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Researchers at the University of Texas have genetically engineered bacteria found in the guts of honey bees with synthetic genes to supposedly enhance pollination effectiveness.

If these GE bees were released or escaped into the environment, there would be no way of preventing the GE bacteria from infecting the guts of other honey or wild bees. But to make matters worse, their synthetic genes can also transfer to other species of bacteria. Once released, the spread of the bacteria and their synthetic genes could not be controlled.

Some gut bacteria in bees plays an important role in their vitality and immune systems. Altering them could have dire consequences for the bees. 

According to TestBiotech.org, this is just one of several risky projects aiming at profiting from GE microorganisms. Instead of manipulating the target organisms (like honey bees), their intestinal bacteria are engineered enabling the microbes to change their ‘hosts’ characteristics. The risks involved are unthinkable.

 We need bees.  Let’s not endanger them – and ourselves – with bumble-headed profit schemes.

For the Earth Minute and the Sojourner Truth show, this is Anne Petermann from Global Justice Ecology Project.