Biotechnology advocates and opponents squared off yesterday in Chicago at the first of three public debates on genetically modified foods being hosted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The hearing was highly structured, and most of the daylong session was devoted to discussions by panels that appeared heavily weighted with members who favor the FDA’s current policy, which imposes few controls on the biotech industry. Some time was set aside for citizens to give two-minute public statements for or against GM foods. Outside the hearing, members of Greenpeace and other enviro and consumer groups demonstrated against GM technology with signs, skits, and a papier-mache cow being subjected to hormone injections. Friends of the Earth announced earlier this week that it will launch a series of demonstrations at American grocery stores to demand labeling of foods with genetically altered ingredients, modeled after similar FoE protests held in the U.K.

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