Putting a wrong gene into a commercial product is
something we all hope won't happen. We are told it cannot happen because of
tight quality controls in both the industry and government agencies.
In July 1997 the unthinkable did happen. Monsanto announced it had recalled
"small quantities" of genetically engineered rape seed which contained an
unapproved gene that had got into the product by mistake. (St Louis, Missouri)
Altogether 60,000 bag units of two types of rape seed were withdrawn, because
one or both types contained the unauthorised gene. It appears the seed in question
was not authorised for human or animal feed. The bags contained
enough seed to plant 600,00 to 750,00 acres of land, and it was reported that some
of the seed had already been planted.
The recalled rape seed had been genetically engineered to withstand spraying with
Monsanto's herbicide, 'Roundup'.
Note:The rapeseed involved in this fiasco was said by Monsanto to be a commercial,
non-edible variety. Rape seed is also grown and bred for the production of Canola Oil.
Monsanto is now focussing its business on biotechnology-related products.
It is reported that former Monsanto employees have taken up positions
in the FDA, the agency which holds the decision-making power over the development
and use of biotechnologies.