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[SANET-MG] doctors oppose pharm crop testing
The Oregon doctors are making a wise move. In neighboring Washington
state WSU is doing production sized field tests of Barley modified with
human genes for pharmaceutical use. There has been no or very little
mention of such tests in the news media pointing out a major problem.
Secret tests being done because regulators allow that vandalism is a
problem. However, testers should be responsible for adequate security at
their sites. The residents of Washington state have no way of knowing
which drugs they are polluted with!
Friday, December 10, 2004
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An AIDS vaccine in a breakfast cereal?
It could happen. But a group of doctors and others don't want it
happening in Oregon — at least not yet.
They will ask the Legislature next month to impose a four-year
moratorium on biopharming, crops genetically altered to fight or prevent
The state chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility is concerned
that such crops would infiltrate the environment, exposing residents to
drugs they don't need.
Biopharming represents the latest twist on genetic modification in
agriculture. Biotechnology companies already have produced corn
varieties containing a protein found in HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Their goal is to manufacture food products, such as breakfast cereals,
to orally deliver an AIDS vaccine.
Various transgenic seed projects under development and expected to be
available commercially in the next few years include producing a topical
gel that prevents the spread of herpes simplex virus and oral vaccines
against hepatitis B and coli.
Rick North, project director of the nonprofit group's Campaign for Safe
Food, said biopharming threatens to expose the public to microscopic
levels of medicines drifting through the air.
"I want to take a drug when I have a need for it," he said. "I don't
want to be exposed to it without knowledge of what it does and what its
side effects are."
Oregon currently has no biopharmaceutical crops permitted for
cultivation. But North said the physicians group, which numbers about
850 and includes nondoctors, wants to ensure that state residents don't
risk allergic reaction from pharmaceuticals if conventional crops become
contaminated by modified genes in the future.
A coalition of farming, forest and chemical-company interests will
oppose the bill. Salem-based Oregonians for Food and Shelter helped
raise $5.5 million in 2002 to defeat a state measure that would have
required the labeling of genetically modified food products.
Terry Witt, Oregonians for Food and Shelter's executive director, said
the bill proposed by the physicians group is overly broad and would bar
Oregon from research opportunities.
"I don't think the biopharming arena will ever amount to a real windfall
for Oregon farmers, but the major concern I have here is banning the
technology without ever considering the details of what might be
proposed," he said.
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