GM WATCH http://www.gmwatch.org — —
1.USDA Backs Production of Rice With Human Genes
2.GM Rice: Second US contamination incident revealed
3.Flavonoid-rich GM rice – Italian/Indian study EXTRACT from Washington Post article: Also on Wednesday, the agency revealed that a type of rice seed in Arkansas had become contaminated with a different variety of genetically engineered rice, LL62, that was never released for marketing.
The error was discovered in the course of an ongoing investigation into the widespread contamination of U.S. rice by yet another gene-altered variety, LL601, which has seriously disrupted rice exports. Those problems, along with the previous discovery of unapproved, gene-altered StarLink corn in food and the accidental release of crops that had been engineered to make a vaccine for pig diarrhea, undermine the USDA’s credibility, critics said. (item 1) — —
1.USDA Backs Production of Rice With Human Genes By Rick Weiss Washington Post Staff Writer Washington Post, March 2 2007 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/01/AR2007030101495_ pf.html The Agriculture Department has given a preliminary green light for the first commercial production of a food crop engineered to contain human genes, reigniting fears that biomedically potent substances in high-tech plants could escape and turn up in other foods. The plan, confirmed yesterday by the California biotechnology company leading the effort, calls for large-scale cultivation i n Kansas of rice that produces human immune system proteins in its seeds. The proteins are to be extracted for use as an anti-diarrhea medicine and might be added to health foods such as yogurt and granola bars. “We can really help children with diarrhea get better faster. That is the idea,” said Scott E. Deeter, president and chief executive of Sacramento-based Ventria Bioscience, emphasizing that a host of protections should keep the engineered plants and their seeds from escaping into surrounding fields. But critics are assailing the effort, saying gene-altered plants inevitably migrate out of their home plots.
In this case, they said, that could result in pharmacologically active proteins showing up in the food of unsuspecting consumers. Although the proteins are not inherently dangerous, there would be little control over the doses people might get exposed to, and some might be allergic to the proteins, said Jane Rissler of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a science policy advocacy group. “This is not a product that everyone would want to consume,” Rissler said, adding that other companies grow such plants indoors or in vats. “It is unwise to produce drugs in plants outdoors.”
Consumer advocacy groups, including Consumers Union and the Washington-based Center for Food Safety, have also opposed Ventria’s plans. “We definitely have big concerns,” said Joseph Mendelson, the center’s legal director. Ventria has developed three varieties of rice, each endowed with a different human gene that makes the plants produce one of three human proteins.
Two of them — lactoferrin and lysozyme — are bacteria-fighting compounds found in breast milk and saliva. A recent company-sponsored study done in Peru concluded that children with severe diarrhea recovered a day and a half faster if the salty fluids they were prescribed were spiked with the proteins. Deeter said production in plants is far cheaper than other methods, which should help make the therapy affordable in the developing world, where severe diarrhea kills 2 million children each year. “Plants are phenomenal factories,” Deeter said. “Our raw materials are the sun, soil and water.”
The company is also talking to the Food and Drug Administration about putting the proteins into health foods. Its third variety of rice makes serum albumin, a blood protein used in medical therapies. Until now, plants with human genes have been restricted to small test plots.
In October, Ventria sought permission to grow its rice commercially on as many as 3,200 acres in Geary County, Kan., starting with 450 acres this spring. A previous plan to grow the rice in southern Missouri was dropped when beermaker Anheuser-Busch — the nation’s largest rice buyer, which has expressed concern about the safety and consumer acceptance of gene-altered rice — threatened to stop buying rice from the states if the deal went through. Because no other rice is grown in Kansas and because rice can only grow in flooded areas, the risk of escape or cross-fertilization with other rice plants is nil there, Deeter said.
The company will mill virtually all the seeds on site — using dedicated equipment — to minimize the risk of seeds getting mistakenly released or sold. On Wednesday, the Agriculture Department published its draft environmental assessment, which concluded that the project posed no undue risks. The public can comment until March 30.
Also on Wednesday, the agency revealed that a type of rice seed in Arkansas had become contaminated with a different variety of genetically engineered rice, LL62, that was never released for marketing. The error was discovered in the course of an ongoing investigation into the widesp read contamination of U.S. rice by yet another gene-altered variety, LL601, which has seriously disrupted rice exports. Those problems, along with the previous discovery of unapproved, gene-altered StarLink corn in food and the accidental release of crops that had been engineered to make a vaccine for pig diarrhea, undermine the USDA’s credibility, critics said. “USDA’s record is not good,” Rissler said, pointing to several recent court judgments against the department and a December 2005 inspector general report that savaged the department for its poor oversight of biotechnology. “We don’t think they can enforce even the inadequate system that is in place.” — —
2.GM Rice: Second US contamination incident revealed Press Release from GM Free Cymru, 4th March 2007
It has emerged that the GM rice contamination scandal which caused massive damage to US rice producers last year was not an isolated incident. Now a second incident has come to light — involving a different strain of GM rice and a different contamination history (1). Statements which have been slipped out quietly by the US regulatory authorities have confirmed that a widely-used rice variety called Clearfield 131 is contaminated with a Bayer GM rice variety called LL62.
