2-Plants: First GE pharma rice harvest performed by Ventria officials
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------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE: First rice harvest performed by Ventria officials
SOURCE: The Northwest Missourian, USA, by Dennis Sharkey
DATE: 12 Oct 2005
------------------ archive: http://www.genet-info.org/ ------------------
First rice harvest performed by Ventria officials
Concerns over whether rice could be grown in northwest Missouri have
subsided for now.
The first year of test growing came to an end this week with the harvest
of rice being tested in three different spots in northern Missouri.
Originally, Ventria Biosciences who makes pharmaceuticals from
genetically modified plants, planned on growing rice in southern
Missouri, currently the sixth largest producer of rice in the United
States. Concerns were raised over cross-pollination of genetically
modified rice with rice grown for consumption.
Anheuser-Busch, America's largest beer producer stepped in and said it
could not buy rice grown in Missouri if there were a chance of cross-
pollination. A compromise was made to grow the genetically modified rice
in northern Missouri.
Ventria scientist Somen Nandi said that official data from the test won't
be available for at least two weeks but early indications look very positive.
Nandi said that test will continue for another two years. He said that it
is standard procedure with any crop to test grow for three years. If the
results are consistent for three years, he said it is a pretty safe bet
that it will work.
He also said some varieties of the rice were not successful and would be
replaced next year with different varieties.
Samples are taken from areas 25 square feet large. Once the stalks are
cut they are put through a thrasher and a cleaner to separate the good
rice kernels from the empty or underdeveloped pods. The rice is then
weighed and calculated out to see what the yield would be per acre.
Frank Veeman, special assistant to University President Dean Hubbard, has
worked closely with the project. He said the most interesting part of the
harvest process is the clean up. When the harvest crew changes varieties
they must completely clean out the processing machines to avoid
contamination. The rice, after it's harvested will have other studies
performed on it, and it will be compared to future crops. He also said
that although things look good so far, other variables have to be taken
"It almost takes longer to clean up than it does to harvest," Veeman
said. "We seem to be right where we need to be, but when you grow in
smaller plots the numbers could get distorted."
Three different locations were used for testing this past spring.
Northwest Alumnus Jason Garst, is testing it on his farm near Rockport.
Testing is also occurring at the Hundley-Whaley Farm in Albany and the
Greeley Farm in Novelty, both run by the University of Missouri System.
Garst said that the whole process has been a continued learning
experience for him. Before this year he had not even seen rice grown
before, besides even growing it himself. He said that it brings an
opportunity to farmers that was not thought to be there.
"It's a rare opportunity," Garst said. "As a farmer I've read about this
stuff seven or eight years ago, but always thought the companies would
grow it themselves, but that's not the case."
Garst said to keep up with inflation every year farmers must find ways to
increase production with what land they have or find additional land to
buy or rent. He said the demand for land is very tight and competitive,
because it is such a limited resource.
Garst believes the future prospects for northwest Missouri farmers is
bright if they are willing to change and are real entrepreneurs.
"The opportunity is unbelievable," Garst said. "It is so new and we're
not sure how it will unfold yet. It will unfold for sure and when it does
hopefully it will unfold here for us."
European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering
Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
In den Steinäckern 13
D - 38116 Braunschweig
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