Daily News Archives
Urged to Reject Modified Rice
(Beyond Pesticides, March 23, 2004) European governments
are being urged to reject a genetically modified (GM) rice in order
to prevent control of the world's most important staple food falling
into the hands of multinational companies.
Member states have until Sunday, March 28th, to object to an application
by German-based Bayer Cropscience to import into the EU a GM rice (LL
Rice 62) that has been modified to resist the company's own herbicide,
glufosinate ammonium. This is the first time that a company has asked
for a GM rice authorization in Europe. Both Friends
of the Earth and Greenpeace
claim that an EU approval of the rice will send a dangerous signal to
developing countries and could lead to the eventual corporate take-over
of one of the world's most important foods. Currently 2.5 billion people
depend on rice as a staple food.
During a press conference in Brussels today, Friends of the Earth and
Greenpeace were joined by internationally renowned food-security expert
Devinder Sharma from India. Sharma pointed out that control over rice,
Asia's staple food, is steadily passing into the hands of transnational
corporations based in Europe and the US, which use unfair patenting
practices and genetic manipulation of food. He warned about the danger
of further " daylight robbery of genetic wealth " by European
and US corporations in developing countries.
As well as the threat to the world's food supply, Friends of the Earth
and Greenpeace are concerned that no long-term studies were carried
out on this GM rice to examine the potential for serious health effects.
Bayer observed an increased amount of allergic compounds in the GM rice,
but no explanation was provided nor was further research conducted.
The UK authorities, who gave a positive risk assessment about the rice
on January 28 2004, did not consider the environmental impacts of growing
the rice outside the EU. Bayer provides no information on the likelihood
of imported rice being spilled nor of the possible effects of this on
the five EU member states that currently grow rice (Italy, Greece, Spain,
Portugal and France).
Eric Gall of Greenpeace stated, "GM rice is a serious threat to
rice biodiversity and thus to the livelihood of millions of farmers
in Asia. Not only does it risk contaminating European rice-producing
regions, but key questions about its safety have not been answered.
Member states bear a huge responsibility and should swiftly reject this
authorization to import GM rice."
Geert Ritsema of Friends of the Earth said, " We are facing a corporate
offensive on humanity's main staple crop. Allowing the import of genetically
modified rice into Europe will give the green light to multinationals
to promote unsustainable farming of this rice in developing countries.
Allowing the world's most important staple food to fall into the hands
of companies like Bayer is a dangerous and unprecedented move."
briefings about the food safety and environmental risks of Bayer's
GM rice are available. For more information, contact Eric Gall, GMO
policy advisor, Greenpeace European Unit, +32 (0) 496 16 15 82 and Geert
Ritsema, GMO campaign coordinator Friends of the Earth Europe, cell:
+31-6-290 05 908, office: +32-2-542 0182.
TAKE ACTION: Urge Mr. Michael Leavitt, EPA
Administrator, to restrict the power of U.S. multinational corporations
that are gaining ever-increasing control over the world's food system
and allowing increased use of pesticides with the spread of herbicide-tolerant
crops. You can reach him by email,
phone: 202-564-4711, or fax: 202-501-1470. You can use information from
Beyond Pesticides' Genetic
Engineering Program Page in your case.