LONDON. Recent tests on mice have indicated that genetically engineered potatoes could be developed as an oral vaccine for protecting humans against the hepatitis B virus. This research, published in the November 2000 issue of Nature Biotechnology, bodes well for the future of inexpensive, easy to administer vaccines but muddies the already merky waters of the GM foods debate.

Over the last 12 months the national press has voiced public fears over GM foods. Now with the promise of GM medicines and the implications for giving affordable vaccines to Third World countries, the tide of public opinion could be changing. Adrian Bebb, food campaigner at Friends of the Earth, expressed his concern that "the government tends to put GM foods and GM medicines together, trying to blur the two to get more popularity."

Indeed, Britain is a leader in the GM market and Tony Blair is keen to promote...

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