Pharmaceutical rice in California: Potential risks to consumers


Pharmaceutical rice in California: Potential risks to consumers

Since 1997, Ventria Bioscience or its predecessor Applied Phytologics has been conducting outdoor field trials of rice varieties genetically engineered to produce pharmaceuticals in California’s rice-growing Central Valley. These pharmaceutical compounds include artificial versions of the human milk proteins lactoferrin, lysozyme and alpha-1-antitrypsin. Proposed uses for the whole rice and/or extracted pharmaceuticals include poultry feed, treatment of diarrhea, infant food and topical wound treatment. Field trial acreage has increased from 6 acres in 1999 to 93 acres in 2003. Ventria’s bid to begin commercial production on 120 acres in Southern California in 2004 was temporarily blocked by California and federal authorities, though the company may reapply next year. Meanwhile, Ventria has received permission to grow still another test plot in the Central Valley.
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