Tainted GMO rice found in Netherlands, Belgium: EU (21/9/2006)

1.Tainted GMO rice found in Netherlands, Belgium: EU
2.Safety net failed to halt sale of GM rice
3.A foolish gamble
4.Fears mount over possible rice contamination in the Philippines

1.Tainted GMO rice found in Netherlands, Belgium: EU

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Two shipments of U.S. rice held in the Netherlands and Belgium have tested positive for a strain of unauthorized genetically modified (GMO) rice, the European Commission said on Thursday.

A Commission spokesman said the consignments had passed through the Dutch port of Rotterdam in August.

"The U.S authorities have been informed and we will follow up," the spokesman said.

2.Safety net failed to halt sale of GM rice
By Petrina Vousden
Daily Mail (Ireland), 20 September 2006

Fury erupted last night after illegal GM rice slipped through both EU and national food safety checks and onto Irish supermarket shelves.

It is illegal to sell genetically modified rice in the EU because it has never been cleared, or even tested, for human consumption.

Even more alarmingly, however, the GM rice strain that was found in Tesco American rice has not been cleared for human consumption in the more lenient U.S.

All existing stocks of the rice have been withdrawn by Tesco and the quantities found were small.

However, the discovery sparked outrage last night and there were demands for an inquiry into how it entered the Irish food chain.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) confirmed that samples taken from own-brand American rice on sale at Tesco stores had tested positive.

Tesco rice fields are believed to have been contaminated by pollen from nearby GM rice testing sites.

Although American food authorities are much more lenient in approving genetically modified foodstuffs, this particular rice strain - known as LL Rice 601 - has not yet been approved or even assessed for human consumption there.

In the EU it is currently illegal to grow, sell, or market any gene-altered rice as research continues into whether unauthorised biotech varieties pose a risk to people's health.

The FSAI Biotechnology chief specialist, Dr. Pat O'Mahony said: "Six samples were sent to the State Laboratory and Tesco's own-brand long grain rice tested positive. The GM rice was found in minute quantities mixed in with other rice. We have notified the EU Rapid Alert System of the discovery."

Dr. O'Mahony said the FSAI will continue to monitor rice on sale to Irish consumers. "Tesco is withdrawing those batches. There are no safety implications. Two other versions of the herbicide tolerant GM rice lines have been tested and authorised for the U.S. market in 1999."

And he insisted: "While there are no immediate food safety issues associated with the presence of this GM rice in the food chain, this GM rice has not been authorised either in the U.S. or the EU and therefore should not be on the market."

The revelation follows an announcement by Tesco on Monday that it was withdrawing as a "precautionary measure" its own American long-grain rice.

"Whilst this is not a food safety issue we, of course, take it very seriously. We are working with our suppliers and ther relevant authorities and as a precaution we've withdrawn previous stock of Tesco American long grain rice in 500g and 1kg packs."

The company refused to reveal how many bags of the rice had been sold and how long the rice was being sold to Irish customers.

We need an explanation

Green Party chairman John Gormley TD said: "It's unacceptable and the Food Safety Authority needs to be far more vigilant. The whole thing about GM food is we don't know if it's safe. We don't expect people to show any immediate negative signs but there may be consequences in the long term."

"We need to have a proper explanation as to how this occurred. We ought to at all times adopt caution."

Spokesman for the group GM-free Ireland, Michael O'Callaghan, said independent scientists believe all GM foods are unsafe.

He said: "Irish consumers have obviously been eating it and don't know how long for".

"There is no scientific evidence to show this is safe for consumption. The long-term health risk of GM foods is unknown."

"GM crops are made by taking DNA from other species. Typically they take DNA from a species that has a trait they want to give to a modified crop. For example, when a company wanted to make tomatoes and strawberries that were frost resistant they took DNA from a fish which has a natural anti-freeze."

"So you have tomatoes with fish genes and you even have potatoes in existence with spider genes."

"Seventy per cent of Europeans are opposed to GM foods. But the Government has continually played a leading role in promoting GM food in the EU."

The controversial rice line was engineered by the Bayer Corporation in the U.S. to tolerate a herbicide in experimental trials.

3.A foolish gamble
Daily Mail (Ireland) Comment, 20 September 2006.

The great myth about GM crops - and one that is enthusiastically promulgated by the huge biotech corprations that have invested billions in this Brave New World that nobody else appears to want - is that they are so carefully controlled and monitored that there is no danger or impacting on the wider environment.

The reality, of course, is that in the open countryside it is virtually impossible to prevent cross-fertilisation. Proof, if proof were needed, came with yesterday's confirmation by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, that traces of a GM strain of rice had been found in American rice harvested from non-modified crops.

There is, of course, no proof that this genetically modified rice is in any way harmful. But equally nobody - not even in the U.S. where the authorities are markedly more lenient on this issue - has said that it is not. And most alarmingly of all, it ended up in the Irish food chain without anybody knowing it was here.

Man interferes with nature at his own peril. In the case of GM foods, we are doing so without any real reason other than to fuel the profits of U.S. conglomerates. The world is awash with food surpluses; yes, there are millions starving, but the problem is not growing food but getting it to them. GM crops are not going to solve that.

Meanwhile, in order to keep the moguls of Wall Street happy, we risk creating a biological desert, with our countryside denuded of butterflies, bees, beetles and songbirds and in which new super-weeds could require more herbicide to control.

For the short term gain of a few, we run the risk of creating monopolies in food production, damaging small farmers, making a mockery of consumer choice, and abusing nature. And tragically, the ecological consequences of this reckless folly may be with us forever.

4.Fears mount over possible rice contamination in the Philippines
By James Knowles
Food Production Daily, September 21 2006

21/09/2006 - Environmental campaign group Greenpeace is warning that the food supply in the Philippines could be at risk from illegal GM rice contamination originating in the US and China, with potentially damaging costs to manufacturers in extraction.

Following the recent discovery of GMOLL601 rice contamination in the US test results by Greenpeace Germany revealed last week that US parboiled rice products being sold by German supermarket Aldi Nord contained illegal Bayers Liberty Link rice.

"The illegal GM rice scandal, however, may not be limited to Europe. In South East Asia rice is the staple diet. The Philippines is among the countries most at risk because we import rice and rice products from both the US and China", said Greenpeace South East Asia GE campaigner Daniel Ocampo. The impact of contamination and any need for extraction from the food supply would be costly for manufacturers within the Philippines, which according to figures from USDA imported $20m (•16) of rice from the US in 2006.

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johans of USDA rejected claims made by Greenpeace that GM rice has allergenic qualities as shown by mice during testing due to the added protein Cry1Ac, saying that in the instance of Bayers LL Rice-601 only trace amounts were found and deemed to be safe.

"I empahsise that based upon the materials that have been provided, we have reached a determination based upon those materials that there isn't any environmental fear; there isn't a food safety fear" he said at the Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Conference in August. The sale of GM rice is an issue of contention in markets across the world and there are no plans to introduce it to Philippine markets anytime soon, Cherly Casiwan Senior Science Research Specialist for the Social Economics Division of the Philippines Rice Research Institute told AP-Foodtechnology.


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