Greenpeace Investigation Reveals U.S. Source of Genetic Contamination in Mexican Rice

July 6, 2010

Greenpeace laboratory results reveal that U.S. rice being sold in the Mexican supermarkets Chedraui and Soriana is contaminated with an unapproved genetically engineered variety. The unapproved variety, called LLRICE601 and developed by Bayer CropScience, has been at the center of a global contamination scandal since August 2006. The experimental rice was last grown in 2001, but neither Bayer nor the U.S. government has yet been able to explain how the contamination happened. The contamination scandal was compounded this week when the USDA announced the discovery of another as of yet unidentified gene adulterating U.S. rice supplies.

“Our worst fears have been confirmed: we are eating genetically
engineered rice without even knowing it,” said Gustavo Ampugnani,
genetic engineering campaigner with Greenpeace Mexico. “And even
worse is that this contamination is coming from experimental fields
and has come here illegally, since at least last August.” “We know
testing is happening and segregation is possible – Europeans are
demanding and receiving uncontaminated rice. U.S. rice exporters
are taking advantage of Mexican government apathy and disposing of
their adulterated rice south of the border,” he continued.

Last year, huge volumes of U.S. rice were found to be
contaminated with LLRICE601 and export destinations from Europe to
Japan put in place measures to prevent these contaminated imports.
The USDA retroactively approved the variety for cultivation in the
United States (no food approval is required in the U.S.), but the
experimental variety is still not approved for consumption in any
U.S. rice export market, including Mexico. The USA Rice Federation
adopted an emergency plan to keep the contamination from next
year’s harvest, but the bulk of the 2006 harvest is still to be

“These test results and the latest USDA declarations prove that
contamination isn’t only possible, but is reaching epidemic
proportions in the U.S.,” added Dr. Doreen Stabinsky, Greenpeace
scientist based in the U.S. “The U.S. regulatory system is clearly
incapable of protecting consumers here and abroad from untested and
unapproved genetically engineered varieties. The only sure way for
governments around the world to protect their citizens seems to be
to stop purchasing U.S. agricultural products.”

Greenpeace is putting pressure on officials in Mexico to take
action to prevent the contaminated rice from being imported from
the U.S., especially in light of the upcoming meeting between
Presidents Felipe Calderon and George W. Bush. More detailed
information about the results is available.

VVPR info: [email protected]

Exp. contact date: 2007-04-09 00:00:00

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