NEW SET-BACK FOR GMO CROPS IN EUROPE - Bayer withdraws GMO oilseed rape
GM crops created superweed, say scientists
US says Cyprus ties could suffer over GMO plan
Biotech crop policy in EU gets rethink after rebuff
EU ministers uphold sovereign right to ban GMOs
EU MINISTERS VOTE TO KEEP GM FOOD BANS - Commission defeated
Mrs Beckett Urged to Support GM free Zones
GM maize has risks and side effects
Court orders Monsanto to make scandal report public
Mandelson wants to fast-track GM
Italy calls for independent EU research on GMOs
ILLEGAL GM MAIZE SHOULD BE RETURNED TO USA
Tainted biotech maize impounded at Irish port
Hungarian Academy of Sciences professor warns of impacts on biodiversity and industry pressure
Monsanto denies rat research reports on GM corn
The Pieces of the New “Model” are Becoming Visible
Revealed: health fears over secret study into GM food
GM sweetcorn from Monsanto rejected by EU states, again
Safeguarding Sustainable European Agriculture
EU ministers reject GM ingredient, again
DECLARATION OF ONE THOUSAND GMO-FREE ZONES IN IRELAND
ITALY: GO AHEAD NOW TO GMO-FREE PRODUCE
Stalking Genetically Modified Corn
US sent banned corn to Europe for four years
EU nations to ban suspect corn imports
EU MOVES TO RESTRICT US MAIZE IMPORTS - FOE calls for industry to pay the costs
Europeans to Toughen Rules on Animal Feed From US
EU set to ban US maize feed after GM scare
ATTITUDES OF SLOVENIAN INHABITANTS TOWARDS CONSUMING OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS
EU mulls U.S. trade ban in illegal GMO import row
Encouraging news from Spain
Commission seeks clarification on Bt10 from US authorities and Syngenta
GMO CROP SCANDAL - TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE - Commission only acts after 10 days
GMO CORN SCANDAL - SYNGENTA MISLED THE WORLD - European Commission urged to take action - 30 March 2005
EU Seeks Advice on Long-Term Effects of GMO Crops - Reuters - 30/3/2005
The European Commission has published a call for tenders for a study on the cumulative long-term effects of genetically modified (GM) crops
Greenpeace welcomes Polish ban on Monsanto maize - 22 March 2005
Half of Poland Declares Itself GMO Free Zone
BROAD SUPPORT IN THE COUNCIL FOR AUSTRIAN CONCERNS ON CULTIVATION OF GM MAIZE
AUSTRIA'S CONTINUED STRONG STANCE AGAINST CONTAMINATION OF CROPS AND FOOD BY GM VARIETIES
EXPOSED - EUROPE'S INCONSISTENT APPROACH TO GMOS - Leaked documents reveal EU arguments at the WTO - February 2005
WE WON'T SELL IT! - Majority of EU retailers say no to GE - 3rd February 2005
Strong anti-GM signals from Council of Europe - Environment Daily - 27/01/05
Information on the Amendment to Germany´s Genetic Modification Act passed on the 25th November 2004
EU's Fischer Boel wants lowest GMO level in seeds - Reuters, 8th October, 2004
Holland: support us in having a GMO's free city - Wed, 25 Aug 2004
100 days of GMO labelling; consumer rejection holds
Spain to seek independent advice on biotech crops - MADRID (AFP) Jun 22, 2004
NEW EUROPE BLOCKS U.S. FOOD IMPORT
GM FOOD AND THE DEMISE OF THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE
German Parliament demands GM labelling at detection level - May 2004
Syngenta's GM sweet corn will not make an appearance
Petition calls for strict labelling of genetically modified seeds - 3rd May 2004
Spanish GM soya blocked - Thursday 29th April 2004
Spain has withdrawn a GMO from the market at the request of the EU.
No go for GMO - 26/4/04
GM-FREE EUROPE - New campaign launched to protect food and farming
April 2004 - GENETICALLY MODIFIED SWEET CORN - 10 reasons not to approve Bt11 Sweet Corn
Moratorium on GMO Proliferation Sought in Bulgaria - 21st March 2004
Save Our Seeds - 29/3/04 - campaign update
Cereal killer: GM giant culls top jobs in Europe - 29 February 2004
EU on line to prohibit GM oilseed rape crops - The Guardian, 3rdFebruary 2004
European Union Environment Commissioner, Margot Wallstrom, on the biotech industry
EU: Court allows Italy and other countries to temporarily ban GM food - 9 Sep 2003
European Union farm ministers give formal approval to plans for the labelling of all genetically modified food and animal feed - July 2003
Italian court rejects company bid to save GM maize
Americans angered by European curbs on GM - 3 July 2003
Jose Bove - June-August 2003
European Parliament Environment Committee calls for legislation on CO-EXISTENCE
EGYPT WITHDRAWS FROM WTO GM COMPLAINT - May 28
America jumps the gun on GM - 14 May 2003
Important legislation passing through Europe in 2003 and 2004
French court acquits anti-GMO protesters - http://euronews.net/create_html.php?page=detail_info&article=325334&lng=1
A court in Orleans, France, has acquitted 49 people for having destroyed genetically modified crops in 2004 and 2005. The acquittal is the first of its kind, and although the plaintiff, American seeds giant Monsanto, is to appeal against the decision, the anti-GMO lobby is claiming the ruling is a great victory. Protestor Francois Dufour said: "There should be no GMO's in our fields, and the ruling confirms this. It encourages us to continue to influence the political debate and eliminate GMO's from agriculture," he said after the verdict.
The judges said the protesters "proved that they committed voluntary acts of damage on the goods of a third party in response to the needs of the situation ... a necessity driven by the uncontrolled release of modified genes that constitutes a real and present danger, and may be a source of undesired contamination and pollution". The protesters also claim France's position is illegal, as EU legislation has been incorrectly copied into French statutes, ignoring Brussels' demand that" detailed and accurate environmental risks" must be evaluated.
The 5-year moratorium is now part of the Swiss constitution.
SAG and Blueridge-Institute (www.gentechfrei.ch and www.blauen-institut.ch) - 29.11.2005 - by Florianne Koechlin and Daniel Ammann
Switzerland voted in favour of a 5-year moratorium for commercial cultivation of genetically engineered plants and animals on Sunday, 27.11.2005. The moratorium does not apply for research into GMOs, nor does it stop import of GMO-food or feed. It is a spectacular victory: 55,7% of voters accepted the initiative (people's referendum), as well as all 26 cantons of Switzerland. Even Basel, seat of Syngenta, Novartis and Roche, said Yes to the 5-year moratorium, with 50,8 %, while the canton Jura had with 75,9% the highest majority. 1'125 357 people voted for the initiative, 896'372 against it.
The Swiss 'initiative' is an instrument of direct democracy. A group launching such an initiative has to collect over 100'000 signatures, the request has to conform with Swiss constitution. Our initiative was submitted on 18.9.2003. After discussion in Government and Parliament it was submitted to the voters on 27.11.2005. Every Swiss person over 18 could vote. An initiative is won when a majority of all people as well as a majority of all cantons say Yes. If it is won, it becomes part of the Swiss Constitution.
In the history of Switzerland only 15 initiatives were won; it's a rare event, and if so, it's mostly very tight. In this light the extremely clear result of the moratorium-initiative is even more encouraging. Add to this that the Government, the Parliament, all conservative parties (having a majority in Switzerland), industry and mainstream science opposed the initiative, leading an aggressive and emotional campaign (the government announced: "The moratorium is poison for research", big adds claimed: "The moratorium is dishonest and superfluous")
A new and very broad coalition made this victory possible. All farmers organisations, also the conservative ones, joined in with ecological and consumer groups. (A few weeks before the vote a 'farmers committee against the moratorium' came up; managing director was an ex-Syngenta man). 96 scientists signed a declaration for the moratorium (while the opposition came up with a declaration of 171 scientists). A true grassroot movement campaigned for the initiative, in every village, in town districts, everywhere. Over 1000 Members of national and cantonal Parliaments were active for the moratorium, as well as retailers, groups of farmers, scientists, women.
The victors of the referendum ask the federal authorities to immediately put the implementation in hand:
1. The federation has to boost, encourage consistently a strategy of quality in agriculture (Agrarpolitik 2011), in processing of food as well as food trade. Switzerland has to lead the way in Europe for the production of gmo-free food and the breeding of gmo-free seed.
2. The federation may not make international agreements during the next five years that contradict a gmo-free agriculture (WTO, free trade agreement).
3. The gene technology law has to be concretised according to the will of the public: coexistence, GMO-monitoring and biosafety need clear regulation, that guarantee after expiration of the moratorium the protection of the gmo-free agriculture. Genetically modified plants of the so called "first generation", which are plants with tolerance of herbicides or which contain Bt-genes should not be cultivated.
4. The federal authorities should assure the international development of ecological as well as social problems caused by agro-biotechnology.
5. The research in agriculture has to orientate himself on the needs of society and agriculture. Research has to be strenthen in organic agriculture. Research based on genetic engineering in the area of agriculture has to face up criticism and scepticism of the public. A main focus has to be put on biosafety research.
6. Imports of genetically modified food and feed have to be documented in a public statistics. Imports as well as research with deliberate release have to be regulated, the gmo-free agriculture is in no way to be put at risk.
Austria to launch EU-wide GMO debate after Swiss referendum - By Lucia Kubosova - EUobserver.com, 29 November 2005
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Austria is planning to hold a pan-European debate about genetically-modified (GM) farming, following strong Swiss support for a five-year ban on gene technology in a referendum on Sunday (27 November). Vienna will take over the EU's six-month rotating presidency in January and aims to host a conference about GM crops on 4-5 April, the country's agriculture minister Josef Proell has announced. Austria is one of the staunchest opponents of GM technology in the EU and is sticking to its own ban on modified plants within its territory. Along with Italy, Austrian authorities indicated they view the Swiss vote as strong proof of the European public's opposition to GM farming. Although Switzerland is not a member state of the EU, the result of the referendum will "make people think," Italian agriculture minister Gianni Alemanno commented.
Swiss citizens supported a five-year moratorium on the farming of genetically modified plants and animals, paving the way for introduction of the strictest restrictions yet in Europe. Over 55 percent of voters backed the moratorium, with a majority supporting the move in all 26 of the country's regions or "cantons." The decision forces the Swiss government to impose a full moratorium on the cultivation of GM crops and the import of animals whose genes have been modified in the laboratory, despite officials' pro-GM feeling. But the new law will not forbid import of genetically modified food or ban research into GMOs (genetically-modified organisms).
Swiss campaigners say they co-operated with groups from the EU and expect the Swiss result to generate strong popular backing for similar moves across the EU. But the biotechnology sector fears that a Europe-wide anti-GMO trend could stifle research. The European Commission declined to comment on the result of the Swiss vote on Monday, but confirmed it would study its implications for future trade relations with the Alpine federation. The EU executive last year lifted a six-year moratorium on the sale of GM foods. Some of the bloc's member states, like Spain, the UK and the Netherlands argue that Europe has sufficient safeguards in place and should move ahead on GM farming. But several other countries insist new tests must be carried out before allowing widespread farming of GM crops. Spain is currently the only EU country with large areas given over to GM crops.
Switzerland 'backs GM crop ban' - BBC News, Sunday 27 November 2005 - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4475044.stm
Swiss voters have approved a five-year ban on the use of genetically modified crops, partial results from Sunday's referendum suggest. Results from most of the country's 26 cantons show that more than 55% have voted in favour of the moratorium. Supporters of the ban include farmers, who believe that the introduction of GM crops would undermine organic produce. But the biotechnology industry had campaigned against the ban, saying the country must accept new developments. The BBC Imogen Foulkes in Berne says the Swiss have long been suspicious of genetically modified crops. Only one tiny experimental GM crop of wheat has ever been grown on Swiss soil, by scientists at the University of Zurich. Surveys show Swiss consumers would not buy GM produce.
The EU lifted its own moratorium on GM crops last year. Switzerland, although not a member of the EU, was under pressure to do the same.
Swiss agree to 5-year GMO farming ban - Reuters, Sun Nov 27, 2005
ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland voted in favor of a five-year ban on the use of genetically modified plants and animals in farming on Sunday, putting in place some of the toughest measures in Europe. Results of the referendum, compiled by Swiss television SF DRS, showed that 55 percent of voters had accepted the proposal to place a five-year moratorium on GMO crops and the import of genetically modified animals. A majority of Switzerland's 26 cantons had also accepted the ban, SF DRS said. Officials are expected to confirm the national result later on Sunday. Final results take months to be published. The measures will force the Swiss government to put in place some of the toughest legislations on GMOs in Europe. In the 25-nation European Union that surrounds Switzerland, restrictions apply to specific crops only and are temporary in nature, rather than the blanket ban proposed by Swiss ecologists and consumer groups. The proposal is supported by Swiss farmers, many of whom are considering moving into the booming organic farming business in response to moves to cut traditional agricultural subsidies. Under the country's legislative system, the Swiss electorate is regularly asked to vote on major decisions. However, while the vote has a symbolic meaning, a ban will mean very little change from current practice, said those who opposed the motion. [because it was already so difficult to grow GMOs]
Swiss back GMO moratorium and labour law - swissinfo November 27, 2005 1:47 PM
Swiss voters have backed a call for a five-year ban on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Swiss agriculture. Near-final results show almost 56 per cent of voters approving a people's initiative for a temporary ban on GMOs. All the country's 26 cantons backed the proposals by environmentalists and consumer groups. The ballot on the GMO moratorium comes after parliament passed a new law in 2003, which allows GM crops in Switzerland under certain conditions. Supporters of the proposal argue GMOs are neither in the interest of consumers nor of Swiss farmers, and that a moratorium is an opportunity for farmers to improve their marketing for natural production methods.
Consumers and research
The government, the business community, as well as the main centre-right and rightwing parties, all came out against a temporary ban on GMOs. They argue the current law contains enough safety guarantees and a ban could be detrimental to biotechnology research in the country. But the lobby groups, supported by the Greens and the centre-left Social Democrats, say their aim is not to oppose research but to allow time to consider the potential risks of GMOs. The electorate overwhelmingly voted down a far-reaching ban on GMOs in 1998.
Commission authorises Danish state aid to compensate for losses due to presence of GMOs in conventional and organic crops
European Commission, PRESS RELEASE - 23 November 2005
The European Commission has today authorised Denmark to pay compensation in cases where farmers with conventional or organic production suffer economic losses when genetically modified (GM) material is found in their crops. This is the first case where the Commission has authorised such state aid. The compensation will be granted only if the presence of GM material exceeds 0.9% and is limited to the price difference between the market price of a crop that has to be labelled as containing GM material and a crop for which no such labelling is required. The compensation is entirely financed by obligatory contributions from farmers who cultivate genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The admixture of conventional crops with GM material may cause economic losses to the farmer with conventional crops if his products have to be labelled as containing GM material and he gets a lower price for them. This is in particular the case with products from organic farming. At this point no insurance products against this risk exist in the European Union. The Danish compensation scheme institutes a compensation fund, wholly financed by the producers of GM crops with an annual parafiscal tax of DKR 100 per hectare of land cultivated with such crops, to cover the economic losses due to admixture with GM material. The scheme is administered by the Danish authorities.
Compensation may be paid only to farmers and if the amount of GM material exceeds 0.9 % of the conventional or organic crop, which means that the product has to be labelled as containing GMOs, as provided by EU law (Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 on genetically modified food and feed). The amount of compensation is limited the price difference (based on official market prices) between the GM crop and conventional or organic crops. The payment of compensation does not free the GM farmer from any civil or criminal liability under Danish law. The Danish authorities will in all cases take action to recover the compensation paid from the farmer from whose fields the GM material has spread. The compensation fund will be replaced by private insurance as soon as such is available. The duration of the compensation scheme is limited to 5 years.
The Commission finds that such aid contributes to a successful co-existence of GM crops with conventional and organic crops, not the least because it is wholly financed by the Danish farmers with GM crops and ends when insurance products covering the risk of admixture become available on the Community market. Such aid appears to improve the structures of agricultural production in a way that is compatible with Community policy concerning such co-existence. Therefore the Commission has approved the aid on the basis of EU state aid rules (Article 87(3)(c) of the EC Treaty).
The text of the decisions will shortly be made available on the Internet at http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgb/droit_com/index_en.htm#aides under the aid number 568/2004..
Ireland's role as biotech stooge - http://www.gmfreeireland.org/(scroll down the page)
In 1997, Fianna Fail issued a policy statement promising never to allow GMO crops in Ireland. But following a White House luncheon with US National Security Adviser Sandy Berger on St. Patrick's Day 1998, Bertie Ahern has actively supported the biotech industry's efforts to force GM food and crops into Europe. Ireland has never voted against legalising GM crops in the European Parliament against the wishes of 70% of consumers and the majority of Member States.
Just before leaving office in late 2005, EU President Pat Cox and EU Healh and Consumer Affairs Commissioner David Byrne ended the de facto moratorium on GM crops by legalising 17 varieties of Monsanto GM maize, to the great annoyance of other EU governments. In 2002, EU Joint Research Centre CEO Dr. Barry McSweeney attempted to suppress the publication of the EC's official Scenarios for Co-existence report on the feasibility of introducing GM crops in EU member states. The report concluded that GM crops inevitably contaminate conventional and organic crops and may cause 40% higher production costs for EU farmers. McSweeney wrote to the EC recommending that the report should not be made public, stating "given the sensitivity of the issue, I would suggest that the report be kept for internal use within the Commission only..". McSweeney's ties to the biotech industry include being a former Director of BioResearch Ireland and Biocon Biochemicals. In 2004, Tanaiste Mary Harney appointed him to the new post of Chief Scientific Officer of Ireland. In October 2005 it emerged that McSweeney bought his PhD from the so-called Pacific Western University, an online institution which US authorities describe as a diploma mill.
Food Safety Authority of Ireland CEO Dr. John O'Brien is a former Director of the International Life Sciences Institute, a Washington-based biotech & tobacco industry front group which infiltrated scientific commitees of the World Health Organisation and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation in order to downgrade tobacco health warnings and downplay the evidence that high levels of sugar in junk foods cause childhood obesity and diabetes. Monsanto Ireland managing director Dr. Patrick O'Reilly told the Royal Irish Academy that it doesn't matter that GM crops would inevitably contaminate Irish farmers and put organic farmers out of business.
Why does the Irish Times repeatedly deny the evidence of GM health and environmental risks? Irish Times Trust chairman and TCD Genetics professor David McConnell is Co-chair of EAGLES (European Action on Global Life Sciences, an agri-biotech lobby group). Despite opposition by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland has authorised the sale of GM animal feed and food. The Department of Trade and Enterprise has authorised 82 GMO patents. The Department of Agriculture's consultation procedure for a National Strategy on the "co-existence" of GMO crops excludes 80% of the stakeholders and fails to comply with the Aarhus Convention laws on public participation.
This government's fundamentalist pro-GM role as biotech industry stooge will condemn future generations to a perpetual biological colonialism with no possibility of liberation. The only way to prevent this government-led disaster is to deal with it now before it happens. As Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world!"
Greenpeace blocks ship in Poland - Staff and agencies - By Malgorzata Rakowiec - Reuters, 17 November, 2005
GDYNIA, Poland (Reuters) - Rough seas on Thursday forced Greenpeace activists to give up a blockade of a ship they say carried 25,000 tonnes of genetically modified (GMO) Argentinian soya to Poland. In part of a campaign for a wider ban on GMO crops, protestors tied themselves and a rubber dinghy to the ship's anchor chain after it moored, preventing it from docking. They were forced to call off the protest after five hours as the weather worsened in the Baltic coast port and temperatures plunged to below zero. "The weather just got too bad and we couldn't risk the lives of the people attached to the anchor," said Polish official Maciej Muskat. "Unless the weather gets any better and we can try again, it seems like the boat will land its cargo."
Production of genetically modified crops is banned in Poland but imports are not, and Greenpeace wants firms, including U.S. hog and pork producer Smithfield, to stop feeding pigs with modified soya at its Polish farms. "It cannot be the case that Poles do not have an influence on what they eat," Muskat said. "GMO production harms people and destroys the environment and we must oppose it." Campaigners say gene-altered strains threaten to destroy local ecosystems through cross-pollination, and say they contribute to deforestation and lower soil fertility. The manufacturers say the products are safe.
The Warsaw office of U.S. firm Cargill, which Greenpeace identified as the importer of the shipment, had no immediate comment. GMO foods are gaining acceptance around the world [???], but have run into strong resistance in the European Union where many consumers fear what they view as "Frankenstein" foods. Greenpeace says the import of shipments of modified soya from Argentina to Poland, the largest food producer among the EU's new member states, has risen six-fold in the last five years. Warsaw's new government said last week it wanted to make Poland a "GMO-free" zone. "We are counting on this government, after the prime minister's comments, to be more sympathetic to what we are fighting for," Muskat said. "Certainly it is more so than the last government."
Poland parliament approves minority govt - www.chinaview.cn 2005-11-11 [shortened] http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-11/11/content_3764791.htm
WARSAW, Nov. 10 (Xinhuanet) - Poland's minority government under the leadership of Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz was approved on Thursday after winning a vote of confidence in parliament. The 460-seat lower house of parliament endorsed the newly-elected cabinet by 272 to 187 with no abstentions. The cabinet, mainly comprising members of Marcinkiewicz's conservative Law and Justice party, also received support from three other parties, the far-right League of Polish Families (LPR),the Samoobrona, and the Peasants' Party. The approval came seven weeks after parliamentary elections, which gave the Law and Justice party 27 percent of the vote. Analysts say the new cabinet, lacking a majority in the parliament, could be plagued by instability in the longer term. Marcinkiewicz appealed to other parties in the parliament to back his cabinet in a crucial policy speech before the vote. "If you back this ambitious program, which is important for Poland, then ... we will mend the state, we will change our country," he said. Marcinkiewicz promised in the speech to push forward the Polish economy with "pragmatic policies." The new leader also said his government aimed to develop agriculture and rural areas. He pledged Poland would remain a country free of genetically-modified crops while bio-fuel development would be given priority.
Germany plans illegal law on GMOs - Press Release - The Institute for Nature Protection and Nature Protection Law, Tuebingen
The future German government - a coalition of Social Democrats and Christian Democrats - on November 10th 2005 reached an agreement on a new German Genetic Engineering Law. The draft provisions de facto repeal liability for contamination of GMO-free agriculture and take away any incentive for GMO-farmers to take care of their GMO-free neighbors. But the new provisions contravene both German and European law:
1. Following the law of the WTO and EU-law the German Constitution favors a market economy basically free of state influence. The entrepreneur has the right to take the profit of his activities but also has to burden the risks of it. The corollary of this principle is that a company may not generate profits at the expense of the taxpayer. As regards the environment this tenet is even part of the EC-Treaty as Art. 174 explicitly stipulates the polluter pays principle. If the state via a fund bears the costs of GMO contamination inflicted on conventional or organic farmers, he infringes Art. 174 EC-Treaty. Apart from that, it also constitutes an illegal state aid according to Art. 87 EC Treaty because this subsidy distorts the competition between GMO and GMO-free produce.
2. But even a fund completely financed by private companies wouldn't be compatible with long standing tenets of German civil law. According to § 906 German Civil Code a polluter who inflicts damage to his neighbor has to pay compensation even if he complies with good professional practice or other civil obligation. The reason for that is simple: neighbors are bound together in a very special way .They depend in their personal and commercial existence on their plot of land. If there are incompatible uses of the adjacent properties they can't evade this conflict. So the only way to strike a just balance between two neigbors, who both carry out legally admitted activities but nevertheless harm each other is to allow the noxious activity but in turn grant the neighbor compensation claims. This strict liability has been a long standing tenet of German adjacent law right from the beginning until today. If the proposed law would change that in case GMOs are involved the legislator would act arbritrarily and thus breach the prinicple of equality stipulated in Art. 3 of the German Constitution. This unequal treatment specially designed to promote the GMO industry would be a severe discrimination against all GMO-free farmers.
3. But even if the proposed privilege for GMO farmes is not considered as foiling German adjacent law, there is an overwhelming chance, that the concrete design of the new liability rules will run against fundamental guarantees of the German Consitution such as the protection of property of GMO-free farmers (Art. 14) and the obligation of all state powers to protect the environment (Art. 20a). Besides it would also be a breach of Europen law such as the Convention on Biodiversity which the EU is contracting of or the precautionary principle as laid down in Art. 174 EC-Treaty.
The Institute for Nature Protection and Nature Protection Law, Tuebingen
Dr. Christoph Palme, environmental lawyer, Ursrainer Ring 81, D- 72076 Tuebingen www.institut.naturschutzrecht.net
Phone/Facsimile +49 7071 687038 Mobile 0163 435 4160 Christoph.firstname.lastname@example.org
International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside
We are pleased to be able to report that the board of Opole Province have just reached the decision to declare their Province a GMO Free Zone. This is another significant step forward for our campaign for a GMO Free Poland! It brings the total number of Provinces to have declared GMO Free status to 14 (around 90% of the total area of Poland)..... and leaves just 2 to go. We were active in Opole earlier in the year, addressing a public meeting and lobbying board members, so it is good to see that these actions have born fruit. There are many large farms in the Province and the area is a likely target for Monsanto and Pioneer, so this decision is particularly welcome.
With greetings, Jadwiga and Julian
International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside (ICPPC), 34-146 Stryszów 156, Poland tel./fax +48 33 8797114 email@example.com
www.icppc.pl www.eko-cel.pl www.gmo.icppc.pl
In April 2002, ICPPC was awarded the Goldman Prize - Ecological Nobel. In June 2002, ICPPC's headquarter, were visited by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales.
Russia is cautious about GM foods - United Press International, October 25 2005 -
MOSCOW, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Russian scientists say they must study the implications of genetically modified food before such food is widely introduced in their nation.
"Genetically modified plants and animals may cause completely unexpected processes and consequences," Irina Yermakova, a senior scientist at the Institute for Higher Neural Activity and Neurophysiology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said. She made the statement during a seminar Tuesday at a science conference in Moscow. The scientist called for more extensive research into the impact of GM organisms on people, the Novosti news agency reported. She said an experiment, which involved feeding rats GM soy, had revealed high mortality rates and growth retardation among offspring. Yermakova also proposed a ban on imports of transgenic products. Those attending the seminar called for adoption of safety requirements for GM foods and mechanisms to verify compliance with such requirements, RIA Novosti said.
Rejection of GE Food Spreads in Eastern Europe - http://www.commondreams.org/news2005/1018-06.htm
MOSCOW, Russia - Greenpeace today published evidence that consumers and food producers in Poland and Russia have become strong opponents against genetically engineered (GE) food. In Poland, an opinion poll commissioned by Greenpeace shows that 76% of Polish consumers do not wish to eat food products that contain GE ingredients, such as GE soya and GE maize (1). The Russian Consumers' Guide (2) reveals more than 450 food companies in the country that have adopted a GE free policy, among them are well known international brand names, such as Nestle and Coca-Cola. The data reinforces earlier reports of consumer rejection of GE food, such as the study by the European Commission showing that only 14% of the European population believes that GE food is safe (3). "Consumers all over Europe, east and west, are applying common sense and rejecting the genetic experiment with their food," said Geert Ritsema of Greenpeace International GE campaigner.
Greenpeace also published a statement by the Russian Soy Union stating that at present there is no commercial production of GE soya on Russian territory and that the Union "supports a moratorium on the cultivation of transgenic soya in Russia" (4).
Maciej Muskat, Greenpeace Central Eastern Europe campaigner in Poland said: "The food industry has to respect the wishes of Polish consumers and take risky and unwanted GE products off the shelves." Some international retailers, who operate in Poland, such as the French Geant, have double standards. In Western Europe they have a GE free policy, but in Poland their consumers get no such guarantees. "Such double standards for GE food are inexplicable and unacceptable. Companies must act immediately and apply the same policy across the whole of Europe," said Muskat.
