|Illegal genetically engineered Chinese rice discovered in Europe (5/9/2006)|
Illegal GE rice from China has contaminated food products in France, Germany and the UK.
"A group of rogue scientists pushing for the approval of GE rice in China leaked the illegal seeds to the market and have created major genetic contamination." - Jeremy Tager
Illegal genetically engineered Chinese rice discovered in Europe
Amsterdam September 5 2006 Greenpeace International released findings today that show illegal GE (genetically engineered) rice from China has contaminated food products in France, Germany and the UK. Greenpeace International has notified authorities that the illegal GE rice poses serious health risks and calls upon European governments to take immediate actions to protect consumers.
Greenpeace offices tested samples of rice products such as vermicelli, rice sticks and other processed foods found in Asian specialty stores and Asian restaurants. Three positive samples were found containing an illegal GE not approved anywhere in the world. However this could be the tip of the iceberg with rice products included in everything from baby food to yoghurt. (1)
"These findings are shocking and should trigger high-level responses", said Jeremy Tager, GE rice campaigner, Greenpeace International. "Consumers should not be left swallowing experimental GE rice that is risky to their health."
The illegal GE rice, genetically engineered to be resistant to insects, contains a protein or fused protein (Cry1Ac) that has reportedly induced allergenic-like reactions in mice.
Greenpeace International is calling for immediate recall and measures to ensure no further contaminated rice enters the EU. Additionally, we are calling for the urgent implementation of a preventative screening system for countries with high contamination risks. Demanding GE free certification for food from countries that produce GE crops is reasonable, cost effective, and necessary to protect Europe's food.
This recent rice contamination in China began with field trials; the rice is not currently approved for commercial growing because of mounting concerns over its safety. Yet an investigation by Greenpeace in 2005 shows that research institutes and seed companies in China had been illegally selling unapproved GE rice seeds to farmers. (2)
"Innocent consumers again become the victims of the GE industry's 'contamination first' strategy", says Tager. "A group of rogue scientists pushing for the approval of GE rice in China leaked the illegal seeds to the market and have created major genetic contamination. Just two weeks ago, US rice was contaminated with an illegal GE rice developed by Bayer. 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," concluded Tager.
For more information contact:
Jeremy Tager, Greenpeace International GE rice campaigner +31 646 22 11 85 Suzette Jackson, Greenpeace International communications officer +31 6 4619 7324
Notes to editors:
(1) All tests were conducted by an accredited and independent laboratory. Details in attached background briefing.
(2) Further testing indicated that the whole food chain had been contaminated, with the most recent case being the contaminated Heinz rice cereal products in Beijing, Guangzhou and Hongkong. The Chinese government, in the wake of the situation, reportedly punished seed companies and destroyed illegally grown GE rice.