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EU chases GMO-tainted rice strain in four countries
Posted by: Prof. Dr. M. Raupp (IP Logged)
Date: September 22, 2006 05:28PM ; ;

Europe's problems with shipments of unauthorized genetically modified (GMO)
rice have taken a turn for the worse as two U.S. shipments tested positive
for an illegal biotech strain, the EU executive said, September 2006 by
Jeremy Smith.

The Belgian food safety agency said it was likely that some of the rice
had been eaten by consumers but the food did not constitute an "imminent
threat to public health."

The two bargeloads within a 20,000-tonne cargo that had passed through the
Dutch port of Rotterdam in August had first tested negative for the LL Rice
601 strain, developed by Germany's Bayer AG as resistant to a herbicide.

But Dutch counter-tests contradicted those first results, European
Commission spokesman Philip Tod told a news briefing on Thursday, adding
that EU procedures for testing U.S. long-grain rice imports would now be

"In the light of these developments, the European Commission intends to take
further action to strengthen the measure ... requiring the testing of U.S.
long-grain rice imports for LL 601," he said, declining to specify what
action was envisaged.

In August, the EU tightened requirements on U.S. long-grain rice imports to
prove the absence of LL Rice 601. Its decision followed the discovery by
U.S. authorities of trace amounts of LL Rice 601 in long-grain samples
targeted for commercial use.

No biotech rice is allowed to be grown, sold or marketed on the territory of
the 25 European Union countries.

Then, EU authorities were informed about a shipment loaded in New Orleans
that arrived in Rotterdam in late August carrying the equivalent of one
month's average EU imports of U.S. long-grain rice.

Later, one EU official said France, Britain, Germany and Belgium had been
asked to conduct checks to trace any rice from the bargeloads. That was
because the shipments were accompanied by certificates showing they were
GMO-free, he said.

One of the two consignments that the Dutch tests revealed as carrying the LL
Rice 601 strain is still under the control of the Dutch authorities. The
other was sent to Belgium, where it is also being held by the national

A further 11 consignments that were initially certified as GMO-free were
sent to Britain, France and Germany, he said.

"We have asked the authorities in those countries to carry out
counter-tests," he told reporters.

"There are a lot of questions to which we don't have answers," he said. "All
we know is that they were in possession of valid certificates and that is
why they were released."

The Rotterdam cargo was split into 30 consignments each equating to the
volume of one barge. In 2005, EU states imported 300,000 tonnes of U.S.
rice, of which 85 percent was long grain.


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