Calif. rice seed GMO-free

In less time than it takes television CSI sleuths to solve a crime, DNA tests confirmed that the Liberty Link 601 rice is nowhere to be found in foundation rice seed at the California Rice Experiment Station at Biggs, Calif.

When USDA and Bayer CropScience announced that the GMO rice was discovered in stored commercial long grain rice in Arkansas, Biggs station director Kent McKenzie was contacted by the government to send samples for DNA testing of California foundation seed.

He bagged up samples from 24 seed lots and immediately overnighted them to independent, validated laboratory, BioDiagnostics Inc., which analyzed the seed using DNA marker technology.

The 100 percent negative results after analyzing 5,000 seeds were released during the station's annual rice field day, less than 24 hours after Johnson received the testing results.

California rice growers let out a collective sigh of relief when McKenzie announced the results of the testing.

On Aug. 18, USDA announced that trace amounts of regulated, genetically engineered (GE) rice were found in samples taken from commercially produced long grain rice. The USDA/Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) office is currently conducting an investigation to determine whether any violations occurred.

When this was announced, Japan immediately banned long grain rice imports from the U.S.

The LL 601 rice was not deregulated by the USDA and FDA and had not been grown commercially for several years. It was found in bins of 2005 rice produce in the Mid-South. USDA and the FDA have reviewed the available scientific data provided by Bayer CropScience, and have not found any human health, food safety or environmental concerns associated with the rice in question.

Nevertheless, Japan banned the import of long grain rice from the United States. It did not ban short and medium grain U.S. rice, but the California rice industry is nonetheless nervous and wants to distance itself from the long grain GMO contamination discovered in the Mid-South.

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