Food Safety

Published on May 30th, 2013 | by Jennifer Kaplan


LL62 Rice and the GMO Database


It all started when I saw a reference to LL62 rice and decided to google it. And that’s how I stumbled upon the GMO Database.

Want to know for which food products or plants gene technology plays a role? The GMO Database contains information on every GM plant that has been approved or is awaiting authorization in the EU.

For example a quick search on “Alcohols, Spirits” yielded this:

Possible application of gene technology: Applications of gene technology are possible in the following ingredients that commonly are found in alcohols/spirits. However, the extent to which a particular product is affected by these possibilities cannot be stated with certainty:

• mainly enzymes for the decomposition of vegetable starch: amylases
• other enzymes break down the remaining carbohydrates from the vegetable cell walls and thus make them accessible for alcoholic fermentation; e.g. cellulases, hemicelluloses, glucanases, xylanases
• for liqueurs: enzymes for the extraction of fruit or herbal extracts (e.g. pectinases)
• especially for liqueurs, whiskey: colorants spirit caramel, annatto
• occasionally for liqueurs: invert sugar

I had no idea that there were any gene technologies possibly  found in alcohols/spirits.

Or a click through to the Processed Foods, specifically, the “Sweeties, Chocolate, and Ice Cream” category, yielded this:

  • Chocolate and biscuits, sweets and ice cream – most of our sweet snacks were made with the help of genetic engineering. You won’t find this information on a label, however, because content from genetically modified crops stays below labeling thresholds, and additives made from GM microorganisms do not require labelling.
  • Sugars from Starch. Sugar beets and sugarcane aren’t the only plants that make things sweet. Starch products such as glucose syrup (corn syrup) are commonly used as sugar by food producers. Even though they’re derived from maize or potatoes, sugars derived from starches are chemically identical to granulated table sugar (sucrose) from conventional sources. When chain-like starch molecules are broken down, the result is a mixture of sugar molecules in the form of a syrup that is easier to process than table sugar. The enzymes (e.g. amylase) used to transform corn starch into glucose syrup are predominantly produced with the help of genetically modified microorganisms.
  • Any ingredient made from converted starch can be involved with genetic engineering in two ways. First, the enzymes used to break down starch are usually made with the help of genetically modified microorganisms. Second, the raw material used as a starch source could be from a genetically modified plant like GM maize. GM maize is commonly grown in the USA, Argentina, and even in parts of Europe.
  • Soy ingredients. Genetic engineering is also difficult to avoid when it comes to lecithin, an emulsifier derived from soy that is used in many chocolates, ice creams, and desserts. Other ingredients commonly used in sweets and desserts that are derived from soy include:
    • Fats, oils, and fat-based coatings
    • Numerous emulsifiers made from modified fatty acids
    Almost 60 percent of the world soybean crop is genetically modified. Europe imports almost all of its soybeans from Brazil, the USA, and Argentina, countries where GM soybean is widespread. “GM-free” soybeans can only be obtained from certain regions of Brazil.
    In order to avoid using GM ingredients and thereby forgo GMO labelling, some food producers have replaced soy with alternative raw materials. For instance, rapeseed or sunflower oil is sometimes used instead of soy oil. It is also possible to replace soy lecithin with other emulsifiers.
  • No sugar yet from GM sugar beet. In North America, cultivation of GM sugar beets started in 2007. Although sugar produced therefrom is approved in the European Union, there is very little of it in the local food assortment so far. Until now only conventional sugar beets are grown in Europe.
  • Additives. Sweets contain a number of additives that are often produced with the help of genetically modified microorganisms:
    • Citric acid (E 330)
    • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin colouring / E 101), vitamin C (ascorbic acid / E 300)
    • The sweetener, aspartame (E 951)
    • Beta-carotene colouring (E 160a)
    • Thickening agent, xanthan (E 415)
    Additives made with the help of genetically modified microorganisms do not require labelling. Additives produced by GM microorganisms are no different from the same substances produced by other methods.

Genetic engineering is used in the production of countless products. Most of them are not affected by labelling requirements.

Still curious about LL62 Rice? This is what the GMO Database has to say:

Trait: Herbicide tolerance, specifically tolerance to glufosinate-containing herbicides (Basta®, Rely®, Finale®,and Liberty®
Application Company: Bayer CropScience

Conclusion: LL62 Rice is as safe as conventional rice and therefore the use is unlikely to have an adverse effect on human or animal health or, in the context of its proposed use, on the environment.



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About the Author

is a former marketing consultant who decided, at the age of fifty, to turn her hand to creative non-fiction. Jennifer continues to write about sustainable food and wine, the intersection of food and marketing and food politics for and is the author of Greening Your Small Business (November 2009, Penguin Group (USA)). She was named one of The 16 Women You Must Follow on Twitter for Green Business. She has four kids, a dog, a hamster and an MBA - follow her on and .

One Response to LL62 Rice and the GMO Database

  1. kelly says:

    Not gonna take any pesticide or fungus-resistant rice! YUK!

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