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The Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) released the following statement concerning ProdiGene's reported violations of two field trial permits, which it said represent the potential for an unacceptable risk to the U.S. food supply:

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection
    Service identified two violations of ProdiGene, Inc.'s field test permits -
    one in Nebraska and another in Iowa. In each case, "volunteer" corn of
    experimental bio-pharmaceuticals were found. The volunteer corn in both
    locations contained traces of unidentified bio-pharmaceuticals from 2001
    field trials. According to USDA, the corn was not properly destroyed in the
    year following the field trials as mandated by ProdiGene's permits. USDA and
    the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have confirmed that experimental corn
    varieties have been isolated from the U.S. food supply.

    "While we are pleased to know that the USDA and FDA have isolated these
    incidences and are in the process of destroying the affected soybeans and
    corn in Nebraska and Iowa, GMA is deeply concerned by ProdiGene's reported
    conduct," said GMA Director of New Technologies and Environment Karil
    Kochenderfer. "These incidents reaffirm GMA's concerns about the use of food
    crops for the development of plant-made pharmaceuticals."

    "The food industry requires complete assurance from regulators and the
    biotech industry that the safety and integrity of the U.S. food supply
    remains intact," added Kochenderfer. "However, until the science and federal
    regulations can guarantee the separation of PMPs from the food and feed
    supply, we strongly urge the biotech industry to direct its substantial
    research capabilities into investigating the use of non-food crops for the
    development of pharmaceuticals"

    GMA is working with the biotech industry and federal regulators regarding
    the use of non-food crops for PMPs. Additionally, GMA is working with
    federal regulators to ensure that no further incidents such as this occur.
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