Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Biotech Science Technology

Would You Like Drugs in Your Rice? 310

Posted by michael
from the why-yes-i-would dept.
Digitus1337 writes "Wired has the scoop on a new type of rice that was just approved for production by a narrow vote. 'Ventria believes growing drugs that produce proteins like lactoferrin and lysozyme in rice could be a cheaper way to develop drugs than building and maintaining expensive manufacturing plants... Opponents say growing the crops in open fields endangers organic and conventional crops, as well as human health...'" Update: 03/30 23:15 GMT by T : That should probably read "growing rice that produces proteins like lactoferrin and lysozyme."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Would You Like Drugs in Your Rice?

Comments Filter:
  • by panxerox (575545) * on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:02PM (#8719913)
    Before you know it we will have sarin producing dandelions and botulism producing crabgrass. Once the gate is open who know what comes thru.
    • by AvitarX (172628) <me AT brandywinehundred DOT org> on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:08PM (#8719983) Journal
      Or THC producing Cannibus and Opiate producing Poppys.
      • WOW I was just thinking about this today, gene splicing in common plants, seriously, then my mind wandered a bit as it usually does and I thought HEY How bout THC or Cocca producing Kentucky BlueGrass ! I mean mow your lawn get blown at the same time. What are the cops gonna do make everyone plant ROCK lawns ?

        SON >DAD ILL MOW THE LAWN !!!!

        DAUGHTER> NO DAD I WILL !!!

        Son and Daughter get into fight over who gets to mow the lawn.
    • Before you know it we will have sarin producing dandelions and botulism producing crabgrass. Once the gate is open who know what comes thru.

      Don't forget anthrax producing cattle and syphilis producing sheep.
    • hmm w.m.d. weeds of mass destruction.
  • Hey dude... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Smitedogg (527493) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:03PM (#8719923) Homepage
    Have you ever posted to Slashdot......on rice?
    • Re:Hey dude... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:10PM (#8719998)
      The story sounds humorous, but it also raises serious issues. Is it really a good idea to start growing lactoferrin-enriched rice in the open?

      Anyone who has bought bulk rice is familiar with the fact that harvested rice is contaminated with bits of debris and wild rice. Speaking in a practical sense, it is clearly inevitable that this GM rice will get mixed in with the food supply.

      Even eating organic rice will not save you, since small amounts of rice seeds will surely drift on the winds and contaminate all crops. Do we really want to risk our young daughters eating abnormal quantities of lactoferrin and risking a higher rate of gigantomastia and breast cancer?
      • by waterbear (190559) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:39PM (#8720303)
        Even eating organic rice will not save you, since small amounts of rice seeds will surely drift on the winds and contaminate all crops. Do we really want to risk our young daughters eating abnormal quantities of lactoferrin and risking a higher rate of gigantomastia and breast cancer?

        Just a couple of questions of the kind that often get overlooked ..

        Since when was rice eaten raw?
        Since when did cooked (i.e., denatured) proteins retain the hormonal/enzyme activities of the native protein?

        There's a whole lot of wild imagination going into the stories of these so-called risks.

        -wb-
        • by drox (18559) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:57PM (#8720473)
          Since when did cooked (i.e., denatured) proteins retain the hormonal/enzyme activities of the native protein?

          I used to think that too, since most proteins do seem to be denatured by cooking (or even by digestion, which is why diabetics can't just take an insulin pill). But it seems some proteins are remarkably heat-stable. Like those nasty prion proteins. Cooking your cattle brains before eating them doesn't seem to protect against BSE.
          • by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @11:11PM (#8721779)
            Yeah, but you'd never produce prions in this manner, or at all for that matter. Prions do a very poor job of catalyzing reactions and are completely useless for anything other than giving people vCJD. And I can't think of any other proteins that work when denatured. The shape of a protein is what gives its unique catalytic capability, denature it and that shape is gone, along with its functionality.

            As for prions, not a lot is understood about them. It seems like they work by denaturing proteins, thus shutting down cell functions and generating more prions. They only seem to be a problem for nerve tissue, perhaps because of its low rate of division, but no one really knows. Also, while they do seem to be a large problem for herbivores (mad cow, chronic wasting disease, and a few other variants) they don't seem to have much of an effect on the carnivores that eat those herbivores. This seems to be true of people as well. Despite the fact that many millions of people (in Britain and elsewhere) have been exposed to BSE contaminated beef, there have only been a few thousand reported cases of vCJD.

            Some researchers believe that natural herds of animals rely on carnivores to remove the animals with chronic wasting. While human hunters usually select the largest, healthiest animals, carnivores typically target the smallest, or weakest animals. This is a theory that will be soon put to the test as the elk herds in Yellowstone become infected with the chronic wasting epidemic that is sweeping northward through the Rocky Mountains. Researchers have noted chronic wasting starting to appear in the elk herds in Teton National Park, which borders Yellowstone on the south.

