E-mail this article to
yourself or a friend.
Enter address:


Pharmaceutical rice in the Golden State

(Sept. 6, 2001 – CropChoice news) – Greenpeace today exposed the location of rice, growing in open fields, that is genetically engineered to produce the human proteins lactoferrin and lysozyme meant for use in drugs. In other words, it’s pharmaceutical rice in the Golden State.

Although the California Rice Commission and the Farmers’ Rice Cooperative recently adopted procedures to segregate transgenic from non-transgenic varieties, industry insiders doubt that purity can be guaranteed, given the various means of contamination, including airplane seeding and the milling process.

Applied Phytologics (AP), the biotech corporation responsible for the field trial, is developing gene-altered rice to produce a variety of different proteins for drug production. Lactoferrin and lysozyme, both human proteins, are two known compounds growing in the rice. However, according to permit application documents, AP is testing up to a dozen other GE pharm rice varieties in the same location. In Hawaii, the company has recently conducted field tests of gene-altered wheat and barley producing other human proteins.

While the industry is already conducting open-air trials of pharmaceutical rice, wheat, corn and barley, few regulations to protect public health and the environment are in place. Addtionally, no long-term studies have been done to assess the potential environmental damage these plants could cause. The USDA, which claims authority over field trials of GE crops, has virtually no requirements specific to pharmaceutical crops. State agencies also have failed to establish any regulations governing these plants.