Greenpeace will also step up its campaign against GE food in Russia. Over the last ten months the environmental organisation managed to get 40 Russian food companies to commit to a GE free policy. However, there are still more than 500 companies on the Russian red list in the market. Greenpeace will continue to put pressure on these companies to change their GE policy. Natalia Olefirenko of Greenpeace Russia said: "The Russian Consumer's Guide will be mailed free of charge to every Russian citizen who contacts Greenpeace."
Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organisation, which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force the solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.
Notes to editors
(1) Opinion poll done by PBS on September 10-11th, 2005, on a representative sample of 1079 citizens: available in Polish and English from Greenpeace International
(2) Russian Consumers' Guide: www.greenpeace.ru
(3) European Commission, Special Eurobarometer: Europeans, Science and Technology, June 2005, page 62-64: http://europa.eu.int/comm/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_224_report_en.pdf This Eurobarometer was conducted between 3 January and 15 February 2005 in 32 European countries: the EU 25, the candidate countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Turkey) and the so called EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway, Switserland).
(4) In a statement signed by their President Anatoly Ustyuzhanin the Russian Soy Union confirms that "There is currently no commercial production of genetically modified soya on the territory of the Russian Federation. The Soy Union supports a moratorium on the cultivation of transgenic soya in Russia, and promotes the development of production of foodstuffs manufactured from non-genetically modified plant raw materials cultivated in Russia": full statement in Russian and English available from Greenpeace International.
Geert Ritsema, Greenpeace International GE campaigner +31 646 197 328 Maciej Muskat, Greenpeace CEE campaigner in Poland: + 48 509 058 651 Natalia Olefirenko, Greenpeace Russia campaigner +7 903 739 4956 Mhairi Dunlop, Greenpeace International Communications +44 7801 212 960
Food Producers Assail Greenpeace Blacklist - By Anastasiya Lebedev - Special to The Moscow Times, Issue 3277 - Wednesday, October 19, 2005..
Food companies targeted by Greenpeace Russia for allegedly providing false information about genetically modified, or GM, ingredients denied on Tuesday that they had misled consumers. Earlier this week, the environmental group issued a list of companies whose products it said had tested positive for GM content despite the absence of a warning on their packaging. The list included food industry giants like instant soup maker Rollton and Cherkizovsky meat factory Greenpeace based its findings on its own testing as well as data from the Federal Consumer Protection Service. "We're not sure that Greenpeace has any proof because we know that there are no such components," said Alexander Sokoloverov, a Rollton spokesman. He said the firm was going to ask Greenpeace for evidence of GM ingredients in its products.
Yelena Firsova, a spokeswoman for Cherkizovsky, said that the meat factory was making a "huge effort" to ensure its products were GM-free. Greenpeace claimed that Cherkizovsky's products were frequently found to contain GM soy as a protein additive "The products made by our holding are very frequently imitated," said Firsova. She complained that Greenpeace was uncooperative in providing proof that the tested sausages were indeed produced by Cherkizovsky
Natalya Olefirenko, the coordinator of Greenpeace's GM campaign, defended the organization's testing procedures. The Test-Pushchino lab commissioned by Greenpeace meets European Union standards, she said. As for the data from the consumer protection service, Olefirenko said that "if we're going to say that [government] centers aren't qualified to conduct such investigations, we'd have to question the whole system of control over GM products." Olefirenko said Greenpeace was prepared to present results from the labs that performed the testing.
CAMPAIGN FOR GMO-FREE FINLAND STARTED
GMO-free Finland campaign - www.gmovapaa.fi
Four Finnish NGO's launched on October 18th a long waited campaign to defend GMO-free Finland. The Union of Organic Farmers in Finland, The Biodynamic Association in Finland, Friends of the Earth Finland and People's Biosafety Association in Finland were the first to join the movement. Others are warmly welcomed.
Although the Finnish Government has been one of the foremost supporters of the EU Commission on GMOs there are only two test fields of gm-plants and no commercial growing of gmo's in Finland.
"The campaign has a clear vision to encourage people to stand up for their GMO-free environment. We offer Finnish farms, gardens, food stores, restaurants, food manufacturers, municipalities and other communities a forum to register themselves as GMO-free and get involved", explains campaign coordinator Hannes Tuohiniitty.
The NGOs started by demanding a thorough discussion on gmo's in agriculture once the Government review on agricultural policy is presented to the Finnish Parliament next week. Local initiatives, influencing the decision making process and gaining public support for the strategy without gmo's are some of the objectives of the campaign.
More information: www.gmovapaa.fi/en
Hannes Tuohiniitty, campaign coordinator, mobile +358443452111 / e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Leo Stranius, Friends of the Earth Finland, mobile +358407547371 / email email@example.com
Carmen Olmedo, GMO Campaign & Bite Back Campaign Assistant, Friends of the Earth Europe, Rue Blanche, 15, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: 0032 (0)2 542 61 00 Fax:0032 (0)2 537 55 96 firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.foeeurope.org http://www.bite-back.org
GM crop 'ruins fields for 15 years' - By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor - The Independent o Sunday, 09 October 2005
GM crops contaminate the countryside for up to 15 years after they have been harvested, startling new government research shows. The findings cast a cloud over the prospects of growing the modified crops in Britain, suggesting that farmers who try them out for one season will find fields blighted for a decade and a half. Financed by GM companies and Margaret Beckett's Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the report effectively torpedoes the Government's strategy for introducing GM oilseed rape to this country. Ministers have stipulated that the crops should not be grown until rules are worked out to enable them to "co-exist" with conventional ones. But the research shows that this is effectively impossible.
The study, published by the Royal Society, examined five sites across England and Scotland where modified oilseed rape has been cultivated, and found significant amounts of GM plants growing even after the sites had been returned to ordinary crops. It concludes that the research reveals "a potentially serious problem associated with the temporal persistence of rape seeds in soil." The researchers found that nine years after a single modified crop, an average of two GM rape plants would grow in every square metre of an affected field. After 15 years, this came down to one plant per square metre - still enough to break the EC limits on permissible GM contamination. Last night Pete Riley, the director of GM Freeze, said; "It is becoming clearer and clearer that it is going to be impossible to grow GM crops in Britain."
Europe's Food Safety Authority challenged as new stakeholder initiative begins
Brussels/Parma, 6th October 2005 - Consumer, environmental and health groups have today challenged the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to put public and environmental safety before commercial interests. The call comes as the EFSA begins a new Stakeholder Platform in Parma, Italy.(1) The organisations welcome the initiative by EFSA to listen to the views of stakeholders but urge EFSA to make serious changes in its work and procedures. In particular the groups are highly critical of the EFSA's work on genetically modified foods (GMOs). The consumer, environmental and health groups have today published ten demands for the EFSA (2), calling on it to:
* Fulfil its legal obligations to take into regard the long term safety of foods as well as the scientific uncertainties
* Review its scientific panels to make them impartial and independent from industry
* Improve its transparency and implement its Code of good administration behaviour
Greenpeace have also issued today a new report into the failings of the EFSA's scientific work on genetically modified foods. (3) In November last year Friends of the Earth published a detailed critique of EFSA, accusing it of industry bias. (4) Both organisations call on EFSA to stop releasing any further opinions on GMOs until the problems identified have been sorted out.
According to the European Environmental Bureau, the establishment of the Stakeholders Platform is a welcome step towards improving the relationship between civil society organisations and the Food Safety Authority. However the Authority has to improve its work and procedures to contribute to ensure a high level of protection of health and environment.
Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth Europe said: "The European Food Safety Authority has clearly made its mind up that genetically modified foods are safe and ignores any evidence or views that question that position. Its opinions to date have constantly supported the biotechnology industry and it disregards voices of concern from either the public or the national member states. It is time there was a major review of the scientists working for the EFSA to make the Authority impartial and independent of industry."
Christoph Then of Greenpeace said: "Potential risks of GM plants have too often been groundlessly dismissed by the EFSA, despite scientific concerns. Our new report on GM maize Bt11 shows that it fails to carry out a full risk assessment of GMOs, as required by EU legislation."
EURO COOP hopes that the Stakeholder Forum will help EFSA in gaining credibility as a risk assessor in the eyes of consumers and food operators.
Adrian Bebb, Friends of the Earth Europe +49 1609 490 1163
Christoph Then, Greenpeace International +49 171 8780832
Francesco Montanari, EURO COOP +322 285 00 74
Notes to editors
1. For information on the Stakeholder Platform see: http://www.efsa.eu.int/stakeholder_stakeholder_consultative_platform/consultative_platform/1058_en.html
2. The ten demands are supported by the European Public Health Alliance, Eurocoop, the European Environmental Bureau, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. The demands can be downloaded from here: http://www.foeeurope.org/publications/2005/EFSA_stakeholders_challenge.pdf
3. Greenpeace have published today a new scientific report on the risk assessment by the EFSA of a GM crop made by Swiss-based Syngenta, called Bt11. The Authority gave the green light in May 2005 to the cultivation of this maize, which could become the first GM plant allowed for growing in the EU since 1998. A gene from a soil bacteria was introduced in the maize genome to make it produce an insecticidal toxin. . The new Greenpeace report shows that no serious investigation was conducted on the toxicity of this GM maize or its impact on the environment, such as detrimental effects on useful or protected insect species. Furthermore, already published scientific results on possible negative environmental consequences of this GM maize were widely ignored by EFSA. The report can be downloaded at: http://eu.greenpeace.org/downloads/gmo/Bt11reportOct05.pdf
4. In November 2004 Friends of the Earth published Throwing caution to the wind, a detailed critique of the EFSA and its work on GM foods. The report can be downloaded here: http://www.foeeurope.org/GMOs/publications/EFSAreport.pdf
PRESS RELEASE - IMMEDIATE RELEASE 30th September 2005 - GM Oilseed survives longer in soil - new blow to EU coexistence plans
New research  has found that GM oilseed rape could contaminate non-GM crops 15 years after it was grown - longer than previously thought. This represent a major set back to plans to commercialise the crop and EU plans to introduce coexistence rules for growing GM and non-GM crops.
The research  looked at how long oilseed rape seeds can survive in the soil and then germinate after they were spilt at harvest. Previously it was thought that GM oilseed seed would persist in the soil for ten years . However the new research on 5 sites across the England and Scotland predicts that one in twenty spilt seeds could survive in the soil for 9 years and 1% could still germinate fifteen years after the GM crop was harvested. The researchers found that some crops dropped 10,000 seeds per square metre (3575 per square metre average) compared with a normal sowing rate for oilseed rape of just 100 seeds per square metre.
The researchers concluded:
“Even at 95% loss of the mean 3575 seeds per square metre shed at harvest, would still leave nearly 200 seeds per square metre. Such numbers would be highly likely to result in the presence of more than two volunteer plants per square metre in a rape crop sown 9 years after the HT crop. This density would exceed the European Union threshold of 0.9% adventitious presence of GM seeds in a non-GM crop, if the subsequent crop was ‘conventional’”.
The European Commission Coexistence guidelines require measures to prevent contamination in non-GM crops exceeding 0.9% . However, the EC advice to adopt the high threshold of 0.9% has been challenged by the opinion of a leading QC as “fundamentally flawed” and “wrong in law” .
In fact, two plants per square metre would result in around 2% contamination. One plant per square metre, after 15 years, would still mean that the 0.9% threshold could be breached.
These results follow the publication of new results by DEFRA this week showing harmful effect on wildlife from GM herbicide tolerant crops found in the Farm Scale Evaluations persisted for at least two years .
Commenting for GM Freeze, Pete Riley said:
“These research findings show that it will be impossible to grow GM oilseed rape without long term contamination problems the concept of coexistence is looking like dream land . Farmers would not be able to predict what level of GM they could find in their non-GM crops. Their land would be blighted for 15 years or more by a GM crop grown by a previous owner. The Government should announce the end all GM oilseed rape experiments in the UK immediately so that farmers can get on with providing UK supermarkets and food and animal feed manufacturers with the GM-free products they are demanding”.
Calls to Pete Riley 07903 341065.
1.Lutman PJW et al , 2005. Persistence of seeds from crops of conventional and herbicide tolerant oilseed rape (Brassica napus). Proc.R.Soc B (2005) 272, 1909-1915 22nd September 2005.
2. The research was part of the BRIGHT project, published in 2004, which investigated the environmental and agronomic impacts of herbicide tolerant crops in typical arable rotations.
3. Scientific Committee on Plants SCP/GMO-SEED-CONT/002-Final 13th March 2001 Opinion of the Scientific Committee on plants concerning the adventitious presence of GM seeds in conventional seeds.
4. 2003/556/EC dated 23 July 2003, Commission Recommendation on guidelines for the development of national strategies and best practices to ensure the coexistence of genetically modified crops with conventional and organic farming
5 Legal opinion by Paul Lasok QC for The Five Year Freeze, Friends of the Earth, Which?, GeneWatch UK, The Soil Association and Greenpeace January 2005. For summary see http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefing_notes/summary_of_legal_opinion_o.pdf
6. The full report http://www.journals.royalsoc.ac.uk. and further information visit
GM FREEZE 94 White Lion Street, London N1 9PF Tel: 020 7837 0642 Fax: 020 7837 1141
Email: email@example.com Website: www.gmfreeze.org
EUROGM: Small victory against Monsanto
Earlier this summer Monsanto had brought a case against the German government trying to force through a fast track decision which would force the German government to add the GM maize MON810 to the German seed list. Monsanto argued that MON810 was inscribed to the EU common catalogue and that therefore it could be legaly grown anywhere in Europe. The German government disputes that MON810 has the necessary authorisation for growing in Europe.
The court rejected Monsanto's bid for a fast track decision on September 23rd. The court did not share Monsanto's view that a win in the main case was "highly likely" and that a fast track decision would therefore be justified. The court also argued that a fast track decision would create irreversible facts (the release of GMOs into the environment) and would
therefore foreclose the main case. The decision of the main case is still open though.
Monsanto had pressed for a fast track decision in order to be able to produce the necessary seeds for next year in Chile. The German government's GMO expert Alexander Müller expressed the opinion that the decision puts in question the legality of MON810 growing anywhere in Europe (e.g. in Spain, where it is already been grown).
Following links all in German:
Kenneth Richter, European GMO Campaign, Friends of the Earth, 26-28 Underwood Street, London N1 7JQ
Tel + 44 20 7566 1671 (Contactable in the office 9:30 -17:30 Tuesdays and Thursdays)
POLISH MARSHALS WANT GMO FREE POLAND
On the 9th of September 2005 the Assembly of Marshals of the Polish Provinces (*) accepted a statement concerning the planting of genetically modified plants (GMO) in Poland. In this statement the Assembly of Marshals of the Polish Provinces has, among other things, agreed that:
(...) approval for cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can damage the public image of the Polish countryside which nowadays is considered as the source of healthy, ecological and high quality food (...)
(...) man will never be able to have total control over the biology of life and therefore cannot ensure that the uncontrolled release of GMO's will not happen.
It has to be underlined that the goal of providing genetically modified organisms is to increase the efficiency in farming. The main problem, however, for farmers in Poland as well as in other EU countries, is not to raise efficiency but to be able to sell their produce on the present market
(...) it is necessary to take action for the preservation of the environment and for crop protection against the introduction of genetically modified plants that could cause irreversible change (...)
(...) in accordance with the statements of consumers, who seek safe and healthy agricultural products, it is necessary to support production of food using environmentally friendly methods (...)
(...) the big number of protests by local governments in 13 provinces in Poland, as well as other European regions, haven't been taken into account by European Union authorities. The European law (Directive 2001/18, 2002/53) benefits the producers of genetically modified seeds, or is interpreted as doing so (...)
The Assembly of Marshals of the Polish Provinces concluded that it is necessary that:
a) The Polish Government should prepare a motion to the European Commission to ban the import of genetically modified products in all areas of the country,
b) this problem is introduced through the Polish MEPs for debate in the EP in order to achieve a ruling which will allow all EU countries to make their own decisions in this very important matter (...)
(*) The Assembly of Marshals of the Polish Provinces is the opinion-making and advisory body representing the interest of all provinces (Poland is divided for 16 provinces). The Assembly has been holding regular meetings analyzing propositions for changes in the governments' acts and other regulations as well as discussing the problems of provinces. Each meeting is concluded with common statements that must be accepted by all Marshals.
Whole statement (in Polish): http://icppc.pl/pl/gmo/index.php?id=129 - International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside (ICPPC), 34-146 Stryszów 156, Poland tel./fax +48 33 8797114 firstname.lastname@example.org - www.icppc.pl - www.eko-cel.pl - www.gmo.icppc.pl - http://www.icppc.pl/pl/gmo/eng_index.php
In April 2002, ICPPC was awarded the Goldman Prize - Ecological Nobel. In June 2002, ICPPC's headquarter, were visited by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales.
EU Governments Block Approval of Monsanto Hybrid Corn Variety - http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000082&sid=a3B2XgigKm64&refer=canada
Sept. 19 (Bloomberg) -- A committee of European Union national experts blocked approval of a Monsanto Co. genetically modified corn variety for animal feed, passing the dossier on to ministers for further consideration.
Monsanto's hybrid MON863 x MON810, altered to provide resistance to corn pests, failed to win over a majority of representatives from the EU's 25 governments. Seven countries voted in favor of the product's use, 12 voted against, five abstained and one nation didn't vote, European Commission spokeswoman Barbara Helfferich said in Brussels today.
The EU's policy of requiring scientific and political backing for new genetically altered products has been challenged by the U.S., Argentina and Canada before the World Trade Organization on the grounds that it inhibits trade. The EU grows less than 1 percent of the world crop, compared with the two-thirds share of the U.S.
Nine countries, including the U.S., Argentina and Canada, last year grew 11.2 million hectares (27.7 million acres) of modified corn of similar types to that blocked today by the EU, according to Merrickville, Canada-based Agbios, which collects information on biotechnology crops.
To contact the reporter on this story:
Duncan Hooper in Brussels at email@example.com.
Appeal to EC and world for caution over GMO contamination - Bologna, Italy, 9 September 05
Consumers International (CI) made an appeal for caution over genetically modified organism (GMO) contamination. David Cuming, CI GM Campaign Manager, said: 'Stop GMO contamination - it can happen quickly and over vast areas and is irreversible. In places, like Italy, where there are a lot of small farms with traditional and organic crops, "co-existence" is probably impossible without removing the freedom of consumers and farmers to choose.'
Speaking at a conference in Italy, organised by CI and RegioneEmilia-Romagna, David Cuming advised 'All countries worldwide must introduce strict rules to prevent contamination, and allow for GM-free zones, before allowing GMOs in their countries. The EC must wait until they have completed the full review of "co-existence" in Europe before approving new GMO crops.'
Prof. Ignacio Chapela, leading expert on GMOs told the conference '"Co-existence" of GMOs and GM-free plants is biologically impossible. If we keep thinking like this it won't be a question of - if contamination will occur: It will be a question of when and how much? We do not have the political will, the technical capacity or the independence of thought to deal with "co-existence"; neither to monitor its development, nor to remedy its consequences. Proposed biosafety and bioethical frameworks will not prevent contamination.'
GMO and consumer experts from Canada, USA, Brazil, Thailand, Zambia, Austria, Italy and UK presented their position on "co-existence", contamination and GM-free zones at the conference in Bologna. Recent examples of GMO contamination cases are: canola fields in Australia and Canada, shipments of maize to Japan and New Zealand, and illegal rice in China.
Note to editors
The EC are making decisions on whether to allow several new GMO crops into Europe and the Commission is preparing a report on how EU states are dealing with 'co-existence' expected at the end of this year.
The GM-free zone movement is growing in the EU and in the USA, with increasing interest in developing countries.
Pressure from the biotech industry is mounting in Africa for countries to grow GMOs.
Summaries of speeches made at the conference will be made available on CI website.
International conference open to the public
organised by Regione Emilia-Romagna and Consumers International
'Co-existence', contamination and GM-free zones - Jeopardising consumer choice?
Farmers call for ban on imports of GM rape-seed oil - 2005-09-05 - http://www.online.ie/news/viewer.adp?article=3272573
The Irish Cattle and Sheepfarmers Association has called on the Government to ban the importation of genetically modified rape-seed oil into Ireland. The European Commission decided last month to allow imports of GM rape-seed oil made by the US multinational Monsanto. The decision was made after the 25 EU member states failed to come to a consensus on the matter. The ICSA has slammed the Irish Government for abstaining from a vote on whether to allow the imports, saying Irish consumers were vehemently opposed to GM foods. Spokesman John Heney said: "Any time there's a survey of consumers, they say they do not want GM food on their plate, so it's totally inexcusable that our Government should go down the road of facilitating its introduction."
Friends of the Earth Europe - Press Release - 31 August- For immediate release
EUROPEAN COMMISSION OPENS DOOR TO GENETIC CONTAMINATION: Member States' concerns ignored
Brussels August 31 2005 The European Commission today approved the import of Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) oilseed rape for human food and animal feed . The decision came despite opposition from a majority of Member States and a loophole that could lead to illegal seed spills into the environment. Friends of the Earth condemned the decision and is calling on Member States to impose national bans on the GM seed.
The GM oilseed rape (GT73), is resistant to Monsanto’s own herbicide. The majority of EU Member States voted against the application last year, or abstained, because of unanswered food and feed safety questions . These included the effects on the liver weights of rats fed the oilseed rape  and the likelihood of seed spills into the environment.
In addition, recent UK government research has reported the discovery of the first genetically modified ‘superweed’ the result of GM oilseed rape cross-breeding with a common weed (Charlock) in the UK farm scale trials .
However, the Commission ignored these concerns and pushed the approval through on the basis of an opinion by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). And although the Commission accepted that seed spills are an area of concern, it failed to specify measures to safeguard against this . Instead it has included a simple recommendation that US company Monsanto will be free to disregard.
Friends of the Earth is calling on Member States to use the provisions in EU law to impose national bans on the GM seed .
Helen Holder, GMO coordinator for Friends of the Earth said: “Not only has the Commission ignored the opinion of 19 Environment Ministers and recent scientific findings, but it is also allowing Monsanto to decide whether our environment is contaminated. Member States are left with no choice but to take matters into their own hands and impose national bans on this GM seed.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Helen Holder, Friends of the Earth Europe - +322 542 01 82 - +324 74 857 638 (mobile)
 GT73 was previously authorised for processing in oils under the 1997 Novel Foods regulation (Regulation 258/97) which has since been replaced by Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003. Today’s decision covers industrial processing and animal feed.
 In December 2004, EU Environment Ministers voted with a simple majority against the approval of GT73. Since a qualified majority was required to prevent the approval, the decision reverted to the European Commission.
For: SK, SE, FR, PT, FI, NL (78 votes)
Against: IT, GR, DK, PO, MT, BE, HU, LT, LV, CY, AT, EE, LU (135 votes)
Abstention: IE, SI, ES, DE, CZ, UK (108 votes)
 The official UK government advisors on GM foods and feeds - ACRE and ACAF - have said that they are not satisfied with the explanation that Monsanto has provided for the observed increased liver weight in rats fed GT73. They are are not convinced by EFSA's assurance that GT73 ''is as safe as conventional oilseed rape for humans and animals, and in the context of the proposed uses, for the environment.'' ACAF says it can only draw such conclusion "on receipt of satisfactory data from a further rat-feeding study using 15 per cent. oilseed rape meal." Source: Statement by Mr. Elliot Morely, UK Minister for the Environment and Agri-Environment. In: minutes of the UK’s European Standing Committee A, Tuesday 2 November 2004
 Official Journal of the European Union, June 2005 (L-164 page 57)
 The safeguard clause - Article 23, Directive 2001/18/EC European Commission press release:
Friends of the Earth Europe campaigns for sustainable and fair societies and for the protection of the environment, unites more than 30 national organisations with thousands of local groups and is part of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, Friends of the Earth International
Helen Holder, European GMO campaign coordinator, Friends of the Earth Europe, Rue Blanche 15, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +322 542 01 82 Fax: +322 537 55 96 - Helen.Holder@foeeurope.org www.foeeurope.org
BRITISH RETAIL CONSORTIUM POSITION ON BRAZILIAN NON-GM SOYBEAN - Friday 26 August 2005
British Retail Consortium (BRC) members do not currently stock own label brands sourced from Genetically Modified (GM) materials and ingredients. This decision is based solely on customer demand, as the general public remains highly critical of potential health effects from consuming GM products. For this reason, UK retailers are determined to maintain a non-GM stance for products for as long as practically and commercially possible.
GM has failed to convince
Research data from across the UK indicates that customer demand for non-GM remains as strong now as it was in the late nineties when widespread opposition first emerged. A 2003 survey by NOP World revealed the following:
- 78% of people remain unconvinced that GM is safe to eat
- 79% would not knowingly buy food containing GM ingredients
- Even if GM food could be proven safe to eat, 61% of customers would still not consume these products
- 55% were against GM food and crops with 38% yet to be convinced of its benefits
Working with suppliers
In order to help suppliers of commodity crop provide non-GM soya and maize to our market, British retailers and manufacturers have worked together to produce a standard for identity-preserved systems in the supply of non-GM products, based on current best practice. The standards acts as a guide for use at appropriate points along the supply chain, from seed supply to the use of derivative ingredients in the manufacture of final food products.
Retailers are committed to giving their customers informed choice. Retailers support the 0.9% de minimis threshold for the accidental mixing of non-GM material, below which labelling will not be required. Without such a threshold to allow for such low level mixing, manufacturers and retailers would have no incentive to ensure non-GM supply lines as any error would mean presentation. That scenario would have businesses acting defensively, labelling 'containing GM' which is not what most customers want.
Maintaining Brazil’s non-GM supply
It will be enormously difficult to maintain trust in the food chain should Brazil’s supply of non-GM soybean dry up. It is therefore essential that Brazil remains a continued source of non-GM soybean and halts the progression at the current level of 35% GM.
We urge the Brazilian industry to resist further growth of GM planting. This would send a disastrous signal to UK consumers and could seriously damage trust and confidence in the food chain across the board.
Dairy Farmers warned over GM feed - Northern Ireland dairy farmers were today warned their industry could suffer if genetically modified feed is allowed into the country.
Press Association, 25/08/2005 - http://u.tv/newsroom/indepth.asp?id=64217&pt=n
Sinn Fein agriculture spokesperson Michelle Gildernew called on the farming industry to vigorously oppose moves to introduce genetically modified feed through an EU loophole and voiced concerns about the effect on milk quality and consumer reaction if it is fed to herds. "The reality is that there is a very real risk of contamination of the food chain," the Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP said. "Across Ireland and throughout Europe consumers have consistently rejected food that is genetically modified....The result is that there are very few GM labelled products on the market. Indeed many companies make a point of labelling food GM free....However, there is a loophole in EU labelling regulations. Milk, eggs, meat and other animal-derived foodstuffs do not need to be labelled if the animals were fed GM foodstuffs.....The majority GM maize grown in Europe is used as animal feed, meaning that consumers could unknowingly consume GM derived products, such as milk.....Through advertising their products as pure and natural, they are misleading their consumers as their products risk being contaminated from the GM crops grown by their dairy farmers."
Ms Gildernew noted in Switzerland and Sweden, food manufacturers had ensured that GM animal feed was not used there. In Austria, she also reported one large dairy company, NOEM AG, ensured its entire range of fresh milk products were GM free. "Despite the debate about Monsanto's GM maize (MON 810) still ongoing, the European Commission gave approval for the GM maize to be grown in the EU in 2004," she said. "As a result Austria, Greece, Hungary and Poland all have banned the maize. This is currently the only GM plant permitted to be grown throughout the EU although other GM maize and GE soya varieties, cultivated outside the EU, are authorised for import as animal feed......Sinn Fein believe that the milk industry, as well as those producing eggs and other livestock for the market, needs to take a stand on this issue and take steps to ensure that it is not using GM meal feed.....There is a valuable competitive edge to be gained in producing foods for market that are genuinely GM free.....We will also be working to ensure that the legal loophole that allows for the introduction of GM products into our food chain is closed."
