Image: Anthony Canamucio

Controversies--or perhaps pseudocontroversies would be more apt--continue to engulf recombinant DNA technology, the "new biotechnology," applied to agriculture and food production. One theoretical concern is that consumers might experience allergic reactions to foods made from recombinant organisms. In a June 2002 report, the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology concluded that regulatory agencies might have difficulty evaluating the potential for allergic reactions caused by foods from the next generation of recombinant DNA-modified organisms.1

This report has garnered attention from government agencies and the mainstream press, largely because the Pew Initiative touts itself as occupying the thoughtful middle ground in the biotechnology debates. Pew's PR machine makes this claim, but that doesn't make it so, and it isn't.

The Pew Initiative is different from other antibiotech players that show their colors unambiguously--like political activist Jeremy Rifkin, who has characterized biotechnology as threatening "a form of annihilation...

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