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No biotech pharm corn in Frio

(Thursday, Sept. 9, 2004 -- CropChoice news) -- Elizabeth Allen, San Antonio Express-News, 09/08/04:
After seeking permits to plant genetically engineered pharmaceutical corn in Frio County, the College Station-based company ProdiGene abandoned its efforts.

ProdiGene was seeking permits to plant up to several hundred acres of corn that have been altered to produce animal proteins used in medicine.

The company chose Frio County in part because it is not a major corn-producing county, lessening the chances its modified corn would cross-pollinate with conventional corn, according to information it provided to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

But the APHIS Web site last week listed the two Frio County permit applications as withdrawn, and a third that was approved will not be executed.

ProdiGene Chief Executive Officer John Reiher did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The Sierra Club submitted a letter to the USDA opposing the project, and the Organic Consumers Association posted the letter on its Web site.

Problems with the project include incomplete scientific reviews and insufficient public notice in Frio County, said Neil Carman, vice chairman of the Sierra Club's genetic engineering committee.

"There's some major issues about the regulatory process," Carman said, adding that much more stringent monitoring is called for because "gene-splicing itself is inherently risky."

The environmental assessment did not reveal the location but said it was three to four miles south of the Frio River and surrounded by open ranchland and some vegetable farming. It stated that no other corn was grown commercially within at least a mile around the site.

Source: http://www.mysanantonio.com/business/stories/MYSA090804.6E.gmo.5e867802.html