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6-Regulation: European Commission in trouble over EU's GMO ban



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                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  Commission in trouble over EU's GMO ban
SOURCE: Environment Daily
DATE:   October 17, 2001

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


Commission in trouble over EU's GMO ban

The European Commission yesterday held preliminary talks with EU member 
states to promote a lifting of the bloc's moratorium on licensing 
genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) such as crops and foods. Several 
states reiterated their opposition to the move; significantly, it now looks 
as if Germany might be about to join the antis' camp. Under the 
Commission's plan, the EU would restart commercial licensing before draft 
rules on GM product traceability and labelling take effect around 2003, 
based on immediate voluntary implementation by industry. During the 
meeting, it presented a working paper outlining these proposals. Several 
member states reiterated their opposition to any early end to the 
moratorium.

More interesting was the release by Germany's agriculture ministry of a 
recent letter from minister Renate Kčnast to the Commission signalling a 
shift in the country's policy toward overt support for the ban. In the 
letter Ms Kčnast dismissed the Commission's plan as "incomprehensible and 
groundless".

Four of the six member states who in February opposed an early end to the 
moratorium restated this position yesterday, a source told Environment 
Daily. These were Denmark, France, Greece and Austria. Italy's current 
position is unclear while the sixth country in the group, Luxembourg, did 
not attend the meeting.

A spokesperson for the Commission's health consumer protection directorate 
told Environment Daily that the meeting had been limited to "technical 
issues," and had not aimed to seek political agreement. But environmental 
group Friends of the Earth saw the outcome as proving continued backing for 
the ban. The Commission's plan is "impossible to sell," Gill Lacroix of 
Friends of the Earth Europe told Environment Daily.

Follow-up:
European Commission
http://europa.eu.int/comm
tel: +32 2 299 1111
German agriculture ministry
http://www.verbraucherministerium.de/
tel: +49 30 20060
Ms Kčnast's letter
http://www.verbraucherministerium.de/presse-woche/PM-217-2001.htm
FoE Europe
http://www.foeeurope.org/
tel: +32 2 542 0180,
press release
http://www.foeeurope.org/press/GL_16.10.01_moratorium.htm


                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  EU digs in its heels over GM products
SOURCE: Environment Daily
DATE:   October 29, 2001

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


----------------------------------------------------------------------------
  AGAINST lifting moratorium:
     France, Austria, Denmark, Luxembourg, Italy, Greece
  Moving AGAINST lifting moratorium:
     Germany, Belgium
  FOR lifting moratorium:
     UK, Spain, Netherlands
----------------------------------------------------------------------------


EU digs in its heels over GM products

Biotechnology firms could have to wait three years or more before EU 
governments allow new genetically-modified (GM) crops and foods to be 
approved, it emerged during a meeting of EU environment ministers in 
Luxembourg today. European environment commissioner Margot Wallstroem 
described the development as "very disturbing".

The European Commission has been making increasing efforts to end the three-
year moratorium, which it believes is illegal. With many governments 
wanting to wait until a newly proposed regulation on traceability and 
labelling of GM products is in place, it has promoted interim voluntary 
introduction of these measures by industry. In September, commissioners 
called on EU ministers to "show leadership" and drop the moratorium (ED 20/
09/01).

Today's meeting suggests that environment ministers' definition of 
leadership is the reverse. During a public debate on the traceability and 
labelling proposals, ministers from a hard core of six countries reaffirmed 
that there should no more approvals until the regulation is in force, which 
could take three years. Even worse for the Commission, EU sources told 
Environment Daily that Germany and Belgium were now "tending towards" the 
same position.

France went even further, saying it would not support new approvals without 
environmental liability rules for GM products also being agreed. A 
frustrated Ms Wallstrvm estimated that this might delay any restart by yet 
another two years.

Italy and Sweden hinted that they might support new approvals if there was 
accelerated introduction of traceability and labelling rules. Only the UK, 
the Netherlands and Spain showed much sympathy with the Commission's 
position.

Ms Wallstroem said she would now "take stock" of the situation. Though the 
Commission is legally obliged to approve licences in the absence of a 
member state decision she declined to say whether it would do so. She 
hinted that the Commission might ask other ministers or heads of state to 
intervene. Meanwhile, almost all ministers said they supported the general 
thrust of the Commission's traceability and labelling proposals, with the 
exception of its plan to allow low-level contamination by GM "events" not 
authorised in the EU.

There was also strong support for the EU to introduce traceability and 
labelling rules unilaterally if international negotiations do not yield a 
worldwide regime in the same timeframe.

Follow-up:
EU Council of Ministers, tel: +32 2 285 6211
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111



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