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Bitter harvest. Pt. 3, On the Eighth Day.

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About this work


Genetic modification of crops - does it promise disaster or a renewal of the earth's resources? Scientists deny there is anything dramatic about it; it does not change the nature of the plant, only its ability to resist pests. One possible outcome is an increase in the medicinal value of plants. Tomato paste could be used for vaccines, eliminating the use of needles and easing the problems of vaccine storage; tobacco plants, easy to cultivate, could be genetically adapted for the treatment of Hodgkin's lymphoma. Success in this line of research could increase public acceptance of genetic modification of crops, but genetic modification of animals is a more difficult issue. Experiments include modification of a pig's digestive system so that it will absorb more phosphorous and yield more meat, and injecting a chicken foetus with human protein to explore the potential for insulin and growth hormone production in the chicken's eggs. Jeremy Rifkin, opponent of genetic modification of plants and animals, sees it as reducing fellow creatures to the state of chemical factories. Science should be able to find better ways of production. Among the Amish sect of Pennsylvannia there are no reservations about growing genetically modified tobacco for nicotine-free cigarettes, but change creates new demands and the Amish could find their traditional farming methods threatened by their own success. The possible benefits and dangers opened up by this new branch of science are on such a scale that a sharply divided reaction is inevitable.


London : BBC 2, 2002.

Physical description

1 video cassette (VHS) (50 min.) : sound, color, PAL


Broadcast on 30th June, 2002 at 19.20

Copyright note

BBC News for BBC 2.



  • English

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