Bayers illegal GE rice found in major German supermarket
Unites States/International 11 September 2006 - The scandal around illegal genetically engineered (GE) rice entering European food outlets has grown today as Greenpeace tests reveal illegal rice from the US has contaminated rice on supermarket shelves in Germany. Last week Greenpeace revealed illegal GE rice from China, which poses a potential health risk, had ended up in rice products on European shelves. (1) The European Food Safety Committee meets today to determine the EU response to the potentially widespread contamination of rice and rice products and Greenpeace is calling on the EU to implement strong measures to stop further contamination.
Tests conducted by an independent laboratory have confirmed the presence of Bayer's Liberty Link rice in US parboiled long grain rice sold in Aldi Nord a major German supermarket chain which also has 700 outlets throughout France. Bayers LL GE rice is not approved for food or cultivation anywhere in the world except for the United States and Canada. . "The first question we are asking to both US and European authorities is how widespread is this contamination in products already on grocery store shelves?" said Doreen Stabinsky, Greenpeace GE campaigner. "The second question is what are they doing to protect consumers?" Greenpeace is demanding global testing of consumer products by the rice products industry and a European recall of contaminated US rice products.
Greenpeace is also calling on US authorities and food companies to protect US consumers. "We know that food products in Europe are contaminated. What about the rice products that US consumers are buying, like Uncle Ben's and Rice Krispies? We haven't heard a peep from the US food industry. What assurance are companies such as Kellogg's providing to consumers that their products sold in US supermarkets do not contain illegal GMOs?" added Stabinsky.
Greenpeace followed the announcement of contamination with a letter to US Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, calling on the agency to test all rice exports, regardless of destination. Other important export markets for US long grain rice and rice products include Mexico and the Middle East, where countries such as Saudi Arabia have strict laws regulating GE food products. Greenpeace is urging governments around the world to protect consumers in their countries and test rice products on supermarket shelves that originate from the United States.
For the past two years, US rice producers have refused to grow GE rice commercially because of lack of consumer acceptance around the world. The US rice industry, already reeling under widespread contamination and multiple lawsuits as a result of falling rice prices, is now likely to face an even larger global backlash.
"We know from experience in the Starlink case that the initial contamination finding is just the tip of the iceberg. Once illegal GE crops are in the food chain, removing them takes enormous effort and cost. It is easier to prevent contamination in the first place and stop any plans to commercialise GE rice," concluded Jeremy Tager, GE rice campaigner with Greenpeace International. "This is a clear message to the global rice industry - stay away from GE rice or you risk serious long-term economic damage to your market."
Greenpeace campaigns for GE-free crop and food production that is grounded in the principles of sustainability, protection of biodiversity and providing all people to have access to safe and nutritious food. Genetic engineering is an unnecessary and unwanted technology that contaminates the environment, threatens biodiversity and poses unacceptable risks to health.