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2-Plants: Mediterranean countries act against GE crops

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TITLE:  A) France decides to destroy GM contaminated Soya crop
        B) Italy cabinet suspends four GM maize varieties
        C) Greece to uproot 9,000 acres of gene cotton
SOURCE: all Reuters, B) by David Brough, C) by Dina Kyriakidou
DATE:   A + B) August 7, 2000
        C) August 8, 2000

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A) France decides to destroy GM contaminated Soya crop

PARIS - The French government ordered on Saturday the destruction of 
46 hectares of soya crop after tests revealed that the seeds had been 
contaminated with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It was the 
second time this year that the French have moved against GMO-tainted 
crops and underlined the government's determination to limit the 
spread of such organisms. A statement signed by four ministries said 
the contaminated soya seed had been planted in fields in the far 
south of the country around the Bouches-du-Rhone and Herault. It said 
that the seed contained between 0.8 percent and 1.5 percent of 
genetically modified material. It did not reveal which company had 
supplied the seed.

France in May ordered the destruction of about 600 hectares of 
rapeseed containing traces of GMOs after seed company Advanta Seeds 
announced it had inadvertently sold imported seeds with traces of 
genetically modified material to farmers in Europe. However, 
officials decided last month not to destroy thousands of hectares of 
maize planted with imported U.S. seed that also contained traces of 

Saturday's statement, issued by the finance, agriculture, environment 
and consumer affairs ministries, said that unlike maize, the 
government had not yet authorised the use of any genetically modified 
soya. It added that the contamination levels found in the soya lot 
was much higher than European Union guidelines for GMOs, which was 
pegged at 0.5 percent. Farmers affected by Saturday's decision will 
be compensated. The statement said the soya crop was planted to 
produce seeds.


B) Italy cabinet suspends four GM maize varieties

ROME - Italy's cabinet suspended the marketing of four varieties of 
genetically modified (GM) maize on Friday, a farm ministry 
spokeswoman said. The cabinet decided to block the maize as a 
precautionary measure amid concerns over possible health and 
environmental risks from GM crops, she told Reuters. "Prime Minister 
Giuliano Amato blocked the four GM maize varieties as a precautionary 
step," she said.

The spokeswoman said seven transgenic food products had been reviewed 
by the government, but she had no further details. She could not 
identify the four GM maize products blocked by the cabinet. Last 
December the Italian government decided to suspend temporarily the 
use of seven GM food products, including four varieties of transgenic 
maize, following opinions from the Italian Health Institute and the 
Health Council.

Those four GM maize products were: maize Bt11, maize Mon 809, maize 
Mon 810 and maize T25. The other three food products that were 
temporarily suspended in December were derived from rapeseed - 
rapeseed oil Gt73, rapeseed oil MS1 RS1 and rapeseed oil RF2 MS1. The 
centre-left government of Prime Minister Amato, which took office in 
April, opposes the sowing of GM crops in open fields because of 
health and environmental concerns.


C) Greece to uproot 9,000 acres of gene cotton

ATHENS - Greece will destroy up to 9,000 acres of cotton affected by 
gene-modified (GM) seed and will compensate farmers, Agriculture 
Minister George Anomeritis said yesterday. "Our decision is to 
destroy them," he told a news conference. "Despite how small it is, 
the problem exists." Anomeritis said the damage would cost about 1.2 
billion drachmas ($3.24 million) but would not say where the funds 
for compensation would come from.

The European Union bans all GM cotton, and environmentalists oppose 
all gene-altered food and crops, saying they threaten the environment 
and pose health risks. After environmental groups showed the ministry 
samples of GM contaminated seed, authorities began extensive testing. 
"Out of 14,000 tonnes planted, 6.4 tonnes had been contaminated," 
Anomeritis said. Destruction of crops would begin immediately and 
last until September.

Greece bans the import of GM cotton seed and it was not immediately 
clear how the seed became tainted, he added. Environmental groups 
said Greece had moved too late and that other crops had already been 
contaminated. "We don't even know the real extent of the problem. We 
already had cross pollination and bees transferring pollen from one 
field to the other," Greenpeace Greece campaign director Nikos 
Charalambides told Reuters. He said the ministry took too long to 
identify the problem and that the food chain was threatened as cotton 
products were used in animal feed. Greenpeace and Friends of the 
Earth in Brussels had urged the government to take rapid measures, 
winning government pledges that affected crops would be destroyed at 
an early stage.

Deputy Environment Minister Ilias Efthymiopoulos told a news 
conference on July 12 that tainted plants would be uprooted before 
they bloomed. Anomeritis said yesterday that although plants had 
already bloomed, there was no risk of contamination.

Greece, a major cotton exporter, plants about 400,000 hectares to the 
crop each year and receives EU subsidies for an industry that 
supports hundreds of thousands of farmers. Asked if the incident 
might result in fines or reprimands from the EU, Anomeritis said 
Greece was in constant contact with EU authorities and faced no such 


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