U.S.D.A. certifies U.S. rice as non-transgenic

by Keith Nunes
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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a one sentence statement on April 1 announcing it has reinstated a no-genetic modification statement for use by rice exporters and others in the industry.

“There are no transgenic rice varieties for sale or in commercial production in the United States at this time,” the U.S.D.A.’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration said.

In August 2006, the U.S.D.A. announced that a genetically modified variety of rice known as LibertyLink and developed by Bayer AG was found in the U.S. long grain rice supply. The announcement led to a decline in rice exports as such importers as the European Union ceased purchasing U.S. rice. In July 2011 a settlement of approximately $750 million was reached between Bayer and rice farmers who had sued the company for damages.

“GIPSA’s decision to reinstate the assurance is a testament to years of hard work and cooperation among all segments of the U.S. rice industry to remove the LibertyLink trait from the U.S. rice supply and thereby meet consumer demands and regulatory requirements in many international markets,” said Al Montna, a California rice producer and former chairman of the USA Rice Federation, who led the industry’s response to the presence of LibertyLink.

In response to the contamination, the U.S. industry adopted voluntary guidelines — called the Seed Plan — to remove LibertyLink rice from the rice seed supply beginning in 2007.

“While we can’t turn away from new technologies, one of the lessons of the LibertyLink contamination is that we must continue to insist that there be consumer acceptance and widespread global regulatory approval before new technologies are introduced into the marketplace,” said Betsy Ward, president and chief executive officer of USA Rice.
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