GM Maize Fight Goes to Court - US seed firms want to grow in Germany - Deutsche Weller, 10 August 2005
American biotech firms want to use legal action to force Germany to approve their genetically modified maize for cultivation. The America seed companies Monsanto and Pioneer are trying to get provisional approval to cultivate their pest-resistant maize, Mon 810, in Germany, according to German consumer protection authorities. But Alexander Müller of the consumer protection office says he doesn't believe that Mon 810 can be legally approved as seed. "It is not allowed under European law," he told the German public broadcaster ARD. For the past seven years, Mon 810 has been approved in the EU only as feed and as food. Cultivation of the crop was explicitly excluded. But the EU Commission, in contrast, says that Mon 810, also as seed, is legal and must be allowed to be used in Germany, a commission spokeswoman told ARD. The maize has been included in the collective EU catalogue of allowable imports since 2004, authorizing its use. "It must be allowed to be imported into Germany," a spokeswoman for the European Commission said.
Spanish use contentious maize
Last year, the EU Commission approved 17 types of maize in the Mon 810 line after Spain experienced no problems with its cultivation. But according to Müller, that approval might need to be examined by European Court of Justice, Müller said. "If our legal interpretation is correct, the Spanish will have to see if their approval was legitimate." The environmental watchdog group Greenpeace is one of the groups opposed to the cultivation of Mon 810, saying that the crop can harm butterflies. Greece, Austria, Poland and Hungary have not given the go-ahead for the cultivation of Mon 810. Still, German regulators have been testing the line for several years. Regardless of the legal fight, the crop is already being cultivated in Germany on a trial basis.
EU still wary
On a global scale, the use of genetically modified (GM) crops is increasing, with the world?s overall area of approved GM crops now at well over 80 million hectares (8 billion acres). So far, maize, soybeans, rapeseed and cotton account for the bulk of biotech crops on the market. But most EU member countries, including Germany, have remained extremely wary of biotech crop technologies. Concerns include giving multinational corporations control of basic food products through gene patents, the possibility of spreading allergens through genetic manipulations and the spread of resistance to antibiotics used in genetic engineering -- concerns that are shared by non-governmental organizations such as Greenpeace. "There's not much research done on the risks of GM plants on the environment or on human health," Ulrike Brendel, a Greenpeace spokesperson for the GM issue, told DW-WORLD.
Germany approved the growing of genetically modified crops in Germany last year under a controversial law that imposes strict penalties for possible violations of food-safety regulations. The law also requires the labeling of foodstuffs produced with genetically modified organisms and allows conventional farmers to file for damages if other growers contaminating their fields with GM seeds.
COMMISSION OPENS DOOR TO IMPORT OF CONTROVERSIAL GM MAIZE
Brussels August 8 2005 - The European Commission today approved the import of a controversial genetically modified (GM) maize, MON863 for use as animal feed . Friends of the Earth has condemned the decision, which once again ignores Member States’ concerns over safety. Monsanto’s animal feed application failed to get support at the June 24th EU Environment Council when the majority of Member States abstained or voted against it . As a qualified majority was not reached, the final decision reverted to the European Commission. MON863 maize has been genetically modified to resist certain insects by producing a toxin in the plant. It has caused controversy due to food and feed safety concerns, the fact that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) disregarded these concerns, and Monsanto’s refusal to publish documents that are crucial to assessing the application. These include:
* Food safety studies: the results of a feeding study of the GM maize on rats showed significantly different levels of white blood cells, kidney weights and kidney structure, as well as lower albumin/globulin rate in the rats fed the GM maize.
* Scientists’ criticism of the maize: a number of scientists from different Member States, including the French Commission for Genetic Engineering (CGB), were therefore concerned and severely criticized to maize.
* EFSA’s disregard of member state scientists: the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) rejected all concerns raised by Member States when reviewing the application, and delivered a positive opinion
* Monsanto’s refusal to publish key documents: Monsanto refused to publish the initial rat study, having requested when it filed the application, that crucial documents including the rat study be classified as confidential.
* German court rules against Monsanto: in June 2005, the German government won a court ruling against Monsanto and the documents where made public.
* The documents released in June seem to confirm that there is cause for serious safety concern. Helen Holder, GMO campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth said: “Once again, the Commission has ignored serious concerns raised by Member States over the safety of GMOs. The Commission has authorized this maize despite attempts by Monsanto to hush up the food safety results. Member States have another chance to block this maize at the September Agriculture Council: they must use the opportunity to protect their citizens, stand up to the Commission, and reject it once and for all.”
Contact: Helen Holder, GMO campaign coordinator, mobile: +32 4 74 857 638
 This is a decision on animal feed: EU Ministers will vote on the food application for the same maize this coming September. Under EU legislation, no import, including that of animal feed, is allowed until the food application has been authorized. In this case, no imports will be able to start unless the MON863 food application is authorized. EU Ministers are scheduled to vote on this in September 2005.
 RESULTS OF THE VOTE ON MONSANTO’S MON863 MAIZE - Environment Council 24 June 2005
In favour: DE, EE, FR, NL, FI, SE, UK
Against: DK, EL, IT, CY, LV, LT, LU, HU, MT, AT, PL, PT, SI, SK
Abstention: BE, CZ, ES, IE,
 European Commission press release: http://europa.eu.int/rapid/showInformation.do?pageName=middayExpress&guiLanguage=en
Friends of the Earth Europe campaigns for sustainable and fair societies and for the protection of the environment, unites more than 30 national organisations with thousands of local groups and is part of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, Friends of the Earth International
Helen Holder, European GMO campaign coordinator. Friends of the Earth Europe, Rue Blanche 15, 1050 Brussels, Belgium - Tel: +322 542 01 82 - Fax: +322 537 55 96 Helen.Holder@foeeurope.org - www.foeeurope.org
NEW SET-BACK FOR GMO CROPS IN EUROPE - Bayer withdraws GMO oilseed rape
Brussels/London, 26 July 2005 - The German biotech giant Bayer has withdrawn its applications to grow genetically modified (GM) oilseed rape in the European Union, Friends of the Earth revealed today. The move comes as public calls for GM-free zones spreads across Europe and follows a series of research findings which have uncovered environmental damage resulting from the GM crop being grown.
Bayer is the only biotech company to have applied for permission to grow GM oilseed rape commercially in Europe, but it was revealed this week that their applications have been withdrawn .
Earlier this year, results from the world's biggest environmental trials confirmed that growing GM oilseed rape, which has been modified to make it resistant to a weed killer, reduced the level of wildlife in the field . New research by the UK Government, revealed yesterday, showed that the GM crop had also crossed with wild plants to produce herbicide-resistant 'superweeds' in the UK .
While pressure to grow and import GM crops in Europe has grown, so has resistance from local authorities and communities. There are now GM-free initiatives virtually in every European country; 164 European regions and over 4500 local governments and smaller areas have declared themselves GM free or want to restrict commercial growing of GM crops . Last month European countries voted to allow France and Greece to maintain their national bans on the import and cultivation of GM oilseed rape .
Friends of the Earth Europe's GM Campaigner, Adrian Bebb said:
"Bayer's decision to withdraw its oilseed rape is a major step forward to protecting Europe from genetically modified crops. If this oilseed rape was grown commercially in Europe it would have been a disaster for consumers, farmers and wildlife. It is now time to move forward and for Europe to support the type of farming and food production that people want and trust."
CONTACT - Adrian Bebb +49 1609 1163 (mobile) - Clare Oxborrow (UK) +44 7712 843211 (mobile)
 Bayer's about turn on GM oilseed rape was revealed in correspondence from the UK Department of the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and confirmed by the German authorities handling the applications. Received in an email from DEFRA, 25 July 2005. "On our DEFRA web site we say that these applications are pending transfer from a 90/220 and 2001/18 application to a 1829/2003 food and feed application. Our understanding is that the applications have actually been withdrawn by Bayer."
 www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/gm_crop_trial_blow_to_biot_21032005.html (March 2005)
GM crops created superweed, say scientists - Modified rape crosses with wild plant to create tough pesticide-resistant strain
Paul Brown, environment correspondent - The Guardian, Monday July 25, 2005 - http://www.guardian.co.uk/gmdebate/Story/0,2763,1535428,00.html
Modified genes from crops in a GM crop trial have transferred into local wild plants, creating a form of herbicide-resistant "superweed", the Guardian can reveal. The cross-fertilisation between GM oilseed rape, a brassica, and a distantly related plant, charlock, had been discounted as virtually impossible by scientists with the environment department. It was found during a follow up to the government's three-year trials of GM crops which ended two years ago. The new form of charlock was growing among many others in a field which had been used to grow GM rape. When scientists treated it with lethal herbicide it showed no ill-effects. Unlike the results of the original trials, which were the subject of large-scale press briefings from scientists, the discovery of hybrid plants that could cause a serious problem to farmers has not been announced.
The scientists also collected seeds from other weeds in the oilseed rape field and grew them in the laboratory. They found that two - both wild turnips - were herbicide resistant. The five scientists from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the government research station at Winfrith in Dorset, placed their findings on the department's website last week. A reviewer of the paper has appended to its front page: "The frequency of such an event [the cross-fertilisation of charlock] in the field is likely to be very low, as highlighted by the fact it has never been detected in numerous previous assessments." However, he adds: "This unusual occurrence merits further study in order to adequately assess any potential risk of gene transfer."
Brian Johnson, an ecological geneticist and member of the government's specialist scientific group which assessed the farm trials, has no doubt of the significance. "You only need one event in several million. As soon as it has taken place the new plant has a huge selective advantage. That plant will multiply rapidly." Dr Johnson, who is head of the biotechnology advisory unit and head of the land management technologies group at English Nature, the government nature advisers, said: "Unlike the researchers I am not surprised by this. If you apply herbicide to plants which is lethal, eventually a resistant survivor will turn up." The glufosinate-ammonium herbicide used in this case put "huge selective pressure likely to cause rapid evolution of resistance".
To assess the potential of herbicide-resistant weeds as a danger to crops, a French researcher placed a single triazine-resistant weed, known as fat hen, in maize fields where atrazine was being used to control weeds. After four years the plants had multiplied to an average of 103,000 plants, Dr Johnson said. What is not clear in the English case is whether the charlock was fertile. Scientists collected eight seeds from the plant but they failed to germinate them and concluded the plant was "not viable". But Dr Johnson points out that the plant was very large and produced many flowers. He said: "There is every reason to suppose that the GM trait could be in the plant's pollen and thus be carried to other charlock in the neighbourhood, spreading the GM genes in that way. This is after all how the cross-fertilisation between the rape and charlock must have occurred in the first place."
Since charlock seeds can remain in the soil for 20 to 30 years before they germinate, once GM plants have produced seeds it would be almost impossible to eliminate them. Although the government has never conceded that gene transfer was a problem, it was fear of this that led the French and Greek governments to seek to ban GM rape. Emily Diamond, a Friends of the Earth GM researcher, said: "I was shocked when I saw this paper. This is what we were reassured could not happen - and yet now it has happened the finding has been hidden away. This is exactly what the French and Greeks were afraid of when they opposed the introduction of GM rape." The findings will now have to be assessed by the government's Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (Acre). The question is whether it is safe to release GM crops into the UK environment when there are wild relatives that might become superweeds and pose a serious threat to farm productivity. This has already occurred in Canada.
The discovery that herbicide-resistant genes have transferred to farm weeds from GM crops is the second blow to the hopes of bio-tech companies to introduce their crops into Britain. Following farm scale trials there was already scientific evidence that herbicide-tolerant oilseed rape and GM sugar beet were bad for biodiversity because the herbicide used to kill the weeds around the crops wiped out more wildlife than with conventionally grown crops. Now this new research, a follow-up on the original trials, shows that a second undesirable potential result is a race of superweeds. The findings mirror the Canadian experience with GM crops, which has seen farmers and the environment plagued with severe problems.
Farmers the world over are always troubled by what they call "volunteers" - crop plants which grow from seeds spilled from the previous harvest, of which oilseed rape is probably the greatest offender. Anyone familiar with the British countryside, or even the verges of motorways, will recognise thousands of oilseed rape plants growing uninvited amid crops of wheat or barley, and in great swaths by the roadside where the "small greasy ballbearings" of seeds have spilled from lorries. Farmers in Canada soon found that these volunteers were resistant to at least one herbicide, and became impossible to kill with two or three applications of different weedkillers after a succession of various GM crops were grown. The new plants were dubbed superweeds because they proved resistant to three herbicides while the crops they were growing among had been genetically engineered to be resistant to only one. To stop their farm crops being overwhelmed with superweeds, farmers had to resort to using older, much stronger varieties of "dirty" herbicide long since outlawed as seriously damaging to biodiversity. (See Reports )
US says Cyprus ties could suffer over GMO plan - Reuters, 06 Jul 2005 - http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L06117419.htm
NICOSIA, July 6 (Reuters) - A plan by Cyprus to put genetically modified food on separate supermarket shelves angered the United States on Wednesday, as Washington warned the move could harm bilateral ties.
The U.S. had sent a letter to the Cypriot parliament warning that the move by the European Union country would stigmatise biotech goods and could contravene Cyprus' obligations as a World Trade Organisation member, deputies said. A U.S. diplomat did not deny the existence of the note and said Washington regularly shared views with Cyprus on issues of concern. Under EU legislation, each state is free to display biotech food as it wishes. The bloc has tough rules for the labelling of food that contains genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. If conventional food contains more than 0.9 percent of authorised GMOs, it must be labelled as such throughout the 25-nation bloc.
"We want to put better information at consumers' disposal on what they are buying," said George Perdikis, a member of the Greens' Party which tabled the proposal in parliament. A note which Perdikis said was released by the American Embassy in Nicosia, and which was seen by Reuters, urged parliamentarians to oppose passage of the bill. "The bill is in essence a poke in the eye of the U.S., which is the leading developer and producer of agricultural biotech products," the note read. "The bill is tantamount to a non-tariff barrier to trade in biotech goods and as such is in violation of your obligations as a member of the WTO. It may also be inconsistent with your obligations as an EU member," the note states.
Perdikis, a junior partner in Cyprus's centre-left government coalition, said he came across the note in his parliamentary documents. "This is blackmail. It speaks of harming bilateral relations. It is very serious," he said.
A U.S. embassy spokesperson said: "The United States shares the goal of the parliament and the government of the Republic of Cyprus to protect the health and well-being of all Cypriots but it is of course up to the parliament to decide what laws to pass. "We do however regularly share our views with Cypriot officials on issues of concern."
European public opinion is consistently hostile to genetically modified products, fearing negative health and environmental effects. Advocates of biotechnology say it is safe and will help eradicate world hunger by improving food supply.
Biotech crop policy in EU gets rethink after rebuff - By Jeremy Smith - Thu Jun 30, 2005
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU policymakers may be forced to rethink how they stand on biotech crops and foods after national governments recently took a strong stance against them. The European Commission, which thought in March it had worked out how to prise open the EU's mostly shut doors to gene-altered products, got a nasty surprise last week. EU environment ministers roundly rejected Commission proposals to order five countries to lift bans on certain genetically modified (GMO) products. Of the EU's 25 countries, 22 voted against the proposal. The Commission says the bans are unjustified, despite widespread fears in Europe that GMO crops may pose health risks to humans and to the environment. Manufacturers and scientists contend the crops are safe. The Commission wants to show the United States, Canada and Argentina -- which have filed against EU biotech policy at the World Trade Organization (WTO) -- that Europe is ready to push GMO applications through the EU system. The environment ministers said otherwise.
EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas, seen as one of the more GMO-wary commissioners, now wants his colleagues who are most involved in GMO policy to discuss the "political significance" of last Friday's vote, a Commission official said. "What is certain is that today's vote sends a political signal that member states may want to revisit some aspects of the existing system," Dimas said after the defeat. Dimas could have a tough battle ahead if, as officials say, he tries to persuade the other five "concerned" commissioners to allow EU countries more flexibility on growing and importing GMOs that have already received EU-wide approval. The five commissioners represent trade, agriculture, research, industry and food safety.
Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson is likely to focus on the WTO's upcoming ruling on EU biotech policy, while Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik may be keen to see GMO policy forging ahead as a way to promote EU research, diplomats say. For Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel, the main issue waiting to be resolved is coexistence: EU jargon for how farmers should separate traditional, organic and biotech crops. Fischer Boel has often said she may consider a legal framework, maybe in 2006, for how EU governments should regulate coexistence on national territories, instead of the current non-binding guidelines. Now, her rhetoric seems to have faded. Food Safety Commissioner Markos Kyprianou is known to want to see an end to the deadlock in GMO votes, where EU states debate whether to authorize a particular product. He also advocates a high degree of national flexibility on coexistence.
More and more countries now abstain in GMO votes, which reduces the chances of a consensus agreement. A small group always votes in favor, such as Finland and the Netherlands; a counter-group, including Austria, Denmark and Greece, nearly always votes against. The rest abstain or vary their vote. When this happens, EU law allows for the Commission to take a decision when member states fail to do so themselves. "You do have to ask the question whether the current regulatory machine is working. The Commission doesn't seem to be that enthusiastic for GMOs...and it's not like they are very keen for new legislation," one EU diplomat said. "You could make changes (to EU laws on authorizing GMOs)," he said. "I can't see how you could easily introduce such a major change. But they may have a clever plan."
EU ministers uphold sovereign right to ban GMOs - Fri Jun 24, 2005 - By Jeremy Smith
LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - EU environment ministers dealt a blow on Friday to efforts to get more GMO crops grown in Europe as they agreed to uphold eight national bans on genetically modified maize and rapeseed types. The vote was a sharp rebuff for the European Union's executive Commission, which had wanted the ministers to endorse an order to lift the bans within 20 days. EU law provides for national GMO bans if the government can justify the prohibition. It was also the EU's first agreement on GMO policy since 1998, when the bloc began its unofficial moratorium on approving new GMO foods and crops -- lifted last year by a legal default.
"A very large majority, 22 member states, rejected proposals to lift these national bans. We were able to give a clear message to the European Commission," Luxembourg Environment Minister Lucien Lux told a news conference.
The ministers' decision plays into the hands of the United States, Canada and Argentina, whose suit against the European Union at the World Trade Organization alleges that EU biotech policy harms trade and is not founded on science. The EU's 1998-2004 biotech ban, they say, was illegal. The WTO is now expected to issue its initial ruling on the GMO case in early October, postponed from August, officials say. Between 1997 and 2000, Austria, France, Germany, Greece and Luxembourg banned specific GMOs on their territory, focusing on three maize and two rapeseed types approved shortly before the start of the EU moratorium.
For the Commission, the votes were a setback, especially in its WTO defense, but it was still "business as usual." The EU executive now has several options, including returning to the ministers with the same proposals for lifting the bans, though at a later date, or changing them radically. "The EU is under considerable pressure at the WTO, and not only due to the lack of action (on national GMO bans) in previous years. And further delays would weaken our position at the WTO," EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said. "This does not call our regulatory framework into question...(which) is the strictest in the world. We are going to apply the existing framework and we are obliged to do so."
GREENS ECSTATIC, INDUSTRY ANGRY
Spain was the only country to uphold all eight bans, despite the fact that its farmers grow one of the maize types, the Bt-176 strain made by Swiss biotech giant Syngenta . Spain is one of the few countries that grows GMO crops extensively in Europe, where much of the public view them as "Frankenstein" foods despite industry assurances they are safe. Green groups were ecstatic that the EU had finally agreed to slap down not just one of the national bans, but all eight. "The European Commission asked for more guidance from the member states and they got it," said Adrian Bebb, GMO campaigner at environmental lobby group Friends of the Earth Europe. "Countries today have demanded the sovereign right to ban genetically modified crops if there are questions over their safety," he said in a statement.
Apart from the Bt-176 strain, the other maize types in the national bans are MON 810, made by U.S. agrochemicals giant Monsanto, and Bayer's T25 maize. There are also two rapeseed types, both made by Bayer. But Europe's biotech industry was incensed by the decisions. "This is the unacceptable and hypocritical face of EU politics," said one Brussels-based biotech industry source. "Some member states continue to show their disregard for laws which they themselves put in place while on the other hand they call for support of the EU legislative system."
GMO DEADLOCK ELSEWHERE
Even though the EU has now lifted its six-year unofficial moratorium on approving new GMO products, national governments have consistently clashed over biotech policy. The EU's member states have now ended meetings in deadlock 14 times in a row on whether to approve new GMO products, usually for use in industrial processing or as animal feed. The latest occasion was also on Wednesday, when the ministers failed to agree on authorizing another Monsanto maize known as MON 863, modified to resist the corn rootworm insect. The Commission will now take up the dossier and most likely issue a rubberstamp authorization in the next few months, officials say. This process kicks in when EU ministers fail to agree after three months on whether to authorize a GMO or not. "We weren't able to get a qualified majority for or against," Lux said. "It will be up to the European commission to take a decision. There was a simply majority against this proposal but not a qualified one, which is what we need." Monsanto's requested use was for processing into animal feed, not for growing or for consumption as human food.
EU MINISTERS VOTE TO KEEP GM FOOD BANS - Commission defeated
Luxembourg 24 June 2005 - Environment Ministers from across Europe today voted to allow countries to keep their safety bans on genetically modified (GM) foods. The Ministers rejected by a qualified majority all the proposals by the European Commission to lift the bans in Austria, Luxembourg, France, Greece and Germany. The Commission's move follows a dispute over GM foods at the World Trade Organisation, where the United States is claiming national bans are a barrier to trade. Over 70% of the European public are against GM foods.
The Ministers however failed to reach the qualified majority required to prevent approval of another GM maize - referred to as MON 863 - which caused unexplained kidney damage to rats, according to research conducted by the manufacturer, biotech giant Monsanto. Monsanto has refused to release all the results of its own test on this GM food.
Adrian Bebb, GMO Campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "The European Commission asked for more guidance from the member states and they got it. Countries today have demanded the sovereign right to ban genetically modified crops if there are questions over their safety. The Commission now faces a test of credibility - will it listen to national governments and the public, or carry on with its unpopular policy of pushing GM foods and crops into Europe? It is time to reconnect with the public and protect them from unwanted GM foods and crops."
Since 1997, five EU countries have banned various GM crops on safety grounds. (1) The Commission asked all EU member states to vote on proposals requiring the five countries to lift their bans within 20 days.(2) Ministers today voted overwhelmingly to allow these bans to remain.
The Commission's proposals are seen as a direct result of the trade dispute in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that was started in 2003 by the United States, Argentina and Canada. These countries, all big producers of GM crops, claim that Europe's precautionary stance on GM food, including the national bans, are a barrier to free trade and harm their farmers. The WTO is expected to deliver an interim ruling in August.
Today's vote also questions the credibility of the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA). Last year the EFSA claimed the national bans had no scientific basis - a view rejected today by member states. Friends of the Earth, who have been deeply critical of EFSA's pro-biotech position and their close links with the GMO industry, today called for a major review into the independence and scientific standards of the EFSA. (3)
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Adrian Bebb GM Campaigner Friends of the Earth Europe +49 1609 490 1163
(1) Friends of the Earth briefings and a cyber action urging Ministers to reject the Commission proposals are available at - http://www.foeeurope.org/ban_risky_gm_food/index.php
(2) The Commission proposals can be found at: www.foodlaw.rdg.ac.uk/news/eu-05037.htm
(3) The Friends of the Earth report: Throwing Caution to the Wind can be downloaded at: http://www.foeeurope.org/GMOs/publications/EFSAreport.pdf
The national bans are:
Syngenta's Bt176 maize (banned 31/03/2000) - Reason: effects on non-target insects + transfer of antibiotic resistance genes to humans and animals + insects could develop resistance to the Bt
Bayer's oilseed rape Topas 19/2 (banned 16/11/1998) - Reason: impact of genetic escape and spread of herbicide tolerance Bayer's oilseed rape MS1xRf1 (banned 16/11/1998) - Reason: impact of genetic
escape and spread of herbicide tolerance
Syngenta's Bt176 maize (banned 13/02/1997) - Reason: effects on non-target insects such as butterflies + transfer of antibiotic resistance genes to humans and animals Bayer's T25 maize (banned 28/4/2000) - Reason: protection of sensitive areas, lack of monitoring plan and concerns about the herbicide used Monsanto's MON810 maize (banned 10/06/1999) - Reason: Effects on non-target insects
Syngenta's Bt176 maize (banned 07/02/1997) - Reason: Transfer of antibiotic resistance genes to humans and animals
Bayer's oilseed rape Topas 19/2 (banned 08/09/1998) - Reason: impact of genetic escape
Mrs Beckett Urged to Support GM free Zones - FIVE YEAR FREEZE CAMPAIGNPRESS RELEASE - Immediate Release
Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett is being urged by the Five Year Freeze to use the next EU Council of Ministers to launch proposals for new laws to allow GM zones to be set up.
At the next Council of Ministers on 24th June, EU member states will be asked to vote on EC proposals to declare the current bans on certain GMOs in Austria, Greece, France, Luxemburg and Germany illegal and call for enforcement procedures to begin.
Instead the FYF wants Mrs Beckett to put forward proposals to amend the EU GMO regulations to provide a legal framework to allow member states, regions and local areas to declare themselves GM free zones. In their letter  the FYF points out to DEFRA that political and popular support for GM free areas is growing right across Europe. 162 regions and 4500 local councils and areas have declared their wish to be GM free . At present there is no legislation to enable member states or regions to take such a decision.
Pete Riley Director of the Five Year Freeze said: "In the last couple of years the demand for GM free status has taken off from The Highlands of Scotland to the Greek Islands because people realise that GMOs do not fit with their type of food production and their environment. European politicians need to respond to this demand by giving local areas the power to declare themselves a GM free zone. The UK Government should take the lead and start the process instead of voting with the EC as they habitually do on these occasions."
The democratic right to claim GM free status should be enshrined in European legislation, to reflect growing consumer demand.
Calls to Pete Riley 07903 341065
1. Copy available on request
2. See http://www.foeeurope.org/GMOs/gmofree/ for details on GM zones in the EU
Carrie Stebbings, Co-ordinator - FIVE YEAR FREEZE CAMPAIGN, 94 White Lion Street, London, N1 9PF - Tel: 020 7837 0642 - Fax: 020 7837 1141
firstname.lastname@example.org - www.fiveyearfreeze.org
GM maize has risks and side effects - Greenpeace publishes company documents on rat-feeding trials
BERLIN Greenpeace is today publishing confidential Monsanto corporation documents on feeding trials conducted on rats using genetically manipulated (GM) maize. The animals displayed negative health effects after being fed Monsanto's Mon863 GM maize, which produces an insecticidal toxin. The higher administrative court in Münster released the documents on Monday after Greenpeace had successfully pressed to inspect them in accordance with the EU law on environmental information. The judgement sets a precedent for cases in which companies keep their documents on GM-plant risk assessment secret. The EU environment council in Luxembourg will decide whether to authorise imports of this maize on Friday. Greenpeace and scientists are together calling for an import ban on Mon863; the German government should vote against it being authorised.
"The GM maize should not be allowed to be licensed as food or feedstuff in EU countries," said Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini of the French state Commission du Génie Biomoléculaire (CGB), which is responsible for risk assessments of GM plants. "If a trial produces such striking results, it must at all events be repeated." The release of the documents means that scientists like Professor Séralini are no longer bound to maintain confidentiality. "The safety standards in EU authorisation procedures for genetically manipulated plants are in general inadequate," said Professor Seralini, speaking at a Greenpeace press conference in Berlin.
Professor Arpad Pusztai, who had already made a risk assessment of Mon863 for the German government, also warns against allowing the maize to be licensed. "It cannot be presumed that the damage to the rats' inner organs and the animals' blood picture are based on chance. The documents also show that the set-up for the experiments was inadequate and evaluation of the data incorrect. Further investigations are absolutely necessary."
Mon863 produces a so-called Bt-toxin, to protect it against the corn rootworm. This toxin is not identical to the substance contained in GM plants already licensed in Europe and which makes them resistant to the corn borer. Mon863 furthermore contains a controversial gene conferring resistance to antiobiotics, which according to EU release Directive 2001/18/EC should be avoided. It cannot be ruled out that the gene sequence will transfer to disease-causing agents and thus encourage the creation of new resistant pest organism.
The ministers will also vote in Luxembourg on existing national bans on the importing and cultivation of GM plants. Five EU countries including Germany are appealing to a national protection clause in the EU law. The Commission has called on countries to lift the bans. To date only the UK and the Netherlands are supporting the EU Commission.
