Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Bio-Engineered Rice Uses Human Genes 417

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the tuning-i/o-performance dept.
gliph writes "Yahoo news has a piece about a small biogenetics firm that is using genetically engineered rice containing human genes to help fight diarrhea. From the article: 'Ventria's rice produces two human proteins found in mother's milk, saliva and tears, which help people hydrate and lessen the severity and duration of diarrhea attacks, a top killer of children in developing countries.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Bio-Engineered Rice Uses Human Genes

Comments Filter:
  • Condoleeza? (Score:5, Funny)

    by mbaudis (585035) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @03:27AM (#15348900) Homepage
    Reading the headline, I was sure this is fake news. Come on, Condoleeza and human?

    • Re:Condoleeza? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DigiShaman (671371)
      You what's really sad? If Condoleeza was a Democrat, your comment would have been modded "-5 Troll"

  • Horray! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Now I don't need to worry about dirrhea when I eat rice!
  • Madness (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @03:30AM (#15348907)
    Scientists need to learn that just because you can do something doesn't mean that you SHOULD do it. However much it might help the PR of the administration, reengineering Condoleeza Rice to give her human genes is going way too far. This madness has to stop.
  • by Aceticon (140883) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @03:31AM (#15348910)
    Eat uncooked flour dissolved in a little water.

    Eating cooked rice also helps stopping diarrhea. Normal rice, non genetic modifications whatsoever.

    These simple old tricks come all the way from my grandmother, and i've used them often enough to know that they work (either that or it's the placebo effect in action).

    So why exactly do we need frankein-rice for?
  • by gardyloo (512791) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @03:36AM (#15348930)
    Soylent Green.
    • Hey, that's what I thought of too, when I considered where this could lead to...
      (would require quite a bit more genetic modification, though).
    • Re:Product's name: (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @04:02AM (#15349020) Homepage Journal
      On a slightly more serious note, I remember a while ago some mutterings about the suitability (or lack thereof) of GM foods for people on Halal / Kosher diets (I think pig genes in tomatos was the particular exanmple used)

      Are there any moslem or jewish /. readers who would be able to answer whether or not products like this rice could interfere with a religious diet?
      • I was going to go a slightly different direction with this thought: I wonder if some Christian fundamentalists (are there any on slashdot, and why? ;) ) if they thought that adding human genes to rice means that the rice is human. I mean, they have already determined that life begins at conception, and that killing a fetus is wrong. Does having human genes confer a "soul" onto this rice? How much further a leap is it for someone to object to harvesting rice on religious grounds?

        Or am I just being ridicu
        • I don't think Christian fundamentalists would have a problem with this, since they eat the body of Christ and drink the blood of Christ every week.

          I think they make a valid point with fetus killing. How do you determine exactly when a fetus has life? It is not an easy question to answer.
        • Re:Product's name: (Score:5, Informative)

          by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @09:17AM (#15350092)
          OK, I'll bite. Unlike what appears to be the majority of Slashdotters, I actually am a Christian and yes I do go to a church that you would call "fundamentalist". While we don't use that description ourselves, it is accurate. So I think I am qualified to give a non-troll answer.

          Yes, you are being ridiculous. Nobody would consider such rice to be "human". I feel sorry for you because you are either stupid enough to actually think we might think a few human genes makes something human or you are just a sadly misinformed person with regards to how religious people think.

          Personally, while I am not in particular in favor of genetically modified food for reasons that have nothing at all to do with religion, I would not be surprised if some Christians objected to this rice. Not because it is "human" but because the creators are "playing God" or some such nonsense. Personally, I think that God gave us brains to use to make our lives better through advances in science and medicine. If I was going to get on board with genetically modified food, this would probably the be the one I'd support.
      • Re:Product's name: (Score:4, Informative)

        by free space (13714) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @09:34AM (#15350207)
        Well,
        I'm a Muslim, but not a religious scholar, so I'm saying my personal opinion, not the 'official' stance of Islam.

        Your example of pig genes in tomatoes can go in many ways. Some Muslims will argue that if it's "pig anything" it's not halal and we won't eat it.

