US Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman has indicated her department is about to get tough on the planting of GM crops designed for use in pharmaceuticals.

Veneman's words came yesterday [Wednesday] amidst calls for stricter regulations, just weeks after some half a million soybean bushels were put into quarantine after it emerged they had been cultivated on land used the previous season to grow GM corn for ProdiGene, and that some of that corn had been found in the soybeans.

Speaking at the Seventh Annual Farm Journal Forum, Veneman said: "We are proposing additional restrictions." She went on to pledge to make licensing provisions more rigorous, and to tighten up monitoring activities, reported Dow Jones.

Speculation about the nature of the new restriction was heightened when the USDA and FDA circulated a 'draft guidance' document in September. This document indicated that companies wishing to cultivate GM pharmaceutical plants may require a permit from APHIS/BRS, and outlined the role of the producer in guaranteeing the condition of the fields over subsequent seasons. Comment from stakeholder groups was invited.

ProdiGene is expected to receive heavy penalties from the USDA over the soybean contamination incident.