Press Notice from GM Free Cymru 12th September 2006. Immediate Release
It has been revealed that the UK's food regulator, the Food Standards Agency, has encouraged food industry chiefs to break EU and British law by continuing to sell contaminated rice products which may be present on supermarket shelves.
At a secret meeting held on 5th September, FSA officials encouraged retailers (off the record) to disregard warnings about the safety of rice products contaminated with the illegal variety called LL601, and to continue to sell packages of American long-grain rice whether contaminated or not. They also advised the retail trade not to test their rice products for GM contamination, on the grounds that "there are no health or safety risks". In other words they advised them: "Don't look -- don't find." Finally, they advised the trade that there was no need to withdraw contaminated rice products from sale, and no need to take products down from shelves.
The revelations are contained in a statement prepared by Tilda Rice of Essex (1), which identified GM contamination in at least one of its American rice consignments prior to the 5th September meeting. GM Free Cymru, which has seen the Tilda Rice statement, says the GM contamination of rice in the food chain is illegal at any level, and that the EC has decided -- on the record -- upon a zero tolerance policy (2). Any retailer who sells an illegal product is therefore acting unlawfully and should be prosecuted.
Speaking for the Group, Dr Brian john says: "These revelations are profoundly worrying. We now know that GM-contaminated rice is on sale in Aldi supermarkets in Germany, and that at least 33 samples of American long-grain rice held by the millers have also tested positive for LL601 contamination (3) (4). And yet the FSA is advising the retail trade, behind closed doors, to sell illegal products to British consumers. Let's be clear about this -- rice products contaminated with GM are illegal and are dangerous and unfit for human consumption (5) (6). It is unlawful to stock these contaminated products or to sell them."
"FSA should itself now be prosecuted for encouraging unlawful activity and for endangering the health of UK consumers. It knows that contaminated products have been on sale in the UK for at least 8 months (7). We are writing to the Commission with a demand that action should now be taken against FSA before it can do any more cosy deals behind closed doors and do more harm to the public."
Dr Brian John
GM Free Cymru
(1) Tilda response to GM Rice Alert, Sept 6th 2006
Tilda Ltd, Coldharbour Lane, Rainham, Essex RM15 9YQ.
(2) Shortly after the news of the contamination incident broke, Commissioner
Kyprianou said this: "We have strict legislation in place in the EU to
ensure that any GM product put on the European market has undergone a thorough
authorization procedure based on scientific assessment. There is no flexibility
for unauthorized GMOs - these cannot enter the EU food and feed chain under
any circumstances." Even the FSA Director of Food Safety, Dr Andrew Wadge,
has said: "The presence of this GM material in rice on sale in the UK
is illegal under European health law, even at extremely low levels." This
means, quite simply, zero tolerance of illegal GMO components in human food,
in accordance with EU law.
(3) Reuters Reports 11th September 2006
EU confirms presence of tainted GMO rice. Mon Sep 11, 2006 6:57 PM BST144
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission confirmed on Monday the presence of an unauthorized genetically modified (GMO) strain of rice. Thirty-three out of 162 results of rice samples carried out by members of the European Federation of Rice Millers tested positive for the LL601 strain, the European Commission said in a statement.
(4) US Illegal GE Rice Contamination Spreads Further into Europe
Bayer's illegal GE rice found in major German supermarket
SEPTEMBER 11, 2006
(5) The illegal rice variety called LL601 has never been tested for safety, and neither has the novel GM protein contained within it. It may well be unstable and non-uniform, and it may have mutated in the five years since it was discontinued in 2001. The data needed by scientists to assess the variety has been censored out of publicly accessible documents in America on the grounds that it is "confidential business information."
(6) Ironically, the group of consumers who may be most at risk from rice contaminated by the illegal GM variety are those who eat wholegrain and organic food diets. This is because brown or wholegrain rice is not milled or processed in the same way as white rice. The GM components of such foods are not broken down in the same way as they are in parboiled or processed food products.
(7) Confirmed by Steve Dube, Western Mail, 12 September 2006, farming section.