A new set of biotechnology regulations for the state of Minnesota, approved by an administrative law judge in mid-March, have many researchers in the state alarmed. The scientists are disturbed not so much by the rules themselves--which require the obtaining of state permits for field tests of transgenic plants and microbes and the registration of labs working with recombinant organisms--as by the atmosphere surrounding their drafting.

According to Jeff Tate, a plant physiologist at the University of Minnesota and a spokesman for the Minnesota Biotechnology Association, activists opposed to biotechnology were heavily involved in the development of the Minnesota rules, written to codify biotech legislation passed over the past two years. Tate says these activists could erect barriers to field testing of transgenic plants by petitioning for public hearings on each permit application and by instituting negative publicity campaigns.

By contrast, in North Carolina--the only other state with such sweeping...

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