"Few countries want to have their rights curtailed," says Greenpeace's Christoph Then. "Lifting national restrictions must be rejected just as the authorisation of Mon863 GM maize must be. The EU must prove that it believes in the importance of protecting consumers and the environment."
NOTES TO EDITOR Please direct your enquiries to Christoph Then, mobile phone no. +49 (0)171-878-0832, or Simone Miller, press officer, tel. + 49 (0)171 870 6647. You can obtain a paper with background information by calling +49 (0)40- 30618 386. Greenpeace is on the internet in Germany at www.greenpeace.de and internationally at www.greenpeace.org
Katharine Mill, media officer - Greenpeace European Unit - tel +32 2 274 1903/+32 496 156229 - Katharine.Mill@diala.gl3 - http://eu.greenpeace.org
Adrian Bebb - Friends of the Earth Europe - Mobile +49 (01609 490 1163)
Court orders Monsanto to make scandal report public - Environmental Media Services - Source: Greenpeace International - Jun 10, 2005
Amsterdam/Cologne, 10 June 2005 - A German law court in Cologne/Germany today ordered biotechnology giant Monsanto to make one of it's confidential reports public after the company tried to prevent the dissemination of its own study. The 1000-page document is in the center of international attention after its results were exposed by the British newspaper Independent On Sunday (1).
Greenpeace have asked for access to the document in Germany referring to an EU-law which states that the public has the right to have insight in all documents related to risk assessement of genetically modified (GM) plants. After the German state authorities endorsed the access, Monsanto filed a court case against the government of Germany in an attempt to try to stymie the publishing of the document. Greenpeace joined sides with the German government in the case and with today's order the original study should be open for insight by the public. "This is a important success - both for Greenpeace and for the people. The strategy of secrecy and intransparency of Monsanto failed, and now the document can be a subject to independent investigations," said Greenpeace International campaigner Christoph Then.
The aforesaid rat feeding study found "significant" effects in the blood and organs of the rats fed on the GM maize MON863. A number of scientists across Europe who have already seen the study expressed concerns about the health and safety implications of this GM corn. Monsanto does not put in question that there were significant health effects in the rats, but claims that these were not caused by the GM maize. But according to the opinion of several experts the explanations of Monsanto are not sufficient to put down recent concerns.
On the 24th of June the Council of EU ministers will decide on the market authorisation for import and use of MON863 in our food. It is almost impossible to evaluate Monsanto's over 1000-page study on the health effects until that date; in particular because Monsanto is expected to file a further appeal against the recent decision, which could result in further delay in the publication of the documents. "EU member states should set a clear signal in the interest of their people and should reject the application of the GM maize. Otherwise the maize corn could be permitted by the EU Commission without any further consultation or votings - and that could have serious consequences," - said Then.
For more information:
Christoph Then, GE campaigner, Greenpeace International, mobile: +49 171 878 0832
Judit L. Kalovits, media officer, Greenpeace International, mobile: +31 621 296 914
(1) Independent On Sunday, 22 April 2005.
Mandelson wants to fast-track GM - By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor - 05 June 2005 - http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/environment/story.jsp?story=644299
Peter Mandelson is pressing for new GM foods and crops to be eaten and planted across Europe, even though governments cannot agree on whether to introduce them, top officials from the European Commission have told The Independent on Sunday. They say that the controversial trade commissioner's department wants to speed up their use, despite widespread public opposition, and is insisting on their being imposed by the Commission on unwilling governments.
The Commission lifted a six-year moratorium on approving new modified foods and crops last year, and biotech firms have been queuing up to have their products officially cleared for use across the Continent. Two types of GM maize have already been passed for human and livestock consumption over the past year, and more than 30 GM versions of maize, rice, potatoes, sugar beet, soya beans and other foods and crops are awaiting approval. They are being nodded through by the Commission, over the heads of governments, because ministers cannot agree on whether to approve them. European countries are almost equally split into pro-GM and anti-GM camps, and every time a new product comes before ministers for clearance they are deadlocked. It then passes to the Commission itself for approval, in a procedure denounced by campaigners as "profoundly undemocratic".
Now the Commission's Health and Environment directorates are pressing for the system to be changed to give governments greater control. Markos Kyprianou, the health and consumer protection commissioner, has also come out against it, and Hervé Martin, head of the biotechnology and pesticides unit in the EU Environment Directorate, says that it is "not sustainable to continue the system". He believes commissioners and governments should meet "before the summer" to work out a better one. But, Mr Martin adds, the Trade Directorate wants to speed up the approval of more modified crops and products. He says it is insisting on sticking with the present arrangements, even if this means overriding the wishes of some governments.
Michael Meacher, the former UK environment minister, said yesterday: "Having a group of unelected bureaucrats deciding what food should be eaten is fundamentally undemocratic. It is intolerable that they can ride it through roughshod over the objections of member states......This is the very kind of thing that the peoples of France and the Netherlands were objecting to in their referendums last week."
Mr Mandelson's office failed to take up the opportunity to comment.
Italy calls for independent EU research on GMOs - REUTERS, Mon May 30, 2005 - By Jeremy Smith
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Italy, known as skeptical about genetically modified (GMO) foods and crops, called on Monday for Europe's top food safety agency to use its own research when deciding if GMOs are safe -- not just that of the manufacturers. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is regularly asked for its independent scientific views on the safety risk of GMO products for entry into the EU's food chain, for consumption by humans and animals, and release into the environment as crops. EFSA's opinions are required by law if any country objects to a company's application to authorize a new GMO product on EU territory. The agency, set up in 2002, conducts its assessments based on data given by the biotech companies that make the GMOs.
"The EFSA ... does not conduct any scientific tests to ascertain whether new genetically modified products are safe to use. It merely examines the scientific data supplied by applicants," said a statement written by Italy's EU delegation. "In our view, the EFSA should itself be able to perform the analysis required for independent assessment of the safety of products for which marketing authorization is sought, either by making its own checks on data supplied or, if necessary, by having further investigations carried out," it said. Italian Agriculture Minister Giovanni Alemanno read out the statement to a regular meeting of EU farm ministers in Brussels. Even though he won support from several other countries, such as Greece and Luxembourg, his comments largely fell on deaf ears.
"I don't share the concerns, the point of view that we have to have EFSA performing its own tests," EU Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou told reporters. "Any change in the system would change the EU's whole approach on GMO authorizations, and it would alter the burden of proof," he said. "Based on the system we have, there is no reason for a change."
EFSA, which recently moved from Brussels to its new base in the Italian city of Parma, came under fire late last year from environmental group Friends of the Earth, which accused the agency of repeated bias in favor of the biotech industry. Friends of the Earth said EFSA's GMO panel had ignored views of scientists working for EU governments and issued a string of positive assessments on GMO safety. EFSA denied the charges, saying it was not influenced by commercial or other interests. Alemanno said he was disappointed by the Commission's response and would continue to insist that EFSA take a more proactive role in its GMO assessments. "Kyprianou's response was unsatisfactory," he said. "We want more severe and objective rules for approving GMOs for food. It must be possible to EFSA to do their own experiments, or have a list of certified institutes who they can ask," he told reporters.
Despite the EU ending a five-year blockade on authorizing new GMO products around a year ago, EU governments are still deeply divided on the merits and disadvantages of GMO foods.
ILLEGAL GM MAIZE SHOULD BE RETURNED TO USA
2,546 tonnes of prohibited Bt10 maize unloaded at Irish port - Department of Agriculture accused of slapdash procedures and cover-up
GM-free Ireland Network press release - http://www.gmfreeireland.org - Photos are available at http://www.gmfreeireland.org/scandal/
Dublin, 28 May 2005
An illegal shipment of 2,546 tonnes of genetically modified (GM) corn-gluten animal feed made from the unauthorised Bt10 maize (1) arrived in Ireland aboard the ship Helena Oldendorff on Wednesday 25 May and was unloaded at Greenore Port in Co. Louth, on Thursday.
The Bt10 maize, which has for years been mislabelled as a legal GM variety called Bt11, is not allowed for importation into the EU because it contains an antibiotic resistance gene which threatens the health of animals and humans (2). But instead of returning the illegal cargo to the sender in the USA, the Government allowed it to be taken ashore, together with GM soybean hull pellets and distillers dried grain destined for the Irish food chain (3).
This shipment of Bt10 is the first known case of the banned biotech maize arriving in the EU since emergency measures were recently adopted by the EC to prevent Bt10 seeping through European borders (4). According to an EU Commission spokesman, US officials tested the shipment for Bt10 corn before it left, "and notified to Irish authorities before the ship arrived" in Ireland. So why did the Government not act in time?
Local eyewitnesses report that Department of Agriculture officials arrived on the scene late, after the shipment had already been brought ashore. They also said the Bt10 consignment was improperly unloaded through the same hopper, transport vehicles and storage facilities used for legal GM and non-GM animal feed, which have thus been cross-contaminated by the banned Bt10. It is unclear if the cargo was then cleared by Customs. The tainted animal feed is now stored in a shed at the Greenore quay.
Speaking in Berlin on Thursday, German Minister for Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture Renate Kunast called for the shipment to be destroyed because it is illegal in every country on Earth. She said “this incident shows that the EU must keep its strong measures; the US authorities must guarantee that their controls are functioning before such shipments leave the US, and not just after they arrive in Europe.” (5)
The fact that over two-and-a half thousand tonnes of the unauthorised Bt10 maize arrived in a single shipment to Ireland long after the EU required the USA to terminate the practice, raises the question of how many hundred thousand tonnes of mislabelled Bt10 GM feed may have been fraudulently sold to Irish cattle and sheep farmers and consumed by Irish livestock - over the past 4 years or more. US exporters send 3.5 million tonnes of corn gluten feed to Europe each year, a trade worth some €350 million, and most of this is genetically modified. GM corn gluten has been the main ingredient of compound feeds for Irish sheep and cattle since 1995, although most farmers were not informed of this until the EC’s GM labelling laws came into effect last summer. Premium Irish beef exporters are already being excluded from leading European markets if their animals are fed on GM feed. (6)
Nobody knows how much Irish beef and lamb has been contaminated, eaten by Irish consumers, or exported under Ireland’s clean green food island brand image.
In an attempt to cover-up the scandal on Wednesday 25 May, the Irish Department of Agriculture and Food issued a press release (7) which referred to the illegal Bt10 shipment as a “sample”, failing to disclose the fact that this so-called sample consists of 2,546 tonnes -- enough to fill over 85 lorries and feed over six million cattle and sheep. (8)
The Government said “the material will be detained in a holding store at the point of arrival until disposal can be arranged. Further sampling and analysis will be conducted to ensure that any associated lots are not contaminated.” A Department of Agriculture and Food spokesperson said "We are satisfied that the testing arrangements and protocols that are in place worked very well."
But as representatives from around the world gather this week and next in Montreal for the second round of negotiations on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, US arguments against the EU’s mandatory labelling and precautionary approach to legalising GMOs include claims that current testing methods for GM food ingredients should be abandoned because they are “unreliable”. Michael Schechtman, executive secretary of a US Agriculture Department biotechnology committee said "many of the requirements (on biotech labelling and tracking) do not match the ability of current testing methods to detect their presence or do not yield consistent results.”
Leading scientists concerned about the reliability of the Bt10 detection methods are now claiming a major cover-up. Dr. Mae-Wan Ho and Professor Joe Cummings of the Independent Science Panel on GM stated that the Bt10 testing method probably involves scientific fraud. (9)
The GM-free Ireland Network (which represents over 32,000 farmers, food producers, retailers, and restaurants North and South of the border) today called on the Government to return the outlawed GM maize to the US. (10)
GM-free Ireland spokesperson Michael O’Callaghan said “Importing this illegal GM animal feed is a violation of EU law. For the government to cover up the scandal by describing over 2,500 tonnes as “a sample” is outrageous. The Irish government should make use of its legal right, under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (11), to refuse the importation of any GM seeds, crops, trees, fish, livestock, animal feed or food, based on the Precautionary Principle. It is disgraceful that while the Biosafety Protocol conference takes place in Canada and Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency hosts the European Enforcement Project conference for regulators of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Dublin today, our Government simultaneously violates EU law by allowing this dangerous and illegal shipment of GM animal feed to be unloaded unto Irish soil with virtually no control over handling procedures."
(1) The Bt10 maize, patented by the Swiss agri-biotech firm Syngenta, is prohibited in the USA and Europe because it contains an Ampicillin resistance marker gene which may confer resistance to this common antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections. This could create new “superdiseases” with no possibility of cure. According to an Opinion issued by the European Food Safety Authority Scientific Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms in 2004, “Ampicillin resistance marker genes should not be present in GM plants to be placed on the market”. No official information has been forthcoming regarding the Ampicillin resistance marker gene in Bt10, nor any attempt to ascertain whether the marker gene has contaminated other GM and conventional varieties of maize which are routinely sold to Irish farmers to feed their cattle and sheep.
Moreover, like many GMO crops, Bt10 maize also produces its own insecticide. According to the (US) Institute for Responsible Technology, transgenic DNA from GM plants has been found to survive digestion and become lodged inside otherwise harmless bacteria that live in the human digestive system. The risk is that this could turn people into living pesticide factories.
Most GM crops contain novel combinations of DNA (taken from viruses, bacteria, plants and animals) which evolve and interact with the living organisms and ecosystems in which they are released, and whose long-term health and environmental impacts are thus scientifically impossible to predict. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) tend to be genetically unstable, don’t always perform as expected, threaten biodiversity, and create superweeds. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (run by a former biotech industry executive) claims that GM animal feed and GM food are safe, despite no long-term health studies to prove this assertion. Independent scientists with no financial ties to the biotech industry have published evidence that transgenic DNA in food may survive digestion and activate inside your body. Apart from the possibility of turning you into a living pesticide factory, other GM food risks include new diseases, allergies, reduced immunity and antibiotic resistance. Scientific evidence from around the world proves that GMO crops inevitably contaminate surrounding regions, can never be recalled, and cannot possibly “co-exist” with conventional and organic farms. But the Irish Government has never voted against their legalisation in the EU Parliament and is currently trying to “ensure their co-existence” in Ireland.
(2) Dr. Philip Michael MICGP, Chairman of the Irish Doctors Environmental Association (IDEA) issued a statement on Friday stating “both the theoretical and proven adverse effects of GM foods are well known. There is a major global health risk looming in terms of antibiotic resistance of microorganisms commonly encountered in daily medical practice. Ampicillin is still one of the safest and most useful drugs in adult and paediatric practice in many parts of the world. Anything which could jeopardise its usefulness by increasing the rate of resistance development has to avoided at all costs, hence he importance of removing all traces of Bt10 maize from the animal and food chain.”
(3) The Bt10 shipment was being sent to to Arcady Seeds in Dublin.
(4) The Swiss biotech giant Syngenta (formerly Novartis) has been selling the illegal Bt10 maize mixed up with a legal variety called Bt11 for the past four years or more in the USA, resulting in about 133 million kilograms of the maize making its way into the human food chain in the USA and Europe. Syngenta and the US government were able to cover up the scandal from December 2004 until the story broke on 22 March 2005 in the science journal Nature. Syngenta claimed the Bt10 is substantially equivalent to the legal Bt11 variety, and that in any case only 1,000 tonnes had been placed on the market during the four year period. The US government only fined Syngenta € 270,000. In the following weeks, Syngenta refused to make public the information needed for governments to test food and feed imports for the illegal GM maize.
(5) Under pressure from public protests across Europe, on 18 April, the European Union blocked all imports of genetically modified corn-gluten feed and brewers grain from the USA unless they are accompanied by an analytical report by an accredited laboratory which demonstrates that the product does not contain the unauthorised maize Bt10. Scarcely a week later, the EU authorities announced that Syngenta had presented a detection test for Bt10, which was already validated by the EU authorities.
(6) This information is provided by the Kepak Group (http://www.kepak.com). This Irish company is one of Europe’s leading food processing firms with sales offices throughout Europe, an annual turnover of over €500 million and which processes in excess of 400,000 cattle, 2.5 million lambs and 15,000 tons of consumer foods per annum. Some of Kepak’s prime EU clients have informed Kepak they now refuse to continue buying the company’s flagship KK Beef Club “designer beef” brand of premium Irish grass-fed beef it comes from GM-fed cattle.
For a detailed overview of European market rejection of GM food, see the report “No market for GM foods in Europe” published by Greenpeace in January 2005. This well researched document shows that the EU market for GM labelled food products is virtually closed. Europe's top 30 retailers and top 30 food & drink producers have policies and non-GM commitments which reveal a massive international food industry rejection of GM ingredients. This cuts across the industry from food and drink manufacturers to retailers, and includes everything from snacks and ready meals to pet food and beer. The combined total food and drink sales of the 49 companies with a stated non-GM policy in their main market or throughout the EU (27 retailers and 22 food and drink producers) amounts to €646 billion, more than 60% of the total €1,069 billion European food and drink sales. Irish food companies doing business internationally need to implement a non-GM policy without delay. Download report (2MB PDF file) from http://www.gmfreeireland.org/downloads/NoMarketForGMFood.pdf
(7) The full text of the Department of Agriculture and Food press release of 25 May 2005:
“Department applies new EU controls to import consignment of an unauthorised animal feedstuff
In early 2005 the European Commission was informed of the inadvertent release of an unauthorised Genetically Modified Maize (Bt10) onto the market in the US. Measures were immediately put in place to ensure that this material would not enter the animal feed chain in EU Member States (Commission Decision 2005/317). These measures relate to two by-products of maize that are used in animal feed, namely Maize Gluten Feed and Distillers Dried Grains originating in the US. In accordance with the Commission Decision all imports of these two feedstuffs must be accompanied by certification from an accredited laboratory which demonstrates that the product does not contain the unauthorised Bt10 Maize.
In accordance with the Decision, the Department of Agriculture and Food has been applying this certification requirement to imports from the US of the relevant feedstuffs.
The Department has in recent days been informed by an Irish importer that a sample of a consignment of Maize Gluten Feed destined for Ireland had tested positive in an accredited laboratory in the US for the presence of the unauthorised Bt10 maize. The material was already en route when the laboratory results were obtained. In accordance with the Commission Decision the material in question will not be allowed enter the animal feed chain and will be disposed of. The material will be detained in a holding store at the point of arrival until disposal can be arranged. Further sampling and analysis will be conducted to ensure that any associated lots are not contaminated.”
(8) Most Irish beef and lamb comes from animals fed on GM animal feed. The amount consumed depends on the type of animal and the season of the year. According to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association, a typical dose for cattle being fattened for market is of 4 or 5 Kgs per day, of which 5 to 10 per cent may consist of GM corn gluten. Animal feed for lambs may contain up to 30 per cent of GM corn gluten. A single feed of Bt10 could confer antibiotic resistance to common bacteria.
(9) Dr. Mae-Wan Ho and Professor Joe Cummings said: “The detection method for Syngenta’s illegal GM maize is flawed; there must now be a full disclosure of information and access to reference material for retrospective risk assessment and risk management.” A leading scientist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the data which Syngenta provided to the EC to help identify the contaminated shipments is “very suspicious”.
Dr. Brian John of GM-free Cymru (GM-free Wales) raised concerns about Syngenta's attempt to control the testing for Bt10 by setting up a monopoly with only one private lab having ’official’ reference material. “This lab is known to be closely cooperating with Syngenta, and so the question of impartiality of testing is a real one. For instance, might that lab have a behind the scenes agreement with Syngenta that they will report any positives to Syngenta first, even before reporting the positive to the customer who sent in the sample? ” Dr. John also said that Bt10, like most GM crops, is probably genetically unstable and that its transgenic DNA may have changed since it was first patented. He is concerned that the validation trial was conducted on just one undated sample of Bt10 maize selected and submitted by Syngenta. “This sample may not truly represent the nature of Bt10 as it is today, more than ten years after its initial development.”
(10) The GM-free Ireland Network declared over 1,000 GMO-free zones North and South of the border on 22 April 2005, as a first step in protecting the right of Irish farmers and consumers to choose safe GMO-free food and farming. They want the Governments of the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland to prohibit GMO seeds, crops, trees, fish, livestock, animal feed and food on the island, in order to protect Ireland’s world famous clean green food island image and enable Irish farmers to secure their fair share of the rapidly growing market for the safe GM-free food which the majority of EU consumers demand. The GM-free Ireland Network also encourages Irish County Councils to join the European Network of GMO-free Regions which includes over 100 regions and 3,500 local areas that prohibit GMO farming in 22 EU countries. For more information visit the GM-free Ireland web site at http://www.gmfreeireland.org
(11) The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, to which the EU is a party, recognises the right of any country to say "no" to GMOs on the basis of the precautionary principle. Ireland thus the legal right to prohibit or restrict GMOs when there is scientific uncertainty about their short to long-term safety. The Protocol explicitly upholds the right of Parties to ban imports of GMOs and to impose higher safety standards. The treaty recognises the Precautionary Principle whereby governments should take preventative action before environmental damage starts to occur, when there is a reasonable cause for concern. Since the Biosafety Protocol was drafted and negotiated in the years 1999 and 2000, scientific backing to the precautionary principle has increased in the light of additional evidence on the risks of genetically modified organisms to biodiversity (e.g. the Mexican maize contamination case, among others). A ban or embargo on GMOs in the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland would therefore be fully legitimate and backed by science. Details may be found in An Explanatory Guide to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. IUCN Environmental Policy and Law Paper No. 46. Published by IUCN - The World Conservation Union, Gland, Switzerland, 2003. ISBN: 2-8317-0671-8. Can be ordered online from: www.iucn.org/bookstore, tel: + 41 22 999 0001.
PERSON TO CONTACT
Michael O’Callaghan - Co-ordinator, GM-free Ireland Network
tel + 353 (0) 404 43 885 - mobile: + 353 (0) 87 799 4761 - email: email@example.com - http://www.gmfreeireland.org
Tainted biotech maize impounded at Irish port - Wed May 25, 2005 - http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=scienceNews&storyID=8604559
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A United States consignment of genetically modified corn gluten feed tainted with an illegal strain has been impounded upon arrival at an Irish port, the European Commission said on Wednesday. The feed was contaminated with the banned Bt-10, a genetically modified (GMO) maize made by Swiss agrochemicals group Syngenta . The shipment was tested in the United States and the positive results for Bt-10 were sent to Ireland to allow Dublin to stop the cargo on arrival, the EU executive said. "The Irish authorities are taking necessary measures to ensure that the contaminated consignment does not enter the food chain," Commission spokesman Philip Tod told a news conference. Last month the European Union blocked imports of maize from the United States unless shipments carried proof that they were free of Bt-10, which is not authorized for use either in Europe or the United States. The curb will be reviewed at the end of October but the EU's food safety chief said last month the conditional ban may be extended if more contaminated products were discovered. Syngenta said the impounding of the maize shipment in Ireland showed that the testing system for Bt-10 was working. "The testing and certification implemented by the European Union is doing exactly what it is supposed to do," said a Syngenta spokesman.
U.S. exporters send 3.5 million tonnes of corn gluten feed to Europe each year, a trade worth some 350 million euros ($440 million). In March Syngenta said some of its maize seeds sent to the EU from the United States were mistakenly mixed with Bt-10. This insect-resistant strain is similar to Bt-11, a different GMO strain that is approved for distribution in the EU. The maize mix-up occurred between 2001 and 2004.
EU: Ireland intercepts U.S. biotech corn - Associated Press, Wednesday May 2005
BRUSSELS, Belgium - Irish port authorities intercepted a shipment from the United States of animal feed that contained genetically modified corn banned in the European Union, the European Commission said Wednesday. U.S. officials tested the shipment for Bt10 corn before it left, "and notified to Irish authorities before the ship arrived" in Ireland, EU Commission spokesman Philip Tod said. About 290 tests for Bt10 have been conducted on EU-bound shipments, but this was the first time a test turned up positive, Tod said. The cargo will be offloaded and stored, pending a decision on its disposal, the commission said. Irish authorities will carry out a risk assessment of the other feed materials on the boat.
The EU's six-year ban on biotech foods in general ended in May 2004 when the European Commission approved a new corn developed by Swiss agrochemicals company Syngenta. But a ban against Bt10 remains in place. The EU says it contains a gene that can make that strain of corn resistant to ampicillin, a commonly used antibiotic. EU rules require the commission to prevent unauthorized genetically modified products from entering Europe. Europeans have become increasingly wary what they eat, following recent food scares including mad cow disease in beef and poisonous dioxins in chickens.
GREENPEACE PRESS RELEASE - Scientist backs Greenpeace concerns on GM crops
Hungarian Academy of Sciences professor warns of impacts on biodiversity and industry pressure
BRUSSELS, 24 MAY 2005 - European countries should not grow insect-resistant genetically modified (GM) maize because of its potential threat to the environment, Professor Béla Darvas of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences argued today at a press conference in Brussels organised by Greenpeace. Professor Darvas called for more studies into the effects of GM crops, and criticised the biotech industry's reluctance to cooperate with independent scientists. Professor Darvas's research on behalf of the Hungarian government into the effects of a Monsanto insect-resistant maize (MON 810) led Hungary in January 2005 to impose a national ban on the crop, which is authorised for growing in the EU . His preliminary findings show that protected butterfly species and other organisms are sensitive to the Bt toxin produced by the crop, and raised other questions regarding its possible secondary effects.
"Bt maize can have a severe unintended impact on a variety of species. Hungary cannot take the risk of allowing this crop to be planted until its impacts are properly investigated, and so has taken the precautionary approach of banning MON 810," said Professor Béla Darvas. Professor Darvas also shared his concerns that biotechnology companies are not cooperating with scientists: "We asked Monsanto several times to provide us with material necessary to conduct further research on behalf of the Hungarian government, but the company said that it did not wish to provide more modified seeds for research purposes. This is absolutely unacceptable from a scientific standpoint," said Darvas. "We cannot suspend studies into the safety of GM crops just because the findings upset the biotech industry. If this is a reflection of how little they care about the impact of their products on the environment, we have cause to be very concerned."
Greenpeace is concerned that potential threats to the environment of Bt maize and other genetically modified crops are also consistently disregarded by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) . "The current over-reliance on data supplied by industry is irresponsible. The EFSA gives the benefit of doubt to GMOs, which is contrary to the precautionary principle," said Eric Gall of Greenpeace European Unit. "The European Commission needs to ensure that the precautionary principle which is at the heart of EU legislation on GMOs is fully respected by the EFSA."
NOTES TO EDITOR
 MON 810 was approved for cultivation in the European Union in 1998, since when no new GM crops have been authorised. Poland and Greece recently took similar steps to Hungary, to restrict the import and cultivation of GM crops. Member states that have had similar regulations in place for several years include Germany, France, Austria, Luxembourg and Greece. In June, the Council of environment ministers will have to decide on whether to back the European Commission's call to force the lifting of these national bans.
 The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has recently released a positive scientific opinion for the cultivation of two other maize varieties containing Bt insecticidal toxins: on 4 March 2005 for 1507 (Pioneer Hi-Bred) for food and feed, and cultivation; and on 20 May 2005 on Bt11 (Syngenta) for cultivation. Greenpeace has chronicled a number of oversights in the EFSA's assessment of both varieties, ranging from abnormal results in rat-feeding trials to lack of information on ecological effects. New Greenpeace briefings on: 1507, see http://eu.greenpeace.org/downloads/gmo/BackgroundBriefingPioneer1507.pdf
Bt11, see http://eu.greenpeace.org/downloads/gmo/BackgroundBt11short0505.pdf
Eric Gall, EU policy director on GMOs, Greenpeace European Unit, tel +32 (0)496 161 582
Christoph Then, GMO campaigner, Greenpeace International, +49 171 878 0832
Katharine Mill, media officer, Greenpeace European Unit, tel +32 (0)2 274 1903
Monsanto denies rat research reports on GM corn - Agence France Presse, 24 May 2005 -
ST LOUIS (AFX) - Monsanto Co discounted European reports that the company''s internal research had found variations in the health of rats fed a genetically modified corn produced to protect against corn rootworm prior to European approval. Monsanto reiterated that, contrary to published reports, it supplied all required information to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) prior to approval of MON 863 YieldGard(R) Rootworm corn. ''Published reports suggest that there is new information about MON 863 that has not been submitted to EU regulators. That is not the case,'' said Jerry Hjelle, vice president for Monsanto Worldwide Regulatory Affairs. ''Monsanto has provided all required data and studies, including the subject rat study, to European regulatory authorities, and EFSA reviewed these studies before issuing its opinion.''
