Gene-altered rice from China found in EU - Reuters (5/9/2006)

GM WATCH COMMENT: This latest contamination scandal appears to have arisen out of clear collusion between GM scientists and a commercial company to sell Chinese farmers GM seeds without informing them either that the seeds were genetically engineered or that it was illegal to plant them.

According to a report in the China Morning Post, this started some five years ago and the man at the centre of the scandal is Zhang Qifa, who is described as "China's leading biotechnology scientist". The article says, "Most investigations identified Professor Zhang - who works at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Huazhong (Central China) Agricultural University - as the source of the illegal grain."


Gene-altered rice from China found in EU
Science News
REUTERS, Sep 5 2006

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European consumers are at risk from unauthorized genetically modified (GMO) rice grown in China after evidence of a strain was found in Britain, France and Germany, environment group Greenpeace said on Tuesday.

The Chinese rice, modified to resist certain insects, was found in samples of rice stick noodles in France and Germany, and also in rice vermicelli in Britain, Greenpeace said, citing the results of two rounds of laboratory tests.

Its report did not indicate the possible quantities involved but said the GMO rice had been detected in different product brands found in Asian Specialty stores and Asian restaurants.

"Innocent consumers again become the victims of the GE (genetic engineering) industry's 'contamination first' strategy," Greenpeace International GMO campaigner Jeremy Tager said in a statement.

The Chinese rice contained a protein that might cause allergenic reactions in humans, he said. It was supposed to be used only in field trials and was not approved for commercial growing because of concerns about its safety.

The discovery of the experimental rice comes just a few weeks after the European Union tightened requirements on U.S. long-grain imports to prove the absence of another biotech rice type detected in samples intended for commercial use.

The EU does not yet permit the sale, import or marketing of any biotech rice on the territory of its 25 member countries.

"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," Tager said.

Last month, the EU-25 tightened requirements on U.S. long-grain rice imports to prove the absence of the GMO strain LL Rice 601 marketed by Germany's Bayer AG and produced in the United States.

The EU decision followed the discovery by U.S. authorities of trace amounts of LL Rice 601, engineered to resist a herbicide, in long-grain samples targeted for commercial use.

European consumers are well known for their wariness over GMO foods, but the biotech industry says its products are perfectly safe and are no different to conventional foods.


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