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GENET GE free Newsletter 02/11



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---------------------------- December 01, 2002 -------------------------

                      GENET GE free Newsletter 02/11

- THREE REGIONS IN THE EU PLAN GE FREE ZONE
- INDIA STOPPED GE MUSTARD APPROVAL
- SOUTH AFRICAN NGOs LODGE OBJECTIONS AGAINST Bt MAIZE APPLICATIONS
- AUSTRALIAN FARMERS AND DECISION MAKERS OPPOSE GE CANOLA
- GE FREE MARCH IN NEW ZEALAND
- EU REPRESENTATIVES ACT AGAINST EU GMO MORATORIUM
- DEBATE ON GE WHEAT IN NORTH AMERICA CONTINUES
- SCOTTISH MINISTER BANS GE CROP TRIALS
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THREE REGIONS IN THE EU PLAN GE FREE ZONE

The regions Carinthia (Austria), Friaul-Julisch-Venice (Italy) and
Slovenia plan to create a common GE-free zone. Carinthia and Friaul-
Julisch-Venice have already signed the agreement. Slovenia should be
integrated just after its accession to the EU. The responsible Slovenian
Minister, Franc But has already agreed to participate in the project. In
2002, Carinthia is going to ratify a State Law that bans the planting of
GE crops and the keeping of GE animals. 

  Nov  1: Transboundary GE-free zone planned for Austria, Italy and Slovenia


INDIA STOPPED GE MUSTARD APPROVAL

On Nov 7, the Indian Genetic Engineering Approval Committee has
'deferred' its decision to approve GE mustard and will take "a good hard
look" at existing data to decide if the benefits outweigh the risks to
health and local varieties of mustard. "This would be the first
transgenic crop which is a hundred per cent food product," said Mr.
Gokhale, chairman of committee. ProAgro/Aventis made a 90-minute
presentation which left the field open to differing interpretations on
issues such as the possibility of damage to other species, productivity
and human health. "There was no unanimity on interpreting certain
results," said Gokhale.

  Nov 10: India: GM Mustard put on hold


SOUTH AFRICAN NGOs LODGE OBJECTIONS AGAINST Bt MAIZE APPLICATIONS

The South African NGOs Biowatch and Safeage have lodged objections to
Sygenta Seedco's application to sell Bt11 maize seeds. Sygenta had misled
the public and wrongfully claimed approval of the GE maize in Switzerland
and in Australia/New Zealand. If the applicant can misrepresent such
simple facts in their public notice, the public can put little faith in
the results of their scientific tests and trials. The application is
intrinsically flawed because it simultaneously applies for permits for
both field trials and for the general release. According to established
best scientific practices these two processes should be run separately.
The NGOs were unable to gain access to crucial information or even file
numbers for comment on the application.

  Nov  6: South African NGOs oppose Syngenta GE maize application
  Nov 10: South African objections to Syngenta Bt maize testing and growing


AUSTRALIAN FARMERS AND DECISION MAKERS OPPOSE GE CANOLA

A survey of the South Australian Farmers Federation showed overwhelming
opposition to the release of GE crops. President John Lush says it's sent
his federation a clear and unmistakable message: "They're saying
obviously very clearly to us, that as a Farmers Federation that we're not
ready to have GM crops yet." The Shire of Manjimup in South-Western West
Australia has rejected an GE canola application. Monsanto approached the
shire with the proposal, which was considered by the council. The South
Australian Agriculture Minister, Paul Holloway, says he has written to
Monsanto and Bayer Crop Science to ask them to delay any decision to grow
GE canola in South Australia. On Nov 8, Australian gene technology
regulator Sue Meek said she had decided to delay her consideration of the
applications because she has not yet received all necessary safety
information from the companies. The South Australian Farmers Federation
will not be calling for a moratorium on GMOs despite there was 80 per
cent support as an internal survey revealed. The Australian Local
Government Association will call on the federal and state governments to
give councils power to declare local government areas free of selected GE
crops. On Nov 21, the Australian Democrats demanded the federal
government conduct a full economic analysis of the likely impact of GE
canola before approving the crop's release. "The governments of Western
Australia and South Australia have both called for all economic and
environmental aspects of genetically-modified crops to be considered
before their approval," Senator Cherry said.

