Food Law News - UK - 2006

FSA News Item, 16 November 2006

GM FOODS - Agency survey of US long grain rice for unauthorised GM material

A survey of American long grain rice at mills in the UK has found evidence of unauthorised genetically modified (GM) material, LLRICE601, in three out of the 31 samples tested.

The sampling was carried out after long grain rice that had been contaminated with the GM material in the US was imported into the European Union.

Safety experts have advised, on the basis of current evidence, that rice containing trace levels of this GM material is not likely to pose an imminent safety concern. However, its presence in food is illegal in the EU and the Agency has reminded retailers of their legal responsibility to ensure that the rice they sell does not contain unauthorised GM material. Based on the conclusion reached by safety experts, the Agency advises consumers that they can continue to eat long grain US rice that they have at home.

Measures were introduced by the European Commission on 23 August 2006, to ensure that all imports of long grain rice from the US are certified to be free of unauthorised GM rice material before being allowed to enter the EU. As an additional precaution, new rules have been brought into force to ensure that imports of US long grain rice are retested at the point of entry into the EU.

The Agency's survey was carried out to provide information on the presence of the GM material in rice that was imported before 23 August. Local authorities were asked to visit rice mills in their area to take samples. The majority of samples were taken over a three-week period in September 2006. One additional sample was taken on 19 October, as the rice had been held on a barge offshore until this date.

Three samples were found to contain GM material LLRICE601. A further sample showed positive on an initial screen for GM material but the test for LLRICE601 was negative. Further tests are under way to investigate what this material is.

The rice mills from which the samples were taken were notified of the positive results and the relevant local authorities informed.

For previous news item on this topic, see: 6 November 2006 GM FOOD - Legal challenge on GM rice

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