26th Jan 2020

US GM rice found in EU despite ban

  • Greenpeace said GM rice had been sold in supermarkets in Germany (Photo: Wikipedia)

Genetically modified rice from the United States has entered the EU despite the fact that import, growth and sale of genetically modified rice is banned in the bloc.

The European Commission confirmed on Wednesday (12 September) that safety checks on rice imported from the US found that in 33 out of 162 cases, the rice was contaminated with a certain type of genetically modified rice.

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The commission urged EU governments to intensify the testing of products on the market as soon as possible and to provide an extensive report back on the results.

Environmental group Greenpeace said on Monday (11 September) that the so-called Liberty Link Rice 601, a genetically modified type, which has not been approved for human consumption, has been found on supermarket shelves in Europe.

It said that tests had confirmed the 601 strain had been sold in Aldi Nord stores in Germany. French and Swedish authorities have also indicated that biotech rice could be on their markets, according to German newspaper Die Welt.

Shipments that were tested positive in the safety checks have been withheld from the market, EU officials said.

The Netherlands told a meeting of national health experts in Brussels on Monday of a shipment of 20,000 tonnes of US rice, which was detained in Rotterdam on the suspicion of LL601 contamination.

Of the suspected barges which have been tested in Rotterdam so far, 3 have shown up positive for the presence of genetically modified rice in their loads, while 20 others tested negative.

The commission has also asked China for more information about its rice exports after two environmental groups - Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth - last week said they had found evidence of a strain of GM rice in products imported from China in Germany, France and the UK.

Greenpeace said it was an experimental type aimed at protecting the rice from pests but which might cause allergic reactions in people.

The EU in August implemented emergency controls to detect contaminated shipments.

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