Firm Plans to Start Small with Genetically Modified Rice Crop in Kansas

WICHITA, KA - The California company that seeks to create the nation's first genetically modified rice crop plans to start Kansas.

The Department of Agriculture approved a plan by Ventria Bioscience to grow rice modified to produce human proteins.  The long-scale plan would cover 3,000 acres of farmland near Junction City but initial contracts are for 200 acres.

The company hopes eventually to have thousands of acres of rice production in the eastern third of Kansas.

The pharmaceutical rice would be harvested and refined for use in medicines to fight diarrhea, dehydration and other illnesses that kill millions of children worldwide each year.

In Arkansas and several other states, local farmers opposed new experimental planting because of fears the modified rice would taint commercial rice crops.

The Kansas Farm Bureau said Ventria is the kind of company that Kansas hoped to attract when it formed the Kansas Bioscience Authority two years ago.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)