Brussels, 23 October 2006
A draft Commission Decision imposing mandatory counter testing for unauthorised GMOs in all imports of US long grain rice was endorsed today by Member State experts in the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health. The decision follows the lack of agreement by the US authorities to a common sampling and testing protocol which would ensure a high level of consistency and accuracy in the tests for the unauthorised GM rice LLRICE601 in consignments to the EU. The measures are being taken in response to findings four weeks ago of LLRICE601 in shipments of US long grain rice, which had been certified as free from this unauthorised GMO. On 4 October, the European Commission gave Commissioner Kyprianou the mandate to introduce this counter testing, but first allowed 15 days to seek US agreement on a common approach to sampling and testing. Despite extensive discussions between both sides, the US were unable to agree on the proposed protocol. US long grain rice imports will continue to be subject to the certification requirements imposed when LL601 was first reported to be present in US rice in August (see IP/06/1120). Under the draft Decision agreed by the Standing Committee today, in addition to this certification requirement, all consignments of US long-grain rice will also be sampled and tested at the point of entry to the EU by Member State authorities according to the EU testing protocol attached to the proposed decision. Responsibility for the cost of this additional testing will lie with the operators. The counter tests will also take into account the French authorities’ recent finding of another unauthorised GMO, LLRICE62, in US rice; the tests to be applied will also detect this GM event.