In a major programme of testing, involving more than 500 samples, 20% of samples have been found to be contaminated with trace amounts of LL62, suggesting that the contamination incident may have occurred some years ago (probably in 2004) and was previously undetected because nobody bothered to do any GM testing.
Last year’s contamination incident, which led to financial damage amounting to millions of dollars in the southern states of the USA, and which has caused much of the world to block off the once-profitable market for American long-grain rice, involved the contamination of a rice variety called Cheniere with Bayer’s LL601 GM rice (2).
As a result of that incident, there are thirteen pending lawsuits against Bayer CropScience in America, and it is rumoured that there will be further lawsuits in Europe, where rice importers, millers and food retailers have all suffered from major disruption, damaged public confidence and financial loss.
In the United States there has been no formal announcement of this second contamination incident, and indeed there is a concerted campaign to keep it under wraps as part of a long-standing “damage limitation strategy.” However, there is turmoil in the rice industry, and rice growers are being forced to plant contaminated Clearfield 131 this year since Cheniere (which is very widely contaminated) cannot be planted for at least two years since the rice processors will not buy it.
If the farmers do not plant Clearfield 131, there will not be enough rice seed to go round (3). So the decision has been made in Arkansas to plant contaminated Clearfield 131 specifically for the American market, bearing in mind that the GM variety LL62 does have US authorisation for growing and marketing.
In Europe neither of the varieties responsible for the contamination — LL62 and LL601 — has any authorisation in place, and the new revelations will inevitably do further damage to the US rice industry. Commenting on the new revelations, GM Free Cymru spokesman Dr Brian John said: “It is now apparent that GM contamination of US rice supplies is endemic (4). Bayer, the US regulators, and the rice industry itself are all culpable. But hopefully some good will come out of this appalling situation, when farmers finally wake up to the fact that GM contamination (by out-crossing and other means) is impossible to control, and that the global market wants food that is clean and healthy, not genetically manipulated to increase s ales of chemicals and the profits of the biotechnology corporations.”
(1) APHIS Program Announcement
http://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/biotechnology/content/printable_version/ia_ge_rice.pdf Biotechnology Regulatory Services February 2007: Independent testing by the Arkansas Rice Board in January indicated the presence of genetically engineered (GE) material in non-GE Clearfield 131 (CL131) rice. As a result, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service conducted its own CL131 testing, which detected trace levels of LLRICE62 in CL131 2004 headrow seed. LLRICE62 is a line of GE rice developed by Bayer Crop Science… The positive sample was pulled from 2004 headrow seed–an early step in the plant breeding process–and not from foundation seed.
NOTE: this “positive sample” has now been supplemented by many ot hers. In Arkansas alone, 21 samples of Clearfield 131 have tested positive for LL62 contamination.
(2) http://www.guardian.co.uk/gmdebate/Story/0,,1884523,00.html http://www.gmfreecymru.org/news/Press_Notice12Sept2006.htm http://www.gmfreecymru.org/news/Press_Notice18Sept2006.htm http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=6973 http://www.saveourseeds.org/en/frame.php?page=../dossier/fact_sheet_bayer_LLRICE 601
(3) http://deltafarmpress.com/news/070301-cl131-session/ Arkansas’ third most popular variety in 2006, CL 131 was planted on 500,000 acres, and there remains an undeniable demand for the variety. With certified seed stocks already in the shortest supply in years, “any loss of CL 131 will make for a very short certified seed supply,” warned Randy Woodard, speaking for the seed industry. “CL 131 and Cheniere represent 39 percent of the certified rice seed acres in the South. If we were to lose CL 131, it would cut o ur seed supply to 36,000 acres.”
(4) The contamination of Clearfield 131 by LL62 is particularly worrying from an environmental point of view, because Clearfield out-crosses very easily with red rice, which is a weed for the rice growers of the southern states of the USA. It has already been proved to pass herbicide tolerance to wild red rice — and it is now virtually inevitable that it will pass on tolerance to the herbicide Liberty (glufosinate ammonium) as well.
Flavonoid-rich GM rice to boost antioxidant levels? By Stephen Daniells [extract only] http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/news/ng.asp?n=74647-flavonoid-transgenic-ant ioxidant 3/2/2007 – Rice genetically modified to have high flavonoid content has a 22 per cent higher antioxidant activity than untransformed rice, says a joint German-Indian study. Sou rce: Metabolic Engineering Volume 9, Pages 95-111 “Novel transgenic rice overexpressing anthocyanidin synthase accumulates a mixture of flavonoids leading to an increased antioxidant potential” Authos: A.M. Reddy, V.S. Reddy, B.E. Scheffler, U. Wienand, A.R. Reddy