Friends of the Earth in Spain joins calls for an immediate ban on rice imports from China following the discovery by several environmental groups about some foods on sale in Europe that are contaminated with an illegal GM rice from China.
This represents the second illegal GM rice crisis affecting Europe in three weeks. In August, the European Commission introduced emergency measures on imports of rice from the United States illegally contaminated with other types of transgenic rice, to avoid entering the European food chain.
“It is alarming that a second episode of contamination with illegal genetically modified rice appears in just three weeks. The European Commission must react quickly to prohibit such imports from China until they can assure consumers that products containing rice are free from contamination. The food of Chinese origin which is already on sale should be immediately checked and removed if necessary”, alerted Liliane Spendeler, head of the Transgenic Area of Friends of the Earth.
“We must prevent these episodes being repeated. Consumers deserve more than simple emergency measures every time there is a crisis. We need a drastic review of food controls in the EU to ensure that illegal and potentially unsafe GM products to enter the food chain”, examines Spendeler.
Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace analyzed foods in the UK, France and Germany and found rice products contaminated with the unauthorized GM rice. The products were found in Asian stores and products were imported from China. This rice variety is illegal as is experimental genetically modified to produce an insecticide. No country has not authorized for human consumption or commercial cultivation. Scientific studies raise suspicions about the risk to human health posed by the consumption of this rice, especially for its potential to cause allergies.
Both this incident such as that produced by the unauthorized GM rice from Bayer in the United States a few weeks ago, had their origin in experimental fields growing outdoors. Friends of the Earth calls for a moratorium at the European level on these experimental fields cutting off the commercial development of transgenic rice. “This latest episode of contamination is further proof of the impossibility of conducting experimental GM crops safely in field trials. Rice is one of the most important crops worldwide and we must strive our utmost to protect it from contamination" notes Spendeler.
The European Union has not approved any genetically modified rice, or for import or for cultivation. However, Bayer has requested permission to import rice resistant to herbicides in Europe. Since 1991, there have been 35 requests for field trials with transgenic rice, of which 25 were carried out in Spain.
Source: Friends of the Earth