Cover Up of GM Rice Contamination a Scandal
Press Release: GE Free NZ, 20 September 2006
The UK Independent newspaper's report of an official cover-up of contamination of rice by an illegal GE variant has serious implications for maintaining the integrity of the food supply in New Zealand and overseas.
The Independent has revealed that while some countries have banned sales of US long-grain rice because of illegal GE contamination, others have decided to turn a blind eye and allow it to be sold.
It is possible that contaminated long-grain rice remains on sale in New Zealand despite the contaminating variant being untested and unapproved by any authority in any country.
"The situation for New Zealand consumers remains unclear as Authorities have deemed information about their action-plan as falling under the Official Information Act," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment. Until the information is released New Zealand shoppers should consider avoiding any US long-grain rice, and should return unopened packs to the shop for a refund.
Overseas supermarkets have been asked to remove potentially contaminated products from the shelves, and in some countries they have done so. Official assurances that this GE rice variant is safe are not supported by scientists who are demanding more data be released in order to assess the rice.
But a more serious issue is the breakdown of the global system to control where GE products enter the food chain and refusal by some authorities to take action to remove illegal product when it is found. The international community is facing a serious breakdown in regulation of the food system. It is vital action is taken to uphold the law and remove illegal foods from the system. Acceptance of illegal contamination is a slippery slope that will delay establishing a proper monitoring and recall-system.
As time goes on this failure puts millions of people at risk from contamination of previously safe and familiar foods.
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