rice to enable it to digest pesticides and industrial chemicals. The gene makes an enzyme, code-named CPY2B6, which is particularly good at breaking down harmful chemicals in the body.

Present GM crops are modified with genes from bacteria to make them tolerate herbicides, so that they are not harmed when fields are sprayed to kill weeds. But most of them are only able to deal with a single herbicide, which means that it has to be used over and over again, allowing weeds to build up resistance to it.

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For full article/related info :: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/...p?story=632444

Well i know that the public feeling toward GM crops/food/technology as well as the culture surrounding it, is vastly more supportive than here in Britain and with me personally but stories like these should really set alarm bells ringing. The US is not the only place i know, Chinai is also looking at it strongly but they are some way behind though.

I've heard US officials even fight against clear and obvious labelling or warnings on products containing any GM/GE aterial, the same goes for menus i belive but i'm not too sure about that and it's also down to the individual outlet concerned.

My feelings are clear, i am in opposition to GM but how do you feel about these two stories in particular and the issue generally??

Opinions?? Comments??