EXTRACT: What's interesting about the last line of the US answer is that it implies that [Philip Morris] believed that genetically modified tobacco was, as of 1998, in the tobacco supply. Now, though, Sutton says that Philip Morris USA screens their incoming tobacco product to keep GM plants out of their cigarettes.
Philip Morris, Part II: There Is No GM Tobacco In Your Marlboros
By Alexis Madrigal
Wired News, March 25 2008
In the first half of our conversation, Philip Morris spokesman David Sutton spoke broadly about the company's tobacco research efforts. When we returned to the topic of genetically modified tobacco, Sutton stressed that Philip Morris only uses conventionally grown tobacco, i.e. they don't use GM plants, in their commercial production procedures. Referring to the recent NC State GM tobacco research, he said there was a wall between their R&D and commercial production processes.
'It's a pure research environment over there, and then way over on the other side, you've got how we make our products,' said Sutton.
That's quite an about face from Philip Morris' precise answers to the GM tobacco question from back in 1998. Then, the company was an unabashed supporter of genetic engineering, at least in the US, where it was perceived public support was stronger. The internal talking points document linked above provides two answers to the same question--Do you use genetically modified tobacco in your cigarettes?--excerpted with emphasis added below.
'FOR EU REGION ONLY:
At present, PM... does not intentionally use genetically modified tobaccos in its cigarettes and makes reasonable efforts to use only conventional tobaccos in its cigarettes.'
'FOR NON-EU MARKETS (US AND OTHERS):
PM... does not actively seek genetically modified tobaccos for use in its cigarettes. We do not, however, see any reason why such tobaccos should not be used in cigarettes. We seek the highest quality tobaccos available; currently; these may well include genetically modified tobaccos.'
What's interesting about the last line of the US answer is that it implies that PM believed that genetically modified tobacco was, as of 1998, in the tobacco supply. Now, though, Sutton says that Philip Morris USA screens their incoming tobacco product to keep GM plants out of their cigarettes.Don't miss our other coverage on the future of the cigarette:
Philip Morris, Part I: We Do ($100 Million a Year) of Research For You, Smokers http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/03/philip-morris-w.html