Louisiana is in the peak of rice planting season and Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., is reminding farmers that all rice for the planting of seed rice, commercial production and crawfish, are required to be tested.
The testing requirement is the result of a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finding in 2006 in which trace amounts of a genetically modified trait, LibertyLink 601 (LLtraits), was discovered in the U.S. rice supply, according to a spokesperson for the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. While the USDA concluded that no human health, food safety, or environmental concerns were associated with the genetically modified rice, marketing such rice was difficult. When rice importing countries expressed concerns about genetically modified rice, the European Union (EU) stated that countries in the EU would not buy rice contaminated with LL traits.
“Maintaining markets for Louisiana rice is vital to both Louisiana’s rice industry and to Louisiana’s overall economy. The embargo by the EU and the threat of an embargo by other rice importing countries created harm to Louisiana’s economy,” added Strain.
In order to avoid any embargo of U.S. rice originating from Louisiana, in 2007 the LDAF Seed Commission passed regulations requiring the testing of all seed rice, regardless of planting purpose, for the LL 601 gene. Those regulations remain in place today.
LDAF samples and tests 100 rice samples annually from Louisiana rice and crawfish producers.
The initial contaminated rice was purged from the rice supplies, and the U.S. rice industry has remained LL 601 gene free for more than a decade as a result of the sampling and testing requirements.
For additional information, or to request a sample collection, producers should contact the LDAF Seed Programs Division by phone at 225-925-4733 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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