EU divided over GM crops

Sep 27, 2010 by Christian Spillmann
One of Monsanto's genetically-modified maize cobs is pictured in July 2007. A controversial EU bid to allow member states to make their own decisions on whether or not to ban GM crops has hit a fresh snag after Italy and France dug in their heels against the move.

A controversial EU bid to allow member states to make their own decisions on whether or not to ban GM crops hit a fresh snag on Monday when Italy and France dug in their heels against the move.

With the continent deeply divided on genetically modified crops, the European Commission has been thrashing out ways of breaking the deadlock for months and spells out its latest ideas later Monday.

In a rare relinquishing of power, EU officials will propose to shift the onus on member states -- giving nations the freedom to ban or grow but allowing free circulation of GM goods in line with WTO rules.

But as farm ministers gathered in Brussels there was little sign of quick assent.

"Italy does not support the proposal ... Each for himself undermines the foundations of the common agricultural policy (CAP)", said Italy's farm minister Giancarlo Galan.

"France wants a common decision," agreed French minister Bruno Lemaire. "Opting for national decision-making would give a wrong signal to European citizens and a wrong signal for the common agricultural policy."

Britain and Spain too are opposed to Europe washing its hands by shifting responsibility for a political hot potato to individual nations.

Meanwhile Austria, Hungary and Luxembourg are angry over the commission's green light in March to a GM potato developed by German group BASF, the Amflora, grown in the Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden but only for industrial uses for its starch content.

GM cultivation remains relatively limited in the 27-nation bloc, with six member states banning Monsanto's Mon 810 maize -- Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg -- and Poland banning all GM crops.

To give opponents a legal basis against GMs, EU health commissioner John Dalli suggests that over and above EU-wide scientific restrictions, nations be able to ban them across all or part of their territory for socioeconomic, ethical or moral reasons.

Dalli said recently that the commission was neither for nor against GMs.

"But in today's world, they are a reality," he said. "Europe cannot stand idle and deny itself the political responsibility to take decisions and implement a policy of responsible innovation."

Europe has fallen behind the rest of the world amid public concerns over the potential effects of GM crops demonised as "frankenfoods" by opponents.

While GM crops were cultivated worldwide in 2009 on 134 million hectares, the maize seed developed by US biotech giant Monsanto, MON 810, was grown on fewer than 95,000 hectares of land in the EU last year, down from almost 107,000 hectares in 2008.

Opponents of GM food fear they would inevitably contaminate other crops and maintain that there is no definitive evidence of their safety.

Supporters argue that such crops have higher yields, resist pests and disease better and require less fertiliser and pesticide. They say farmers should be given the freedom to choose whether they want to plant GM crops.

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cisono
not rated yet Sep 27, 2010
How about the right of everyone to decide NOT to be contaminated by GM genes? (Genes in the GM crops interact with your own intestines to form your own personal pesticide farm. Is that what people want? Hardly!). Do we not have the right to high-quality nutritious food?
Yes, GM maize and other such "frankenfood" may have spread a lot in the US and Australia in particular. But then, I suspect a strong link between GM spread and these two countries topping the world obesity charts (since 2008, if I recall correctly).
The Australian agricultural minister has recently admitted that GM crops have contaminated non-GM crops many miles away. They seemed surprised they cannot stop this. Anyone with a brain had foreseen it.
I don't dare to imagine the huge cross(country) contaminations that would be possible in the EU. We simply canNOT have GM in Europe. If other countries are stupid enough to allow GM, I don't want any part of it (and keep their crops out of here, including animal feed)
Quantum_Conundrum
not rated yet Sep 27, 2010
cisono:

Well, it was sort of inevitable as pollen is so tiny of a particle and can basicly travel around the entire world through many thousands of mechanisms:

On human skin, hair, or clothes
plane
ship
wind
water
animal fur
bird's feathers
insects
other machinery
wind blown dust and leaves and other debris

I don't have a problem with crossing corn with other corn to attain the best genes.

I do have a problem with crossing salmon with eel, or goat and spider, as has been done.

The creation of these un-natural chimera species is a real threat to the environment and to humans.
Djincs
not rated yet Sep 27, 2010
And what about people who want to produce gm crops because they dont want to use chemicals, and they are not stupid enough to belieave the long term effects or "GM crops interact with your own intestines to form your own personal pesticide farm".
And about the cross polination, if I want to produce sweet peppers, and my neighbour is growing hot peppers, then if I use my own seeds the chance of the next generation beeing hot exist, almost everybody buy their seeds , they are not that expensive.
"The creation of these un-natural chimera species is a real threat to the environment and to humans."
Prove it!And this is not himera the GM plant is 99,99% or more identical compared to the ordinary plant.
Djincs
not rated yet Sep 27, 2010
Ther is metod of creating such things you can take embrionic cells from mouce and rat and to put them together, and this will create hymera, mosaic organism. There is a big difference between something toxic(specific molecule), harmful or infectious(virus, bacteria) and something which you thing is sick, like chimera GM, hybrids and so on.
And not agreeing with the policy of the company is totaly different thing, it will be good if people separate these things when making their opinions.
cisono
not rated yet Sep 27, 2010
And what about people who want to produce gm crops because they dont want to use chemicals".

I am all for organic farming!!!
However, please note that GMO are not environmentally friendly, far from it. I could give you many examples, here is the latest:
"GM crops are not the environmental saviour that manufacturers have led farmers to believe."
source:
http://www.guardi...on-china

eachus
5 / 5 (1) Sep 27, 2010
When my grandmother was young, you should have heard all the rumors started by buggy manufacturers. Automobiles were said to cause miscarriages in both humans and farm animals. Driving too fast in cold weather caused colds to linger or turn into influenza. And of course, thousands of buggy whip manufacturers would be put out of work.

Today, when Weekly World News prints stories about the "potential risks" of GM foods, we know right away that they are...full of bovine excrement. How? "Potential risk" is a meaningless construct. There are known risks, which can be scientifically studied and quantified. Unknown risks are those risks that no one imagines until after they occur. Statisticians (I am one) can bore you to tears talking about how to estimate unknown risk for insurance purposes. But scientists can't deal with unknown risks until they occur.

The unknown risk of GM foods is the same general unknown risk as sleeping in your bed, or eating non-GM foods. (No one knows.)

cisono
not rated yet Sep 27, 2010
[I don't like the reference to "potential" risks either. The risks are real.]

I forget the name of the TV programme that reported this... However the point was that, when "glowing" items were first discovered, people collected them and used them as ornamental items in their homes. It was a craze. They were believed to be great for us. Little did they know that the radioactivity was not leading to good health.