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Bayer Admits Gene-Altered Rice Has Contaminated Food Supply

Watch Your Rice Now! It’s genetically-altered
StarLink Corn Contamination happening again,
but this time it’s long grain rice. Japan
bans our rice henceforth…..

Yes, Bayer, the company that gives you aspirin, and
once sold you heroin over the counter back around 1900*,
has been delving into rice lately. A chemical company
and food? Sounds logical for this technologically
loony age we are living in. Big Agriculture wants to
ban chickens from feeding outside, so they only can live in tiny cages, get de-beaked because of their space being cramped too tight causing them to peck at their neighbor-chickens, plus have to live on synthesized feeds that often are full of genetically
altered corn and soy. See

for that story. [Big ag’s reason ostensibly is fear of avian flu flying down onto their foul, er, fowl.]

*for the Bayer heroin story, stuff they sold starting in 1898
BEFORE they sold aspirin, the source is David F. Musto,
“Opium, Cocaine, and Marijuana in American History,” in the
July 1991 issue of Scientific American, pages 40-44.

I remember Trinidad and Tobago being outraged in
the fall of 2005, when genetically altered rice
was shipped to that country, down in the
southern Caribbean. The rice was not
properly or fairly labelled, indicating that
it was genetically altered. Just goes to
show what could happen when the stuff is created
to be patented to someday be sold somewhere
for profit without adequate care about the
humans or animals that will end up finding it
on their plates or in their troughs.

Here’s the latest rice story, as the price of rice dives, reportedly:

Bayer Admits Gene-Altered Rice Has
Contaminated Food Supply

* Genetically Altered Variety Is Found in Long-Grain Rice
By Rick Weiss Washington Post Staff Writer
Washington Post, Saturday, August 19, 2006; A07
Straight to the Source

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced late yesterday that U.S. commercial supplies of long-grain rice had become inadvertently contaminated with a genetically engineered variety not approved for human consumption. Johanns said the company that made the experimental rice, Bayer CropScience of Monheim, Germany, had provided information to the Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration indicating that the rice poses no threats to human health or the environment.

“Based upon the information we have seen, this product is safe,” he said in telephone news conference.

Johanns said he did not know where the contaminated rice was found or how widespread it may be in the U.S. food chain. The agency first learned about it from the company, he said, after it discovered “trace amounts” during testing of commercial supplies.

The variety, known as LLRICE 601, is endowed with bacterial DNA that makes rice plants resistant to a weedkiller made by the agricultural giant Aventis.

Johanns said Bayer had not finished the process of getting LLRICE 601 approved for marketing before dropping the project years ago. But the company did complete the process for two other varieties of rice with the same gene. And although neither of those two were ever marketed, he said, that approval offers reassurance that 601 is probably safe, too. Johanns acknowledged, however, that the discovery could have a significant impact on rice sales — especially exports, which are worth close to $1 billion a year. Many U.S. trading partners have strict policies forbidding importation of certain genetically engineered foods, even if they are approved in the United States and especially if they are not, as is the current case.

Those restrictions reflect a mix of science-based fears that some gene-altered foods or seeds may pose health or environmental hazards; cultural beliefs about food purity; and political wrangling over trade disparities.

If other countries cut off imports, as they have done in past contamination instances, the political and economic impact could rival or exceed that of the last such major event — the discovery in 2000 that the U.S. corn supply had become contaminated with StarLink corn. StarLink, which was engineered to be insect-resistant, was approved for use in animal feed but not for humans because of its potential to trigger allergic reactions.

The StarLink episode led to the recall of hundreds of products and the destruction of corn crops on hundreds of thousands of acres. There have been several smaller incidents requiring similar actions since. Yesterday’s announcement quickly prompted a new round of accusations that the government is failing in its efforts to regulate and contain the burgeoning field of agricultural biotechnology, in which genes from various organisms are being added to crops and other plants — usually to confer resistance to weedkillers or to make the plants produce their own insecticides.

