Agence France-Presse reported that the European Union (EU) has tightened controls on imports of Chinese rice products following a growing number of shipments found to be contaminated with unauthorized genetically-modified rice. As a result, Chinese authorities must provide a report on all rice consignments before export, instead of the current random check, the report said.

The move was in response "to an increasing detection of products contaminated with unauthorized genetically-modified (GM) rice," the European Commission said in a statement.

The AFP story notes that the decision was based on an audit from a mission in China carried out by the European Commission's Food and Veterinary Office in March and persistent reports about GM rice in the EU's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed. "The mission's initial findings indicate an uncertainty as to the level, type and number of GM events, which may have contaminated rice products originating in, or consigned, from China," the Commission said.

"They also indicate that there is a risk of further introductions of non-authorized genetically-modified organisms in such rice products."

Chinese rice products contaminated with the unauthorized GM rice Bt63 have been notified through the EU's alert system since September 2006. A control system was set up in April 2008 to prevent the introduction of such rice in Europe but GM rice was detected again later on, the story notes.

The new measures will be reviewed in six months.