Yesterday, the EFSA asked Monsanto to provide all its research results into the GM corn amid health risk concerns. ''Monsanto must immediately transmit to EFSA its entire research into (the corn strain) MON 863,'' said Italy''s professor Giorgio Calabrese, an EFSA member in an interview with the Italian daily La Stampa. Rats fed on the corn developed serious abnormalities, with kidney malformations and changes to blood indicating damage to the immune system, an internal scientific report at the US-based company found, according to Sunday''s edition of English newspaper The Independent. The company is said to have given only partial results of its tests on MON 863 when first seeking backing for the strain from the EU, said Calabrese. ''It seems the multinational gave its own conclusions to the scientists working on GMOs (genetically modified organisms) for the European Agency,'' he said. ''European researchers made their own tests and have found results that differ with those put forward by Monsanto'', he said.
The Pieces of the New “Model” are Becoming Visible - Rural Reflection Group - Argentina - December 16, 2004
It is evident that European society does not understand the Latin American agricultural reality. Likewise, in South America there is an “idealist” view of European agriculture and its “multifunctionality”.
A series of letters by Robin Maynard, founder of the independent farmers movement in the United Kingdom (www.farm.org), published by The Ecologist in November (Vol. 34, Nº 9, pp 25-29), clearly shows how contradictory the European reality is. This environmentalist and struggler for agriculture for over 15 years, curiously feels that he has one foot on each of the irreconcilable positions that are found today in the British agricultural sector, in Europe and, we could add, in Latin America. In his letters, RM analyzes the evolution of European agriculture during the postwar period, when the agro-industrial path was followed by replacing human labor with agrochemicals, veterinary drugs, and machinery. The result was a rapid increase in yields, but also a corresponding, catastrophic decline in diversity, health, landscape quality, wildlife, soil and water. Those were times of glory for many farmers, whose increased production took advantage of a seemingly limitless flow of subsidies, courtesy of the taxpayer. But the deterioration of the environmental, wildlife and water is only half of the picture. In the UK, at the end of the Second World War there were 500,000 agricultural enterprises. By 1998, mixed farming had declined to 12,000 of a total of 240,000 viable agricultural enterprises. Today there are less than 11,000.
Mixed agriculture, with rotation of crops and livestock to allow for fallow periods, maintains fertility and prevents the spread of of and shortens the cycles of disease. It also produces diversity of habitats and provides the food that sustains wildlife. Robin Maynard asserts that instead of recognizing the benefits of mixed farming and putting efforts into developing it, in the post-war period politicians supported the agro-toxin and machinery lobby, opting to replace mixed agriculture for production on an industrial scale. He quotes civil servants declaring that “more than half the farmers of the UK have to quit farming," adding that agricultural companies should grow as this was a positive development. The British government still believes that the US model of agriculture is the only viable one. This means that anything less than 1500 2000 hectares, for each crop, is probably insufficient. Based on studies by the same North Americans, RM affirms that wherever agribusiness dominates, neighboring villages die. Increased mechanization means there is less local employment, and the profits from big agricultural enterprises are channeled directly to the headquarters of corporations and banks in the distant cities.
In the last of his eight letters, the British environmentalist points out that farmers’ incomes in the United Kingdom have fallen by 59% in the last 25 years, and in this context one cannot blame farmers for being so obsessed with prices.
It is the subsidies that conceal the costs that the current model of agriculture no longer covers. It is a handful of enormous agro-toxin, food processing, and retailing enterprises that dominate the agrifood sector, charging farmers high prices for inputs and tools and paying them low prices for their produce, relying on the taxpayer to fund the difference. According to RM, today it is only the biggest and most efficient enterprises that can compete without the help of subsidies in a free market world. If food can be produced more cheaply overseas, this is what must be done. Organic producers can only survive by supplying niche markets. The others have to abandon the production of food and turn to providing “environmental services”, “ecosystem services”, managing the landscape in exchange for an annual payment, at least as long as the Treasury and the taxpayers (European) will tolerate farmers as a kind of "park ranger".
Linking these arguments to the “100 million tons of sustainable soya”, carbon sequestration and no-till farming (“siembra directa”) , we can begin to see the situation with a certain clarity. In (an article in) the November 27, 2004 edition of Clarin Rural, some key aspects of the global project can be found: "There will be a deficit of soya....Some of the soya that is exported should first be milled in Argentina....Sustainable soya in no-till farming “captures carbon....Demand for organic soy is growing from the North...." The article makes an appeal for lifting the taxes on imported soy to be milled in Argentina, because milling adds value and therefore shouldn’t be taxed. And the article further argues that unprocessed soya should be exported via Brazil and Paraguay by way of the Parana-Paraguay waterway
Lynn Clarkson, from Clarkson Grain, when visiting Argentina, had a dramatic warning about the possibility that rust might attack organic soy. He claims that for the production of organic soya “Argentina is more interesting than Brazil because of its latitude similar to that of the United States”. He says that for that reason, poultry and swine corporations advise buying Argentinean cereals for the production of organic feed. Moving away from the issue of rust, Clarkson goes on giving a “classic” definition of what is meant by "organic production" in Argentina: “Organic soy production would be developed in newly cleared land where it is easier and faster to obtain organic certification, since it would farmed on practically virgin lands, where agrochemicals or fertilizers have never been used." For those of us who consider natural, biological or organic production as a way of conceiving of “life” that begins with the proposition of respecting nature’s rythms and nature itself, how can we consider a system to be organic if it begins by clearing land? However, for the (minions of the) “100 Million Sustainable Soy” project, forests “degraded” by the “unscrupulous” farmers that inhabit them would, after being cleared, start producing sustainable soy that could in turn alleviate the hunger of who buy organic chicken and pork in the central (i.e. consuming) countries. In such a “sustainable model”, “organic” soy production would play a key role.
Another piece of the model appeared in the Campo de La Nación supplement (Nov. 27, 2004, p. 10), under the contradictory title “Sustainable Agriculture Exports”, signed by a person holding a Masters in Sustainable Agricultural Systems Management from Purdue University (USA). There detailed research on agricultural lands can be discovered - "hapludolls, haplustolls, argiudols y argiustolls", soil terms given to farming lands receiving 700 mm of rain - and that those lands “can be found [Surprise, surprise!] in Jujuy, Salta, Tucumán, Santiago del Estero and Chaco and Formosa, 10,400,000 hectares of land in total, 3,900,000 of which are already under cultivation.” The rest, however, is partially occupied by natural cover, provoking the greed of those who worry about sustainability: “Let’s not do with our agriculture lands what Indians [we suppose they are referring to the Hindu] have done with their sacred cows”. The “expert” goes on to say that "we can’t afford the luxury of having million of hectares under Provincial parks and millions of Argentineans living in state of indigence and ignorance”. It’s evident that the die has been cast for the few remaining forest areas. Nobody makes a link to the floods in Chaco, that within a few hours swept away 300,000 hectares of cleared “pampas” with the same “supportive soy spirit”.
1. To speak of producing soy is, according to recent experience, to speak of monoculture. This has nothing to do with organic production.
2. Except for Unilever, that promises to make a juice for the Argentineans who can afford buying “organic juice”, Argentinean organic soya is for industrial use, for the production of animal feed, a component in the agro-alimentary chain of soy. Such use has little or nothing to do with the idea of “organic” or the “organic agriculture” that ought be about small and medium “local” farmers.
3. Industrial raw materials must be “cheap” and “in bulk”, that is, they must be commodities. An organic product can NEVER be considered a commodity. Thus, Argentinean soya becomes a commodity, but NOT organic.
4. In the United States there was already an attempt to allow GMOs to be part of organic production. As the United States lowers its standards, we should to be prepared for Argentinean Agriculture Secretary also accepting GMOs within organic production.
5. We have corroborated that several environmentalists believe that the money from the Inter-American Bank, the World Bank, FAO and UNDP do not have any predetermined intent, and for them its completely “natural” to request such money for “sustainable projects”, or - as I just found out- for an ecologic reserve in Pilar.
The last details of the model are falling into place. The picture is completed by a half-page ad, depicting the all-too-familiar image of an abandoned train station warehouse, with a sign that reads: “Hey, this could become a carpentry workshop. Can you imagine how nice?” and, adding in smaller print, “Can you imagine the noise, the sawdust, the carpenters making school benches for the school where their children can learn for a better future…" What does this have to do with the MODEL? It is the Max Joint Program: a program with so many benefits that everyone benefits. Round Up’s commitment requires that for each box of Round Up Max herbicide sold in a given community, US$1 will be allocated for these joint projects”. In another words, the future is secured by glyphosate, and the greater the consumption of Round Up Max, the more money will be available to build carpenter workshops and the more school benches our community will have… But, they do not mention, where is the community?
Translated and forwarded via: The Edmonds Institute, 20319-92nd Avenue West, Edmonds, Washington 98020, USA
phone:(001) 425-775-5383 - email: firstname.lastname@example.org - website: http://www.edmonds-institute.org
Revealed: health fears over secret study into GM food - Rats fed GM corn due for sale in Britain developed abnormalities in blood and kidneys
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor - Independent on Sunday - 22 May 2005
Rats fed on a diet rich in genetically modified corn developed abnormalities to internal organs and changes to their blood, raising fears that human health could be affected by eating GM food.
The Independent on Sunday can today reveal details of secret research carried out by Monsanto, the GM food giant, which shows that rats fed the modified corn had smaller kidneys and variations in the composition of their blood.
According to the confidential 1,139-page report, these health problems were absent from another batch of rodents fed non-GM food as part of the research project.
The disclosures come as European countries, including Britain, prepare to vote on whether the GM-modified corn should go on sale to the public. A vote last week by the European Union failed to secure agreement over whether the product should be sold here, after Britain and nine other countries voted in favour.
However, the disclosure of the health effects on the Monsanto rats has intensified the row over whether the corn is safe to eat without further research. Doctors said the changes in the blood of the rodents could indicate that the rat's immune system had been damaged or that a disorder such as a tumour had grown and the system was mobilising to fight it.
Dr Vyvyan Howard, a senior lecturer on human anatomy and cell biology at Liverpool University, called for the publication of the full study, saying the summary gave "prima facie cause for concern".
Dr Michael Antoniu, an expert in molecular genetics at Guy's Hospital Medical School, described the findings as "very worrying from a medical point of view", adding: "I have been amazed at the number of significant differences they found [in the rat experiment]."
Although Monsanto last night dismissed the abnormalities in rats as meaningless and due to chance, reflecting normal variations between rats, a senior British government source said ministers were so worried by the findings that they had called for further information.
Environmentalists will see the findings as vindication of British research seven years ago, which suggested that rats that ate GM potatoes suffered damage to their health. That research, which was roundly denounced by ministers and the British scientific establishment, was halted and Dr Arpad Pusztai, the scientist behind the controversial findings, was forced into retirement amid a huge row over the claim.
Dr Pusztai reported a "huge list of significant differences" between rats fed GM and conventional corn, saying the results strongly indicate that eating significant amounts of it can damage health. The new study is into a corn, codenamed MON 863, which has been modified by Monsanto to protect itself against corn rootworm, which the company describes as "one of the most pernicious pests affecting maize crops around the world".
Now, however, any decision to allow the corn to be marketed in the UK will cause widespread alarm. The full details of the rat research are included in the main report, which Monsanto refuses to release on the grounds that "it contains confidential business information which could be of commercial use to our competitors".
A Monsanto spokesman said yesterday: "If any such well-known anti-biotech critics had doubts about the credibility of these studies they should have raised them with the regulators. After all, MON 863 isn't new, having been approved to be as safe as conventional maize by nine other global authorities since 2003."
GM sweetcorn from Monsanto rejected by EU states, again - http://www.foodanddrinkeurope.com/news/printNewsBis.asp?id=60119
20/05/2005 - Deep divisions over biotech food ingredients once again evident as member states fail to approve a gene-altered corn designed by US biotech giant Monsanto, reports Lindsey Partos.
Food and feed experts from member states failed to reach a qualified majority yesterday, that would have cleared the way for imports of Monsanto's Mon 863 maize into the European food chain. Reflecting disparate opinions on biotech foods, the vote saw ten members in favour (including the UK and France), eight voting against (Greece and Italy for example) and six abstaining, an EU source tells FoodNavigator.com. The outcome should come as no surprise. Since tough new labelling rules on GMOs entered into force last year, propelling an end to the moratorium on GM ingredients, only two products have been cleared for import: a GM sweetcorn supplied by Swiss biotech firm Syngenta and Monsanto's MON810 biotech maize, engineered to be resistant to the European corn borer.
By comparison, over ten dossiers for GM ingredients have failed to gain approval for use in foods. But while the biotech companies are pushing forward their applications for approval, there is little chance the European food industry will actually use the GM ingredients in their formulations. By all accounts, the business savvy food maker, who cannot afford to lose sales, will opt to skip the use of GM ingredients in their European food formulations: knowing, as they do, that the cynical European consumer will refuse to buy any GM food product.
Critics of the Commission believe Europe's executive body is caving into pressure from the US: last year the US, the leading producer of GM crops, filed a case against the EU at the World Trade Organisation claiming Europe's precautionary stance on GM food, including the national bans, is a barrier to free trade that harms their farmers. But for Monsanto, all may not be lost for EU approval of its MON 863 maize. The proposal now goes back to the Commission, which will then send it to the Council. According to the EU official, the proposal should be with the Council by June, which will then have three months to make a decision. If the gridlock continues at the Council level, and in the absence of a vote, the Commission can actually adopt the proposal under a legal loophole.
In a separate vote, this time by post, member states yesterday failed to reach a qualified majority for a maize, known as 1507, made jointly by Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a subsidiary of DuPont, and Dow AgroSciences unit Mycogen Seeds. The application was for import and processing for animal feed use and will now pass to the Council.
Safeguarding Sustainable European Agriculture
Brussels, 17 May 2005 European regions have today reiterated their demand to be included in any decisions over the commercial cultivation of genetically modified crops (GM or GMOs) in order for them to enhance and promote quality agriculture and food products.
Over 250 people from across Europe today attended an over-subscribed conference in Brussels to hear regional Ministers and MEP’s call for a bigger say in whether GM crops are grown commercially in their region. The number of European regions and provinces now declaring themselves “GM Free zones”, or publicly wishing to restrict GM crops, has climbed to 162. Over 4500 local governments and smaller areas in Europe are similarly calling for restrictions to commercial growing (see www.gmofree-europe.org for a full list).
The conference, Safeguarding Sustainable European Agriculture, set out clearly that regions want to develop quality food products instead of GM foods. These demands are driven by a combination of concerns over the environment, food safety, food quality, the local and regional economy, and consumer and farmer choice. The conference also heard support for the Agriculture Commissioners notion that there is a need for EU-wide legislation for the coexistence of GM, conventional, traditional and organic farming in order to prevent contamination. The Assembly of European Regions (AER) and Friends of the Earth Europe, published 10 principles that should be included in any such legislation:
In English: http://www.foeeurope.org/press/2005/10_principles_EN.pdf
In French: http://www.foeeurope.org/press/2005/10_principles_FR.pdf
The conference was organised by the AER and Friends of the Earth Europe, and was hosted by Mr Janusz Wojciechowski MEP, with the strong support of Upper Austria and Tuscany. Mr Janusz Wojciechowski MEP said: “In the New Member States the majority of farms are small family farms, particularly in Poland. For this kind of farming we have the opportunity to produce ecologically and traditionally using natural technologies, which respect environmental and animal welfare standards. GMO and other intensive technologies focus on how to produce more and more products as cheaply as possible. That idea threatens not only human health and environment safety, but also the economical and social interest of millions of small farmers.”
Mr Josef Martinz, Carinthian Minister for Agriculture, speaking on behalf of the Assembly of European Regions said: "I kindly ask the European Commission to lay the ground so that it is feasible to produce food without GMOs.”
Mr Rudi Anschober, Minister for the Environment and Consumer Protection in Upper Austria said: “ We have led the way in avoiding the commercial cultivation of GM crops and of seeds and plants containing GMOs with a total ban in our whole region by regional law. . Having in mind the right of self-determination, the precautionary and the polluter-pays-principles, Brussels must allow regions to decide their own form of agriculture.”
Ms Susanna Cenni, the new Agriculture Minister for Tuscany said: “Tuscany is recognized around the world for its rural culture, quality local products and its special relationship between the environment and its people. These qualities are treasured, especially economically, and the introduction of GMOs could irremediably destroy them. We are strongly determined to defend these qualities from any external factors that could represent a danger for its delicate balance.”
Mr Adrian Bebb, GM campaigner for Friends of the Earth said: “ The European Commission must wake up to the fact that more and more regions are rejecting the cultivation of genetically modified crops. This is at complete odds with the Commission strategy to force more GM foods and crops into Europe.”
Adrian Bebb, Friends of the Earth Europe, GMO Campaigner mobile +49 1609 490 1163
Barbara Thauront, Assembly of European Regions, Head of Press Department mobile + 33 6 78 69 52 35
EU ministers reject GM ingredient, again - Food Navigator, 28 April 2005 - http://www.foodnavigator.com/news/news-ng.asp?n=59694-eu-ministers-reject
European ministers once again throw out a Commission proposal to allow a GM ingredient to flow into the food chain, writes Lindsey Partos. Meeting this week, ministers from the 25 member states failed to reach a majority to authorise into Europe imports of Monsanto's GM maize GA21. Despite tough new rules on the labelling of GM ingredients for food products, member states still need to be convinced that introducing genetically modified ingredients into food production is acceptable. Since November 2003, the European Commission has asked EU states ten times to vote on authorising a GMO food or feed product. But by all accounts a damp squib, in nine cases there was no agreement on the proposal and in one case the vote was postponed.
Under this latest vote, 12 countries abstained, eight voted in favour (including the UK and the Netherlands) and five voted against (France, Portugal) Monsanto's GA21, modified to be tolerant to the company's glyphosate herbicide.
To date, only two crops, Bt11 sweetcorn from Swiss agrochemicals firm Syngenta whose approval broke the EU ban, and NK603 maize designed by biotech giant Monsanto, have been approved under regulation (EC) No 97/258 on novel foods, in May and October 2004 respectively. On both occasions, approval was pushed through by the Commission, under an obscure facet of European law known as the 'comitology procedure'.
Critics of GM foods claim Brussels is caving into pressure from the US, the number one exporter of GM food crops. Brussels, in response, affirms the tough new laws on GM foodstuff labelling in Europe, some of the most stringent in the world, paved the way for entry of GM foods: by flagging up a GM ingredient on the food label, and therefore placing the decision to buy the product firmly in the hands of the consumer.
Parallel to the decision to clear, or not, imports of GM ingredients into Europe are discussions on the cultivation of certain GM crops on European soil. Meeting with strong opposition from environmental groups, there are proposals to allow the cultivation of maize 1507, jointly developed by Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a subsidiary of DuPont, and Dow Agroscience unit Mycogen seeds. The decision that now lies with the ministers of the member states.
The 'pro' camp was given a boost last week after the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), in its first ever assessment on GM crop growing, cleared the 1507 maize.
DECLARATION OF ONE THOUSAND GMO-FREE ZONES IN IRELAND - GM-Free Ireland Network, 22 April 2005 -- Dublin, Ireland.
One thousand GMO-Free Zones were declared throughout the island of Ireland today -- 22nd April, Earth Day 2005 -- by farmers, food producers, hotels, restaurants, markets, pubs, retailers, and homes North and South of the border. These sites require legal protection from contamination by genetically modified (GM) seeds, crops, trees, livestock and fish. Hundreds of participants have placed GMO-FREE ZONE signs outside their place of business.
The event was co-ordinated by the GM-free Ireland Network (1), an association of 56 farming organisations, companies and environmental groups representing 32,000 farmers, foresters, food producers, food distributors and exporters, leading chefs and restaurants, NGOs, professional associations, doctors, economists, lawyers, journalists, students, and consumers. Speakers included Kathy Sinnott MEP, John Heney (Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association), Michael O’Callaghan (GM-free Ireland), Brian Meaney (Clare County Council), and Sean McArdle (Irish Farmers Markets).
The GM-Free Ireland Network launched this initiative with a briefing for media and politicians to highlight the legal, economic, health, environmental and food security benefits of keeping Ireland free of GM crops, and a political strategy to achieve this goal. The briefing, which took place in Buswell’s Hotel in Dublin included a digital map showing the location of the GMO-free sites (2).
Co. Clare, Co. Fermanagh and Co. Monaghan have already passed GM-free motions. City Councils and other Local Authorities which have done likewise include Clonakilty, Derry, Mourne, Navan and Newry. GM-free motions have also been tabled in Co. Leitrim, Dublin City Council and South Dublin County Council.
Addressing the briefing today the coordinator of the GM-free Ireland Network, Michael O’Callaghan, said, “This government has never voted against GM crops in the EU parliament. It still promotes the transnational agri-biotech companies’ unscientific claims that genetically modified food and crops will increase crop yields, improve nutrition, and alleviate world hunger. But independent scientific evidence from around the world proves beyond doubt that GMO crops often fail to perform, inevitably contaminate surrounding regions, produce superweeds, can never be recalled, and cannot “co-exist” with conventional and organic farming (3). If the Irish Government and its Northern Ireland counterpart go ahead with their current strategy to allow the so-called “co-existence” of GMO crops on this island, we will lose our right to choose safe GM-free farming and food, forever.” Michael O’ Callaghan continued, “The introduction of patented GMO crops in Ireland would cause all farmers to be contaminated, lose their right to save and plant their own seeds, and burden them with annual licensing fees, higher production costs, superweeds, bureaucracy, labelling, traceability, liability issues, and patent infringement lawsuits with no insurance available to cover the risks. GM animal feed is already causing Irish farmers to lose access to prime EU export markets, and destroying our world famous clean green reputation as ‘Ireland the food island.’”
Kathy Sinnott, MEP said “GMO crops are an experiment. I have told the European Parliament that I do not support the GMO experiment but if it is to go ahead in Europe, I recommend Ireland as the perfect control. It is an island with predominantly westerly winds and therefore significantly protected from GMO contamination from neighbouring countries. With this control, the EU will be able to properly assess GM crops in 5, 10, 50 years time. And if GM bellies up European farmers and consumers will be able to get safe food and seed stocks from us in Ireland.”
Michael O’Callaghan agreed: “Keeping Ireland GMO-free will provide Ireland with a significant competitive economic advantage. The vast majority of European food brands, retailers and consumers refuse GM food (4). Our Atlantic winds and island status provide the capacity to produce the most credible GM-free agricultural seeds and food in the EU.” (5)
Also speaking at the briefing John Heney, who is the Rural Development Chairman of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association, said “Research consistently shows that the majority of EU consumers are strongly opposed to the use of GM, whether in the production of food for human consumption or as part of the diet of animals destined for dairy and meat production. This is a vital message, which cannot be ignored if we wish to successfully market Irish beef. The old adage that ‘the customer is always right’ still
pertains. As food producers we are aware of not alone our moral obligation but also our legal obligation to the people who consume our produce. We have yet to be reassured of the safety of GM food.” He emphasized the need for farmers to think of their future: “Food scares such as BSE have already had devastating effects on farming. What if something should go wrong with GM food? Last week’s Bt 10 maize scandal and the efforts of the people involved to fudge the situation makes me very nervous. We must ask ourselves, why should we risk our future for the benefit of faceless multinational companies? It makes absolutely no sense! Because of our unique island status we in Ireland have been afforded an opportunity to make a very important decision. We can either decided to remain a totally GM-free area and avoid all the inherent risks which this technology involves or we can go down the dangerous and untried GM road, a road which I am afraid has no turn backs!”
Although most EU governments still hesitate to ban GMO crops, 100 regional governments and 3,500 local authorities in 22 EU countries already prohibit GMO farming (5). But current EC law does not clearly define the matter: some national governments approve the regions’ laws and others challenge them. The Assembly of European Regions, Friends of the Earth Europe and a wide coalition of NGOs have launched a campaign to ensure that an EC Directive due later this year on the "Co-existence" of GM crops with conventional and organic farming, will legally empower Irish Counties to protect themselves from GMO contamination. Irish County Councils are being invited to sign an EC petition to this effect. Michael O’Callaghan said “The declaration of 1,000 GMO-free zones in Ireland today marks a first step in protecting the right of Irish farmers and consumers to choose safe food and farming.”
John Heney said he cannot understand the Irish Government’s stance on GM. “The Government has an obligation to protect the interests of Irish citizens. Hiding behind the opinions of a small group of scientists is not good enough. We all know that science has got it wrong before and will do so again in the future. ICSA believes that the blindfolds must be removed; the public must be informed of all the issues involved and a national debate initiated on the use of GM in food. Simplistic and patronising statements are not good enough. For instance, just two weeks ago we heard one of our top scientist say on RTE Prime Time that ‘sugar is sugar’ the fact that it may be genetically modified was apparently irrelevant! I would say to this gentleman, try telling a person living in Belfast, Beirut or Baghdad that a car is a car - that is, irrespective of what somebody may have packed into its boot. This charade has gone on for far too long: our government must respect its citizen’s rights and immediately get off the fence on the GM issue. They owe it to us all.”
A public presentation about the GMO-free sites will also take place this afternoon as part of the Convergence Festival in Dublin.
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
(1) The GM-free Ireland Network web site: http://www.gmfreeireland.org Prominent organisational members include the Body Shop, An Taisce (the National Trust for Ireland), the Irish Doctors Environmental Association, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association, the Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association, the Restaurants Association of Ireland, Euro-Toques Ireland, the Irish Association of Health Stores, Irish Farmers Markets, the Irish Seed Savers Association, Friends of the Earth, Friends of the Irish Environment, the Columban Missionaries, the Food Writers Guild, Forest Friends Ireland, Just Forests, the Irish Peatland Conservation Council, the Irish Wildlife Trust, Voice of Irish Concern for the Environment, Slow Food Ireland, and Sustainable Ireland.
(2) The map of Irish GMO-free zones may be viewed from 10am Friday 22 April at http://www.gmfreeireland.org/map/index3.php
(3) Authoritative information on the risks of GM food and farming is available from the Independent Science Panel on GM at http://www.indsp.org
(4) The EU market for GM labelled food products is virtually closed. According to the January 2005 Greenpeace report “No market for GM labelled food in Europe”, Europe's top 30 retailers and top 30 food & drink producers have policies and non-GM commitments which reveal a massive international food industry rejection of GM ingredients. This cuts across the industry from food and drink manufacturers to retailers, and includes everything from snacks and ready meals to pet food and beer. The combined total food and drink sales of the 49 companies with a stated non-GM policy in their main market or throughout the EU (27 retailers and 22 food and drink producers) amounts to € 646 billion, more than 60% of the total € 1,069 billion European food and drink sales. Irish food companies doing business internationally need to implement a non-GM policy without delay. The Greenpeace report can be downloaded from http://www.gmfreeireland.org/downloads/NoMarketForGMFood.pdf (2MB PDF file).
(5) Benedikt Haerlin, who chaired the European Conference on GMO-free Regions, Biodiversity and Rural Development in January 2005 said: “Ireland's particular situation as an island that is better protected from unwanted gene transfer by wind-borne pollen than most European areas makes it a perfect place to preserve the seeds heritage and the diversity of presently available commercial seeds, by staying GMO-free. The economic opportunities for Ireland are obviously in the non-GM sector. This presents a big opportunity, especially for international seed companies but also smaller and medium sized seed companies throughout the European Union. If Ireland were in a position to guarantee these companies that there is no threat of GMO pollution in your country, this would provide them with a great opportunity to use Ireland as a safe place for their seed reproduction. This would not only be an economic benefit, but could also be an advantage in terms of the further development of seeds and innovations and new jobs in research and development. The simple message from very many regions all across Europe is: please keep Ireland GMO-free!”
