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Hold Bayer Accountable for LL601 GE Contamination of Rice

by GMO Free Mendo Thursday, Sep. 28, 2006 at 1:20 PM

USDA to retroactively approve Bayer's illegal LL601 GE rice after contamination discovered. Write letter to hold Bayer Crop Science accountable for contaminating US food supply with GE rice (LL601), aka "Liberty Link" rice, resistant to Bayer's manufactured "Liberty" glufosinate herbicide brand.

Of particular interest to Sacto/San Joaquin Valley rice growers;

Consumers demand rice farming methods that return to the time tested methods of evolutionary hybridization of rice strains based on ecologically adaptive heritable traits, not genetic engineering tampering with a rice species DNA/RNA by biotech corporations to artificially induce herbicide/pesticide resistance to their brand of pesticides/herbicides..

In August, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that an unapproved variety of GE rice (LL601) has been contaminating the U.S. rice supply for years and has entered the food supply. Japan, the E.U., and other important U.S. rice importing countries reacted immediately with bans and restrictions on long grain rice imports, shaking the rice industry and causing the rice futures market to plummet by more than 0 million so far.

In an attempt to mitigate the fall-out from this contamination event, Bayer CropScience, the company that developed LL601, has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to fast-track approval of LL601 retroactively. Bayer is facing class action lawsuits for financial damages caused by its negligence.

California rice farmers have not been affected by this contamination event because long-grain rice does not grow in this state. However, the severe reaction of California’s key export markets underlines the need for protections for our growers in the future and for the USDA and Bayer Cropscience to be held responsible for damages.

A USDA public comment period is open now through October 10th. Tell USDA NOT to approve this illegal, inadequately tested rice, and to hold Bayer CropScience accountable!

What you can do:

Send a letter to the USDA protesting the retroactive deregulation of LL601. Sample letter below, or: click on this link to go to our coalition partner True Food

Network’s action page and send a letter to the USDA via email:

Sample Letter:


Docket No. APHIS-2006-0140

Regulatory Analysis and Development PPD,

APHIS, Station 3A-03.8 4700 River Road, Unit 118

Riverdale, MD 20737

Re: Docket #APHIS-2006-0140 No Deregulation of Bayer CropScience GE Rice, LL601

To whom it may concern,

As an American consumer, I am extremely concerned about the recent contamination of long-grain US rice by an illegal, genetically engineered variety. Of even greater concern is the idea that the USDA is considering granting market approval for this illegal rice after the fact.

This rice was never approved for human consumption, and should not be in the food supply. To retroactively deregulate a variety never reviewed by the USDA makes consumers and American farmers pay for the mistakes of the biotech industry. Already Japan, South Korea and the European Union have banned or restricted the importation of ANY long-grain rice from the US, sinking rice futures by 5% - the largest decrease in years, in an already struggling US farm economy. As a consumer, I prefer to eat foods free of genetically engineered ingredients. Allowing the contamination, and subsequent deregulation, of a food not thought to be genetically engineered, like rice, makes that choice impossible.

In its petition for deregulation, Bayer presents data that is supposed to support the safety of LLRICE601. USDA has accepted Bayer's assertion of safety in its preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA). But there are a number of disturbing deficiencies revealed in this petition. First, about a third of the safety data is claimed as confidential business information (CBI) by Bayer, which makes effective public oversight impossible. Second, the comparisons between LLRICE601 and the non-biotech variety are much less extensive than the standards for either USDA

deregulation or for FDA review. These comparisons are important in order to determine whether changes have occurred in the engineered rice that may have health or environmental consequences. For example, several important constituents of rice were checked for the previously deregulated types of LL rice (and found to differ), but were not checked in LLRICE601. Additionally, the nature of the engineered herbicide-resistance protein was not adequately tested to see if it had been altered in the plant. Recently, changes in the protein in biotech peas in Australia was were found to cause immunological reactions in mice. Subsequently, the biotech peas were discontinued, after 10 years of development. All-in-all, the safety testing Bayer performed, and submitted to USDA, was substantially less than is usually accepted for deregulation.

Contamination should not be a route to commercialization. I urge USDA NOT to approve Bayer's rice in the US food supply, and to hold the company responsible for their actions. USDA should make testing protocols and test samples available to the public and independent testing laboratories to test and recall contaminated food products.

In addition, they should destroy any contaminated rice, and require Bayer to compensate US farmers and food companies for their losses.


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Our address:

15290 Coleman Valley Road | Occidental, California 95465

Californians for GE-Free Agriculture

p. (510) 647-3733

additional info on Bayer's LL601;

One risk to farmers who purchase Bayer's LibertyLink 601 GE rice strains is the farmer's continued dependency on Bayer's "Liberty" brand of matching herbicides, and the increased purchasing quantities of Bayer's herbicides as plant pest species (aka 'weeds') evolve resistance to Bayer's "Liberty" brand of glufosinate herbicides. Since LL601 is considered to be a genetically modified resistant strain to Liberty herbicides, rice farmers will be instructed by Bayer to simply purchase and spray more Liberty herbicide on their LL601 rice to eliminate the already resistant weed species..

The farmers who bought into Bayer's LibertyLink 601 rice will thus remain on the pesticide treadmill against their wishes, while any hopes for rice farmers stepping off the pesticide treadmill by using naturally evolved hybrid strains of rice will disappear as contamination from Bayer's LL601 spreads throughout the rice fields..

This from Center for Food Safety;


"The only chance of preventing a repeat of the LLRICE601 contamination debacle is for USDA to grant the requests in our petition," said Joseph Mendelson, Legal Director of CFS. "Rejection of our petition by USDA would represent a betrayal of U.S. rice farmers and American agriculture."

LibertyLink rice is engineered with a bacterial gene to survive application of glufosinate, the active ingredient in Bayer's proprietary Liberty herbicide. The inevitable transfer of the glufosinate-resistance gene to weedy red rice - already among the worst weeds in the Southern rice belt - via cross-pollination threatens creation of "superweeds." Glufosinate-resistant weeds would also be created by the increased use of Liberty anticipated with commercial plantings of LibertyLink rice.

Contamination of the rice supply with any variety of LibertyLink rice would likely trigger the same market rejection and economic losses just experienced with LLRICE601, as no LibertyLink varieties are approved anywhere in the world outside of the U.S. Even the threat of contamination of conventional and organic rice could cause further huge export losses for U.S. rice farmers."

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