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CFIA lowers U.S. rice restrictions

Canada will scale back its import requirements on U.S. long-grain rice after having found no reportable levels of two unregistered, genetically modified (GM) varieties that found their way into the U.S. supply.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has tested and sampled long-grain rice from the U.S. for traces of LLRice601 since last October and monitored for LLRice604, a similar variety, since this spring. Bayer CropScience had developed both varieties for herbicide tolerance, but neither was registered when the former was unintentionally released into the rice supply and the latter was found in another variety, BASF’s Clearfield CL131.

Having had a border alert system in place to spot rice imports for audits, sampling and testing, CFIA found no LLRice601 at the reporting level. The USA Rice Federation recommended farmers not plant Cheniere rice, in which LLRice 601 was found, in 2007 and that all certified seed be tested. Bayer and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) supported that plan even though LLRice601 is no longer a regulated product in the U.S. The rice federation and USDA made the same recommendations for CL131 in 2007 and also ordered devitalization or disposal of remaining CL131 seed.

With those actions in mind, CFIA said that to “reduce the regulatory burden” it would not continue its monitoring program for either variety and ended its border alert for LLRice601.

However, CFIA encouraged rice importers to continue certifying and independent testing of long-grain shipments at least until the end of the 2007 rice harvest, after which the agency plans to reassess the situation.

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