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Care for some drugs in your cereal?

Discussion in 'Seasoned Marijuana Users' started by Bud Head, Nov 18, 2002.

  1. Care for some drugs in your cereal?

    Crop mix-up angers food industry, environmentalists
    Grocery shoppers can now find ingredients listed on panels, but the food industry is worried about the future after a biotechnology company allowed experimental corn to get mixed into food crops.


    Nov. 15 — How’s the idea of diabetes or diarrhea medicine in your cereal sound? That’s the scenario painted by critics of a biotechnology company that mistakenly allowed its corn, which was genetically altered to help produce pharmaceuticals, to contaminate regular grain crops. The U.S. government is now investigating the company, and the food industry has joined environmentalists on this one, demanding stronger policing if not a move away from producing medicines with crops that are also used for food.

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    How should pharmcrops be handled?

    Remove them now, either voluntarily or by force
    Have USDA impose much stronger regulations
    Let industry work it out

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    How should pharmcrops be handled?
    * 9401 responses
    Remove them now, either voluntarily or by force
    Have USDA impose much stronger regulations
    Let industry work it out

    Survey results tallied every 60 seconds. Live Votes reflect respondents' views and are not scientifically valid surveys.

    THE U.S. DEPARTMENT of Agriculture on Thursday said ProdiGene Inc. — a small company based in College Station, Texas — might have broken laws when it failed to completely remove its gene-altered corn from fields in Iowa and Nebraska before growing soybeans.
    Inspectors had earlier found stray corn plants growing in the soybean fields and the USDA in September ordered the company to burn the contaminated Iowa crop. It told ProdiGene on Wednesday to destroy the Nebraska crop, which has been quarantined at an elevator in Aurora, Neb.
    ProdiGene CEO Anthony Laos has said the Iowa incident was resolved. He also said the corn at issue contained DNA of a protein that wasn’t toxic and is used to treat “persistent digestive health conditions.”
    The USDA on Thursday suggested fines could be forthcoming. Under the law, the government can order a violator to pay a fine that is twice the value of the damaged crops, or up to $500,000 for each case. The Nebraska crop is valued at $2.7 million. The USDA did not have a value for the Iowa crop.

    The incident reveals a new facet to a long-standing criticism by environmentalists that crops genetically altered to grow faster or healthier could create health concerns. Unlike other gene-altered crops, the ProdiGene corn was not meant for consumption but as a way to produce ingredients for pharmaceuticals. Activists refer to it as a biopharm, or pharm crop.

    “If the USDA continues to allow biopharm food crops to be planted, someone is going to get prescription drugs or industrial chemicals in their corn flakes,” Larry Bohlen, a Friends of the Earth staffer, said in a statement.
    And this time the largest food industry associations, which have no qualms about crops altered to grow faster or healthier, have joined the activists.
    “It is nothing short of alarming to know that ... the most basic preventive measures were not faithfully observed,” John Cady, head of the National Food Processors Association, said in a statement. “This apparent violation of rules intended to control the unauthorized spread of these substances very nearly placed the integrity of the food supply in jeopardy.”
    The Grocery Manufacturers of America agreed, and like the food processors urged biotech companies to use nonconsumption plants for testing, not corn or other food crops. “We strongly urge the biotech industry to direct its substantial research capabilities into investigating the use of nonfood crops for the development of pharmaceuticals,” said Karil Kochenderfer, the GMA’s environment director.

    The food industry as well as activists, who have long sought a ban on using food crops for drug testing, have directed their concerns to the USDA.

