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The Unethical Biopharming of America

Last year, I warned you about Ventria Bioscience, a tiny California company chased out of two American states for trying to grow transgenic rice containing human genes to make drugs. And many remain concerned about Ventria's practice of biopharming, blending human genetic material into crops to produce proteins used in drugs to fight diarrhea, one of the leading killers of children in developing countries.

Unfortunately, Ventria was granted clearance in March from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to expand its operations to some 335 acres near Greenville, N.C. Coincidently, one "neighbor" of the Ventria farm was a USDA test site for new breeds of rice. That is, until the agency moved its testing facility to Maryland.

That's not all folks: Ventria has petitioned the FDA for approval of its protein powder used to fight diarrhea, not as a drug but a medical food, no doubt to skirt extensive human testing. And, despite growing opposition, the company has a long-range plan of adding its unnatural protein product to baby formula, although food manufacturers aren't interested.

The company claims it's virtually impossible for its genetically modified (GM) rice, when mixed with conventional crops, to create a deadly product. Nevertheless, it's a certainty that they will mix at some point and, when that happens, who really knows how these Frankenstein-like crop combinations will affect your health.

Unfortunately, you've probably eaten GM foods, because there's no labeling policy forcing manufacturers to do so in America. However, there are steps you can take to protect your health:

  • Review produce stickers and food labels carefully.
  • Reduce or eliminate processed foods.
  • Use organic produce.

Yahoo News May 14, 2006

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