WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Turkish media reports that individuals from three companies in the rice import business have been arrested for failure to comply with Turkey's biosafety law, alleging that rice imported by these firms and placed on the Turkish market contains unapproved genetically modified (GM) traits, USA Rice Federation said on April 9. Two of the companies are involved because of imports of U.S. medium-grain paddy rice from the mid-South.

No GM rice is produced commercially in the U.S.; the Liberty Link GM trait found in the commercial long-grain supply in 2006 has been effectively eliminated; and no GM traits have ever been detected in U.S. medium-grain rice.

The U.S. embassy in Turkey has communicated to senior levels of the Turkish government the lack of GM rice production in the U.S. and the embassy's great concern over the lack of rigor in the sampling and testing of imported U.S. rice for GM presence.

Several of the U.S. rice cargoes in question have undergone multiple GM tests, with legal action being taken following a positive test result. Turkey's biosafety law prohibits importing and placing on the market agricultural goods containing unapproved GM traits, even if those traits are at low levels and caused by in-transit contamination from a previous cargo containing a GM product.
Turkey imported 147,757 tonnes of U.S. rice in 2012, valued at $63 million. Consumers in Turkey prefer medium-grain rice, and importers source from the mid-South and California. Paddy rice predominates, and accounted for 72% of total imports from the U.S. last year. USA Rice will continue to assist the Office of Agricultural Affairs at the U.S. embassy and to educate customers and consumers in Turkey about U.S. rice's high quality, safety and lack of GM presence.