        Other Muslims may say "guys, it's just tomatoes..as long as it's not real pig body parts then no problem".

        Then some others will say "depends on the genes themselves. If they are the genes pigs have in common with other creatures that we already eat freely like cows, then it isn't a problem, but if its genes found only in pigs and other non-halal animals then we'll avoid it".

        Notice, however, that Islam is a very practical religion. And in every time the Quran mentions that pigs are forbidden , it mentions that if someone was forced to eat them or he'll die, then he could eat them as long as his intent is saving life , not disobeying God.

        So I think if a Muslim had to eat some genetically modified product ( that he believes isn't halal) in order to save himself/herself from diarrehea or from hunger, there is no problem with that as long as there is absolutely no other way. If conventional medicine and/or other sources of food exist or can be acquired , he/she has to use those.

        Hope that answered your question.
      • Re:Product's name: (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @10:37AM (#15350701) Homepage


        Are there any moslem or jewish /. readers who would be able to answer whether or not products like this rice could interfere with a religious diet?

        Well, I can't speak for either of the the groups you mention, but I'm a very strict vegetarian, largely on ethical grounds (among several other reasons).

        My objection to this would be two-fold: I don't wish to ingest stuff made from animal, and I don't wish to ingest GMOs in general.

        I have no problem for selective breeding within a species; fine, select for traits that are already present. That makes sense, and that's a very natural process already.

        But mixing genes from animals into plants scares the hell outta me -- in no small way because we realy don't know what the long-term consequences would be. Plus the issues of bio-diversity and the like (think Monsanto and patented corn).

        Look at what happened with mad cow -- sheep protein had no business being fed to cows which are herbivores, who knows what the hell happens when we mix it into plants. We're seeing evidence that the growth hormones we feed cows is affecting puberty rates among children, and all sorts of scary, unintended consequences.

        Personally speaking, I would be very unwilling to eat this rice, or any GMO produce in general, and most especially when animal genes have been spliced in. The whole thing skeeves me out like you wouldn't believe!!
        • Living in America? (Score:3, Informative)

          by tempest69 (572798)

          Personally speaking, I would be very unwilling to eat this rice, or any GMO produce in general, and most especially when animal genes have been spliced in. The whole thing skeeves me out like you wouldn't believe!!

          Trying to avoid all GMO's in the US is a bear.. 80ish percent of all soy is GM, making most vegetable oils a GM food, making most processed foods GM.... Try going a normal week in the US eating only non-GMO foods its really tricky, I couldnt manage to skip out on social events, and poof game o

    • by mgabrys_sf (951552) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @05:46AM (#15349310) Journal
      Damn - was scrolling and thought I could make this bad joke first...

      Well, how about the manditory Futurama gag:

      Fry: My god! What if the secret ingredient is... people?!!

      Leela: No, there's already food like that -- Soylent Rice.

      Fry: "How does it taste?"

      Leela: "...It varies from person to person."
  • by draxbear (735156) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @03:42AM (#15348956)
    U.S company avoids human trial testing in states, instead using children in Peru.

    FTA
    >"Earlier this month, a Peruvian scientist sponsored by Ventria presented data at the Pediatric Academics Societies meeting in San Francisco. It showed children hospitalized in Peru with serious diarrhea attacks recovered quicker -- 3.67 days versus 5.21 days -- if the dehydration solution they were fed contained the powder."
    • This difference in time of recovery can well mean the difference between life and death.
    • U.S company avoids human trial testing in states, instead using children in Peru.

      Because the kind of diarrhea mentioned in the article is not what you get the morning after a wild party in your frat. Tests were done in Peru because in that country diarrhea in children is endemic, caused by several factors, poverty among them, bad sanitation, inadequate water supply where the dry climate is a factor, etc.

      It's one thing to complain about the high price you pay to fill your swimming pool in Southern Californi

  • Ethics vs survival (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mrjb (547783) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @03:43AM (#15348959)
    So far I've only seen posts in the line of "what for?" "it's not needed" and complaints about the ethical aspect. It's very easy to complain about the ethical side of things when you have your business well settled, but in developing countries, mere survival may be more important than that.