            Also, CJD (the original kind of CJD which hits people in the later years of their life) seems to be tied to prions, but doesn't seem to be a problem for young people. CJD hasn't been tied to exposure to BSE, it seems that some people just get it later in life.
        • by jandersen (462034) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @04:34AM (#8723365)
          First your questions:

          Rice is eaten raw when it is used in the form of ground up rice flour and not cooked.

          As for cooked proteins, does the word 'prion' ring a bell? It not a law of nature that proteins loose their shape or their function just because they are heated.

          The problem with GM is not so much the danger of accidentally misusing the products, but the very real danger of genetic pollution, which can happen in many more ways than most people imagine. Just to mention a couple:

          1. Bacteria and other microorganisms routinely swap genetic material or even incorporate genetic materials from cells of other species, plants included. This is why the multiresistent bugs are not just an isolated problem - it has been found that the resistance to antibiotics can wander between different species.

          2. Many of our most important crop plants have near relatives in the wild. Imagine eg. that we have a genetically modified oat field, which produces some dangerous substance. Wild oat is a common weed in oat fields, so we will very soon have a wild plant which produces a dangerous substance. Wild oat spreads very easily - the seeds are light and blow around in the wind - so soon this trait gets into oat meant for human consumption. Even worse - we don't even need a scenario where a wild species acts as intermediary - many crops are wind pollinated, and their pollen can travel for huge distances, perhaps all around the globe.

          Only a ruthless, boneheaded and ignorant idiot would let genetically modified crops loose on the world at present, when we don't know nearly enough about the consequences. Unfortunately this is the kind of people that are in power.

      • Re:Hey dude... (Score:5, Informative)

        by macshune (628296) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:49PM (#8720399) Journal
        Do we really want to risk our young daughters eating abnormal quantities of lactoferrin and risking a higher rate of gigantomastia and breast cancer?

        I think you mean gynecomastia. [m-w.com] Women don't get it, so I'd be more concerned about our young sons looking like young daughters, more than anything else. But your point is taken. Messing with the natural way of things hasn't always worked in ways we have intended. Putting iodine in salt worked pretty well, but the creation of a rice-based pharmacy when a substantial number of people depend on rice as their sole staple does merit some cause for concern, IMHO.
      • Do we really want to risk our young daughters eating abnormal quantities of lactoferrin and risking a higher rate of gigantomastia?

        In a word, yes.

        m-
      • Re:Hey dude... (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Anyone who has bought bulk rice is familiar with the fact that harvested rice is contaminated with bits of debris and wild rice.

        Debris? Yes. Wild rice? No. So-called wild rice (Zizania aquatica) isn't even related to cultivated rice (Oryza sativa). They wouldn't likely be found together.

        Even eating organic rice will not save you, since small amounts of rice seeds will surely drift on the winds and contaminate all crops.

        Drifting seeds are not the problem. Drifting pollen is. I would hope that th
      • Anyone who has bought bulk rice is familiar with the fact that harvested rice is contaminated with bits of debris and wild rice. Speaking in a practical sense, it is clearly inevitable that this GM rice will get mixed in with the food supply.

        What is the difference between white and brown rice? Brown rice is unpolished whole grain rice that is produced by removing only the outer husk. It becomes white rice when the bran layer is stripped off in the milling process. source [fao.org]

        There is no difference between
    • All of a sudden, I have this punny feeling that someone will make a comment about this technique being used to grow ricin...
    • by Bobdoer (727516)
      Well, I did post this while sitting on a bag of rice...
  • Well (Score:4, Funny)

    by Neil Blender (555885) <neilblender@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:04PM (#8719929)
    You had me at 'drugs'.
    • Excuse me? (Score:5, Funny)

      by spellraiser (764337) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:26PM (#8720181) Journal

      From the article:

      "Even food-processing corporations are very upset about this as well, because they know all you need is one shipment of corn flakes that has a contraceptive in it and there's a real problem, obviously," [Paul] Achitoff said.

      Yes, well obviously ... errr ... yes, a condom in a shipment of corn flakes would cause a problem... not sure what that has to do with genetically engineered rice, but, well, errr ... yes.

      Someone give the man a cigar!

  • the risk... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tsunamifirestorm (729508) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:05PM (#8719954) Homepage
    of cross pollenization should be important in determining what plants and drugs should be used. While protein enhancements spreading to other plants or fields could be beneficial, other drugs such as the human growth hormone would have a definite risk.
    • Re:the risk... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by metlin (258108)
      I look at it differently. We have reached a point where we cannot wait for a million years or so for evolution to happen - most of the evolution that's going to happen now will be that we bring upon ourselves - adaptations by virtue of changing environments and changing habits.

