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tougher regulations on gene flow from pharm crops to food crops
The regulations below really do not do very much to deal with the problem of
gene flow from pharm crops to food crops. It would be much better to restrict
production to controlled greenhouse facilities that steam sterilize all the
soil from the production.
In Canada the extensive pharm crop production and testing and spread to food
crops has been ignored by the government. That is largely do to government
control of the news media. Recently I complained of the false and misleading
reports on this subject by CBC but the government propaganda agency has
simply "stonewalled" the complaint. However, the governments efforts to
transfer pharm crop production to third world countries where there is little
control and disclosure seems to have been amplified.
Nature 422, 103 (2003); doi:10.1038/422103b
Tougher rules aim to prevent gene flow into crops
US biotechnology companies will be allowed to grow genetically modified corn to
produce pharmaceuticals provided that it is grown at least a mile away from
food crops and is carefully monitored by government inspectors.
Tighter regulations for trials of 'pharma crops' were announced on 6 March by
the US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
(APHIS). Last year, food corn and soy beans in Iowa and Nebraska had to be
destroyed after possible contamination by corn that was being grown by
ProdiGene of College Station, Texas, to produce a pig vaccine.
As well as doubling the required safety distance from food crops, the rules
require dedicated machinery, extra training for planters, and up to five annual
visits to each site by inspectors.
Some biotech companies have advocated excluding pharma crops from the corn belt
in the American Midwest to prevent any possible public backlash. There are no
plans for this, but the new regulations could have a similar effect, says
Rebecca Bech, director for biotechnology and regulatory services at APHIS. The
safety zones should keep most trials out of the corn belt, she notes.
Biotech companies hope the regulations will help to build public
confidence. "They are based on science and we support them strongly," says
Debra Robertson, director of intellectual property at Epicyte, a pharma company
in San Diego, which is developing corn to counteract the herpesvirus.
"Strong confinement conditions are only half of the battle," counters Gregory
Jaffe, director of the biotechnology project at the Center for Science in the
Public Interest in Washington DC. "You need to increase oversight and make the
Both allies and critics are concerned that many of APHIS's 2,600 inspectors
have been moved to the new Department of Homeland Security. "We've been assured
that when the time comes the inspectors will be made available," says Bech.