FSA consults with industry on Chinese GM rice rules

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union, Eu

UK-based processors are being consulted over plans by the country's
Food Standards Agency for mandatory testing of Chinese rice imports
over fears of contamination from unapproved Genetically Modified
Organisms (GMO).

The consultations centre on a new EU-wide emergency ruling that comes into place on 15 April, requiring certification for rice or rice products produced or consigned in china. The certification will be required to clarify that he respective imports are free from the GMO Bt63. Under the ruling Chinese rice imports entering the EU must now have either an official or accredited analytical lab report, or analysis from relevant member state food authorities at the port of entry, indicating the absence of BT63. Consultation deadlines ​ To better asses the impact of these changes on industry, the FSA has set a number of deadlines for food industry representatives across the UK. These are:

  • 14 March for industry representatives from England

  • 17 March for manufacturers and other stakeholders in both Wales and Scotland

  • 18 March for representatives in Northern Ireland.

Bt63 ​Rice contaminated with the Bt63 - which is not authorised either in the EU or in China - was identified in rice products imported from China and on sale in EU member states in September 2006. The Chinese authorities announced measures to address the problem in 2007, including sampling and testing and an official Chinese Inspection and Quarantine Certificate. Despite this, the presence of some material containing Bt63 was still being reported in some countries late last year. The Commission's Standing Committee of Food Chain and Animal Health voted in February to introduce the emergency measures as of April 15, only for product consignments that are indicated in a specific Annex of the Decision to enter the EU. These consignments must be tested by an official or accredited laboratory using a specific testing method. China, by contrast, has not provided the Commission's Joint Research Centre with control samples it requested, nor with the protocol of the detection method it was using so that the centre could validate it. The measures will be introduced from April 15 to allow time for practical arrangements to be made. The situation will be reassessed after six months. Health commissioner Markos Kyprianou said: "The decision adopted… aims to prevent the unauthorised Bt63 rice from reaching EU consumers, but ensuring that only rice products certified as free from this GMO enter the EU."​ He stresses that, under EU safety legislation, only GMOs that have undergone a thorough scientific assessment and authorisation procedure may be placed on the EU market.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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