      Well, if genetically enhanced products are going to have a risk, we are going to have to find a way around it - the solution would not be to ban GE as a whole, right?

      I'm not saying you suggested so - merely that we can never really
      • Re:the risk... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rjstanford (69735) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:26PM (#8720177) Homepage Journal
        It would be far more easier to accept it, embrace new technologies and let technology and nature sort it out. In the end, we will find a way out. Its inevitable, because we have reached that stage as a species.

        That's the real danger - that we haven't, quite, reached that point. We're on the cusp, evolutionarily speaking, but right now we have a lot of the power with almost no safety. We're still in a very vulnerable time, where one large catastrophe could effectively wipe us out. We've been in that situation for a long time now, but only recently have we actually gained the ability to cause such a situation as a species.

        That's the real value of space flight - controlled risk reduction. Once we're off the planet in sustainable numbers, we're much less vulnerable. Once we're out of the system - continued success is almost guaranteed.

        For the species, that is. Each individual can still be royally fscked up, no matter what, until and unless we come up with backups of some sort. But that's another subject entirely.
      • Re:the risk... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by moxruby (152805)
        Caution, my friend. I am in favour of strong GE legislation. Bio companies have one goal: profit. You know as well as I do that an environmental risk will always take second place to the chance of a nice profit...

        Your argument boils down to "the can of worms has been opened ... lets gorge ourselves!"
        When your playing with the food supply, anything less than caution is reckless!
        • Caution, my friend. I am in favour of strong GE legislation. Bio companies have one goal: profit. You know as well as I do that an environmental risk will always take second place to the chance of a nice profit...

          Agreed. This looks like the classic case for legislation and regulation -- i.e., where the market will not otherwise force an actor to internatlize the costs of various risks and externalities.

          I can see it now. Oh, our companay caused enviromental damage to the tune of $1 trillion, and our

      • Why food crops? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tgibbs (83782) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:41PM (#8720323)
        I don't have any problem at all with genetically modified foods. We've been genetically modifying food crops for thousands of years; we've just gotten better at it lately.

        But these aren't genetically modified foods--they are food crops modified to produce drugs. Granted, they seem like fairly benign substances, but I don't understand why they need to use food crops. Surely there are plants that could be used for drug manufacture that are not normally cultivated for human consumption, obviating concerns that pharmaceutical crop seeds will get mistakenly mixed in with food crop seeds, or that pharmaceutical crops with cross-pollinate food crops.
        • Re:Why food crops? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by laparker (53538)
          Umm, breeding plants to create useful hybrids is one thing, but genetically modifying plants is something very different. Those genes they are putting in your food don't always come from other plants you know.

          Secondly, just because humans don't eat a particular plant, doesn't mean that we should contaminate it at will. What about all the other species that might need it to survive.
        • Re:Why food crops? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Dr. Manhattan (29720)
          How about kudzu, or grass, or dandelions, or whatever? How about plants that have proven to grow just fine without us tinkering with them for a few thousand years, but are also susceptible to some degree to weed-killers?

          How about we engineer into such plants a dependency on a particular substance that isn't common in the environment? Humans have lost the ability to make folic acid, bacteria haven't. Knock out a production pathway in the plants (destruction is easier than creation, no?) and you've created

    • An equal risk... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by qtp (461286) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:37PM (#8720284) Journal
      There is an equal risk that the patent holders will attempt to extort payments from the farmers who's seed stocks have become contaminated with thier "intellectual property".

      Monsanto has already done this [producer.com]. I'm sure that this will not be the last lawsuit of this type, and I'm also sure that the biotech companies are calculating this type of enforcement as an essential part of their income.

  • Naive? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lazuli42 (219080) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:06PM (#8719958) Homepage Journal
    Maybe I'm really naive, but why can't they grow this sort of crop indoors?

    I know that it would probably cost a lot more, but by growing it indoors you cut down on the possibility of cross contamination quite a bit. Also, if you're growing a crop to use it for pharmaceuticals wouldn't you want it to be grown in a bit more of a controlled environment?

    • Re:Naive? (Score:5, Funny)

      by tanguyr (468371) <tanguyr+slashdot@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:10PM (#8719994) Homepage
      Van Leuwin: Thank you, Officer Ripley, that will be all.
      Ripley: God damn it, that's not all! 'Cause if one of those things get down here then that will be all! And all this bullshit that you think is so important, you can kiss all that goodbye!
    • Re:Naive! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FreeLinux (555387) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:10PM (#8720001)
      Ever tried to put 50 acres under a roof? How about 1,000 acres? Then ther are all those other minor details that are required for sustaining life under a roof, sun light, temperature and humidity control, water, minerals and ferilizers.

