State's Ag Chief Sees No Threat to Rice Eaters or Environment

SEPTEMBER 1, 2006 - Posted at 7:30 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - State Agriculture Secretary Richard Bell says the discovery of trace amounts of unapproved genetically engineered rice in U.S. long-grain rice supplies poses no threat to either consumers or the environment.

Bell has briefed state legislators on the issue.  He says it's mostly a regulatory and marketing concern.  Bell says he has gone through three similar episodes during his 18 years with the federal Agriculture Department and 27 years with Riceland Foods of Stuttgart, the world's largest rice miller and marketer.

He says all those cases...corn blight, problems with wheat exports to Japan, and dioxin mixed with soybean meal, went through similar stages...a search for answers, followed by turmoil and, ultimately, the conclusion that the issue was overstated.

He says he thinks the genetic-altered rice issue will follow that same pattern.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)