Fears mount over possible rice contamination in the Philippines

By James Knowles

- Last updated on GMT

Environmental campaign group Greenpeace is warning that the food
supply in the Philippines could be at risk from illegal GM rice
contamination originating in the US and China, with potentially
damaging costs to manufacturers in extraction.

Following the recent discovery of GMOLL601 rice contamination in the US, test results by Greenpeace Germany revealed last week that US parboiled rice products being sold by German supermarket Aldi Nord contained illegal Bayers Liberty Link rice.

"The illegal GM rice scandal, however, may not be limited to Europe. In South East Asia rice is the staple diet. The Philippines is among the countries most at risk because we import rice and rice products from both the US and China"​, said Greenpeace South East Asia GE campaigner Daniel Ocampo.

The impact of contamination and any need for extraction from the food supply would be costly for manufacturers within the Philippines, which according to figures from USDA imported $20m (€16) of rice from the US in 2006.

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johans of USDA rejected claims made by Greenpeace that GM rice has allergenic qualities as shown by mice during testing due to the added protein Cry1Ac, saying that in the instance of Bayers LL Rice-601 only trace amounts were found and deemed to be safe.

"I empahsise that based upon the materials that have been provided, we have reached a determination based upon those materials that there isn't any environmental fear; there isn't a food safety fear"​ he said at the Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Conference in August.

The sale of GM rice is an issue of contention in markets across the world and there are no plans to introduce it to Philippine markets anytime soon, Cherly Casiwan Senior Science Research Specialist for the Social Economics Division of the Philippines Rice Research Institute told AP-Foodtechnology.

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