Food Law News - EU - 2006

FSA News item, 26 October 2006

GM FOOD - Update on illegal GM rice: 26 October 2006

Following the contamination of long grain rice in the USA with unauthorised GM material, European Member States have agreed on additional testing requirements to make sure that no illegal GM material enters the European Union.

All imports of US long grain rice must now be held at the port of entry into the EU, so they can be sampled and tested for the presence of GM material. Official certificates, showing that consignments of US long grain rice have tested negative for the presence of this unauthorised GM material, will need to accompany the rice as it is placed on the market down to wholesale level. This is in addition to the current requirement for the US exporter to certify that long grain rice exports are GM free.

The new testing requirements have been agreed following instances where consignments of rice have tested positive for GM in tests in the EU, despite being certified free of GM according to tests carried out by exporters in the USA.

This follows the EU and USA authorities' failure to reach agreement on a common way of testing that would ensure a high degree of consistency and accuracy in the tests carried out on rice consignments.

The Agency has been informed by the European Commission that no new shipments of American long grain rice have arrived in the EU since 11 September 2006. There may, therefore, be some interruption to the US long grain rice supply in the UK and other Member States, but rice on sale from other countries is not affected.

The presence of unauthorised GM material is illegal at any level. The new testing requirement does not alter the obligations of food business operators to ensure that the food they place on the market does not contain this GM material. Any rice known to contain such material should be removed from sale.

The European Food Safety Authority has said the contamination of rice with GM material is not likely to cause an imminent safety concern. The Agency’s advice to consumers, that they can continue to eat any long grain rice that they have at home, remains the same.

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