Since about 2006, Ventria has been quietly cultivating rice that has been genetically modified (GM) with genes from the human liver for the purpose of taking the artificial proteins produced by this “Frankenrice” and using them in pharmaceuticals. With approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Ventria has taken one of the most widely cultivated grain crops in the world today, and essentially turned it into a catalyst for producing new drugs.
Originally, the cultivation of this GM rice, which comes in three approved varieties (http://www.aphis.usda.gov/brs/biotech_ea_permits.html), was limited to the laboratory setting. But in 2007, Ventria decided to bring the rice outdoors. The company initially tried to plant the crops in Missouri, but met resistance from Anheuser-Busch and others, which threatened to boycott all rice from the state in the event that Ventria began planting its rice within state borders (http://todayyesterdayandtomorrow.wordpress.com).
So Ventria‘s GM rice eventually ended up in Kansas, where it is presumably still being grown for the purpose of manufacturing drugs on 3,200 acres in Junction City. And while this GM rice with added human traits has never been approved for human consumption, it is now being cultivated in open fields where the potential for unrestrained contamination and spread of its unwanted, dangerous GM traits is virtually a given.
“This is not a product that everyone would want to consume,” said Jane Rissler from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) to the Washington Post back in 2007. “It is unwise to produce drugs in plants outdoors.”
Though receiving tens of thousands of public comments of opposition, many rightly concerned about the spread of GM traits, the USDA approved open cultivation of Ventria‘s GM rice anyway. This, of course, occurred after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had refused approval for Ventria‘s GM rice back in 2003 (http://www.kansasruralcenter.org/publications/PharmaRice.pdf).
GM ‘pharmaceutical’ rice could cause more disease, suggests report
Besides the threat of contamination and wild spread, Ventria‘s GM rice, which is purportedly being grown to help third-world children overcome chronic diarrhea, may conversely cause other chronic diseases.
“These genetically engineered drugs could exacerbate certain infections, or cause dangerous allergic or immune system reactions,” said Bill Freese, Science Policy Analyst at the Center for Food Safety (CFS), who published a report back in 2007 about the dangers of Ventria‘s GM rice.
You can view that report here: