BioPharmaceutical Crops Proliferating?

Drug costs

                  Drug Costs~from anolobb~(thanks toFlikr)

This is a story that is hard to find a frame of reference from which to begin a sane discussion. Biopharmaceutical corporations have decided that since it is now technologically possible to genetically modify plants to produce pharmaceuticals, industrial chemical reagents, and other proteins for medical applications; and that this ‘agricultural  production’ can be done more cheaply than in the laboratory or the factory, that it  is therefore a good idea to pursue. Profit margin being the sole determinant considered in making the decision.

These same corporations have also decided that food crops are the most suitable for this enterprise; again, profit margin being the sole determinant in making the decision…… Food Crops!  What could possibly go wrong?

This new industry has been largely flying under the radar, enabled by their own personal captured regulatory agency, the USDA and its intrepid leader Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Of course, you FireDogs know as well as any, that Big AG, Big Pharma, and Big Chem needn’t worry much about congressional or executive branch interference. Oh, I forgot the courts. Lucky for us we still have the “justice system”.

From Truefoodnow.org Center For Food Safety an article detailing this idiocy :

Quietly, biotechnology corporations are creating crops to produce proteins that are pharmaceuticals, vaccines, industrial enzymes or reagents for biochemical laboratories. Genetically engineered (GE) “pharm” crops are mostly grown in open fields, then after harvest the novel protein is purified for use. Most pharm crops are in pre-commercial field trials, but at least two proteins used in biochemical and diagnostic procedures are already being grown in corn for commercial use  – avidin and beta-glucuronidase. Other proteins from pharm crops are already in clinical trials. Open field trials of pharmaceutical crops have been taking place every growing season in the US since 1992. From 1991 to 2002, 315 open-air field trials have been conducted or approved in the United States. The majority of these trials were carried out between 1999 and 2002.

If these people are in fact doing nothing more than pursueing free enterprise, why the need for secrecy?

Further from The Center for Food Safety :

Corn is by far the most popular crop, accounting for over 2/3 of the biopharm plantings. Other crops engineered for biopharmaceutical production include soybeans, rice, barley, wheat, canola and tobacco. Biopharm field trials have been conducted on at least 900 acres, probably closer to 1600. The exact figure is not known because the USDA classifies these field trials as “confidential business information.”

None of the companies have a commercial permit for the cultivation of these crops. In the case of avidin and beta-glucuronidase, the companies are selling the chemical in commercial channels, but hiding their actions behind a research permit provided by the USDA. With this type of permit, the chemicals and field locations can be kept secret.

About 20 companies worldwide are developing plants for the production of pharmaceutical or industrial proteins. Companies have already conducted open field trials of plants that produce Hepatitis B vaccine, human antibodies against herpes and other diseases, and human blood proteins. One company is developing an animal drug in corn, and suggests that the corn would be grown only for feed. Field trials have taken place at least in the US, France, and Canada.

If you go surfing the web for corporate news utilizing the word BioPharmaceutical, the amount of activity you will find is alarming. New IPO issuances, submissions to the FDA for initiating trials of new drugs (conducted by themselves on themselves of course), advertising, etc…… 

What can I say? I think I may be suffering from outrage fatigue syndrome. Short of bringing about change to every facet of the system and restoring the rule of law whereby  our own government is actually looking out for the best interests of its citizens, I don’t know what can be done about this insanity. But it is need to know information, so there you have it.

Slightly off topic here is a 5 minute Video bashing Monsanto courtesy of Youtube : 

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