Eco-Terrorist Threat to Biotechnology Research

PULLMAN Wash. — Washington State University is on alert for a possible attack by
extremists opposed to biotechnology and genetic engineering research. Campus authorities are
taking seriously a threat of a “National Day of Action,” which targets crops, equipment,
buildings and vehicles.
Campus police have stepped up security around facilities that may be targeted. Personnel
who work in research areas are also on alert.
The biotechnology research being conducted at WSU has many benefits for humans and
the environment, says Jim Carlson, associate dean of agriculture and associate director of the
Agricultural Research Center. Carlson points out that it is the role of universities to discover new
knowledge in the biological, physical and social sciences in order to provide a wide array of
information for use by society.
“Clearly, advances in our society in the areas of health, nutrition, food production and
environmental improvement have resulted from past discoveries. Biotechnology is one of the
exciting new fields of inquiry that promises to provide many benefits to society,” says Carlson.
“Incorporation of pest resistance genes into crop plants can reduce losses, improve the
quality of the crop by reducing insect damage and drastically cut the need for pesticide
application. Incorporation of characteristics for stress tolerance should allow crops to be grown
in areas of drought, thereby increasing food availability. This benefits the public through safer,
high-quality food supplies. It benefits the environment through reduced pesticide application,”
he adds.
Carlson says in the future there may be ways of creating new products for a bio-based
economy by altering the composition of plants to provide carbohydrate and oil precursors that
can be used for new products and manufacturing. This could have a major impact on the
economic well-being of rural communities.
For more information on biotechnology research at WSU, please contact Jim Carlson at