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[SANET-MG] human genes in your food
The article below is a useful general description of the general problem
with pharm crops. The point about people being informed is a worthwhile
piece of advise, but contra productive unless the state government acts
to insure that the test sites are revealed to bystanders and neighbors.
Washington State University already undertook secretive large field
tests of barley with human genes but those field tests were recently
By the way, crops with human insulin genes are very unwise because too
much insulin can induce insulin shock which leads to convulsions even
death. Such a product would effect browsing cattle, deer, elk, etc.
SemBioSys of Calgary tried producing the anticagulent drug Hirudin in
canola which was field tested in Canada. Such open field test are very
nutty in my opinion because the drug can produce internal bleeding in
browsers or humans who consume the product. One the human genes are
fixed in a population they will establish Hardy Weinberg equilibrium and
thus persist in the canola crop.
Safflower is a highly branched, herbaceous, thistle-like annual, usually
with many long sharp spines on the leaves. Canada is promoting saflower
for use in pharm crops even though the oil crop is widely marketed.
People in western Washington should keep an eye out for safflower
plots because such plots may contain plants with human genes which can
I graduated 1955 in Horticulture at WSU (then called WSC) and think that
the land grant university should not be engaged in secretive filed
tests that impact on the brewery crops. Washington State is a world
producer of hops for the brewery and that crop should not be subjected
to association with pharm crops, unless of course there is a world
demand for humanized beer. I think WSU should own up to and publicly
acknowledge the large field trials of humanized barley! People in
Washington State should not be passive and submissive about secret
field tests of humanized crops.
Published on Friday, February 24, 2006 by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Are There Human Genes in Your Food?
by Trudy Bialic
Ask the people around you if they want experimental drugs and industrial
chemicals in their food or beer -- without their knowledge or consent.
Chances are they'll say no. Then tell them experiments that could make
that happen are occurring right here in Washington state.
As you read this, a professor at Washington State University and a
private Canadian company, SemBioSys, have applied for permits to turn
two common food crops -- barley and safflower -- into virtual factories
for synthetic drugs or chemicals.
On its Web site, SemBioSys declares its plan to inject safflower with
human genes to produce experimental insulin and a drug for heart attacks
and strokes. WSU confirms that it plans to grow barley, injected with
human genes, to produce artificial proteins with pharmaceutical
properties. Where these fields will be is secret; nearby farmers and
residents won't be notified.
Proponents say that injecting human genes into plants (or animals) will
provide cheaper drugs -- someday. But this so-called "biopharming" has
met with considerable opposition.
In California and Missouri, farmers protested and effectively stopped
outdoor cultivation of "pharma rice," concerned that the drug-plants
would contaminate their food-grade crops and make them unmarketable.
Food companies such as Anheuser-Busch and Kraft Foods, as well as the
Grocery Manufacturers of America and the Food Products Association,
concur. The risks are more than hypothetical. Several cases of
cross-contamination from GE crops have cost farmers and the food
industry more than a billion dollars in recalls and lost export markets.
The National Academy of Sciences, a nongovernmental body of scientists
and professionals, has warned in two reports that it's virtually
impossible to keep biopharms out of the food supply if food crops are
used to grow them. Insects, birds, animals, wind, storms, trucks, trains
and human error see to that.
Pharma crops are supposed to be rigorously regulated. But the Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) does not review biopharmaceutical crops before
planting, even though many of them have toxic or anti-nutritional
effects on human health or the environment.
A recent audit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Inspector General
found the USDA failed to inspect field trial sites as promised and
didn't even know where some experiments were planted. The Inspector
General also found that USDA didn't follow up to find out what happened
to the biopharm harvests. Two tons of a drug-laden crop was stored for
more than a year at two sites without USDA's knowledge or inspection.
What's the risk of cross-contamination from these experiments? State
legislators at least should order a thorough risk assessment and allow
Washington's Barley Commission is aware that WSU is biopharming barley
and is strongly opposed. Administrator Mary Sullivan says, "Once those
genetically altered genes are out there, there'll be GMOs in the beer."
No one's opposed to less expensive and effective drugs, but biopharming
in food crops in open fields is a bad financial risk. Several leading
biopharm companies have gone bankrupt. When Large Scale Biology went
bankrupt -- it was the first to conduct a field trial in 1991 -- even
biotech movers and shakers contemplated the demise of the biopharming
Agriculture and the food industry are the largest employers and the
greatest source of revenue in Washington state -- more than Microsoft
and Boeing combined. WSU and SemBioSys should not be mixing drugs and
food. They should cancel these risky experiments immediately.
If they want to produce plant-based drugs, they should follow the lead
of Dow AgroScience, which just announced approval of a vaccine for
chickens produced by tobacco cell cultures in a contained steel tank.
Cell cultures are a proven way to generate pharmaceuticals under
controlled laboratory conditions -- without the risk of untested drugs
in our food.
Trudy Bialic is editor of Sound Consumer, a publication of PCC Natural
Markets, the largest consumer-owned natural food retailer in the United
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