EC blocks 'illegal' GM rice imports from US

EC blocks 'illegal' GM rice imports from US
Posted By: 
Friday, August 25, 2006 09:57 am

EC blocks \'illegal\' GM rice imports from US

The EC adopted a decision this week requiring imports
of long grain rice from the USA to be certified as free
from the unauthorised GMO LL Rice 601 ... Read



By Anthony Fletcher

25/08/2006 - The EC adopted a decision this week
requiring imports of long grain rice from the USA to be
certified as free from the unauthorised GMO LL Rice

The decision has been taken in light of the recent
announcement by the US authorities that this
unauthorised GMO had been found in samples of
commercial rice on the US market.

The presence of LL Rice 601 was first notified to the
European Commission by the US authorities on 18 August.
The emergency measures adopted by the Commission this
week mean that, with immediate effect, only
consignments of US long grain rice that have been
tested by an accredited laboratory using a validated
testing method and accompanied by a certificate
assuring the absence of LL Rice 601, can enter the EU.

\"We have strict legislation in place in the EU to
ensure that any GM product put on the European market
has undergone a thorough authorisation procedure based
on scientific assessment,\" said Markos Kyprianou,
European commissioner for health and consumer

\"There is no flexibility for unauthorised GMOs - these
cannot enter the EU food and feed chain under any
circumstances. The measures we have taken today will
ensure that unauthorised GM rice is not inadvertently

The USA is one of the major suppliers of rice to the
EU. The EU imports approximately 20.000 tons of long
grain husked, semi-milled and wholly-milled rice from
the USA per month on average.

In fact, the US provides about 12 per cent of world
rice trade. In 2005, 80 per cent of rice exports were
long grain varieties.

Other major suppliers of rice to the EU are India,
Thailand and Guyana.

Apart from highlighting how much the EU relies on the
US for its rice, the issue also demonstrates just how
stringent the EU\'s rules on GM food are.

Although US authorities have said that the unauthorised
GM rice in commercial rice is not dangerous \"there is
no human health, food safety, or environmental concerns
associated with this GE rice,\" said the USDA in a
statement - the EU regulations are set in stone.

The measures adopted this week will enter into effect
immediately, and are expected to be reviewed after 6

This is also an issue for ingredient importers and
national governments. Member states are responsible for
controlling the imports at their borders and for
preventing any contaminated consignments from being
placed on the market.

In addition, business operators importing rice from the
USA also have responsibility for ensuring that LL Rice
601 does not enter the EU food chain and that imports
are certified as free from this unauthorised GMO, in
accordance with the EU food law principle that
operators are responsible for the safety of the food or
feed that they place on the market.

Currently no GM rice is authorised in the EU for food
and feed use or for cultivation or import. The European
Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is currently examining one
application for authorisation, Bayers LL Rice 62. This
contains the same modified protein as the unauthorised
LL Rice 601 in question.

More than 100 varieties of rice are commercially
produced primarily in six states (Arkansas, Texas,
Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and California) in
the US. According to estimates for the 2006 crop year,
rice production in the U.S. is valued at $1.88 billion,
approximately half of which is expected to be exported.