Immediately following a meeting of its seed committee, the Arkansas Plant Board unanimously voted to send new regulations aimed at purging trace amounts of a LibertyLink (LL) GM trait from the state’s rice supply to public comment.

The new regulations, passed at the Plant Board’s Little Rock headquarters on Dec. 28.

The latest regulations focus on rice seed in the state — including farmer-saved — and come just a week after the planting of Cheniere was banned for 2007. Thus far, Cheniere is the only variety known to contain the offending trait.

The emergency regulation reads:

e. Testing Plant Seed (prior to April 1) 2007. All seed used for planting in 2007 shall undergo testing for the purpose of identifying seed lots that contain variants of LLRice.

1. Testing Labs. All seed samples shall be submitted to a lab that has validated the 35S bar test.

2. Sampling. Any seed sample collected for the purpose of complying with these regulations must be ‘officially drawn’ samples under supervision of Plant Board Inspectors or an employee of another state’s AOSCA member. The Plant Board shall be responsible for submitting the samples for testing, receiving and disbursing test results and maintaining the chain of custody of the samples throughout the sampling and testing process.

3. Seed Source. Any seed anticipated to be used for planting rice must be tested. Seed produced inside Arkansas as well as any seed produced in other states but entering Arkansas through a purchase must be sampled and tested. Purchased seed from other states that has undergone testing under the same protocol as outlined in these regulations and receiving a ‘not detected within the specified detection limits’ and has documentation to present the results shall be exempt from additional testing. All lots of seed, be they bagged or in bulk, shall be subject to these regulations.

4. Participation. Entities having seed, saved from their own production, that is to be used for planting seed, are responsible for contacting the Plant Board and requesting having a sample collected for submission for testing. Information shall be provided to the Plant Board similar to the two year field history required for the Certified Seed Program, due to the emergency situation existing for 2007.”

No seed produced on farms that were involved in production of the Cheniere rice variety in 2005 and 2006 shall be eligible for testing.

5. Testing. The testing protocol (commonly referred to as the 35S bar test) shall be conducted by a lab that has had the validated protocol.

6. Detection Level. Testing shall be conducted to effect detection at the .01 (percent) level with a 95 (percent) confidence interveal.

7. Records Retention. Samples submission forms, results reports and any other records developed in carrying out this testing, shall be retained by the applicant (those entities owning and having the seed lot submitted for testing) and made available for review upon request by (an) authorized representative of the Arkansas State Plant Board.

8. Transfer of Seed. Copies of testing results for individual lots of seed shall be provided to anyone who purchases any portion of the tested lot. Results for all lots, of which any portion was purchased, shall be provided to the purchaser.

9. Authorized for Sale. Any lot of seed tested, utilizing proper protocols, that received a ‘not detected within the specified detection limits’ result, shall be legal for sale.

10. Failed Seed. Any lot of seed that tests ‘detected within the specified detection limits’ for LLRice may undergo a second test if desired by the applicant. A second or ‘new’ sample may be requested for submitting for the second test. Seed lots testing positive in two (2) tests shall be removed from the seed market and must be moved through the grain marketing channels by June 31, 2007, or be destroyed.

11. Exemption. ‘Specialty’ rice producers and millers who handle ONLY those rice varieties with characteristics such as aromatic qualities, that do not enter the grain marketing channels may be exempt from these regulations under specific conditions (including but maybe not limited to):

i. Their seed source can be documented and verified.

ii. Production records can be produced to confirm that NO Cheniere rice was produced on the farm in the past, that no equipment used in rice production on the farm was ever in a situation that would expose the equipment to the presence of Cheniere, and that all seed utilized on the farm came from documented sources and the seed was free of Cheniere.

iii. Records that confirm the specialty rice will not enter the long grain market channels.

e-mail: dbennett@farmpress.com