Letter: Food modification

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Sir: Genetic engineering technology is being applied to strains of crops (for example, maize, cotton, soya beans) that are particularly responsive to high applications of chemicals, usually made by the same companies doing the genetic engineering (report, 20 November).

Meanwhile, early genetic engineering "successes" include a genetically- engineered soya bean that provoked an allergic reaction in people with an allergy to Brazil nuts, sheep genetically-engineered to grow faster but which died earlier, pigs genetically-engineered to grow faster which suffered numerous diseases, and the tomato that was genetically-engineered to stay firm but which proved to be almost impossible to harvest effectively. Now cotton farmers in the USA are suing over this year's failures of new genetically-engineered cotton crops.

Not a great deal of encouragement to "the starving of Ethiopia" there.

PETER MELCHETT

Executive Director

Greenpeace UK

London N1

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