GENET archive


PHARMACROPS / APPROVAL: U.S. approves GMO rice to produce humanproteins

                                 PART I
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Feds OK planting modified rice crop
SOURCE: The Wichita Eagle, USA
AUTHOR: Phyllis Jacobs Griekspoor
DATE:   18.05.2007

more about GE trees, grasses, pharma crops etc:
Permits with Environmental Assessments as of 16 May 2007
Release Permits for Pharmaceuticals, Industrials, Value Added Proteins for
Human Consumption, or for Phytoremediation
Granted or Pending by APHIS as of May 18, 2007

Feds OK planting modified rice crop

Ventria Bioscience has received regulatory approval to plant
bioengineered rice in Kansas.

Three Kansas producers began planting a combined total of about 250
acres of the rice on Thursday.

The rice has been genetically modified to produce proteins found in
human breast milk, saliva and tears. Ventria will use it in a
pharmaceutical product that will lessen the severity and duration of
diarrhea in infants and children.

Ventria, based in Sacramento, Calif., was recruited to Kansas as part of
an effort to increase the state's bioscience industry.

Ventria bought an existing building in Junction City and remodeled it
into a processing facility that will begin production in June. This
summer, rice powder from production farms in North Carolina and South
America will be transported to Junction City for processing.

Beginning with the fall harvest, the rice will be grown and processed in

Ventria chief executive Scott Deeter said it is uncertain what kind of
harvest can be expected in Kansas.

"We're thinking about 5,000 pounds per acre, a little less than is
typical for food rice," Deeter said. Eventually, the company plans to
have about 3,200 acres in production in Kansas.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of
Agriculture approved the planting permit on Wednesday. The agency said
it received 20,034 comments about the Ventria project with 29 in favor
and 20,005 against.

Of the opposition comments, more than 18,000 came from two public
interest groups in nearly identical letters. The groups, the Center for
Science in the Public Interest and the Center for Food Safety, are
lobbying groups that oppose biotechnology in general and promote the
organic food industry.

The USA Rice Federation also opposed the permit, citing concerns that
the pharmaceutical rice could have the potential to become mixed with
the commercial food crop.

The USDA concluded that Ventria's plan poses virtually no risk because
no commercial rice is grown in Kansas, rice does not grow wild in Kansas
and the crop will use dedicated processing and transportation equipment.

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                                 PART II
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  U.S. approves GMO rice to produce human proteins
SOURCE: Reuters
AUTHOR: Lisa Haarlander
DATE:   16.05.2007

U.S. approves GMO rice to produce human proteins

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The U.S. government gave approval on Wednesday for a
biotech company to plant rice genetically modified to produce human
proteins in Kansas.

Ventria Bioscience of Sacramento, California, can now grow up to 3,200
acres of genetically modified rice in Geary County, Kansas, to produce
proteins that would be used in medicine to treat diarrhea.

Ventria plans to grow the rice on only 250 acres, said company president
Scott Deeter.

"We have grown it for nine years in North Carolina, California and South
America as well," he said.

The approval by the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service (APHIS) fuels concerns that another GMO crop will
contaminate the U.S. food and feed supply.

Last summer, a genetically modified strain of long-grain rice made by
Bayer CropScience, a unit of Bayer AG, which had not been cleared for
food use, was found in commercial rice bins in Arkansas and Missouri.
Several countries, including the European Union, have sharply cut back
on U.S. rice purchases following the discovery. USDA has since found
LibertyLink safe for food and feed use.

"The U.S. rice industry is still reeling from the release of Bayer
CropScience's genetically engineered LibertyLink rice into U.S. Delta-
region rice fields," USA Rice Producers' Group Chairman Paul Combs said.
"We are living with the effect of unintended events and consequences.
This decision will not generate any comfort among U.S. commercial rice

APHIS received more than 20,000 comments on Ventria's application, with
only 29 groups or individuals supporting the planting of the GMO rice in

USDA has a stringent protocol for overseeing genetically modified crops
with those made to produce pharmaceuticals regulated by more field
inspections and greater distances from traditional food crops, among
other requirements.

There is no commercial rice production within 300 miles of Geary County,
APHIS said.

"We don't produce this in an area that produces rice," Deeter said.
"It's an entirely different production system. We wouldn't have the
situation that LibertyLink had."

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                                 PART III
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  USA Rice disappointed with APHIS approval of pharmaceutical rice
        production in Kansas
SOURCE: USA Rice Federation, USA
AUTHOR: Press Release
DATE:   16.05.2007

USA Rice disappointed with APHIS approval of pharmaceutical rice
production in Kansas

The USA Rice Federation today expressed its disappointment with the U.S.
Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
(APHIS) approval of the Ventria Bioscience request to grow rice
containing human proteins in Geary County, Kansas.

