For immediate release: Friday 15th Nov
ANOTHER GM CROP SCARE HITS USA
GM "pharmaceutical" maize contaminates soya
Crops worth millions of dollars have been destroyed in the US
after soya contaminated by genetically modified (GM) maize plants
used to produce a pharmaceutical or industrial chemical was
discovered in a US grain elevator . Friends of the Earth is
seeking urgent reassurance from the European Commission that food
in Europe has not been contaminated.
Half a million bushels of soya, worth about $2.7 million, was
discovered with GM contamination in Nebraska. The incident is
believed to have occurred because the soya was planted on the same
site used to grow GM "pharmaceutical" maize by biotech firm
ProdiGene the previous year. Seeds dropped by the maize grew this
year and contaminated the new crop. US authorities have not
disclosed details of the mysterious GM "pharmaceutical", but have
revealed ProdiGene was involved in a similar incident in Iowa in
September. ProdiGene, carries out a range of outdoor tests on
crops containing pharmaceuticals and industrial products in at
least 96 locations in the US.
Friends of the Earth's GM campaigner Adrian Bebb said:
" This was an accident waiting to happen. If you grow GM crops
outdoors then they will eventually contaminate the rest of the
food chain. The US authorities have now had to intervene twice to
prevent these unlicensed genes entering the food chain. But how
many incidents have they missed? We are seeking urgent assurances
that food imported into Europe has not been contaminated .
" Once again the dangers of allowing GM crops to be
commercially grown have been highlighted . The UK Government
must take note, and refuse to allow them to be commercially grown
in the UK".
Friends of the Earth, as part of a wider US coalition, warned the
US Government earlier this year of the risk of contamination. The
coalition is now filing a legal petition demanding an immediate
halt to the outdoor growing of "pharmaceutical" GM crops.
Research into the company involved, Prodigene, reveals that the
contamination could come from one of the following :
Aids vaccine gp120 -- a glycoprotein
Blood-clotting agent -- Aprotinin
Trypsin - Digestive enzyme that can be used in leather tanning or
to produce insulin.
Industrial adhesive Laccase -- an enzyme derived from a fungus
Other "pharmaceutical" GM crops reportedly grown by ProdiGene
include experimental oral vaccines for hepatitis B and for a pig
disease, transmissible gastroenteritis. According to USDA records
ProdiGene has received 85 test permits for experimental open-air
trials of "pharmaceutical" GM crops and chemical crops for
planting in at least 96 locations.
Friends of the Earth's GM Campaigner Adrian Bebb continued:
"Once you start genetically engineering drugs and chemicals into
crop plants you are opening Pandora's box. The consequences could
be catastrophic ."
 The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Tuesday
Nov. 12 that it quarantined over $2.7 million worth of soya beans
(500 000 bushels) destined for human consumption at a Nebraska
grain elevator after finding parts of ProdiGene's GM maize mixed
with the soya beans. They later ordered their destruction