October 7, 2007
USDA Concludes genetically engineered rice investigation
From the USDA news release:
WASHINGTON, Oct. 5, 2007--The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Bruce Knight today announced the conclusion of the genetically engineered rice (GE) investigation. The investigation, which was conducted by USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Investigative and Enforcement Services in coordination with USDA's Office of the Inspector General, focused on the unintentional release of trace amounts of regulated genetically engineered rice detected in two commercial varieties of long-grain rice. . . .
The investigation was initiated on Aug. 1, 2006, after Bayer CropScience reported that regulated LLRICE601 had been detected in the long-grain rice variety Cheniere. LLRICE601, which is similar to two previously deregulated lines, was subsequently deregulated in November 2006. The investigation was expanded on Feb. 16, 2007 to include the discovery of regulated GE rice, later identified as LLRICE604, in the long-grain rice variety Clearfield 131 (CL131).
. . .
As a result of this extensive sampling, investigators were able to determine that the presence of LLRICE601 was limited to Cheniere and that the presence of LLRICE604 was limited to CL131. In both cases, only trace amounts of GE material were present. No short- or medium-grain rice varieties tested positive for either LLRICE601 or LLRICE604.
Investigators had hoped to identify how each GE rice line entered the commercial rice supply, but the exact mechanism for introduction could not be determined in either instance. . . .
Based upon the findings of the investigation, APHIS will not be pursuing enforcement against Bayer CropScience. Given the lack of available information and evidence, USDA was unable to make any definitive determinations that could have resulted in enforcement action.
Center for Food Safety is criticizing the outcome because it does not recommend further action:
Washington D.C., October 5, 2007 - In a long-awaited report released today on widespread contamination of the U.S. rice supply by an unapproved genetically engineered (GE) variety, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it would take no enforcement action against Bayer, the producer of the untested GE rice. Remarkably, the USDA report also reveals that the agency has no formal rules requiring biotech companies to retain records of their experimental field trials or to require companies to keep seed samples for genetic tests, which are essential in detecting and tracking potential sources of contamination.
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