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6-Regulation: EU passes GM labelling laws, US unimpressed

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

TITLE:  EU passes GM labelling laws, US unimpressed
SOURCE: Reuters, by 
DATE:   Jul 3, 2003

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EU passes GM labelling laws, US unimpressed

BRUSSELS - The European Parliament passed laws on Wednesday to force
labelling of all genetically modified food in a move that could lead the
EU to lift an unofficial ban on GM crops but may not be enough to halt a
trade suit launched by Washington and others.

The regulations will require the food industry to segregate GM from
conventional crops and put strict limits on the accidental mixing of GM
into traditional food imports.

Delighted anti-GM campaigners said the new rules would keep the EU closed
to GM food, as consumers would chose not to buy it. "This new legislation
paves the way for a GMO-free Europe," said Geert Ritsema of green group
Friends of the Earth.

The United States, which is taking the EU to the World Trade Organisation
over its five-year de facto ban on new GM varieties, slammed the
regulations as "difficult and expensive for suppliers and confusing for

"We have made clear to the EU our concerns about the workability of these
regulations and their impact on trade," a U.S. official said, without
commenting directly on what impact it would have on the WTO case.

In Canada, which joined the U.S. trade action, a government official
indicated the WTO case would go ahead.

"It (the labeling decision) proves that we were right in putting on
political pressure to lift the moratorium and that we are not stepping
away from our procedures at the WTO," he said.

U.S. farmers say the closed EU market costs them $300 million a year in
lost exports, mostly maize. GM crops are not labelled in the United
States where the public has not opposed crops engineered for pest
resistance and increased yields.

The EU has refused to approve any new GM crops for cultivation or use in
food in the 15-country bloc since 1998 when European consumer fears about
food safety were at their height following the mad cow disease scandal.

A group of GM-sceptical countries, led by France said the moratorium
would remain until the EU had put in place a raft of new rules on safety
testing, labelling and tracing genetically modified organisms "from farm
to fork".


The new rules allow no more than 0.9 percent accidental mixing of GM in
non-GM shipments to the EU. They also let EU states impose "appropriate
measures" to ensure GM crops planted in the bloc do not cross-pollinate
with conventional strains.

Industry believes this will lead to only minor additional national rules,
such as requiring minimum distances between GM and organic crops, but
campaigners say it could allow GM-sceptic states like Austria to create
large GM-free zones.

The laws could be the final piece in a regulatory jigsaw that will lead
those states to start granting permits again for GM crops to be imported
or grown in the EU, a procedure that has been on hold since 1998.

Parliament's vote needs the formal approval of European Union member
governments, which diplomats said was likely to come this month.

The legislation would probably come into force in September and firms
would have a six-month breathing space before having to apply the new rules.

(Additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa)

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

TITLE:  FACTBOX - Gene crops in the European Union
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   Jul 3, 2003

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FACTBOX - Gene crops in the European Union


The labelling and traceability of GM food and feed is another key demand
of the seven pro-moratorium countries.

The European Parliament approved new rules on July 2 allowing consumers
to choose between GM and GM-free products. EU member states have to give
their final agreement for the legislation to apply across the 15-nation bloc.

The Parliament decision raises hopes that the lifting of the five-year
old GM ban is in sight, possibly by the end of 2003.

Food made from highly refined or processed GMOs and animal feed
containing GMOs will all have to be labelled as such when the new rules apply.

The draft proposal also puts meat on the traceability system.

Member states have provisionally agreed that all food and feed with more
than 0.9 percent of GMOs should be labelled.

They have also set the accidental or technically unavoidable presence of
non-approved GMOs in food and feed at 0.5 percent.

But the EU move is not expected to be enough to stop the U.S. challenge
within the WTO.


Belgium is a strong supporter of the EU's de facto ban on GM food and
wants laws on tracing and labelling in place before the moratorium is lifted.

It has not put stricter EU rules on testing and legalising GMOs into
national law due to government divisions, with the Green coalition
partners fighting for a stricter interpretation of the legislation.

The biotechnology industry refused to conduct GM field crop trials in
2003, in protest at the government's handling of the issue. It hopes that
the new administration will rapidly adopt the EU legislation and give the
green light to GM field trials.


GM planting is very marginal in France. Of the two million hectares of
maize under cultivation, less than 100 hectares are GM maize. Crops
trials take place within strictly controlled research programmes.

France's approach reflects cautious public opinion as well as active
opposition from groups such as Jose Bove's Confederation Paysanne.

It has also led the opposition to new approvals of GMOs within the EU,
saying it wants legislation on traceability and labelling not only
approved at an EU level but in place and working, before it would
consider changing its stance.


No GM crop trials have been carried out in Ireland since 2000. However,
the government is considering around 20 applications for trials from
biotech companies.

The government has been cautious, reflecting public opinion.

In the late 1990s, Monsanto Co encountered tough resistance from
environmental groups while carrying out a number of small-scale GM crop
trials in Ireland.


Italy has a zero tolerance policy on GMOs and has banned the sowing of GM
seeds in open fields. There are no known experimental GM plantings in
Italy, according to Bologna-based Italian Seeds Association, which
represents the seed industry.

Italy's main farm groups oppose GM sowings. Seed industry officials doubt
the authorities will easily back down in their resistance to biotech in
Italian agriculture if the EU approves new GM varieties.


Spain is the only EU country to grow GM crops commercially. It plants GM
maize and has recently approved five more strains of the GM crop. In 2002
Spain grew 20,000 hectares of GM maize and is set to double its planting
area this year.

Farmers use varieties produced by Monsanto, Aventis and Syngenta.

The biotech maize is solely used by the animal feed industry as food
manufacturers prefer GM-free crops.

The 300,000 strong Spanish Young Farmers' Association has embraced the
technology and is eagerly awaiting the EU approval of GM cotton.


Britain is in the final stages of a four-year field trial focusing on
rapeseed, sugar beet and maize.

Britain is set to make a decision in coming months on whether or not to
grow GM crops commercially, taking into account results from the trials
and a public debate.


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
Kleine Wiese 6
D - 38116 Braunschweig

phone:  +49-531-5168746
fax:    +49-531-5168747
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