|Call for global ban on imports of U.S. rice (21/8/2006)|
1.FACTS & FIGURES ON US RICE & SOURCE OF THE CONTAMINATION
1.FACTS & FIGURES ON US RICE CROP & SOURCE OF CONTAMINATION
Around 50 percent of the US rice crop is exported, and 80 percent of that is long grain rice, said Johanns, adding that the USDA is engaging trading partners "very, very directly" on the issue.
The US currently provides about 12 percent of world rice trade. According to estimates for the 2006 crop year, rice production in the US is valued at $1.88 billion, approximately half of which is expected to be exported.
More than 100 varieties of rice are currently produced commercially in the US, primarily in six states: Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and California.
The majority (58 percent) of domestic utilization of US rice is direct food use, while 16 percent is used in processed foods and beer respectively. The remaining 10 percent is found in pet food. [GM rice contaminates US food supply]
"I can tell you very candidly, I didn't ask where this sample came from. I know it's long grain rice. I can't tell you if that came from this state or that state" - The US Agriculture Secretary in response to a question at the news briefing.
"Officials at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said the GM variety had been found in samples from storage bins in Arkansas and Missouri. The bins hold rice from several states, making it difficult to know what state the rice came from." - BBC News report
2.EU demands more details of tainted US biotech rice
BRUSSELS, Aug 21 (Reuters) - European Union authorities are keen to discover more details about an unauthorised biotech rice that may have found its way into U.S. exports to Europe before they take any action, the bloc's executive said on Monday.
Late last week, the European Commission was notified by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns of trace amounts of unauthorised genetically modified (GMO) rice detected in long grain samples that were targeted for commercial use.
It was the first time that unmarketed genetically engineered rice had been found in rice used in the U.S. commercial market.
Although U.S. authorities have assured Brussels that there is no environmental or human health risk, either from food or animal feed, Commission experts are urgently seeking more information -- with a possible view to import restrictions.
"We are proactively trying to get the information that we need to make a decision from the American authorities and from the company concerned," Commission spokeswoman Antonia Mochan told a daily news briefing.
"We are dealing with this as a matter of the utmost urgency and will take the measures that are needed as quickly as we can in order to protect the European consumers," she said.
U.S. agriculture and food safety authorities were notified on July 31 that testing by Bayer CropScience, a division of Bayer AG.
3.Greenpeace demands global ban on imports of US rice
Amsterdam - Greenpeace International today called for a global ban on imports of US rice in order to protect the public from eating illegal, untested and unapproved varieties of genetically engineered (GE) rice.
GE Liberty Link (LL) rice 602, produced by agro-chemical giant Bayer and never intended for commercial release, has been found in commercial rice in the United States and rice imports were, as a result, immediately banned in Japan. It is not approved for consumption or cultivation anywhere in the world.
"Rice is the world's most important staple food and contamination of rice supplies by Bayer, a company pushing its GE rice around the world, must be stopped," said Jeremy Tager, Greenpeace International GE campaigner.
Japan has already announced a ban on long grain rice imports from the US as a result of this latest contamination scandal. Last year, Japan and the EU banned US maize imports as a result of yet another GE contamination scandal.
"This latest contamination scandal once again shows the GE industry is utterly incapable of controlling GE organisms. Countries that import US rice, such as the EU, Mexico, Brasil and Canada must become serious about preventing this kind of threat to our food supplies by banning any imports of GE rice, removing all contaminated food from supermarket shelves and rejecting applications for the commercial cultivation of rice," said Tager.
"Relevant authorities in importing countries must also conduct an investigation into the contamination caused by Bayer and also determine whether any other GE rice varieties being tested by Bayer have contaminated the world's food chain," Tager concluded.