According to US Agriculture Secrertary Mike Johanns, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is engaging trading partners "very, very directly" on the contaminated rice issue.
Just how "directly" may be indicated by this article from South Korea where the Ministry of Agriculture has apparently been lead to understand that "South Korea has not imported U.S. long-grain rice tested positive to contain genetically engineered strains not approved for consumption."
According to an article in The Korea Times - see below - the Ministry is saying that no contaminated rice can have been imported because, "all rice imports from the U.S. are screened by the USDA-run Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration before they are shipped abroad."
How very reassuring. Except, the EPA's former biotech specialist, Dr Doug Gurian-Sherman, tells us that while he doesn't know whether or not USDA is testing every shipment that goes for export, "it would not be for unapproved events or experimental genes from field trials. In most cases, USDA does not even have the needed information - DNA probes or protein tests - to detect these events." That's quite apart, he says, from the question of how thorough any testing is; what the level of detection is, and so on.
The reality seems to be the USDA is clueless about just about everything except the art of offering false reassurances.
No Genetically Modified US Rice Imported to South Korea
The Korea Times, 20 August 2006 http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/biz/200608/kt2006082020574511910.htm
South Korea has not imported U.S. long-grain rice tested positive to contain genetically engineered strains not approved for consumption, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said.
As part of a World Trade Organization-regulated deal, South Korea imported several thousand tons of U.S. rice last year but the shipment did not include the genetically modified LLRICE 601 strain, the ministry said in a statement.
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said that the genetically modified strain, unapproved in the U.S. for consumption, was detected in long-grain rice samples in storage facilities in the states of Arkansas and Missouri.
"The U.S. rice imported to South Korea is different from the one that has been found to contain the strain," a ministry spokesman said.
The ministry said that all rice imports from the U.S. are screened by the USDA-run Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration before they are shipped abroad.
Japan has halted long-grain rice imports from the U.S. after the USDA's announcement, according to Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper.