Today,Greenpeace activists challenged Agriculture Ministers attending theInternational Rice Congress (IRC) in Delhi to take immediate action to preventthe continuing contamination of the world’s most important staple food.Conference delegates were presented with symbolic bowls of rice with question marks.
Agriculturalministers of eight countries(2) are participating in the IRC, to set the agendafor rice production and export over the next five years, discussing tradeissues as well as scientific innovations and sustainable solutions for riceproduction. Ironically, Bayer and Monsanto - the two main advocates for the GEindustry, are jointly sponsoring the Congress, placing them in a key positionto influence the agenda to their advantage. Contamination from Bayer's rice hasalready been found in nine countries, and resulted in import restrictionsagainst the United States.
"Thecontaminated rice in the Middle East is yet another body blow to the US riceindustry, already reeling under product recalls, testing requirements, importrestrictions and cancelled orders in many countries," said DivyaRaghunandan, GE campaigner from Greenpeace India. "Now, more than ever before, it is clear that GE crops posea serious risk and that 'controlled field trials' are a dangerous myth. Anycountry allowing GE crops to be grown, even in field trials, is exposing itsfarmers and traders of agricultural produce to an economic and environmentaldisaster. A complete ban is the only solution," added Raghunandan.
Greenpeaceurged governments to protect this staple food, by drawing up a clear plan ofaction to protect their countries from similar GE contamination, preventgenetic contamination of crops and hold Bayer accountable for its recklessness.
"The extent of contamination necessitatesan urgent response. This rice and its by-products could be on supermarketshelves anywhere," warned Jeremy Tager, GE Campaigner from GreenpeaceInternational. "We urge agricultural ministers to immediately ordercomprehensive testing of all products that may have been exposed to contaminationfrom GE rice, and to impose strict import controls on any goods imported fromGE rice-growing countries. It will take a globally coordinated approach toensure that citizens everywhere are responsibly protected from GE-contaminatedproducts," concluded Tager.
VVPR info: Divya Raghunandan, GE Campaigner, Greenpeace India: +91 98455 35406Saumya Tripathi, Media Officer, Greenpeace India: +91 9343862212Namrata Chowdhary, Greenpeace International Communications: +31 646 1973 27
Notes: Notes to editors:1. The following samples were found to contain traces of Bayer’s illegal LL601 GE rice when tested at an independent laboratory.Product details Uncle Ben’s long grain rice: Purchased at Geant supermarket Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE)Riceland Chef-way, preboiled rice: Purchased at Carrefour supermarket,Dubai, UAERiceland, preboiled rice: Purchased at Geant supermarket Dubai, UAEAmerican Rice, INC, parboiled rice: Purchased at City Center supermarket Salmiya, Kuwait2. China, Indonesia, India, Laos, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam