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...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!