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Scientists scrutinize biopharming

US team developing risk-analysis tool to assess dangers to food supply.

Emma Hitt(emma@emmasciencewriter.com)

Researchers in US breadbasket states are developing an assessment model to identify potential safety risks in growing biopharmaceutical crops. The team from Iowa State University, University of Iowa and Montana State University hopes that finding a reliable way to predict the risk of food-crop contamination will help to resolve controversy over whether biopharming can safely take place near the nation's food supply.

"Instead of saying we should or shouldn't grow the pharmaceutical crops in food-producing areas, we're using science to determine which ones are safe to grow in food-producing areas, which ones should be grown in other states, and which ones should not be grown in an open environment at all," said Manjit Misra, lead researcher on the project and director of the Seed Science Center at Iowa State.

Concerns about cross contamination surged following the StarLink corn incident in 2000, when genetically modified corn approved only for animal...

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