Oh, the sweet sound of clashing cultures. Ventria Inc. is trying to make a drug that could help save the lives of children who contract diarrhoea, a major killer in the developing world. Good, right? Wrong, because they are making it by engineering a human gene into plants such as rice. And that has rice growers and environmentalists upset because they fear that pollen from Ventria’s pharms will pollute other rice crops nearby.

Ventria counters that as rice is self-pollinating it is “virtually impossible for genetically engineered rice to accidentally cross breed with conventional crops”.

Why not make it practically impossible for any cross-breeding that might, just possibly occur to have any wide impact, by furnishing the engineered rice with a suicide gene, aka terminator technology, aka genetic use restriction technology? If ever there were a case for GURTs to come to the rescue, this is surely it.

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