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


Colorado biopharm briefing

(Sunday, May 11, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- From a media advisory.

What: News Media Briefing on Biopharmaceutical Applications in Colorado
When: Monday, May 12, 10:30am,
Where: On sidewalk below west-facing stairs of Capitol, Broadway, Denver
Contacts: Rocky Mountain Farmers Union - Jennifer Kemp 303-283-3540
Western Colorado Congress - Peter Crowell 970-252-9606
Bill Patterson 970-249-1978
Sierra Club - Gillian Dale 303-561-1201

Farm organizations and other concerned groups in Colorado have called on Gov. Bill Owens to declare an immediate moratorium on the introduction of biopharmaceutical crops (conventional food crops spliced with pharmaceutical producing substances, such as hormones and proteins) into the state until a public process is established to evaluate their risks and they are proven safe. The groups are hosting a news briefing on May 12th to report on the Governor's response to their request. The group will also discuss their concerns with the May 7th application by Meristem Therapeutics to plant biopharmaceutical corn in Phillips County this year.

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union's position on biopharmaceutical technology is that while it may benefit a few producers economically, we would strongly urge that all aspects of its impacts, including, economic, health, and ecological, be thoroughly examined and proven safe prior to it being approved," said RMFU Legislative Director Jennifer Kemp. "There should also be ample opportunity for public comment and discussion on this issue, which we have not seen to date."

The groups have called on Owens and state regulators to address standard operating procedures for comprehensive treatment of biological and physical containment, production and processing system segregation, identity preservation, monitoring and auditing during field tests and commercialization, waste management and disposal, accident detection, response and reclamation.

Concerns have arisen due to past problems with the technology. Last year, 500,000 bushels of soybeans were condemned and 150 acres of cropland quarantined due to land damage in tests conducted in Iowa by ProdiGene. When ProdiGene could not pay its $3 million fine for the damage, the U.S. government loaned it the money to do so. ProdiGene, along with French biopharm company Meristem Therapeutics, are the two corporations requesting to grow biopharm crops in Colorado this year.

"Contamination by biopharm crops could threaten Colorado's image as a place where safe, wholesome food is grown. A moratorium is crucial until we are sure these crops are safe and can be segregated," said Peter Crowell, a spokeperson for Western Colorado Congress. "We are worried that the Department (of Agriculture) may approve Meristem's application before there is a proper review procedure in place, one that allows the public adequate time and information to comment."

Groups and individuals supporting the moratorium (as of this date) include:

  • American Corn Growers Association, Washington, D.C.
  • American Honey Producers
  • Borden Farms, Delta, CO
  • Boulder County Beekeepers Association, Niwot, CO
  • Boulder Fruit Express, Boulder, CO
  • Circle A Garden, Montrose, CO
  • Colorado Organic Producers Association, Hesperus, CO
  • Colorado Environmental Coalition
  • Colorado Genetic Engineering Action Network, Broomfield, CO
  • El Sagrado Farms, Karen and Colin Henderson, La Jara, CO
  • Environment Colorado
  • Farmers of the C and M, Inc., Montrose, CO
  • Fox Den Farm, Olathe, CO
  • Gabacho Farm, Dan Hobbs, Avondale, CO
  • Golden Prairie, Inc., Nunn, CO
  • Grant Family Farms, Wellington, CO
  • Left Hand Grange #9, Niwot, CO
  • Natural Law Party of Colorado, Broomfield, CO
  • New Hope Natural Media, Boulder, CO
  • Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Greenwood Village, CO
  • Sierra Club, Rocky Mountain Chapter, Denver, CO
  • Straw Hat Farm, Montrose, CO
  • Tres Ríos Agricultrual Cooperative, Inc., Pueblo, CO
  • Valley Organic Growers Association, Paonia, CO
  • Vitamin Cottage Natural Food Markets, Inc.
  • Western Colorado Congress, Montrose, CO
  • Concerned Citizens Resource Association, Mesa County, CO
  • Sheep Mountain Alliance, San Miguel County, CO
  • Uncompahgre Valley Association, Montrose County, CO
  • Western Slope Environmental Resource Council, Delta County, CO