Fans and foes of gene-modified crops square off over biotech pollution

Folks who want their vittles straight up with no freaky-gene twist may find it increasingly tough to get the good stuff. Genetically modified (GM) crops are gaining popularity worldwide, leading to more accidental biotech pollution, wherein ordinary crops are tainted by their GM cousins. Organic farmers in the U.S. say “leaky” biotech is costing them export sales; they’re going farther and farther afield to find guaranteed pure seeds. Some local communities are taking precautions: Three California counties have banned GM farming and a fourth may soon join. Meanwhile, biotech crop growers complain anti-GM fears are hurting their sales at home and abroad. The U.S. government isn’t too concerned about biotech pollution, as long as the gene mods come from plants certified for human consumption. “Why do [GM crops] need to be treated any differently?” asks an administrator at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “They’re not any more unsafe.”