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Plant: USDA allows genetically modified rice crop in Kansas




                                  PART 1


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TITLE:  USDA ALLOWS GENETICALLY MODIFIED RICE CROP IN KANSAS

SOURCE: The Witchita Eagle, USA

AUTHOR: The Associated Press, Sam Hananel

URL:    http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/business/16825261.htm

DATE:   04.03.2007

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USDA ALLOWS GENETICALLY MODIFIED RICE CROP IN KANSAS

WASHINGTON - The Department of Agriculture has granted preliminary approval for a large-scale plan to grow genetically altered rice in Kansas, prompting some critics to raise safety concerns.

Ventria Bioscience, based in Sacramento, Calif., wants to grow rice modified to produce human proteins on more than 3,000 acres of farmland near Junction City.

The pharmaceutical rice would be harvested and refined for use in medicines to fight diarrhea, dehydration and other illnesses that kill millions of infants and toddlers each year.

While Kansas officials have embraced the project as a boon to the state’s emerging biosciences industry, environmentalists and some food groups warn the proteins could find their way into the food chain, causing medical or allergic reactions.

”We’re opposed to the production of pharmaceutical and industrial chemicals in food crops grown outdoors because we think there are too many ways contamination of the food supply could occur,” said Karen Perry Stillerman, senior analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The USDA released a draft environmental assessment on Wednesday that concluded planting the rice poses virtually no risk. No commercial rice is grown in Kansas and Ventria will use dedicated equipment, storage and processing facilities to prevent seeds from mixing with other crops, the USDA said. The rice will be milled on site.

”We have a product here that can help children get better faster,” said Ventria president and chief executive Scott Deeter.

Genetically modified crops are regulated by the USDA. State governments can review safety procedures and suggest more stringent regulation before a permit is issued.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and other officials have welcomed Ventria to the state. The company plans to spend $6 million to renovate an abandoned grocery distribution center in Junction City and could eventually contract with farmers to grow rice on 30,000 acres. 

 



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:  WARNING OVER GM DRUG CROPS - AS US PREPARES TO ALLOW GM RICE WITH HUMAN DNA

SOURCE: Friends of the Earth, UK

AUTHOR: Press Release

URL:    http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/warning_over_gm_drug_crops_06032007.html

DATE:   06.03.2007

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WARNING OVER GM DRUG CROPS - AS US PREPARES TO ALLOW GM RICE WITH HUMAN DNA

Friends of the Earth is calling for the production of drugs in food crops grown outside to be banned after the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) gave preliminary approval to the commercial production of GM pharmaceutical rice containing human genes [1]. The environmental campaign group warned of the potentially devastating consequences if pharmaceutical crops end up on consumers’ plates.

The warning comes as US authorities have confirmed that a third GM rice contamination incident in less than a year has hit the United States. In the latest incident a type of non-GM long grain rice (known as Clearfield CL131, produced by BASF) was found to contain unknown GM contamination. The USDA has stepped in to stop rice farmers planting the variety because of the likelihood that the GM trait is unapproved [2].

Last week, US authorities confirmed that Clearfield CL131 had also been contaminated by GM LL62 rice - produced by biotech company Bayer CropScience. Because this rice is legal in the US, farmers had decided to plant the variety this spring because of a shortage of seed. This follows the initial contamination incident with Bayer’s LL601 rice which affected long grain rice exported around the world, including the UK [3].

Friends of the Earth’s GM campaigner, Clare Oxborrow, said:

”This latest GM contamination incident should set alarm bells ringing about the dangers of allowing GM pharmaceutical crops to be grown. Using food crops and fields as glorified drug factories is deeply worrying. The biotech industry has repeatedly failed to prevent experimental GM rice contaminating food crops. If pharmaceutical crops end up on consumers’ plates, the consequences for our health could be devastating.”

”The UK Government must urge the US to ban the production of drugs in food crops grown outside. It must also introduce tough measures to prevent illegal GM crops contaminating our food and ensure that biotech companies are liable for any damage their products cause.”

1. The USDA has given preliminary approval for the first GM pharmaceutical rice containing human genes to be grown commercially. The rice, produced by a company called Ventria, has been engineered to produce human proteins to be extracted to produce anti-diarrhea medicine.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/01/AR2007030101495_pf.html

[2] http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/call_for_ban_on_us_imports_21082006.html

[3] http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/content/2007/03/ge_riceseed_statement.shtml

 


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