Minnesota aims to protect wild rice from genetic modifications 5-29-07

ST. PAUL (AP) - The DNA of Minnesota wild rice gets special protection under a new state law adopted this year with the backing of Indian tribes.

Genetic modifications to wild rice will be watched more closely, with environmental impact statements required and permits controlled by the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board.

The board is also required to keep tabs on genetic modifications to wild rice throughout the country and notify wild rice farmers, tribes and lawmakers if permits for genetically altered wild rice are issued in any state.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Natural Resources will study the current status of natural wild rice and potential threats.

Rep. Frank Moe said it's the first time a state has voted to protect a native crop or species from genetic changes.

“Wild rice is not only historically and economically important for all Minnesotans, it's sacred to the Ojibwe people,” said Moe, DFL-Bemidji. “It's both important food for us and prime fish and duck habitat. We need to study the declining wild rice population and protect against any genetic damage to native wild rice.”