EXTRACT: The FSA had claimed that Friends of the Earth's challenge should not be allowed to proceed to a hearing because its case was 'unarguable'.
JUDGE GIVES GO AHEAD TO FSA HIGH COURT CHALLENGE OVER GM RICE
Friends of the Earth UK, 21 November 2006 http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/judge_gives_go_ahead_to_fs_21112006.html
A High Court judge has given Friends of the Earth permission to take its legal challenge against the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to a full hearing in the High Court. The environmental campaign group says that the FSA failed to take appropriate action to prevent unauthorised GM rice entering the UK food chain. The FSA had claimed that Friends of the Earth's challenge should not be allowed to proceed to a hearing because its case was 'unarguable'.
Friends of the Earth also argued that the case needs to be heard urgently to ensure that the FSA acts while GM-contaminated rice is still on the market. The FSA has argued that the case is not urgent. The Court  has ordered a hearing be held "as soon as possible" to decide the next steps in the case.
The Court's initial decision follows Friends of the Earth's application for judicial review of the Food Standards Agency's (FSA) failure to take necessary action to prevent UK consumers being exposed to unapproved GM rice in their food. The illegal GM presence stems from an incident in the US where GM rice grown experimentally (BayerCropScience's LL Rice 601) has contaminated commercial long grain rice supplies and been exported around the world. The rice is not approved for human consumption or cultivation anywhere in the world.
Friends of the Earth's Head of Legal, Phil Michaels said:
"The High Court has recognised that this is a serious case which requires a full hearing by the High Court. Three months after the Emergency Decision the Food Standards Agency is still not taking the UK's legal obligations seriously. The FSA's response to the case has been to point the finger at everyone else and to deny that it has any responsibility. Rather than seeking to avoid responsibility the FSA should instead be taking steps to comply with the law and to make sure that proper testing and analysis is carried out throughout the UK so that consumers are not exposed to illegal GM rice."
The Court's decision follows the publication by the FSA last week of its findings that just under 10% of samples collected in UK rice mills were contaminated with the illegal GM rice . Illegal GM material has already been detected in long grain rice from Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Somerfield and the Co-op.
According to the European Commission's amended Emergency Decision any long grain rice imported into the EU from the US must be tested to be demonstrated free of the illegal rice . Furthermore, Member States must take appropriate steps to test rice products already on the market to make sure the illegal variety is not present.
Friends of the Earth claims that the FSA:
has failed to take actions necessary to comply with the requirements of the Emergency Decision to test rice already on the market in the UK;
has failed to ensure that local food authorities investigate or take enforcement action;
has encouraged food businesses to carry on as normal and not to test their rice for contamination or withdraw product.
 Mr Justice Crane