    When clean water is not always at hand, diseases such as dysentery are easy to catch. Although this rice is no cure, it can help prevent the loss of fluids associated with this disease and help save lives.

    So, what are these ethical issues you were referring to again?
    • by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @03:56AM (#15349002) Homepage Journal
      When clean water is not always at hand, diseases such as dysentery are easy to catch. Although this rice is no cure, it can help prevent the loss of fluids associated with this disease and help save lives.

      It's not like they're going to ship the rice for the local farmers to grow - from tfa:
      The company says the chance of its genetically engineered rice ending up in the food supply is remote because the company grinds the rice and extracts the protein before shipping.
      And its not like they're going to give it away for free [ventriabio.com]:
      Ventria owns product and enabling technology rights from its internal development effort and by license, assignment, or exclusive option agreements as follows:

              * 5 issued United States patents relating to protein expression and products
              * 4 foreign patents relating to protein expression and products
              * Over 10 filings relating to ExpressTec
              * Over 10 filings for the products, their formulations,
      So, we've got a new method of manufacturing proteins by extracting them from GM rice. US rice farmers are worried that it will affect trade with anti-GM nations. Environmentalists are worried about it for the usual GM worries (cross pollination with wild rices, unknown future side affects, species jumping, etc).

      I think the way to cure dysentry is like many other posters have said, to fix infrastructure.
  • $ick $cience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by STDOUBT (913577) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @03:44AM (#15348963)
    "...which help people hydrate and lessen the severity and duration of diarrhea attacks, a top killer of children in developing countries" (think of the children!)

    You know what helps people hydrate? Water. Clean water and food can prevent diarrhea. All that money going into genetically engineered crops. Why not fix the socio-political problems of these regions so the infrastructures -> people can become healthy?

    Oh yeah... no profit in that. Hell's gonna be standing room only.

    • Re:$ick $cience (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons (302214) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (retawriaf)> on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @04:22AM (#15349074) Homepage
      "...which help people hydrate and lessen the severity and duration of diarrhea attacks, a top killer of children in developing countries"(think of the children!)

      You know what helps people hydrate? Water. Clean water and food can prevent diarrhea. All that money going into genetically engineered crops.

      Oh yeah... no profit in that.

      Actually, there's considerable profit in providing infrastructure (I.E. water, and power for food preservation). But, unsurprisingly - a bioengineering firm is promoting bioengineering methods rather than infrastructure.
      Why not fix the socio-political problems of these regions so the infrastructures -> people can become healthy?
      In many areas the West has tried to do exactly that - but then they are pilloried for meddling where they aren't wanted.
      • In many areas the West has tried to do exactly that - but then they are pilloried for meddling where they aren't wanted.

        Oh bollocks. (Do you mean like the US's attempt to free the Iraqi people from enslavement?)

        The west is pilloried for supporting authoritarian & repressive regimes all over the world. They are rarely criticized for genuine attempts to help.
    • The United Nations? Surely you jest. They are the least likely to get into a region and fix the infrastructure let alone have any effect on the socio-political structures in place. If anything they will exaggerate the problem.

      This leaves most of the real work to private organizations, the ones who have been doing the bulk of the charitable work in Africa and similar areas. Since most of them do not get government money they need solutions that work and work in conditions less than ideal. This is where e
    • Why not fix the socio-political problems of these regions so the infrastructures -> people can become healthy?

      Because many of the problems are unfixable without dismantling the political structures of those countries, and, well, seems people get a tad upset when we do that.

    • Re:$ick $cience (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Shihar (153932) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @12:09PM (#15351592)
      All that money going into genetically engineered crops. Why not fix the socio-political problems of these regions so the infrastructures -> people can become healthy?

      There are two reasons.

      First, this is a biotech company. I highly doubt that they have much experience in how to "fix socio-political problems". On the other hand, they are probably pretty skillful at making genetically modified rice that could help reduce the number of people that die from one of the top 10 killers in the third world.

