U.S. knowingly shipped banned food for a year / Take all U.S. rice off supermarket shelves (27/8/2006)

1.US knowingly shipped banned food for a year

COMMENT FROM MARK GRIFFITHS: Moral of the story? Don't buy foodstuffs from the USA. They can't handle this technology.

Some other GM rice in the US has human genes in it. http://online.sfsu.edu/~rone/GEessays/humangenesrice.htm

As events appear to have shown in recent years, the eating of GM food can send the political judgement capacity of an entire nation into severe decline!

1.Rice contaminated by GM has been on sale for months
US has been knowingly shipping banned food here all year. But only now do they tell us
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
Independent on Sunday, 27 August 2006

Britons have unwittingly been eating banned GM rice imported from the United States for months, if not years, food safety experts fear.

Imports of the rice were stopped by the European Commission (EC) on Thursday. But investigations in the US show that it has long been "wide-spread" in grain destined to be shipped overseas.

It was first discovered in January that the banned crop, which has never received safety clearance, was contaminating export stocks of long-grain rice. But it was not until nine days ago that the US government informed importing countries.

European governments are furious that the Bush administration delayed warning them. And the row threatens ministers' plans for growing GM crops in Britain.

The unauthorised rice, codenamed LLRICE601, was developed by Bayer CropScience to tolerate weedkiller. It was tested on US farms between 1998 and 2001, but the company decided not to market it and never submitted it for official approval.

In January, it was found to have contaminated rice from Arkansas-based Riceland, the world's largest miller and marketer, which is responsible for one-third of the entire US crop.

In May, Riceland tested samples from "several storage locations", finding the contamination in a "significant" number. It concluded, in an official statement, that it was "geographically dispersed and random" throughout its rice-growing area.

Bayer officially notified the US government on 31 July. But it was a further 18 days before the Bush administration told importers, informing EU countries such as Britain just an hour before holding a press conference to make details of the contamination public.

On Thursday, the EC prohibited any shipments from the US unless they could be proved to be free of the banned rice. But it remains concerned that Britons and other Europeans may have been eating it for months, possibly years.

Britain has imported more than 42,000 tons of long-grain rice from the US since January, when the problem was first discovered. No one knows how much of this was contaminated, but the Food Standards Agency is planning to carry out tests on rice that has yet to be sold to the public.

The Arkansas government suspects that the crisis began when pollen from the rice tested on US farms spread to contaminate conventional crops. This would mean that it has been present - and presumably been exported - at least since 2001, when the trials stopped.

Richard Bell, the state's agriculture secretary, admits that the contamination is "widespread" and predicts it will show up again in this year's crop when it is harvested.

The Bush administration says that "there are no human health, food safety or environmental concerns associated with this rice". But the EC's Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner, Markos Kyprianou, says it must not be allowed to enter the food chain.

Bayer, which had no part in exporting the contaminated rice, says it is "co-operating closely" with the US authorities. But it says that while the matter is being investigated, it cannot say when it first knew of the problem.


"Public health must come first."
Press Statement from GM Free Cymru
26th August 2006 Immediate Release

An urgent request has been sent to the Chief Executives of all the UK supermarket chains to protect the public by taking all products containing long-grain rice from the southern United States off their shelves, pending unequivocal evidence that these products are free from unauthorised GM contamination.

Last week it was revealed that samples of long-grain rice from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and other states had proved positive when tested for the unauthorised GM rice variety known as LL601, originally developed by Bayer CropScience in 1997. The variety was then abandoned in 2001, for unknown reasons. And yet it has appeared again, as a contaminant in the southern states in 2006, causing huge concern within the American rice industry (1). The market price of long grain rice has already fallen, and the industry is mounting a desperate reassurance campaign; but according to Bill Reed, a spokesman for the Riceland growers cooperative "The positive results were geographically dispersed and random throughout the southern rice-growing area." (2) There are now fears that LL601 will also be found in California as well, since the GM variety was tested there in 1997 and 1998 (3).

The EC was formally informed about the contamination incident on 18th August, and it responded four days later by placing a ban on all future imports of American long-grain rice unless they are accompanied by export-point certification confirming that they are free of LL601 contaminants. In contrast, Japan immediately banned all US long-grain rice imports, whether or not accompanied by certification. The feeble EC response has infuriated NGOs and consumer groups, since it is inevitable that rice containing LL601 is already on supermarket shelves (4). In the UK, there has been no reaction to the latest scandal from either the Food Standards Agency of from DEFRA, since Ministers and officials appear to have gone to sleep for the summer.

Speaking for the GM watchdog group GM Free Cymru, Dr Brian John said: "This latest GM contamination scandal is much more serious than the Bt10 incident which made the headlines last year. For a start, American long-grain rice is a primary food consumed in a virtually unprocessed form by millions of consumers across the EU. It is also widely used in baby food as a cereal, recommended for use early in the weaning process. The samples which tested positive for LL601 were from export bins and from bulk supplies intended for human consumption. The contaminated rice was harvested last year, and the first positive test results were given to Riceland and Bayer CropScience in January 2006. Since then, the scandal has been hushed up by Bayer and by the American Agriculture Department. During that time, American long-grain rice from the southern Unites States has continued to be shipped to the EU at the rate of over 20,000 tonnes per month. That adds up to 140,000 tonnes. It is absolutely certain that rice containing LL601 is already in the food supply chain, and it is outrageous that nobody is doing anything about it. In our book that amounts to criminal negligence initially by Bayer and the US Administration, and now by the EC and the UK Government as well."

GM Free Cymru has reminded supermarket chiefs that LL601 has never been authorised for commercial growing either in the USA or in the EU. It has never been safety tested, in spite of assurances from the US Secretary of Agriculture that it is "completely safe". Since it was abandoned in 2001 as a failed experimental GM variety, some experts think that it is genetically unstable and non-uniform. That means that the novel proteins contained within it might, between 2001 and 2006, have become "scrambled" in quite unpredictable ways. It is also a "Liberty Link" variety designed to resist applications of the herbicide glufosinate ammonium, applications of which can leave toxic traces on the harvested crop. It is a neurotoxin which has been observed to cause defects in unborn mammals (5).

Bayer claims that it has now developed a test which will identify traces of LL601 in rice samples, and that their test method has been verified by the US Agriculture Department (6). The test method will also have to be verified at the EU's Joint Research Centre before it is accepted for certification purposes by the EC. "That could be a very protracted process," says Dr John, "and even when it is complete we need to bear in mind that the test method may well have been carefully designed to provide false negatives. The JRC is still not certain that the test method developed last year during the Bt10 scandal is not fraudulent, and we expect the same thing to happen this time round. We need to remember that the testing of rice samples for GM contamination is not designed to get after the truth, but to provide official reassurance. Even if the test method is sound, you can conveniently "miss" widespread GM contamination simply by adjusting your sampling methods."

The NGO is now asking the supermarkets to specify what action they propose to take. "If they say they will do nothing, or that product recalls are deemed to be unnecessary, we want to know -- in detail -- what their reasons are. This whole episode already stinks of cover-up, evasion and damage limitation; if we are not careful, we could also have a major health crisis on our hands."


Brian John, GM Free Cymru
Tel: 01239-820470


(1) http://westernfarmpress.com/news/08-25-rice-nervous-GMO/


(2) http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/22/business/22rice.html?_r=1

(3) http://www.aphis.usda.gov/brs/aphisdocs/98_32901p.pdf

(4) http://europa.eu.int/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=MEX/06/0404&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en


(5) http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/reports/impacts_glufosinate_ammon.pdf#search=%22glufosinate%20ammonium%22

(6) http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=2357926

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