GMO rice contamination found in the Philippines Thailand, Vietnam slam doors against GE rice as contamination spreads further

Feature story - November 28, 2006
Greenpeace today revealed that illegal GE (genetically-engineered) rice has contaminated the Philippine food chain, in the latest in a series of GE rice contamination scandals around the world. Bayer's LL601—which has not been approved for human consumption anywhere in the world except in the US last week—has contaminated rice products from the US which are currently on sale in Manila. The brand found to be contaminated by GE rice is "Uncle Sam Texas Long Grain Rice" which is distributed in the Philippines by Purefeeds Inc and sold in major supermarkets like Robinson's, Shopwise, and SM.

Greenpeace volunteers, displays "Uncle Sam Texas Long Grain Rice" the brand which was found to be contaminated by GE rice. Greenpeace today revealed that illegal GE (genetically-engineered) rice has contaminated the Philippine food chain, in the latest in a series of GE rice contamination scandals around the world.

"The public must be immediately warned, and the government must recall all US rice and rice products from supermarket shelves," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia GE campaigner Danny Ocampo. "The Philippine government must safeguard the staple food of Filipinos. The latest GE contamination scandal shows that once GE organisms are released into the environment, the consequences for consumers, farmers and traders are enormous."

In the wake of widening GE rice contamination scandals across the globe, rice producers from Thailand and Vietnam, together the world's biggest exporters of rice, have announced their commitment to grow only GE-free rice in a new Memorandum of Understanding announced last week. The two countries account for more than half of all the rice traded in the world market today and will put mounting pressure on other rice producing nations to commit to a GE-free rice supply.

"This announcement from the biggest rice exporters occurred after massive backlash against the GE industry following the recent scandals where illegal and unapproved GE rice varieties from the US and China contaminated the global rice supply," said Jeremy Tager of Greenpeace International.

The global food industry is now facing massive costs associated with GMO (genetically-modified organism) contamination, including testing costs, product recalls, brand damage, import bans, and cancelled imports and contracts. At least five multi-million dollar class action lawsuits have been filed by about 300 US rice farmers against Bayer, as they struggle to protect their livelihoods from GE contamination. In addition, the world's largest rice processing company, Ebro Puleva, which controls 30% of the EU rice market, has stopped all imports of rice from the US and is expected to bring legal action against Bayer as well.

"The public must be immediately warned, and the government must recall all US rice and rice products from supermarket shelves..."

Greenpeace Southeast Asia GE Campaigner

Danny Ocampo

The company responsible for the global contamination is Bayer, which ended field trials of the LL601 variety in the US five years ago. So far in 2006, this unapproved and illegal variety has been found in at least 24 countries. The GE rice variety escaped from test plots into farmers' fields where it spread for years until its discovery. Many countries including the EU, Russia, and Japan have responded with import restrictions, and recent export figures show a decline in US long grain rice sales. Earlier, Chinese rice exports to the EU were also found to be contaminated by illegal GE Bt63 rice.

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