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You are here: Home / Media / Archive / 2006 / 0907

0907

media advisory
Friends of the Earth International

UNAPPROVED GM RICE FOUND: BAN ON CHINESE RICE IMPORTS URGENTLY NEEDED

September 7, 2006 -- Friends of the Earth International today called on countries importing rice from China to immediately ban imports of Chinese rice following the detection of illegal genetically modified (GM) rice in Chinese foods on sale in Europe. [1]

This is the second time in just three weeks that an illegal GM rice was detected in the food supply.

Nnimmo Bassey, Friends of the Earth International GM campaign coordinator based in Nigeria said: “It is shocking that contamination with illegal genetically modified rice has occurred for the second time in three weeks. All countries importing Chinese rice must react quickly and ban Chinese rice imports unless it is guaranteed that those shipments are free of contamination.”

Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace tested foods in the UK, France and Germany and found rice products to be contaminated with the unauthorized GM rice. [2]

The products were found in Asian specialty stores and were imported from China. [3]

The illegal rice is an experimental variety genetically modified to produce an insecticide. This GM rice not approved for human consumption or commercial cultivation anywhere in the world. Scientific studies raise concerns about the risk to human health of eating the rice, particularly the potential to cause food allergies. [4]

Both this latest incident and the contamination by Bayer’s unauthorised GM rice in the US resulted from outdoor field trials of GM crops. Friends of the Earth International called for a global ban on field trials and a halt to the commercial development of GM rice.

“This latest contamination is further proof that experimental genetically modified crops cannot be contained safely when grown in outdoor trials. Rice is one of the world’s most important food crops and every effort should be made to protect it from contamination.” Mr Bassey added.

Friends of the Earth International is calling on countries importing long-grain rice from the US as well as Chinese rice to follow the example of Japan which announced on August 19, 2006 that it was suspending US long-grain rice imports. [5]

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 crops are increasingly creating new problems and posing new risks for human health and the environment. [6]

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT

Juan Lopez, Friends of the Earth International, Tel: +39-333 1498049 (Italian mobile)

Nnimmo Bassey, Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Tel: + 234 803 727 43 95 (Nigerian mobile)

Nizam Mashar, Friends of the Earth Malaysia, Tel: +6046596930 (Malaysia) or email: sam_inquiry@yahoo.com

Adrian Bebb, Friends of the Earth Europe, Mobile +49 1609 4901 163 or email: Adrian.bebb@foeeurope.org

NOTES TO EDITORS

[1] Friends of the Earth Europe. 2006. New Food Scandal: illegal GM rice from China found across Europe. 5 September 2006.

[2] The foods testing were bought from Asian stores in Germany, France and the UK. Products testing positive were: Cock Brand Rice Sticks (France) Swallow Sailing Rice Sticks (Germany) Brotherhood Rice Vermicelli (UK) Happiness Rice Vermicelli (UK) Gold Plum Rice Sticks (UK)

[3] This latest contamination incident stemmed from field trials in China. An investigation by Greenpeace in 2005 found that research institutes and seed companies in China had been illegally selling unapproved GM rice seeds to farmers. Further testing indicated that the whole food chain had been contaminated, with the most recent case being the contaminated Heinz rice cereal products in Beijing, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. The Chinese government, in the wake of the situation, reportedly punished seed companies and destroyed illegal-grown GM rice.

[4] The GM rice contains either the Cry1Ac protein, or a fusion Cry1Ab/Cry1Ac protein.

- A 1999 study partly sponsored by the US Environmental Protection Agency found evidence to suggest that the Bt protein Cry1Ac can elicit antibody responses consistent with allergic reactions in farm-workers and a series of studies published in 1999 and 2000 by a Cuban researcher Vasquez-Padron on Cry1Ac documented immunogenic responses to which indicate the potential for allergic reactions or other immune system responses

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

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

 

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