NFPA Says Pharma-Corn Incident Validates Food Industry Concerns


Contacts: Tim Willard (202) 637-8060

Libby Mikesell (202) 639-5919

( Washington , D.C. ) – National Food Processors Association President and CEO John R. Cady issued the following statement i n response to news that experimental corn which is genetically modified to produce pharmaceutical agents was improperly harvested.

“We are thankful that the inadvertent harvesting of an unapproved, experimental corn was stopped before it threatened the integrity of the food supply.

“However, it is nothing short of alarming to know that at the earliest stages of the development of crops for plant-made pharmaceuticals, the most basic preventive measures were not faithfully observed. This apparent violation of rules intended to control the unauthorized spread of these substances very nearly placed the integrity of the food supply in jeopardy.

“For this reason, NFPA supports mandatory regulatory oversight to prevent contamination and adulteration of the food supply with plant-made pharmaceuticals and industrial compounds that are not approved as human food or animal feed ingredients. We believe the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration should impose a stringent and mandatory regulatory framework to ensure protection of the U.S. food supply and U.S. food exports from any inadvertent or even intentional contamination by plant-made materials that have not been approved for human food and animal feed purposes.”

“In NFPA’s view, there is an unacceptable risk to the integrity of the food supply associated with the use of food and feed crops as ‘factories’ for the production of pharmaceuticals or industrial chemicals without mandatory regulations and necessary verification in place. In addition, serious thought should be given to alternative plant varieties that are neither food nor feed crops for use in development of plant-made pharmaceutical and industrial compounds. Choosing the alternatives will help avoid co-mingling of crops grown as food and feed with crops producing substances unapproved for human consumption, which could result in adulteration of the food supply, if not a public health risk.

“While fortunately the potential threat posed in this situation was averted, this incident presents validation of the food industry’s concerns that current practices are not sufficient to protect the integrity and safety of the food supply”