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Biopharming crops could help treat cystic fibrosis.
Posted by: Prof. Dr. M. Raupp (IP Logged)
Date: October 21, 2005 03:48PM ; ;

The International Academy of Life Sciences has denounced attacks on crops
being grown in France to potentially treat cystic fibrosis and other
diseases and called for the continuation of research into these potentially
life-saving technologies, October 2005.

During the summer of 2005, a French protest group known as the Collectif
des faucheurs volontaires (or, "the Volunteer Reapers"), claimed
responsibility for destroying biopharmaceutical crops planted by Meristem, a
French leader in the plant-made pharmaceuticals industry. The crops were
reportedly intended to produce anti-cancer antibodies as well as proteins
that would hopefully ease the effects of cystic fibrosis, a disease that
causes chronic respiratory and digestive problems and is the most common
genetic disease among people of European ancestry.

?Apparently Inspired by a misinformed fear of this progressive technology,
these groups may have damaged the hopes that those suffering grave illnesses
have of one day finding a treatment that will allow them to lead a normal
life,? said IALS President Dr. Hilmar Stolte. ?This case illustrates the
need for informed dialogue on plant-made pharmaceuticals that looks at the
medical issues and opportunities from a sound grounding in science.?

The attack met with opposition from the group Defeating Cystic Fibrosis, as
well as the French Biotech Association, which publicly lamented the ?climate
of suspicion? that is propelled by groups like the Volunteer Reapers.
Philippe Pouletty, the president of the biotech association said, "The
distance between the United States and Europe in biotechnology continues to
grow ?In 2004, European investments in biotechnology made up only 17
percent. Although this is not the main factor for our current problems, the
political context significantly contributes to it."

Stolte, meanwhile, called for a continuation of the work to develop biopharm
crops and continuing dialogue to further public understanding of the
opportunities the technology offers.

?It is imperative that the public is informed about plant-made
pharmaceuticals,? he said. ?It would be regrettable, and even tragic, if the
combative political environment that currently exists in some parts of
Europe were to curb investment in -- or excuse the destruction of --
potentially life-saving pharmaceutical crops.?

For more information on plant-made pharmaceuticals, please visit:

The International Academy of Life Sciences is a global network of
universities, medical schools, and related institutions that are dedicated
to education, training and research in key issues associated with the life
sciences. For more information visit [].

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