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By Michelle Malkin  •  July 13, 2004 04:46 AM

Via Drudge, we learn that European scientists are trying to grow an affordable AIDS vaccine in genetically-modified plants. You might think this is good news, but not everyone thinks so. So upset are environmentalists in Europe that the crops will probably have to be grown in South Africa, where the threat of sabotage is lower. Clare Oxborrow, a Friends of the Earth spokesperson, explained her opposition to the project as follows:

Growing medicines in plants has serious implications for human health and the environment. We recognise the need for affordable medicines to be made available to people with life-threatening illnesses but this research could have widespread negative impacts.

Millions of people are contracting AIDS every year, particularly in places like Africa that environmentalists claim to care about. The cost in human suffering is staggering. Meanwhile, not one person had gotten sick from genetically-modified food. Yet Oxborrow would prefer that research on an AIDS vaccine be shut down because “[g]rowing medicines in plants has serious implications for human health.”

And it’s not just AIDS. According to Mike Fumento’s book, BioEvolution: How Biotechnology is Changing Our World, tests are underway to develop:

  • bananas, potatoes, and carrots that prevent Hepatitis B;
  • potatoes that induce immunity against the Norwalk virus;
  • tomatoes and spinach that prevent rabies;
  • soybeans that prevent respiratory syncytial virus;
  • soybeans and corn that prevent genital herpes; and
  • turnips that produce interferon for treating people with hepatitis B and C.

All of this research is under fire by Luddite environmentalist groups like Friends of the Earth. As I wrote last fall, their solution is to wear red-string bracelets, eat organically grown ginger, and pray to Gaia.

Update: On a related note, Instapundit and Andrew Sullivan link to this article on the lack of progress in finding an AIDS vaccine. “This is a global disgrace,” says Seth Berkley, director of the non-profit International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. “There hasn’t been a serious effort, and until there is a serious effort, we’ll never get there.”

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