(6) Information and maps of all the GMO-free zones in Europe may be found at http://www.gmofree-europe.org.
For more information please contact: Michael O’Callaghan, GM-Free Ireland Network - Tel. + 353 404 43 885 - Mobile + 353 87 799 4761
Or, Niall McLoughlin, Ross Communications - Tel. + 353 1 633 4033 - Mobile + 353 86 819 4842
ITALY: GO AHEAD NOW TO GMO-FREE PRODUCE - (AGI) - Rome, Italy, 12th April, 2005
"The sentence of the Constitutional Court confirms that the choice for GMO-free produce made by 15 Italian regions is fully legitimate. Now, the "Florence Charter", the manifesto of the program the Regions which have chosen to keep their areas free from genetically modified crops can become a true reference point for the choices made in agriculture by the new regional governments", said Loredana De Petris, a Green senator and the group leader of the Agricultural Commission, in commenting today's sentence from the Constitutional Court about the laws in Marche and Puglia. She added: "This sentence is a clear pronouncement of the Government's vague stance in this issue. The action concerning the regional laws and the allowance of co-existing laws which make it judicially difficult for the regions to choose to be GMO-free are a clear sign of the persistence of the executive body in promoting the indiscriminate introduction of GMO crops to the advantage of interests foreign to those of national agriculture". She added: "I want to also stress that the only public research in this matter which was commissioned by the British government and which concerns the effects of GMO crops in open fields has shown negative irreversible results for both the environment and for bio-diversity. Those who still deny this evidence today are putting at risk the special qualities of the Italian agricultural system". (AGI)
Kenneth Richter (FoE) wrote: Luca Colombo reports that the Italian Constitutional Court has rejected the appeal of the Italian government against two GMO-free laws of the regions of Marches and Puglia. It should be noted though that the court decision is a 'simple' technical (juridical) decision due to the incompetent formulation by the State lawyer who badly referenced the juridical terms for the rejection of the two regional laws. The government had argued that only states can ban GMOs using the procedure of the safeguard clause (Article 16). But the court ruled that this reference was not legitimate as the safeguard clause exclusively concerns "the use and/or sale of that product" (that contains GMOs) on its territory, while the regional laws concern only the cultivation of crops and the breeding of animals. But Luca also says: despite it is not a highly juridical decision on the legitimacy of the regional govts. to deliberate on their (GMo-free) territories, you will not miss the political sense of this decision (likely embedded in the court intention).
Kenneth Richter, European GMO Campaign, Friends of the Earth, 26-28 Underwood Street, London N1 7JQ
Stalking Genetically Modified Corn - By Wolfgang Reuter - Spiegel Online, April 18 2005 - http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,351921,00.html
Since last Friday, the EU has banned the import of US corn feed. The new embargo has further strained a trade relationship already tense over genetically modified food, Airbus subsidies, and the weapons embargo against China.
In a state of agitation, US economics officer Robert Cekuta invited his German counterpart, Rainer Wend, to a meeting at the embassy in Berlin last week. It was an unusual move, but Cekuta was extremely worried. The Germans, he complained to Wend -- who is the chairman of economics committee in the Bundestag and a trusted advisor to economics minister Wolfgang Clement -- worked behind the scenes on a European import ban on corn from the US. Cekuta explained to Wend that his country now faces "an enormous economic loss," and left no doubt that the step could strain the relations between the EU and the US enormously. Towards the close of last week, other US diplomats also tried once more to avoid the threatened embargo. According to a worker at the consumer protection ministry, "they called regularly every half hour." Even EU authorities were in constant contact with US envoys in Brussels. But the telephone and backroom diplomacy didn't help. On Friday of last week, the EU commission decided against the interests of the superpower -- and put the ban on some imports of corn feed into effect.
From now on, the EU will require an analytical report from an accredited lab for all corn imports from the US. The report must unequivocally guarantee that the contents do not include any Bt10 corn, a genetically modified corn variant from the Swiss company Syngenta. The plant has a gene that makes it resistant to the antibiotic Ampicillin -- and is not certified in either the US or Europe. The fear is that if humans consume animals who have been fed with the corn, they could develop immunities to antibiotics.
Between 2001 and 2004, Syngenta released about 700 tons of the illegal seeds into the US market by mistake, enough to produce about 150,000 tons of corn. In the US, the exact source of an agricultural product can't be traced. A certificate from the producers stating that any given shipment doesn't contain Bt10 is thus simply not possible.
Green environmental politicians, above all consumer protection minister Renate Kuenast, feel that this confirms their skepticism over genetic engineering and are up in arms about what Kuenast calls the "unbelievable sloppiness" of mixing genetically modified corn in with other variants.
Chief among the products hit by the quasi-embargo is corn gluten feed, of which approximately 4 million tons are sent to the EU every year. The sales loss might amount to nearly $350 million. Other countries, above all Japan, are now considering whether they will follow the draconian EU measures as well.
In addition to the ban on feed, the US faces recalls, actions for liability and above all enormous damage to the image of US corn. A similar accident with genetic corn from Starlink cost the US economy over a billion dollars in 2001. The subsequent costs could be much higher this time, especially if until-now lethargic US consumers begin to question the safety of genetically modified varieties of grain.
The nonchalant behavior of the Americans infuriated the environmental protection authorities in Brussels and Berlin more than anything else. The US Department of Agriculture knew about the illegal Bt10-infused corn since December 2004. Officials remained silent though, until the science magazine "Nature" reported the incident at the end of March.
On the same day, Stan Cohen of the US Embassy informed EU authorities in Brussels about the Bt10, where he played down the incident consciously. The still upbeat Cohen wrote at the time that he hoped "the recent report of a technical breach of US laws won't lead to a disturbance of US feed imports to the EU."
A Failed Compromise
Corn is big business in the US, and Washington is accordingly alarmed over the new ban. The efforts of the Economic Ministry to reach a compromise on corn imports fell apart last Thursday. The specialist from the various EU member-states had already met on Wednesday and established the EU line, unanimously pushing for the corn feed import ban. Even the Chancellor's office, despite all threats to the contrary, in the end stood behind the ban. Since the US produces approximately 300 million tons of corn annually, with a sales value of over $30 billion, Washington is accordingly alarmed over the ban. In the economic ministry in Berlin, high-ranking officials therefore fear a new trade war with the US. Certainly, the current issues between the two trade partners are already enough to put a lot of strain on their relationship. The US wants to prevent the planned French subsidies of approximately a billion euro for the Airbus A 350. They have threatened proceedings before the World Trade Organization. The US has already made proceedings against the rigid rules of the EU concerning genetically modified food. Their complaint is at present at the arbitral tribunal of the WTO. The Americans feel the current considerations to waive the weapons embargo against China are a provocation.
The tensions all have a long history. Boeing head Harry Stonecipher complained a few months ago during his visit to Germany that his company has "now collected two years of data" proving that Airbus has violated the subsidy agreement that the EU and the US signed in 1992. Stonecipher has meanwhile been sacked, but the rumblings about the subsidies continue. And Pfizer head Hank McKinnell, speaking during the world economic forum in February, said this of Germany's price limits on medicine: "You prefer your own companies," and he brought the issue up with Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder as well. US Republican Senator Richard Lugar openly warned the Europeans a few weeks ago about "dramatic consequences" should American soldiers ever be killed by European weapons from China. In the worst case, Congress could ban the export of US high-tech equipment to the EU. "The situation is markedly tense," is how one government official described the current state of affairs. "Everyone is waiting for what stage of escalation is going to come next."
Until the ban, the threats on both sides confined themselves to pithy remarks. Escalation of commercial disputes has always been prevented so far between the two trade partners, even if only at the last minute. But not this time. "Though whether the Europeans did themselves a favor in adopting this hard stance," says Wend, "is extremely questionable, in view of the already-strained relationship."
US sent banned corn to Europe for four years - By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor - The Independent on Sunday, 17 April 2005
All imports of United States corn have been stopped at British ports following the discovery that the US has been illegally exporting a banned GM maize to Europe for the past four years. The unprecedented move, which has angered the Bush administration, follows efforts to hush up and play down the scandal on both sides of the Atlantic. For weeks the official food watchdog failed to look for imports of the maize, which is banned on health grounds. It has been forced to take action by the European Commission.
The two main opposition parties yesterday blamed the delay on a pro-GM and pro-US bias in the Food Standards Agency, and pledged to correct it if they came to power.
The scandal - the worst yet involving GM imports - centres around maize named Bt , modified to repel a pest called the corn borer. It also contains a gene conferring resistance to antibiotics. All such crops are banned in Europe because of fears that the resistance could spread to consumers via the food chain.
Syngenta, the biotech company that developed the maize, told the US government last December that the crop had been grown over 37,000 acres of the country since 2001, because it had been confused with a similar, approved, maize. It was fined $375,000 (GBP200,000) for the blunder. But the Bush administration failed for three months to inform European customers that they were importing a banned maize. The scandal was admitted only after it was exposed by the scientific magazine Nature, on 22 March. Even then the US failed to mention that the maize contained the gene for antibiotic resistance.
Europe is estimated to have imported about 1,000 tons of the banned maize, as animal feed. The EC says it cannot eliminate danger to people who consumed meat or dairy products from livestock. It has no idea where in Europe the banned maize has gone or whether the US stopped exporting it.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said only "very small" amounts of maize were involved, echoing a statement from Syngenta, and there was "no actual indication" any had ended up in the UK. The Food Standards Agency refused pleas to try to identify the maize in Britain. Its import was stopped on Friday and supplies in transit are being tested at the ports.
The Associated Press/BRUSSELS, Belgium - By RAF CASERT - Associated Press Writer
EU nations to ban suspect corn imports
*APR. 15 9:03 A.M. ET* European Union nations voted Friday to ban U.S. shipments of suspect corn gluten animal feed unless the bloc has full assurance that the imports are free of genetically modified corn. The move could affect millions of dollars' worth of corn gluten exports. The dispute centers on a batch of Bt10 genetically modified corn that Swiss agrochemicals company Syngenta AG inadvertently sold in the United States and exported to Europe without approval. "This is a targeted measure which is necessary to uphold EU law, maintain consumer confidence and ensure that the unauthorized GMO Bt10 cannot enter the EU. Imports of maize products which are certified as free of Bt10 will be able to continue," said EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou.
The ban will effectively shut out all imports of U.S. corn gluten, since there is currently no effective way of testing for Bt10, which has not been approved by American or European regulators. EU spokesman Philip Tod said Syngenta was working to develop and validate such a test, but they could not say when it would be ready for use. U.S. shipments of corn gluten feed to the EU totaled 347 million euros ($450 million) last year.
The United States said the ban was exaggerated. "We view the EU's decision to impose a certification requirement on U.S. corn gluten due to the possible, low-level presence of Bt10 corn to be an overreaction," said Edward Kemp, spokesman for the U.S. mission to the EU. "U.S. regulatory authorities have determined there are no hazards to health, safety or the environment related to Bt10," Kemp added. "The small amounts of Bt10 corn that may have entered the EU have had no proven negative impact."
The ban is to come into force early next week, pending formal approval by the EU's head office.
Environmental campaigners welcomed the move. "Europe now has a de facto ban on the import of many US animal feeds," said Friends of the Earth spokesman Adrian Bebb. However, Greenpeace warned that stricter controls are needed to prevent more cases of unauthorized biotech imports. "Europe is currently helpless to defend itself from contamination by GMOs that are suspected to harm human health and the environment," said Christoph Then, genetic engineering expert for the campaign group. "As long as EU authorities have no means to test imports for all the GMOs being released in the U.S. and elsewhere, it must say 'no entry' to the EU for any food, feed or seeds that are at risk of contamination."
The EU said it is in continuous contact with U.S. authorities on the issue, but its decision to ban suspect corn gluten imports further strains trans-Atlantic trade relations.
Syngenta said last week it has reached a settlement with the U.S. government over the inadvertent sale to farmers of Bt10. The company said in a statement that under the settlement reached with U.S. authorities, it would pay a fine of $375,000 and teach its employees the importance of complying with all rules. However, the EU has been annoyed that U.S. authorities allowed the export of Bt10 to Europe after it was mixed up with an authorized biotech Syngenta maize labeled Bt11. About 1,000 tons of animal feed and food products such as oil and flour containing the corn are thought to have entered the EU since 2001.
The case has underscored European concerns about biotech foods, coming shortly after the EU relaxed restrictions on genetically modified organisms.
Associate PressCopyright 2005, by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
EU MOVES TO RESTRICT US MAIZE IMPORTS - FOE calls for industry to pay the costs
Brussels, 13 April 2005 -The European Commission should immediately halt all imports of maize from the United States, said Friends of the Earth today. Late yesterday, European member states agreed unanimously to a proposal demanding that all shipments from the US are certified free of an illegal genetically modified (GM) maize - a de facto ban on the import of US maize-based animal feeds. The Commission is likely to make the decision in the coming days. (1)
The agrochemical firm Syngenta admitted three weeks ago that it had sold unlicensed GM seeds to US farmers for four years. Syngenta has since refused to make public the information needed for governments to test food and feed imports for the illegal GM maize.
Whilst Friends of the Earth is backing the EU proposal, it is urging the European Commission to go further and:
* Immediately halt all shipments of imported US maize food and feed products unless they can be certified as not containing the illegal GM maize;
* Insist that Syngenta sets up a compensation fund to pay for the testing of maize products worldwide;
* Urgently review the EU's monitoring system to guarantee public protection from unapproved GM products.
The incident was first made public through an article in Nature on 22 March (2). Between 2001 and 2004 Syngenta sold several hundred tonnes of a GM maize seed, called Bt10, to US farmers, mistaking it for another GM maize, Bt11. Unlike the Bt11 maize, Bt10 has not been approved for human consumption anywhere in the world. It has been estimated that around 1000 tonnes of the illegal GM maize entered the European food chain and was even planted at test sites in Spain and France.
Syngenta claimed that the Bt10 maize was "physically identical" to Bt11, a view initially endorsed by governments and the European Commission. Friends of the Earth disagreed, pointing out that the unapproved GMO also contained a controversial antibiotic resistance gene, which confers resistance to an important group of antibiotics. Syngenta finally admitted that this was indeed the case (3).
Adrian Bebb, GM campaigner for Friends of the Earth said: "EU countries have now given the European Commission the green light to introduce strict restrictions on US imports. The Commission must act quickly to protect the public from this unlicensed and untested genetically modified crop." "The failure of Syngenta to provide the basic information needed to test for their contamination is a disgrace. The Commission must insist that this secrecy ends and Syngenta sets up a fund to pay for testing. The polluter must pay, not the public." "The inability of the biotechnology industry to control its own products makes a complete mockery of the EU's monitoring systems. The European
Commission must order an immediate review to ensure that the public is never again exposed to unapproved genetically modified foods."
Contact: Adrian Bebb, + 49 1609 490 1163 (mobile)
(1) Member states met in the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health
(2) The original Nature article can be found at:
(3) Bt 10 contains the amp gene, which confers resistance to the ampicillin family of antibiotics. In recent guidance, the European Food Safety Authority stated that GMOs containing this gene should not be approved for cultivation and their use restricted to field trials.
Europeans to Toughen Rules on Animal Feed From US - New York Times - http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/13/business/worldbusiness/13syngenta.html
By PAUL MELLER - Published: April 13, 2005
BRUSSELS, April 12 - The European Commission said Tuesday that it was drafting stricter rules governing exports of animal feed from the United States to prevent the entry of unapproved genetically modified feed. The announcement follows news in past weeks that an unapproved strain of genetically altered corn seed may have entered the European Union in corn oil, corn flour and animal feed. The European authorities are focusing on animal feed, as they have confirmed the presence of the genetically altered corn in it, but not in corn oil or flour thus far. The European Food Safety Authority, meanwhile, said Tuesday that the unapproved corn was unlikely to pose any threat to health or the environment.
Syngenta, the Swiss agrichemicals company, told authorities in Europe, Japan and Canada last month that it had inadvertently switched two strains of corn seed in 2001. This resulted in its Bt-10 seed, which contains a gene resistant to the antibiotic ampicillin, being grown and marketed as Bt-11, a nearly identical seed that has been approved in Europe and the United States for many years. The unapproved corn was grown in the United States until December, when Syngenta discovered the mistake and informed authorities in Washington. Some of the corn, however, is believed to have been exported to Europe, Canada and Japan.
Europe's food safety agency gave a mixed preliminary view of Bt-10 corn. After examining a different genetically altered corn with a similar antibiotic-resistant gene last summer, the agency said these types of corn should not be sold in Europe. But in its statement Tuesday, the agency said that a similar strain of Bt-10 examined last year showed that corn of this type is "unlikely to alter the existing pool of bacteria" resistant to ampicillin, and that research so far indicated that ampicillin-resistant genes do not spread through pollination from genetically modified corn to normal corn.
Philip Tod, a spokesman for the European Commission, said that the commission would push ahead with the stricter rules as quickly as possible to prevent any more of the unauthorized corn from entering the European Union. American exporters of corn gluten feed for animals would have to provide proof from an internationally accredited laboratory that their exports to the European Union do not contain any of the unapproved corn strain, he said, adding that a majority of the 25 member countries were behind the idea. "There is clear agreement that this is an illegal situation that cannot be allowed to continue," Mr. Tod said. "It's not good enough that exporters from America can't show that their feed isn't contaminated. The burden of proof is on them."
EU set to ban US maize feed after GM scare - Bruno Waterfield - EU Politix
The EU has moved closer to a ban on US maize-based animal feeds after Europe's governments demanded that imports be certified free of unauthorised GM crops. EU member states on Tuesday agreed unanimously to proposals requiring that all corn feed shipments from the US are guaranteed not to contain the unauthorised GM maize BT10. The move is likely to lead to a de-facto ban on EU imports of US maize-based animal feed by the European Commission later this week. A corn gluten feed trade worth Euro 347 million a year could be now be hit after shipments of unauthorised GM crops were exported from the US.
The dispute centres on BT10, a biotech animal feed manufactured by Swiss company Syngenta, sold to the US and exported to the EU without approval. The European Commission is to ask that each shipment is accompanied with an analytical report - a measure that would halt all imports for weeks. "Exports of corn gluten feed from the US which are accompanied by this analytical report would be allowed to enter the EU, but without this analytical report they would not be allowed to enter the EU," an EU source told Reuters. "We're talking about a measure which would say that exports of corn gluten feed essentially should be certified, should be accompanied by an analytical report by an accredited laboratory certifying that these exports are free of Bt-10."
EU health and consumer protection chief Markos Kyprianou has stressed the need for tests that can detect, and thus prevent, unauthorised GM entering Europe. "Kyprianou continues to emphasise the importance of detection methods," said a commission spokesman on Tuesday. Existing detection methods are modelled to test products for authorised GM not unauthorised or experimental crops. "We have detection methods for GMOs that are authorised. We do not have one for this GMO because it is unauthorised," said the commission spokesman.
Syngenta is still developing reliable detection methods for BT 10 and workable tests are not expected for another two weeks. Any possibility of certifying imports would depend on the agribusiness giant providing EU authorities with a BT10 test.
Although just 1000 tons of BT10 affected product was imported into the EU, the row raises questions about the Europes ability to manage GM crops. Brussels is angry over the incident which has damaged the authority of the EU's controversial, and already discredited, authorisation procedures.
Syngenta insists BT10 poses no threat to human health and is very similar to BT11, another genetically modified corn strain - already approved by the EU. Friends of the Earth has attacked the companys secrecy over BT10 and the GM crops antibiotic resistance gene. "The failure of Syngenta to provide the basic information needed to test for their contamination is a disgrace," said a spokesman. "The commission must insist that this secrecy ends and Syngenta sets up a fund to pay for testing. The polluter must pay, not the public."
4 Apr 2005 - From: Marjana Dermelj - email@example.com -
ATTITUDES OF SLOVENIAN INHABITANTS TOWARDS CONSUMING OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS
Stanislava Kirinèiè, Blanka Tivadar*. Insititut za varovanje zdravja Republike Slovenije (Institut of Health Protection)
*Fakulteta za druzibene vede, Univerza v Ljubljani (Faculty of social sciences, University of Ljubljana)
The potential of genetic engineering for the purpose of food production depends also on public opinion. Contrary to the global trend of encreased production of genetically modified plants, the public opinion in European union shows negative relation to genetically modified foods. We conducted a telephone survey on representative sample of 978 adults respondents in Slovenia in may 2004 and we found out, that consumers attitudes towards genetically modified foods are negative and similar to the results obtained in the survey Europeans and Biotechnology, conducted in 2002.
Among Slovenian inhabitants widespread disapproval of genetically modified foods exists, which is expressed also in majority willingness not to purchase genetically modified foods. A great majority of Slovenian people agree, that certain applications of genetically modified foods are risky and not useful for the society, they are not prepared to support
them and find them morally unacceptable. The majority of Slovenian inhabitants does not agree that genetically modified foods are safe for human health. A majority of people would not purchase food, if they knew it consists from genetically modified organisms, but the portion of people who would purchase is higher especially in the case, if genetically modified food cotained less pesticide residues than ordinary foods. People who disapproves the most are middle age population, university educated and young parents. People who disapproves at least are people younger than 30 years. The results of the survey show that more knowledge about biology and genetics, which is in general low, not lead to a higher acceptance of genetically modified food, while higher education has even an opposite effect. The most important reasons for rejection of this kind of food are not in the lack of knowledge and lack of education of people but they will have to be searched for elsewhere.
Some more figures:
(extracted by Martjana Dermelj, Umanotera, Slovenia)
81,7 % heard about GMOs, 18,0 % did not, 0,4 % did not know. It is more likely that people with higher education have heard about GMOs.
Most of the people agree with the statement that the GMOs will be profitable for the food industry, to the lesser extent they agree with the statements that GM food will be cheaper and that the GM will feed the world. The least they agree with the statements that intake of GM food is safe for childrens' health. The highest level of scepticism about the safety of GM food for children, human health and nature is shown middle aged people and highly educated inhabitants. The same group is also the most sceptical about the statement that GM food will reduce the hunger problem and that the existing legislation protects us well against the threats of GM food. Most of the people (72.2 %) would not buy GM food if they would know that they contain GMOs. 95.3% agrees with the labelling of GM food. People trust the most to the scientists (3.5 out of 5), ministry of health (3.3), inspectorates (3.2) and non governmental organisations (3.1).
EU mulls U.S. trade ban in illegal GMO import row - April 8, 2005 - Reuters/ Associated Press [via Agnet]
BRUSSELS - The EU executive Commission was cited as considering halting imports of genetically modified animal feed from the United States on Friday in a row with a major Swiss agrochemicals group over illegal shipments to Europe. The stories explain that Syngenta disclosed in March that some of its maize seeds were mistakenly contaminated between 2001 and 2004 with Bt-10, an insect-resistant strain that was not approved by the European Union for distribution. The stories add that the European Commission wants Syngenta to help it identify Bt-10 so the 25-nation bloc can differentiate the two types of
biotech maize and trace the tainted consignments but the Swiss firm has so far refused to give the information.
An EU official was quoted as saying, "The Commission is reflecting about possible action ... a temporary suspension of imports of corn gluten feed." EU Health and Consumer Protection Commission spokesman Philip Tod was quoted as telling a news conference that, "We have again emphasised to Syngenta we must have it (detection method) as soon as possible ... before next Tuesday."
Syngenta spokesman Markus Payer was quoted as saying, "We are in constant contact with the European Commission."
EU vets from the 25-nation bloc will meet on Tuesday to discuss the situation and receive a report from the EU's food safety authority on the risks associated with Bt-10.
Encouraging news from Spain - Spanish government retreats on GM coexistence - Environment Daily 1854, 07/04/05
Spain's agriculture ministry this week suspended draft legislation on coexistence of genetically modified (GM) and non-GM crops "to permit further consideration". The move follows objections by environmentalist and farmers' groups to clauses in the proposed law setting a minimum separation distance of 25 metres between GM and non-GM crops and absolving GM cultivators from legal responsibility for contaminating non-GM crops. Given the ministry's traditional support for GM - Spain is the only EU country with commercial-scale cultivation - the decision appears to indicate a potential shift of opinion. See Spanish agriculture ministry http://www.mapya.es/.
European Commission press release: http://europa.eu.int/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/05/382&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
Commission seeks clarification on Bt10 from US authorities and Syngenta
The European Commission has written to the US authorities and to the biotechnology company Syngenta requesting clarification of the situation regarding the unauthorised genetically modified maize Bt10. According to the information received to date from the US authorities and from Syngenta, the developer of Bt10, up to 10 kg of Bt10 seed may have been exported inadvertently as Bt11 for research purposes to Spain and France. The resulting materials have all been destroyed. In addition, the Commission is informed that an estimated 1000 metric tonnes of Bt10 food and feed products may have entered the EU through the Bt11 export channels since 2001, the date from which the inadvertent release of Bt10 started. At a meeting yesterday with representatives of Syngenta, officials of the European Commission were informed that Bt10 included the gene conferring resistance to the antibiotic ampicillin.
EU Health and Consumer Protection Commissoner Markos Kyprianou said: "The European Commission deplores the fact that a GMO which has not been authorised through the EU's comprehensive legislative framework for GMOs, nor by any other country, has been imported into the EU, and we are writing to the US authorities asking them to guarantee, by taking the appropriate measures, that present and future exports of maize to the EU do not contain GMOs which are not authorised for the EU market, including Bt10. This case again shows the importance of the European Unions's comprehensive framework for traceability and labelling of GMOs."
EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "In order to avoid any adverse effect on human and animal health or the environment of such an accidental release, the Commission has asked Member States to carry out appropriate control measures to stop Bt10 entering their territory. Member States should also notify the state of play regarding past or current national experimental releases of Bt11, and implement any necessary monitoring and surveillance measures in the surrounding areas where these releases took place."
The Commission was first informed by the US Mission to the European Union on 22 March about an inadvertent release in the US of a non authorised genetically modified maize line called Bt10. The Commission informed the Member States without delay via the Rapid Alert System for food and feed. Moreover, the Commission has asked the US Administration for the full safety information about Bt10 at its disposal without delay, including the full risk assessments upon which it is based as well as for an urgent audit and an official view as to the quantities exported, including the channels they may have taken in the EU.
The Commission has also asked Syngenta, the developer of the Bt10 crop, to release the full information about the molecular characterisation of Bt10 and its distinction from Bt11, as well as the specific detection method and adequate reference materials to trace Bt10. The Commission has also asked Syngenta to confirm that all Bt10 plantings and seed stock in the USA have been destroyed or isolated for further destruction. Syngenta has committed to provide this information next week.
The US government has given reassurance that no food, feed or environmental concerns are associated with the inadvertent release of this non authorised genetically modified crop, based on the fact that the Bt protein in Bt10 is similar to the one in Bt11, which is fully authorised in the US and which the EU has authorised for use in food and feed.
However, the US authorities did not inform the Commission that Bt10 contains, contrary to Bt11, the gene conferring resistance against the antibiotic ampicillin. It was only on the 31 of March that this information was given officially to the Commission by Syngenta. According to the advice of the European Food Safety Authority, the ampicillin resistance gene should not be present in crops grown commercially. However, according to Syngenta, this gene is inactive in Bt10.
GMO CROP SCANDAL - TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE - Commission only acts after 10 days
Brussels, 1 April 2005 - Friends of the Earth today criticised the European Commission for doing too little, too late, about the illegal import into the
EU of unapproved genetically modified (GM) maize. It is ten days since Swiss-based Syngenta announced that it had inadvertently sold hundreds of tonnes of the unapproved GM corn to US farmers for four years. The Commission confirmed today that around 1000 tonnes of the illegal GM maize
has entered the European food chain and some was planted at tests sites in Spain and France. The Commission has now written to the United States and to the GM company for more information.
The incident was first made public through an article in Nature on March 22. The article revealed that, between 2001 and 2004, Syngenta produced and sold several hundred tonnes of a GM corn, called Bt10, which contains an insecticide. The corn has not been approved for human consumption anywhere worldwide. According to the article, Syngenta and the US Government were in
discussions since last year over what should be done about the error, and how and when information should be released to the public.
