NEW YORK -- The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) onMonday urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reject arequest to conduct field tests in tobacco plants of tobaccomosaic virus (TMV) containing foreign genes.

Biosource Genetics Corp. of Vacaville, Calif., plans to introducegenes into tobacco that will make the plants into factories forpharmaceuticals and chemicals, according to Rebecca Goldburg,head of EDF's biotechnology program. Company officials wereunavailable for comment.

The non-profit EDF is most concerned about the gene fortrichosanthin, a toxin produced by Chinese cucumbers.Trichosanthin, or Compound Q, has been tested as an AIDS drugand as a chemotherapy drug. Goldburg said that the gene fortrichosanthin could be spread to tomatoes, an edible crop.

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