Bayer Admits Gene-Altered Rice Has Contaminated Food Supply

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Oct 29, 2013 (4 years and 8 months ago)


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
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 informat
ion we have seen, this product is safe,” he said in telephone news

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 sai
d, 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 no
t 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 part
ners 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 so
me 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 politica
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 anima
l 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 orga
nisms are being added to crops and other plants

usually to confer resistance to weedkillers or to make the plants produce their own

“How many incidents will it take before the government takes their oversight of the biotech
industry serious
ly?” 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 violati
on of government

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 contamina
tion. 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 Bra
ckett 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,” Johan
ns 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 contribu
ted to this report.

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

Statement by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns Regarding Genetically Engineere
d 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 commerc
ial 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 prote
in 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 bee
n 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
d 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 pl
ans 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 li
ne 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 prod
ucts. 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 2
006, 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

Fact Sheet: Genetica
lly 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


Greenpeace International today called for a global b
an 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 relea
se, 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 contami
nation 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
st 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. Countri
es 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
tions 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 h
ave 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 engagin
g 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 expec
ted 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 d
irect 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.

icials 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 repor


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 convention
al 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 E
urope 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.”

rope 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
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 contam
ination 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,

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 Euro
pe: 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 announce
ment 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


Japan has suspended imports of U.S. long
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 strai
n 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


12:49 PM,

August 21, 2006


South Korea has de
manded 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 conf
irmed 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 spokesw
oman 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 be
gan 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
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 USD
A 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,” acc
ording 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 spokesperson
s in the U.S. and Europe were unavailable for immediate

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
, 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 Tom
son, Dow Jones Newswires; 202

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

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. Respons
e 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 assuran
ces, 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 sam
ples 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 iden
tified 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
g 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
sults. 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 GM
O 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 disco
very 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 marke
t 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, an
alyst 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 c
halked up on Monday, the first dayside trading session
after news of the commingling was announced late on Friday by the U.S. Agriculture

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 Ark
ansas 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 sto
p 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 Novem
ber 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

“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 importin
countries, and whether or not this whole GMO issue is as big as they think it is,” McCambridge

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, R
esearch), 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 Europ
ean 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

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reu

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 ri
ce, 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
(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 t
wo 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 com
mercial 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 Ba
yer 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 governmen
oversight of potentially harmful transgendered crops.