The Unethical Biopharming of America
June 03, 2006
The company Ventria Bioscience has provoked controversy by growing an experimental diarrhea drug in rice genetically engineered with a human gene. Environmental groups, food corporations, and farmers have managed to keep Ventria's rice farms out of California and Missouri, and they continue to allege that Ventria is recklessly using untested technology.
Will it Mix With Food Crops?
Ventria's rice, now grown in North Carolina, produces two proteins found in human milk, saliva and tears, which could help reduce the severity of diarrhea attacks. Diarrhea is a leading killer of children in developing countries. But many fear that Ventria's experimental crops will intermix with food crops, rendering them unsafe to eat.
Natural Bananas DisappearingAt the same time as companies throughout the world are bioengineering new crops, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization warns that natural wild banana species could soon become extinct. Without wild bananas for hybridization, the world banana crop, threatened by disease, could very well collapse.