The unapproved genetically modified organism that contaminated BASF long grain rice seed is safe for human consumption, USDA said Thursday.
USDA confirmed BASF findings when it identified the GMO in BASF's non-biotech Clearfield 131 rice as Bayer's Liberty Link 604 rice, a biotech variety that USDA has determined to be safe for consumption but has not approved. The contaminants were experimental seeds, USDA says. The protein in the unapproved Liberty Link rice is USDA-approved in biotech corn, canola and soybeans.
Because Liberty Link 604 rice is still unapproved, farmers still may not plant Clearfield 131 this year. Rice produced from Clearfield 131 seeds in previous years will not be banned from processing mills, USDA Undersecretary Bruce Knight told Dow Jones Newswires, but it is still unknown if any contamination occurred in seed planted last year.
Knight says that U.S. farmers planted between 300,000 and 500,000 acres of Clearfield 131 last year, out of 2.84 million total acres of rice.