The Center for Food Safety has filed comments with the Kansas Department of Agriculture on the pending water term permit applications from Ventria for field trials of genetically modified rice. CFS, a non-profit public interest organization opposing genetically engineered food crops, has asked that the permits be denied.
Ventria has contracted with local farmers to grow three types of rice genetically engineered to produce pharmaceuticals in Geary County. USDA has authorized Ventria to plant up to 3,200 acres in Kansas, with the first harvest planned for fall 2007. Ventria expects that future plantings could total 30,000 acres.
Meanwhile, the CFS argues that the possibility of contamination of neighboring food crops creates unnecessary and unacceptable risks to the public and the environment. U.S. FDA has not approved the pharmaceuticals Ventria is growing in the rice for human consumption.
CFS argues that the water permits "prejudicially and unreasonably affects the public interest," and the proposed irrigation of experimental pharmaceutical crops is not a "beneficial use" as understood in traditional Kansas water law, and that any such water permits may impair existing water rights.
The permits are being reviewed by the Division of Water Resources within the Kansas Department of Agriculture. The CFS comments can be viewed at the CFS website at www.centerforfoodsafety.org/policy_com.cfm, or are available from the Kansas Rural Center.