|US biosafety failure / Protest over American GM rice (5/9/2006)|
1.GM Rice Scandal Exposes US Biosafety Failure - Gaia Foundation
"This case has highlighted the weakness in the US GM regulatory system. The fact that officials have no idea of the extent of the contamination or how it happened, shows that the entire regulatory structure is weak. It fails to even recognise the possibility of risk, let alone take steps to minimise it or protect the public in any way. It almost defies belief that the US still have the arrogance to force their capacity building Biosafety "expertise" on African countries when their own failures are so apparent." - item 1
"Dr John said telling people it was safe to eat was "complacent and utterly irresponsible" as no safety tests had been conducted.: - item 2
"Interesting that the first instinct of the US Administration when this story became uncontainable was to protect investors - no mention anywhere of protecting the health of consumers, or protecting
the environment, or even of protecting organic farmers or non-GM producers..." - item 3
1.GM Rice Scandal Exposes US Biosafety Failure
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
The GM rice contamination scandal continues to be felt across the US and internationally. Tests have shown that the contamination of conventional rice by Bayer's illegal LL601 variety, is extremely widespread. According to the Secretary for Agriculture for Arkansas, a major rice-growing state, almost all tests are coming up positive for LL601, especially for milled rice. Prices for US rice have dropped dramatically, and now a number of rice-growing farmers are suing Bayer for negligence and compensation.
While Japan has banned imports of US rice altogether, the EU is only allowing shipments that have been shown to be free of GM contamination. A shipment arriving in Holland was found to contain the illegal variety. However, a new 10-minute strip test that the USDA and Bayer have developed is totally inadequate. The test only shows positive for contamination levels of above 2%, even though it is clearly known thatthe levels of contamination are much lower. This test would only further the cover-up, and allow extensive imports of GM rice at low-level contamination. The adoption of this test by the EU would therefore be unacceptable.
The effects of the incident were felt in California last week, when a new Bill, pushed by the GM industry, which attempted to forbid counties from declaring local bans on GM crops, was dropped by the Senate. The disastrous effects that GM contamination can have on farmers could clearly be seen, as well as the importance of taking strong measures to protect agriculture.
This case has highlighted the weakness in the US GM regulatory system. The fact that officials have no idea of the extent of the contamination or how it happened, shows that the entire regulatory structure is weak. It fails to even recognise the possibility of risk, let alone take steps to minimise it or protect the public in any way. It almost defies belief that the US still have the arrogance to force their capacity building Biosafety "expertise" on African countries when their own failures are so apparent.
The contamination could have further implications for Africa. Not only do countries such as Ghana import US rice, but Mali, Cameroon, Zambia, both Congos, Central African Republic and Liberia all receive rice as Food Aid as well. If the US GM rice is rejected by the main export markets, we might expect this surplus to be "dumped" by USAID as food aid for Africa, as has happened with their GM maize.
1. US Oversight of Biotech Crops Seen Lacking
2. Bayer Faces More Lawsuits over GMO Rice
3. Monsanto-Backed GE Food Bill dies in CA Legislature
4. Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Addresses GMO Rice Situation
5. Key Questions for FSA on GM Rice Contamination - New 2% Detection Limit Test Condemned
6. Bayer, not Taxpayers, Must Pay for GM Rice Testing in Europe
2.Protest over American GM rice
GM FREE Cymru has lodged a formal complaint and alleged complacency by the Food Standards Agency, over American rice contaminated with an illegal genetically-modified organism.
UK Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has been told that FSA assurances that the rice is safe to eat were "grossly irresponsible and scientifically indefensible" and amounted to criminal negligence.
GM Free Cymru spokesman, Dr Brian John, said, "We have seen some extraordinary statements from the FSA on GM matters in the past but this takes the biscuit," it is not just incompetent, but it is designed to deceive, and that is a very serious matter indeed."
In its statement the FSA said it would ensure that consignments of American long grain rice in Britain would be tested and monitored for traces of the LL601 GM variety.
This variety was withdrawn without explanation by Bayer CropScience in 2001 but has contaminated commercial rice varieties in the southern States.
Rice farmers are furious and some are suing Bayer CropScience for causing an unprecedented slump in prices.
The US supplies around 12% of the world rice market and exports 20,000 tonnes of long grain rice to Europe every month.
The contamination was discovered in January but only revealed last month, leaving an unknown quantity already for sale on supermarket shelves.
The FSA said retailers were responsible for ensuring they did not sell illegal GM food. Meanwhile all new shipments of American rice are now being held at ports until they can be certified free of contamination.
FSA Director of Food Safety, Dr Andrew Wadge, said, "The presence of this GM material in rice on sale in the UK is illegal even at extremely low levels."
But the US Food and Drug Administration said the rice poses no safety concerns. The European Food Safety Authority, which is responsible for evaluating GM foods across the EU, is expected to give its opinion this week.
Dr Wadge said people with American long grain rice in their kitchens could eat it safely.
But Dr John said telling people it was safe to eat was "complacent and utterly irresponsible" as no safety tests had been conducted.
3.COMMENT FROM DR BRIAN JOHN ON RICELAND STATEMENT
Long coats, dark glasses and trilby hats...
About those strange fellows in long coats, dark glasses and trilby hats who descended on Riceland when word got out about the LL601 contamination.
They were quite literally "The Enforcers" - from the Enforcement Division of the US Securities and Exchange Division.
This outfit is supposed to regulate the securities markets and protect investors. Note that although SEC is supposed to "promote full public disclosure" - but according to Bill Reed of Riceland: "There was input from the Securities Exchange Commission because this was significant. They told us, 'You're not to talk about this.' In fact, we weren't even able to tell our salesmen."
Their home page is here:
Interesting that the first instinct of the US Administration when this story became uncontainable was to protect investors - no mention anywhere of protecting the health of consumers, or protecting the environment, or even of protecting organic farmers or non-GM producers...
Note also that Bayer has said "officially" that it was "notified" about the contamination in June and discovered that the contaminant was LL601 on 31st July, a spokesman refused to answer the question when he was asked when the company first knew of the incident.
Securities And Exchange Commission - SEC
A government commission created by Congress to regulate the securities markets and protect investors. In addition to regulation and protection, it also monitors the corporate takeovers in the U.S.
The SEC is composed of five commissioners appointed by the U.S. President and approved by the Senate. The statutes administered by the SEC are designed to promote full public disclosure and to protect
the investing public against fraudulent and manipulative practices in the securities markets.