EU effort to end GM crop deadlock meets resistance

July 13, 2010 by Christian Spillman
EU commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy John Dalli gives a press conference on the new policy for GMO cultivation at the EU headquarters in Brussels. The European Commission sought Tuesday to end a deadlock blocking the growth of genetically modified crops in Europe, proposing to give countries the freedom to ban the controversial foods.

The European Commission sought Tuesday to end a deadlock blocking the growth of genetically modified crops in Europe, proposing to give countries the freedom to ban the controversial foods.

But the proposal drew immediate protests on both sides of the issue amid deep divisions in Europe over the safety of such food.

"The Commission is not in favour or against GMOs," said European Health Commissioner John Dalli.

"But in today's world, they are a reality and 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.

With governments unable to reach a consensus on the authorisation of new crops, the commission decided to give individual states the power to prohibit or plant such seeds.

Under the proposed rules, once a new GM crop is authorised, governments would be able to ban them across all or part of their territory for socioeconomic, ethical or moral reasons, Dalli said.

But French Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said the proposal was "not acceptable" because it did not address the need to improve the authorisation process.

"They have proposed a swap, that is not going to work," Borloo told AFP.

Dalli denied that the proposed rules were aimed at pressuring some governments to end their opposition to new GM crop applications.

"I don't expect countries to change their voting just because we've put these considerations," he said.

Biotech firms are awaiting clearance for the cultivation of four types of genetically modified maize.

A maize seed developed by US biotech giant Monsanto, MON 810, is the only crop to have been cleared for commercial cultivation in Europe since 1998.

Six EU states, Austria, Hungary, France, Greece, Germany and Luxembourg, have prohibited MON 810 from their territory but it is grown in Spain, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Romania, Poland and Slovakia.

However, Monsanto's MON 810 was grown on fewer than 95,000 hectares (235,000 acres) of land in the EU last year, down from almost 107,000 hectares in 2008.

A genetically modified potato developed by German group BASF, the Amflora, was given the green light in March but it will only be used for industrial uses for its starch content.

The biotech industry and environmentalist groups slammed the proposal, which has to be adopted by the EU parliament and the European Council.

EuropaBio, which represents the industry in Brussels, said the proposed rules "give carte blanche to ban safe and approved GM crops in any country or region regardless of the needs or wishes of their farmers."

The Green bloc in the European parliament described the proposal as a "dubious bargain" and warning that GM crops posed a contamination threat to other plants.

Green EU lawmaker Martin Haeusling said: "The Commission has not been able to overcome the opposition of the member states to GMOs over the years and wants now to trick them into accepting quicker authorisations."

Opponents of GM food fear they would inevitably contaminate other crops and maintain that 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 .

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5 / 5 (1) Jul 14, 2010
"Genetic Engineering" is not an exact science and is based on a false model of molecular biology. Gene expression is affected by a vast unpredictable network
from the environment. Anybody that says that they know how these genes in these "engineered" plants will express do not know what they are talking about or they are being paid off to sell more patented plants. The owners of these patented plants should be liable for genetic code trespass in the same way that computer code trespass is against the law.
not rated yet Jul 15, 2010

Furst GM is not correct term, all the food we are eathing now is genetically modified (here we talk about transgenic organism), this is the furst step of scearing the people, they dont get that.

@ newscience

Do you think that conventional breeding is exact science and that when a new straign is obteined we now how that has happened, for this to happen people use mutagens or radioactive rays to scramble the Dna a little bit and they hope that something good will happen, or if you are waiting for this to happen naturally you have to wait decades, is this proces more acurate, or it is based on some exact science?
The important thing for the people who eat this thing is to know what is the result of this modification, is there some harmfull new molecules or not, this is something that is regulated, this plants are tested!
not rated yet Jul 15, 2010
If a mutation accur naturally in the garden and this can produse a new crop no one test it(and still it can produse something new and harmfull), thats why it is safer to eat GM.
No one says they know how exactly it will hapen but the important thing that it happens after lots of trials at the end!
And this is a logical extension of our breeding proces having the tehnology to create the thing we want, and there are the benefits.
"Supporters argue that such crops have higher yields, resist pests and disease better and require less fertiliser and pesticide." if the people are smart enough they will plant GM, and they will eat it with no fear!
And patent should exist this is proces that need money they should take back the money that they have invested to create GM crop, name another way this can happen!

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