"We have concluded that these field releases [for the genetically
engineered rice] will not present a risk of introducing or disseminating
a plant pest," says a notice published in today's edition of the Federal
Register. "Based on the finding of no significant impact, [APHIS] has
determined that an environmental impact statement need not be prepared
for these field releases," the notice says.

"The USA Rice Federation is disappointed with the APHIS decision, and
hopes Ventria and regulators will carefully ensure that sound and
enforced protocols will prevent contamination of the commercial rice
supply -- an event that would be devastating to the rice industry," USA
Rice Chairman Al Montna said today.

"The U.S. rice industry is still reeling from the release of Bayer
CropScience's genetically engineered Liberty Link rice into U.S. Delta-
region rice fields," USA Rice Producers' Group Chairman Paul T. Combs
said. "We are living with the effect of unintended events and
consequences. This decision will not generate any comfort among U.S.
commercial rice growers."

"The subject plants have been genetically engineered, using techniques
of micro-projectile bombardment or disarmed Agrobacterium-mediated
transformation, to express proteins for recombinant human lactoferrin,
lysozyme, or serum albumin," the APHIS notice says. USA Rice Federation
comments filed on March 29 strongly recommended that APHIS deny Ventria
permission to grow the rice.

Only 29 of the 20,034 comments APHIS received supported Ventria's
biopharming in Kansas. Excluding two large sets of "nearly identical"
opposition comments, 1,097 comments opposed Ventria's proposal.

-- 30 --

USA Rice Federation is the national advocate for all segments of the
rice industry, conducting activities to influence government programs,
developing and initiating programs to increase worldwide demand for U.S.
rice, and providing other services to increase profitability for all
industry segments.

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                                 PART IV
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  USDA approval of drug-producing rice in Kansas poses threat to
        food safety, say food safety & farming groups
SOURCE: Kansas Rural Center, Center for Food Safety, Farmer to Farmer
        Campaign on Genetic Engineering, all USA
AUTHOR: Press Release
DATE:   17.05.2007

USDA approval of drug-producing rice in Kansas poses threat to food
safety, say food safety & farming groups
20,000 citizens, scientists, farming and rice organizations in opposition

May 17, 2007 - The Center for Food Safety, Kansas Rural Center and
Farmer to Farmer Campaign on Genetic Engineering object to USDA's May
16th approval of drug-producing rice cultivation in Kansas, charging
that it poses needless risks to the safety of the American food supply.
USDA's approval permits cultivation in the Junction City area of up to
3,200 acres of rice genetically engineered to produce pharmaceutical
compounds that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has refused
to approve. FDA approval is not required for planting to proceed.

The groups note that the decision comes just a week after tornadoes in
the Kansas River Valley and heavy rains caused severe flooding in east-
central Kansas, including floodwaters on the Smoky Hill River, which
passes just a mile from one of the proposed planting sites. USDA had
earlier dismissed concerns raised by the groups that floodwaters could
carry the pharmaceutical rice into surrounding cropland and contaminate
farmers' crops with drugs unapproved by the FDA. USDA concluded in its
environmental assessment that: "Extreme weather events are rare and
unlikely to occur in the area of the field trial."

"About two weeks ago, I was huddled with other travelers in a rest stop
on Interstate 70 as tornadoes were reported on the ground in the very
area where Ventria proposes to expand their production between Junction
City and Topeka," said Dan Nagengast, Executive Director of the Kansas
Rural Center.

"I also question whether the company has adequately engineered their
water control systems to deal with the amounts of torrential rainfall
that are quite common here. This just represents an unconscionable food
safety complication in a food-producing region. Why grow these crops in
wide open nature, when other companies have found it possible to use
genetic engineering techniques to produce biotech drugs in confined
settings where food contamination is not an issue?"

USDA approved the "pharma rice" plantings despite receiving 20,000
comments in opposition from citizens, scientists, farming and rice
groups. Groups opposing the scheme include the USA Rice Federation, U.S.
Rice Producers Association, Riceland Foods, Mississippi Rice Council,
Arkansas Rice Growers Association, Missouri Rice Research and
Merchandising Council, and Rice Producers of California. In addition,
fourteen independent scientists signed a joint scientific assessment
warning of potential adverse health impacts from even trace-level
exposure to one of the rice-produced drugs.

"These rice-grown drugs are unapproved by FDA, may be hazardous, and
whether hazardous or not could cause huge economic losses to Kansas
farmers whose wheat, soy or other crops become contaminated with drug
rice," said Bill Freese, Science Policy Analyst with Center for Food Safety.

"In 2002, corn containing an experimental swine vaccine got mixed into
soybeans and regular corn, which then had to be destroyed at a cost of
several millions dollars," said Nagengast. "Over the past year, rice
farmers have lost millions of dollars from contamination of their crop
with unapproved genetically engineered rice grown under USDA's watch,"
he added.

