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Field releases in Hungary face delay



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Monsanto Monitor
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A temporary victory?

Monsanto, Novartis and AgrEvo Field Trials Face Delay in 
Hungary

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Vera Mora, of Hungary’s Environmental Partnership and the 
ETK, sits on the newly established Genetechnology 
Committee. In the first round of applications for 
experimental release to be examined by the GC, five 
dossiers were delayed until further data or analysis are 
provided by the applicants.  The applications were for 
three varieties of corn, and two sugarbeet trials.

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I was two days late for the A SEED “Hunger in Genetic 
Legoland” seminar in Freiburg. I should have liked to come 
earlier, but the main reason I couldn’t was a meeting of 
the Gene Technology Committee on Tuesday in Budapest. 

The  Hungarian Gene Technology Act passed by the 
Parliament last Mach entered into force – as the first 
comprehensive legislation of genetice engineering in the 
Central and Eastern European region – at the beginning of 
this year. One of the most important the provisions of this 
regulation was to order the setup of the above mentioned 
Gene Technology Committee. This multilateral expert 
body’s principal task is to evaluate the permission requests 
filed  for GE applications, including the creation, release 
and trade in GMOs. The committee consists of 
representatives of the Aceademy of Scientists, various 
ministries (Agriculture, Environment, Health, Finances, 
etc.), health NGOs and environmental NGOs. Out of the 17 
members four reprensent environmentalists, among them 
I’m one of the lucky (?) ones. 

Our committee’s third meeting took place on then 23rd of 
March, but this was the first “real” one in the sense that 
this was the first occasion we had to decide about actual 
permission requests. It was clear to us long beforehand 
that given our numbers, we NGO representatives won’t be 
able to stop GMO applications, what we can achieve at 
most is slowing down the process by asking more 
questions, calling for more expert opinions. For this 
meeting five permission documents came: two form 
Monsanto, two from Novartis and one from AgrEvo (three 
concerning corn, two sugar beets). It was obvious that 
the documents were put together in a hurry, with 
numerous spelling and translation mistakes. 

In three cases, our task was easy: the documents didn’t 
indicate either the site of release, nor the monitoring and 
control measures the intended to take. In the two other 
cases (Monstanto’s Roundup Ready corn and sugar beet) 
the Committee put up many other additional questions, 
such as:

whateffect will glyphosate (the active ingredient of 
Roundup) treatment have on other organisms, such as 
mosses and lichens?
willthe consumption glyphosate-treated crops have 
any health effects (the data submitted only shown 
resuts of experiments made with non-treated crops)?
whatmeasures will the company take in case of an 
emergency (their answer in the original was: ”there is 
no possibilty of an emergency case”)?

As a result, all five documents were sent back for further 
data and clarification. As our next meeting will take place 
on the 20th of April, I think it is hardly unlikely that they 
will be able to come up with reasonable information, 
therefore (alas for them!) a planting season is certainly 
lost.

However, our committee doesn’t (unfortunately) have the 
final say on things: it acts as an expert advisory body to 
the Ministry of Agriculture, which still might overturn our 
resolution. However unlikely I think it is, our Minister might 
be well disappointed with our opinion: looking at recent 
press reports, during his numerous travels, he mae 
“preliminary agreements” with his US (!) and Australian 
collegaues to offer Hungary as a ground to grow GM 
seeds… this means the battle is by far not over yet.

I hope an important step in this process will by Professor 
Pusztai’s public lecture in Budapest planned for the second 
half of April – this is probably the most important thing we 
are busy with at the moment.  

For more information, contact: Vera Mora 
<move@drotposta.hu>

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Rounding Up Monsanto
A SEED Europe
P.O. Box 92066
1090 AB Amsterdam
The Netherlands
tel: +31-20-468 2616
fax: +31-20-468 2275
email: groundup@aseed.antenna.nl

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