InfoShop News  [Printer-friendly version]
September 12, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: Illegal genetically-modified rice was
recently discovered contaminating conventional rice in Europe and
China. The contaminating gene may cause allergic reactions in some
humans. Greenpeace warns that rice in the Philippines is in danger of
similar genetic contamination unless precautionary action is taken.]

At a press conference in Quezon City, Philippines, Greenpeace
International has revealed new information about the spread of genetic
contamination of the world's rice crops.

In recent weeks, illegal genetically-modified rice has been found
contaminating conventional rice in Germany, France, England and
China. Now scientists are expressing concern that the contaminating
gene may cause allergic reactions in some humans. Rice is a staple
crop for half of humanity -- some 3 billion people -- so very large
numbers of people could be exposed to a potential allergen if steps
are not taken to curb the spread of the rogue gene.

Recent Greenpeace tests reveal that illegal GE rice from the US has
contaminated products on supermarket shelves in Germany. The results
came a week after an earlier round of tests proved that illegal GE
rice from China, which poses a potential health risk, was found
present in rice products on European shelves(1). Greenpeace
International has notified authorities that illegal GE rice poses
health and environmental risks and called upon governments to take
immediate action to protect consumers.

"The illegal GE rice scandal, however, may not be limited to Europe.
In Southeast Asia rice is the staple diet. The Philippines is among
the countries most at risk because we import rice and rice products
from both the US and China," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia GE
campaigner Daniel Ocampo.

"Greenpeace is therefore calling on the government to protect Filipino
consumers by implementing strong measures to nip in the bud what may
turn out to be a similar case of serious contamination in our country.
These measures should include testing of rice and rice products, the
immediate recall of those found positive for contamination, and
demanding GE free certification for food from countries that grow and
produce GE crops," Ocampo added.

Many US and Chinese rice products which are available in Philippine
markets and supermarket shelves may be affected by contamination.
These products can range from rice noodles to breakfast cereals to
baby food. The country also imports sacks of rice from US and China,
and receives several tons of US surplus rice regularly under a food
aid program, PL-480.

The recent rice contamination in China began with field trials of GE
rice not currently approved for commercial growing because of mounting
concerns over its safety. The illegal GE rice, genetically engineered
to be resistant to insects, contains a protein or fused protein
(Cry1Ac) that has reportedly induced allergic-like reactions in mice.
Three independent scientists with expertise in the field of GE and
health have issued a statement backing the health concerns raised by
Greenpeace International(2). Yet an investigation by Greenpeace in
2005 showed that research institutes and seed companies in China had
been illegally selling unapproved GE rice seeds to farmers(3).
Processed rice products found in supermarkets in France, UK and
Germany were revealed last week to have been contaminated with China's
illegal GE rice.

New test results by an independent laboratory released in a statement
yesterday by Greenpeace Germany have also confirmed the presence of
Bayer's Liberty Link rice in US parboiled long grain rice sold in a
major German supermarket chain which has 700 outlets throughout
France. Bayer's LL GE rice is not approved for food or cultivation
anywhere in the world except within the United States and Canada. In
addition, an experimental variety of LL GE rice, LL601, was found
recently to be contaminating US rice.

"These findings are shocking and should trigger high-level responses.
Consumers should not be left swallowing experimental GE rice that is
risky to their health and the environment," said Dr. Janet Cotter from
Greenpeace International's Science Unit. "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 commercialize GE rice."

Ocampo concluded: "The Philippines, which is signatory to the
Cartagena Protocol on biosafety should moreover use the precautionary
principle by not importing GMO rice and rice products. The country
should also stop planting GMO rice, even in experimental plots, so
that contamination is halted at all levels."

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.

Notes to Editor

(1) All tests were conducted by an accredited and independent
laboratory. Details available in background briefing 'Illegal
experimental GE Rice from China: Now entering Europe's Food chain'.

(2) Scientists statement from Pr. Ian F.Pryme, Dept. of Biomedicine,
University of Bergen, Norway. Pr. Gilles-Eric Seralini, President du
Conseil Scientifique, du CRII GEN, Universite de Caen, France. Dr.
Christian Velot, Conseil Scientifique du CRII GEN, Institut de
Genetique et, Microbiologie, Universite Paris-Sud, France.

(3) Further testing indicated that the whole food chain had been
contaminated, with the most recent case being the contaminated Heinz
rice cereal products in Beijing, Guangzhou and Hongkong. The Chinese
government, in the wake of the situation, reportedly punished seed
companies and destroyed illegally grown GE rice.

Copyright 2006 Infoshop News