Genetically engineered rice “contamination.” So what?

The Washington Post reports, “U.S. commercial supplies of long-grain rice [were] inadvertently contaminated with a genetically engineered (GE) variety not approved for human consumption.” There’s nothing new here. The group, Californians for GE-Free Agriculture has chronicled a series of these events.

The problem is that those who plant GE crops are supposed to keep the stuff in their own fields and products and not let it mix with other non-GE foods.

What are the risks?

  • Contamination of other crops and the food supply
  • Domestic and export market losses to countries and companies that don’t want GE food
  • Liability for farmers, handlers, and manufacturers
  • Development of weed resistance

I am not aware of examples of the last bullet.

Part of the goal of opponents of GE foods is to connect the word “contamination” with GE. For example the Californians for GE-Free Agriculture use “contamination” 18 times (once every 37 words) in a 2-page report.

However, I am unaware of any documented examples where the health of anyone was adversely affected by GE foods.

The promise of GE food is to improve the economics of farming and have more food available to feed the hungry. Proponents need to work to accomplish the latter sooner than later. Past posts on this topic are available here and here.

8/19/06 12:02 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.