UNCLAS VILNIUS 000902
WARSAW FOR FAS AND FCS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ECON LH
SUBJECT: LITHUANIA SEIZES GENETICALLY MODIFIED RICE
REF: A) STATE 137943, B) VILNIUS 803
Â¶1. (U) Local press reported September 28 that Lithuanian officials
had seized 880 kg of U.S.-exported rice, part of a shipment that the
EU identified as containing genetically modified (GM) rice. This
shipment arrived in Belgium and was then broken up and sent to other
EU countries, including Lithuania. The article also stated that the
EU issued an order on September 26 directing member states to
identify and seize this rice.
Â¶2. (U) The State Food and Veterinary Service (SFVS) confirmed for us
that this EU directive stemmed from the GM rice described in ref A.
As of mid-day September 28, SFVS also confirmed that it had
identified and seized 880 kg of rice belonging to this shipment and
that it expected to finish its search by the end of the day and
issue a full report to the EU on September 29. Most of the rice was
in the possession of "VP Market," which operates the largest retail
chain in Lithuania. SFVS also told us that an "unknown quantity"
had already reached consumers. (SFVS officials foreshadowed these
actions to us when we discussed the potential problems with this
particular rice shipment with them for the first time last month --
Â¶3. (U) SFVS will not test the rice itself. SFVS has determined only
that this rice belonged to the shipment in question; it has not
determined that any of the rice seized in Lithuania is GM. SFVS, in
coordination with EU authorities, plans to return the rice to the
Â¶4. (SBU) Lithuanians are generally poorly informed about
biotechnology, but tend to believe that GM products are somehow
harmful. This story did not receive much attention in the press,
but biotech critics here are likely to use this kind of example to
urge the GOL to remain skeptical about GM products.