U.S. rice industry skeptical of new BASF GE traits
Jul. 22, 2011
In light of the hundreds of millions of dollars in losses suffered by the U.S. rice industry from the accidental release of unapproved Bayer biotech rice in 2006, it's easy to understand why industry players had a skeptical reaction to BASF Corporation's plans to develop genetically-engineered (GE) rice with a "yield enhancement" trait.
BASF provided details about their current development of GE rice to the USA Rice Federation (USA Rice) last week during the commodity group's annual business meeting in Dallas.
Federation members "were skeptical not so much about the technology, but about looking at our experience with Liberty Link and not wanting to have a repeat of the market
disruption," said Bob Cummings, senior vice president of USA Rice.
The group was "adamant" that the German-based chemical company, obtain regulatory approval and consumer acceptance of any GE rice prior to commercialization, he added.
The meeting came less than two weeks after Bayer reached a $750 million out-of-court settlement agreement with attorneys representing about 11,000 rice growers who saw the value of their crops plunge after trace amounts of Liberty Link 601 were found in the U.S. long-grain rice supply.
Bayer is partnering with BASF on the latest GE rice project, which aims to develop and commercialize hybrid rice seeds with traits enabling yield increases of at least 10 percent over conventional hybrids.
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