3200 acres of pharma rice in Kansas - OBJECT! (2/3/2007)

1.Object to 3200 acres of pharma rice in Kansas
2.Plan for lab-altered rice advances

Note: The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has a petition, policy paper, database and documents dealing with frequently asked questions about pharma crops posted on its new UCS website at http://www.ProtectOurFood.org


1.From Dr Jane Rissler, Senior Scientist/Deputy Director, Food and Environment Program, Union of Concerned Scientists
[email protected]

In today's Federal Register, USDA is announcing the availability of an environmental assessment of Ventria Bioscience's proposal to plant up to 3200 acres of pharma rice in Kansas. This is the largest acreage ever proposed for a pharma crop in the U.S.

According to the FR notice, the purposes of the plantings are for extraction of lactoferrin, lysozyme, and serum albumin for commercial and research products and for seed production (for subsequent plantings).

Comments are due March 30.

The URL for the FR notice is:

Please comment to USDA, urging an immediate ban on this and all other outdoor production drugs and industrial compounds in food crops.

2.Plan for lab-altered rice advances
A proposal that was rejected in California and Missouri is poised to proceed in Kansas
By SCOTT CANON The Kansas City Star, March 2 2007

A firm that abandoned growing genetically altered rice in Missouri after Anheuser-Busch Cos. threatened to boycott the state’s crops is now on pace to plant in Kansas this spring.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in the Federal Register on Wednesday that it is poised to approve the planting of the pharmaceutically engineered rice on 450 acres in Geary County — about 80 miles west of Kansas City — as soon as next month.

Ventria Bioscience, based in Sacramento, Calif., dropped efforts to grow in California after objections from farmers there. It encountered similar resistance with plans to grow rice in eastern and southeastern Missouri. The Busch boycott eventually killed plans to plant anywhere in the state.

"There is a very strong feeling in Arkansas and Missouri against having Ventria grow its crops anywhere near their rice," said David Coia, USA Rice Federation spokesman. The group has not taken a position on the Kansas plan.

Because rice is not grown in Kansas, farmers are less likely to worry about crop contamination by experimental Ventria plants. The company says the state's embrace of biotechnology, not its absence of rice, drew it to Kansas.

The firm wants to grow lab-tinkered rice designed to produce lactoferrin, lysozyme and serum albumin substances found in human tears, saliva and mother's milk. They could be a far cheaper way to produce drugs to treat digestive and dehydration problems, and less prone to cause allergic reactions than current methods.

Agriculture Department officials are taking public comment through March 30 on Ventria's permit.

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