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GM "pharmaceuticals" maize contaminates soya

Old MacDonald at the Pharm | 15.11.2002 20:23 | Education

Crops have been destroyed in the US after soya contaminated by genetically modified (GM) maize plants used to produce a pharmaceutical or industrial chemical was discovered in a US grain elevator.

Press Release
For immediate release: Friday 15th November

GM "pharmaceutical" maize contaminates soya

Crops worth millions of dollars have been destroyed in the US after soya contaminated by genetically modified (GM) maize plants used to produce a pharmaceutical or industrial chemical was discovered in a US grain elevator [1]. Friends of the Earth is seeking urgent reassurance from the European Commission that food in Europe has not been contaminated.

Half a million bushels of soya, worth about $2.7 million, was discovered with GM contamination in Nebraska. The incident is believed to have occurred because the soya was planted on the same site used to grow GM "pharmaceutical" maize by biotech firm ProdiGene the previous year. Seeds dropped by the maize grew this year and contaminated the new crop. US authorities have not disclosed details of the mysterious GM "pharmaceutical", but have revealed ProdiGene was involved in a similar incident in Iowa in September. ProdiGene, carries out a range of outdoor tests on crops containing pharmaceuticals and industrial products in at least 96 locations in the US.

Friends of the Earth's GM campaigner Adrian Bebb said:
"This was an accident waiting to happen. If you grow GM crops outdoors then they will eventually contaminate the rest of the food chain. The US authorities have now had to intervene twice to prevent these unlicensed genes entering the food chain. But how many incidents have they missed? We are seeking urgent assurances that food imported into
Europe has not been contaminated.

"Once again the dangers of allowing GM crops to be commercially grown have been highlighted. The UK Government must take note, and refuse to allow them to be commercially grown in the UK".

Friends of the Earth, as part of a wider US coalition, warned the US Government earlier this year of the risk of contamination. The coalition is now filing a legal petition demanding an immediate halt to the outdoor growing of "pharmaceutical" GM crops.

Research into the company involved, Prodigene, reveals that the contamination could come from one of the following :
. Aids vaccine gp120 -- a glycoprotein
. Blood-clotting agent -- Aprotinin
. Trypsin - Digestive enzyme that can be used in leather tanning or to produce insulin.
. Industrial adhesive Laccase -- an enzyme derived from a fungus

Other "pharmaceutical" GM crops reportedly grown by ProdiGene include experimental oral vaccines for hepatitis B and for a pig disease, transmissible gastroenteritis. According to USDA records ProdiGene has received 85 test permits for experimental open-air trials of "pharmaceutical" GM crops and chemical crops for planting in at least 96 locations.

Friends of the Earth's GM Campaigner Adrian Bebb continued:
"Once you start genetically engineering drugs and chemicals into crop plants you are opening Pandora's box. The consequences could be catastrophic."

[1] The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Tuesday Nov. 12 that it quarantined over $2.7 million worth of soya beans (500,000 bushels) destined for human consumption at a Nebraska grain elevator after finding parts of ProdiGene's GM maize mixed with the soya beans.
They later ordered their destruction.


Adrian Bebb 07712 843 211 (m)
Larry Bohlen, FOE US +1 202 783 7400 extension 102

Old MacDonald at the Pharm


Display the following 4 comments

  1. gifts of science — brian
  2. surprising — greenfarmer
  3. marxist hell — anti_marx
  4. update — farmer