|Rice industry shut down / Contamination inevitable (22/9/2006)|
The following article reports on farmer lawsuits seeking damages for "falling market prices and to off-set the increased cost of testing rice crops and ensuring that fields are free of LL601."
Tracing the global spread of this GM rice (LL601) is proving quite a headache. But amid the product recalls and plummeting prices, nobody seems to have yet figured out exactly how an illegal variety of GM rice not grown in the US except in field trials that ended five years ago, ended up contaminating American commercial rice supplies.
As this article notes, Bayer officials claim the company acted in compliance with all laws and regulations in testing the experimental strain. It would be easy to suspect otherwise but, as the article also notes, Steve Linscombe, who heads the research station where a number of the trials were run, and where there has been some evidence that contamination of non-GM seed may have occurred, also says that the LL601 test plots were isolated and USDA testing standards were strictly followed.
In an interview with Delta Farm Press, Linscombe goes further, "APHIS has guidelines and protocols for testing (GM) material. We went above and beyond those protocols. Our isolation and distances (in tests) were always more than called for. We tried to eliminate any chance for this to happen." http://deltafarmpress.com/news/060921-linscombe-gmrice/
"For example, we should not forget that Monsanto/Scott's WAS FOLLOWING APHIS ISOLATION POLICY when the bentgrass contamination occurred - there is no easy remedy."
EXCERPT: "It has essentially shut down the rice industry for almost a month," said Joey Simon, who farms about 1,300 acres of rice in Acadia Parish.
Simon, the named plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of rice farmers throughout the state, said more than 35,000 barrels of rice sit in storage at his farm because of poor market conditions.
2.Lousiana farmers file federal suits
The U.S. Department of Agriculture last month announced the discovery of trace amounts of Bayers LL601 strain in long-grain rice at an Arkansas mill that serves several rice-growing states, including Louisiana.
The news led to a sharp drop in the market price for rice and a move by the European Union to require testing of all long-grain rice imports from the U.S.
"It has essentially shut down the rice industry for almost a month," said Joey Simon, who farms about 1,300 acres of rice in Acadia Parish. Simon, the named plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of rice farmers throughout the state, said more than 35,000 barrels of rice sit in storage at his farm because of poor market conditions.
He has yet to find out if LL601 mixed with his crop because testing is expensive and performed at only one lab in Louisiana, his attorney said.
Three other federal lawsuits were filed in Lafayette this week by farmers in St. Landry and Evangeline parishes.
They join rice growers in Arkansas and Missouri in legal action against Bayer CropScience.
The Louisiana lawsuits seek damages for falling market prices and to off-set the increased cost of testing rice crops and ensuring that fields are free of LL601.
Bayer engineered LL601 to be resistant to a specific herbicide, allowing the rice plant to survive while surrounding weeds die.
The company has not pushed the product to market, so the strain has not gone through the testing required for commercial use.
The USDA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and some European food regulators have declared that LL601 poses no health risks.
The USDA has announced an expedited approval process for the rice strain. Regulatory approval could help acceptance in overseas markets, critical for an industry that exports about half of its crop.
Researchers with Bayer and federal agencies continue to investigate how LL601 mixed with commercial rice crops.
Bayer officials have said the company acted in compliance with all laws and regulations in testing the experimental strain.