GENET archive


6-Regulation: Postponed EU thresholds for seed GE contamination -responses

                                  PART I
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TITLE:  Contradictory signals by the European Commission
SOURCE: EuropaBio, Belgium, Press Release
DATE:   8 Sep 2004

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Contradictory signals by the European Commission

Today the European Commission withdrew from its agenda the proposal to
establish labeling thresholds for trace amounts of EU approved GM seed in
conventional seed. At the same time, the Commission moved forward in
approving the addition of 17 GM maize varieties to the EU Common Seed
Catalogue, allowing the sale of these varieties in all 25 EU Member
States. "It is regrettable that, once again, the Commission has chosen to
ignore its responsibility to establish a common European legal basis for
the setting of thresholds for trace levels of GM seed in conventional
seed. EuropaBio and other stakeholders are disappointed, having worked
with the Commission over five years to establish practical and workable
thresholds." said Simon Barber, Director of PBU, EuropaBio. "It is
economically unsustainable and will unnecessarily harm the
competitiveness of the European industry and its customers, the European
farmers community". "However, we do welcome the Commission's addition of
17 approved GM maize varieties to the European Common Seed Catalogue,
allowing more of Europe's farmers to see for themselves the farm level
and environmental benefits of this technology. "Absolute purity is just
not possible in the production of seed, and time and again, the seed
industry and farmers in Europe face extraordinary legal uncertainty
because the Commission has not been able to agree on practical and
workable thresholds. To allow for the present situation of unrealistic,
unclear and legally disputable national legislation to remain is
irresponsible." added Simon Barber. "It's ironic that farmers may legally
grow fields of GM crops, yet thresholds for trace levels of these in seed
have not been established." EuropaBio urges the Commission to fill this
gap in the European GM regulatory package by establishing clear,
practical and workable thresholds, as a matter of priority.

For further information, please contact

Johan Vanhemelrijck, EuropaBio Email: Tel:
+32 2 739 11 71 Mobile: +32 475 30 62 57

Simon Barber, EuropaBio Email: Tel:
+32 2 739 11 72 Mobile: +32 476 44 24 20

(1) About EuropaBio
EuropaBio, the European Association for Bioindustries, has 35 corporate
members operating worldwide and 23 national biotechnology associations
representing some 1200 small and medium sized enterprises involved in
research and development, testing, manufacturing and distribution of
biotechnology products.

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

TITLE:  SOS welcomes EU Commission postponement of seed contamination
SOURCE: Save our Seeds, Germany
DATE:   8 Sep 2004

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SOS welcomes EU Commission postponement of seed contamination decision

The "Save our Seeds" initiative to keep non-GM seeds free of genetically
modified varieties is pleased with todays decision of the European
Commissions to withdraw from their agenda a proposal to allow for GM
contamintion of conventional seeds of maize and oilseed-rape up to 0,3

"This is an important victory for millions of European citizens and
hundred of farmers, environmental, consumers organisations as well as a
growing number of companies, who want gmo-free products and seeds and who
fiercely opposed the planned contamination rules," said Benedikt Haerlin,
spokesperson of the initiative. "The issue will come up again in the new
Commission," he added, "and we hope the additional time now will be used
by the new Commissioners to fully understand both the environmental and
economic risks and threats stemming from uncotrolled and unlabelled seed

In this respect Haerlin has special hopes on the new Commissioner for
agriculture, Else Mariann Fischer Boel, who has so far firmly defended a
threshold at the detection level and introduced a submission to this end
to the Council of Ministers only in April this year.

Contact: Benedikt Haerlin +49 173 9997555
For more details see

                                  PART III
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  IFOAM EU Group welcomes EU Commission postponement of seed
        contamination decision
SOURCE: IFOAM EU Group, Brussels, Press Release
DATE:   8 Sep 2004

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IFOAM EU Group welcomes EU Commission postponement of seed contamination

Brussels, September 8th - The IFOAM EU Group (1) welcomes the news that
President Prodi has withdrawn a proposal for a Decision "establishing
minimum thresholds for adventitious or technically unavoidable traces of
genetically modified seeds in other products" from the agenda of the
College of Commissioners. The Commission was not able to agree on the
revised proposal that would allow for GM contamination of seeds of maize
and oilseed-rape up to 0.3 percent.This is a massive success for the
organic movement, for all organic farmers, processors, retailers, traders
and consumers", said Francis Blake, President of the IFOAM EU Group. "The
0.3 percent threshold proposed by Commissioners Wallström and Fischler
would have endangered the increasing organic farming sector which would
fly in the face of the Commission's own action plan on organic farming."

