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FOOD STANDARD AGENCY FACES LEGAL CHALLENGE OVER GM-CONTAMINATED RICE

by : proposed by satya
Tuesday September 19, 2006 - 11:45
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Friends of the Earth Friends of the Earth has taken the first step in mounting a legal challenge to the UK Food Standards Agency for its failure to take appropriate action to prevent illegal GM rice from being sold to the public. The challenge coincides with the discovery, by the environmental campaign group, of GM-contaminated rice in two types of own-brand rice sold by British supermarket, Morrisons [1].

Friends of the Earth sent a number of rice samples for testing after it was revealed last month that US long grain rice has been widely contaminated from GM rice grown in experimental trials (Bayer CropScience’s LLRICE 601). The test does not confirm that the GM contamination is LLRICE 601, but as no GM rice has been approved for consumption in the EU, any presence of GM rice is illegal.

Following the US contamination incident the EU introduced emergency measures to prevent contaminated rice from entering the European food chain [2]. LLRICE 601 GM rice has not been authorised for human consumption anywhere in the world. Markos Kyprianou, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, said There is no flexibility for unauthorised GMOs - these cannot enter the EU food and feed chain under any circumstances [3].

However, a leaked memo reveals that the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has privately told food retailers and manufacturers that it does not expect them to test for contamination, or to remove any contaminated rice from their shelves [4]. The FSA is only planning to test some rice at mills for contamination, meaning that any contaminated rice that is already in shops or warehouses may not be detected and may be sold to unsuspecting consumers. The FSA also claims that the illegal rice poses no safety concerns and that there are no human health implications [5] when in fact it has not undergone a proper safety assessment. The European Food Safety Authority stated on Friday, there is insufficient data to provide a full risk assessment in accordance with EFSA’s GM guidance [6].

Friends of the Earth believes that the FSA has acted unlawfully in its failure to act adequately on this issue. The environmental campaign group has written the FSA a formal legal letter before action [7], which is the first step in bringing a judicial review.

Friends of the Earth’s Head of Legal, Phil Michaels, said:

The Food Standards Agency’s response to this GM contamination incident is scandalous and, we believe, unlawful. It has failed to act adequately to prevent illegal GM rice reaching our plates and has failed to provide accurate advice and information as it is required to do by law. Instead it has cncentrated on playing down the seriousness of the issue and minimising the effect on business. We have now resorted to legal action to force the FSA to do its job properly and to ensure that adequate steps are taken to protect UK consumers from illegal GM-contaminated food.

Friends of the Earth’s GM campaigner, Clare Oxborrow said:

The discovery of GM-contaminated rice on supermarket shelves is extremely worrying. GM rice has not been approved for human consumption in Europe, so it is illegal to sell it. This discovery is unlikely to be an isolated incident. Retailers must ensure that their food is free from unauthorised GM material, and remove contaminated products from their shelves.

This latest contamination incident highlights the risks associated with GM technology, and exposes the biotech companies’ failure to control their products. The UK Government must draw up tough rules to prevent any contamination before it even considers allowing GM crops to be grown here. The best way to protect our food, farming and environment from GM pollution is to keep Britain GM-free.

The UK Government is currently holding a public consultation to determine what rules will be needed to grow GM crops commercially in England [8]. Friends of the Earth is urging people to respond at www.stopgmcontamination.org[1] .

[1] Testing was carried out by an independent laboratory. A total of six samples were tested from different manufacturers. It revealed that the two Morrisons samples were contaminated with GM traits. The test does not confirm that the GM contamination is LLRICE 601, but there is no GM rice approved in the EU, so any presence of GM rice is illegal. > The affected products are: * Morrisons American Long Grain Rice 500g, Best before May 2008 * Morrisons American Long Grain Brown Rice 1kg, Best before: Jul 2008

Morrisons have issued a statement saying they have withdrawn the two products as a precautionary measure.

[2] http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press... _gm_rice_23082006.html[2]

[3]http://europa.eu.int/rapid/pressRel... =IP/06/1120format=HTMLaged=0language=ENguiLanguage=en

[4] Memo of a meeting on 5 September between the Food Standards Agency, the British Retail Consortium and the Food and Drink Federation - available from Friends of the Earth

[5] http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/f...[3]

[6] http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press_... 1.html[4]

[7] Letter available from Friends of the Earth. The FSA have until Friday 29 September to respond.

[8] http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2006/0...[5]

Source: http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press...



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> FOOD STANDARD AGENCY FACES LEGAL CHALLENGE OVER GM-CONTAMINATED RICE
Wednesday September 20 - 15:44 - Posted by a6706db050186d21...

Rice seems to be causing concern in many parts of the World.







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