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FACT - No Molecular Farming crop has poisoned anyone EVER !

Potential for Contamination due to compliance failures

Released by DEFRA [ UK ] on Dec.24.2002 { We also highlight our SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS }

Monitoring large scale releases of genetically modified crops (EPG 1/5/84). Incorporating report on project EPG 1/5/30: monitoring releases of genetically modified crop plants Advice of the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment under Section 124 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 ACRE was asked to review the final report of the monitoring of large scale releases of GM oil seed rape grown between 1994 and 2000. The report represents the combined final reports of two separate DEFRA monitoring contracts run between 1994-1997 and 1997-2000. A summary of the final report is available at The DEFRA SITE HERE Copies of the full report are available on request from

The report considers inter- and intra-specific gene flow by means of cross pollination and also seed dispersal and the persistence of volunteers. The research reported was not deliberately designed to investigate gene flow but took advantage of the results from a programme of monitoring of a series of approved releases of OSR between 1994 and 2000. Monitoring was undertaken at 11 field-scale experimental release sites in total.

The report is divided into several sections including details of methods and sites used, gene flow between crops, gene flow between species - including a specific study of gene flow to weedy Brassica rapa, feral and volunteer rape and conclusions.

The main findings of the report include:

Gene flow between GM and adjacent conventional oil seed rape crops
The occurrence of cross pollination decreased rapidly over a distance of a few metres but was detected at a levels of 0.5% at 250m at one site. Higher levels of out crossing were detected when the GM crops was grown near a varietal association crop.



The report concludes that "the results presented show different situations can give very different results under natural field conditions".

Feral and Volunteer oilseed rape
The incidence of transgenic volunteers at sites was monitored for several (up to five) years. The number of volunteers that were detected was variable. In one incidence transgenic oil seed rape volunteers persisted until 2000 at least from a crop harvested in 1996. GM volunteers appear no more persistent than non-GM volunteers. A low level of gene flow was detected from GM oil seed rape to feral rape growing nearby (up to 20m). The report concludes that transgenes can persist in volunteers and feral populations but the level of occurrence is low and the transgenes did not appear to persist.

Interspecific gene flow
Gene flow between GM oil seed rape and Brassica rapa was detected at a site where a small amount of B. rapa was deliberately sown alongside a GM crop, and at another site where GM oil seed rape was sown in an area where weedy B. rapa was a known problem. The report concludes that where B. rapa and oil seed rape (B. napus) are grown together, gene flow will occur. Cross-pollination between oil seed rape and other wild relatives was not detected.

ACRE's advice
ACRE considered the results of the monitoring carefully. ACRE's risk assessment of GM oil seed rape has always assumed some gene-flow will occur and that this does not in itself constitute a risk to human health or the environment. It was concluded that the extent of gene flow observed in the monitoring between GM oil seed rape and adjacent crops, feral oil seed rape and wild relatives was entirely within expectations. The persistence of GM volunteers and feral oil seed rape plants were also entirely within expectations.

ACRE members were content that the results of the monitoring were consistent with the existing risk assessment and no further action was necessary. ACRE welcomed the immediate publication of the monitoring report.

COMPLIANCE FAILURE - from Nov.2002 © Reuters 2002

WASHINGTON, Nov 14 (Reuters) - ProdiGene Inc has indicated it will buy some 500,000 bushels of Nebraska soybeans suspected of contamination by a biotech corn engineered to produce pharmaceuticals, a U.S. Agriculture Department official told Reuters on Thursday.

The soybeans were quarantined after USDA inspectors discovered that a tiny amount of ProdiGene bio-corn was accidentally mixed with soybeans during last month's harvest.

Cindy Smith, the USDA's acting head of biotech regulations, said the small privately-held Texas-based company was in talks with the USDA on how to dispose of the quarantined soybeans.

"The company, it appears, will assume liability for the soybeans," Smith said in an interview after briefing House Agriculture Committee staff members.

It could take a couple weeks for ProdiGene to acquire legal title to the soybeans. Soybeans are selling on the Chicago futures market for about $5.60 per bushel, making the purchase a costly one.

