A comprehensive test of California’s rice seed for the 2007 crop year yielded no detection of genetically modified (GM) traits associated with the Liberty Link gene that appeared in southern-grown U.S. rice in August 2006.

Seed samples were collected by California Crop Improvement and forwarded to a GIPSA-approved laboratory for analysis using the 35S-Bar PCR test to a detection limit of 0.01 percent (0.01%). Over 200 samples were collected. The samples were combined by variety and a total of 73 lots were tested. Testing results are available online at http://www.calrice.org/AB_2622.htm.

“We are very pleased with these results,” commented California Rice Commission president Tim Johnson. “They are consistent with our expectations and will offer our trading partners added assurances that the rice they purchase is free of Liberty Link traits.”

In February, the California Rice Certification Committee (AB 2622 Committee), an independent regulatory body established pursuant to state law, notified public and private breeding programs, seed dealers and holders of farm-saved seed of the testing requirement.

All entities that submitted rice seed for sampling have received a copy of the complete testing results provided by the laboratory and a letter certifying these results.

“In light of the challenges facing the U.S. rice industry, this is a prudent step,” noted Charley Mathews, chairman of the AB 2622 Committee. “The combination of a certification letter and availability of testing results will provide growers clear documentation that seed has been tested, and warehouses and handlers reassurance that the product they are receiving does not contain Liberty Link traits.”

The latest round of seed testing re-affirms the safety of California’s rice seed. California has tested is public seed four times since the discovery of Liberty Link traits in southern rice in August, all with non-detect results for Liberty Link varieties LLRICE601, LLRICE62, LLRICE06 and LLRICE04. None of the GM events in question are present in California, and commercial production of GM rice is currently not occurring in California or elsewhere in the U.S.

On August 18, 2006, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that trace amounts of regulated, genetically engineered (GE) rice were found in samples taken from commercially produced long grain rice. In early March, APHIS announced that two additional GM traits had been discovered in another variety of long grain rice. The trace amounts in question have only been identified in southern long grain rice, in a variety that is not present in California.

For more information about the California Rice Commission and the California rice industry, go to www.calrice.org.