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EU says US rice needs proof not contaminated

The European Union said US long-grain rice imports will need proof they are not contaminated with the unapproved, gene-modified rice made by Bayer CropScience AG, which was found in commercial US rice supplies. Bayer field-tested the modified rice from 1998 to 2001, and it tainted the 2005 crop. The European Commission, the EU's regulatory branch, said yesterday in an e-mailed statement that all imports of US long-grain rice must be „certified as free from the unauthorized” variety. The rice will have to be tested „by an accredited laboratory using a validated testing method and accompanied by a certificate” before entering the EU. Genetically modified foods, often referred to by the initials „GM” or „GMO,” have run into public resistance within the 25-nation bloc. The EU bars genetically modified rice for food and feed use.

„We have strict legislation in place in the EU to ensure that any GM product put on the European market has undergone a thorough authorization procedure based on scientific assessment,” EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said in the statement. „There is no flexibility for unauthorized GMOs - these cannot enter the EU food and feed chain under any circumstances.” Brussels-based environmental group Friends of the Earth Europe welcomed yesterday's decision in an e-mailed statement, and said the incident „highlights the need for new, tighter EU measures to prevent future contamination incidents from occurring.” The European Commission said the „emergency measures” it adopted yesterday take effect immediately and will last for six months. The measures will be reviewed by the EU's member countries within 10 days. „Controls will be carried out on consignments at the EU borders, to ensure that no product containing unauthorized GMOs is being imported, and member states will also carry out sample testing on products already on the EU market,” the commission said. The US 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 US per month on average, the statement said. (Bloomberg)