      There's a fair bit more to large-scale hot-house or hydroponic farming than you have had to deal with when you grew a little pot in your closet.
      • You can build a pretty big geodesic dome in a day or two. It might not take that long to cover 50 acres. Transparent panels will fix the sunlight problem. Minerals and fertilizer can be brougth in through...the door? :-) I've seen some fairly large greenhouses(not 50 acres, obviously) used for growing flowers, but the idea is there. What would really be cool is some kind of floating farms out in the middle of the ocean. You know, A gigantic inflatable swimming pool half filled with dirt. Yes, no, maybe?
        • Re:Naive! (Score:3, Insightful)

          by gl4ss (559668)
          and in colder climates they're(greenhouses) used for growing vegetables, for commercial sale.

          can't imagine it being too expensive for growing rice for medical purposes while making profit.

        • by FreeLinux (555387)
          Do you mean like this [bbc.co.uk] project in Cornwall England? It will be the world's largest greenhouse at roughly 160 acres when completed and will cost 79 million pounds to build minus cost overruns. That's $145,000,000US by today's exchange rate and that's just to build it. It will cost millions more to operate.

          Operating standard rice paddies in just about any of the rice growing states (Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, California, Florida) would cost a tiny fraction of that. And growing rice in China, the
          • This [edenproject.com] might be a bit more up to date. I didn't really check into it, but it seems to be running fairly well. They're growing some exotic plants in there, so I could see where climate control might get expensive. I didn't see the numbers, but generally, domes are very efficient, so costs might be reasonable. In general, the thing looks pretty cool, and it might be making money.
    • Maybe I'm really naive, but why can't they grow this sort of crop indoors?

      Like.. er.. like in my closet or something?
    • Re:Naive? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rjstanford (69735) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:16PM (#8720076) Homepage Journal
      First, you ask: Maybe I'm really naive, but why can't they grow this sort of crop indoors?

      Then you say: I know that it would probably cost a lot more

      Ding! That's it in one. After all, if one company is growing it the expensive way, and another one (in another country if necessary) is doing it the cheap one... guess who wins? Especially in the current environment of trying to get drug prices as low as possible... Yup, its the cheap one. Go figure. So as long as growing it the cheap way is possible, that's the way that commercial entities will do it.
    • by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:18PM (#8720105)
      There have been documented [organicconsumers.org] problems that can occur after harvest as well.

      I personally don't have anything against generically engineered organisms, only that you have to be very careful managing them. While they shouldn't be able to compete as well as "natural" varieties, all it takes are a few big screw-ups to destroy the industry.

      Indoor growing helps, as do a number of other controls that can be put in place. Moderate regulation is a good thing, in my opinion.
    • Better yet... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Flamingcheeze (737589)
      The best thing to do would be to tweak the plants so they are sterile, and thus, incapable of cross-pollinating. This should be a very easy thing to do.
    • Re:Naive? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bigman2003 (671309)
      Rice paddies are usually very large, and they require a LOT of water and sun.

      The sun part would do okay in a greenhouse, but the water would be difficult. And, building a structure that is large enough, without any type of support that would impede mechanical planting/harvesting would make this hugely expensive.

      Option 1- buy some land, plant rice. Harvest.

      Option 2 - but some land, build a huge building that has a crud-load of fresh water in it, maintain the building, and harvest.

      Option 1 of course is
  • GM products (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Stevyn (691306) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:06PM (#8719962)
    I hope they test the hell out of these types of "medicine" and their effects on their surroundings. What if a large amount of the chemicals they make adversely effects another species in the area? I'm all for production of GM foods that help, but not those that hurt as well just to save a few pennies.
    • Re:GM products (Score:5, Insightful)

      by adug (228162) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:31PM (#8720230) Homepage
      Nobody could adequately test the consequences for genetically modified crops in a time frame that would suit the corporate farming interests like Monsanto that push this stuff.

      The consequences of growing these types of crops and the impact on their surroundings may not be measureable or manifest themselves for years.

      This is why genetically modified crops are such a gamble. Scientists just *don't* know what will really happen, they are hoping for the best based on a shallow dataset of information.

      The thing is, there really is no reason to modify foods genetically in this manner. It's one thing to cross one tomato with another tomato strain to get a redder, juicier tomato, it's quite another to put drugs in them, or make them glow in the dark, or somesuch nonsense.

      If one needs drugs, they should take a pill. Leave the drugs out of the food supply for those of us who don't want it them in our food.

      I hate to bring up the "slippery slope" but given the current state of environmental policy in this country (and worldwide) I choose to *always* default to caution. Destroying, modifying, genetic diversity should be undertaken with *extreme* caution.

      The problem is that it is large corporations with no regard for the environment, or even the best interests of other people, who are railroading this stuff through in the court of public opinion and in government hearings. Anyone who dissents is "against science" or a "luddite" according to them.

