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6-Regulation: EU awaits heated debate on GM crop mix

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                                  PART I
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TITLE:  EU awaits heated debate on GM crop mix
SOURCE: Reuters, by Jeremy Smith
DATE:   Apr 25, 2003

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EU awaits heated debate on GM crop mix

BRUSSELS - Europe's biotech industry is set to clash with farm and
environment groups this week in a debate over whether genetically
modified (GM) crops can co-exist with traditional varieties.

Due to consumer health and environment worries, the EU has not authorised
any new hi-tech crops since 1998, when several member states vowed to
oppose any applications for new permits.

But the European Commission, which will host Thursday's debate, is
expected to support the biotech industry's line that the EU should not
exclude any form of agriculture and that farmers should be able to grow
the crops they choose.

"There are certainly going to be some farmers in Europe who would like to
grow these crops and we think if there is very vigorous regulatory
system, they should be able to do so," said Simon Barber of Brussels-
based industry lobby group EuropaBio.

"So that means we need to have co-existence. Just as organic farmers co-
exist with non-organic farmers today, we need to have something pragmatic
to let all three co-exist," he said.

While the Commission says co-existence is not linked to restarting EU
authorisations of GM products, some nine EU states led by Italy - and
backed by green groups - say it is essential to resolve the issue sooner
rather than later.

"It would be a serious mistake to lift the moratorium without having
properly addressed the contamination problem," said Eric Gall of
international environmental group Greenpeace.

"The Commission is really in a hurry to lift the moratorium. But some
member states are very concerned with the contamination issue...and would
like to link it to the moratorium," he said.

EU farm and environment ministers have already thrashed out tighter
legislation on traceability, labelling and other rules relating to GM
food and feed. These bills are to be debated and voted on by the European
Parliament later this year.

When these bills become law, the Commission says, there will be no reason
to keep the moratorium.


Apart from a chance for a general airing of views, little policy-making
is likely from the debate, which will focus on GM maize and rapeseed as
the EU has already approved limited cultivation of these crops.

One of the EU's main tasks will be to set rules for economic liability if
there is cross-pollination of neighbouring crops.

Civil legislation on liability for such damage to crops differs widely
across the 15-nation bloc.

The Commission has suggested various options to control the risk of
cross-pollination, such as buffer zones, pollen barriers and crop
rotation arrangements for differing flowering periods.

"The farming sector will have to work so it can provide things that don't
have to be labelled," said EuropaBio's Barber. "It can probably do this
but it will take effort and cooperation between GM farmers and non-GM
farmers," he said.

U.S. farmers say the EU's de facto moratorium has significantly harmed
their exports of maize, cotton and soy, and the United States is exerting
steady pressure for the 15-nation bloc to accept its GM farm exports.

                                  PART II
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TITLE:  Two new reports support prospects for GM crop co-existance
SOURCE: Agricultural Biotechnology Council, UK
DATE:   Apr 25, 2003

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Two new reports support prospects for GM crop co-existance

Fresh information from UK farm industry body SCIMAC has given a major
boost to prospects for managing GM and non-GM crops at the practical farm
level. The two new reports were issued as EU stakeholders met at a
roundtable forum in Brussels (24 April) to discuss co-existence - how to
manage the production of GM and non-GM crops on the same farm or between
neighbouring farms.

The first report is a survey of all farmers who took part in GM crop
trials over the past three years. It found few practical difficulties in
managing GM and non-GM crops according to co-existence guidelines. The
second, an independent audit of growers conducted by ADAS Consulting Ltd,
confirmed very high levels of compliance with the requirements of the

"The positive response from trial growers and the audit process is very
encouraging," said SCIMAC chairman Dr Roger Turner. "Overall it shows
that the guidelines are based on procedures which farmers are familiar
with, and which do not represent a major departure from current best
practice within the industry."

"The farm-scale evaluations in the UK have presented a unique opportunity
within Europe to apply a set of protocols developed specifically to allow
access and choice to both GM and non-GM crop production." 

"This experience, in what is without doubt the largest ever series of co-
ordinated field trials in the UK, clearly demonstrates that the SCIMAC
approach is workable in practice, robust in safeguarding the integrity of
GM and non-GM crops, and capable of being audited." 

                                  PART III
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TITLE:  Farming systems must be 'tolerant' of each other, says EuropaBio
SOURCE: EuropaBio, Press Release
DATE:   Apr 25, 2003

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Farming systems must be 'tolerant' of each other, says EuropaBio

Brussels, 25 April 2003: For generations, farmers around the world have
managed co-existence between different crop production practices, just as
they have managed the production of the same crop type kept separate
because of different end uses. Coexistence has been achieved by accepting
agreed trace levels of produce from one farming practice, or crop, in the
produce of another; such traces are not intentional but are
adventitiously present because farming is conducted in the open
environment. For example, higher priced waxy maize grain is likely to
contain traces of feed quality maize grains when they are grown in the
same neighbourhood or if the farmer uses the same machinery for seeding
and harvesting all maize crops. "Coexistence is not a new concept. What
we need is to agree on practical allowances for traces of GM crops in
other crops including organic farming produce," says Simon Barber,
Director of the Plant Biotechnology Unit at EuropaBio (1).

EuropaBio welcomes the holding by the Commission of a stakeholders'
discussion on co-existence but warns against using the debate to further
delay the implementation of existing EU legislation on GMO's. "There is
no question of the safety of these GM crops, they will all have undergone
rigorous health and environmental safety assessments before they are
authorised for growing by farmers. Co-existence is purely about enabling
choice in the marketplace," says Simon Barber.

The evidence from areas around the world where GM crops have been
commercially grown over the past seven years shows that both large and
small scale farmers have benefited from using these crops. While
providing clear evidence of economic and management benefits for the
growers, data also show environmental benefits - growing these crops
enables a more economically and environmentally sustainable agriculture.

European farmers should be allowed to choose the crops they wish to grow,
whether they are GM, traditional or organic so that the market can
continue to provide farmers, food and feed processors and consumers with
choice. "No form of agriculture should be excluded in the EU and no
sector of agricultural production should have the power of veto over
another," says Simon Barber. "The EU must guard against the calls for
zero tolerance or the setting of unrealistic allowances that result in
the exclusion of one crop type or farming practice to the detriment of

For further information, contact;

Simon Barber, Tel: +32 2 739 1172 (Direct)
Mobile: +32 476 44 24 20

Notes to Editors

(1) EuropaBio represents 35 corporate members directly and, through its
21 member associations, over 1200 SMEs. All are involved in research and
development, testing, manufacturing and distribution of biotechnology
products. EuropaBio, the voice of European bioindustries, aims to be a
promoting force for biotechnology and to present its proposals to
industry, politicians, regulators, NGOs, and the public at large. http://