China says no to commercial production of GM rice (25/2/2007)

1.China says no to commercial production of GM rice
2.More on Archbishop of Manila's call for GM moratorium in the Philippines

1.China says no to commercial production of GM rice
Xinhua, February 25 2007

By Xinhua - Beijing, Feb 25: China, the world's top rice producer, has shelved proposals for commercial production of Genetically Modified (GM) rice for the fourth time since 2004, but has given the green signal for experimental cultivation of a pest-resistant version.

A national committee for safety of GM food has shelved the commercial production of GM rice in November 2006, the Beijing Times reported.

'The application was rejected because some safety-related data were missing,' said Lu Baorong, a member of the State Committee for the Safety of Agricultural Transgenic living Things.

He however revealed that permission has been given for the experimental production of a pest-resistant variety of GM rice, the last step before a security pass could be granted.

The debate on the pros and cons of GM food has been raging on for years in China, as it is the case worldwide.

A researcher with the Chinese academy of sciences, Huang Jikun said GM rice is good for the environment and farmers as it could reduce pesticide use by 80% and increase yield by 6%.

'Our tests on the safety of GM rice have been going on for six years. The GM rice has proved to be safe,' he said.

Xue Dayuansaid, an expert with the state Environmental Protection Administration, said GM rice might harm the ecosystem as the new insect-resistant gene might cause some pests to mutate and affect the whole food chain.

Many opponents also worry that long-term consumption of GM products can harm the human body.

'Genetically modified rice could cause an irreversible genetic pollution,' Ma Tianjie, a project director with the international group Greenpeace said.

Currently only the US has approved the production of GM rice for commercial purpose in restricted regions, he said.

2.Yap says suspected GMO-tainted rice pulled out in markets
Sunday, February 25 2007

Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Arthur Yap on Sunday said the suspected rice allegedly tainted with genetically modified organism (GMO) as earlier claimed by the Archbishop of Manila were already pulled out in all markets.

In an interview, Yap said the buyer of 69,000 tons rice under PL-480 of the United States has voluntarily pulled out from the market.

Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales earlier wrote to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo asking for a moratorium on US rice imports which, according to his supporters, were tainted with GMO.

The 9LLRice601 was reportedly imported by a giant food conglomerate and sells under the brand name 'Uncle Sam Texas Long-grain,' according to a petition sent to the Cardinal carrying 2,000 signatures.

Invoking the church's 'moral obligation to protest the interest of God's people and their inherent right to safe food and healthy environment,' the Cardinal pointed out that even the European Union has barred the LLRice 601 from its region.

Yap said the buyer did not wait for the result of the testing conducted by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) to determine if indeed the rice imported from the US are tainted.

He said the buyer cited 'social responsibility' as the reason for the early pull-out of rice imports from the markets.

Besides, Yap said they are still awaiting the result from the BPI so it would not be proper to say that the rice imported from the US are tainted and might be hazardous to human health.

On the other hand, Cardinal Rosales, in his letter to the President, also called for a stop in the propagation of genetically modified (GM) products in Philippine farms and markets.

He also urged the President 'to certify as urgent' the bill that would require mandatory labeling of all imported and locally-manufactured processed food and other agricultural products in the country.

Yap stressed the government through the DA is implementing the 3-1000 test for grains which determines if it (grains) was genetically modified.

'We are following strictly the procedure of 3-1000 testing for grains. We ensure there is no GMO rice in the market,' he said. (PNA)

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