Fields Of Genes

Reengineered crops will change the way the world feeds, clothes, and heals itself

Like any farmer, Rod Gangwish of Shelton, Neb., is a hard-nosed businessman, wary of latching on to what somebody says is the next big thing in agro tech. So when the first corn seeds genetically engineered to resist pests were released in 1997, Gangwish proceeded slowly. For a year, the third-generation farmer cultivated a small test plot on his 1,500-acre spread to find out whether the seed could, as advertised, repel a pest called the European corn borer without cutting his yield. Gangwish, like all farmers, had to make a calculation: The new seeds would cost more, but he would save on pesticides.

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