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[SANET-MG] promoting pharm crops in spite its threats
The article below is another dealing with the field tests of humanized
rice. The public relations used to promote the humanized rice maintains
the human genes will not spread. Earlier (see below after the article )
I provided publications showing that rice transgenes spread to the weed
red rice (common I understand in the south) and to non-GM rice.. Once
the transgene moves to the wed they will move back to the food crop. It
is folly to promote that disaster. Corporations and government
bureaucrats continue to act to promote actions that endanger the public
and as well most farmers.This may be related to USDA's involvement in
the patenting and production of gm crops along with its passivity in
Biotech firm bucks GM trend, stirring controversy
17:04 19 May 2006
NewScientist.com news service
Pharma crop trial permits peaked in the US in 2001, but are now making a
post-slump recovery (Data compiled by Bill Freese, Friends of the Earth)
Industry groups and environmental organisations have placed heavy
pressure on biotech companies to move away from producing medicinal
proteins through the genetic engineering of staple food plants. But
while some companies have switched to non-staple crops like tobacco and
safflower, Ventria Bioscience, based in Sacramento, California, US, is
ploughing ahead with rice.
Ventria’s GM rice stirred much controversy in the US this week. “Nobody
wants this stuff near food crops,” says Bob Papanos of the US Rice
Producers Association in Houston, Texas.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has already granted a permit to
Ventria to expand its operation to involve 335 acres this year.
Typically such companies do not use all of the acreage they are granted
permission to farm. Ventria only used a fraction of its allocation in
2004, but this proportion is on the increase, experts say.
Watchdog groups and environmentalists fear there is a small chance the
proteins genetically engineered into the company’s rice – which aim to
treat diarrhoea in infants – could accidentally get incorporated into
rice grown for human consumption.
Ventria’s rice contains genes modelled on the human proteins lactoferrin
and lysozyme, which are found in mother’s milk.
Scott Deeter, chief executive of Ventria, says that the possibility the
engineered rice could contaminate other harvests is extremely remote
because the crop is grown in North Carolina, far away from other rice
“Obviously one of our goals here is to take biotechnology to the global
community, so it has to be affordable,” says Deeter, adding that rice is
an ideal plant suited to this purpose. And while Papnos argues that
medicinal proteins should not be churned out by rice, he acknowledges
that the plant is “a perfect factory” for making them.
But others disagree. “Our position is that they don’t need to put these
into food crops,” says Doreen Stabinsky, a science adviser for
conservationists Greenpeace USA. The organisation advocates that
companies try genetically manipulating organisms such as yeast, which
can be easily confined to the laboratory.
“We know that accidents happen. They’ve happened already,” she adds,
referring to a 2002 announcement by the USDA and US Food and Drug
Administration that genetically modified corn from the ProdiGene company
– designed to grow enzymes for medicinal and industrial use – was
discovered growing in two soybean plots in the states of Iowa and Nebraska.
“If you look at the number of field tests [for genetically modified
crops] before and after that incident, it radically decreased,”
A report from the environmental group Friends of the Earth reported that
19 permits were issued by the US government in 2001 for outdoor field
trials of crops genetically engineered to produce industrial or
The next year only half as many permits were granted, and the number
dropped to as few as six in 2003. The number of permits is still below
its peak – regulators issued 11 in 2005.
The report also says that plants genetically modified for industrial or
medicinal purposes represent roughly 1.5% of overall US field trials for
transgenic crops. And the numbers also reveal a decline in efforts to
plant engineered staple food crops. Permits to grow corn altered for
pharmaceutical purposes, for example, fell from 13 in 2001 to one in 2005.
My earlier comments:
I wish to comment on the Ventria quote "What's more, rice is
"self-pollinating," and it's virtually impossible for genetically
engineered rice to accidentally cross breed with conventional crops."
the abstract below shows that rice pollen flows for a substantial
distance. It even cross pollinates with weeds such as red rice over a
substantial distance. North Carolina rice farmers must be aware of such
pollen flow and to have a strange death wish for their farms.
