The move follows a summer of scandals, with illegal GE
contamination found in rice products all over Europe. As a result
of Bayer's recklessness, the global food industry is facing massive
costs associated with this contamination, including testing costs,
product recalls, brand damage, import bans and cancelled imports
In a letter to Greenpeace(2), the Chairman of Ebro Puleva
states: "We regret that US rice is facing a problem with GM rice
and decided to stop any imports of US rice since August 2006."
Ebro Puleva has also indicated that it will not consider
purchasing from the US until the situation is under control.
Instead, the company will purchase rice from other countries, with
the exception of China, which continues to have problems with GE
contamination of its rice.
"By imposing a blanket ban on rice imports from the US, Ebro
Puleva has acknowledged how real and costly the risk of GE
contamination is," pointed out Jeremy Tager, GE campaigner,
Greenpeace International. "With GE now as uneconomic as it is
unacceptable, governments in countries that grow or import GE must
stop placing farmers, consumers, the environment and industry at
such high risk."
At least three multi-million dollar class action lawsuits have
been filed by US rice farmers against Bayer CropScience already, as
farmers struggle to protect their livelihoods (3). Ebro Puleva has
said they expect to bring legal actions against Bayer as well.
In January this year, Bayer's illegal GE LL601 rice was detected
in rice intended for export from the US. This variety has not been
approved for human consumption anywhere in the world. It has only
been grown in field trials that ended in 2001, and yet in September
2006, testing commissioned by Greenpeace and then by various
European government agencies showed a broad variety of products on
supermarket shelves in Europe had been contaminated by Bayer's
illegal GE rice. Following the Greenpeace exposé German supermarket
chain Edeka announced that they would cease selling all US long
grain rice. A number of European retailers, millers and processors
have followed suit.
"It is now time for governments to respond strongly as well.
They cannot leave enforcement of food safety laws to industry
alone. We urge the EU to enforce its laws more vigorously and
ensure that all member states comply, particularly those that have
thus far refused to enforce EU law," concluded Jeremy Tager.
Other contacts: For further information, please contact:Jeremy Tager, GE Campaigner, Greenpeace International: +31 646 2211 85Namrata Chowdhary, Greenpeace International Communications: +31 646 1973 27