Actually I don’t know how to judge this story in the BBC: Genetically modified rice will carry the gene from Human milk. LINK

Most of the article is about the “frankenfood” controversy.

Ethically, is it right to add a human gene to animals or plants? Well, ironically the Vatican has little objections to a gene or two and many objections to cloning and chimera (animal human hybrids) but does support adding genes to promote health and nutrition.

But others are not so comfortable with such manipulation. What happens if the pollen blows and contaminates other food?

Ironically, thanks to such conservative opinions in Europe, some European and Asian countries don’t allow food that might contain genetically modified food to be used–even countries like Zambia and Zimbabwe where people are literally starving for lack of food have turned down offers of US food for fear it might contain GM Food– but the US has been using GM food for year without much outcry or problem.

And medicine produced by human genes in bacteria have been used for years with few people realizing that it essentially is bacteria producing insulin or monoclonal antibodies by splicing human DNA onto the germ DNA.LINK…film HERE
The idea behind genetically modified rice is similar, but since rice is larger than a bacteria, has more possibility to spread in the wild, and can of course produce more and cheaper medicines.

This article discusses why docs want to add milk genes to rice. The main advantage is that it enables the Lactoferrin, which is an anti viral/anti fungal properties LINK. The biotech company has more HERE
As ricegrowers, the possibility of increasing nutrition in our rice is exciting, and the possibility that we coud produce a specialty rice in our area which could not only produce cheap medicine for Asia but raise the profit for local farmers is interesting. My stepson attended a conference on this last week.

Alas, it may be years until we in Asia can benefit from such breakthroughs. Ironically, like other Genetically modified food, the “experiments” will probably be done in the US: first on animal feed, and then for human consumption. Asian governments don’t want their children to be “guinea pigs” so it may be years before our government will allow the risk for their people.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the Philippines. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket

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