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EU Food Safety Watchdog Admits Too Little Information to Confirm GM Rice Safe

Immediate release (15 Sep 2006)

The European Food Safety Agency has issued a statement on the safety of US long grain rice contaminated with the GM trait LL601 [1] confirming that “The available data are not sufficient to allow the safety of LLRICE601 to be assessed in accordance with the EFSA guidance for risk assessment.”

However, they go on to say:

On the basis of the available molecular and compositional data and on the toxicological profile of PAT proteins, EFSA considers that the consumption of imported long grain rice containing trace levels of LLRICE601 is not likely to pose an imminent safety concern to humans or animals.

In contrast The Food Standards Agency two days previously advised “that on the basis of current evidence the presence of low levels of this GM material in the food supply is not a safety concern” [2].

The GM contamination of long grain rice in the USA was first reported to the FSA on 23rd August.  Traces of GM rice produced by Bayer CropScience were found in the USA as early as January 2006.  The GM rice known as LL601 was field tested by the German biotech corporation in the USA in 1999 -2001 but it was not put forward to be commercially grown.  No GM rice is approved for marketing in the EU therefore the sale of rice with any detectable GM presence would be illegal.

Commenting Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:

Either there are enough data to offer clear advice on safety or not. The EFSA say there isn’t, so it is clear the statements issued by the FSA are not reliable and they should have been honest about the lack of data.  We hear a lot about science-based decision making from the FSA and government but when it suits their friends in the biotech industry who are responsible for widespread contamination of one of the world’s staple foods it is quickly forgotten. Retailers should be true to their customers and ignore the FSA by getting ‘at risk’ packs of rice off their shelves.

ENDs

1.See www.efsa.europa.eu/en/science/gmo/statements0/efsa_statement_gmo_LLrice601.html 01.html

2. Letter from Clair Baynton FSA to stakeholders 13th September 2006.