If you aren’t already purchasing organic or GMO-free rice, you should be. Rice that has been engineered with actual human genes is on its way to a supermarket near you. In Junction City, Kansas, this human gene-tainted rice is being grown on 3,200 acres by the biotechnology company Ventria Bioscience.
Ventria began cultivating this rather horrifying product in 2006 with human liver genes. What exactly was the purpose of this, you ask? Their intention was to harvest the artificial enzymes produced by the rice and use them in pharmaceuticals. Ventria has taken one of the most widely grown and consumed crops and turned it into the base for new prescription drugs — all with USDA approval, of course.
Their decision to allow plants intended for pharmaceuticals to be grown outdoors has not gone without protest. Ventria initially wanted to plant their “crops” — if you can call them that anymore — in Missouri. However, they were met with staunch opposition from Anheuser-Busch and others, who promptly threatened to boycott all rice from the state if the biotechnology planted their GMO rice within the state’s borders. Eventually though, Ventria found a place to settle in Kansas. In 2007, Jane Rissler from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) told the Washington Post, “It is unwise to produce drugs in plants outdoors.”
The threat of contamination and cross-pollination between this genetically-modified rice species and natural rice is of utmost concern. While it may seem rather basic, widespread contamination of unmodified rice could lead to chronic disease.
Bill Freese, Science Policy Analyst at the Center for Food Safety (CFS), who published a report back in 2007 about the dangers of Ventria’s GM rice, states, “These genetically engineered drugs could exacerbate certain infections, or cause dangerous allergic or immune system reactions.”
For our government agencies to allow Big Biotech companies such as Ventria to just do as they please is simply beyond words. The USDA exists not for corporate interests but to protect the American people, though it looks like they may have forgotten that. After all, why else would they allow such a corporation to potentially contaminate our food supply with a crop that will likely make people sick?