continued "The problem is not a scarcity of food, but a lack of access to food," says Greenpeace's Clarke. "Simply saying, 'We have produced a new product that will solve world hunger,' the general public would have to be a bit naive to accept that. It's already very plain the European consumers do not want genetically altered food. And as American consumers find out that these products are entering our grocery stores, we see uniform opposition to them. They feel corporations are tinkering with their food for a profit."
Counters Sund, "I remember when microwave ovens were introduced. There was quite a concern that we would suffer from their effects. The American prairie remained uncultivated for many years because people were worried that steel plows would poison the soil. This [genetic engineering] technology has been exhaustively tested. If you're looking for a risk-free world, very little new technology could be introduced."
The problem, says Concerned Scientists' Rissler, is that research into the long-term consequences does not rest in disinterested hands. "The chemical companies own the research! Monsanto has been selling chemicals, pesticides. Now they're into biotech, doing most of their own research. We would like to see [independent] folks do research on the implications of gene flow, do experiments that say, 'If this gene does flow to this wild plant, what are the repercussions?' A little bit -- not nearly enough -- of money is going into such research. The department of agriculture sponsors some research, but it's a piddling amount compared to the power and the strength that this [bio]technology is going to have."
"We know we have to feed the world," says Sund. "We know that [farmers employ] massive amounts of chemicals to do that now. And we know that that's probably not a good long-term method. The environmental consequences of not using [alternative genetic methods] are greater than those of using them. It's a risk-reward analysis."
At least with ten to twelve million acres of transgenic corn and cotton already growing in the United States, all sides agree that Mycogen and Stewart's green fluorescent protein might serve as a finger in the dike of runaway superseeds.