Some Missouri Rice Farmers Fear Crop Contamination

February 09, 2005 -- Posted at 9:30 p.m. CST

Southeast, MO -- "You know people hear about this, especially your international companies that buy rice.  They'll hear about this genetically modified rice, and they won't buy this rice especially out of Missouri,"said rice farmer, Sonny Martin.

Ventria Bioscience Company genetically modifies rice for pharmaceutical purposes, and  it wants to grow that modified rice on 200 acres in the Missouri bootheel.

Bruce Beck works at the Butler County Extension Office.

"The pro's are we are getting new technology for human benefit. We are getting cheaply made pharmaceuticals,"said Beck.

The rice grown by the california based company is not for human consumption-- but there are concerns.

"Of course, our concern is the blackbirds, and the geese, and the threat of contamination,"said Martin.

Some farmers, like Sonny Martin, say people will not buy rice if they feel it could be contaminated.

For someone who says rice farming is his livelihood, it's a scary thought.

"It's amazing to stimulate the economy in Northwest Missourt,  there are going to put us out of business,"said Martin.