  Nov  1: Australian farmers not ready for GM crops
  Nov 15: South Australia delays decisions on GE canola
  Nov 25: Australian Democrats demand full analysis of GM canola


GE FREE MARCH IN NEW ZEALAND

On Nov 17, thousands of people joined The GEtup, Stand up March in
Auckland. The protest was aimed at mobilising public opposition to ending
the GE moratorium next October. Organisers Greenpeace and Mothers Against
Genetic Engineering said about 10,000 people had marched.

  Nov 19: GE-free marchers mass to retain moratorium in New Zealand


EU REPRESENTATIVES ACT AGAINST EU GMO MORATORIUM

EC Commissioner David Byrne said that if Washington responded by carrying
out its threats to bring a complaint in the World Trade Organisation,
"the [legal] defences that would be available to the EU ... would be very
narrow". However, he warned the US that even if it won a challenge in the
WTO, it would risk triggering a consumer backlash. On Nov 21 during the
vote on the EC biotech strategy, the European Parliament voted for an
amendment calling for an end of the moratorium: "Strongly supports the
view that the existing de-facto moratorium on GM foods in force since
1998 should cease, in order to promote innovation; the current situation
has particularly harmed SMEs that are main originators of innovation".

  Nov 14: U.S. warns EU not to keep GMO moratorium
  Nov 26: European Parliament votes on Commissions' Life Science Strategy


DEBATE ON GE WHEAT IN NORTH AMERICA CONTINUES

On Oct 29, the North Dakota Agriculture Committee endorsed a bill that
would create a state board to study the impacts of GE wheat. It prevented
the introduction of an amendment calling for a moratorium and declined to
endorse a bill placing liability on biotechnology companies. Liability
laws would prevent the state's farmers from enjoying the benefits of
transgenic wheat, said Monsanto spokesman John Olson. On Nov 20,
Greenpeace released a report which says that Canada's wheat growers could
suffer devastating market losses and farm management problems, and
consumer and environmental safety could be compromised if GE wheat is
approved. "Canada can not put effective, affordable systems in place to
ensure that GE wheat wouldn't contaminate the wheat supply and the
environment," said Dr. Rod MacRae, food policy consultant and the
report's lead author. On Nov 22, Rene Van Acker, an University of
Manitoba weed specialist, told the National Farmers Union annual
convention that RR wheat could cost Prairie farmers USD 12-20 more per
acre due to extra tank mixing costs. Farmers have to mix a herbicide such
as MCPA to their glyphosate when they burn off weeds in their fields
prior to seeding to kill volunteer RR canola. On Nov 25, the North Dakota
Farm Bureau announced a change in its policy on GE wheat, favoring a
"cautious approach" to commercialization rather than a moratorium. State
Farm Bureau President Eric Aasmundstad said: "We're very supportive of
free enterprise. Let the market dictate what is going to happen."

  Nov  4: Update on GE wheat discussion in North Dakota (USA)
  Nov 22: Greenpeace Canada report on GE wheat threats
  Nov 25: Roundup Ready wheat could prove costly, NFU told
  Nov 28: North Dakota Farm Bureau changed policy on GE wheat


SCOTTISH MINISTER BANS GE CROP TRIALS

The Scottish Rural Development Minister Ross Finnie intends to reject any
further applications for GE crop trials for at least a year while the
Executive examines the effects of existing trials. Britain's Medical
Research Council revealed that new genes inserted into food could provoke
allergic reactions and alter human DNA, switching on potentially harmful
"silent genes". Ministers have also been alarmed by research which
suggests honey from a hive in Fife may have been contaminated with GE
pollen. The British Medical Association has demanded an immediate halt to
GE crop trials. The BMA was asked by the health committee if it believed
the Executive should prevent GE crop trials from continuing on the
grounds that the policy is against "the precautionary principle to allow
them to continue". The BMA responded: "Yes. As with scientific matters,
it can be difficult and time consuming to demonstrate safety to an
acceptable standard."

  Nov  4: Scottish Minister bans GE crop trials
  Nov  7: Scottish GE free movement welcomes Environment Minister U-turn
  Nov 20: Crop trials must stop, say British Medical Association