Pharm crop testing has been conducted in a secretive way where neither
tests sites nor the nature of the pharmaceutical being tested is
revealed to the public including neighbors of the sites and bystanders.
It is known that very toxic pharmaceutical proteins such as the
monoclonal antibodies are being tested and there has been no demand
other than mine and a few others to fully disclose the location and
nature of such test sites. Politicians are very slow to recognize the
concern over such testing and they must be made to recognize and act on
the problem. Certainly we cannot go on with such open field tests based
solely on the assurances provided by corporate public relations people.
Biodiversity and Conservation
Publisher: Springer Netherlands
ISSN: 0960-3115 (Paper) 1572-9710
Issue: Volume 13, Number 3
Date: March 2004
Pages: 579 - 590
Pollen flow of cultivated rice measured under experimental conditions
Zhiping Song1, Bao-Rong Lu1 and Jiakuan Chen1 Contact Information
(1) Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Biodiversity Science and
Ecological Engineering, Institute of Biodiversity Science, Fudan
University, Shanghai, 200433, China
Abstract The pollen flow pattern of a cultivated rice variety,
Minghui-63, was studied at horizontal and vertical levels under
experimental conditions. Data obtained from pollen traps for six
designed populations (as pollen sources) at different intervals showed
that the dispersal of rice pollen decreased with the increase of
distance from pollen sources and that the rice pollen flow was
significantly influenced by weather conditions, particularly by wind
direction and speed. For a mean wind speed of 2.52 m/s in a downwind
direction, the observed distance of rice pollen dispersal was 38.4 m,
indicating that rice pollen grains normally disperse at a relatively
small range. However, the maximum distance of rice pollen flow could be
up to 110 m, using regression analysis of pollen flow and wind speed,
when the wind speed reached 10 m/s in this study. The frequency of
pollen flow was positively correlated with pollen source size within a
given range, suggesting that pollen flow will occur effectively at a
considerable rate in rice fields with sufficiently large pollen sources.
In addition, many more pollen grains were detected at the height of
1.0–1.5 m than at 2.0 m, indicating that rice pollen mainly disperses at
relatively low heights. Results from this study are useful both for
minimizing transgene escape from transgenic rice and in situ
conservation of wild relatives of rice, as well as for hybrid seed
production, where an effective isolation buffer zone needs to be
Volume 157 Page 657 - March 2003
Volume 157 Issue 3
Gene flow from cultivated rice to the wild species Oryza rufipogon under
experimental field conditions
Zhi Ping Song1,2, Bao-Rong Lu1, Ying Guo Zhu2 and Jia Kuan Chen1
Here, the gene flow from a cultivated rice variety (Minghui-63) to
common wild rice (Oryza rufipogon) was investigated to assess the
biosafety risk associated with the environmental release of transgenic
Four experimental designs differing in the spatial arrangement of the
Minghui-63 and O. rufipogon plants were used in experiments conducted in
an isolated rice field in Hunan Province, southern China, where O.
rufipogon occurs naturally.
Natural hybridization events between the two species were detected by
scoring a simple sequence repeat (SSR) molecular marker. A total of 296
hybrids were identified from 23 776 seedlings that were randomly
germinated from > 80 000 seeds collected from O. rufipogon. The
occurrence of the crop-to-wild gene flow was significantly associated
with wind direction and frequencies of the gene flow, which decreased
significantly with distance from the pollen sources. The maximum
observed distance of gene flow was 43.2 m.
The results indicated that gene flow from cultivated rice to O.
rufipogon occurred at a considerable rate. Therefore, isolation measures
should be considered when deploying transgenic rice in the sympatric
regions of the wild rice, and when establishing in situ conservation of
O. rufipogon. The experimental system in this study can be used for
biosafety assessment of transgene escape of other wind-pollinated crops.
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