      These corporations will tell you that they are doing it to feed poor people in starving nations. This is crap. There is *no* food shortage. There are food distribution problems caused by political or economical concerns.

      If these companies were really concerned about creating nutritious and helpful foods they would learn soil conservation techniques. By and large the vegetables that you eat today are not nearly as good for you as the ones that your grandparents ate because soil depletion and crappy farming techniques have robbed them of their minerals and nutrients.

      I am not a luddite, I am an environmentalist. There is lots of room for scientists to come up with clever plans to increase crop yields and preserve soil *without* putting manmade chemicals and drugs in them.

      Using technology to simply coverup and put a bandaid over mismanaged farming policies is a bad use of said technology and a cheap grab for a buck by people that have no concern what happens to your children.
      • Leave the drugs out of the food supply for those of us who don't want it them in our food.

        Fine, you don't have to buy it. But don't try to kill the product because you won't buy it. That's like someone trying to get deoderant declared illegal cause they don't use it.
      • Re:GM products (Score:3, Informative)

        by Dfasdf (414625)
        By and large the vegetables that you eat today are not nearly as good for you as the ones that your grandparents ate because soil depletion and crappy farming techniques have robbed them of their minerals and nutrients. Seriously now, you are an idiot.. the soil depletion argument you bring up is nothing but a load of garbage.. please familiarize yourself with modern farming practices.. (articles and such by Greenpeace and the like do not count [these organizations tend to have opinions about things that
  • Drug resistance? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by taped2thedesk (614051)
    OK, this seems like a silly question -

    So we're just going to feed antibiotics to the general population even though most of them don't need it?

    Aren't we already encountering problems with drug resistance because doctors are over-prescribing antibiotics, and patients don't follow the dosing instructions?

    Or are these not antibiotics? I'm confused.

    • Re:Drug resistance? (Score:5, Informative)

      by fireduck (197000) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:14PM (#8720043)
      these aren't antibiotics. these are naturally occuring proteins that are present in breast milk that help fight infection. once a baby is weaned off breast milk, s/he no longer receives these proteins. so the idea is to give the non-breast feeding babies a supplement made from this rice so that the infant has a constant supply of the protein.

      given that these are naturally occuring proteins that everyone was exposed to as a child, i think the liklihood of bacteria developing a new resistance to them is low (otherwise, it would have happened sometime within the past several thousand years)
      • by KombuchaGuy (752406) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:26PM (#8720179)
        Breast-feeding right through to adulthood. I'll sign up.
      • Re:Drug resistance? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I suspect the "supplements for babies" line is a smokescreen designed to engender support for something they knew would be controversial. That may actually backfire, since it makes far more sense to simply make sure babies get real, complete breast milk, and anything that might be seen to undermine that (hello, Nestle) is going to garner negative press.

        Lysozyme is next to useless as a drug because the molecule is too big to be absorbed and move around the body. It's really more like a kind of natural prese
        • by Ironica (124657) <.gro.kcodnoob. .ta. .lexip.> on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @09:04PM (#8720992) Journal
          it makes far more sense to simply make sure babies get real, complete breast milk, and anything that might be seen to undermine that (hello, Nestle) is going to garner negative press.

          There are cases where breast milk is not an option:

          - Some mothers cannot produce milk at all or cannot produce sufficient milk to feed their baby.

          - A mother who has to take certain drugs for her own health and well-being may not be able to breastfeed because of the risks those drugs present to the baby.

          - Sometimes mom isn't available to breastfeed at all. Women still do occasionally die in childbirth, or more commonly, give their baby up for adoption at birth.

          - Newborns can have several different disorders that make all milk products, including those from mom, anywhere from very uncomfortable to severely damaging to them. Phenylketonuria [medhelp.org], severe lactose intolerance, etc.

          So, for several reasons, it's a good idea to improve infant formula as much as possible. We'll probably never be able to get it as good as breast milk (since mom's body can adapt the formulation to environmental factors, such as passing on antibodies to whatever cold is going around), but it's not necessarily a bad idea.

          Interesting that these can also serve as food preservatives, though. You may very well be right about the "true" motivations for this product.
      • Re:Drug resistance? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by iriles (35702)
        Because they are naturally occuring the proteins take adavantage of evolution to keep up with the bacteria they protect against. The life cycle of a human mother is much longer than that of bacteria, so over dependance on the proteins may still cause problems. That's probably why we only get the protein as babies, when we need it most.

        With rice the life cycle is much shorter, however I'm not sure how GE'd rice would be able to directly take advantage of evolution... instead development will be directed and
    • I beleive the plan is to grow the rice, and extract the drugs from the crop, rather then using standard manufacturing techniques.

      If that is the case, then I think its a neat idea. However, I also believe that measures should be taken to ensure that the pharm-crop cannot get loose into the general food chain.

