Friends of the Earth
September 21 2006
The European Commission has confirmed that shipments of US long grain rice contaminated with an illegal GM trait has been sent to four member states - including the UK - despite the fact that it was certified as GM-free.
Friends of the Earth is calling for an immediate suspension of US long grain rice imports and an increase in testing of rice on the market by member states following the clear failure of control measures put in place in Europe. Member states have been informed by the European Commission and asked to trace the contaminated shipments.
Twelve consignments of rice imported from the US through Rotterdam were certified by the rice industry as free of contamination from unauthorised GM rice LL601 and released. They were destined for the UK, Belgium, France and Germany.
Last month the EU was forced to introduce emergency measures after it was revealed that US long grain rice has been widely contaminated from GM rice grown in experimental trials  (Bayer CropScience's LLRICE 601).
The EU said that any US long grain rice must be certified as being GM-free before it entering the European food chain. LLRICE 601 has not been authorised for human consumption anywhere in the world. Markos Kyprianou, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, said "There is no flexibility for unauthorised GMOs - these cannot enter the EU food and feed chain under any circumstances" .
Friends of the Earth's GM campaigner, Clare Oxborrow said:
"Controls put in place to stop illegal GM rice entering Europe have failed, and the situation has turned into a farce. This outrageous revelation shows that member states and the public in Europe cannot rely on tests carried out by the industry to keep the food chain free of illegal GM rice. The European Commission must place an immediate ban on all long grain rice imports from the US whilst they investigate how this can have happened. The Food Standards Agency in the UK must also urgently step up tests of rice on the market to ensure consumers aren't exposed to illegal GM contamination."
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