US Illegal GM Rice Contamination Spreads Further into Europe (11/9/2006)

1.EU confirms presence of tainted GMO rice
2.US Illegal GM Rice Contamination Spreads Further into Europe

1.EU confirms presence of tainted GMO rice
Reuters news service, 11 September 2006

Sep 11, 2006 - BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission confirmed on Monday the presence of an unauthorized genetically modified (GMO) strain of rice.

Thirty-three out of 162 results of rice samples carried out by members of the European Federation of Rice Millers tested positive for the LL601 strain, the European Commission said in a statement.

"Any consignments which tested positive have already been recalled or withheld from the market and the Federation's members have committed to continuing such withdrawals for any positive findings," the European Commission said.

It also said that three bargeloads within a 20,000 metric ton U.S. rice cargo detained in Rotterdam had tested positive, while 20 other bargeloads had tested negative.

"The consignments which tested negative for the unauthorized GMO have now been allowed to proceed to their final destination, while those which tested positive continue to be detained in Rotterdam and will either be returned to the USA or destroyed," the European Commission said.

At present, no biotech rice at all is allowed to be grown, sold or marketed in the 25 countries of the EU.

In August, the European Commission tightened requirements on U.S. long-grain rice imports to prove the absence of biotech rice strain LL601, which it said was marketed by Germany's Bayer AG and produced in the United States.

The Commission's August decision followed the discovery by U.S. authorities of trace amounts of LL601, engineered to resist a herbicide, in long-grain samples that were targeted for commercial use.

Earlier on Monday environmental group Greenpeace International said a strain of LL601 rice had been found in branches of discount supermarket Aldi Nord in Germany.

However, Aldi said no GMO rice had yet been found at its Aldi Nord operations.

In Frankfurt, a spokeswoman for Bayer said the company did not sell or produce LL Rice 601. She said the strain was developed by Aventis CropScience, a company bought by Bayer in 2002, but that development had been discontinued in 2001.

2.US Illegal GE Rice Contamination Spreads Further into Europe
Bayer's illegal GE rice found in major German supermarket

NEW YORK - September 11 - The scandal around illegal genetically engineered (GE) rice entering European food outlets has grown today as Greenpeace tests reveal illegal rice from the US has contaminated rice on supermarket shelves in Germany. Last week Greenpeace revealed illegal GE rice from China, which poses a potential health risk, had ended up in rice products on European shelves. (1) The European Food Safety Committee meets today to determine the EU response to the potentially widespread contamination of rice and rice products and Greenpeace is calling on the EU to implement strong measures to stop further contamination.

Tests conducted by an independent laboratory have confirmed the presence of Bayer's Liberty Link rice in US parboiled long grain rice sold in Aldi Nord a major German supermarket chain which also has 700 outlets throughout France. Bayers LL GE rice is not approved for food or cultivation anywhere in the world except for the United States and Canada.

"The first question we are asking to both US and European authorities is how widespread is this contamination in products already on grocery store shelves?" said Doreen Stabinsky, Greenpeace GE campaigner. "The second question is what are they doing to protect consumers?" Greenpeace is demanding global testing of consumer products by the rice products industry and a European recall of contaminated US rice products.

Greenpeace is also calling on US authorities and food companies to protect US consumers. "We know that food products in Europe are contaminated. What about the rice products that US consumers are buying, like Uncle Ben's and Rice Krispies? We haven't heard a peep from the US food industry. What assurance are companies such as Kellogg's providing to consumers that their products sold in US supermarkets do not contain illegal GMOs?" added Stabinsky.

Greenpeace followed the announcement of contamination with a letter to US Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, calling on the agency to test all rice exports, regardless of destination. Other important export markets for US long grain rice and rice products include Mexico and the Middle East, where countries such as Saudi Arabia have strict laws regulating GE food products. Greenpeace is urging governments around the world to protect consumers in their countries and test rice products on supermarket shelves that originate from the United States.

For the past two years, US rice producers have refused to grow GE rice commercially because of lack of consumer acceptance around the world. The US rice industry, already reeling under widespread contamination and multiple lawsuits as a result of falling rice prices, is now likely to face an even larger global backlash.

"We know from experience in the Starlink case that the initial contamination finding is just the tip of the iceberg. Once illegal GE crops are in the food chain, removing them takes enormous effort and cost. It is easier to prevent contamination in the first place and stop any plans to commercialise GE rice," concluded Jeremy Tager, GE rice campaigner with Greenpeace International. "This is a clear message to the global rice industry - stay away from GE rice or you risk serious long-term economic damage to your market."

Greenpeace campaigns for GE-free crop and food production that is grounded in the principles of sustainability, protection of biodiversity and providing all people to have access to safe and nutritious food. Genetic engineering is an unnecessary and unwanted technology that contaminates the environment, threatens biodiversity and poses unacceptable risks to health.

CONTACT: Greenpeace

In the US Doreen Stabinsky, Greenpeace International GE campaigner, +1-202-285-7398

In Amsterdam Jeremy Tager, Greenpeace International GE rice campaigner +31 6 4622 1185 Suzette Jackson, Greenpeace International communications officer +31 6 4619 7324

Images are available of the contaminated rice products

Contact the Greenpeace International picture desk +31 20 718 2058

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