Bayer CropScience contaminates our rice

Publication - October 8, 2007
The following is a summary of eventssurrounding one of the worst cases of geneticengineering contamination of food in historyand one of the most damaging events in thehistory of the US rice industry.The devastation has been caused by themultinational company Bayer CropScience -which maintains that the contaminationwasn't their fault - it was 'an act of God'.

Rice is life.

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Executive summary: On August 18, 2006 the US Department of Agriculture(USDA) announced that genetic engineering contaminationhad been detected in US rice supplies. The USDA predictablydeclared that the quantities were small and there were nohealth risks associated with the rice. (1) They made theseclaims with no supporting data.

From that low-key announcement, the US rice industry foundthat Bayer CropScience, the giant pharmaceutical andchemical company, had devastated US rice farmers andglobal markets of the US rice industry. As events unfolded it became apparent that Bayer had managed to contaminatenot only at least 30 per cent of US rice supplies but the seed sources upon which farmers depended and they had done so not just once but three times - with three different genetically engineered (GE) varieties.

Two of the varieties were unapproved for use anywhere in theworld (LL601, LL604), although the USDA quickly gave postcontamination approval to one of those varieties - LL601. (2) One variety (LL62) was approved in the US and in Canada for import - but otherwise has no approval in any other country for consumption or cultivation. (3)

Globally, the impacts have been devastating. The 25 memberstate EU imposed strict testing and certification requirements and traders and retailers of rice shut down the US trade, stopping shipments, removing rice from shelves, cancelling orders and sourcing their rice from other countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and even Uruguay. (4)

Japan and Korea imposed equally strict testing requirements,followed some months later by the Philippines whenGreenpeace revealed contamination there. Russia andBulgaria imposed bans on US rice and Mexico, Iraq andCanada imposed test and certification requirements onimports. The United Arab Emirates required a GE freeguarantee. (5)

Num. pages: 12