NGO wants to ban US rice

By Jennifer A. Ng

Businessmirror, October 2, 2006



A FARMER-based nongovernment organization (NGO) is urging the Department of Agriculture (DA) to impose a total ban on imported rice from the United States to ensure that genetically engineered rice will not enter the country’s supply chain.
Centro Saka Inc. said it is making the call in light of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recent findings that commercial long-grain rice in the US has been contaminated by the unapproved genetically engineered rice variety.
“Rice imports from the US should be banned to protect our local rice farmers and safeguard Filipino consumers,” said Centro Saka executive director Romeo C. Royandoyan.
Royandoyan said the Philippines should learn from the experience of European countries which have stringent standards but were not spared from contamination.
Earlier, another NGO, the Rice Watch and Action Network (R1) has urged the DA to check the shipment of imported rice from the US for possible contamination.
According to reports, traces of the illegal genetically modified rice have been found in supermarkets in European countries and the United Kingdom.
As a result, Japan banned all long-grain rice from the US, while the European Union now tests US rice shipments and rejects any rice imports contaminated with LLRice601.
LLRice 601, a long-grain rice, has a protein known as liberty link that allows the crop to withstand applications of a herbicide used to kill weeds.
US agriculture and food safety authorities disclosed last July 31 that Bayer CropScience’s unapproved rice had been found in commercial bins in Arkansas and Missouri.
The DA, for its part, has already announced that it will test rice in the US and is now looking for an internationally recognized, independent laboratory to conduct the testing.
Under Philippine laws, all imported genetically modified organisms intended for food, feed and processing has to be approved by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) on the first shipment. BPI is an attached agency of the DA.




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