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6-Regulation: EU lawmakers move to toughen GMO rules

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                                  PART I
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TITLE:  EU lawmakers move to toughen GMO rules
SOURCE: Reuters, by Aine Gallagher
DATE:   May 22, 2003

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EU lawmakers move to toughen GMO rules

BRUSSELS, May 22 (Reuters) - European lawmakers voted on Thursday to
toughen draft legislation on labelling genetically modified food, a move
the biotechnology industry fears may further delay opening the European
Union market to hi-tech crops.

The EU is putting the finishing touches to legislation that would let
consumers choose between GM and GM-free products, a key demand of GM-
sceptic member states and wary public opinion.

The new rules could be in place by the end of 2003, raising the
possibility EU states will end a de facto five-year-old ban on most GMOs
that is to come under legal challenge from the United States.

But the European Parliament's environment committee on Thursday set back
progress towards lifting the ban, according to the biotech industry.

The committee voted to make legislation stricter by obliging all food and
feed containing more than 0.5 percent of GMOs to be labelled, compared
with a level of 0.9 percent set by member states.

It also voted for the bill to include strict rules on how farmers must
reduce the risk of GM crops spreading into fields planted with
conventional and organic varieties.

If adopted, the clause would hold up the tight timetable to get the law
in place and delay an EU decision to end the ban.

"We're concerned as they keep changing the goalposts (for the lifting of
the ban)," said Adeline Farrelly, spokeswoman for Europabio, a group
representing the biotechnology industry.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, condemned the vote.

"The Parliament has snubbed the U.S. This is a very adverse reaction,"
said Commission spokeswoman Beate Gminder.

The Commission says the co-existence of different types of agriculture is
a separate issue and should not be added to the bill on labelling
requirements for GM food and feed.

It wants the problem solved at the national, not EU, level and is
bringing forward guidelines in July.

But anti-GMO campaigners were cheered.

"The vote is positive," said Friends of the Earth GMO campaign co-
ordinator Geert Ritsema. "Labelling is not enough in itself. We also need
to guarantee GM-free supply."

EU farm ministers will discuss the issue next week during their monthly

The bill will now be passed to the full parliament, which can chose
whether to confirm the committee's opinion. This is scheduled for July.
Parliament shares legislative powers on the bill with national EU governments.

                                  PART II
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TITLE:  Environment Committee calls for legislation on GM contamination
SOURCE: The Greens / European Free Alliance in the European Parliament
        Press Release
DATE:   May 22, 2003

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Environment Committee calls for legislation on GM contamination

Voting on the proposed Regulations on genetically modified food and feed
and on the traceability of GMOs, the European Parliament's Environment
Committee called today with a surprisingly high majority for legal rules
to prevent genetic contamination. In the second reading, the Committee
backed moves by Welsh MEP Jill Evans (Plaid Cymru - the Party of Wales)
to radically tighten up proposed regulations on GMOs.

Jill Evans MEP (Plaid Cymru - the Party of Wales) said:

" I'm delighted with the result of today's vote - the Environment
Committee endorsed almost all of the amendments that we'd tabled. This is
an important step forward for those of us who oppose the careless
proliferation of GMOs in the environment. Thanks to the tighter labelling
requirements and the introduction of a traceability scheme it will be far
easier to monitor the presence of GMOs in the food chain.

The most important issue in today's vote was without doubt the issue of
co-existence. This is a good day for European farmers who do not want to
and who don't grow GM crops. The Environment Committee has made it very
clear today that it will not accept the GM contamination of the food
chain nor the contamination of conventional and organic products by GMOs
which economically threatens conventional and organic farmers. The
Commission had recently proposed that co-existence should not be
addressed by Community legislation but by the Member States which - given
current Community law - would have to rely on voluntary stakeholder

Today's vote sends an encouraging signal as it also shows that Parliament
and, in particular, its Environment Committee is not prepared to give up
its strongly held opinions on GMOs - not even under the threat of the WTO
challenge launched by the US government last week. Indeed the Committee
also adopted an amendment which states explicitly that no GMOs, GM food
or feed shall be approved before the new traceability rules have become
law and are actually operational.

I also welcome the Committee's insistence on zero-tolerance of
unauthorised GMOs i.e. those that have not been through appropriate
approval procedures. We will continue to defend the right of the people
of Europe to choose whether or not to buy or use GM produce."


On 28 MAY 2003 the Green/EFA Group in the EP, together with Friends of
the Earth Europe, Euro Coop and the Heinrich Boell Foundation will hold a
conference on "GMOs - co-existence or contamination". For more
information and registration, please visit:

Steven Cornelius
Press Service of the Greens / EFA in the European Parliament
EFA Press Officer / Attaché de Presse ALE
Mobile / GSM +32 (0)473 56 09 67
Tel: +32-2-284 16 65 (B) / +33 3 88 17 29 36 (S)
Fax +32-2-284 17 71 (B) / +33-3-88-179 048 (S)