California Rice Commission approves genetically engineered rice

March 30, 2004 -- CropChoice news: The California Rice Commission yesterday approved planting guidelines for genetically engineered rice crops developed by Sacramento biotech company, Ventria Biosciences. This brings the company one step closer to the country's first commercialization of a drug-producing food crop. Ventria's pharmaceutical rice has been genetically engineered with synthetic human genes to produce two pharmaceutical proteins - lactoferrin and lysozyme - commonly used as anti-microbials and anti-diarrheals.

Some in the farming community are growing more concerned that Ventria's pharmaceutical rice will contaminate the crops of other rice farmers and ultimately the food supply. Though the approved guidelines restrict production to regions that do not currently grow rice (e.g., Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, and seven other Southern California counties), they do not limit how far away the rice is transported for milling, or the location of research fields.

Groups from Japan, which is the biggest foreign market for Californian rice, recently informed farmers in both Canada and the United States that they would not buy certain crops from either country if GE varieties of those crops are introduced. "Consumers in Japan will not accept GE contamination of any crop," said rice farmer Greg Massa. " The decision to approve Ventria's guidelines is bad news for farmers and California's rice industry."

Ventria has not performed any tests to determine either the human health or environmental effects of their pharmaceutical rice. They have also failed to publicly disclose how they plan to market the rice. "Ventria currently has no federal approval for commercializing these genetically engineered crops," said Rebecca Spector from The Center for Food Safety. "The CRC made today's decision in a regulatory vacuum."

The Food and Drug Administration has established a zero tolerance for pharmaceutical crop products in food and animal feed supplies. In 2002, corn engineered to produce an experimental diarrhea vaccine for pigs was discovered in a soybean crop destined for a grain elevator.

"Contamination is inevitable under this protocol and the CRC did not act in the best interests of California rice farmers or consumers," said Renata Brillinger of Californians for GE-Free Agriculture. The proposal will now go to the California Department of Food and Agriculture for final approval. The CRC recommended that the approval be granted under an emergency regulatory provision. This would require the CDFA to make a decision in 10 days and circumvent the normal public review process.

For more background information on this issue visit http://www.calgefree.org


Recent news and research

404 Not Found
bluehost Affordable, Reliable
Web Hosting Solutions.

404 Error File Not Found

The page you are looking for might have been removed,
had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable.

Web Hosting provided by Bluehost.com

Stay Up-to-Date –
Sign up for our Newsletter

NewFarm.org changes daily! Don't miss out on the latest interactive features, columns and news. Sign up now for our monthly e-newsletter and stay connected.

ACTION ALERTS

•Free the meat markets! End packer ownership and stop closed-door deals

• Support Saskatchewan farmers in efforts to block GM wheat

• Stop budget cuts to conservation programs--the one's that help you pay for environmentally sound farming practices!

Share Your Stories

Are you a farmer? A consumer? Whatever story you have to tell, let it be an inspiration to others.
Share it with us now...

T H E    N E W    F A R M – R E G E N E R A T I V E    A G R I C U L T U R E    W O R L D W I D E