Test to detect Bayer GMO rice could cost $300 a time: USDA (26/8/2006)

Test to detect Bayer GMO rice could cost $300: USDA
Aug 25, 2006 - By Christopher Doering

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Each test to determine whether commercial rice has traces of an unapproved biotech strain could cost as much as $300, but it is uncertain who will pay for the testing, U.S. Agriculture Department said on Friday.

USDA on Thursday certified tests from Bayer CropScience, a unit of Bayer AG, that detects when an unapproved genetically modified rice known as LLRICE 601 is present in commercial rice.

The department moved to quickly validate the test after traces of the unapproved rice were found in commercial bins in Arkansas and Missouri last week, prompting concern from some importers of U.S. rice.

David Shipman, deputy administrator with USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration, said Bayer has not told USDA how much of the testing it will cover. He said the tests will cost between $200 and $300 and will be sensitive enough to detect the genetically modified rice.

"There certainly are folks that are interested in what Bayer is going to offer to cover in terms of the testing, but I have not heard them come out with any sort of statement yet," said Shipman.

The USA Rice Federation said it believed Bayer, which created a gene to give herbicide tolerance to long-grain rice, would pay for tests of major shipments to sensitive markets.

The European Commission has said the EU will require imports of U.S. long grain rice to be certified as free from the unauthorized strain. The commission said validated tests must be done by an accredited laboratory and be accompanied by a certificate.

Japan, the largest importer of U.S. rice, has suspended imports of U.S. long-grain rice.

"We're working with USDA and the U.S. rice industry and are focused on providing technical and scientific support where needed," said a Bayer official who spoke on condition of anonymity. He declined to say if Bayer would pay for testing.

Bayer has said it is working to get six U.S. labs ready to begin testing commercial rice for any signs of the genetically modified crop. Testing is expected to begin during the next few days.


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