“How many incidents will it take before the government takes their oversight of the biotech industry seriously?” asked Gregory Jaffe, director of the biotechnology project at the District-based Center for Science in the Public Interest. “It’s reassuring that in this instance there is no safety risk, but I don’t think that justifies the industry’s blatant violation of government regulations.”

Johanns said Bayer contacted USDA about the problem on July 31, but the agency delayed announcing the finding until it had developed a test it could share with trading partners and others who might want to check for contamination. That test is now available.

Although Bayer stopped field tests of LLRICE 601 in 2001, the contamination appeared in the 2005 harvest, Johanns said — a detail that Margaret Mellon, director of the food and environment program at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, found “alarming.”

“It’s more evidence to me that all of these things that have been getting tested ultimately have a route to the food supply,” Mellon said. Although agency investigations are underway, both Johanns and Robert Brackett of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition said they do not anticipate recalls, crop destruction or other regulatory action. “If we become aware of any new information to suggest that food or feed is unsafe, we will take action,” Johanns said.

Instead, Johanns said, Bayer now plans to resurrect its effort to get the product approved — or in government parlance, “deregulated” — a move that would make the contamination issue moot in the domestic market. Researcher Madonna Lebling contributed to this report. ____________________________________________________________________________

Release No. 0307.06 Contact: Karen Eggert (202) 720-2511 Ed Loyd (202) 720-4623

Statement by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns Regarding Genetically Engineered Rice

August 18, 2006

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Food and Drug Administration have been notified by Bayer CropScience that the company has detected trace amounts of regulated genetically engineered (GE) rice in samples taken from commercial long grain rice. Both have reviewed the available scientific data and concluded that there are no human health, food safety, or environmental concerns associated with this GE rice.

“Bayer has developed many GE herbicide-tolerant products with the protein called Liberty Link, three of which are rice. The regulated line is LLRICE 601 and Bayer reports finding only trace amounts of it during testing. LLRICE 601 was field tested between 1998 and 2001. Two deregulated lines, LLRICE 62 and LLRICE 06, have been through thorough safety evaluations and have been deemed safe for use in food and safe in the environment, although these lines have not been commercialized.

“Based on the available data and information, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has concluded that the presence of LLRICE 601 in the food and feed supply poses no safety concerns. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service also conducted a risk assessment, which indicates LLRICE 601 is safe in the environment.

“Bayer indicated it had no plans to market LLRICE 601 and therefore had not requested deregulation. Based on reports that LLRICE 601 is in the marketplace and a petition from Bayer, APHIS will conduct a deregulation process, including an opportunity for public comment.

“Because the line of GE rice in question was regulated, APHIS is conducting an investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding the release and whether any violations of USDA regulations occurred.

“The protein found in LLRICE 601 is approved for use in other products. It has been repeatedly and thoroughly scientifically reviewed and used safely in food and feed, cultivation, import and breeding in the United States, as well as nearly a dozen other countries around the world.

“Since 1987, APHIS has deregulated more than 70 GE crop lines and in the last decade farmers have increasingly planted biotech varieties engineered mainly for herbicide tolerance, insect resistance, and enhanced quality traits. USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service estimates that in 2006, 61 percent of the corn, 83 percent of the cotton and 89 percent of the soybeans planted in the United States were biotech varieties.”

U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Statement On Report Of Bioengineered Rice In The Food Supply

Fact Sheet: Genetically Engineered Rice


American Rice Banned in Many Countries After Genetic Contamination

* Organic Matters Newsletter
By Thomas Wittman, ed.
Ecological Farming Association, August 21 2006
Straight to the Source

Greenpeace demands global ban on imports of US rice
Dominican Today,
August 21 2006

Amsterdam – Greenpeace International today called for a global ban on imports of US rice in order to protect the public from eating illegal, untested and unapproved varieties of genetically engineered (GE) rice.

