Organic Consumers Association

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Business Plan for Pharmaceutical Rice Cooks with Uncertainty

A tiny company, Ventria Bioscience, is continuing to pursue its business hopes in North Carolina by planting pharmaceutical rice genetically engineered with human proteins near Greenville. Additionally, Ventria has shown interest in building a processing facility in the Washington County area. Ventria has been given permits by the US Department of Agriculture€™s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to plant 335 acres of pharmaceutical rice field trials, four times the acreage of what was allowed to be planted last year.  

Ventria officials have suggested their genetically engineered (GE) proteins could be extracted from rice and then added as nutritional supplements to yoghurt, performance drinks or infant formula. Ventria has also proposed using its proteins in €œmedical foods€ to rehydrate infants with severe diarrhea.  Yet the company has failed to win the Food and Drug Administration€™s approval for any of these uses, despite 4 petitions to the FDA over the last 3 years.

These markets for Ventria€™s GE proteins are highly speculative and uncertain due to the unresolved regulatory status of Ventria€™s compounds and overwhelming opposition to GE pharmaceutical crops by food industry groups like the Grocery Manufacturers of America and countries around the world. In the fifteen years that pharmaceutical crops have been planted in experimental field trials, no drugs have been approved and successes in the marketplace have not been achieved.

Recent news articles have revealed that Ventria is attempting to gather support from local and state officials in North Carolina and also in Kansas. In Topeka, Kansas, they€™ve secured a $2.25 million commitment from local officials that€™s contingent upon state tax dollars and private money for the processing facility€™s hefty price tag of $10 million. In North Carolina, it€™s not yet publicly visible how much money Ventria hopes to secure yet Washington County officials are ready to make an offer. Will state officials be as easily fooled?

The business plan Ventria has referred to is based on uncertainties and offers little hope on a return for investors like the state of North Carolina. The USDA€™s Inspector General admits that experimental GE crop field trials haven€™t been sufficiently monitored. No infant formula company has announced support for Ventria€™s human protein powder to be included in their product. Countries around the world are uniting in opposition to genetically engineered crops. The FDA has not approved use of Ventria€™s proteins in any €œmedical foods.€ With so many risks and uncertainties included with Ventria€™s promises, North Carolina citizens and officials should reject this plan being cooked up for them.
 
For updates or more information on Ventria, email info@geaction.org or call 563-432-6735.

The Genetic Engineering Action Network Releases the Local Organizing Toolkit
The Genetic Engineering Action Network (GEAN) exists to support and further the work of those organizations and individuals working to address the risks to the environment, biodiversity and human health, as well as the socioeconomic and ethical consequences of genetic engineering. Over one hundred organizations have affiliated with GEAN, including Pure Food Partners based in Asheville, and range from volunteer grassroots groups to national organizations.

GEAN is now releasing the Local Organizing Toolkit, a compilation of materials designed to assist organizers at the local level. The materials included in the toolkit are drawn from affiliates and organizing experts across the country, providing proven-effective tools for successful local campaigning on genetic engineering. The first half of the toolkit includes information on local organizing applicable to any effort and the second half of the toolkit showcases four grassroots tactics of raising awareness and implementing models of successful campaigns.

The Local Organizing Toolkit is available to download from the GEAN website at www.geaction.org. For more information contact GEAN at info@geaction.org or call 563-432-6735.





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