Test results released today by Greenpeace International establish that rice products being sold in the Middle East region have also been contaminated by Bayer’s illegal genetically engineered (GE) rice grown in field trials in the United States. (1) Contamination in the Middle East has serious global implications as the region is the world’s 2nd largest importer of US rice and a major re-exporter of food throughout the Asia region.
Today, Greenpeace activists challenged Agriculture Ministers attending the International Rice Congress (IRC) in Delhi to take immediate action to prevent the continuing contamination of the world’s most important staple food. Conference delegates were presented with symbolic bowls of rice with question marks.
Agricultural ministers of eight countries(2) are participating in the IRC, to set the agenda for rice production and export over the next five years, discussing trade issues as well as scientific innovations and sustainable solutions for rice production. Ironically, Bayer and Monsanto – the two main advocates for the GE industry, are jointly sponsoring the Congress, placing them in a key position to influence the agenda to their advantage. Contamination from Bayer’s rice has already been found in nine countries, and resulted in import restrictions against the United States.
“The contaminated rice in the Middle East is yet another body blow to the US rice industry, already reeling under product recalls, testing requirements, import restrictions and cancelled orders in many countries,” said Divya Raghunandan, GE campaigner from Greenpeace India. “Now, more than ever before, it is clear that GE crops pose a serious risk and that ‘controlled field trials’ are a dangerous myth. Any country allowing GE crops to be grown, even in field trials, is exposing its farmers and traders of agricultural produce to an economic and environmental disaster. A complete ban is the only solution,” added Raghunandan.
Greenpeace urged governments to protect this staple food, by drawing up a clear plan of action to protect their countries from similar GE contamination, prevent genetic contamination of crops and hold Bayer accountable for its recklessness.
“The extent of contamination necessitates an urgent response. This rice and its by-products could be on supermarket shelves anywhere,” warned Jeremy Tager, GE Campaigner from Greenpeace International. “We urge agricultural ministers to immediately order comprehensive testing of all products that may have been exposed to contamination from GE rice, and to impose strict import controls on any goods imported from GE rice-growing countries. It will take a globally coordinated approach to ensure that citizens everywhere are responsibly protected from GE-contaminated products,” concluded Tager. Notes to Editor
Notes to editors:
1. The following samples were found to contain traces of Bayer’s illegal LL601 GE rice when tested at an independent laboratory.
* Uncle Ben’s long grain rice: Purchased at Geant supermarket Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE)
* Riceland Chef-way, preboiled rice: Purchased at Carrefour supermarket,Dubai, UAE
* Riceland, preboiled rice: Purchased at Geant supermarket Dubai, UAE
* American Rice, INC, parboiled rice: Purchased at City Center supermarket Salmiya, Kuwait
2. China, Indonesia, India, Laos, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam GreenPeace