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GM crops

GM rice invades food supply; scientists baffled over source

Monday, August 21, 2006 by: NewsTarget
Tags: GM crops, health news, Natural News


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(NewsTarget) Last week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that trace amounts of a bioengineered variety of long-grain rice had been found in samples of commercial rice, and that the contaminated rice may have entered the food supply.

Bayer CropScience, the company that discovered the contamination, alerted the FDA and USDA of the problem in July. Last week both agencies issued statements saying that a review of the available information revealed no concerns for human health, food safety or the environment.

The USDA says biotech products aren't unusual in the United States, and issued a statement that says, "Since 1987, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Plant Health Inspection Service has deregulated more than 70 GE [genetically engineered] crop lines and in the last decade farmers have increasingly planted biotech varieties engineered mainly for herbicide tolerance, insect resistance, and enhanced quality traits." The USDA estimates that of the country's 2006 crops, 61 percent of the corn, 89 percent of the soybeans and 81 percent of the cotton are biotech crops.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns says that the contaminated rice crop was from a 2005 crop, but he could not determine where the crop had originated. Johanns was unable to say how far the contamination had spread into non-GE crops, or if the contaminated product had reached supermarkets.

"In other words," said Mike Adams, a consumer health advocate, "the authorities who should be on top of this issue have no idea where, how or why our crops are being contaminated with genetically engineered strains that may actually pose an unknown threat to our food supply. It sounds like the rice isn't the only thing being engineered here," he added, "...authorities are also engineering a public relations smokescreen to hide a serious issue."

The USDA says it will conduct an investigation into how the rice became contaminated, and whether any federal violations occurred. The agency is also informing foreign trading partners -- who purchase 80 percent of U.S. rice exports, valued at $1.88 billion -- of the contamination.

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