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3-Food: Unapproved GMO rice found in China



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TITLE:  Unapproved GMO rice found in China--GeneScan
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   11 Aug 2005

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Unapproved GMO rice found in China--GeneScan

HONG KONG (Reuters) - GeneScan, a global tester of genetically modified
organisms in food, said on Thursday gene-altered rice is being sold in
parts of China, even though Beijing has not approved its commercialisation.

But a spokesman in China's agriculture ministry said the government was
not aware of any such cases.

Chuk Ng, general manger of GeneScan's operation in China, said it had
found gene-altered BT rice in samples collected from the Chinese city of
Wuhan as well as the southern province of Guangdong, threatening to
contaminate the Chinese rice market.

"I believe this GMO rice is widely spread at least in the middle or
southern parts of China," Ng told Reuters by telephone from the northern
Chinese city of Dalian. "Once contamination has spread out, it's there.
You cannot put it back."

GeneScan's comments echoed views of Greenpeace officials who said earlier
this year that their employees were able to buy rice and rice seeds
modified to contain the bacterial gene, Bacillus thuringiensis, which
kills pests.

Greenpeace has also warned that the discovery showed the unapproved
variety of grain was spreading across China and that it could find a way
to markets overseas.

China is testing several strains of GMO rice, including BT rice, and is
expected to grant approval for the commercialisation possibly as early as
this year.

Ng said the biological testing specialist, headquartered in Germany and
majority-owned by Eurofins Group in France, had examined many rice and
seed samples for almost one year in China.

Asked if the BT rice posed any food safety risk, the biologist said:
"They may prove it is safe for human consumption. But the problem is it
is not yet approved in China."

(Additional reporting by Lucy Hornby in Shanghai)




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