      Second, all the money in the world can't fix the problems in many third world nations. You can throw as much money at the problem and it wont suddenly make good governance appear. If throwing money at a problem would make good governance, Iraq should be a flowering utopia. Instead, Iraq is a black hole where a billion dollars goes in, a million dollars come out in government coffers, and the rest vanishes in corruption.

      Poor governance is the source of world poverty. Feeding everyone isn't that expensive. Hell, do all the things required to help bring a nation up to the point where it can stand on its own two feet is not that expensive. The issue is not paying for the things that these nations need. The issue is getting these things to these nations. Where the money starts to suddenly vanish is when you try and transport money/food/seeds, exc. If you hand these things over to the local government, large portions of it vanish. If you try and deliver it yourself, you risk getting expelled by the local government. What option does that leave you? Should you at that point invade and try and help people at the point of a gun? We tried that. It was called Somalia. In that one black hawk down incident a squad of American soldiers probably killed more Somali as they tried to retreat back to safety then they saved during the entire operation.

      There is no easy fix to world poverty. Bitch that a biotech company is doing there small part to help the probably is counter productive and whiney at best.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @03:46AM (#15348970)
    That's the questions. Not whether that rice has super-human powers. Is it fertile? Can the farmer put away some of his harvest for next year to plant a new crop or is the outcome of the rice sterile?

    If it does, is he allowed to? May he actually plant that rice without a new license for next year? No kidding, some (very popular) sorts cannot be used anymore because the company holding the rights (yes, there is rights and patents on food. Go figure) doesn't allow using it anymore.

    This malpractice is getting more and more common to make farmers dependent on industrial seeds.

    So that's the questions I'd prefer to have answered. Not what the wonder-rice could be. I'd be interested in the question what it IS.
    • (Playing devil's advocate) Hey, you're always free to use the old, "natural" rice for free, planting it year after year. Shouldn't the biotech companies be able to get return on their investment? Otherwise, they'd sell one year's worth of crops, and that'd be it. Not to mention that "terminator" crops (should) prevent potential issues with GE crops contaminating the natural food supply. (/devil's advocate)

      That being said, I heard a story where a guy's crops got pollinated naturally by a neighbor's GE c
    • Can the farmer put away some of his harvest for next year to plant a new crop or is the outcome of the rice sterile?

      The farmer can't even grow the rice - read the article, the rice is grown in the US, ground up & the protein extracted.

      This medicine is destined for rich first worlders, the whole 'think of the 3rd world children' is just to try & get public sympathy for their GM crop.
    • That's the questions. Not whether that rice has super-human powers. Is it fertile? Can the farmer put away some of his harvest for next year to plant a new crop or is the outcome of the rice sterile?

      If it does, is he allowed to? May he actually plant that rice without a new license for next year? No kidding, some (very popular) sorts cannot be used anymore because the company holding the rights (yes, there is rights and patents on food. Go figure) doesn't allow using it anymore.

      Try actually reading the TF

      • Sorry, leaping to conclusions myself while leaving out the steps in between. I'll try to cover that now.

        The point is that someone has to grow that rice. I doubt the scientists will do it themselves. So some farmer has to plant that stuff. I'm not refering to third world countries (I took it as given that nobody who'd actually need that stuff would ever get his hands on it), I am talking about our farmers, here, in our perfect little high tech world.

        Rice, now, by its very nature, is not an "easy" crop. It's
  • Does this remind anyone of the Steven Wright line about rice?

    "I'm going to court next week. I've been selected for jury duty. It's kind of an insane case -- 6000 ants dressed up as rice and robbed a Chinese restaurant. I don't think they did it."

    No ants involved this time around, but still...

    I, for one, welcome our sentient grain overlords.
  • by ElitistWhiner (79961) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @04:06AM (#15349030) Journal
    1:133 people in the US have Celliac Disease - inability of the gut to absorb nutrient. #1 symptom = Diarhea. Diarhea wipes out the villi in the intestines, which is your body's system for up-taking nutrients from foods as they pass through the gut. No villi - no nutrients:: You Die.

