“Disappointing and surprising” were the words California Rice Commission president Tim Johnson used to describe the announcement from Japanese ministry of agriculture that it will begin testing shipments of United States-origin short and medium grain rice and rice stocks in response to detection of Liberty Link 601 (LLRICE601) in commercially produced long grain rice supplies not produced in California.

Extensive testing has already demonstrated that LLRICE601 is not present in the long, medium or short grain foundation or basic seed supplied to California rice farmers.

“California has conducted thorough testing of all foundation and basic seed supplies for rice varieties produced in our state, and those results clearly demonstrate that this Liberty Link event is not present in any California-source rice varieties,” said Johnson. The action taken by Japan is duplicative and unnecessary.”

In late August, the California Rice Experiment Station (RES) released the results of testing conducted on samples of all its foundation and basic seed supplied by the facility to California rice farmers. The results revealed that LLRICE601 is not present in the long, medium or short grain foundation or basic seed; and, secondary testing confirmed that the Liberty Link 62 and Liberty Link 06 events were also undetected.

LLRICE601 has never been used or tested at the RES, and there have been no field trials of this product in California. In the testing conducted by the an independent research lab, samples of 24 varieties of foundation and basic seed were analyzed by using DNA at BioDiagnostics Inc. The Liberty Link event was not detected in high resolution tests in any of the samples.

California is the largest producer of short and medium grain japonica rice in the U.S., and these rice varieties comprise over 95 percent of the state’s annual crop production. Approximately 40 percent of California’s rice is exported annually throughout the international market, and more than half of all California’s medium and short grain rice exports go to Japan each year.

USDA and the FDA have reviewed the available scientific data provided by Bayer CropScience, and have not found any human health, food safety or environmental concerns associated with the rice in question.

California rice production is centered in the Sacramento Valley. California produces more than 500,000 acres of rice annually valued at $500 million dollars.

e-mail: hcline@farmpress.com