Initially Syngenta claimed that the maize was "physically identical" to a GMO maize already approved, called bt11, a view mimicked by the Commission. However, Friends of the Earth disagreed, pointing out that the unapproved
GMO also contained a controversial antibiotic resistant gene, which confers resistance to an important groups of antibiotics. This week, Syngenta finally admitted this was the case. (1)
Adrian Bebb, GM campaigner for Friends of the Earth said: "The European Commission's response is too little and too late. For ten days they haven't taken action, even though it was public knowledge that a food unapproved for human consumption had entered the European food chain. The public expects and deserves better. The Commission must now get back into control and demand that any illegal foods are immediately removed from the
Contact: Adrian Bebb, + 49 1609 490 1163 (mobile)
The original Nature article can be found at:
1. Bt 10 contains the amp gene, which confers resistance to the ampicillin family of antibiotics. In recent guidance, the European Food Safety Authority stated that GMOs containing this gene should not be approved for cultivation and their use restricted to field trials.
GMO CORN SCANDAL - SYNGENTA MISLED THE WORLD - European Commission urged to take action
Brussels, 30 March 2005 - Friends of the Earth has accused the world's largest agro-chemical company, Syngenta, of misleading Governments and the public. The company has been claiming that the unapproved genetically modified (GM) corn, which they sold to US farmers for four years, is identical to a GM corn previously approved for consumption. But according to Nature, who published an article on their website last night, Syngenta has now admitted that the corn, called Bt10, actually contains a gene which confers resistance to an important group of antibiotics (1). The approved GMO, Bt11, does not contain this gene. Friends of the Earth revealed this information last week but Syngenta refused to confirm it publicly. The use of antibiotic resistant genes has been widely condemned by eminent bodies such as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, the Royal Society and the Pasteur Institute, who are concerned that the genes could flow from crops to micro-organisms and spread problems of antibiotic resistance in humans and animals.(2)
The European Commission last week mimicked Syngenta's view and stated in the press that the Bt10 is "genetically the same as Bt-11 which is already approved in the EU". In April 2004, the European Food Safety Authority said that marker genes conferring resistance to ampicillin "should be restricted to field trials and not be present in genetically modified plants placed on the market". (3)
Adrian Bebb, GM campaigner for Friends of the Earth said: "Governments around the world have been taken in by Syngenta's attempt to play down the real scale of their huge error. In view of this new information, the European Commission must take immediate action to ensure that foods which aren't permitted for human consumption are removed from the food chain. "
Contact: Adrian Bebb, + 49 1609 490 1163 (mobile)
1. The Nature article can be found at: http://www.nature.com/news/2005/050328/full/434548a.html
2. Bt 10 contains the amp gene, which confers resistance to the ampicillin family of antibiotics. In recent guidance, the European Food Safety Authority stated that GMOs containing this gene should not be approved for cultivation and their use restricted to field trials.
3.The EFSA opinion can be found at: http://www.efsa.eu.int/science/gmo/gmo_opinions/384_en.html
EU Seeks Advice on Long-Term Effects of GMO Crops - Reuters - 30/3/2005
BRUSSELS - The European Commission wants to know how genetically modified (GMO) crops might affect human and animal health in the longer term, eight years after the EU first allowed biotech crops, a document showed on Tuesday. In a tender published on its website, the Commission's environment unit has advertised for interested parties to study the "potential cumulative long-term effects" of individual groups of GMO crops, and say where more research is required. Only a handful of GMO crops may be grown commercially on EU territory, mostly maize types. These crop approvals were issued in 1997 and 1998, before the bloc began a six-year moratorium on new GMO authorisations that ended in May 2004. "This task should be prioritised to take account of the types of GM plants released within the Community at the present time and those predicted in the near future," the notice said.
Last week the Commission held its first debate on GMO policy in more than a year, vowing to press ahead with authorising more gene-altered crops and foods even if EU governments could not break years of deadlock over the issue. While new approvals are trickling in, they have so far related to imported GMOs for use in food, animal feed and industrial processing. No GMO crop has been won EU approval for planting since 1998.
"This study is partly about finding out where the gaps are. There are still some things about GMOs that we don't know...but we know more about them now than we did at the time (in 1997 and 1998)," a Commission official told Reuters. But green groups said the tender demonstrated how little EU research had been conducted on the long-term effects of GMOs on human and animal health, as well as on the environment. "We've a huge debate (on GMOs) for eight years and in that time there have been no long-term studies," said Adrian Bebb, GMO campaigner at environment group Friends of the Earth. "Consumers have been exposed to this, animals on farms have been exposed to eating huge amounts of GM feed with no long-term study," he said. "And they (Commission) are now admitting they haven't done the research because they're calling a tender."
A budget of 50,000 euros, excluding tax, has been allocated for the study. The deadline for bids is May 17.
The European Commission has published a call for tenders for a study on the cumulative long-term effects of genetically modified (GM) crops on human/animal health, and environment: risk assessment methodologies.
The objectives of this project include the following:
- collecting and collating existing information/studies demonstrating the existence or potential for long-term effects of GM crops;
- assessing and documenting the adequacy of existing risk assessment methodologies/protocols to account for the above effects from different GM crops and to identify possible gaps/lack of knowledge and where further research is required;
- developing specific methodology (e.g. Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), checklists) in terms of risk assessment with associated risk assessment criteria (e.g. specific indicators, etc.), for potential cumulative long-term effects from individual groups of GM crops (e.g. species) and for different transgenic phenotypes (e.g. herbicide tolerance, insect tolerance). This task should be prioritised to take account of the types of GM plants released within the Community at the present time and those predicted for the near future;
- indicating, as appropriate, the types and extent of risk management measures (including monitoring activities) required to address potential long-term effects.
For further information, please contact:
Unit ENV.F.2, BU-5 00/122
Tel: +32-2 296 0008
Fax: +32-2 299 44 49
To see the full details of the call, please consult the following web address:
Remarks: The deadline for requesting tender documents is 29.4.2005.
The deadline for submitting tender documents is 17.5.2005.
Before contacting the Commission, tenderers are strongly advised to consult the original call text in the Official Journal of the European Union at the reference below.
Data Source Provider: Official Journal of the European Union
Document Reference: OJ No S 59-056364 of 24.3.2005
Subject Index : Medicine, Health; Safety; Food; Agriculture
B-Brussels: cumulative long-term effects of genetically modified (GM) crops on human/animal health and the environment: risk assessment methodologies - 2005/S 59-056364 - Contract notice (Download here as a pdf file - 104kb)
Greenpeace welcomes Polish ban on Monsanto maize - Warsaw/Brussels, 22 March 2005
Greenpeace welcomes yesterday’s decision by the Polish government to ban all 17 seed varieties of a Monsanto genetically modified maize, and calls on all EU member states to take action to prevent the cultivation of GMOs in Europe. "The Polish government has made a responsible decision by deciding not to let GM seeds be planted in our country,” said Maciej Muskat of Greenpeace Poland.“It will prevent the destruction of biodiversity in our country and protect Polish farmers’ crops from the costs of GMO contamination. Other European countries should follow Poland’s example."
The European Commission placed Monsanto’s MON810  on the EU seed catalogue in September, permitting its sale across the EU. Poland wants to ban the GM seeds for the next two years - which it may do under the EU Seeds Directive - until it has completed its own evaluation studies. The decision will prevent the sale and use of the varieties.
“Poland’s decision makes it even clearer that GM crops authorisations should not move forward, unless the European Commission wants to face a political deadlock similar to the one that led to the moratorium in 1999,” said Eric Gall of Greenpeace European Unit. The Polish government’s decision follows sustained campaigning by Greenpeace Poland since September. Hungary imposed a similar ban on MON810 in January.
For more information, contact: Eric Gall, Greenpeace European Unit, tel +32 496 161 582. Maciej Muskat, Greenpeace Poland, tel +48 509 058 651.
1. Genetically modified maize MON810 was authorised at EU level in 1998, before member states enacted a de facto moratorium on new authorisations. Five governments also enacted temporary bans against certain authorised GMOs. In November 2004, the Commission failed to force Member States to lift these bans, which will now be put to a vote by EU environment ministers, unless the Commission withdraws its proposal. Several applications for other GMOs for cultivation are in the pipeline at EU level, the most advanced being Pioneer's 1507 maize and Syngenta's Bt11 maize. Following member state objections, both applications are currently being reviewed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which is due to deliver a scientific opinion. Greenpeace has repeatedly criticised the EFSA for failing to conduct a proper assessment of GMOs.
Katharine Mill, media officer, Greenpeace European Unit - tel +32 2 274 1903/+32 496 156229 - Katharine.Mill@diala.gl3 - http://eu.greenpeace.org
Half of Poland Declares Itself GMO Free Zone
Mazowieckie Province (with capitol Warsaw), with a population of over five million, has become the sixth Province in Poland whose local authorities have passed a resolution declaring themselves a GMO Free Zone.
Earlier, similar decisions were made by the boards of Podkarpackie (with capitol Rzeszow), Malopolska (with capitol Krakow), Podlaskie (with capitol Bialystok), Lubelskie (with capitol Lublin) and Kajawsko-Pomorskie (with capitol Torun). Further, strong declarations of intent against GMO's have been made by the main farmers organisation in Donaslaskie.
Together with single communities in different parts of Poland, in total almost half the Polish population are now living in an area where local authorities have declared GMO Free Zones. Another four Provinces are currently taking steps in this direction.
This situation highlights the success of ICPPC's campaign "Stop GMOs in Poland' for a GMO Free Poland. However, this is just the begining of the campaign. Provinces and local authorities, in common with many other European GMO Free Zones, are not empowered to 'make laws' to stop GMOs in their regions. So consequently, growing pressure is needed to pursuade the Polish Government and European Commission to officialy recognise and respect regional declarations of GMO Free Status; and to create legal tools for
ICPPC is so far operating on a very minimum budget and badly needs help to carry out the next phase of the campaign - to achieve a complete ban on the planting of GM crops and the sale of GM seeds. This will require a major awareness raising campaign for both farmers and consumers in Poland, as well as Pan-European pressure on the Commission of the European Union.
Jadwiga Lopata and Julian Rose, ICPPC Directors
ICPPC - International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside, Mie˛dzynarodowa Koalicja dla Ochrony Polskiej Wsi 34-146 Stryszów 156, Poland tel./fax +48 33 8797114 firstname.lastname@example.org - http://www.gmo.icppc.pl www.icppc.pl - http://www.eko-cel.pl
BROAD SUPPORT IN THE COUNCIL FOR AUSTRIAN CONCERNS ON CULTIVATION OF GM MAIZE - http://eu.greenpeace.org/issues/news.html#050310_c
Brussels, 10 March 2005 -- Thirteen countries (Hungary, Germany, Sweden, Cyprus, Italy, Denmark, Belgium, Greece, Poland, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovenia and Slovakia) supported the Austrian criticism on the lack of environmental monitoring plan for Monsanto's genetically modified maize Mon810, authorised for cultivation in Europe.
Eric Gall from Greenpeace European Unit comments :
"A majority of Member States sent a very strong signal to the Commission that they should urgently change their policy on GMOs. We are relieved to see that more and more Member States realise that the cultivation of GMOs should not be allowed and warn the Commission that the European legislation is neither complete nor properly implemented. The new Commission will have a general debate on GMOs on 22 March. We hope that the present Commission has clearly understood the message and that it will seize the opportunity to adopt a much more responsible policy on GMOs than the previous Commission, in the interest of consumers and the environment."
AUSTRIA'S CONTINUED STRONG STANCE AGAINST CONTAMINATION OF CROPS AND FOOD BY GM VARIETIES
REF: Doc.TWN/Biosafety/2005/B - http://register.consilium.eu.int/pdf/en/05/st06/st06968.en05.pdf - COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION - Brussels, 3 March 2005
6968/05 - ENV 101 AGRILEG 33 -NOTE - from : General Secretariat of the Council - to : Delegations - Subject : Possible commercial cultivation of genetically modified maize MON810
Delegations will find attached a note from the Austrian delegation on the above subject, to be dealt with under "other business" at the Council (Environment) meeting on 10 March 2005.
Note from the Austrian delegation concerning the possible commercial cultivation of GM-maize MON 810
Recently the Commission and some Member States received comprehensive documentation from NGOs concerning genetically modified BT Maize, in particular Maizeline MON 810, which may now be legally cultivated in Member States due to its registration in the European Catalogue of seed varieties.
In this documentation it is criticised that the risk assessment and the monitoring plan presented according to the old Directive 90/220/EEC do not correspond to the new requirements set up in Directive 2001/18/EC and its annexes.
This criticism goes in line with the Austrian argumentation when deciding to uphold its protective measures according to Article 23 of Directive 2001/18/EC. From Austria?s point of view national protective measures should therefore be maintained until a complete risk assessment according to Annex II of the Directive and a comprehensive monitoring plan according to Annex VII of the Directive and its complementing guidelines are put forward. This should happen anyway in the year 2006 when re-evaluation of these "old products" has to take place.
For similar reasons Hungary has also taken a national measure according to the safeguard clause of Article 23 of Directive 2001/18/EC.
Austria therefore would like to address three questions to the Commission:
1. How will the Commission evaluate this documentation including the new scientific evidence mentioned therein?
2. Would it not be advisable -- in the light of obvious scientific uncertainty about possible adverse effects of MON810 (but also Bt176) on the environment and in view of the fact that a meticulous plan to monitor possible effects has not been presented -- to withdraw the proposals to repeal national measures until open questions have been clarified, as requested by Austria in its letter to the Commission in December 2004.
3. Would it not be recommendable -- in view of the problem of coexistence -- to postpone commercial growing of MON 810 until the open questions concerning a comprehensive environmental risk assessment and a suitable monitoring programme have been resolved and thresholds for the adventitious presence of GMOs in conventional seed varieties have been established?
EXPOSED - EUROPE'S INCONSISTENT APPROACH TO GMOS - Leaked documents reveal EU arguments at the WTO
Brussels, 24 February 2005. Leaked documents obtained by Friends of the Earth reveal that the Commission is admitting to significant and legitimate scientific concerns about the safety of genetically modified (GM) foods and crops. The environment campaign group accuses the European Commission of putting the health of the public and the environment at risk from its inconsistent policy by forcing new GM products onto the European market despite these concerns.
A 118 paged document, due for publication tomorrow, has been leaked to Friends of the Earth. The documents, which form part of Europe?s defence in the trans-Atlantic trade dispute in the World Trade Organisation are already the basis of a complaint to the European Ombudsman following the Commissions refusal to release them last July.
The documents reveal that the European Commission admits that:
The science on GMOs is constantly evolving and that "new risk considerations sometimes arise spontaneously and change the scope of the risk assessment"
Concerns about antibiotic resistant genes and secondary effects on beneficial insects are "legitimate scientific concerns"
Member states should be able to determine their own level of protection
However, since the trade dispute started in 2003, the European Commission has forced two new GM products onto the market and has also pressurised member states to drop their national bans of various GM foods and crops. The EC depends heavily on the opinions of EC scientific committees, such as the much-criticised European Food Safety Authority, although it admits in the leaked document that "the opinions of the EC scientific committees do not overrule other scientific opinions"
The leaked document also shows the Commission accusing the United States government of being ignorant and that they "deliberately selects what it knows to be a narrow presentation of the issues".
Adrian Bebb, GM campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said:
"These documents reveal that the European Commission is deliberately putting the health of the public and the environment at risk. While it acknowledges behind closed doors that there are legitimate safety concerns over genetically modified foods and crops, it is pushing products onto the European market and trying to force countries to drop their bans. These double standards are dangerous and also damage its credibility with the people they are supposed to protect ? the European public."
CONTACT - Adrian Bebb: mobile +49 1609 490 1163
1. The Document is Europe?s second submission to the WTO and can be downloaded from: http://www.foeeurope.org/biteback/download/Second_EU_Submission_to_WTO.pdf
WE WON'T SELL IT! - Majority of EU retailers say no to GE - 3rd February 2005 - NETHERLANDS/Amsterdam
The EU market is worth over 1 thousand billion Euros in annual food and drink sales. It is effectively closed to GE-labelled ingredients according to policies of leading retailers and food producers, as revealed in the Greenpeace EU Markets Report, published today.
49 of the 60 top companies contacted have a non-GE policy in their own brands either throughout the EU or at least in the market where they make the majority of their sales. A further 8 companies gave a non-GE commitment in a number of countries but not yet in all of their EU markets. Two companies never responded and one company, the Dutch Royal Ahold (Albert Heijn), uses GE ingredients in 3 to 5 of its own brand products but noted that this number is declining. A significant number of companies stated that their policy applied globally or company wide.
New European legislation requiring the labelling and traceability of GE products came into force in April 2004.
Strong anti-GM signals from Council of Europe - Environment Daily - 27/01/05
Pan-European forum the Council of Europe has recommended extreme caution in the use and development of GM crops, to avoid "irreversible manipulation of nature and creeping contamination with transgenes". It goes beyond EU legislation in several areas, notably in demanding compulsory labelling of meat, milk and eggs from GM-fed animals. It suggests 0.1% as the acceptable level for accidental GM contamination of conventional seeds; it backs creation of regional GMO-free zones. Meanwhile, Italy has adopted legislation on the coexistence of GM and non-GM crops, Reuters reported.
See recommendation <http://assembly.coe.int/documents/adoptedtext/ta05/eres1419.htm> , and Reuters report <http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/29202/story.htm> Download
Information on the Amendment to Germany´s Genetic Modification Act passed on the 25th November 2004
Under Article 26a of Directive 2001/18/EC on the deliberate release of genetically modified organisms into the environment, Member States are entitled to take appropriate measures to avoid the unintended presence of genetically modified organisms in other products. The Amendment to the Genetic Modification Act (the Amendment) implements Directive 2001/18/EC and aims to ensure GM-free production and the co-existence of GM crops and non-GM crops.
The Amendment has been voted by the Bundestag (chamber of representatives) and now has to pass (now passed) the Bundesrat (chamber of federal states). The parliamentary procedure is likely to be completed by the end of 2004.
Its key provisions are set out below.
II. Provisions to ensure the protection of GM-free farming (coexistence provisions)
To protect GM-free farming, the Amendment provides three instruments:
* an obligation to take precautionary action to prevent "material negative effects" of GMOs, in particular compliance with "good farming practice" in the cultivation of GM crops,
* a site register providing farmers with precise information about the cultivation of GM crops in their neighbourhood,
* a compensation scheme which compensates conventional and organic farmers if cross-contamination through GMOs occurs with material negative effects.
A "material negative effect" arises in particular in the following three cases:
* If products cannot be placed on the market because of cross-contamination with GMOs. This situation may arise, in particular, where owing to cross-contamination with GMOs released, for example, in a field trial a neighbouring farmer can no longer market his products because they contain traces of GMOs that have not been authorised to be placed on the market.
* If owing to cross-contamination with GMOs a neighbouring farmer is obliged to label his produce as "genetically modified".
* If owing to the presence of GMOs a neighbouring farmer is no longer able to label his produce as "organic" within the meaning of Regulation (EEC) No. 2092/91 or as produced "without genetic modification" within the meaning of the relevant German legislation.
 Under EC legislation, all food and feed containing, consisting of or produced from GMOs must be labelled "genetically modified". If the content of genetically modified material amounts to less than 0.9% of the relevant ingredient, labelling is not mandatory if the presence of the material is adventitious or technically unavoidable.
 In Germany, the label "without genetic engineering" can be used on a voluntary basis and is subject to specific requirements laid down in national law.
1. Obligation to take precautionary action and comply with "good farming practice", Section 16b
* Under the Amendment, material negative effects must be avoided especially in the cultivation of GM crops, but also in other specific ways of handling GMOs such as processing.
In order to achieve this objective, the Amendment lays down various fundamental obligations, such as observance of minimum distances between fields. In addition, persons who handle GMOs commercially must be able to prove that they possess the appropriate reliability, knowledge, skills and equipment. Persons placing GMOs on the market must supply accompanying information with the product. This information must show how material negative effects can be avoided in the handling of the relevant GMO, for example through precise details of the GMO´s cultivation design. Rules of "good farming practice" will be issued to specify these obligations in greater detail. To enable the authorities to modify these rules in the light of future experience with the cultivation of GM crops, those marketing or handling GMOs must notify the authorities of new findings relevant to risk.
2. Site register, Section 16a
The public register foreseen in Article 31(3) of Directive 2001/18/EC will also be designed with the aim of ensuring co-existence. Therefore the public can obtain information about a parcel of land where GMOs are intended to be released. Anyone able to prove a legitimate interest will be entitled to further information.
3. Defensive and compensatory claims under civil law, Section 36a
Cross-contamination or other GMO inputs depend on a variety of factors, such as climate or specific geographical features. Material negative effects cannot therefore be ruled out in the cultivation of GM crops even if the obligations of precautionary action and good farming practice are met.
Until now such risk has not been sufficiently covered under German civil law. The Civil Code has defensive and compensatory provisions for material negative effects arising between adjacent properties, but these contain many undefined legal terms, giving rise to considerable legal uncertainty.
The Amendment aims to define these terms more clearly, thus creating clarity and legal certainty. This includes defining the term "material negative effects" (see above) and also clarifying the rules for burden of proof of causation, since if several neighbouring farmers cultivate GMOs it cannot always be determined after the event which one has been responsible for damage in a specific case. Under the Amendment, in principle joint and several liability of all neighbouring farmers which might have caused the cross-contamination will apply, so that a farmer who has sustained damage will be free to decide which neighbour to claim compensation from.
Thus farmers cultivating GMOs will be liable to pay compensation if they are responsible for material negative effects.
III. Other key provisions
1. Precautionary principle, Section 1
According to the Amendment, the Genetic Modification Act will include an explicit reference to the precautionary principle. This is important for the interpretation of all the provisions of the Act concerned with safety, in particular the provisions for the authorisation of deliberate releases and products. Under the precautionary principle, the authorities may take preliminary protective measures even if there are uncertainties over the presence or extent of risks to the environment and human health without having to wait for formal confirmation of the existence and severity of these risks.
2. Monitoring, Section 16c
Under Directive 2001/18/EC, an applicant must submit a monitoring plan with any request for authorisation to market GMOs at Community level. The monitoring procedure is intended to ensure that any unforeseen effects of the GMO on human health or the environment can be traced and identified.
3. Time limit for consents, Section 16d
In accordance with Directive 2001/18/EC, consent for marketing of GMOs will be given for a maximum period of ten years. When renewing consents, the results of monitoring will be taken into account.
4. Protection of ecologically sensitive areas, Article 2 (Amendment of the Federal Nature Conservation Act)
The Amendment contains special provisions for the protection of ecologically especially sensitive areas which form part of the "Natura 2000" network. The use and handling of GMOs in such areas will in future only be allowed after notification to the local nature conservation authority prior to the beginning of use. The nature conservation authority can prohibit such use if a material negative effect on the area is deemed likely.
5. Cross-contamination from field trials, Section 3 (6)
Cases of GMO cross-contamination from field trials to a neighbouring field have hitherto been a controversial issue between the supervisory authorities of the Länder (federal states) and between various courts. Under the Amendment, cross-contaminated products cannot be placed on the market. A neighbouring farmer who as a result is no longer able to market his products can therefore claim compensation from the person conducting the field trial.
6. Authorisation authorities and bodies, Sections 4 ff., Section 16 (4)
The Amendment also provides for a stronger focus on environmental conservation in decisions by German authorities involved in the EU approval procedure. Henceforth the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation will have power of veto for the purpose of the German opinion, including the German position with respect to product notifications filed in other Member States.
A new Committee which will only submit expert opinions on authorisation of field trials and marketing will be established at the existing Central Commission for Biosafety. This Commission is a body of experts made up of natural scientists and representatives of the social groups concerned.
To ensure the coexistence of cultivation of GM and non-GM crops and to review the legislation on genetic modification in Germany, the Bundestag (chamber of representatives) has voted an Amendment to Germany´s Genetic Modification Act. In addition to protecting the environment and human health, its main aim is to protect conventional GM-free and organic agriculture from cross-contamination by genetically modified organisms. To this end, the Amendment includes several new provisions to protect GM-free farming. These include an obligation to take precautionary action in order to avoid material negative effects caused by GMOs (in particular by complying with "good farming practice" in the cultivation of GMOs), a site register providing farmers with information on the cultivation of GMOs in their neighbourhood and provision for compensation claims against a GM farmer in the event of material negative effects through cross-contamination.
EU's Fischer Boel wants lowest GMO level in seeds - Reuters, 8th October, 2004 http://www.agbios.com/main.php?action=ShowNewsItem&id=5921
The European Union's incoming farm chief waded into the divisive issue of biotech foods on Wednesday, saying there should be as little genetically modified (GMO) material as possible in batches of conventional seeds. Setting GMO thresholds for seeds has been a tricky area for the 25-nation bloc, with a proposal from the European Commission bouncing between its various departments for well over a year. Mariann Fischer Boel, a former agriculture minister in Denmark, told members of the European Parliament that GMO seed thresholds should be set at the lowest possible level. This is also the position favoured by green groups. "On GMOs, I have my own personal views," she said at the hearing that is part of the process to confirm the appointment of the next EU executive, due to take office in November. "My clear view is that (GMO) residues should be as low as possible, taking into account all the interests at stake in setting a limit," she said. "If we want to continue with organic production in the long term, we have to pay attention to that." The problem with the seeds dossier is due to a disagreement between the EU commissioners representing five policy areas: agriculture, trade, research, environment and food safety. The Commission's deadlock may now be eased, since Greece's Stavros Dimas - the designated environment commissioner - said at his hearing last week that he favoured a "detection level" of 0.1 percent, which is the lowest technically feasible. Last month, the current Commission broke up in disarray over the latest version of the seeds proposal, meaning that the dossier is now very likely to pass to the next executive. The proposal that was discussed would have allowed maize and rapeseed, the only two GMO crops authorised, to contain 0.3 percent GMOs before being labelled as biotech. The seed proposal is seen as the last piece in the EU's complex jigsaw of GMO laws. The aim is to kickstart more approvals of live GMO crops after the EU allowed imports of a GMO maize in May: the formal end of its five-year biotech ban.
PLEASE SEE THINGS TO DO PAGE AND HELP STOP THE NEW COMMISSIONERS OF THE EC FROM ESTABLISHING DANGEROUS LEVELS OF CONTAMINATION IN SEEDS -- PASSING A NEW SEEDS DIRECTIVE IN HASTE AND WITHOUT MAJORITY APPROVAL FROM THE CITIZENS OF EUROPE, THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND EVEN THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS MUST NOT BE ALLOWED! ACT NOW PLEASE!
NEWS FROM HOLLAND from: "Miep Bos" <email@example.com> Please support us in having a GMO's free city - Wed, 25 Aug 2004
Dear citizens and scientists from all over the world, who are worried about GM-food.
Would you be so kind to give us your support in writing an e-mail to Miep Bos, that you agree on our initiative for a Lelystad-free from GMO's (Lelystad, a Dutch town) is our city, where there are so many organic farmers, it is impossible to have both ways GMO's and organic farming. And they want to agree put into practice Life Sciences too, we do not want that!.
We, three worried mothers and 50 other citizens want the best for our families and city and want to try via a citizen-initiative to ban all GMO's from our town.
On 30th of August and on 16th of September there will be a meeting in the town hall and on 16th of September the local councel will vote.
Pleace support us. We will put your name on www.gentechvrij.nl (gentechvrij= GMO's-free in Dutch).
Thank you very much for your support! You can watch the results on www.gentechvrij.nl
Please forward this message!
Miep Bos ( tel.0320 258421), Maria Lieve, Wilma Schoots, (Worried Mothers. Lelystad, Holland, Europe)
Indien het niet mogelijk is te komen bij de behandeling van het Burgerinitiatief op 30 aug. a.s. zou u ons dan een steunbetuiging willen sturen?
Dan zet ik die op mijn website. www.gentechvrij.nl
Bij voorbaat dank.
