GENET archive


3-Food: EU farm ministers failed to approve Monsanto's NK603 GEmaize

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

TITLE:  EU Divided Over GMO Maize, Awaits Default Approval
SOURCE: Reuters, by Jeremy Smith
DATE:   20 Jul 2004

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EU Divided Over GMO Maize, Awaits Default Approval

BRUSSELS - EU farm ministers showed their deep disagreement on biotech
foods yesterday, failing to agree on authorizing imports of a new
genetically modified (GMO) maize after the bloc's biotech ban was lifted
in May, officials said.

Meeting to discuss whether to authorize a Roundup Ready maize type made
by U.S. biotech firm Monsanto, the bloc's 25 farm ministers were unable
to muster a sufficient majority either to approve or reject an
application for imports.

"There was no agreement for or against," an EU official told reporters.
The almost certain course now is for the European Commission to issue a
final approval of the maize, by legal default, in October or early November.

The maize, known as NK603 and altered to resist the herbicide glyphosate,
allows farmers to manage weeds more effectively. It would be used to make
products such as starch, oil, maize gluten feed and maize meal, and for
use in feed.

Only a handful of national delegations made statements at the meeting but
it was enough to show current EU president the Netherlands that no
decision could be taken since the remaining countries had not altered
their previous positions.

Of those that spoke, five were opposed to approving the maize: Austria,
Denmark, Greece, Italy and Luxembourg.

Belgium was the only country to say it was in favor of an authorization,
while Germany and Hungary abstained. Poland and Estonia said they had no
position on the issue.

Under the EU's complex decision-making process, if EU member states fail
to agree after three months at ministerial level on allowing a new GMO
into the bloc, then the Commission - the bloc's executive arm - may
rubberstamp an authorization.

"The Commission will take the decision in October. It's a rubberstamp," a
Commission official told reporters.

But due to a likely delay in finalising and translating the text for the
Commission's approval, the final decision for NK603 might be taken by the
incoming Commission when the current administration left office at the
end of October, she said.


Green groups were unimpressed by the likely EU approval later this year,
which would be the bloc's second after it effectively restarted new GMO
authorizations in mid-May. That happened when the Commission cleared the
sale of a tinned biotech sweet maize known as Bt-11, made by Swiss firm
Syngenta, using its own powers to permit imports.

"This pattern of decision-making by default is starting to expose the
lack of credibility of EU authorization procedures," said Eric Gall, GMO
policy adviser at international environment group Greenpeace's Brussels

"Most consumers do not want GMOs and member states have not agreed to
approve them. The Commission is defying democracy by pushing through
these approvals to satisfy the biotech lobby and its U.S. backers," he
said in a statement.

Although the farm ministers normally decide on new GMOs for use in food,
environment ministers must also agree on the NK603 file since Monsanto
wants to import maize for processing, not as a finished product. So there
is a potential environmental risk.

The Commission also approved NK603's environmental risk yesterday, for
the maize to be used in animal feed. Although half of the EU's required
approval process is now complete, no imports may start until the final
rubberstamp in October.

"Today's decision grants approval for the use of NK603 maize in animal
feed. However, imports for this use can only commence once the equivalent
approval has also been granted for food use," it said in a statement.

Monsanto welcomed what it saw as a step in the right direction regarding
use of GMOs in the EU.

"This decision is welcome progress toward completing the necessary
regulatory approvals for Roundup Ready Corn 2 technology in the EU,"
Brett Begemann, Executive Vice-President of International Commercial,
said in a news release.

"We're hopeful that this is a signal that the European Communities and
its Member States are serious about ending the moratorium on biotech

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

TITLE:  No Commercial GM Crops 'For Some Time'
SOURCE: PA News, by Amanda Brown / The Scotsman, UK
DATE:   16 Jul 2004

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No Commercial GM Crops 'For Some Time'

Genetically modified crops are not expected to be grown in Britain
commercially "for some time", a Government minister said today.

But rules about co-existence between GM and non-GM crops are to be drawn
up as part of a consultation.

Environment Minister Elliot Morley, announcing the move, said: "We are
keen to engage with stakeholders to find the best way forward on this issue.

"We do not expect GM crops to be grown here commercially for some time,
but we need to have clear co-existence arrangements in place beforehand.
Our aim is to have measures in place next year."

The first phase of the consultation will be made up of a series of
workshops to discuss:

the co-existence measures needed at farm level for each crop type;

the threshold for GM presence in relation or organic production;

guidance on the possible establishment of voluntary GM zones.

If GM crops are grown, there are various ways that they may transfer a GM
presence - DNA or protein - into conventional or organic crops, including
through cross- pollination.

Under EU law, any crops thus affected must be labelled and sold as "GM".

But the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said today
that crop separation distances can minimise GM presence in non-GM crops.


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