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2-Plants: Monsanto's GE cotton not approved in EU



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Friday February 12

Monsanto GM Cotton Fails To Win EU Backing

BRUSSELS, Belgium (Reuters) - Two varieties of genetically modified 
cotton marketed by U.S. biotechnology firm Monsanto Co (NYSE:MCT - news) 
have failed to win enough support from European Union governments to be 
approved for sale in the bloc, the EU said Friday.
The EU's executive Commission also said that the Netherlands, on behalf 
of Dutch company Avebe, had retracted a request for a genetically 
modified potato variety to be approved for sale on the 15-nation EU 
market.
The developments come at a time of intense debate in many EU countries 
about the safety of genetically modified food.
Although the Monsanto cotton varieties did not receive enough backing in 
a regulatory committee, the European Commission said a final decision on 
whether to approve them for the EU market must still be taken by 
environment ministers.
Monsanto is seeking approval to commercially grow and sell genetically 
modified cotton seeds in the EU, particularly in Spain and Greece. Its 
request was submitted to the EU through Spain in
1996.
An EU scientific committee concluded last year that there was no evidence 
that the cotton lines would be harmful to humans or the environment.
Commission spokesman Peter Jorgensen said that Thursday midnight was the 
deadline for the 15 EU member governments to send in their responses on 
whether they favored the release.
Tom McDermott, a spokesman for Monsanto Europe, said the company was 
disappointed with the decision. ``There is no scientific evidence that 
would justify this, in our opinion,'' he told Reuters.
He said one of the cotton varieties concerned, Bollgard, was 
insect-protected and could reduce the use of chemical insecticides by up 
to 50 percent. The other variety is herbicide-resistant.
``These two products are bringing well documented benefits to growers, as 
well as the environment, around the world,'' McDermott said, adding that 
both varieties were used in the United States.
Jorgensen also said that the Dutch authorities, on behalf of Avebe, had 
retracted a proposal to have the company's genetically modified potato 
released on the EU market.
The EU's Scientific Committee on Plants said last October that not enough 
study of possible risks had been carried out.


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