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Test of Altered Bacteria on Plants Success

May 13, 1987|Associated Press

OAKLAND — Preliminary results from a controversial field test of Frostban, a genetically altered bacteria, indicate that it can be developed to protect crops against frost damage, the company that conducted the experiment said Tuesday.

The nation's first outdoor test of genetically altered bacteria was conducted in a strawberry patch near Brentwood, in eastern Contra Costa County, on April 24. The test was conducted despite the uprooting of thousands of the strawberry plants the previous night by vandals and court efforts by environmentalists to block the test.

"Even though we expected all along to obtain the results we got, we are very pleased the initial results were successful in confirming our lab tests," said Trevor Suslow, director of product research for Oakland-based Advanced Genetic Sciences.

After a three-hour delay because of high winds, the biotechnology company sprayed a second application of the bacteria at the site Tuesday night.

The company said the preliminary results from the first application showed that no Frostban bacteria were detected outside the test site and none was found in the air above the site immediately after the application. Results also indicated that the bacteria survived on the strawberry plants, which is vital to its capability to protect against frost on fruit and nut crops.

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