Greenpeace International today called for a global ban on imports of US rice in order to protect the public from eating illegal, untested and unapproved varieties of genetically engineered (GE) rice.
GE Liberty Link (LL) rice 602, produced by agro-chemical giant Bayer and never intended for commercial release, has been found in commercial rice in the United States and rice imports were, as a result, immediately banned in Japan. It is not approved for consumption or cultivation anywhere in the world.
“Rice is the world’s most important staple food and contamination of rice supplies by Bayer, a company pushing its GE rice around the world, must be stopped,” said Jeremy Tager, Greenpeace International GE campaigner.
Japan has already announced a ban on long grain rice imports from the US as a result of this latest contamination scandal. Last year, Japan and the EU banned US maize imports as a result of yet another GE contamination scandal.
“This latest contamination scandal once again shows the GE industry is utterly incapable of controlling GE organisms. Countries that import US rice, such as the EU, Mexico, Brasil and Canada must become serious about preventing this kind of threat to our food supplies by banning any imports of GE rice, removing all contaminated food from supermarket shelves and rejecting applications for the commercial cultivation of rice,” said Tager.
“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,” Tager concluded.
FACTS & FIGURES ON US RICE CROP & SOURCE OF CONTAMINATION
Around 50 percent of the US rice crop is exported, and 80 percent of that is long grain rice, said Johanns, adding that the USDA is engaging trading partners “very, very directly” on the issue.
The US currently provides about 12 percent of world rice trade. According to estimates for the 2006 crop year, rice production in the US is valued at $1.88 billion, approximately half of which is expected to be exported.
More than 100 varieties of rice are currently produced commercially in the US, primarily in six states: Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and California.
The majority (58 percent) of domestic utilization of US rice is direct food use, while 16 percent is used in processed foods and beer respectively. The remaining 10 percent is found in pet food. [GM rice contaminates US food supply]
“I can tell you very candidly, I didn’t ask where this sample came from. I know it’s long grain rice. I can’t tell you if that came from this state or that state” – The US Agriculture Secretary in response to a question at the news briefing.
“Officials at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said the GM variety had been found in samples from storage bins in Arkansas and Missouri. The bins hold rice from several states, making it difficult to know what state the rice came from.” – BBC News report http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/5271384.stm?ls
EU URGED TO BAN NORTH AMERICAN RICE
US rice contaminated by illegal GM strain *********************
Brussels, August 21, 2006 – Friends of the Earth Europe has today called on the European Commission to immediately restrict imports of American rice after the US Department for Agriculture (USDA) revealed that the US food chain has been contaminated with an illegal and untested genetically modified (GM) strain .
The US announcement states that conventional long-grain rice on the market has been contaminated by a GM rice that was grown at experimental test sites between 1998 and 2001. The statement does not reveal how widespread the contamination is or how the contamination occurred. Friends of the Earth Europe is calling on the European Union to follow the example of Japan, which suspended US rice imports on Saturday. 
Adrian Bebb, GM Food Campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said, “This is a complete scandal. The biotech industry has failed once again to control its experiments and lax regulations in the US have allowed consumers worldwide to be put at risk. The European Union must immediately suspend US rice imports until consumers can be guaranteed protection from untested and illegal foods.”
Europe imports approximately 70 million Euros worth of US rice every year . The source of the contamination is apparently an experimental GM rice called LLRICE601, produced by German-based biotechnology company Bayer. This experimental rice is engineered to withstand application of the herbicide glufosinate, but it has not been approved for human consumption anywhere in the world and has not undergone any official assessments to determine its health or environmental impact. According to Bayer the GM rice “is present in some samples of commercial rice seed at low levels” even though field-testing ended five years ago. Bayer informed the USDA of the contamination on 31 July 2006.
As well as calling for an immediate import ban, Friends of the Earth Europe has called for an investigation by authorities in the US and Europe into the full extent of the contamination and for Bayer to release all the necessary information into the public domain on the safety testing and detection methods for LLRICE601.
“It is vital that Bayer is forced to reveal all information about how this contamination has occurred over such a long time scale. Contamination of the food chain is totally unacceptable and must be prevented in the future,” Mr Bebb added.
This latest case of GM contamination echoes a GM maize scandal in March last year, in which the biotech company Syngenta admitted to selling an experimental and illegal GM maize variety to US farmers for four years. Maize exports to Europe were contaminated with the illegal maize, and the European Commission put in place emergency measures to prevent the import of contaminated maize into the EU. These measures are still in place .
For more information, please contact: Adrian Bebb, GM Food Campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe: Tel: +49 80 25 99 1951; Mobile: +49 160 949 01163; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rosemary Hall, Communications Officer for Friends of the Earth Europe: Tel: +32 25 42 61 05; Mobile: +32 485 930 515; email@example.com
 The announcement was made late on Friday 18 August in the US. http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=2006/08 /0307.xml
 UNCTAD http://r0.unctad.org/infocomm/anglais/rice/market.htm#cce
Japan ends U.S. long-grain rice imports
August 19, 2006
TOKYO — Japan has suspended imports of U.S. long-grain rice following a positive test for trace amounts of a genetically modified strain not approved for human consumption, a news report said Sunday.
