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Genetically Engineered Rice Comes to Kansas

Firm pushed out of California finds a new home in the Plains.

The wire service Dow Jones is reporting that Ventria, a California company, is planning to open a processing plant in Kansas and contract with area farmers to grow genetically modified rice. Ventria would use the rice for manufacturing medicine, but the report says critics content the technology could threaten the safety of conventional food crops through intermixing.

Kansas has no rice-growing industry, and state officials are apparently enthusiastic about Ventria's plans. The plan is to create a closed system with rice stored near fields and used only by Ventria. Material not used would be burned.

Ventria was pushed out of California by that state's native rice growing industry over concerns of biotech contamination. The company's rice will contain a protein common in the human body, but when refined it can be used to treat childhood diarrhea, a leading cause of death for infants and toddlers around the world.

The company reports it will hire 50 employees and contract to grow 30,000 acres of rice.

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