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Genetically modified foods

Greenpeace calls for global ban on American rice after GM contamination discovered

Tuesday, August 29, 2006 by: NewsTarget
Tags: genetically modified foods, GM rice, Greenpeace


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(NewsTarget) After traces of unapproved, genetically modified (GM) rice from Bayer -- known as LL Rice 601 -- was found in commercial batches from the United States, Greenpeace called for a global ban on rice from America.

"Rice is the world's most important staple food and contamination of rice supplies by Bayer, a company pushing its GM rice around the world, must be stopped," said Jeremy Tager, Greenpeace International GM campaigner. "This latest contamination scandal once again shows the (genetic engineering) industry is utterly incapable of controlling GM organisms."

After being warned of the presence of LL Rice 601 by U.S. authorities, the European Commission decided last week to require U.S. rice imports be tested and certified by an accredited laboratory using a validated testing method before any be let into the European Union.

"We have strict legislation in place in the EU to ensure that any GM product put on the European market has undergone a thorough authorization procedure based on scientific assessment," said Markos Kyprianou, European commissioner for health and consumer protection. "There is no flexibility for unauthorized GMs. These cannot enter the EU food and feed chain under any circumstances. The measures we have taken today will ensure that unauthorized GM rice is not inadvertently imported."

While the U.S. agricultural authorities maintain that GM rice is no danger to human health, anti-GM groups such as Greenpeace are still looking at this issue as a reason for world governments to stand against the patented rice.

"Countries that import U.S. rice, such as the EU, Mexico, Brazil and Canada must become serious about preventing this kind of threat to our food supplies by banning any imports of GM rice, removing all contaminated food from supermarket shelves and rejecting applications for the commercial cultivation of rice," Tager said. "Relevant authorities in importing countries must also conduct an investigation into the contamination caused by Bayer and also determine whether any other GE rice varieties being tested by Bayer have contaminated the world's food chain."

Currently, the United States is responsible for about 12 percent of the world's rice trade, and sends approximately 20,000 tons of long-grain husked, semi-milled and wholly milled rice to the European Union every month. The United States' rice production is worth about $1.88 billion, half of which is likely to be exported, according to industry estimates for the 2006 crop year.

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