      END COMMUNICATION
    • Not to mention all the antibiotics you get in your animal and animal biproducts...
  • Monsanto (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:07PM (#8719973) Homepage
    This is really an interesting question. For example Monsanto has sued farmers that are growing "their" soybeans, yet these farmers are actually growing from stocks of their own crop that has been contaminated by virtue of cross pollenization. Sort of the Genie out of the bottle thing.
  • hmm.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by SinaSa (709393) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:07PM (#8719977) Homepage
    Does anyone else see this as just another thing thinkgeek can sell, caffienated?
  • by TJ_Phazerhacki (520002) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:08PM (#8719978) Journal
    Really, must these liberal whiners continue to degrade the march of science based solely on their opinion? I eat genetically engineered food, and there's nothing wrong with me! And besides, the third hand really helps to type! Seriously, though, It really comes down to what is necessary for survival. Glo-Fish? Faddish, but really laying the groundwork for the next generation of bio-reactors. And franken food? There's already a huge industry out there for "Organic" food, why can't both co-exist? I'll take my golden rice steamed, and my Kobe Beef fresh from the secluded, beer fed haven it grew up in.
  • by cmeans (81143) * <cmeans@NosPaM.intfar.com> on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:09PM (#8719986) Homepage Journal
    First I see this /. article, then I see this one...Rice to Testify Publicly Before 9/11 Commission [foxnews.com].

    Scary...

  • anti-rice (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    My workplace is anti rice. Three people have been fired recently for eating rice in their cubicle. *Takes another hit*
  • by Bobdoer (727516)
    If they're willing to grow it in secure environments far away from me, then it's all nice and good. However, if they grow it within a 5000 mile radius of my rice, there's gunna be some hurtin'.
  • by xxdinkxx (560434) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:11PM (#8720006) Homepage
    I have absolutely not problem with genetic engineering ... granted that the following conditions are met. 1. the product is clearly labeled 2. it is NOT grown in open airspace. The reason why the latter one is important is because the second anyone releases a genetically modified crop into open air (even in a contained farm) birds and other creatures will eat the seeds (or the wind will blow the seeds) and slowly but surely this crop will leave the controlled vicinity. When this occurs, you will have not only begun to make the natural genetic code of said crop a fading tradition, but there are also possible health risks that could potentially be involved. Plus has anyone other then me noticed that organically grown food just tates better (Yes I even did a formal blind taste test experiement once with raw oranges.) This is also bad news for organic farmers because it cost a lot of money ( thousands annually IIRC) to get that certificed organic label placed on products. Just take a look at the mess canada is now in as well as the western part of the usa with organic (or lack there of ) cannola plants. Its near impossible now to grow actual organic cannola. here for more info [certifiedorganic.bc.ca] This is some scary news. Also consider this, once the naturally genetic code is gone... there is no getting it back.
    • I have absolutely not problem with genetic engineering ... granted that the following conditions are met.

      Agreed. Though, as you pointed out with the canola example, I don't see any real effort to enforce responsible practices. There oughtabealaw!


      -FL

    • by jratcliffe (208809) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @08:00PM (#8720498)
      "Also consider this, once the naturally genetic code is gone... there is no getting it back."

      The "organic" canola plants used to produce food products are the result of serious human genetic intervention. The first rapeseed plants capable of producing edible oils (previously, it had just been an industrial lubricant) were introduced in Canada in 1968 [siu.edu], and dubbed canola, a contraction of "Canada Oil."
      • Yeah. That's pretty cool, and that's exactly the sort of engineering that I support.

        What I don't support are:
        1) Crops that allow for (and demand) the heavy use of pesticides, herbicides, and other poisons that contaminate my food supply.
        2) Crops that grow drugs and other chemicals that don't need to be in the food supply and can contaminate neighbor's crops.
        3) Suing innocent farmers who got their crops contaminated and ruined by your whiz-bang patented crapola.

        We should be using GM to reduce the use o
  • As long as the rice tastes better and i won't need viagra to counter the effects of the chemicals in my rice i'm ok with anyting.
    Whats next, strawberry flavoured rice???
  • Better then (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Rice in my drugs.

    I hate it when they cut it with rice.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:14PM (#8720047)
    Speaking as an extended member of the asian community, I propose the idea that rice IS a drug. It's damn addictive -- just ask most asians! Gotta have rice on a daily basis, if not at least twice a day. Otherwise you start getting the shakes. Potatoes don't cut it, bread certainly isn't it, and pasta just can't compare to the asian grain of choice.

    Low carb diet? Might as well call it detox!

    Worse yet, its multi-cultural nature can lead to cultural degradation through Ricism. Asian rice tend to be smaller and stick together, texas long-grain tend to be big and separate, and brown rice is "out there" as far as culinary acceptance goes.