GE Liberty Link (LL) rice 602, produced by agro-chemical giant Bayer and never intended for commercial release, has been found in commercial rice in the United States and rice imports were, as a result, immediately banned in Japan. It is not approved for consumption or cultivation anywhere in the world.

“Rice is the world’s most important staple food and contamination of rice supplies by Bayer, a company pushing its GE rice around the world, must be stopped,” said Jeremy Tager, Greenpeace International GE campaigner.

Japan has already announced a ban on long grain rice imports from the US as a result of this latest contamination scandal. Last year, Japan and the EU banned US maize imports as a result of yet another GE contamination scandal.

“This latest contamination scandal once again shows the GE industry is utterly incapable of controlling GE organisms. Countries that import US rice, such as the EU, Mexico, Brasil and Canada must become serious about preventing this kind of threat to our food supplies by banning any imports of GE rice, removing all contaminated food from supermarket shelves and rejecting applications for the commercial cultivation of rice,” said Tager.

“Relevant authorities in importing countries must also conduct an investigation into the contamination caused by Bayer and also determine whether any other GE rice varieties being tested by Bayer have contaminated the world’s food chain,” Tager concluded.


Around 50 percent of the US rice crop is exported, and 80 percent of that is long grain rice, said Johanns, adding that the USDA is engaging trading partners “very, very directly” on the issue.

The US currently provides about 12 percent of world rice trade. According to estimates for the 2006 crop year, rice production in the US is valued at $1.88 billion, approximately half of which is expected to be exported.

More than 100 varieties of rice are currently produced commercially in the US, primarily in six states: Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and California.

The majority (58 percent) of domestic utilization of US rice is direct food use, while 16 percent is used in processed foods and beer respectively. The remaining 10 percent is found in pet food. [GM rice contaminates US food supply]

“I can tell you very candidly, I didn’t ask where this sample came from. I know it’s long grain rice. I can’t tell you if that came from this state or that state” – The US Agriculture Secretary in response to a question at the news briefing.

“Officials at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said the GM variety had been found in samples from storage bins in Arkansas and Missouri. The bins hold rice from several states, making it difficult to know what state the rice came from.” – BBC News report

US rice contaminated by illegal GM strain *********************

Brussels, August 21, 2006 – Friends of the Earth Europe has today called on the European Commission to immediately restrict imports of American rice after the US Department for Agriculture (USDA) revealed that the US food chain has been contaminated with an illegal and untested genetically modified (GM) strain [1].

The US announcement states that conventional long-grain rice on the market has been contaminated by a GM rice that was grown at experimental test sites between 1998 and 2001. The statement does not reveal how widespread the contamination is or how the contamination occurred. Friends of the Earth Europe is calling on the European Union to follow the example of Japan, which suspended US rice imports on Saturday. [2]

Adrian Bebb, GM Food Campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said, “This is a complete scandal. The biotech industry has failed once again to control its experiments and lax regulations in the US have allowed consumers worldwide to be put at risk. The European Union must immediately suspend US rice imports until consumers can be guaranteed protection from untested and illegal foods.”

Europe imports approximately 70 million Euros worth of US rice every year [3]. The source of the contamination is apparently an experimental GM rice called LLRICE601, produced by German-based biotechnology company Bayer. This experimental rice is engineered to withstand application of the herbicide glufosinate, but it has not been approved for human consumption anywhere in the world and has not undergone any official assessments to determine its health or environmental impact. According to Bayer the GM rice “is present in some samples of commercial rice seed at low levels” even though field-testing ended five years ago. Bayer informed the USDA of the contamination on 31 July 2006.

As well as calling for an immediate import ban, Friends of the Earth Europe has called for an investigation by authorities in the US and Europe into the full extent of the contamination and for Bayer to release all the necessary information into the public domain on the safety testing and detection methods for LLRICE601.

“It is vital that Bayer is forced to reveal all information about how this contamination has occurred over such a long time scale. Contamination of the food chain is totally unacceptable and must be prevented in the future,” Mr Bebb added.

