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is biopharming regulated
The author of the letter below mentions the hundreds of field releases
of crops modified with genes for biopharmaceuticals in US. He assumes
that those releases are safe but fails to mention that they are secret
so that their performance cannot be put to the test.
In Canada not only are dangerous biopharmaceuticals tested with extreme
secrecy but at least one drug an anticoagulant grown in transgenic
canola has reached commercial production under extreme secrecy with
collusion of government bureaucrats.
Organic farmers must take particular care because the biopharm crops
tend to be grown in preferred areas of organic production to avoid
contaminating the commercial transgenic food crops.All farmers should
demand full disclosure of the areas where biopharm crops are grown.
An article from Agbioview
Biopharming Is Safely Regulated
- Capital Times (Madison, WI), December 28, 2002
Dear Editor: There can be no quarrel with Associate Editor John Nichols'
conclusion in his Dec. 17 column that plants genetically engineered to
produce medicines should not be allowed to contaminate food crops.
However, I disagree with Nichols' assertion that the U.S. Department of
Agriculture is "asleep at the switch" when it comes to protecting the
integrity of the nation's food supply.
Nichols wrote about ProdiGene Inc., a Texas firm that was fined $250,000
by the USDA for violating the federal Plant Protection Act. The USDA is
also requiring the firm to reimburse taxpayers for the roughly $3 million
it will cost to acquire and dispose of 500,000 bushels of Nebraska
soybeans. The company must also post a $1 million bond. That doesn't sound
like a government tap on the wrist. It's more like a deserved whack with a
Industry groups such as the Biotechnology Industry Organization agree
there should be "zero tolerance" of regulatory violations that threaten
public confidence in the nation's food supply. That is why the USDA and
other agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration, rigorously
enforce such laws.
The ProdiGene incident should not overshadow the value of the emerging
technology of "biopharming." Plant-made pharmaceuticals can make important
contributions to human health, including the production of proteins for
new drugs to treat and fight life-threatening diseases. By using living
plants instead of traditional manufacturing methods, scientists can
increase the safety, number and quantity of drugs available to patients.
Biopharming is taking place, safely and with little risk to adjoining
fields, in hundreds of carefully monitored test plots nationwide. Given
the choice, I would much rather accept the incredibly minimal risks
associated with biopharming than pass up an enormous opportunity to
produce breakthrough drugs that could help millions of people.