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USDA Raises Rice Export Forecast

Even though the European Union still isn't buying U.S. rice, USDA says U.S. rice exports are climbing.

Although the European Union still won't buy U.S. rice due to concerns about unapproved biotech rice in shipments, USDA raised its forecast for U.S. rice exports in its December supply and demand report.

The 2006-07 forecast for U.S. rice is up to 102 million hundredweight, compared to a 97 million estimate in November. USDA says increased imports of U.S. rice in Iraq, Mexico and other Central American countries helped offset the loss of the EU market.

"Despite a reduction in exports to some markets due to [presence of unapproved] biotech rice, exports to other markets are doing well, particularly to markets in the Western Hemisphere," USDA says.

European Union officials discovered an unapproved strain of genetically modified rice in U.S. rice shipments to Europe earlier this year, prompting the EU to halt U.S. rice imports.

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