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.
- KC's View: