Tainted rice threatens U.S. market (22/8/2006)

1.US Rice Prices Stunted By Concerns on Biotech Controls - WSJ
2.Tainted Southern rice threatens U.S. market - Commercial Appeal
3.GM contamination warning triggers call for ban on US rice - The Guardian
4.Ban call in West Africa - press release

1.US Rice Prices Are Stunted By Concerns of Biotech Controls
Wall Street Journal, 22 August 2006

Trading partners abroad began tightening their controls on American-grown rice after the discovery of an accidental release of a genetically modified variety unapproved for sale by U.S. regulators.

Prices of rice futures contracts sank yesterday as countries such as Japan and South Korea moved to prevent the genetically modified rice from coming into their markets from the U.S., which counts on foreign customers to buy roughly half of its annual production.

European Union officials said they are requesting more information from the U.S. and Bayer AG of Germany, the maker of the accidentally released long-grain variety, before deciding ...

2.Tainted Southern rice threatens U.S. market
Japan halts shipments
By Jane Roberts [excerpts only]
Commercial Appeal, August 22 2006

Monday the price of September rice closed down 28 cents -- a three-week low -- as the market teetered on news of widespread contamination in the crop largely grown in the MidSouth.

Japan, the largest importer of U.S. rice, Saturday suspended shipments of long-grain rice. Monday, the European Union faced pressure to do the same.

"We're seeing the typical kneejerk reaction in the market you'd expect from any news of this type," said Darin Newsom, senior analyst at DTN in Omaha. "If something else comes out on this and there's a more widespread problem, we could see the domestic market come down."

The samples came from storage bins in Arkansas and Missouri. But trace amounts of the contaminant have been found across the rice belt, according to Bill Reed, spokesman for Riceland Foods in Stuttgart, Ark.

"This is a situation not limited to a state or a farmer or a producer or a handler. It's a situation for Southern long-grain rice."

2.GM contamination warning triggers call for ban on US rice
John Vidal, environment editor The Guardian, August 22 2006

Environment groups yesterday urged the European commission to follow Japan and restrict imports of American rice after the US government admitted that an illegal and untested genetically modified strain had contaminated the food chain.

The announcement said conventional long-grain rice had been contaminated by a GM rice that was grown at experimental sites between 1998 and 2001. However, there was no indication as to how widespread the contamination had been, how it occurred or why it had taken until now for the disclosure to be made. The UK imported 82,625 tonnes of US rice in 2004.

Adrian Bebb, GM food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said: "This is a complete scandal. The EU must immediately suspend US rice imports until consumers can be guaranteed protection from untested and illegal foods."

The contamination source is apparently a trial GM rice called LLRICE601, produced by the German-based biotechnology company Bayer. The rice is engineered to withstand the herbicide glufosinate, but it has not been approved for human consumption anywhere in the world.

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 US Department of Agriculture of the contamination on July 31. The company said: "The protein found in LLRICE 601 is approved for use in other products. It has been repeatedly and thoroughly scientifically reviewed and used safely in food and feed, cultivation, import and breeding in the US, as well as nearly a dozen other countries."

The EU last night said it needed more information. Its executive commission was "dealing with this as a matter of the utmost urgency," said a spokeswoman, Antonia Mochan. "Measures will depend on the answers we get from the company and the US authorities." The US agriculture secretary, Mike Johanns, said: "There are no human health, food safety or environmental concerns associated with this genetically engineered rice."

4.Ban call in West Africa
Environmental Rights ACtion/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria
Press Release, August 21, 2006 [shprtened]


The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoE N) has urged the Federal Government to immediately ban the importation of rice from the United States.

ERA/FoEN in a statement issued yesterday said the ban has become imperative following revelation that rice supplies from the US have been contaminated with an illegal and untested genetically modified (GM) strain. The Japanese Government has already announced on Saturday August 19, 2006 that Japan was suspending US long-grain rice imports due to the contamination.

ERA/FoEN Executive Director and International GMO Campaigner, Nnimmo Bassey said: "This is a complete scandal. The biotech industry has once again failed to control its products and lax regulations in the USA have led to consumers being put at considerable risk."

Bassey noted that Ghana is among the top 10 importers of rice from the USA and that this may have spread across the West African sub-region and beyond. Ghana's rice imports from the USA stood at 78.9 tonnes in 2001/2002, 117.6 tonnes in 2002/2003 and 166.4 tonnes in 2004/2006.

"Rice importation from America must immediately suspend such imports until it can be guaranteed that its citizens are protected from untested and illegal foods," Bassey added.

The GM rice, produced by German-based biotechnology company Bayer, was field tested between 1998 and 2001 but the contamination of commercial long grain rice has only just come to light. The US exported more than 3 million tonnes of rice in 2005.

ERA is worried that this contaminated rice may already be present in the food chain in Nigeria. The group has consistently urged precaution in the introduction of novel crops and has campaigned against GMOs because of safety issues and other risks to the environment.

Nigeria is yet to have a national biosafety law and has not authorised the introduction of GMOs in the country.

Maryam Bassey,

Project officer, GMO Campaign

ERA/FoE N, Postal: P.O.Box 10577, Ugbowo, Benin City, Nigeria Tel: +234 52 600 165 Mobile: +234 803 727 4395 Fax: + +234 52 602 680 eFAX: +1-520-844-8482 & + 1-309-416-1666. Website: www.eraction.org

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