Bell: Arkansas Rice Farmers See Effects of Modified Product

OCTOBER 6, 2006 - Posted at 7:54 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Arkansas Agriculture Secretary Richard Bell says state rice farmers are seeing a decline in exports because of the discovery of genetically modified rice.

Bell says the European Union decision to ban the product is not hurting overall prices.  Though, rice suspected of being modified is being turned away from European ports.

At issue is the August discovery in Arkansas rice of the genetically modified strain called L-L-RICE 601.

The variety was genetically engineered by Bayer CropScience to be resistant to the herbicide Liberty.  Bell says a large amount of rice being sent overseas is testing positive for the genetically modified product, which is banned by many European countries.

Arkansas produces about half of the U.S. rice crop, worth $1.8 billion.  Arkansas produced five percent of exports to Europe.

Bell says U.S. officials are hoping to persuade the EU to come to a consensus on testing procedures.

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