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Switzerland: Release-applications turned down

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Great victory, great relief: The Swiss Environmental-agency BUWAL announced
today (16/4/99) that it refused the 2 applications for deliberate releases
that were handed in this year.  Thus there will be no experimental releases
of GMOs in Switzerland this year.

The Director of the BUWAL, Philippe Roch, says that neither release can
sufficiently guarantee the safety for environment and human health.
The 2 applications and BUWALs concerns were (first and rough translation of
BUWALs press release):
The firm Pluess Stauufer (AgrEvo) wanted to release transgenic maize with a
herbicide resistence (Glufosinate, tradename Liberty). BUWALs
"Main-problem for the BUWAL was the pollenflow and outcrossing to other
fields with non-manipulated maizs. This would hit also farmers who
explicitely  want to produce without GMOs. If their fields get
contaminated, they not only will deceive their clientel, but perhaps even
make themselves punishable, because they sell without authorization food or
feed containing GMOs.
Swiss agriculture lives from its image as being pure and near nature. Such
experiments touch this image. This can have farreaching impacts for
agriculture.There is a need for  political decisions. As long as there are
no such decisions and no tolerance-standards , the risk lies one-sided on
those farmers who produce bioligically or conventionally."

The Swiss Reseach station in Changins wanted to release transgenic potatoes
with a resistence against milldew (phytophthora infestans). BUWALs
"The negative decision has 2 reasons:
1.      The transgenic potatoes contain 2 resistence-genes against
antibiotics partly used in medicine. Antibiotics are a very valuable
instrument fighting diseases. Every act which could enhance the development
of resistences against antibiotics, as in this case the unnecessary use of
resistence-genes, is strictly refused.
2.      Unsufficient knowledge and characterisation of the genetic
constructions. In order to evaluate the consequences of a release of
transgenic potatoes, there is a need of precise informations of the
attempted manipulations ."

At first sight I'm amazed and also happy about the clear language used by
the BUWAL - a rather seldom event in CH! Best reagrds Florianne

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