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Plan to eliminate genetically engineered traits from rice supply

The USA Rice Federation has recommended a plan of action to remove genetically engineered rice to re-establish a marketable supply of U.S. rice.

Following USDA secretary Mike Johanns’ Aug. 18 announcement of the trace presence of genetically engineered rice in the commercial supply, the federation has worked with industry and government officials to identify the Bayer CropScience LibertyLink traits and mitigate their market effects.

“The action plan released (Nov. 28) proposes urgent, concrete steps to be taken to restore market confidence,” said Al Montna, a California rice producer and federation chairman.

“We are requesting that state authorities take specific actions to ensure that commercial seed supplies for the 2007 crop have tested negative for the presence of LibertyLink genetically engineered traits. The plan also makes recommendations to all segments of the rice industry to further ensure that LibertyLink traits do not appear in the rice supply from 2007 forward.

“A specially appointed USA Rice Federation committee headed by Brian King, chairman of the USA Rice Merchants Association, developed the plan. The committee included individuals from all segments of the rice industry over the last month, and we encourage in the strongest terms that the industry — and appropriate state authorities — take action so we may achieve the goal of removing all genetically engineered traits from the 2007 crop.”

These actions are recommended despite statements by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the food safety organizations in foreign markets that the GE rice at issue is safe for human consumption.

The task group recommendations call for:

· A standard seed-testing protocol for the detection of the presence of LibertyLink traits for all head row/breeder and foundation seed with test samples pulled by state certifying agencies using state-approved methods.

· Each seed processor to agree to submit samples with a state seed-certifying agency number to one of the Bayer-approved and USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyard Administration (GIPSA) proficiency-tested labs.

· No Cheniere rice seed to be sold for rice production in 2007 and no 2007 crop-year Cheniere to be accepted at the first point of delivery; the allowance that buyers may accept 2006 crop-year Cheniere until July 31, 2007.

· An allowance for an increase of Cheniere rice seed production in 2007 for 2008 and 2009 seed stocks provided all such seed stocks are certified negative for LibertyLink traits.

· State agencies to notify all seed processors, growers and dealers of these requirements and the need for certification.

· Growers to provide, and first points of delivery to receive, documentation certifying GMO-negative results, with the Association of Official Seed Certification Agents to provide all LibertyLink-negative certification for commercial seed and USDA-GIPSA to certify that the process was completed under accepted protocols.

“The action plan we are proposing here is a living document,” said Montna. “As the industry learns more from the USDA investigation, scientists, customers and other industry experts, we will amend the recommendations as necessary and communicate those adjustments to the industry.”

To read the document detailing the recommendations summarized above, see:

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