    Biotech foods

    MSNBC Interactive
    • Examples of gene-altered foods in the kitchen

    The food processors urged the USDA to adopt “mandatory regulatory oversight” on pharmaceutical crops.
    Mark Helm, a Friends of the Earth spokesman, said: “ProdiGene should certainly be punished for this reckless lapse, but let us not forget that the USDA has irresponsibly continued to allow drugs and industrial chemicals to be engineered into food crops.”
    Friends of the Earth, the U.S. Public Research Group and the National Environmental Trust on Wednesday sent Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman a letter demanding that the USDA disclose, among other things:
    The name of the genetically engineered drug or chemical used by ProdiGene.
    Details on how the contamination occurred.
    Information on potential human health impacts.
    ProdiGene’s application to experiment and its contingency plan.
    Records of the USDA inspections.
    “The public has the right to know what’s going on,” Matt Rand, a biotechnology staffer for the National Environmental Trust, said in a statement. “There is a genetically engineered pharmaceutical or industrial chemical that mistakenly entered into the grain supply only one stop away from getting into our food and the government isn’t talking.”

    The activists have counted more than 300 biotech field trials nationwide since 1991. They suspect some contamination of the food supply has happened, adding in a statement that “we have no way of knowing due to the extreme degree of secrecy surrounding the locations of biopharm field trials and the nature of the drugs and chemicals they are engineered to produce.”

    The case has dealt a blow to biotech companies, a dozen of which had agreed last month to not grow gene-altered crops for pharmaceutical development in areas that are a center of production for that crop.
    ProdiGene was among those companies that adopted the policy drafted by the Biotechnology Industry Organization.
    Dow Chemical and Monsanto are among other companies field testing pharmcrops.

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    Bo Miller, biotechnology policy director for Dow Chemical, said the company planted its first pharmaceutical crop in the U.S. Southwest only this year. Next year, Dow will closely monitor the field for unwanted stray plants, he said.
    Miller did not disclose how many acres were planted with an experimental pharma-corn variety. The company has said it plans to take “extraordinary measures” to control corn pollen, including mile-wide buffer zones, covering plants with special screens and timing the planting of a field so it is not fertile at the same time as neighboring crops.
    Neil Harl, an Iowa State University agriculture economist, called the ProdiGene incident “an early warning shot across the bow” for an industry trying to create vaccines and other products by altering genes in plants. “We have to ramp up our regulatory effort to assure that other incidents do not occur, and there is no gene-flow out of fields that are producing biotech crops.”’s Miguel Llanos as well as The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

    Genetically modified foods

    Some of the categories of foods now using GMOs and why

    Product Genetic Modification Purpose
    Tomatoes, peas, peppers, tropical fruit, broccoli, raspberries, melons Controlled ripening Allows shipping of vine ripened tomatoes; improves shelf life, quality
    Tomatoes, potatoes, corn, lettuce, coffee, cabbage family, apples Insect resistance Reduces insecticide use.
    Peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers Fungal resistance Reduces fungicide use
    Potatoes, tomatoes, cantaloupe, squash, cucumbers, corn, oilseed rape (canola) soybeans, grapes Viral resistance Reduces diseases caused by plant viruses and, since insects carry viruses, reduces use of insecticides.
    Soybeans, tomatoes, corn, oilseed rape (canola), wheat Herbicide tolerance Improves weed control
    Corn, sunflowers, soybeans, and other plants Improved nutrition Increases the amount of essential amino acids, vitamins or other nutrients in the host plants
    Oilseed rape (canola), peanuts Heat stability Improves processing quality; permits new food uses for healthier oils

    Source: Food Marketing Institute, The Hale Group/Decision Resources, Inc., Food Processing and BIO/technology magazines
  2. The first thing that comes to mind for me is all the people who can hardly afford thier prescriptions - I see this making it even harder.
  3. The poultry, beef and pork that we buy at the grocery store contains antibiotics. They automatically feed chickens, cows and pigs antibiotics just in case they need it and those antibiotics are passed onto us when we buy and eat it. That is one of the main causes of so many strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

    Opening a can of green beans just makes me wonder how bad those babies are for me. Garden fresh is the way to go. Our food is going to kill us if the USDA doesn't get it's butt into gear.
  4. starving countries won't even take our geneticaly rearranged hormone filled poisonous so called food.

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