The Environmental Protection Agency today approved the first-ever release of man-made bacteria into the environment, giving the go-ahead for scientists to see if test-tube organisms can prevent frost in a California strawberry patch.
Advanced Genetic Scientists Inc. of Oakland will test two genetically altered strains of naturally occurring bacteria that inhibit the formation of ice crystals on plants.
According to the company's plans, the test field probably will be located in the Salinas Valley and will be surrounded by a buffer zone. The bacteria will be tested on about 2,400 strawberry plants, and tests could begin as early as next month. The bacteria will be applied by workers wearing protective clothing, and the test area will be monitored for about a year.