    So rice with drugs is harmful. Rice IS already comparable to drugs without the additional drugs. :)
  • Drug rice... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by highwaytohell (621667) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:16PM (#8720077)
    With all this genetically modified food being pushed forward for the betterment of mankind, has anyone ever questioned what would happen to the immune system if we are so hellbent on preventing disease from food sources. Everyone is so cleanliness obsessed that they disinfect everything, but as a child, your immune system has to be built up to defend itself against diseases, with these GM foods being created to basically prevent disease, does that not weaken our immune system, and wouldnt this make us more susceptible to diseases such as the common cold? Fair enough these chemicals are good at for us, and are needed in prevention of certain diseases, but to actually battle the disease and win, our immune system must be up to the task.
    • Re:Drug rice... (Score:5, Informative)

      by fireduck (197000) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:32PM (#8720233)
      most genetically modified foods aren't made for the direct betterment of mankind. rather they are modified for the betterment of the plant. So, rather than make a tomato that is free of salmonella, they are making tomatos that are yucky to tomato worms (for the most part).

      The species that are being made for the betterment of mankind typically are done to rectify dietary defficiencies in a given population. For example, vitamin A rice [soilassociation.org] for developing countries which often have large populations of people who don't get enough vitamin A (lack of causes blindness). The rice in this particular story isn't meant to be used to better all people, but (as i read it) to be a supplement for babies who are not breast-feeding (as it was engineered to have proteins naturally occuring in breast milk).

      The problem with genetically engineering crops isn't that we are "babying" our immune system (that's a separate issue mostly involving the overuse of antibiotics). Rather, the problem is the overreliance on single species (such as the vitamin A rice) and the lack of natural diversity. Eventually an opportunistic pest is going to come along and decimate your rice field; a condition that would be limited if multiple strains of rice were to be grown.
    • Maybe one day the meek really will inherit the earth?
  • A French man and an Asian man were conversing:

    Asian guy: "Did you get drugs for your rice?"
    French guy: "Drugs for my rice?"
    Asian guy <points to French guy's head>: "You know, drugs for your rice."
  • Answer: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Peale (9155) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:19PM (#8720110) Homepage Journal
    Opponents say growing the crops in open fields endangers organic and conventional crops, as well as human health...

    Grow them in buildings, in a clean enviornment.
  • Fact one, slashdot is populated mostly by geeks. Geeks are all for stem cell research, embryo harvesting, genetic research, etc. Oddly enough though altering the good ol' rice our mother earth has been producing is a travesty. Pesticides alone are enough to worry about (hey it is that or watching locus eat your years supply of food) not to mention pollution in the air and water. So who cares if our rice is genetically altered.
    • So who cares if our rice is genetically altered.

      I care because I don't like the idea of a coporation being able to say they now own that rice and be able to dictate what I can and cannot do with it. If the rice genes somehow manage to somehow alter the outcome of sperm or cell would that company then have legal rights over any child created from that sperm and cell.
      This is more of a legal/ patent issue. But the fact is that formal science in the field of nutrition and muchless chemistry or even bioengin
  • by Seoulstriker (748895) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:25PM (#8720167)
    I don't know about the specifics of what kinds of proteins they want to produce with rice, but I do know that it is much more efficient and safe to produce proteins with E. Coli.

    Although they're going for 'out of the lab production' with rice, the potential for problems is just too great. Unlike crops which are genetically modified to produce more of their own proteins or molecules that will be in their environment anyways (like Round-Up), the rice would be producing proteins/molecules/drugs which are completely foreign to the crop environment. What really irks me is that they are producing drugs which will possibly be leaked into the ground after degradation or harvesting. If there happen to be bacteria in the ground with some sort of drug resistance that can be transmitted to other bacteria by plasmids/recombination through contamination of the crops, there will be big problems.

    The use of E. Coli in the production of pharmaceuticals is much more efficient and can be grown in larger quantities using huge vats in research labs.

    On a much more practical note: how exactly are they going to extract the drugs from the rice? Would the rice be sold with the drugs inside and then cooked prior to ingestion? Or would they be steamed and the resulting water ingested?

    Bottom line: using ANY crop for pharmaceutical production is inefficient and dangerous and impractical. E. Coli can do what crops do but with much higher efficiency and practicality.
  • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:27PM (#8720197)
    The biggest concern I have with GE/GM is that too many people think that genetic material can be contained and controlled. Pollen carries genetic material and can easily be blown around the world (let alone over the road into the neighbours crops). Furthermore, viable pollen has been found that is hundreds of years old. So folks, do we really want to let these kinds of things out of the lab?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:30PM (#8720223)
    Yeast producing alcohol?
  • Several months back I was browsing at well-known national bookseller and came across a book that had a section on how genetic modification could be used to splice into the rice genome a gene that encoded for beta carotine (promotes good eyesight).

