Is Your Rice Contaminated With Human Genes?
March 24, 2007
The first GM food crop containing human genes will likely be approved for commercial production shortly. It is a strain of rice that produces some of the human proteins found in breast milk and saliva, which manufacturer Ventria Biosciences believes could be used to treat children with diarrhea.
Ventria has already been given preliminary approval to grow the rice on more than 3,000 acres in Kansas.
Until now, pharmaceutical plants with human-origin genes, which present possible health risks if they become mixed with regular food crops, have been restricted to small test plots.
Many are particularly worried about its use in light of the recent discovery of unapproved genetically engineered traits in the supposedly conventional rice Clearfield CL131. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has told farmers to avoid planting this common variety of rice.
The discovery is of particular concern because the CL131 seeds appear to have taken on the GM traits themselves, rather than having GM seeds from other strains accidentally mixed into the batch.Twenty-two suppliers were sent emergency action notices in an attempt to block planting and distribution of the seed. Planting generally begins in mid to late March, and some farmers may have to plow under just-planted fields. Clearfield CL131 accounts for more than 16 percent of the United States' long-grain rice.