"President Prodi acknowledged the lack of the scientific basis on the
economic impact of such high thresholds" added Marco Schlüter, from the
IFOAM EU office in Brussels. "The issue will now come before the new
Commission. We hope and expect that the new Commissioners will take into
account the environmental and economic risks and threats resulting from
unlabelled seed contamination."

The IFOAM EU Group urges the new Commission to follow the recommendation
of the European Parliament to set up thresholds at the (reliable)
detection level. The Commissioner designate for Agriculture, Else Mariann
Fischer Boel has already supported the call for seed purity. She stated
in the Council of Ministers, in her role as Danish Agriculture Minister,
"in order to secure the best possible conditions for co-existence,
Denmark finds that thresholds in any forthcoming proposal should be set
at detection level (0.1)."

ENDS - (Characters: 1477)


Marco Schlüter, IFOAM EU Group (organic farming movement association)
phone: +32 (0)2 282 4665

Further information: Farmer's letter to the Commission on July 8

(1) The IFOAM EU group is a subgroup of the worldwide acting umbrella
organisation IFOAM dealing with organic farming on the European level.
The EURG represents the whole organic sector in Europe, ranging from
consumer and producer organisations, processors, retailers, certifiers,
consultants, researchers, etc - in all some 350 organisations in the EU,
EFTA and accession countries.

                                  PART IV
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Commission backs down on seed contamination
SOURCE: Greenpeace, Belgium, Press Release
DATE:   8 Sep 2004

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Commission backs down on seed contamination

Brussels, 8 September 2004 - Greenpeace today welcomed the postponement
of the Commission's approval of their decision on seed thresholds for
GMOs in conventional seeds.

"It is a very good thing that the Commission acknowledged that their
proposal was not well thought-through and it is a wise decision to let
the new Commission reconsider the whole issue of seed contamination and
co-existence", said Eric Gall, Political Advisor for the European Unit of
Greenpeace. "We urge the new Commissioners to act more responsibly and to
set the labelling threshold in seeds at the detection level so as to
ensure freedom of choice for consumers", added Gall.

The European Commission's proposal to legalise the unlabelled
contamination of conventional seeds by genetically modified organisms
(GMOs), intially due to be discussed this morning, was not adopted by the
College of Commissioners. President Prodi indicated that a thorough
assessment of the economic impact of the proposal was needed, and
therefore decided to take the issue off the agenda.

The draft Decision presented this morning would have allowed for all
oilseed rape and maize seeds to contain up to 0.3% of GMOs without
farmers knowing about it. Such thresholds would threaten freedom of
choice and would create additional costs for farmers and operators along
the food production chain.

On the other hand, Greenpeace strongly criticized the other Commission's
decision to put 17 varieties of genetically modified maize Mon 810 from
Monsanto on the European Seed catalogue, making them available for sale
in the whole EU territory. Greenpeace urged governments to enact national
safeguard clauses against these varieties in order to protect
conventional and organic farming from contamination.

"Only two member states, Denmark and Germany, are in the process of
defining national measures to protect organic and conventional farming
from genetic contamination. Allowing the sale of GM varieties while the
vast majority of member states do not have such measures show that the
outgoing Commission's promise to ensure co-existence was no more than
empty words", said Gall, adding : "We hope that the new Commission will
act more responsibly. In the meantime member states should take the
necessary measures and ban those varieties to protect their agriculture
and food industry."

Contact :

Eric Gall, GMO Policy Advisor, tel +32 (0) 274 19 06 or +32 (0) 496 16 15 82

Note 1:
Article18 of Council Directive 2002/53/EC of 13 June 2002 on the common
catalogue of varieties of agricultural plant species allows member states
to enact safeguard clauses against the marketing of certain varieties.
Those safeguard clauses are subject to comitology procedures.


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

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

P: +49-531-5168746
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