Consumer groups have won the latest round in their battle to keep a California biotechnology company from planting genetically engineered rice that would potentially produce human pharmaceuticals, as regulatory authorities sent the firm's proposal back to a committee for further review.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) on Friday (April 9) rejected Sacramento-based Ventria Biosciences' application to grow 120 acres of the genetically engineered rice in southern California because the firm had not received approval from federal regulators. The department sent the proposed regulation back to the California Rice Commission, which makes recommendations to CDFA, for further review.

The decision on whether the CDFA should permit the company to go ahead with its plans to plant the rice will likely face a 60- to 90-day public comment period. In addition to consumer and environmental groups, farmers and trade groups representing food processors are expected to weigh in on...

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