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F.ood & H.ealth : & P.olitics Last Updated: Nov 26th, 2006 - 16:23:46

USDA deregulates genetically modified rice
Nov 26, 2006, 16:03

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- November 24, 2006

USDA Gives Rubber-Stamp Market Approval to Genetically Engineered Rice Contaminating Food Supply

'Approval-by-Contamination' Policy Puts Consumers and Environment at Risk, Erodes Trust in U.S. Food

USDA Continues to Allow Bayer to Test Experimental Genetically Engineered Crops

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today granted marketing approval of a genetically-engineered (GE) rice variety following its illegal contamination of the food supply and rice exports, first announced three months ago. The controversial decision was taken despite the insistence of its developer, Bayer CropScience, that it dropped plans to commercialize the variety, known as LibertyLink601 (LL601), five years ago.

"With this decision, USDA is telling agricultural biotechnology companies that it doesn't matter if you're negligent, if you break the rules, if you contaminate the food supply with untested genetically engineered crops, we'll bail you out," said Joseph Mendelson, Legal Director of the Center for Food Safety. "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, and further erode trust in the wholesomeness of U.S. food overseas," he added.

Mendelson also noted that USDA has still not determined how LL601 entered the rice supply or the extent of the contamination, and that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not undertaken a formal assessment of the rice, which is designed to survive direct spraying with the powerful herbicide glufosinate.

"Experimental, genetically engineered crops like LL601 are prohibited for a reason," said Bill Freese, Science Policy Analyst at Center for Food Safety. "Exhaustive testing is required to determine whether or not mutagenic gene-splicing procedures create human health or environmental hazards, and no one has done that analysis on LL601 rice," he added.

In comments filed with USDA, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) opposed USDA's consideration of Bayer's petition for market approval of LL601 as an abuse of the regulatory process. CFS also blasted USDA for allowing Bayer to black out extensive portions of its petition as "confidential business information," and demanded that it be released for public scrutiny and comment before any decision was made. CFS further noted that Bayer might exploit the approval to evade liability for an estimated $150 million in market losses suffered by U.S. farmers because of the episode. The comments also spelled out the potential for LL601 to spread its herbicide-resistance trait to weedy red rice, making it more difficult for farmers to control.

LL601 is one of several 'LibertyLink' (LL) rice varieties that have been genetically engineered by Bayer to survive application of Bayer's proprietary Liberty' herbicide. Liberty kills normal rice, but can be applied directly to LL varieties to kill surrounding weeds. This explains why Bayer had to obtain government approval to permit residues of the weedkiller on rice grains of its two approved versions of LibertyLink rice.

"Contrary to what you hear from the biotech industry, genetically engineered crops like LibertyLink rice mean more chemicals in our food, not less," said Freese.

"USDA's decision to approve genetically engineered rice that Bayer itself decided was unfit for commerce is the clearest sign yet that U.S. authorities are intent upon dismantling federal regulation of genetically engineered crops in the interests of the biotechnology industry," said Mendelson.

"Center for Food Safety will consider all legal options to put an end to USDA's 'approval-by-contamination' policy for new genetically engineered crops," he added.

Mendelson further noted that since the contamination debacle was first announced on August 18, 2006, USDA has given Bayer the green light to conduct nine more outdoor field trials of new genetically engineered crops.

Joe Mendelson: 703-244-1724
Bill Freese: 301-985-3011

Further resources:

For CFS's comments to USDA on Bayer's petition for approval of LL601, see:


660 Pennsylvania Ave., SE , Suite 302, Washington, DC 20003
(202) 547-9359 fax (202) 547-9429

2601 Mission Street, Suite 803, San Francisco, CA 94110
415) 826-2770 FAX (415) 826-0507


Comments by Prof Joe Cummins jcummins@UWO.CA posted on SANET (

USDA/APHIS went ahead and deregulated LLRICE601 in an apparent move to support the German Company who are being sued by US Farmers. The USDA reply to the numerous comments from the public was short and sweet and ignored most significant issues. One crucial issue , the frivolous use of confidential business information (CBI) by the corporation to conceal most of the studies in in their petition was replied to by USDA: "The APHIS policy on CBI was published in 50 F.R. 38561. That policy requires information that is: 1) asserted to be a trade secret by the applicant; or 2) established by review to potentially cause substantial competitive harm, will be released only if required by statute or court order or otherwise required by law. I understand that to mean the Bayer can conceal everything on the basis of trade secret and USDA/APHIS is a powerless pawn in dealing with frivolous designations. However, the recent company claim that the LLRICE601 pollution was an "Act of God" may mean that the company had bin bid by the Lord to keep their dealing secret! That is, of course, a difficult position to deal with on account of the wrath thing. This may not be the first time that science has been compromised by religious authorities, but it is certainly the first time that the religious authorities were housed in companies.


USDA news release

Rachel Iadicicco (301) 734-3255
Jerry Redding (202) 720-4623


WASHINGTON, Nov. 24, 2006--The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today announced that after a thorough review of scientific evidence it will deregulate genetically engineered LLRICE601 based on the fact that it is as safe as its traditionally bred counterparts. The final environmental assessment is available on the APHIS web site at 06_23401p_ea.pdf and will be published in the Federal Register on December 1.

On July 31, 2006 Bayer CropScience notified USDA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that the company had detected trace amounts of this regulated rice in commercial long-grain rice. FDA has concluded that the presence of LLRICE601 in the food and feed supply poses no safety concerns. An investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding the release and whether any USDA regulations were violated is nearly complete. Deregulation, or regulatory approval of a particular product, is handled separately from determinations of compliance with APHIS regulations. USDA has approved LLRICE601 for deregulation, while an investigation of compliance is on-going.

Bayer submitted a petition to APHIS to deregulate LLRICE601, which was engineered to be tolerant to herbicides marketed under the brand name LibertyLink. APHIS deregulated two similar LibertyLink rice lines, LLRICE62 and LLRICE06, in 1999 after thorough safety evaluations and is extending its deregulation from the original two lines to include LLRICE601. This protein has been scientifically reviewed and approved for use in a dozen countries around the world.

APHIS published a Sept. 8 notice in the Federal Register seeking public comment on Bayer's petition. The public comment period closed Oct. 10.

APHIS oversees the development and introduction (importation, interstate movement, and environmental release) of GE organisms. Deregulated items and their progeny are considered safe for the environment and can be grown without APHIS oversight. Developers may also need to consult with FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency before commercialization.

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