Technology: A Bumper Crop of Biotech

Genetic engineering promises to transform agriculture

Imagine a cow that produces skim milk, a canola seed rich in sperm-whale oil or a naturally decaffeinated coffee bean. Such curios may sound like science fiction, but they are real possibilities in the brave new world being created by the marriage of biotechnology and agriculture. In scores of experiments, scientists are changing the genetic endowments of plants and animals, and the results could spawn a revolution in farm fields, feedlots and dairy barns.

So far this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved nearly 100 test plantings of crops that have been genetically altered to give them traits such...

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