GENET archive


APPROVAL / BUSINESS: Mexico halts US rice over GMO certification

                                 PART I
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Mexico halts US rice over GMO certification
SOURCE: Reuters
AUTHOR: Lisa Haarlander & Adriana Barrera 
DATE:   16.03.2007

Mexico halts US rice over GMO certification

CHICAGO/MEXICO CITY - Mexico, the largest buyer of US rice, has halted
several shipments at the border pending certification that the grain is
free of genetically modified material, a Mexican government official
said Wednesday.

Chicago Board of Trade rough rice futures took a nose dive Wednesday,
falling nearly the 50-cent trading limit on talk of the trade
disruption, traders said.

US export sales were already lagging about 20 percent from a year ago as
business has been hurt since a biotech gene material LLRICE601 was found
in the US rice supply last summer. The US government has said the
variety, which was engineered to resist herbicides, is safe for human
consumption, but many countries now require certification that US rice
contains only trace amounts of GMO.

Three exporters of US milled rice had their shipments stopped, said Bob
Cummings, the vice president of international policy at USA Rice
Federation, a trade group. At least eight rail cars have been stopped at
Laredo, Texas, he said.

Mexico is requiring certification from an approved laboratory that the
grain is free of LLRICE601.

"We are working to make sure that Mexico understands this is a safe
product," Cummings said. "We have been able to do that in countries like
Canada where we are selling rice. We'd like to be able to do the same
thing in Mexico."

Marco Antonio Meraz, who heads a federal biosecurity and GMO commission,
said the Mexican government was testing for the LLRRICE601 strain which
contaminated the US commercial supply last year. The Mexican Ministry of
Health would publish the test results Friday or Monday, he said.

Mexico is the largest buyer of US rice and last year bought 805,500
tonnes of rice valued at US$205 million, USA Rice Federation said.

"Mexico would have to be considered the stumbling block for American
rice today," said Neauman Coleman, an analyst and rice broker from
Brinkley, Arkansas.

"Considering the magnitude of Mexico for American rice, any time you
back up the flow, that just holds up overall consumption and tends to
become a tad negative," Coleman added.

(Additional reporting by Christine Stebbins in Chicago)

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                                 PART II
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  USA Rice supports APHIS action on Clearfield 131, but questions
        regulatory practices
SOURCE: USA Rice Federation, USA
AUTHOR: Press Release
DATE:   06.03.2007

USA Rice supports APHIS action on Clearfield 131, but questions
regulatory practices

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2007 -- USA Rice Federation supports the U.S.
Department of Agriculture action this week through its Animal and Plant
Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to prevent the planting and
distribution of Clearfield 131 (CL131) rice seed that could contain
trace levels of genetic material unapproved for commercialization.

APHIS issued an emergency action notification Sunday, March 4, "to
inform distributors that this seed, scheduled for planting this spring,
must be held until APHIS can verify and identify the presence of
additional genetic material," according to an APHIS news release issued
last night.

"The USDA action was clearly necessary, and the USA Rice Federation will
help in any way possible to support the emergency action by APHIS," USA
Rice Federation Chairman Al Montna said today.

"By the same token, we are increasingly frustrated with the apparent
lack of ability on the part of private companies and federal regulators
to control research and maintain accountability of the resulting
products," Montna said. "The current approach to research, development
and management in the biotechnology industry must be replaced with more
conservative methodologies."

For the moment it is imperative that growers not plant CL131 seed, said
Jackie Loewer, chairman of the Louisiana Rice Producers' Group Board of
Directors. "It is vital that farmers do not plant 131 even if they had
been preparing to do so," said Loewer. "Unfortunately, we are faced with
the possibility that CL131 may contain genetically engineered traits
that have not been approved, and planting it could result in greater
losses than not planting."

Meanwhile, "USA Rice is working diligently with USDA to minimize the
impact this latest genetically engineered rice discovery will have on
growers and the industry," said Brian King, chairman of the USA Rice
Merchants' Association. "If there's a silver lining here, it is that we
now have assurance that CL131 will be removed from production in all
rice-producing states. The Arkansas Plant Board on Friday banned the
planting of CL131 seed in the state, because it had been found to
contain genetically engineered traits."

King, who heads the USA Rice Seed Committee that spearheaded a plan to
help guide rice producers and state agriculture agencies handle the
Liberty Link issue, noted that the Arkansas Plant Board action Friday
demonstrated the effectiveness of the rice industry working together on
this important issue.

In an APHIS statement released Feb. 20, the agency announced results of
its initial testing of CL131 as part of its ongoing investigation into
how trace amounts of Bayer CropScience Liberty Link traits entered the
U.S. commercial rice supply. That discovery, announced by USDA last
summer, rocked the U.S. rice industry and destabilized U.S. rice export
markets, resulting in the closure of the European Union as a destination
for U.S. rice.

When USDA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration made their August
18, 2006, announcement about the trace presence of Liberty Link traits
in U.S. rice, both agencies also announced that the rice was safe for
food and feed consumption.

"The current situation has resulted in substantial dollar losses for
U.S. rice alone, and losses in markets that could take generations to
recover," Montna said. "This is unacceptable and it must be fixed."

"The USA Rice Federation has a long established policy that there must
be market acceptance and regulatory approval prior to the production of
genetically engineered rice in the United States," Montna said. "It is
also essential that U.S. government agencies and commercial enterprises
work to gain and maintain control of all current and future research.
That is as essential for farmers and rice markets as it is for
consumers," Montna said.

Bob Cummings, (703) 236-1473
David Coia, (703) 236-2300

USA Rice Federation is the national advocate for all segments of the
rice industry, conducting activities to influence government programs,
developing and initiating programs to increase worldwide demand for U.S.
rice, and providing other services to increase profitability for all
industry segments.

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