Activists exploit terrorism; try to link Bt, anthrax

Activists are warning against the use of Bt products, including biotech Bt crops, by implying that Bt bacteria could cause anthrax, or an anthrax-like disease.

Internet discussion platforms run by the pro-organic and anti-biotechnology Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and Organic Consumers Association state that, "Bt can easily take up an anthrax plasmid and create anthrax-related disease," and "gene exchange could occur in the soil between [biotech] plant debris and bacteria."

Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes anthrax, and Bacillus thuringiensis, used to manufacturer the familiar Bt insecticides, are related. But while B. anthracis is a potentially deadly microbe, B. thuringiensis has been used for decades as a safe and effective organic pest control. "The risks of anthrax-exposure from organic foods and other crops sprayed with Bt bacteria are infinitesimally small," said Alex Avery, Director of Research at the Hudson Institute 's Center for Global Food Issues, "More importantly, an anthrax risk from biotech crops is non-existent. This is just an opportunistic attempt to mislead the public and falsely attack biotechnology with guilt by association."

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