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EU Tests May Stifle U.S. Rice Imports

If the EU decides to go ahead with mandatory rice testing, U.S. rice exports to Europe may fizzle.

As the European Commission asks the EU nations to approve its proposal of mandatory testing of all U.S. rice imports, the U.S. says the burden may be too much for rice trade to continue between the U.S. and Europe.

The U.S. has "consulted with the industry and reviewed it internally and came to the conclusion it would just have the effect of not allowing trade to resume," says Floyd Gaibler, U.S. deputy undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services.

The proposed testing program would be aimed at making sure rice sent to the EU contains no unauthorized genetically modified varieties. The push for mandatory testing comes in response to the EU discovery of Liberty Link Rice 601, a genetically modified strain of long-grain rice banned in the EU, in a shipment of rice supposed to be free of biotech products.

Since the EU increased monitoring for genetically modified strains, U.S. rice shipments to Europe have halted.

Gaibler says the European testing program would be "simply too onerous for us to accept," but Philip Tod, spokesman for the EU, says the group has "no other option" from mandatory tests after the U.S. and EU failed to agree on a common testing protocol.

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