ISIS Report 09/03/04
Cancer Promoting Transgenic Rice
Transgenic rice containing human insulin-like growth factor, known to
promote cancer, is being developed government-funded academic researchers in
Canada for commercial production. Prof. Joe
Cummins exposes yet another gross violation of biosafety.
for this report are available in the ISIS members site.
Full details here
Biotech corporations, government and academia have joined up to devote
intense efforts into producing pharmaceutical products in transgenic crop
plants in Canada. There have been many field trials, and at least one crop,
rice genetically modified to produce human lactoferrin and lysozyme is being
promoted for commercial production in the field.
Even though the development of such pharm crops has begun to create a
great deal of public concern and discussion in the United States, it has
aroused scant attention among the Canadian public, still under the impression
that pharm crops are restricted to the United States.
Nevertheless, extremely hazardous pharm crops have been field tested in
Canada with little or no safety precaution or regulatory oversight. The
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is but a minor sub-department of
Agriculture Canada, which actively promotes and develops transgenic crops. The
Canadian news media have either ignored the extensive field trials or gave them
favourable reports, in total disregard of the dangers resulting from
contamination of the food crops that are mainstay of the Canadian economy.
Recently, researchers from the University of Ottawa and the National
Council of Canada reported that they had developed transgenic rice and
tobacco plants to produce human insulin like growth factor (hIGF). The
transgene is a synthetic form of the human gene, altered in DNA sequence to
enhance production in plants. The activity of the protein produced in the
plants was tested using an assay based on the promotion of growth of brain
The Canadian investigators claimed that hIGH would be useful in treating
a range of disorders: growth deficiency in children, insulin resistant
diabetes, osteoporosis and AIDS. However, they have singularly failed to
comment on the cancer-promoting abilities of hIGF and the dangers of exposing
humans and animals to it, nor the potential contamination of food crops with
hIGF. Scientific reviewers and journal editors have similarly neglected to
discuss the risks of hIGF production of plants while promoting the clinical
There is voluminous literature on the role of hIGF in cancer cell
transformation and proliferation. For example, there is evidence on the
increase in breast cancer risk associated with increased hIGF. Increased IGF
has been observed in the milk of cattle treated with recombinant bovine growth
hormone (rBGH) and rBGH milk is considered a potential risk factor for both
breast and gastrointestinal cancers.
In 2001, carcasses from 386 pigs modified with IGF transgenes were
"accidentally" marketed and consumed by residents of Florida. The threat to
public health from such exposures was largely played down by government
agencies and the news media.
In Canada, dangerous immune-suppressive interleukin-10 was produced in a
transgenic crop planted near a population centre with little control over the
spread of the transgene or the protein, the environmental and health impacts of
the test were completely ignored. Canadian politicians and news media have
taken a passive, if not outright submissive approach, allowing extensive
testing of pharm crops without informing the public, let alone public
consultation or discussion
The Institute of Science in Society (www.i-sis.org.uk) has circulated numerous
reports on the hazards and long term threats of transgenic pharm crops, which
should be consulted for background information for all those fortunate enough
to uncover clandestine field tests or production facilities near where they
live. It is essential that testing and production of pharm crops be done with
complete transparency, and full disclosure of the genetic makeup of the crop,
its location and measures for monitoring the spread of the transgene(s) and
product(s). The Canadian practice of undertaking testing and production near
population centres must be made illegal. Monitoring of the testing or
production facilities should be done by independent organizations, and the
producers should provide quick tests, such as dip-sticks.
Finally, in Canada, the CFIA is responsible for permitting and
monitoring field tests of biopharmaceutical crops, even though they lack expert
knowledge in the area of pharmaceuticals, the pharmaceutical regulator Health
Canada is not involved until final production facilities are established.
Regulation of hazardous biopharmaceuticals by a government sub-department
answering to the agriculture department that both promotes and develops
transgenic crops spells disaster for Canadas food crop production.