This latest case of GM contamination echoes a GM maize scandal in March last year, in which the biotech company Syngenta admitted to selling an experimental and illegal GM maize variety to US farmers for four years. Maize exports to Europe were contaminated with the illegal maize, and the European Commission put in place emergency measures to prevent the import of contaminated maize into the EU. These measures are still in place [4].


For more information, please contact: Adrian Bebb, GM Food Campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe: Tel: +49 80 25 99 1951; Mobile: +49 160 949 01163; email:

Rosemary Hall, Communications Officer for Friends of the Earth Europe: Tel: +32 25 42 61 05; Mobile: +32 485 930 515;


[1] The announcement was made late on Friday 18 August in the US. /0307.xml




Japan ends U.S. long-grain rice imports
Associated Press,
August 19, 2006

TOKYO — Japan has suspended imports of U.S. long-grain rice following a positive test for trace amounts of a genetically modified strain not approved for human consumption, a news report said Sunday.

Japan’s Health Ministry imposed the suspension on Saturday after being informed by U.S. federal officials that trace amounts of the unapproved strain had been discovered in commercially available long-grain rice, the Asahi newspaper said.

The genetically engineered rice was detected by Bayer CropScience AG. The German company then notified U.S. officials. The strain is not approved for sale in the United States, but two other strains of rice with the same genetically engineered protein are.

Health Ministry officials were unavailable for comment Sunday.



DJ S Korea Demands Pledge Of No GMOs In US Rice – USDA

12:49 PM,
August 21, 2006

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–South Korea has demanded that its importers be promised there is no genetically modified contents in U.S. rice shipments, a move that may effectively shut down U.S. exports, U.S. and South Korean government officials said Monday. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Friday that traces of unapproved genetically modified long grain rice, grown in field trials by Bayer CropScience, were discovered in commercial stocks.

South Korea has not announced a ban on U.S. rice, USDA spokesman Ed Loyd said Monday, but he also confirmed that it is not yet possible to promise importers that there is no genetically modified rice in U.S. shipments.

USDA officials are trying to validate testing procedures to detect Bayer’s biotech rice, but work on that is not yet complete, USDA spokeswoman Amanda Taylor said Monday. She said officials hope to complete the validation soon.

The USDA’s Federal Grain Inspection Service has stopped issuing certifications that U.S. rice shipments contain no genetically modified organisms, Taylor said. USDA began issueing the letterhead certifications, upon request, in March 2005 to assure foreign buyers but stopped doing so because of the GMO detection in the commercial market.

South Korea’s rice imports this year have been strong, according to USDA data. The country bought about 43,000 metric tons of U.S. rice in the first six months, compared to just 16,000 tons for the entire year of 2005.

The GM rice detected in grain bins in Arkansas and Missouri was an unapproved variety field tested by Bayer, but the USDA has approved two other varieties created by the company. Bayer has never sold the approved GM rice on the commercial market, USDA Secretary Mike Johanns said Friday.

All three varieties of the Bayer GM rice were engineered to be “herbicide-tolerant,” according to the USDA, and all three are safe for human consumption even though only two were approved. The USDA said Bayer did not apply for government approval of the third because the company had no plans to commercialize it.

Bayer CropScience spokespersons in the U.S. and Europe were unavailable for immediate comment.

Meanwhile, Japan’s initial reaction to the GMO discovery in U.S. rice is not expected to have any effect on trade with the U.S., USDA spokesman Ed Loyd said. Japan banned U.S. long grain rice, but the U.S. only exports short- and medium grain rice to Japan, he said.

The European Union is requesting information formation” from the U.S. and Bayer CropScience.

Loyd said Monday that, so far, international reaction has been “measured.”

-By Bill Tomson, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-646-0088;

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

08-21-06 1349ET

Copyright (c) 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

13:49 082106

Statement Regarding Genetically Engineered Material in Rice Riceland Foods, Inc.
August 18, 2006 4:30 p.m. (cst)

Any of the following information may be quoted and attributed to Bill J. Reed, vice president for public affairs, Riceland Foods, Inc., Stuttgart, Ark.

