Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson
As part of an ongoing US effort to purge contaminating transgenic traits from rice varieties, the state plant board of Arkansas has banned the BASF rice variety Clearfield 131. Clearfield 131, which is a popular variety with non-GM tolerance to Newpath Herbicide is a popular variety for growers with red rice problems and its loss is likely to be a major setback for many growers.
The banning of Clearfield 131 was originally proposed on the grounds that it is contaminated with the Bayer rice event LL62 that is not approved outside the USA, but it has within the last few days become apparent that Clearfield 131 is also contaminated with another Bayer LL trait whose identity is unknown. The only fact known about this event at present is that it does not correspond to any transgenic event approved by any regulators anywhere. The board’s action follows banning of the variety Cheniere by USDA for the 2007 and 2008 growing seasons because of its contamination with the Bayer Liberty Link transgenic trait LL601 and these two decisions have severely restricted the choices available to rice farmers across the US.
Mexico, the largest importer of US rice, has become the latest country to require certification that US rice is free of LL601 and prices of US rice futures have consequently fallen again. US rice exports are down approximately 30% on a year ago.