    I've seen no study to verify mammary colostrum and human tears have any propolactic effect on villi, but paired with rice its a good starter. Celliac Disease causes the body's immune system to adversely react to a protein found in wheat products - gluten. Celliac's are able eat rice without the toxic effects of other grains.

    There is no cure, no treatment, no therapy for Celliac Disease. The only thing that can be done is remove gluten from the diet. The damage to the villi can be reversed in most cases and health maintained with a disciplined gluten-free diet for Life.

    The GM rice/human DNA engineered grain could only reverse the death rate in developing countries if the GM DNA provide an immunity. The villi are delicate structures which regenerate all the time in health people. They are wiped out when anyone gets diarhea. That's what diarhea is, loss of villi, medically.

    If the GM rice passes immunity to the villi, they have a treatment for every 1:133 American's living with the disease. Not bad market.

  • by ian_mackereth (889101) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @04:17AM (#15349065) Journal
    But you have to admire a breakfast cereal that comes complete with its own milk.

    And if you repeatedly harvest grains with human genes in them, does that make you a cereal killer?

  • "genetically engineered rice containing human genes"
    So, it tastes like chicken?
  • 1. Boil Rice for 15 mins on a hot stove
    2. Serve with some Fava Beans and a nice Chianti
  • There's an Indian restaurant down the road that does nice stuff but the aftermath is horrendous! They should buy heaps of this stuff!
  • Wind Pollination (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Crisses (776475) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @07:05AM (#15349511) Homepage
    I have a big issue with genetically engineered grains. All grains are wind pollinated. Pollen can travel quite far before fertilizing the female of a compatible plant species. Organic corn growers are already having big issues with this. You can't have heritage grains and pure strains when people are mucking around with wind pollenated plants.

    I don't know how far they have tested this, but medicine and science has had several disasters with medications given to one generation and the disastrous results showing up in subsequent generations. Why can't we stick with things that humans evolved on and eliminate the crud like high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, genetically modified foods, olean, etc? Our bodies don't know what we're eating anymore.
  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @07:28AM (#15349584)
    With human genes in your rice, it's very possible.
  • I, for one, welcome our new white overlords.
  • by jandersen (462034) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @08:05AM (#15349729)
    It's weird to see how 'ethics' is used as a cheap and easy excuse for not doing the right thing; how can it not be right to save the lives of children?

    But of course, this is not about save the lives of poor children - it is just yet another way to earn money from the poor. If we really wanted to put an end to unnecessary suffering, it would be far more relevant to try ending poverty; it is after all not as if we in the western world couldn't it if we really wanted to.

    However, there is a more sinister side to the debate about genetically modified plants: gene pollution. It works like this: you grow your modified plant, the bees (or wind) comes and takes pollen away, and some of it pollinates wild plants - or the neighbor farmer's unmodified crop.

    In the first case wild plant species now carry the modification, and it may or may not pop up later in circumstances that are very unfortunate. In the second case the farmer's crop is suddenly 'illegal', because it now contains patented genes that he has not paid any ryalties for using.

    Now that's the REAL ethical challenge when it comes to genetic modification.
  • by mapmaker (140036) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @09:55AM (#15350357)
    Can we get these genes into beer? It would make my Sunday mornings so much more pleasant.
  • by vijayiyer (728590) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @10:14AM (#15350492)
    All DNA is fundamentally the same. This just happens to be a base sequence that causes the creation of proteins usually produced by the human body rather than traditional rat, cow, slug, corn, or eveen rice proteins. Can someone explain _why_ this is going to cause the end of the world? Are people aware that it's standard practice to replace, for example, e coli base sequences with human ones so that the bacteria produce human proteins?
    I'm appalled at the level of unscientific FUD that is out there. If slashdotters don't think scientifically, what will the general public do? Ban DHMO (http://www.dhmo.org/)?

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. -- Thomas Alva Edison

Working...