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Contaminated rice must be recalled from Africa - Press Release
Saturday, 25 November 2006


Friends of the Earth, Africa.

Image African Centre for Biosafety



Lagos (Nigeria), Johannesburg (South Africa), 25 November. Friends of the Earth Africa and the African Center for Biosafety are today urging African countries to monitor US rice imports and to recall all shipments contaminated with GM rice known as LibertyLink601 (LL601). This call follows the confirmation of the presence of the illegal variety LL601 in food aid and commercial imports of rice from the US in Ghana and Sierra Leone.

“This rice is not approved in Africa and must be immediately recalled from our countries” said Nnimmo Bassey of FoE Africa. “Africa will not accept being the dumping ground for unwanted GM rice. Our governments must stay firm and not fall under the US pressure to accept this tainted rice”.

The presence of illegal rice was verified in 9 samples of U.S. food aid and commercial imports after tests were conducted in an independent laboratory in the U.S. The unapproved GM rice has been detected in rice sent to Ghana and Sierra Leone and the results were publicly announced by FoE Africa in a simultaneous press conference in both countries in the morning of the 24th of November (1).

Following FoE Africa announcement, the experimental rice LL601 found in Africa was given commercial approval by the United States Department for Agriculture (USDA) on the evening of the 24th November (2).

“The approval of GM rice right after it has been found in US food aid sent to Africa is a blatant insult to our people”, added Mariam Mayet of the African Center for Biosafety. “USDA's stamp of approval to genetically engineered rice after it has illegally contaminated the food supply completely erodes all trust in the US Food System”.

The GMO Rice was only released for experimental purposes, and  Bayer CropScience, the developer, dropped plans to commercialize the variety, known as LibertyLink601 (LL601), five years ago. The U.S. based Center for Food Safety has strongly condemned its government decision since no exhaustive testing has been done on LL601 to guarantee that the GM rice would not create human health or environmental hazards. (3)

“The rice was released only for experimental purposes more than five years ago, Bayer announced it will not commercialize the rice, and on top of that there is no guarantee of the safety of those crops. It is obvious that Africans cannot accept this rice”, added Bassey.

The African Center for Biosafety and FoE groups from 6 African countries will be meeting in Nigeria this coming week. These groups will also send an open letter to the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to protest the dumping of unwanted GMOs via food aid.  

See FoE Africa briefing on rice contamination:

(1) Africa contaminated by illegal GM Rice

(2) USDA deregulates line of genetically engineered rice 

(3) Center for Food Safety. 2006. USDA Gives Rubber-Stamp Market Approval to Genetically Engineered Rice Contaminating Food Supply. Press Release 24 November.

For more information:
Friends of the Earth Africa: Nnimmo Bassey, +234 803 727 4395
African Center for Biosafety: Mariam Mayet, +27832694309

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© 2007 Environmental Rights Action / Friends of the Earth, Nigeria
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