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GENET GE free Newsletter 01/09



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----------------------------- November 01, 2001 --------------------------

                      GENET GE free Newsletter 01/09

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EUROPEAN GMO MORATORIUM STAYS: COMMISSION VERSUS GOVERNMENTS

On Oct 7, The Indpendent (UK) revealed plans of the European Commission to 
double the amount of approved GM foods and more than treble the number of 
permitted GM crops even before the recently revised deliberate release 
directive has been put into force. The EC suggests that approvals should 
now be done on the basis of "voluntary commitments" from GM firms. Adrian 
Bebb, GM food campaigner for Friends of the Earth UK, said: "The EU is 
trying to rush ahead – under pressure from the United States and the GM 
industry – disregarding concerns about public health and the environment. 
The gentlemen's agreements that it is proposing with industry are likely to 
be worthless, and, in any case, the public will resist having these 
products forced upon them." On Oct 9, Research Commissioner Philippe 
Busquin launched a round table on GMOs safety research: "Between the 
enthusiastic exaggeration of certain GMO 'crusaders' and the radicalism of 
a minority among their opponents, there is an urgent need to find room for 
a reasonable compromise, based on sound and measured scientific arguments 
of risk assessment and prudent management. This is also an exercise in 
reconciling science and society, bringing together scientists and the 
interested public to discuss the results of research and to jointly outline 
a future research agenda in a co-ordinated way across Europe." The Round 
Table will allow interested stakeholders to discuss research results coming 
from the European Research Area and identify new research items. The EC has 
published a report on the results of the biosafety research that it has 
supported over 15 years. On Oct 16, the EC began discussions with EU 
government representatives on a move to end the moratorium. Spokeswoman Pia 
Ahrenkilde-Hansen for EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom said the 
talks focused on technical issues and would not result in any agreement on 
whether member states were ready to restart the approvals process, which 
has been frozen since mid-1998. France has led a group of six member states 
pushing for tighter rules on labelling and traceability until it was ready 
to lift the moratorium. Significantly, it now looks as if Germany might be 
about to join the antis' camp. During the meeting, it presented a working 
paper outlining these proposals. In a letter to the Commission signalling a 
shift in the country's policy toward overt support for the ban minister 
Renate Künast dismissed the Commission's plan as "incomprehensible and 
groundless". On Oct 24 at a forum at the National Press Club in Washington, 
D.C., Tony Van der Haegen, EC minister-counselor for agriculture, fisheries 
and consumer affairs said: "The decision in the end will be highly 
political. We don't know how it is going to finish and what member states 
are going to say." On Oct 29, at a meeting in Luxembourg, many EU 
environment ministers spoke against EC plans to restart licensing GM seeds 
and crops - a process that has been stalled since 1998. Wallstrom told 
ministers: "We are in an illegal situation." Wallstrom said the EU may be 
open to a complaint from GMO exporters like the US at the WTO. 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, 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 Wallstrom 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.

  Oct 11: EC launches Round Table on GMO safety research
  Oct 15: European Commission launches new pro-GE campaign
  Oct 18: European Commission presses for ending the moratorium
  Oct 29: EU decision on GMO regulation will be highly political
  Oct 30: EU environmental ministers reject idea to lift moratorium
  Oct 31: Euro-pean Commission in trouble over EU's GMO ban


NEW ZEALAND’S GE FREE MOVEMENT MARCHING FORWARD

On Oct. 1, the GE Free Land March started in Kaitaia/New Zealand. The march 
will give people in rural areas an opportunity to join the growing GE-free 
movement and is calling for a ban on GE. On Oct 11, the Physicians and 
Scientists for Responsible Genetics (PSRG) published a letter stating that 
the Royal Commission's report could not be, nor was it intended to be, a 
scientifically rigorous document, it offers certain strategic options which 
we feel it is valuable to take up. PSRG rejects the conclusion that 
continuing the moratorium on field trials and commercial releases of 
genetically modified organisms in New Zealand will have an adverse effect 
on truly scientific research. On Oct 16, Maori MPs met to discuss their 
concerns that senior ministers were leaning towards decisions in line with 
the report of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification. On Oct 29, 
Prime Minister Helen Clark confirmed the Government would extend a 
moratorium on the commercial release of genetically engineered organisms 
for two years while further research was undertaken. She also confirmed the 
widely signalled plan to allow GE research to continue under "contained 
conditions" with mandatory controls and monitoring.

  Oct 15: New Zealand struggles about GE (1)
  Oct 19: New Zealand government plans 2-year GE field trial freeze
  Oct 30: New Zealand Government extends moratorium on commercial GE release


BRAZILIAN GE FREE FARMERS RISK THEIR LIFE

In the first week of October, about 800 organic soyabean farmers gathered 
in the city of Belem/Brazil with members of the Landless Workers' Movement 
and aid workers to demand that the murders of eight Brazilian peasant 
leaders are brought to justice. Ranchers allegedly arranged the murders to 
silence the leaders or to grab their smallholdings in Amazonia, and 45 
farmers are said to be on a new hitlist in a long-running dispute over 
their right to grow GM-free crops. The ranchers, with outside investors, 
are putting pressure on the cash-strapped federal government to drop a 
longstanding ban on GM crops.

  Oct 9: Anti-GM smallholders in the Amazon demand justice over series of 
killings


DEMAND FOR GE FREE SOY FROM BRAZIL GROWS

About four million tonnes of GE free soymeal, mostly from Brazil, was 
guaranteed in 2001 by certification firm Cert ID. "If the demand would be 
there, I think we can easily crank up the certified amount from Brazil to 
10 million tonnes and more annually," President Jochen Koester said. "There 
is a big myth about that. All of Brazil has on average contamination from 
illegal GMOs of about 6-8 percent, and that is mostly in the extreme south 
where some regions have perhaps up to 35 percent."

  Oct 15: Demand for non-GE food and feed growths


US GROUPS OPPOSE GMO COMMERCIALISATION

On Oct 18, Friends of the Earth, the Center for Food Safety, and Clean 
Water Action (all USA) launched a campaign to prevent the commercialization 
of GE fish. A Purdue University study published in PNAS in Nov 99 showed 
that the release of just 60 GE fish into a population of 60,000 naturally 
occurring fish would cause the wild fish species to become extinct within 
only a few generations. On Oct 22, the Citizens Promoting a Healthy 
Environment (Boulder/Colorado), consisting of several Ph.D.s with 
scientific and business agriculture experience, announced they would be 
watching the advisory committee in charged with monitoring the use of GMOs 
on a small but growing percentage of county-owned open space. Ann Krohn 
Rick said: "We're here to advocate for greater citizen involvement in land-
use decisions for public lands in Boulder County. Perhaps we need to bring 
this issue to the ballot box in the future."

  Oct 31: US restaurants and grocers asked to avoid transgenic fish
          Colorado, US, group concerned about GMO releases


For more details and references please read the GENET-news mails at: http://
www.gene.ch/genet.html


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