“Just one mistake by a biotech company, we’ll be eating other people’s prescription drugs in our cornflakes.”
— Larry Bohlen, Health and Environment Programs Director at Friends of the Earth
(Truthstream Media + Nutritional Anarchy) Do you remember the biotech firm Prodigene?
In a special investigative report, we followed the trail of biopharming, where science is using genetically engineered crops to grow pharmaceutical and vaccine components. Some of these treatments are developed to be eaten directly as food.
One firm, Prodigene, was caught in a major scandal back in 2002 after experimental pharmaceuticals growing in open air field trials – such as AIDS and Hepatitis B vaccines, and treatments for gastrointestinal diseases – contaminated nearby food crops. Rather than reign in their potentially hazardous test crops, the USDA – publicly supportive of biopharmaceutical potential – actually helped Prodigene pay back damages with an interest-free loan and then went on to cover further research. However, the firm disappeared after a subsequent contamination violation led to a USDA decision barring them and their principals from receiving any future testing permits.
But did Prodigene really stop its pharma-crop production? Melissa Melton followed its founder and lead research scientist through his work at a spinoff firm, where human trials are set to begin soon for a Hepatitis B vaccine grown in genetically modified corn.