USDA Concludes GE Rice Investigation

David J. Boethel, Schultz, Bruce, Linscombe, Steven D.  |  10/6/2007 1:43:26 AM

News Release Distributed 10/05/07

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced its investigation of genetically engineered Liberty Link rice has ended with no enforcement action being taken.

The investigation by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) focused on the unintentional trace amounts of regulated genetically engineered rice detected in two commercial rice varieties. The genetically engineered rice was grown at the LSU AgCenter’s Rice Research Station in Crowley under a contract with Bayer CropScience. The genetically engineered rice has a protein making it resistant to the Liberty herbicide.

“APHIS did a thorough investigation, and we cooperated fully. We appreciate all the time and effort that went into this,” said Dr. David Boethel, vice chancellor for research at the LSU AgCenter. “I also want to express my appreciation for the professionalism of Dr. Steve Linscombe and his staff at the Rice Research Station in cooperating with this investigation.”

Bruce Knight, USDA undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs, said the investigation required 8,500 staff hours and 45 visits to more than 11 states and Puerto Rico.

Knight said APHIS investigators tested 396 samples from 57 rice varieties harvested between 2002 and 2006 and determined the presence of Liberty Link proteins was limited to Cheniere and CL131, both long-grain varieties.

Investigators were unable to determine how the genetically engineered rice entered the commercial rice supply.

Liberty Link rice was grown at the Rice Research Station from 1999 until 2001 at the same time Cheniere was grown there. The planting of Liberty Link rice did not occur when CL131 was planted at the station, however.

Based on the findings of the investigation, APHIS will not pursue enforcement action against Bayer CropScience or its cooperators, according to the USDA.

APHIS is considering regulatory changes, such as increasing isolation distances between seed-breeding fields and genetically engineered varieties to reduce the likelihood of pollen flow.

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David Boethel at (225) 578-4181, or
Steve Linscombe at (337) 296-6858, or
Bruce Schultz at (337) 788-8821, or

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