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You are here: Home / Media / Archive / 2006 / 0821

0821

media advisory
Friends of the Earth International

unapproved gm rice found: restrictions in u.s. rice urgently needed

AUGUST 21, 2006 -- Friends of the Earth International has today called on countries importing long-grain rice from the United States to immediately restrict imports of US rice following the official announcement that rice supplies have been contaminated with a genetically modified (GM) strain of rice illegal for human consumption.

A US Department of Agriculture (USDA) statement revealed last Friday August 18, 2006 that a GM rice unapproved for human consumption has contaminated commercial rice seed [1]. The statement did not reveal how widespread the contamination is nor when or how it took place.

Friends of the Earth International is calling on countries importing long-grain rice from the US to follow the example of Japan, where the ministry of agriculture, forestry and fisheries announced on Saturday August 19, 2006 that Japan was suspending US long-grain rice imports. [2]

Nnimmo Bassey, Friends of the Earth International GM campaign coordinator based in Nigeria said:

"This is a complete scandal. The biotech industry has once again failed to control its products and lax regulations in the US mean that consumers have been put at risk. Countries importing US rice should immediately suspend US long-grain rice imports until they can guarantee that no illegal and untested rice is present. ”

German biotech giant Bayer produces the GM rice known as ‘LL601’, a variety that was not approved in any country of the world and has not passed the safety assessments necessary to protect human health and the environment.

GM rice LL601 is engineered to withstand application of the herbicide glufosinate. According to Bayer the GM rice “is present in some samples of commercial rice seed at low levels” [1]

Even though it was field tested only between 1998 and 2001, Bayer informed the USDA of the contamination on 31 July 2006.

Bayer claims that it is not intending to commercialise LL601. But because it is now “in the marketplace” as a result of accidental contamination, Bayer has applied to the US Authorities to approve it, which will effectively limit liability on the company for the incident.

The US exported more than 3 million tonnes of rice in 2005. [3]

Friends of the Earth International has called for an investigation by authorities in the US and countries importing US long-grain rice into the full extent of the contamination.

Friends of the Earth International is also calling for Bayer to release all the necessary information on the safety testing and detection methods for LL601 into the public domain.

More than a decade after the first GM crop appeared on market shelves, biotech corporations are still failing to deliver their promised GM crops with clear benefits for consumers or farmers. Instead, GM corps are increasingly creating new problems and posing new risks for human health and the environment. [4]

for more information contact

Juan Lopez, Friends of the Earth International, Tel: +39-333 1498049 (Italian mobile)
Yuri Onodera, Friends of the Earth Japan, Tel : +81-906 504 9494 (Japanese mobile)
Nnimmo Bassey, Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Tel: + 234 803 727 43 95 (Nigerian mobile)

notes

[1] The USDA announcement is online here: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=2006/08/0307.xml

[2] media reports are available online, for instance here: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/business/4128520.html

[3] In 2005, the US exported 3,800,000 tonnes of rice http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/ers/89001/2005/table27.xls Top export markets for US long-grain rice are Mexico, Japan, Haiti, Canada, Ghana, Nicaraqua, Costa Rica, Turkey. http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/ers/89001/2005/table30.xls

[4] For more information see http://www.foei.org/gmo/index.html

 

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