Japan’s Health Ministry imposed the suspension on Saturday after being informed by U.S. federal officials that trace amounts of the unapproved strain had been discovered in commercially available long-grain rice, the Asahi newspaper said.
The genetically engineered rice was detected by Bayer CropScience AG. The German company then notified U.S. officials. The strain is not approved for sale in the United States, but two other strains of rice with the same genetically engineered protein are.
Health Ministry officials were unavailable for comment Sunday.
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/1310AP_Japan_US_Rice.html
DJ S Korea Demands Pledge Of No GMOs In US Rice – USDA
August 21, 2006
WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–South Korea has demanded that its importers be promised there is no genetically modified contents in U.S. rice shipments, a move that may effectively shut down U.S. exports, U.S. and South Korean government officials said Monday. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Friday that traces of unapproved genetically modified long grain rice, grown in field trials by Bayer CropScience, were discovered in commercial stocks.
South Korea has not announced a ban on U.S. rice, USDA spokesman Ed Loyd said Monday, but he also confirmed that it is not yet possible to promise importers that there is no genetically modified rice in U.S. shipments.
USDA officials are trying to validate testing procedures to detect Bayer’s biotech rice, but work on that is not yet complete, USDA spokeswoman Amanda Taylor said Monday. She said officials hope to complete the validation soon.
The USDA’s Federal Grain Inspection Service has stopped issuing certifications that U.S. rice shipments contain no genetically modified organisms, Taylor said. USDA began issueing the letterhead certifications, upon request, in March 2005 to assure foreign buyers but stopped doing so because of the GMO detection in the commercial market.
South Korea’s rice imports this year have been strong, according to USDA data. The country bought about 43,000 metric tons of U.S. rice in the first six months, compared to just 16,000 tons for the entire year of 2005.
The GM rice detected in grain bins in Arkansas and Missouri was an unapproved variety field tested by Bayer, but the USDA has approved two other varieties created by the company. Bayer has never sold the approved GM rice on the commercial market, USDA Secretary Mike Johanns said Friday.
All three varieties of the Bayer GM rice were engineered to be “herbicide-tolerant,” according to the USDA, and all three are safe for human consumption even though only two were approved. The USDA said Bayer did not apply for government approval of the third because the company had no plans to commercialize it.
Bayer CropScience spokespersons in the U.S. and Europe were unavailable for immediate comment.
Meanwhile, Japan’s initial reaction to the GMO discovery in U.S. rice is not expected to have any effect on trade with the U.S., USDA spokesman Ed Loyd said. Japan banned U.S. long grain rice, but the U.S. only exports short- and medium grain rice to Japan, he said.
The European Union is requesting information formation” from the U.S. and Bayer CropScience.
Loyd said Monday that, so far, international reaction has been “measured.”
-By Bill Tomson, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-646-0088; firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
Copyright (c) 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Statement Regarding Genetically Engineered Material in Rice Riceland Foods, Inc.
August 18, 2006 4:30 p.m. (cst)
Any of the following information may be quoted and attributed to Bill J. Reed, vice president for public affairs, Riceland Foods, Inc., Stuttgart, Ark.
Riceland Foods, Inc.
Riceland is a farmer-owned cooperative which markets rice produced by its 9,000 farmer-members in the Southern rice-producing states. The cooperative marketed rice produced in 2005 by farmers in Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. Response to USDA Announcement The Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture have determined that no health or safety concerns result from the trace amounts of Bayer’s genetically engineered material found in Southern rice. Given these assurances, Riceland will continue to receive rice from its farmer-members and to service its customers. Discovery of Material Genetically engineered material was discovered by a rice export customer in January. (The name and location of our customer will not be released.) The customer contacted Riceland asking for an explanation. As part of its due diligence effort, Riceland sent a sample from the customer and a retained Riceland sample to a U.S. laboratory which tests for genetically engineered material. The samples tested positive for Bayer’s herbicide-resistance trait which was known to be present in corn, soybeans, canola and cotton. Since there is no known commercial U.S. production of genetically engineered rice, Riceland suspected the material would be identified as residual fragments of genetically engineered corn or soybeans resulting from use of common public transportation systems. Due to the minute quantities of genetically engineered DNA present, the laboratory was unable to determine its origin. In an effort to clarify the issue, Riceland in May collected samples of rice from several grain storage locations. A significant number tested positive for the Bayer trait. The positive results were geographically dispersed and random throughout the rice-growing area. Bayer Contacted Bayer was contacted in early June when Riceland became suspicious that the discovery was a Bayer genetically engineered event in rice. Riceland provided Bayer with a rice sample and asked Bayer officials for an explanation of the results. In late July, Bayer confirmed the positive results for its herbicide-resistance trait at a 0.06 percent (six hundredths of one percent) level, the equivalent of 6 kernels in 10,000 kernels of rice. Bayer also said that it was a regulated genetically engineered event and that Bayer was legally required to report its findings to USDA officials within 24 hours. Involvement with USDA USDA officials began their investigation August 1. Riceland has cooperated fully with USDA requests for information in an effort to resolve the situation, and will continue to do so.