Throwing their weight behind farmers protesting Genetic Engineered (GE) rice trials, rice exporters beseeched the Government to "pay heed" to "Chinese and US rice scandals" and warned of "disastrous consequences for the country, the industry, and farmers." The All India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA), considered an apex body of rice exporters, backed the demands of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) and a host of non-Governmental Organizations asking that the field trials in 10 locations across the country be stopped.
AIREA says that "Trace contamination of GE rice in US commercial consignments have been ruthlessly rejected by all 25 countries of the EU. The Middle East also has an equally unrelenting policy on GM (genetically modified) foods. Indian rice is GE-free today, therefore we urge all stakeholders to reopen the debate and make necessary mid-course corrections if we want to remain a serious agricultural exporter." India is the largest producer and exporter of Basmati with 1.15 million tons worth Rs 3030 crore (USD 656 million) in 2005-06 and this rice is primarily grown in Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttaranchal and exports are mainly to West Asia, EU, and the US. They fear that continued trials with lax monitoring or controls may significantly affect their export potential.
All organizations fighting GE rice say that Bayer's GE LL Rice has significantly contaminated US rice stock, rice products in Europe and West Asia. They say that "Countries like Japan and the EU have already placed restrictions for the US long grain rice" and they do not want the same status for Indian Basmati rice which enjoys a premium "higher price" since "they feel that it is the best Basmati in the international market." GE trials and adoption will corrode this intrinsic brand value.
They all complain that they alone cannot identify the fields testing these products as the "government is making all attempts to keep these trials secret."