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C. The Pluses and Minuses of Biotechnology

Narrator: This is Science Today. The recent annual biotechnology conference has once again thrown a spotlight on one of the industry's most controversial issues - genetically altered food. Critics call it "Frankenfood", while supporters says certain genetically engineered crops may help developing nations stave off malnutrition. Norman Ellstrand, a professor of genetics at the University of California, Riverside, says the truth is really somewhere in between.

Ellstrand: Any new technology's got its pluses and its minuses and we've seen this repeatedly over the last century. Pesticides, for example, have resulted in the feeding of millions of people and at the same time, they're dangerous compounds and we have to respect them.

Narrator: Ellstrand says what's needed are better regulatory controls for genetically engineered crops, since they can easily swap genes with wild relatives or other varieties, causing very difficult weeds or trouble for endangered plant species.

Ellstrand: Such that endangered species begins to evolve to look and act like the crop over generation over generation.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.