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2-Plants: Germany suspends Novartis GE maize



-------------------------- GENET-news ---------------------------

TITLE:  Germany has banned any planting of Novartis Bt maize from
        today on
SOURCE: Benny Härlin, Greenpeace International
DATE:   February 16, 2000

----------------- archive: http://www.gene.ch/ ------------------


Germany has banned any planting of Novartis Bt maize from today
on

Andrea Fischer, Germanies Minister for Health (has also entire
GMO approval responsibility) just announced at 3 p.m. continental
European time that she has ordered the competent authority for
GMO approval to suspend the approval of Novartis Bt 176 maize.
Fisher emphazised that she had to take this measure to protect
consumers and defend precautionary health protection. The key
factor was, according to Fischer, that Novartis insect killing Bt
maize also contained an antibiotic resistance gene. She also
hinted to unresolved questions about detrimental effects on non
target species and dispersal of the Bt toxin in soil.

"We had to act now," she explained, "as we learned that Novartis
has applied for unrestricted approval of the seeds of these maize
varieties. With the suspension of the approval for the release as
GMO such seed approvals are automatically stalled as well."
Fischer confirmed that the german government was aplliing Art.16
of EU Directive 90/220, which allows any member state to withdraw
a European GMO approval if it has concerns about possible health
or environmental impacts of the GMOs. The suspension would last
at least until there was a decision of the European Commission on
Germanies objections. She confirmed that any planting of Bt-maize
of Novartis is banned in Germany as from now.

Fischer also said that she intended to open a new round of risk
assessment of GMOs and invited all stakeholders to participate in
this discussion.

Greenpeace welcomes todays decision of the German Government to
suspend any planting of Novartis GMO maize in Germany. "This is a
step in the right direction and an important signal to industry
and the public and also to the European Commission", Benedikt
Haerlin said, "we are confident that we will be able to prevent
the planting of GE maize also in the rest of the European Union. 

Nobody wants this GE maize on the fields, except Novartis. We
appreciate that now another important member state of the EU has
recognized that this maize is a threat to human health and the
environment and taken action before it could be spread all over
the country."

Germany is the fifth member state of the EU to formally ban
Novartis GE maize from planting after France, Luxemburg, Portugal
and Austria. The maize had been approved by the EU Commission in
1997 against massive protests before the EU moratorium on gmo
approvals in 1999. There are however still two other varieties
genetically engineered maize, which could gain seed variety
approval within the next days by the European Commission:
AgrEvo's T25 maize, which is resistant to AgrEvos pesticide Basta
and Monsanto's Bt maize.



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