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2-Plants: EU freezes Bt corn approval due to toxic effects on butterflies

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TITLE:  EU says to freeze approval procedure of gene maize
SOURCE: Reuters, by Michael Mann
DATE:   May 20, 1999

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EU says to freeze approval procedure of gene maize

BRUSSELS, May 20 (Reuters) - The European Union executive said on
Thursday it would freeze an approval procedure for a genetically
modified maize developed by Pioneer Hi-Bred
Internationalfollowing a U.S. study which found that other pest
resistant grains could kill butterflies. "We would of course want
to apply the precautionary principle and there's no way any new
products can be approved where this information might have any
value or any bearing on that approval process," a European
Commission spokesman told the EU's daily news briefing. The
spokesman for European environment commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard
said the decision would affect the Pioneer product, which the
Commission had been preparing to send up to EU ministers for
approval after it failed last year to win a majority for
clearance among lower-level experts. "That will not be done until
we have had the opportunity to evaluate this new information,"
the spokesman said.

Researchers in the United States reported in this week's Nature
magazine that they had found leaves dusted with pollen from
genetically modified "Bt maize" killed Monarch butterflies. Bt
corn has genes from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis spliced
into the plant genes which makes it resistant to a pest called
the European corn borer. The Commission spokesman said two
varieties of Bt corn were already authorised for sale in the EU
market "but we do not think there is any immediate danger." He
said the two products - made by life science groups Monsanto and
Novartis - were not included in EU-wide seed catalogues and the
executive believed they were planted in only a few fields.

The spokesman stressed the Commission believed it was much too
early to draw any conclusions about whether the U.S. research had
bearing on the already approved maizes. "It's much too early to
draw any kind of conclusion in any way, form or shape about
products already on the market," the spokesman said, adding the
Commission would not take any final decisions until the new
research had been studied by its own scientists and government


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