- BRUSSELS -- US Authoritites
unwilling as of today to report which Genetically Modified Pharmaceutical
maize was found in the food chain
- The United States food chain has been contaminated by
Genetically Modified (GM) maize plants used to produce a pharmaceutical
or industrial chemical but US authorities are unwilling as of today to
disclose what the mysterious GM Pharmaceutical maize is that was found
for the first time among food crops in two US States (Iowa and Nebraska).
- Friends of the Earth is seeking urgent reassurance from
the European Commission that food in Europe has not been contaminated.
The company that produced the maize, Prodigene, carries out a range of
outdoor tests on crops containing pharmaceuticals and industrial products
in at least 96 locations in the US.
- The ProdiGene incidents reportedly frustrated the US
food industry, which stated on Thursday Nov. 14 that biotech companies
need to change which crops they have chosen to make drugs and industrial
- This was an accident waiting to happen. If you grow GM
crops outdoors then they will eventually contaminate the rest of the food
chain. We are seeking urgent reassurances that food imported into Europe
has not been contaminated, said Adrian Bebb, GM Campaigner at Friends of
- The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on
Tuesday Nov. 12 that it quarantined over $2.7 million worth of soya beans
(500,000 tonnes) 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.
- USDA authorities, who refuse to reveal the chemical or
drug genetically engineered in the GM maize, also claim that a similar
incident happened last year involving the same company. The soya crop was
planted and harvested on the same site where a GM pharmaceutical maize
was grown on the previous year. Seeds dropped by the maize grew this year
and contaminated the soya crop.
- Friends of the Earth, as part of a wider US coalition,
warned the US Government earlier this year that this could happen. 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 be 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
- 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.
- Once you start genetically engineering drugs and chemicals
into crop plants then you really are opening Pandoraâs box. The consequences
could be catastrophic, said Adrian Bebb of GM Campaigner at Friends of
the Earth. mpty body