From its inception, the biotechnology industry has successfully battled fears and misperceptions. Because the public, politicians and regulators have been convinced that the technology can produce important benefits and is not inherently unsafe, experiments with recombinant DNA that were subject to extreme security measures only a few years ago now are routinely conducted by college students. Meanwhile, genetically modified plants, which were initially harvested by technicians wearing space suits, were planted on about 30 million acres in the U.S. last year.

A quick look at Europe, where some national governments are trying to ban imports of genetically modified products and the Swiss are expected to vote this year on a referendum that would curtail most biotech research labs in that nation, should be sufficient reminder of the problems that result where biotech cannot hold society's confidence.