Quebec: Dutch Firm Wants to Bring Transgenic Cows

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Source: CBC

Mon Apr 2, 12:57 am

Dutch firm wants to bring transgenic cows to Quebec

The people of a small Quebec farming village have concerns about a herd of transgenic cows.

The cows are bred by a Dutch-based biotech firm called Pharming Group N.V. The animals carry a human gene and their milk contains a human-like protein that can be used to clot blood, grow skin, or fight infection.

Pharming Group wants to keep the cows in the village of St-Marcel de Richelieu, northwest of Montreal. And it went to the town to explain its proposal.

The biotech firm wants to build a $20 million facility and create 40 jobs. That's a big deal in a small, rural Quebec village. But the people want to be assured the transgenic cows aren't dangerous.

The promoters insist they aren't. Only their milk is different.

At a town hall meeting the farmers had questions two hours worth of questions.

They were told the transgenic cows will never leave their barns. If they're put down, the carcasses will be incinerated. The manure will be composted and used on the company's lands. The milk, after processing, will be discarded. No genetic material, no human protein, will enter the food chain.

"They've been testing this for five years," said farmer Hubert Brodeur. "How can they say there's no risk?"

Danielle Turpin is worried. "I'm an organic farmer, and I know that with nature a simple little detail can become a real disaster."

But most of the farmers are satisfied with the assurances. Mark Clark of Pharming Group N.V. was pleased with the meeting.

"I couldn't be happier with the questions that were asked. I think the overall perception from the public was very positive," he said.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), April 02, 2001


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