NOTE; USA Rice Federation describes itself as "the national advocate for all segments of the rice industry".
EXTRACT: "If Ventria's pharmaceutical rice were to escape into the commercial rice supply, the financial devastation to the U.S. rice industry would likely be absolute," the USA Rice comments say. "There is no tolerance, either regulatory or in public perception, for a human gene-based pharmaceutical to end up in the world's food supply."
USA Rice Federation Comments Say "No!" to Ventria's Kansas Rice Venture
WASHINGTON, March 29 2007 ”” FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
USA Rice Federation today filed comments with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal Plant Health Inspection service (APHIS) asking "in the strongest possible terms that the permit for Ventria [Bioscience]'s pharmaceutical rice be denied." Ventria is seeking USDA approval for growing non-food rice bioengineered to contain the human proteins lysozyme, lactoferrin and recombinant human serum albumin.
"If Ventria's pharmaceutical rice were to escape into the commercial rice supply, the financial devastation to the U.S. rice industry would likely be absolute," the USA Rice comments say. "There is no tolerance, either regulatory or in public perception, for a human gene-based pharmaceutical to end up in the world's food supply."
The USA Rice biotechnology policy supports the development of genetically modified rice varieties, but does not support their commercial release prior to scientific-based regulatory approval and consumer acceptance (i.e., no negative impact on commercial sales of U.S. rice).
"While APHIS may base its decision on the stringency of its permit controls and not on market and financial considerations, it is still negligent for the agency to risk an entire industry for the sake of profit for one company," the USA Rice comments say. "Already, the USA Rice Federation is receiving complaints from the public that are confusing the Ventria permit with the latest Liberty Link rice issue and assuming the worst."
The USA Rice comments call for a set of actions prior to the consideration of approval for Ventria BioScience's pharmaceutical rice:
*"Because of no assurance or confidence that Ventria pharmaceutical rice can be kept separate from commercial food and feed rice, we believe that USDA must engage FDA in a risk analysis and risk assessment of the potential health affects that could occur when genetic material from the pharmaceutical rice is eventually found in commercial rice."
*"APHIS should conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement concurrent with FDA's analysis."
*"Further production of Ventria's pharmaceutical rice should not occur in the U.S. until, at a minimum, the FDA and APHIS have concluded the studies, assuming the agencies determine that there are no potential health effects."
The full text of the USA Rice comments on the Ventria Biosciences proposal to grow pharmaceutical rice in Kansas is posted on the USA Rice Web site.
USA Rice Federation is the national advocate for all segments of the rice industry, conducting activities to influence government programs, developing and initiating programs to increase worldwide demand for U.S. rice, and providing other services to increase profitability for all industry segments.
Contacts: David Coia, (703) 236-2300