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6-Regulation: Six EU States argue against quick lifting ofmoratorium

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TITLE:  GMO opponents argue against lifting of EU moratorium
SOURCE: Cordis News, European Communities, Luxembourg
DATE:   Feb 24, 2003

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GMO opponents argue against lifting of EU moratorium

Agriculture ministers from EU countries opposed to the authorisation of
new genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have restated their objection
to the lifting of a five year de facto moratorium.

Their comments came in response to calls by EU Health and Consumer
Protection Commissioner David Byrne for a lifting of the ban at an
Agriculture Council meeting in Brussels on 20 February.

Mr Byrne argued that new authorisation procedures could begin since the
Council has agreed on measures governing the labelling and traceability
of GMOs, even though the new rules have yet to become law.

But such an approach was opposed by Germany, France, Greece, Belgium,
Luxembourg and Austria; outspoken opponents of GM products who argued
that new authorisations should not be granted until new laws are in place.

'Germany starts from the principle that the moratorium will only be
lifted once the rules on the origin and labelling have come into force,'
said Germany's Agriculture Minister Renate Kuenast.

The new rules were adopted by EU agriculture ministers at the end of
2002, but have yet to be approved by the European Parliament, where
opponents of GMOs could vote to block the measures.

In the same meeting, ministers also looked at issues surrounding the
question of co-existence, the practice of growing GM crops near GM free
crops and the related issues of cross contamination.

According to Franz Fischler, EU Agriculture Commissioner: 'This will be
particularly important once the authorisations of new GMOs resume and
genetically modified crops are grown on a larger scale in the EU.'

The debate centred on the economic consequences for organic farmers whose
crops had been contaminated by GMOs or, in cases where GM crops have
advantageous properties, contamination by non-GM products.

Commissioner Fischler announced that he is preparing a paper which will
form the basis for a debate on the issue. 'I hope that we will come out
of this debate with some clear policy orientations and a concrete
timetable for the future work,' he said.

Category: General policy
Data Source Provider: Agriculture Council; press sources
Document Reference: Based on information from the Agriculture Council and
press sources
Subject Index : Agriculture; Biotechnology; Policies
RCN: 19771