March 10, 2007 / 4:55 AM / 13 years ago

U.S. bans farmers from planting GMO-tainted rice

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday banned farmers from planting a variety of rice containing genetically modified material that has not been approved by the government, and it told growers to destroy any plantings of the seed.

“Testing...has confirmed the presence of trace levels of genetic material not yet approved for commercialization in Clearfield 131 (CL131) rice seed,” USDA said, adding, “This seed is not an option for planting this crop season.”

Government tests confirmed results received from private testing announced on Monday, which prompted USDA to order seed dealers to stop selling the long-grain rice seed.

The agency said that farmers who already planted the seed can either destroy the plants after they sprout or treat them with an herbicide.

Arkansas state officials said the Clearfield variety apparently carried the Liberty Link RICE601 gene material, a genetically modified strain made by Bayer CropScience. The rice variety disrupted the U.S. rice industry last summer after the material was found in commercial bins in Arkansas and Missouri.

BASF Agricultural Products this week said it was removing all Clearfield CL131 rice seed from the marketplace. BASF Agricultural is a unit of German chemical group BASF AG.

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