As biotechnology moves from the petri dish to the produce aisle, Christian environmentalists are asking this difficult question: Do genetically modified (GMO) crops, or so-called frankenfoods, violate Christians' biblical mandate to care for the Creation?For many evironmentally minded Christians, the issue is both a matter of social justice and environmental care. GMO crops may be the key to feeding burgeoning world populations, but detractors fear such crops will make the world's poor dependent on a few multinational biotech corporations. Also, the effect of these foods on consumer health and the environment is largely unknown. Mainline Protestants have been more outspoken on GMO concerns, says Ann Alexander, chairwoman of the Christian Environmental Council. But the issue will make the agenda at the Christian Environmental Council (largely evangelical in orientation), which meets in October in Milwaukee.

Ending World Hunger?

GMO crops have genes cut and spliced from various plant or animal sources that would not mingle in nature. Biotech companies can breed plants that have high nutrient levels, or tolerate huge doses of herbicide. But detractors say that these modified plants may mutate in the environment, producing "superweeds" and making poor countries' problems worse.The most controversial modification is Mississippi-based Delta and Pine Lands' work on a "terminator gene." The gene, under development, would prevent farmers from saving cotton seed by creating a toxin that renders its seed infertile, killing the next generation of the crop. Many agricultural communities around the world depend on saving seed from year to year.Yet GMO foods may curb starvation and increase nutrition in Third World countries. "Technological ...

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