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GM industry puts human gene into rice

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.


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