Genetically modified (GM) rice is being grown and sold in Hubei province even though it has not been approved for circulation in the market, Greenpeace said yesterday. A research team found that 19 out of 25 samples of rice seed, unmilled and milled rice - collected from seed firms, farmers and wholesalers in four Hubei cities - contained transgenic DNA, indicating it had been modified. Fung Ka-keung, the environmental watchdog's consumer manager in Hong Kong, said the GM rice found in the central province had not been tested for human consumption. Greenpeace estimates that between 950 and 1,200 tonnes of GM rice had entered the rice market after last year's harvest, and that up to 13,500 tonnes might enter the market this year. Hubei is a main rice-exporting province, feeding Guangdong as well as other provinces. It is believed that farmers in Hubei also grew GM rice two years ago. Mr Fung said two of the seed samples contained Bt protein which could - according to laboratory tests - induce allergies in humans. The Bt protein is used in GM rice as an inbuilt pesticide against the rice borer insect. Greenpeace said scientists from the Huazhong Agricultural University in Wuhan initiated the project to develop Bt rice. Mr Fung warned that GM rice could bring about environmental disasters such as killing non-target species like butterflies, giving rise to more troublesome weeds, contaminating natural genetic resources and ruining the soil. Greenpeace urged the mainland to recall and destroy GM rice.