"The USDA needs to stop rubber-stamping schemes like drug-producing
crops that put farmers and the rural economies they support at great
risk," said Bill Wenzel, National Director of the Farmer to Farmer
Campaign on Genetic Engineering. "The USDA should be focused on
representing farmers rather than carrying water for the biotech
industry," he added.

Developed by California-based Ventria Bioscience, the rice is engineered
with modified human genes to serve as a "biofactory" for production of
synthetic human milk proteins that have antimicrobial and other drug-
like properties. Ventria has proposed using the rice-extracted protein
drugs to treat infants with diarrhea, and as additives in infant
formulas, yogurt, granola bars and sports drinks, among other uses.

Last month, the Center for Food Safety released a report detailing the
potential human health impacts of Ventria's pharmaceutical rice and the
FDA's refusal to approve Ventria's rice-grown drugs. The report, "A
Grain of Caution," also disputes the need for Ventria's pharmaceutical
rice, discussing cheap and effective solutions for prevention and
treatment of diarrhea recommended by the World Health Organization and
other public health experts. The report notes that these existing
solutions have cut deaths due to diarrhea from 4.6 million a year in
1980 to 2 million today, and could save many more lives if adequate
funding were provided.

Center for Food Safety is a national non-profit membership organization
working to protect human health and the environment by curbing the use
of harmful food production technologies and promoting sustainable
agriculture. In 2000/2001, CFS was part of a coalition that discovered
widespread contamination of the food supply with genetically engineered
StarLink corn, which had not been approved for human consumption due to
concerns it could cause food allergies. In the past year, CFS has won
three cases against USDA for the Agriculture Department s reckless and
illegal approval of genetically engineered crops. See

The Kansas Rural Center is a non-profit research, education and advocacy
organization that promotes environmentally sound farming practices and a
safe and healthy food system, benefiting both farmers and consumers. See

The Farmer to Farmer Campaign on Genetic Engineering was formed in 1999
to provide a national voice for farmers on agriculture biotechnology.
The Campaign provides education, training and support to farmers and
farm groups on agricultural biotechnology issues.

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                                 PART V
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  JCHS teacher receives Ventria Bioscience award grant
SOURCE: Ventria Bioscience, USA
AUTHOR: Press Release
DATE:   22.04.2007

JCHS teacher receives Ventria Bioscience award grant

Junction City, KS., April 22, 2007 - The Geary County Unified School
District announced today that it has been awarded a grant from Ventria
Bioscience to send a local high school science teacher, Matt Krehbiel,
Junction City High School, to the Biotechnology Institute's Teacher-
Leader program. The Teacher-Leader program offers teachers hands-on
professional development sessions, teaching strategies, and tours of
leading biotechnology sites with the goal of enabling science teachers
to easily integrate biotechnology content and activities into the classroom.

"I am looking forward to participating in the Teacher-Leader program and
incorporating new teaching strategies and resources into my curriculum",
said Matt Krehbiel, Biology Teacher, Junction City High School. "The
field of biotechnology is broad and has numerous applications. It has
led to the creation of new medicines, new types of agriculture and new
ways to fuel the planet and I am looking forward to sharing these
discoveries with my students".

" Education is the foundation of future progress in the biosciences. By
awarding this grant, we want to do our part to contribute to the
educational opportunities available in Geary County's schools and for
teachers like Matt who are training tomorrow's leaders." said Scott
Deeter, President and CEO, Ventria Bioscience.

The 2007 Teacher-Leader Program will be held May 3-6 in Boston, MA and
is followed by the Biotechnology Industry Organization's International
Convention, which will be held in Boston, May 6-9 and will be attended
by more than 20,000 attendees, including researchers, academia,
entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and many others.

About Ventria Bioscience
Ventria is committed to developing affordable human health products that
enhance and save lives. A recent child health study showed that
Ventria's initial product helped reduce the duration of diarrhea in
children by 30 percent, from 5.2 days to 3.7 days. Childhood diarrhea is
the second leading killer of children, claiming 2 million lives annually
according to the World Health Organization. For more information, visit

About the Geary County Unified School District
Geary County School District No. 475 operates the public schools in
Junction City, Fort Riley, Milford and Grandview Plaza. The district
serves approximately 6,400 students representing a cross-section of
socioeconomic and ethnic groups. Approximately 50 percent of the
district's students have a parent or guardian on active duty with the
U.S. Army at Fort Riley, Kansas. The district operates 13 elementary
schools, two middle schools and one high school.
About the Biotechnology Institute
The Biotechnology Institute is as an independent, national nonprofit
organization dedicated to education about the present and future impact
of biotechnology. Its mission is to engage, excite and educate the
public, particularly students and teachers, about biotechnology and its
immense potential for solving human health, food and environmental
problems. For more information, visit

Charles Volland, APR
 Communications Coord., Geary County Unified School District
Brandy Sargent 
Corporate Communications, Ventria Bioscience

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