Bt rice in China
Different transgenic lines have been detected in food imported from China since 2005, even though there is no commercial cultivation of genetically engineered rice in China. In most cases, these are Bt rice lines Bt63 and KeFeng6. Bt63 was first tested in field trials around the year 2000, probably when scientists from a federal university in the Hubei region sold Bt63 to regional farmers without official authorisation. In 2011, German authorities found trace amounts of non-approved transgenic rice in 16 of 561 samples of imported foodstuff from China. According to the EU Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF, 2013) in 2013, most cases of unapproved GMOs into the EU are still due to transgenic rice from China. Even though there are still no studies on the background and dimension of the spread of Bt rice through the rural seed systems in China, there are indications that transgenic rice has permanently introgressed into Chinese rice seed systems. Hybridisation with weedy rice may be one of the ways in which transgenic rice is spreading.
If genetically engineered rice is planted in regions where wild rice grows as weedy rice, transgenes can cross-pollinate with wild or weedy forms. Wild rice is widespread in many rice cultivation areas and gene flow between wild and cultivated rice forms growing in vicinity is extensive.