U.S. commercial rice crop contaminated with GM strain

The U.S. government admitted last week that its commercial supply of long-grain rice has been contaminated by an illegal, untested, genetically modified strain with the warm-and-fuzzy name of LLRICE 601. The European Union, the biggest importer of U.S. long-grain rice, may decide to delay or ban imports; Japan, which buys very little U.S. long-grain rice, will now be buying none. LLRICE 601, engineered by German biotech company Bayer CropScience to withstand an herbicide, has not been approved for human consumption. U.S. rice supplies from the 2005 harvest were contaminated, even though field testing of LLRICE 601 ended in 2001. Unknowns include where the contaminated rice came from, how widespread it is in the U.S. food supply, and how it occurred. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns stated, “There are no human health, food safety, or environmental concerns associated with” LLRICE 601. And if we never study it, there never will be! Handy.