Illegal biotech rice imported from the US and China is unlikely to pose a significant threat to public health, the European Food Safety Authority said today (14 September).

On 12 September, the Commission revealed that 33 out of 162 samples of rice imports to Europe contained illegal genetically modified strains.

The EFSA’s GMO Panel reported that the rice contains a newly introduced protein, called PAT, that the EFSA has previously said does not pose a health concern. Apart from this additional protein, the agency said the rice does not differ significantly from conventional rice. However, the EFSA added, at present there is a lack of data to verify this assumption.

Exposure to the LLRICE601 contaminated rice in EU member states cannot be estimated, the GMO Panel continued, because little is known of the levels of LLRICE601 rice in the rice supply.

“Based on the available data, EFSA’s GMO Panel considers that the consumption of imported long grain rice containing trace levels of LLRICE601 is not likely to pose an imminent safety concern to humans or animals,” the Panel commented.