Environment: Tubers, Berries and Bugs

Scientists release man-made microbes into the environment

In a dusty half-acre potato patch near the tiny (pop. 1,000) farming community of Tulelake, Calif., scientists in canary yellow overalls clambered aboard a tractor last week and began what looked like a workaday farmyard chore. They were planting ordinary potatoes, 2,000 tubers in all, that had been treated with an extraordinary additive: a genetically altered bacterium designed to inhibit the formation of frost. This experiment -- and a similar one performed only five days earlier -- marked a turning point in the efforts of scientists to apply the advances of recombinant DNA technology to agriculture: the first authorized release of...

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