In a bid to limit the contamination of food crops by pharmaceutical plants the US Department of Agriculture has issued a new guidance to tighten the rules covering the permittance process for companies to plant and produce plant-made pharmaceuticals (PMPs). Welcomed as a step in the right direction, some members of the food industry feel more is required to protect against the contamination of food and feed supplies.
Responding to the release of this guidance document, Dr. Rhona Applebaum, executive vice president and chief science officer for the National Food Processors Association (NFPA), emphasised that more guidelines are essential.
"This guidance document includes measures to make confinement requirements more rigorous and to strengthen the Agency's field inspections and other compliance oversights, " she said. "Though these steps are in the right direction, far more is needed to ensure against any contamination of food and feed supplies from PMPs or industrial chemicals.
"The food industry is clearly an affected stakeholder in this issue. Consequently, because we live under a zero tolerance for PMPs in our food supply, it is absolutely necessary that we have nothing less than 100 per cent protection from these compounds. Zero-per cent contamination must be the standard."
Dr. Applebaum maintains that it is imperative for the government to establish a regulatory structure for PMPs that includes effective controls and procedures to meet the zero-per cent contamination standard.
"It is NFPA's position that, without proven and effective controls to ensure against any such contamination, applications for this technology should be applied only in non-food and feed crops that are segregated from the food supply," she added.