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6-Regulation: EFSA issues opinion on GE free zones

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

TITLE:  EFSA issues GMO opinion
SOURCE: European Food Safety Authority, PRESS RELEASE
DATE:   Jul 10, 2003

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EFSA issues GMO opinion

European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) scientists have concluded that
there is no new scientific evidence, in a recently submitted report, to
justify the banning of certain GMOs in Upper Austria. EFSA was asked to
look at the health and environment issues within its remit, but not at
other issues such as information relating to the management of coexistence.

'This was a relatively straightforward case,' said EFSA Executive
Director, Geoffrey Podger. 'Our Scientific Panel on Genetically Modified
Organisms was recently asked to consider whether any new evidence had
been presented which would justify the ban. It became clear to them,
after giving due consideration to the report which had been presented,
that it contained no new public health or environment related evidence
which would justify a different approach being taken in Upper Austria,
than for the EU in general. It also became clear that there was no
requirement to make any changes to the overall EU approach to GMO risk
assessment on the basis of the evidence presented. That said, EFSA
remains fully committed to careful scrutiny of biotechnology issues in
order to protect the safety of the European public.'


The Provincial Government of Upper Austria proposed the introduction of a
draft new law that would ban; the cultivation of genetically modified
seeds and propagating material; the use of transgenic animals for
breeding purposes and; the release of transgenic animals, in particular
for hunting and fishing purposes, in Upper Austria. The proposed
legislation was based on a report entitled "GMO-free agricultural areas:
design and analysis of scenarios and implementation steps". Austria then
notified the European Commission of its intent in compliance with Article
95(5) of the Treaty.

Consequently, in May, the European Commission decided to request a
scientific opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Its
aim was to determine whether the information in the report contained any
new scientific evidence, in terms of risk to human health and the
environment, that would justify Upper Austria implementing such a GM ban.
Specifically, the ban was to cover GM seeds, propagating material or
transgenic animals, including those that have already been authorised
under Directive 90/220/EEC or Directive 2001/18/EC. In particular, EFSA
was asked to comment on whether the scientific information presented in
the report provided new data that would invalidate the provisions for
environmental risk assessment under the above legislation. As requested,
EFSA commented on issues within its remit, relating to human health and
the environment, and not on other issues such as information relating to
the management of co-existence.

Following investigation of the evidence presented in the report, EFSA's
Scientific Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms has concluded there is
no new scientific evidence in the report, in terms of risk to human
health and the environment, to justify the ban. Neither did it find any
new data that would justify changing the methods used, at present, to
assess the environmental risk of GMOs that currently hold marketing
consent in the EU.

The opinion is on the EFSA web site at:
For media enquiries, please contact: Andy Stimpson:
Tel: +322 2991914
For more background information about the European Food Safety Authority,
go to:

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

TITLE:  Italy farm minister sees end to EU biotech ban
SOURCE: Reuters, by Robin Pomeroy
DATE:   Jul 9, 2003

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Italy farm minister sees end to EU biotech ban

BRUSSELS, July 9 (Reuters) - The European Union may remove a five-year
ban on most genetically modified (GM) food by the end of the year, a move
that could help stop a U.S.-led trade suit, Italy's farm minister said on

Rules passed by the European Parliament last week to label all GM food
sold in the EU were enough to start authorising imports now, Giovanni
Alemanno said. It would take a few more months for rules on farming GM
crops in Europe, he said.

"The moratoriums will be lifted as the regulations are approved," he told
reporters after briefing Parliament's environment committee on Italy's
priorities for its six-month stint as president of the 15-country EU.

"As soon as the regulations are approved on food we can lift the
moratorium on food. When regulations on agricultural coexistence are
approved, we can lift the moratorium on seeds."

When asked if new authorisations to sell GM products in the EU could be
granted before the end of the year, he said: "Yes".

"We must act quickly, we cannot continue to wait. It is a weak position
as regards our international relations."

United States, Canada and Argentina are taking the EU to the World Trade
Organisation (WTO) for refusing their GMO exports, which U.S. farmers say
costs them $300 million a year.

Italy was one of the original members of a group of EU states that in
1999 said they would refuse EU permits for any new GM products pending
new regulations on safety testing, labelling, and product tracing, all of
which are now approved in principle.

Only a handful of GM crops are allowed to be imported or grown in the EU
as the bloc has not granted any permits since 1998.


Alemanno said he still wanted strict rules to ensure GM crops do not
cross-pollinate with conventional or organic relatives -- another issue
alarming biotech firms, which fear more red tape will dissuade European
farmers from going GM.

Those rules should be ready within months, he said.

Anti-GM campaigners hope EU member states will create GM-free zones,
banning biotech crops that they fear could cross-breed with natural
relatives and create "superweeds".

The European Commission is due to issue guidelines later this month
setting out how far individual EU states can go in ensuring coexistence
of GM and non-GM crops.

"This will work as long as the guidelines are clearly defined," he told
Parliament, adding that they should be based on geographical areas and
not just applicable to individual producers.


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

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

phone:  +49-531-5168746
fax:    +49-531-5168747
mobile: +49-162-1054755
email:  genetnl(at)


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

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

phone:  +49-531-5168746
fax:    +49-531-5168747
mobile: +49-162-1054755
email:  genetnl(at)