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9-Misc: Lawsuit threatens genetic drug crops' future In Hawaii

-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Lawsuit Threatens Genetic Drug Crops' Future In Hawaii
        Legal Action Calls For Identifying Secret Locations
SOURCE: The Hawaii Channel, USA
DATE:   27 Jul 2004 

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Lawsuit Threatens Genetic Drug Crops' Future In Hawaii
Legal Action Calls For Identifying Secret Locations

HONOLULU -- Even though they are far from winning in court, opponents of
genetically altered drug crops have succeeded in shutting down the
industry in Hawaii.

Experiments to alter sugar cane and corn to produce life-saving drugs
began last year in Hawaii at eight mostly-secret sites.

This research at Kunia is not into potential human drugs. All drug crop
field tests in Hawaii stopped within months of lawsuits claimed the crops
threatened the environment and food supply.

The companies said their crops are harmless, but fear what would happen
if the lawsuits revealed their locations.

"Whether there are going to be demonstrations; whether people are going
to attempt to pull out the existing plants; that means millions of
dollars in research could be lost," attorney for biological agriculture
companies, Margery Bronster, said.

"They do have alternative means to keep these sites secure. They just
don't want to spend the money on it. So, under those circumstances, I
certainly have no sympathy," attorney for research opponents, Paul
Achitoff, said.

The federal government Monday asked Judge David Ezra to throw out this
lawsuit, saying since all the companies have pulled out, there is nothing
here for the federal government to regulate. However, Ezra said if he
does that that might encourage the companies to bring a controversial
crop to Hawaii. Then when someone files a lawsuit, just pull it out and
plant it somewhere else.

If Ezra allows the lawsuit to continue, it could be years before the
companies resume research in Hawaii.

"We end up having a bump in the road that just further impedes and delays
making these medicines available," Bronster said.

"Companies like Dow Chemical, Dupont Monsanto; they can invest insecurity
instead of putting the public at risk," Achitoff said.

The federal government said it's not sure if it will issue new research
permits even if the companies want them.



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