The president was greeted by protesters who expressed their displeasure over the Bush administration's pull back from the Kyoto global warming agreement. The European environmental community also remains adamantly opposed to the importation of genetically modified food, viewing the U.S. as its greatest source, despite the fact many of the leaders in developing genetically altered seeds are European companies.
Back home claims that G-M-Os represent a threat to the public health were countered by lab reports.
Public concern about GMO crops grew last year when Starlink, which was NOT approved for human consumption, spread through the nation's food supply. An environmental group found traces of the gene-altered corn in taco shells, chips and other products.
The Environmental Protection Agency approved StarLink in 1998 for use only in animal feed, but now is weighing approval of a petition from the manufacturer of StarLink, for tolerance levels in food processing.
SLUG: News Conference
The CDC findings did little to mollify the fears of some groups over genetically altered crops. . Environmentalists on Thursday released their own report citing what they called the risks and uncertainties of field testing of GMOs.
Richard Caplan, U.S. Public Interest Research Group: "An examination of USDA records reveals, that institutions frequently provide no details or documentation to insure that contamination is not taking place. Questions about the long term safety of these crops, their impact on the soil, non-target species, like the monarch butterfly, and their ability to create new viruses are all largely ignored under the current system."
Among the study's findings: Nearly 30-thousand field tests of genetically altered crops were made between 1987 and 2000 ... the states of Hawaii, Illinois and Iowa have hosted the most field tests ... and of the top 10 companies applying to conduct field tests in 1995, seven have merged into two companies, Monsanto and DuPont.
The activists called for a moratorium on all field testing until certain conditions are met, including the staging of independent tests to show GMOs pose no threat to human heath or the environment.