The company’s claims, however, could not be corroborated. When U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspectors went to Japan to check out the production plant, they discovered Showa Denko had erased all traces of the L-tryptophan production line. Despite repeated requests, the company refused to release samples of the genetically engineered bacteria. The FDA officials reported: "The team encountered refusals to provide information, access to records and areas routinely inspected." By destroying all stocks of the modified bacteria, Showa Denko eliminated data and destroyed possible evidence that could have been useful in solving the puzzle and perhaps finding an answer for those suffering the toxic effects of L-tryptophan.
Its frustrations aside, the FDA was no more eager to raise the specter of a deadly experiment in genetic engineering than was Showa Denko. The FDA had learned as early as November 1989 that the company had genetically engineered its bacteria. However, the agency neglected to reveal the fact until August 1990, when it was forced to respond to an article in Newsday. Another piece in Science magazine quoted scientists at the FDA as saying they were concerned about the "impact on industry" of a disclosure of the potential link between EMS and genetic engineering.
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