Ventria, the controversial GM pharma rice firm that has had to abandon its field trial plans in both California and Missouri, is now at the centre of a new storm over its activities in Peru.
For original article in Spanish:
US laboratory testing transgenic rice with Peruvian children
Laboratorio de EEUU prueba con niños peruanos efectividad de arroz transgenico
TeleSUR (Venezuela) / 14/06/2006
The Peruvian Medical Association denounced that Ventria, a pharmaceutical company from the US, is experimenting with lactating infants to evaluate the effectiveness of their pharmaceutical rice for use in acute diarrhea, reports Eduardo Aragon from TeleSur in Venezuela.
This transgenic rice is modified to produce the protein Lactoferrin. According to Herbert Cuba Garcia, spokesman for the Association, "these genetic changes are not allowed in Peru".
Cuba Garcia announced that Ventria Biosciences is performing a test in 140 children in public hospitals in the Peruvian capital, Lima, and in the locality of Trujillo, with the approval of the Ministry of Health.
In turn, lawyers mounting a defence of children's rights have considered this case as a violation of the laws and the Codes for Children and Adolescents.
"Children, as any other human being, have rights and have the right of freedom in their development and health, which should not be a matter of experimentation, especially when the possible outcomes of the experiments are not known", said Norma Rojas, attorney for Accion por los Ninos (Action on Behalf of Children).
Norma Rojas expressed that when it comes to children's rights there must be a primacy of the Superior Interest Principle, in other words, the principle stating that one must do what is most beneficial for the child, and that this principle cannot be overruled by experimentation or legislation.
Cuba Garcia expressed that the experiment was financed by the American company. The Minister of Health for Peru, Pilar Mazzeti, said that they "have requested the director of the hospital, the director of the National Institute of Health, as well as other organizations involved in this matter to provide information to see if they have fulfilled all the requirements needed to perform work particularly on minors".
The Nutritional Research Institute, which performed the experiment on behalf of Ventria in Peru, has stated that in this clinical study all norms at the national and international levels was respected with regards both to human subjects research as well as bioethics.