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EU Readies for Mandatory Testing of U.S. Rice Imports

After U.S. and EU authorities failed to agree on a way to sample and test rice exports to Europe, the EU is ready to introduce mandatory testing.

In response to the discovery of unauthorized GMO rice in shipments of long grain U.S. rice, the European Commission will propose mandatory tests of all U.S. rice imports to the European Union.

Four weeks ago, EU authorities found grains of Liberty Link Rice 601, a strain of biotech rice, in a shipment that had been certified free of genetically modified rice. According to Friends of the Earth, an environmental lobby, "there have now been almost 80 cases of contamination across Europe in the past six weeks."

U.S. officials say it is too difficult and expensive to test all rice for GMO strains, and that biotech rice poses no risk to human health. Philip Tod, the commission's spokesman for health issues, says the need for testing is not based on health concerns but rather because the GMO rice is unauthorized.

European authorities said they would propose mandatory testing after a 15 day period in which European and U.S. officials could attempt to come to an agreement. European Commission and U.S. authorities met extensively but were not able to agree on a satisfactory means of testing and sampling the rice.

The U.S. sent about 198,000 tons of long-grain rice to the EU last year, and exports about half of its total rice harvest.

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