"It will be destroyed ... most likely incinerated," Smith said, referring to the quarantined soybeans. USDA officials will monitor the process.

A company spokesman earlier said that ProdiGene hoped that the soybeans could be used to make bio-diesel fuel in order to salvage some value from them while ensuring they stayed out of the U.S. food supply.

Smith also said that the USDA was confident it had corralled all the suspect soybeans from the Nebraska field. "We've got everything in that grain elevator," she said.

ProdiGene is under investigation by USDA for accidentally contaminating crops in Nebraska and in Iowa. The company's bio-corn, which is engineered to produce pharmaceutical compounds for such things as insulin or diarrhea treatments, is not federally approved for human or livestock consumption.

Smith said ProdiGene was the first firm involved in plant-produced pharmaceuticals to experience serious problems in preventing unwanted propagation of its experimental crop.

In Iowa, ProdiGene was ordered to destroy 155 acres (63 hectares) of corn in September because windborne pollen from its bio-corn may have contaminated nearby fields.

A similar situation occurred in the company's Nebraska field. A few stray biotech corn plants emerged this year in the field, which had been switched to soybeans. About one cup of stems and leaves from the biotech corn plants may have been mixed with the soybeans by farm equipment during harvest last month, the USDA said.

EPA fines two US firms for biotech crop mistakes © Reuters news service 2002

WASHINGTON - Two U.S. seed companies on Thursday agreed to each pay a fine of less than $10,000 to settle federal allegations they mishandled experimental biotech corn crops in Hawaii, the Environmental Protection Agency said.
The action comes a week after the U.S. Agriculture Department fined a Texas biotech company for allegedly contaminating soybeans with a new corn plant engineered to produce medicine.

U.S. consumer advocates, environmentalists and food groups have urged the government to toughen its biotech regulations to ensure no unapproved crops seep into the food supply.

Pioneer Hi-Bred International and Dow AgroSciences are the first seed companies to be charged by the EPA for violating regulations imposed to keep unapproved biotech crops from seeping into nearby U.S. farmland.

Pioneer, a unit of chemical giant DuPont Co. (DD.N) agreed to pay $9,900 in civil penalties. Dow AgroSciences, a division of Dow Chemical Co. (DOW.N), was fined $8,800 in civil penalties.

The EPA said there was no evidence that any commercial crops were contaminated by the experimental corn. But under the settlement, Pioneer must perform additional crop testing to ensure its unapproved corn did not taint other fields.

"EPA required strict conditions in these particular permits to maximize containment to ensure that no pollen from the experimental corn is transferred to other corn," said Wayne Nastri, administrator for EPA's Pacific Southwest Region.

In the agreement, both seed companies neither admit nor deny any wrongdoing.

The EPA accused Pioneer of planting its experimental corn crop too close to where conventional crops were grown.

Dow AgroSciences allegedly did not isolate its insect-resistant corn variety properly and failed to plant enough trees to prevent cross contamination. The company said it did not seek EPA's approval in the Hawaii planting, thinking it met federal regulations.

The company was "taking steps to ensure that it does not happen again," said Pete Siggelko, a Dow AgroSciences vice president.

Pioneer was not immediately available for comment.

Consumer activists said the EPA should have been tougher with the companies.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest said EPA's "puny fines" would not prevent biotech companies from making similar mistakes in the future.

"EPA needs to institute a strong inspection and compliance program if the food supply and the environment are to be protected from (biotech) crop experiments," said Gregory Jaffe, the group's biotechnology project director.

Biotech crops are regulated by several federal offices.

The EPA has jurisdiction over plants engineered to produce pesticides, while the USDA is responsible for overseeing field trials of experimental biotech crops. The Food and Drug Administration has authority over the safety of foods produced from biotech crops.

On Friday, the U.S. Agriculture Department issued its first fine against a biotech company for improperly planting experimental crops. Privately owned ProdiGene Inc. agreed to pay a $250,000 fine, plus an estimated $2.8 million to buy and destroy contaminated soybeans in Nebraska.

Story by Randy Fabi

Story Date: 16/12/2002