    Googling for more info just now turned up this [cornell.edu] web page saying that this gene mod hasn't been submitted for gov't approval yet (as of 19 Sep 2003 anyway).
  • by cpu_fusion (705735) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @07:35PM (#8720263)
    Let's apply genetic manipulation to produce carbohydrate-free rice please. This Atkins diet is killin' me!
  • This type of rice also sees narrow acceptance
    Rice Boy Page [riceboypage.com]

  • Drugs? (Score:2, Funny)

    by boarder8925 (714555)
    You bet I want drugs in my rice! Though if it's not cocaine or marijuana, forget it.
  • Hmmm, Deja Vu (Score:2, Interesting)

    by arfonrg (81735)
    Why do I think of Africanized bees when I read this?

    -----
    If you're not using Slackware, then, uh, you suck, or something. Yeah!
  • I'd like Alprazolmam in mine.

    Do yourselves a favor:

    - Take two days off this spring.
    - Take a 2MG Xanax.
    - Drink a strong cup of coffee.
    - Smoke a joint.

    - Enjoy your afternoon.
    - Sleep all day the next day.

    If only the straights would all die already, and us normals could make this legal.
  • by danharan (714822)
    This is incredible. If babies are getting infections because they are not being breastfed, the solution of the corporations is to engineer rice for processing in some ersatz replacement which will have only a tiny portion of the benefits of breast milk.

    Breast feeding is FREE and far superior to the patented alternatives. Yet another company doing PR to convince doctors, nurses and parents that their product is safe will mean fewer breast-fed kids. Dumb security.

    Cross-pollination will destroy heirloom and
  • I've always wondered why they didn't just splice the genes for THC production into some food crops with hardy wild cousins - mustard or some member of the mint family- and then just let it loose in the wild as a type of prank.

    Lets see the feds playing whack-a-mole.

    Alternatly, I've always thought Monsanto's so called terminator genes were good inventions, used properly. Biotech companies and environmentalists both have the similar desires for biotech plants; that the 'product' does not become part of the w
  • by windside (112784) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (elyobjmp)> on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @09:17PM (#8721092)

    One of the things that we've seen happening in Canada is that a huge corporation (ie: Monsanto) will sell its genetically modified seed to farmers and charge them an annual licensing fee. The problem arises when some of the seed blows onto neighbouring farmers' fields and starts to merge with their crops. In turn, Monsanto takes legal action against the farmers.

    Here's a link to a good, comprehensive story. [www.cbc.ca]

    Basically, the issue at hand is that even before considering the ethical implications of lacing crops with drugs, we should be thinking about the leverage such enhancements will give to corporate heavyweights like Monsanto in their ongoing struggle to preserve "their" intellectual property.
    --

  • True accounting... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Genda (560240) <mariet@@@got...net> on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @10:45PM (#8721636) Journal
    I see this problem at two levels, the specific issue, and a larger systemic problem...

    The first and obvious one, being that the production of crops which have been bioengineered to produce biologically active chemicals and drugs needs to be strickly managed. They must be kept away from other plants, and for that matter, need to be kept away from bateria which can take genetic material and communicate it to wild species (cross species genetic communication is not commonly considered and is a real issue when dealing with novel or unprecedented genetic application.)

    Thalidamide looked like a great idea until deformed babies began to happen. Having a genetically altered crop, speading a gene into wild plant species that might have a significant impact on human health and reproduction, or simply further threaten the viability of endangered environments, is a potential disaster just waiting to happen. We need to place care, and responsiblity ahead of the bottom line, or we might just greedy ourselves to death.

    The second, is an administration that has ramrodded through the various dept. of government, the agenda "Rubberstamp Anything Big Business Wants". Just today, the EPA was forced to push through new business practices which may cause a 700% increase in mercury in the fish we eat over the next 10 years. This is in an environment where the mercury levels are already high enough to warm pregnant women "That eating top tier ocean caught fish more than once a week poses a significant risk for birth defect".

    I'm a firm believer in capitalism, I believe we need to support business, and create a strong and sustainable economy. However, that strength must not come at the cost of social disaster. Our government has become a machine designed to force all resistance including sanity, aside to promote the wishes of large multinational powers. Time and time again the track record is clear. The public is at risk, every single time our welfare come to a head against some D.C. connected industry's profit margin. It's vital that we not try to reduce this to a Republican/Democratic, Conservative/Liberal issue. These are issues involving the fact that our elected officials are too easily bought and sold for the price of funding future election campaigns. We need to change the system, and waiting for the people who benefit from that system, to change it, is clearly pointless. The people need to stand up and mandate a change from the ground up. The quality and longevity of our lives demands it.

    Genda

Money is the root of all evil, and man needs roots.

Working...