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USDA PROVIDES UPDATE FOR FARMERS ON GENETICALLY ENGINEERED RICE

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Rachel Iadicicco (301) 734-3255
Jerry Redding (202) 720-4623

WASHINGTON, Nov. 24, 2006--The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service today announced that tests have identified 2003 Cheniere variety as the only foundation seed that tested positive for genetically engineered (GE) LLRICE601. The tests were conducted as part of an ongoing investigation of the release of regulated material into supplies of commercial long-grain rice.

It is APHIS policy not to disclose results of an inquiry until a full investigation is complete. However, this peripheral information is being made available now to assist farmers in making decisions in preparation for the 2007 planting season and to inform trading partners as part of the agency's commitment to transparency. LLRICE601, previously reviewed for safety by APHIS and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is determined to present no human health, food safety or environmental concerns. This protein has been scientifically reviewed and approved for use in a dozen countries around the world.

A full investigation continues in order to determine the circumstances surrounding the release and whether any USDA regulations were violated. As part of the investigation, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service conducted testing using real-time polymerase chain reaction to detect the presence of LLRICE601. Testing was conducted at .06 to .01 percent levels, depending on the sample size. These findings indicate that at this highly sensitive level of detection, the scope of the release of LLRICE601 rice is limited to the foundation seed of one variety of long-grain rice and does not affect medium- or short-grain rice.

In addition, tests of a separate sample of the 2003 Cheniere variety indicate the presence of trace levels of LLRICE62, a line of GE rice also developed by Bayer Crop Science. LLRice62 has already undergone a food safety evaluation by FDA and has been determined to present no safety concerns. Since LLRICE62 was deregulated by APHIS in 1999, this rice line is not the focus of APHIS' investigation.

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