The article this letter is responding to: http://www.grandforks.com/mld/grandforks/11664113.htm
IN THE MAIL: Greenpeace doesn't back genetic engineering
Grand Forks Herald, May 17 2005
- Editor's Note: The following letter appeared on the Herald's May 15 Editoral Page in response to comments in a story, "GF firm plans to make pharmaceuticals from flax," which also appears as a HERALD ONLINE EXTRA.
AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands
Greenpeace strongly denies the suggestion that it supports the cultivation of genetically engineered pharmaceutical or "pharma" crops, a suggestion made by the Grand Forks biotech company Agragen.
Greenpeace vehemently opposes the environmental release of any GE crops, especially GE pharma crops. Pharma crops (such as rice, maize, soya and tomato) are designed so that a particular plant is capable of producing drugs and vaccines within itself. The growth of such crops easily could contaminate the human food supply with substances that do not belong in our food. Pharma crops also could have devastating ecological consequences if crossed with wild plants or eaten by wildlife.
In the United States, GE pharma crops already are grown on a commercial scale. The companies involved try to reduce the costs of producing medicines and vaccines by growing them in plants. Although this may sound very attractive, there is growing scientific concern over the potential risks.
Moreover, accidents involving the mixing of pharma crops with food meant for human consumption already have happened. In 2002, seeds from a GE corn-pharma-crop produced by Texas based company Prodigene were left in fields in Iowa and Nebraska and grew the following year among conventional soybean crops.
Releasing genetically engineered pharma plants is a recipe for disaster. Drugs, vaccines and other substances could end up in people's food, without them even knowing about it and without any knowledge of the health consequences.
Greenpeace is urging food producers not to buy any products from regions where GE pharma crops are grown.
Ritsema is a Greenpeace International GE Campaigner, and Sanchez works for Greenpeace International Communications.
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