Illegal GM Rice Discovered in Food Chain
Consumers International (CI) 13apr2005
Consumers International (CI) is deeply concerned at the reported discovery of unapproved genetically engineered (GM) rice being sold and grown illegally in the Chinese province of Hubei. According to Greenpeace, the international laboratory Genescan confirmed that transgenic DNA was present in samples of rice seed and rice from companies, farmers and rice millers. Greenpeace estimates that 950 to 1200 tonnes of GE rice could have entered the food chain after last year's harvest.
David Cuming, CI GM Campaign manager says:
'This is the second recent report of unapproved GMOs entering the food chain and is of significant concern to consumers. Last month it was unapproved GM Bt corn in the food chain. When will this end! The release of untested GMOs into the environment and the food chain is unacceptable, and undermining consumer rights to safety, to a healthy and sustainable environment, and to information. People need to know what they are eating, have choice and to know that their food is safe.'
Notes to editors:
Rice is a staple food for much of the world. So far genetic engineering has been predominantly in soybean, maize, cotton and canola. The introduction of GM rice into the food chain could have important consequences for human health. Greenpeace says the samples of GM rice in China contain genetically modified Bt rice - a strain that is a concern to human health as it contains a protoxin that is a potent immunogen, and no food safety assessment has been made for any Bt rice.
The discovery of untested GM rice in China (and the unapproved Bt corn, produced by Syngenta, in the US and abroad) raises questions about the integrity of the companies and individuals involved in GM production. It also reveals weakness in regulation systems. Strict safety guidelines and independent testing need to be implemented and we also need strict rules to prevent such contamination from occurring.
Consumers International are campaigning for labelling and traceability of GMOs, independent safety testing of GM food and establishment of GM-free areas.
Consumers International is a federation of consumer organisations dedicated to the protection and promotion of consumer's rights worldwide through empowering national consumer groups and campaigning at the national level. It currently represents over 250 organisations in 115 countries. For more information, see: www.consumersinternational.org