Riceland Foods, Inc.

Riceland is a farmer-owned cooperative which markets rice produced by its 9,000 farmer-members in the Southern rice-producing states. The cooperative marketed rice produced in 2005 by farmers in Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. Response to USDA Announcement The Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture have determined that no health or safety concerns result from the trace amounts of Bayer’s genetically engineered material found in Southern rice. Given these assurances, Riceland will continue to receive rice from its farmer-members and to service its customers. Discovery of Material Genetically engineered material was discovered by a rice export customer in January. (The name and location of our customer will not be released.) The customer contacted Riceland asking for an explanation. As part of its due diligence effort, Riceland sent a sample from the customer and a retained Riceland sample to a U.S. laboratory which tests for genetically engineered material. The samples tested positive for Bayer’s herbicide-resistance trait which was known to be present in corn, soybeans, canola and cotton. Since there is no known commercial U.S. production of genetically engineered rice, Riceland suspected the material would be identified as residual fragments of genetically engineered corn or soybeans resulting from use of common public transportation systems. Due to the minute quantities of genetically engineered DNA present, the laboratory was unable to determine its origin. In an effort to clarify the issue, Riceland in May collected samples of rice from several grain storage locations. A significant number tested positive for the Bayer trait. The positive results were geographically dispersed and random throughout the rice-growing area. Bayer Contacted Bayer was contacted in early June when Riceland became suspicious that the discovery was a Bayer genetically engineered event in rice. Riceland provided Bayer with a rice sample and asked Bayer officials for an explanation of the results. In late July, Bayer confirmed the positive results for its herbicide-resistance trait at a 0.06 percent (six hundredths of one percent) level, the equivalent of 6 kernels in 10,000 kernels of rice. Bayer also said that it was a regulated genetically engineered event and that Bayer was legally required to report its findings to USDA officials within 24 hours. Involvement with USDA USDA officials began their investigation August 1. Riceland has cooperated fully with USDA requests for information in an effort to resolve the situation, and will continue to do so.

And here is the story from organic consumers about the price of rice:

U.S. rice dives as GMO issue stirs export fears

* U.S. rice dives as GMO issue stirs export fears
By Christine Stebbins
Reuters, Aug 22 2006
Straight to the Source

CHICAGO, Aug 22 (Reuters) – Rice prices on Tuesday tumbled 5 percent to the lowest level in nearly two months, amid fears that exports could suffer after the discovery of U.S. rice supplies tainted with unapproved genetically modified rice.

Japan has already banned imports of U.S. long grain rice after U.S. government officials announced on Friday that GMO rice was found in commercial supplies.

Europe, a major market for U.S. rice, was set to block unauthorized biotech rice from reaching its shores even as American farmers harvest this year’s crop.

“The saga continues, and it’s still the psychological fear element that is driving the market,” said Neauman Coleman, analyst and rice broker from Brinkley, Arkansas.

Rice futures at the Chicago Board of Trade fell by the daily trading limit of 50 cents per hundredweight, or more than 5 percent, the sharpest one-day decline in years.

Tuesday’s drop came on top of declines chalked up on Monday, the first dayside trading session after news of the commingling was announced late on Friday by the U.S. Agriculture Department.

U.S. officials said it was the first time unmarketed genetically modified rice has been found in rice used in the commercial market.

The Food and Drug Administration and USDA were notified on July 31 that testing by Bayer CropScience, a division of Bayer AG (BAYG.DE: Quote, Profile, Research), reported the biotech sample, called LLRICE 601, in rice bins in Arkansas and Missouri.

There were no plans to recall or destroy the commercial rice that was contaminated with the unapproved variety.

CBOT traders were most concerned that the European Union, a big buyer of long grain rice as traded at the exchange, will stop importing U.S. long grain rice following Japan’s move.

