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Genetically Modified Rice & Budweiser

Body parts in my rice? Well, perhaps thatís a bit dramatic, but not far from the truth it seems. According to an article in Business Week (August 1, 2005) the biotech company, Venturia Sciences is planning to cultivate rice containing human genes, the purpose of which is to have the rice plant produce two human proteins found in breast milk, tears, and saliva. These proteins are used to treat stomach disorders.

Itís much less expensive to use a crop plant such as rice or corn or soybeans to implant genes than it is to use animals. Of course this rice will be cultivated for medicinal purposes NOT for human consumption, but the makers of Budweiser, who use rice to make the King of Beers are in an uproar.

And with good cause I say.

Even though rice is self-pollinating, meaning that each plant has both male and female reproductive parts, thereís always the risk of cross-pollinating with the rice we eat, despite what officials at Venturia say. We donít live in an isolated world. And, as a former environmental scientist working in the power plant industry, I know how the words ďno significant impactĒ are used.

Itís one thing to genetically modify foods with other plants, but quite another to use human genetic material. Personally I donít like either. I find these genetic modifications in food a bit frightening and the truth is, we already eat so many genetically modified foods without even knowing it; soybeans, potatoes, strawberries, tomatoes, and probably rice, to name a few.

Donít mess with Mother Nature. She always wins.

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