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Federation, seedsmen disagree over LL testing plan

The rice seed industry has voted against a USA Rice Federation seed plan recommendation that seedsmen provide purchasers of planting seed with a certificate stating that the seed is biotech-free. The vote took place at a meeting of the certified rice seed channel on Dec. 15 in Memphis to address the LL rice issue.

Instead of certification, the rice seed industry recommended that a document showing a negative test result for the LL trait be provided to the mill or first point of delivery prior to harvest of the crop. An earlier article on said the U.S. rice seed industry did not support the testing of all rice seed for the presence of LL rice.

The seedsmen’s recommendation was rejected by the USA Rice Federation on Dec. 19, according to Michael Hensgens, G&H Seed, who was appointed as the seed channel representative for the Federation on the LL rice issue.

When asked about its decision, the USA Rice Federation responded with the following statement, “All segments of the U.S. rice industry must work together to resolve the Liberty Link issue. First and foremost, our common goal must be to restore customer confidence and market stability.

“The USA Rice Federation seed plan responds to market demands from regulatory agencies and consumers around the world. If the industry does not act decisively and in unison to resolve the Liberty Link issue, the U.S. rice industry will find itself in the unenviable position of producing a product world customers will not buy. Many allied businesses and a wide range of local economies depend on a viable U.S. rice industry.”

Unless there are further discussions between the groups, it is now up to each state to develop a protocol for testing for the presence of the LL trait in rice seed and deciding who gets the subsequent documentation on the test results.

Hensgens said the Louisiana rice industry is working with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture on a proposed plan, “where the state will pull the certified seed samples for the seed dealers, send the samples to the testing lab and provide the document to the first point of delivery.”

Hensgens said that if the document goes directly from the seed retailer to the producer, “it becomes a warranty to the producer which is not something that is required by seed law, nor is it insurable by any seed conditioner’s insurance agency. Seedsmen’s insurability is governed by the state and federal seed laws and genetic purity is not one of them.

“It’s not that we can’t win the claim. But we may spend exorbitant amounts of money settling claims because it costs so much to defend them. You can win the battle but lose the war if you go out of business.”

Hensgens says the rice seed industry supports all other recommendations of the rice industry’s plan to remove the LL trait from the market.


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