The 25-nation European Union bloc imported 300,000 tonnes of U.S. rice last year, with 85 percent being long grain. No GMO rice is authorized for import or sale in the EU.

CBOT rice futures for November delivery fell the 50-cent trading limit before closing 49 cents lower at $9.35 per hundredweight — its lowest close since June 29.

CBOT September futures closed 50 cents lower.

Since the USDA’s announcement late Friday, the price of CBOT November rice has fallen 75 cents.

“There are going to be trade tensions. That is basically your knee-jerk reaction,” said grain analyst Shawn McCambridge with Prudential Financial.

“Where it goes from here really depends on the political environment within the importing countries, and whether or not this whole GMO issue is as big as they think it is,” McCambridge added.

The Food and Drug Administration and USDA were notified on July 31 that testing by Bayer CropScience, a division of Bayer AG (BAYG.DE: Quote, Profile, Research), reported the biotech sample, called LLRICE 601, in rice bins in Arkansas and Missouri.

There were no plans to recall or destroy the commercial rice that was contaminated with the unapproved variety.

CBOT traders were most concerned that the European Union, a big buyer of long grain rice as traded at the exchange, will stop importing U.S. long grain rice following Japan’s move.

The 25-nation European Union bloc imported 300,000 tonnes of U.S. rice last year, with 85 percent being long grain. No GMO rice is authorized for import or sale in the EU.

US rushes test for GMO rice amid skittish market By Carey Gillam REUTERS, August 22 2006 C1B6FEAA28CF

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) – U.S. government scientists are rushing to certify a test that would identify an unapproved genetically modified rice that has slipped into commercial supplies, an inspection official said on Tuesday.

Work is being done quickly in an effort to ease fears of U.S. rice customers who don’t want the experimental strain mixed into their supplies.

“We’re very close. Very shortly we should be able to provide the marketplace with the analysis they need,” Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration Deputy Administrator David Shipman said in an interview.

Shipman said a valid test could be ready for the market within a few days, possibly as early as Wednesday, the day the European Union is expected to launch measures to ensure that the unauthorized rice, known as LLRICE 601, does not enter consumer markets there.

The 25-country European Union is a large importer of U.S. long grain rice, buying about 300,000 tonnes of U.S. rice last year, with 85 percent of that long grain rice. No genetically modified (GMO) rice is authorized for import or sale within the EU.

“There are countries that are interested in knowing whether rice being shipped to them contains this 601,” said Shipman. “Having this methodology will allow an exporter to … verify for the buyer it doesn’t contain, or does contain, that particular event.”

In terms of the time frame for making such a test available, Shipman said: “We’re looking at days and maybe not even plural.”

GIPSA began working with Bayer CropScience, a unit of Bayer AG, about two weeks ago after U.S. agriculture and food safety authorities learned on July 31 that Bayer’s unapproved, experimental GMO rice had been found in rice bins in Arkansas and Missouri.

Bayer supplied GIPSA with reference material and methodology it uses to distinguish the 601 strain and GIPSA’s goal is to validate the company’s specific testing methods for commercial use, said Shipman.

Bayer spokesman Greg Coffey had no comment on the status of GIPSA’s work. But he said Bayer was also “supporting several commercial laboratories in setting up a testing method for industry use if requested.”

The 601 contamination marks the first time that unmarketed genetically unauthorized biotech rice had been detected in long-grain samples targeted for commercial use. And Bayer has not disclosed specifically how it became aware of the contamination.

Japan, for which the United States is the largest rice exporter, has already suspended imports of U.S. long-grain rice.

Rice futures slid to a two-week low on the Chicago Board of Trade on Tuesday on concerns about the U.S.’s rice export business.

U.S. authorities say the GMO strain poses no risk to public health or the environment. But anti-biotech activists say this is but the latest in a long list of examples of flawed government oversight of potentially harmful transgendered crops.

More info on this developing stories and some good ones like California approving the farming of hemp are at:

The hemp story specifically is here, my friends:

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