If scientific hurdles can be leaped and political pitfalls circumvented, then developing countries may one day benefit from a unique international effort to bring genetic engineenng to the Third World. In biologist Roger Beachy’s lab at Washington University in St. Louis, scientists from France’s Institute of Scientific Research for Development Through Cooperation (ORSTOM) are working to make cassava, a crop that feeds 800 million people in Africa and Latin America, resistant to disease. With the arrival of a German scientist last month, the team is now complete and expects to work together for the next two or three years. ORSTOM has never before sent scientists to another country to learn a technology, but after Beachy and plant virologist Claude Fauquet met in early 1987, they realized they wanted to work on this project together despite some rather formidable obstacles: the genetic composition of the cassava is not well-known and the...

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