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6-Regulation: European Parliament backs stricter GM rules

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

TITLE:  Europe backs stricter GM rules
SOURCE: British Broadcasting Corporation
DATE:   July 3, 2002

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Europe backs stricter GM rules

GM research has come to a virtual standstill in Europe Plans to enforce 
stricter labelling of genetically modified foods across the European Union 
have been agreed by members of the European Parliament. Under current EU 
rules, only food with more than 1% of GM material has to be labelled. The 
proposals, which still have to be agreed by EU environment ministers before 
becoming law, would include the labelling of GM derivatives in such 
products as sugar and oils. But the parliament failed to agree on extra 
measures demanded by some MEPs to label milk, meat and eggs from animals 
reared on genetically modified feeds.

Public anxiety

The European Commission believes stricter labelling could help dispel the 
notion that the biotechnology industry has something to hide. But those 
involved in the industry say the proposed rules would set them back by 
decades. For the last four years, there has been an effective moratorium 
across the EU on the commercial growing of genetically modified crops. 
Public anxiety about the technology has meant research has come to a 
virtual standstill.

The new legislation may give consumers more information, but the BBC's 
Shireen Wheeler says it could also lead to a trade dispute with the United 
States, where the export of genetically modified crops and products is 
worth billions of dollars.

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

TITLE:  Blair orders MEPs to block strict labelling of GM foods
SOURCE: The Independent, UK, by Marie Woolf
DATE:   July 2, 2002

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Blair orders MEPs to block strict labelling of GM foods

Moves to lay down Europe-wide rules on genetically modified (GM) food are 
expected to provoke a bitter political dispute this week when the 
Government urges British MEPs to block a strict new labelling regime. The 
European Parliament is deeply divided over rules for GM food that would 
force all products containing more than 0.5 per cent of GM organisms (GMOs) 
to be labelled.

The Government has sent British MEPs a briefing note urging them to vote 
against it, arguing that the issue is low on the list of consumer 
priorities. The document also suggests that meat from animals fed on GM 
food should not be labelled and nor should the use of processing aids 
derived from GMOs. And it says British shoppers are unconcerned about 
genetic modification and that "GM is very far down the list of consumer 
considerations with regard to food.

"It is a tiny feature on mental maps of food issues, and does not figure at 
all for some," the UK briefing says.

Britain's stance has infuriated environmental groups who say consumer 
surveys consistently show overwhelming opposition to GM foods. They said 
ministers were "twisting the arms" of MEPs and arguing for a "lax regime" 
because of pressure from America.

Several EU member states have said they will block new licences for GMOs 
until a proper regime for traceability and labelling is established. 
Tomorrow's vote in the European Parliament in Strasbourg is intended to 
help to break Europe's deadlock on GMOs by putting in place new rules. The 
European Commission had suggested that products should be able to contain 
up to 1 per cent of GM material without being labelled, but the environment 
committee suggested a threshold of 0.5 per cent. Britain has led calls to 
reinstate the 1 per cent figure.

Adrian Bebb, biotechnology campaigner for Friends of the Earth, accused 
Britain of being out of touch with the rest of Europe and said that the 
Government was "in the pocket of the biotechnology industry". He said: 
"Britain is acting as America's poodle. The Government is more interested 
in supporting the biotechnology industry and American intensive farming 
interests than British consumers and the UK food industry."

The British document argues against labelling all food from GM crops and 
said only those that "actually contain GM material [DNA or protein] which 
can be verified by testing" should be labelled. Labour's environment 
spokesman in the European Parliament, David Bowe, said he wanted a 
labelling system that marked out food with absolutely no GM content. 
"People say that is impractical but, frankly, I dispute that," he said. 
MEPs share joint responsibility with EU governments for passing the laws 
and months might be needed to draw up a final policy.


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