Under pressure from a Corn Belt senator, biotechnology companies have dropped a self-imposed ban on growing pharmaceutical crops in heartland states only a month before the moratorium was scheduled to begin. "We do not wish to appear to encourage discrimination against any part of the country," Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) spokeswoman Lisa Dry said.

BIO members pledged in October to stop growing plants not intended for human or animal food in federally designated heartland areas, including Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and parts of Nebraska and five other states. The policy was set to take effect in 2003.

Since BIO first announced the voluntary ban, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) worked to revise the policy, which he called "a hasty decision…based on a knee-jerk response to special interest groups instead of sound science," Grassley said in a statement issued last week. "Biotechnology has the potential to be a multimillion dollar industry for Iowa,"...

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