Rice Industry: Keep Genetically Engineered Varieties in the Lab / Japan refuses to accept US certification of GM-free status (29/9/2006)

1.Rice fiasco - Japan refuses to accept US certification of GM-free status (even for Californian rice) - Brian John
2.Rice Industry: Keep Genetically Engineered Varieties in the Lab - Jeffrey Smith

1.Rice fiasco - Japan refuses to accept US certification of GM-free status (even for Californian rice)
Dr Brian John

EXTRACT: With respect to the emerging news of increased testing in Japan for the unauthorised presence of the illegal GM rice line called LL601, the most interesting feature is that the Japanese authorities have clearly decided that the American certificates declaring rice cargoes to be "GM free" are not worth the paper they are written on. They are going to the trouble of taking samples from cargoes before they are allowed to leave the US, flying these samples to Japan at their own expense, and testing the samples in Japanese laboratories. Only then, once they have confirmed a cargo to be GM-free, will they allow a ship to cross the Pacific.

That does not indicate a lot of faith in the integrity of the USDA sampling and testing protocols.

Also, note that the cargoes being tested are of Californian medium grain and short grain rice, no doubt to the great disgust of the California Rice Commission, USDA and APHIS, who have all been involved in a great Californian reassurance campaign. They have all peddled the line that only long-grain rice from the Southern States is contaminated by LL601.


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2.Rice Industry: Keep Genetically Engineered Varieties in the Lab
Spilling the Beans

Dear friend,

Consider passing this article on to those in the food and agricultural industries. It provides a reasonable, if not urgent, strategy for them to protect their markets, while protecting our health and environment at the same time.


Rice Industry: Keep Genetically Engineered Varieties in the Lab By Jeffrey M. Smith

The US rice industry can take a lesson from Hawaiian coffee growers. In 2004, the University of Hawaii and others were getting dangerously close to conducting outdoor trials of genetically modified (GM) coffee - plants whose DNA had been artificially inserted with genes from other species. Growers throughout the state knew if their premium coffee became contaminated with GM varieties, it would threaten their markets.

The growers rejected claims that small buffer zones around GM fields would protect them. Bees carry pollen for miles. GM crops can get mixed up by human error. And everyone on the islands knows that seeds naturally travel. (Consider Hawaii's conversion from lava rock to a lush paradise.)

They extracted a promise from the University to discontinue studies that could lead to outdoor GM coffee trials, saving their farms from contamination. Not so for the rice industry, which just saw world markets close and prices plummet after unapproved GM rice escaped from field trials, contaminating US stocks. Japan stopped buying long grain US rice, products were taken off shelves in Europe and the industry may lose $150 million or more.

Amid the lawsuits and rejected shipments, the rice industry must now decide whether to belatedly follow the coffee growers' example. They can tell the government and five multinational GM crop companies, 'No more GM rice trials!' Or they can continue to risk costly episodes of contamination. And for what? To share the fate of soybean and corn growers?

In 1996, biotech companies introduced GM soy and corn varieties that could either withstand herbicide or produce pesticides in every cell. Although the new technology was largely hidden from American shoppers, the European press did extensive coverage and consumers there were not pleased. In a single week in April 1999, food companies throughout the continent responded by vowing to remove GM ingredients from their European brands. Japanese companies followed suit and American agriculture has yet to recover.

The corn industry lost their $300 million European market; US soy sales also plunged. The government poured an extra $2-3 billion per year in price support subsidies. And many non-GM growers were forced to pay for costly segregation programs just to keep their customers. The promise of higher yields, lower chemical use and weed-free living through GM crops turned into slightly lower average yields, significantly higher herbicide use and the emergence of superweeds that resist weed killer. Many who were once enthusiastic about GM technology are saying 'Come back in 50 to 100 years when you've done your homework.'

The Biotech PR firms want the rice industry and others to believe that gene inserted crops are catching on around the world. In reality, studies show that the more people learn about GM food, the less they want to put it in their mouth. The main reason why most US consumers are complacent is that they don’t know about the issue. Sixty percent say they have never eaten a GM food in their lives. In truth, most eat it everyday - usually in the form of soy and corn derivatives in processed foods.

When Americans find out that they have been eating GM ingredients, they usually assume that the FDA has tested it and proven it safe. Not true. Documents made public from a lawsuit revealed that FDA scientists had repeatedly warned their superiors that GM foods might create unpredictable, hard-to-detect allergies, toxins, new diseases and nutritional problems. They urged political appointees to require long-term safety studies. But the person in charge of FDA policy was the former attorney (and later vice president) of biotech giant Monsanto. And the agency was under orders from the White House to promote GM crops. The policy that was adopted in 1992, and still stands, is that no safety tests whatsoe


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