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Biodiversity an issue with GMO policies

Feb. 22, 2012 at 2:38 PM

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Policies regarding the introduction of genetically modified organisms need to take biodiversity issues into account, a U.S. academic says.

University of Pittsburgh history and philosophy of science Professor Sandra D. Mitchell says policy makers must consider both global biodiversity and regional differences regarding the impact of GMOs.

"The problem with generating 'global' GMO policies is that policy makers are failing to consider the local variations of a particular region," Mitchell said in a Pitt release Tuesday.

Mitchell cited the effects of the bacillus thuringiensis, a soil-dwelling bacterium commonly used as a biological pesticide, on such different host plants as corn and cotton.

There are nearly 600 strains of BT, each producing a different effect on GMO plants, she said.

"Reasonable policy needs to take into account such complexities. The consequences for biodiversity of introducing a GMO are relevant to successful regulation."

Mitchell made her remarks at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual meeting in Vancouver, Canada.

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