ISU has applied for permit to conduct biopharmaceutical crop research

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University has applied to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for a permit to plant a biopharmaceutical corn field trial. The application is being reviewed.

The proposed research is part of Iowa State's work to evaluate the safe use of plants for the production of proteins for pharmaceuticals and industrial products. It is funded by USDA National Research Initiative, Iowa State University's Plant Sciences Institute and the ISU Research Foundation.

The proposed field trial will be in a plot less than one-quarter of an acre. It involves feed corn engineered to produce a protein that can protect humans and animals from diarrhea caused by bacterial infections. The corn will be used in animal feeding studies and for analysis of efficient methods to extract and purify the therapeutic protein.

The proposed trial meets or exceeds all of the APHIS requirements for field trials of regulated plants. To prevent cross pollination, the plot will be located 1.2 miles from and planted at least 28 days later than the nearest commercial corn. APHIS inspectors will visit the plot five times during the growing season. Two additional inspections will be made during the following growing season to check for volunteer plants.

The Iowa Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Biotechnology Association support projects like this that offer long-term opportunity for farmers to grow value-added products derived from biotechnology and extracted from plants.