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Immediate release (19 Dec 2011)

EC Toughens Checks as China Fails to Stop GM Rice Contamination

The European Commission has revealed that four illegal GM rice traits have been found in Chinese consignments at EU ports. [1] Three years after the illegal imports of Bt63 rice were first detected in EU rice products in 2008 the Commission is proposing further controls to find GM rice imports. [2] 

The draft EC regulation, due to come into force in January 2012, requires several new measures to try to prevent illegal GM rice shipments reaching European outlets including: 

  • All consignments of rice and rice products from China must be accompanied by a certificate of analysis showing no GM presence.
  • EU ports to be pre-notified of the arrival of a cargo of rice and rice products from China.
  • All consignments should be re-analysed before being allowed to enter the EU market.
  • New GM screening analysis introduced to pick up all illegal GM traits known to be contaminating Chinese rice.
  • All unauthorised exports from China to be held in port until shown to contain no GM.
  • All rice imports that may contain rice are covered, including processed foods such as pasta, biscuits and muesli.
  • Contaminated cargoes to be re-dispatched to the country of origin or destroyed.
  • EU regulators can reclaim all their costs from importers.

GM Freeze today wrote to the FSA seeking clarification on the proposals. The organization also queried potential loopholes in the regulations, including the possibility of missing shipment of Chinese rice from ports in other countries (including Hong Kong). [3]

GM Freeze is concerned about Commission reports that Chinese GM analysis appears to be less sensitive than techniques employed in the EU, which casts doubt upon the reliability of any certificate of analysis accompanying any given cargo.

After three years the Chinese authorities appear to be no closer to finding the causes of the GM contamination and stopping it. In fact the problem has grown and now includes four illegal GM traits found in shipments bound for the EU markets.

Commenting on behalf of GM Freeze, Pete Riley said:

“The EC needs to take tough measures before the contamination gets even worse. The presence of four illegal GM traits in Chinese rice exports is a major concern.

“The EU will need to remain vigilant until the Chinese put their house in order. The contamination is still in their exports to the EU and the illegal GM rice could find its way into the EU undetected.

“Once again the cost of cleaning up a GM mess is falling on innocent parties. It is another example of why we urgently need a strict liability regime making it clear who will is liable and protecting innocent parties.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

ENDs

Calls to: Pete Riley 07903 341065

Notes

[1] Final report of an audit carried out in china from 29 March-8 April 2011 in order to evaluate the control systems for genetically modified organisms in respect of seed, food and feed intended for export to the EU. Ref DG(SANCO) 2011-6208 - MR FINAL. The illegal traits are called KeFeng6 or KMD1, in addition to a Bt trait different to Bt63.

[2] EC has issued a draft regulation on emergency measure regarding unauthorised genetically modified rice products originating from China and repealing the previous regulation 2008/289/EC. These will come into force in mid-January 2012.

[3] Copy of letter available upon request.