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US food group says won\'t allow pharm crops in food

US food group says won\ t allow pharm crops in food
WASHINGTON - The U.S. food processing industry said this week it would not tolerate any experimental industrial or medicine crops seeping into the general food supply, fearing such an incident would provoke a consumer backlash.
The National Food Processors Association\'s \"zero tolerance\" policy comes after a Texas biotech company was accused of tainting crops with an experimental corn plant engineered to produce medicine. \"We live under a zero tolerance so the presence of any amount of these compounds in our food products, no matter how small, will result in their being adulterated,\" said John Cady, the trade group\'s president. Privately owned ProdiGene Inc. agreed on Friday to pay about $3 million to buy and destroy contaminated soybeans to settle federal allegations it inadvertently tainted them. Last month, the food processors group urged the federal government to halt plantings of gene-altered crops for pharmaceuticals until it imposes tougher regulations, fearing unapproved crops. ProdiGene is one of several biotech companies engineering corn plants with the aim of producing cheaper and better medicines. Some environmental groups fear humans could suffer symptoms such as allergic reactions if they eat bioengineered food not approved for consumption. Europe has banned virtually all biotech foods because of consumer concerns. The National Food Processors said it created an industry task force to study what federal safeguards must be in place to protect food crops from contamination. REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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