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ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

15 November 2002

CEO OF PRODIGENE A BUSH APPOINTEE/GM CROP SCARE HITS USA - AGAIN

USDA claims they managed to spot the biopharma contamination incidents in Nebraska and Iowa because they'd particularly had their eye on ProdiGene, and there is talk of ProdiGene officials possibly facing jail.

Yet in the very month that the Iowa contamination occurred, ProdiGene's President was being appointed by George W. Bush to America's 'Board on International Food and Agriculture Development' (BIFAD). BIFAD advises USAID - the US agency at the centre of the controversy over GM contaminated food aid.

ProdiGene's press release (item 1) quotes its President as saying, "I am honored to be appointed to this position by President Bush", and implies the appointment reflects his exceptional "management, operational and strategic business talents".

Item 2 notes that the ProdiGene debacle has led to the destruction of crops worth millions of dollars.

1. ProdiGene's President "honored to be appointed by President Bush"
2. GM CROP SCARE HITS USA - AGAIN

***

ANTHONY G. LAOS APPOINTED TO BOARD FOR INTERNATIONAL FOOD AND AGRICULTURE DEVELOPMENT BY PRESIDENT BUSH

http://www.nrp-euro.com/news/view_newsitem.aspx?ItemID=238

College Station, TX, September 9, 2002

ProdiGene, Inc., a leader in the development and manufacturing of recombinant proteins from transgenic-plant systems,  announced today that Anthony G. Laos, President and CEO of ProdiGene was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as a member of the Board for International Food and Agriculture Development (BIFAD). Mr. Laos will serve a four-year term, expiring on July 28, 2005.

BIFAD provides advice to the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on international food issues such as agriculture and food security.  The organization consists of seven members appointed by the President and is the only Presidentially appointed board to advise and assist the Administrator for International Development in developing and implementing the official U.S. foreign assistance program. BIFAD also assists and advises the U.S. Government Inter-Agency Working Group on Food Security in carrying out commitments made in the U.S. Country Paper for the November 1996 World Food Summit and on the Plan of Action agreed to at the Summit.

"I am honored to be appointed to this position by President Bush," stated Anthony G. Laos, President and CEO of ProdiGene. "I welcome  the opportunity to work with my fellow colleagues in promoting USAID  policy and increasing world food production."

Anthony G. Laos has extensive operations experience and expertise in  the development of agricultural-based products. For more than 30 years, he has used his management, operational and strategic business talents to manage and develop a number of  companies. This includes serving in senior-level positions at Carter-Day Industries, Northrup King and  Stauffer Chemical Company. Prior to his position at ProdiGene, Mr. Laos founded Stauffer Seeds  and led as its President and CEO.

About ProdiGene

ProdiGene, headquartered in College Station, Texas, is a private biotechnology company that is developing and manufacturing industrial  and pharmaceutical proteins from a transgenic-plant system.  ProdiGene, as  the first and only company to produce and market a recombinant protein from a transgenic-plant system, is well positioned to capitalize on the opportunities in the large and expanding pharmaceutical protein markets.

***

Subject: from FOE: GM CROP SCARE HITS USA - AGAIN

Sent: Friday, November 15, 2002 2:50 PM

FRIENDS OF THE EARTH
Press  Release
For immediate release: Friday 15th Nov

ANOTHER GM CROP SCARE HITS USA
GM "pharmaceutical" maize contaminates soya

Crops worth millions of dollars have been destroyed in the US after soya contaminated by genetically modified (GM) maize plants used to produce a pharmaceutical or industrial chemical was discovered in a US grain elevator [1].  Friends of the Earth is seeking urgent reassurance from the European Commission that food in Europe has not been contaminated.

Half a million bushels of soya, worth about $2.7 million, was discovered with GM contamination in Nebraska. The incident is believed to have occurred because the soya was planted on the same site used to grow GM "pharmaceutical" maize by biotech firm ProdiGene the previous year. Seeds dropped by the maize grew this year and contaminated the new crop. US authorities have not disclosed details of the mysterious GM "pharmaceutical", but have revealed ProdiGene was involved in a similar incident in Iowa in September. ProdiGene, carries out a range of outdoor tests on crops containing pharmaceuticals and industrial products in at least 96 locations in the US.

Friends of the Earth's GM campaigner Adrian Bebb said: "This was an accident waiting to happen. If you grow GM crops outdoors then they will eventually contaminate the rest of the food chain. The US authorities have now had to intervene twice to prevent these unlicensed genes entering the food chain. But how many incidents have they missed?  We are seeking urgent assurances that food imported into Europe has not been contaminated.

"Once again the dangers of allowing GM crops to be commercially grown have been highlighted. The UK Government must take note, and refuse to allow them to be commercially grown in the UK".

Friends of the Earth, as part of a wider US coalition, warned the US Government earlier this year of the risk of contamination. The coalition is now filing a legal petition demanding an immediate halt to the outdoor growing of "pharmaceutical" GM crops.

Research into the company involved, Prodigene, reveals that the contamination could come from one of the following :
. Aids vaccine gp120 -- a glycoprotein
. Blood-clotting agent -- Aprotinin
. Trypsin - Digestive enzyme that can be used in leather tanning or to produce insulin.
. Industrial adhesive Laccase -- an enzyme derived from a fungus

Other "pharmaceutical" GM crops reportedly grown by ProdiGene include experimental oral vaccines for hepatitis B and for a pig disease, transmissible gastroenteritis. According to USDA records ProdiGene has received 85 test permits for experimental open-air trials of "pharmaceutical" GM crops and chemical crops for planting in at least 96 locations.

Friends of the Earth's GM Campaigner Adrian Bebb continued: "Once you start genetically engineering drugs and chemicals into crop plants you are opening Pandora's box. The consequences could be catastrophic."

Notes
[1] The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Tuesday Nov. 12 that it  quarantined over $2.7 million worth of soya beans (500 000 bushels) destined for human consumption at a Nebraska grain elevator after finding parts of ProdiGene's GM maize mixed with the soya beans. They later ordered their destruction.

Contact:
Adrian Bebb 07712 843 211 (m)
Larry Bohlen, FOE US 00 +1 202 783 7400 extension 102

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