Miep Bos (beeldend kunstenares) - homepage: http://www.miepbos.nl/ - e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
100 days of GMO labelling; consumer rejection holds
Greenpeace calls for end to animal products loophole - Brussels/Berlin, 26 July 2004
One hundred days after the European Union's Regulation on the labelling of genetically modified organisms in food became applicable, Greenpeace has found just a handful of GMO labelled products on sale in European supermarkets. Greenpeace's "gene detectives", who have been looking at food labels in large supermarket chains since 18 April, have found just four products containing genetically modified ingredients in Germany, two in the UK and the Czech Republic, and none in Italy or Austria. The most GMO labelled products - 14 - were found in France. "The market is practically free of products containing GMOs," said Eric Gall of Greenpeace European Unit. "This is a great success for consumers. Their rejection of GMOs in food has made major food producers and retailers ensure that their shelves are free of modified produce." Three products with genetically modified ingredients were found in Belgium, 12 in the Netherlands, none in Sweden or Greece, and one in Denmark, which was later withdrawn from sale*. Although none were found in Spain, Greenpeace has criticised the Spanish authorities for failing to implement the legislation and carry out proper checks on companies. Products derived from animals, in contrast, do not have to be labelled where the cows, chickens or pigs, for example, have eaten genetically modified feed. This is a serious loophole in the law, as large quantities of genetically modified crops are processed into animal feed. "Consumers are deliberately left in the dark about this and are paying for the global cultivation of genetically modified crops when they buy milk, eggs and sausages, " said Eric Gall. The cultivation of genetically modified crops is causing ravages in countries such as Argentina, where 100 million hectares has already been lost to soya cultivation and an area of forest the size of Germany is under threat. People who live in the forest have been forcibly evicted from their land, deprived of their livelihoods and driven to city slums. The world's third largest soya producer and top soya exporter, Argentina exports over 90% of its harvest, 98% of which is genetically modified. The soya is mainly exported to the EU (11.5 million tonnes) and China, where it is used to feed pigs, cows and chickens. In five years to 2002, soya production in Argentina rose 74.5%, while rice production fell by 44.1%, corn production fell by 26.2% and sunflower cultivation by 34.2%. "The European Commission should close the loopholes in its legislation and defend the public's right to say no to GMOs. Instead, it is rushing to approve new genetically-modified products despite the lack of support from member states. The example of soya production in Argentina exposes the devastating impacts of unsustainable agriculture and the Commission's
support for the genetic engineering industry," said Eric Gall.
* Details and photos of items found by Greenpeace gene detectives are at http://weblog.greenpeace.org/ge/map.html
Spain to seek independent advice on biotech crops - MADRID (AFP) Jun 22, 2004
Spanish Environment Minister Cristina Narbona said Tuesday the government would seek the advice of independent researchers about continuing with the country's extensive cultivation of biotech crops. She accused the previous conservative government of authorizing a massive extension of genetically modified crops without waiting for scientists to reach a definitive opinion. She suggested that the former government had taken decisions on the basis of research funded by the biotech industry itself. "In recent years Spain has become Europe's big granary of GM corn," Narbona told reporters. "This is the result of a decision by the previous government to allow the growing in our country of a crop on which the scientific community has yet to form a conclusive opinion," she said. "There are those who believe this should not be a cause for concern and others, more independent of the lines of research financed by the biotech industry, who hold a different opinion." Narbona added that a joint inquiry set up by the ministries of agriculture and environment under the new Socialist government would consult the broadest possible range of scientific advice. "We want to reinforce independent research in this area, and I underline the word independent, because in this country, where there is little scientific investigation, many researchers are privately financed by companies that want the research to have a specific conclusion," she said. "Not only must we carry out more research, but we need more sources of independent research." The Greenpeace environmental organization said recently that Spain is the only country in the European Union that has been producing genetically modified grain since 1998. It said half a million tons of biotch corn are sold on the national market every year.
NEW EUROPE BLOCKS U.S. FOOD IMPORT
For: 43 votes (Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Netherlands, Latvia, Portugal, Slovakia, Sweden)
Against: 57 votes (Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, UK)
Abstentions: 24 votes (Germany, Ireland, Spain, Slovenia)
Brussels, 16th June 2004 European Member states have today blocked the approval of a genetically modified (GM) food from the biotech giant Monsanto. The twenty five member states of Europe, voting together for the first time on a GM food, failed to support the application to import Monsanto’s GM oilseed rape into Europe (the GM oilseed rape, called GT73, has been modified to resist the company's own chemical herbicide, Roundup Ready).
Remarkably 6 new EU member states voted against Monsanto's oilseed rape. The application will now go back to the European Commission who must decide whether to push for a vote by Ministers or not.
The vote was the first test for the newly expanded EU following the European Commission's decision last month to force through the first GM food in over 5 years. The result will be closely watched by the US Government who have started a trade dispute in the World Trade Organisation (WTO). US officials have recently stated that "the approval of a single product does not affect our WTO challenge, [the lifting of the moratorium] does not indicate there is a consistently functioning approval process".
For more information: http://www.foeeurope.org/GMOs
GM FOOD AND THE DEMISE OF THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE - Steven M. Druker, Executive Director, Alliance for Bio-Integrity (A US-Based NGO)
The food safety laws of the United States and the European Union are supposed to implement the precautionary principle. But in the case of genetically modified foods, officials on both sides of the Atlantic have systematically disregarded and defiled it. In a comment published May 18 in the Financial Times, I pointed out that the US statute explicitly requires foods with novel additives (such as GM foods) to be proven safe prior to marketing - and explained how the administrators at the Food and Drug Administration have callously violated the law by covering up the extensive warnings of their own scientists about the unique risks of GM foods and allowing them on the market without any testing. (A copy is at www.biointegrity.org )
Unfortunately, too many EU officials appear just as committed to promoting their biotech industry as are their US counterparts - and just as willing to circumvent the law in order to do so. Although the European Parliament has resolved that food laws should promote "preventive protection of consumer health," and the European Commission has declared the precautionary principle will govern "in cases where the scientific basis is insufficient or some uncertainty exists," the practices regarding GM foods are far from precautionary. For years, regulation has been based on the presumption that gene-splicing does not increase the risk of unintended harmful alterations to food, a presumption numerous experts have strongly criticized and the Royal Society of Canada has branded "scientifically unjustifiable." Further, the Commission seems to believe that even the deficient regulations in effect are still too burdensome on industry and has persistently endeavoured to weaken their hold. To that end, it has used the US lawsuit at the WTO against the EU's regulatory regime as an excuse to emasculate it - even though well aware of how vulnerable the US position is.
Starting in 2000, I have informed EC officials about the fraud perpetrated by the US government on GM foods; and last July, in collaboration with Friends of the Earth, I held a press conference in Brussels (to which the EC sent a representative) explaining how the Bush administration is trying to quash EU regulations that are looser than those it is legally required to implement itself. My recent comment in the Financial Times was intended as a pointed reminder to the Commission of how lame and ludicrous the US lawsuit truly is, and how easily it could be thwarted.
Yet, on the following day, instead of deciding to defend the EU restrictions, the Commission chose to lift them, approving Syngenta's Bt11 Maize for human consumption and thereby ending a six-year moratorium on such approvals for new GM foods. But to do so, it had to disregard unfavourable reviews by two member nations. Assessing the data, France's food authority concluded that "unforeseen effects cannot be discounted" and that further safety tests are needed. And the Austrian Government criticized the testing as seriously deficient, noting that the whole plant was not tested, several of Syngenta's assumptions were false, and the claim of safety was based on theoretical argument rather than evidence. In fact, even the opinion of the EU committee on which the EC based its approval acknowledged that the data "provide only limited evidence for safety." Moreover, the Commission allowed Bt11 to slip in under old regulations although much stricter regulations were already in force. (For more details see http://www.foeeurope.org/GMOs )
Despite such glaring inadequacies, EU Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne boldly proclaimed that Bt11 "has been subjected to the most rigorous pre-marketing assessment in the world." Either Mr. Byrne is unconscionably deceiving the public or he himself has been deeply deceived by the biotech lobbyists. I challenge him to fully substantiate his claim or else formally retract it - and to apologize for the irresponsible nature of the Commission's action.
Someday, regulation of GM foods in Europe and America may be aligned with the principles of sound science and the dictates of the law. Until then, it will remain the case that for these novel products, through the brazen fraud of the US government and the craven complicity of the European Commission, the precautionary principle has not only been dishonoured, but essentially destroyed.
Copyright Steven M. Druker 2004
German Parliament demands GM labelling at detection level. The Save Our Seeds Campaign welcomes the clear German position and sees a breakthrough in Europe - Berlin, 26th May 2004
Today the German Parliament demanded that the government. Calls for labelling of all genetically modified plants in seeds at the detection level and takes appropriate measures at the European level to implement respective legislation. Save our Seeds welcomes the decision as a political breakthrough. After Italy, Denmark, Austria and Luxembourg now the Communities largest member state has taken a clear position to keep GMOs out of our seeds - said SOS spokesman Benedikt Haerlin. "We are confident, that this will be a signal to other member states such as France and the UK. So far only the Netherlands and Ireland took a position in favour of high GM contamination thresholds in seeds. Other governments are still reviewing their position."
The EU Commission is presently discussing the issue controversially. An internal proposal of environment Commissioner Margot Wallström envisages contamination levels between 0,3 and 0,5 percent to be accepted in conventional and organic seeds without labelling. However, it is unclear whether there will be a majority of Commissioners to support such an approach during the last months of the Commissions term.
The Parliament's resolution, adopted with the majority of the governing coalition calls upon the German government to "plead for seed purity at all levels" and to ensure in the present discussion at the European level that threshold are oriented at the detection level. It also demands strict controls of seed contamination within Germany. "Thresholds above the detection level would lead to an uncontrolled placing on the market of genetically modified plants", the Parliament finds and also points out that such thresholds would substantially increase the costs for farmers and seed producers.
"This decision would not have come about without the continued campaigning of hundreds of environmental, farmers and consumers organisations, trade unions, scientists and churches as well as 200.000 European citizens who have signed the Save our Seeds petition for pure seeds," said Haerlin.
Save our Seeds represents 350 organisations with over 25 million members in all EU member states.
The full text of the German Parliaments decision can be retrieved in German only at http://dip.bundestag.de/btd/15/029/1502972.pdf
The EU Commissions internal draft directive is available at http://www.saveourseeds.org/downloads/com_draft_seeds_04_2004.pdf
Syngenta's GM sweet corn will not make an appearance
Despite the Commission's recent authorisation of the GM corn Bt-11, the producer has announced that it will not commercialise it for the time being due to strong consumer resistance. European consumers will not be offered GM corn in their supermarkets for the time being. Even after the recent authorisation of the product through the Commission, the Swiss company Syngenta has decided not to market its GM maize Bt-11 in the EU. As a reason for this, Syngenta cited the resistance of the European food industry to add GM corn to their product range. In an interview with the French newspaper 'Les Echos', André Goig of Syngenta said that the food industry had clearly announced that they would not commercialise GM maize.
Petition calls for strict labelling of genetically modified seeds - 3rd May 2004
European Union Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstroem was Monday handed a 200,000 signature petition calling for the strictest possible labelling of genetically modified (GM) seeds. The initiative, by a group calling itself "Save Our Seeds", comes as the commission is preparing to adopt a controversial directive authorising the "accidental or technically inevitable" presence of between 0.3 percent (for oil seed rape and maize) and 0.5 percent (for beetroot, potatoes and cotton) of GM organisms (GMOs) in batches of seed. The group, composed of 300 farming, ecologist, trade union and cooperative organisations, denounced the plan Monday as "illegal, non-scientific, unjust and completely unnecessary". "These thresholds of tolerance are going to lead to massive contamination in agriculture and massive problems for farmers," said Greenpeace's European spokesman Eric Gall. Other critics denounced the project as the end of the European model of farming based on high quality products and accused the commission of being the GMO industry's Trojan horse. According to Wallstroem's spokeswoman the proposal is not the final version but critics of the scheme said the very principle of thresholds of tolerance should be ruled out and GMOs present in seeds should be labelled once they could reliably be detected at all. The campaigners also accuse Brussels of wanting to make conventional or organic farmers pay the cost of protecting their crops from what they say will be the inevitable contamination by GMOs from fields of GM crops. The commission itself has shown signs of internal disagreement, with Wallstroem arguing in January for the thresholds of tolerance to be lowered..........http://www.eubusiness.com/afp/040503172436.2i3zlinh
Spanish GM soya blocked - Thursday 29th April 2004 http://www.greenconsumerguide.com/index.php?news=1870
A ship importing thousands of tons of genetically modified soya into Spain this week was prevented from unloading by protesters from Greenpeace, who are demanding a stop to GMO contamination of conventional food supplies. Campaigners boarded the 'Winner' vessel near Malaga harbour and displayed banners reading 'Spain does not want GE food' in Spanish and English. The group are calling for authorities to investigate the ship's documentation and legal status of the GM cargo. The cargo originates from Argentina, one of the world's main exporters of soya, both GM and GM contaminated. "GE soya does not feed the world as suggested by the misleading and cynical marketing of GE companies like Monsanto," Lindsay Keenan, Greenpeace International GE Campaigner. "GE soya does destroy the environment where it is grown in Argentina and then millions of tons of it are used to feed pigs, cows and chickens in Europe."
Spain has withdrawn a GMO from the market at the request of the EU. The concern is that Syngenta's (GM) Bt176 corn could generate resistance to antibiotics. The withdrawal follows a report from the European Food Security Agency (EFSA) calling for an end to cultivation of several genetically modified corn varieties. Cultivation of Bt176 corn (maize) occupied 20,000 hectares in Spain, the only member state of the European Union with any significant commercial GM crop acreage. Brussels established three groups of GM crops: those that contain marker genes resistent to antibiotics with no efficient use in human medicine and which do not need restriction; those that contain markers resistant to antiobiotics that have specific uses, and which should thus only be used in experimental work; and those that contain marker genes resistant to antiobiotics that are very important for human therapeutics (tetracicline) and which should be avoided to guarantee higher standards of health protection. (28th April 2004)
No go for GMO - 26/4/04 - http://www.eupolitix.com/EN/News/200404/3be816af-7003-43da-885f-92908804ae83.htm
Europe's farm ministers have failed to approve a new genetically modified corn for sale in the EU. As expected by many EU insiders, Monday's agriculture council in Luxembourg failed to obtain a qualified majority for or against Swiss firm Syngenta's GM crop BT-11.
The biotech crop is struggling to get approval, having been rejected by the European Commission's regulatory committee made up of national representatives in December last year.
Having now been rejected by ministers, it will return to the European Commission, which is expected to bypass Council concerns and approve its sale.
Certain types of worms can destroy fields of corn or simply put consumers off by turning up in the end maize product and so Syngenta developed BT-11 to be resistant to these pests. It is currently grown in the USA, Canada, Argentina, South Africa and Japan, as well as being sold in Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and Korea. According to studies, it enjoys higher sales in Canada than conventional corn. Syngenta asked Europe to consider authorising the GMO in 1998, and it has since been declared safe for human consumption by the commission's scientific committee.
Authorisation at EU level would free the corn up for sale but not for growing. And any food containing BT-11 has to be clearly labelled, under new GM laws in force this month, unless the contamination was unintended and made up less than 0.9 per cent of the final product. A separate proposal to grow the gene-altered crop is currently with Europe's food safety authority EFSA.
GM-FREE EUROPE - New campaign launched to protect food and farming
Europe's largest grassroots environmental network has today (22/4/04), on "Earth Day", launched a new campaign to demand better legal protection for areas wanting to ban genetically modified (GM) crops. Friends of the Earth Europe highlight that initiatives to ban GM crops are now running in at least 22 different European countries. The campaign will increase pressure on the European Commission, who in January admitted that it would "be difficult to reject these attempts at establishing GM-free zones, which are driven by strong public local concern and economic considerations (such as protection of local traditional agriculture)".
Friends of the Earth Europe have launched a new website - http://www.gmofree-europe.org - to highlight the different GM-free initiatives from regions representing tens of millions of people. Actions taken so far range from regions introducing local laws to ban cultivation, to public authorities lobbying both Europe and national Governments for legal protection. The number of regions in the EU that want to ban the growing of GM crops is continuously growing. Initiatives have started in at least 22 European countries. In France over 1000 town mayors support GM free zones and in the UK over 44 regions have called for special protection in their areas. More than 500 cities in Italy have also taken a position against the use of GMOs in agriculture.
Friends of the Earth Europe's GMO Coordinator Geert Ritsema said: " Local people, politicians and businesses are demanding the right to stay GM free. This is the beginning of an unstoppable movement that Governments and European Institutions would be stupid to ignore. The public says no to GM foods and the only way to prevent the contamination of both our crops and countryside is to ban the cultivation of GM seeds."
April 2004 - GENETICALLY MODIFIED SWEET CORN - 10 reasons not to approve Bt11 Sweet Corn
The European Commission wants EU Member States to approve a controversial genetically modified (GMO) sweet corn. However serious questions remain over its safety and also the process the Commission is using. This briefing gives 10 good reasons why member states should not approve Sygenta’s Bt11 sweet corn.
1. Question marks over the genetic modification
Research by the Belgium authorities questions the quality of the work done by Syngenta to identify whether the genes had been inserted as expected. They found that there were "uncertainties concerning the molecular data", unexpected DNA fragments present which need investigating and that Bt11 might be contaminated by an earlier GMO (Bt176).
2. French authorities concerned about safety
The French government's food safety authority (AFSSA) re-examined the dossier for Bt11 sweet corn in November 2003. It concluded that, on the basis of the information supplied by Syngenta, "unforeseen effects cannot be discounted" and stated that further safety tests needed to be conducted before making conclusions on its safety for human consumption.
3. New report attacks the safety research
A new report by the Austrian Government gives a damning verdict for the Bt11 application. The researchers had access to the whole dossier and accompanying documentation. They concluded:
&Mac183; there was no toxicological testing with the whole plant
&Mac183; there were no tests on the long terms effects of eating the novel protein
&Mac183; the test for allergic reactions are insufficient and that many assumptions argued by Syngenta are false
&Mac183; the safety of Bt 11 is based on theoretical argument rather than evidence.
This report seriously questions the quality of the work carried out by the EU’s old Scientific Committee on Foods (SCF) who gave a positive opinion to Bt11.
4. Growing concerns over allergies from Bt toxins
Recently published evidence indicates that Bt toxins may have allergenic properties. In addition, scientists working for the US Food and Drug Administration concluded that the similarity between the amino acids of the Bt toxin and of a common egg yolk allergen "might be sufficient to warrant additional evaluation". None were done. Furthermore, the allergy testing used would not meet the standards developed by the FAO/WHO. The EU’s SCF opinion fails to even mention allergies from the Bt toxin.
5. The EU’s scientific opinion raises unanswered questions
Although the SCF gave a positive verdict, the opinion they gave raised more questions then answers with many arguments based on pure assumptions. SCF concluded that it was "of the opinion that despite the large number of studies, the company (Syngenta) did not commission systematic information on the composition of the genetically modified or control plants". In fact, the SCF states that the evidence provided by Syngenta "provide only limited evidence for safety". In the absence of adequate data from the applicant, the SCF appears instead to have relied on:
&Mac183; no "visible adverse effects" observed when livestock were fed Bt 11 for "a few weeks"
&Mac183; a study conducted on Bt tomatoes
&Mac183; an unpublished, two-week study on mice.
6. Fails to meet new food safety criteria
New EU food law requires that foods that are placed on the market are not injurious to health. Article 14(4) of EC Regulation 178/2002 explicitly states that not only the short- or long-term effects must be taken into account, but also effects on subsequent generations, cumulative toxic effects and also the effects on health sensitive consumers. Proceeding with the approval of Bt11 sweet maize under the Novel Foods procedures bypasses this level of scrutiny and precaution.
7. No transparency
Improving openness and transparency in the approval process is a key step to building public trust in the decisions and recommendations made. The Novel Foods Regulations allow the public no access to the dossiers submitted by the biotech industry. Proceeding with applications under these regulations allows decisions to be made in virtual secrecy.
8. Ignores new regulations.
Bt11 maize is being pushed through the old Novel Food Regulations even though new laws improving the approval process became applicable this week. The new regulations also require a post-approval safety-monitoring plan.
9. Feed authorisation
The new Food and Feed Regulations bring in for the first time an approval process for GM animal feeds. It requires that GM animal feeds do not have adverse effects on animal health or the environment. No such consideration is required under the Novel Foods Regulation. New research has discovered the Bt toxin in the digestive system of pigs fed Bt11 corn that raises new safety questions . The SCF notes that for Bt11 "processing by-products are used as animal feedstuffs". Under the old rules the safety of Bt11 for use as an animal feed will not have to be assessed.
10. Dangerous precedent
The quality of this application and the supporting safety research is clearly of a poor and insufficient standard. If this sweet corn is approved using this evidence then a dangerous precedent will be set for future approvals. The public demands the highest quality of research into the safety of their food.
Real testing. Real Transparency
Friends of the Earth believe that Bt11 should be rejected until proper testing is carried out. This should use the whole plant, include chronic toxicological tests and use allergy tests that meet the FAO/WHO guidelines. The process should be transparent and open and take into consideration diverging scientific views on its safety.
Good news from Bulgaria as European enlargement of the EU begins to incorporate countries from Eastern Europe.
Moratorium on GMO Proliferation Sought in Bulgaria - 21st March 2004
An environmentalist coalition called for the introduction of a moratorium on GMO proliferation in Bulgaria up to its EU accession. "Bulgaria: Zone Free of Genetically Modified Organisms" demand that the bill on GMOs, which is to be discussed at second reading in Parliament, should be rewritten according to European standards. They also seek to hold a wide public discussion on the issue. Bulgaria's Parliament adopted at first reading the bill on GM organisms in the middle of February. It envisages fines ranging from BGN 10,000 to BGN 50,000 to be imposed on persons who release into the environment genetically modified (GM) organisms without a licence issued by the Environment Minister. The bill provides for property sanctions varying from BGN 20, 000 to BGN 50,000 should the regulations be broken by a legal person.
Save Our Seeds - 29/3/04 - campaign update
The Commission argues that the proposed allowances for seed-contamination could guarantee that the products of such seed would not exceed the 0,9% level, above which food and feed have to be labelled as GM. However this appears highly questionable in the light of present scientific knowledge and practical experience. Moreover contamination of seeds is a different issue than traces of GMO in chocolate or vegetable oil as they can multiply and transfer their GM traits to neighbouring fields as well as to wild relatives. GMOs would be spread on the entire cultivation-area of a crop. Thus, if GMOs were to be allowed in all conventional and organic seeds, this would result in an uncontrolled release of fertile GM material on the entire agricultural land of the Community. The recall of a GMO, should it become necessary, would be nearly impossible. Farmers and consumers in Europe, who reject GM food and farming in their large majority, could no longer avoid GM contamination as the GMOs would be co-mingeled into the seeds at the very beginning of the food chain, without labelling and any chances to indentify them. More than 7 billion GM plants could grow throughout the Community even no farmer intentionally planted GMOs.
For campaign news, things to do and the current state of play please visit http://www.saveourseeds.org/en/frame.php?page=directive
Cereal killer: GM giant culls top jobs in Europe - By Geoffrey Lean and Tim Webb - 29 February 2004
Bayer CropScience is parting company with the bosses of its GM programmes throughout Europe, in a move which is bound to be seen as an acknowledgement that it sees little future for the technology in Europe. Among those made redundant is Dr Paul Rylott, Bayer's UK head of bioscience, who has become the public face of the GM industry in Britain................He will leave within the next month and has yet to find new employment. A spokesman in the UK confirmed that all the heads of bioscience in European countries are to go. Last October, Monsanto, the world's largest GM seed company, announced that it was closing its European cereal headquarters in Cambridgeshire, with the loss of 80 jobs, and pulling out of its cereal seed business on the Continent.
EU on line to prohibit GM oilseed rape crops - The Guardian, 3rdFebruary 2004
Greens hail an environmental victory for biodiversity as Belgium rejects Bayer application and urges all member states to follow suit. Genetically modified oilseed rape crops may be barred throughout the EU for many years after Belgium's rejection yesterday of a union-wide application by the German company Bayer CropScience. The Belgian government will call on other EU countries to follow suit. They are likely to do so, although, in theory, the application can be reopened by any country. Despite heavy lobbying by biotech companies, Belgian ministers followed the advice of their bio-safety advisers, which drew heavily on several years of evidence from GM crop trials in Britain. This showed, broadly, that herbicide-tolerant GM oilseed rape reduces biodiversity. The British scientists found that bees and butterflies were less abundant in the GM oilseed rape crops than in non-GM crops, because of the lack of weeds and wild plants. There were also substantially fewer weed seeds present. Weed seeds are an important source of food for small mammals and birds, particularly during the winter.
A spokesman for Bayer CropScience Belgium, Henk Joos, said: "We have serious concerns about the way the Belgian government handled this. We believe the decision was highly influenced by Belgian politics.....The experts raised some concerns but indicated that with proper controls it would be possible to cultivate this crop without impacting on the environment."
Although the decision applies to only one variety of herbicide-tolerant GM rape, European green groups said it set an important precedent which would make it hard to justify the commercial production of any similar rape crop in Europe. Karen Simal, Greenpeace Belgium's GM campaigner said: "This is a slap in the face of the biotech industry and a victory for the environment. "The Belgian government has acknowledged that growing GM oilseed rape is harmful to the environment."
The decision was softened, however, by the Belgian government's decision to let GM oilseed rape be imported and processed. A health ministry spokesman, Karim Ibourki, said the imported rape would be used for fuel, not for human or animal consumption. Arian Bebb, GM campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said: "GM oilseed rape will harm the environment and contaminate non-GM agriculture, whether it is grown in the EU or elsewhere in the world. "It is inconsistent to ban the cultivation yet allow it for import." European countries will have to rule on many applications from GM companies this year. Bayer CropScience has two applications for similar GM oilseed rape varieties before the German government, and Belgium and Denmark must soon rule on whether to allow GM sugar and fodder beet to be grown. Meanwhile there is a host of applications before EU countries from various GM companies to grow different varieties of GM maize. "The Belgian decision is very significant," said Sue Mayer of the British group Genewatch. "Bayer should withdraw all its remaining applications to grow GM oilseed rape in Europe as the tide of scientific and public opinion is clearly against them.....This is another body blow to the biotech industry." http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1137416,00.html
European Union Environment Commissioner, Margot Wallstrom, on the biotech industry:
"They tried to lie to people, they tried to force it upon people ... it is the wrong approach and we simply have not accepted that and European citizens have not accepted it. You simply cannot force it upon Europe.
"So I hope they have definitely learned a lesson from it and especially when they now try to argue that this will try to solve the problems of starvation in the world.
"It will solve starvation among shareholders, but not the developing world unfortunately."
EU broadside at GM firms' 'lies' Oct. 13/03 - www.ireland.com
EU: Court allows Italy and other countries to temporarily ban GM foods Source: just-food.com 09 Sep 2003 http://www.just-food.com/news_detail.asp?art=55312
The European Union's high court has ruled that Italy and other EU member states can place temporary bans on genetically modified foods if they suspect the foods pose a threat to public health or the environment. A European nation "can as a preventive measure ... temporarily restrict or suspend the marketing of those foods in its territory," the court was quoted by the Associated Press as saying. There should be no "relaxation of the safety requirements that must be met by novel foods."
The ruling stems from a dispute between the Italian government and biotech giant Monsanto. The court ruled that Italy was entitled in August 2000 to ban certain foods, notably flour made from genetically modified maize, from Monsanto Europe, Syngenta AG and Pioneer Hi-Bred International. The court added, however, that Italy must provide evidence of the suspected risks in order to sustain a ban, reported AP.
BRUSSELS, July 22 (Reuters) - European Union farm ministers gave formal approval on Tuesday to plans for the labelling of all genetically modified food and animal feed, a move aimed at lifting the bloc's five-year-old de facto ban on most biotech crops. The rules, passed by the European Parliament early this month, will apply 20 days after their publication in the EU's official journal. Diplomats said this would be in September.