The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Contamination Leads to Legalization of Gene-Spliced Rice

by Megan Tady

Nov. 28, 2006 – Rather than penalize the company that slipped an illegal strain of genetically modified rice into the human food supply, the USDA has simply approved the grain for marketing.

Last week, the USDA "deregulated" the genetically engineered (GE) rice known as Liberty Link (LL) 601. The rice’s DNA has been modified to help the plant resist herbicides.

As previously reported by The NewStandard, the USDA announced in August that US commercial long-grain rice supplies had been contaminated with "trace amounts" of GE rice that was unapproved for human consumption. The rice was manufactured by the corporation Bayer CropScience.

Less than four months after the announcement, the USDA has approved Bayer’s petition to deregulate the rice, saying a "thorough review of scientific evidence" shows the genetically altered rice is "as safe as its traditionally bred counterparts."

The USDA said an investigation to determine how the gene-modified strain was initially released, and if Bayer violated federal regulations, is "nearly complete."

Calling the USDA’s approval a "rubber stamp," the Center for Food Safety warned of the implications of the agency’s decision in a press statement.

"In effect, USDA is sanctioning an ‘approval-by-contamination’ policy that can only increase the likelihood of untested genetically engineered crops entering the food supply in the future," said Joseph Mendelson, legal director of the Center.

Bayer CropScience says it does not intend to commercialize the rice.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Megan Tady is a staff journalist.

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