Human Genes in Your Rice? Just Say No!
More bad news from the disturbing field of genetically modified (GM) foods: It’s called “Frankenrice”—a genetically modified rice product that is tainted with actual human genes.
Rice is the most widely cultivated crop in the world, yet, most people have never heard of rice with human genes (which sounds more like science fiction than news!).
But since about 2006, “Frankenrice” has been produced and genetically modified with genes from the human liver by the biotechnology company Ventria Bioscience. Ventria is said to grow their genetically modified rice on 3,200 acres in Junction City, Kansas (and perhaps other locations, as well).
Perhaps you’re wondering why any company would want to cultivate rice with genetically modified human genes? The reason is as sad as it is predictable: potential pharmaceutical profit.
The plan is that artificial proteins produced by this Frankenrice can be utilized in pharmaceuticals. The stated plan is that the pharmaceuticals developed from Frankenrice could help third-world children overcome chronic diarrhea.
However, as with all GM crops, this comes at a serious potential cost to public health.
Infections, Allergies, and Immune Reactions
“These genetically engineered drugs could exacerbate certain infections, or cause dangerous allergic or immune system reactions,” said 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.
And Jane Rissler from the Union of Concerned Scientists told the Washington Post in 2007 that, “This is not a product that everyone would want to consume. It is unwise to produce drugs in plants outdoors.”
Even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) refused to approve Ventria’s GM rice in 2003. Unfortunately, the USDA was far less cautious, ignoring thousands of letters from concerned citizens and scientific experts and approving open cultivation of Ventria’s genetically modified rice in 2007.
Until the 2007 USDA approval, genetically modified rice was cultivated only in laboratory settings. But then Ventria moved the rice outside, first targeting Missouri as a growing location. However, Anheuser-Busch and other companies threatened to boycott all rice from Missouri if Ventria started planting their genetically modified rice there.
So Ventria set its sights on Kansas, instead, where they’re presumably still growing their genetically modified rice today.
Is the Rice on Your Plate Frankenrice?
The only way to answer a definitive no is if it’s organic and tested negative for GM traits.
There’s little protection in the fact that to date, no GM rice with added human traits has been approved for human consumption. That’s because the fact is that since Frankenrice is being cultivated in open fields, the spread of its disturbing, health-endangering GM traits is practically guaranteed.