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2-Plants: 17 GE maize varieties added to EU Common Catalogue ofseeds - responses



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

TITLE:  Inscription of MON 810 GM maize varieties in the Common EU
        Catalogue of Varieties
SOURCE: European Commission, Pres Release IP/04/1083
DATE:   8 Sep 2004

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Inscription of MON 810 GM maize varieties in the Common EU Catalogue of
Varieties

The European Commission approved today the inscription of 17 varieties
derived from MON 810 maize in the Common EU Catalogue of Varieties of
Agricultural Plant Species. This maize has been authorised under the EU
GM legislation since 1998. The Common Catalogue is compiled on the basis
of the national catalogues of the Member States. It compiles around
30 000 varieties. Once a variety of seed is properly inscribed in a
national catalogue, the Commission is informed and is required to
inscribe the variety in the Common Catalogue by publication in the
Official Journal. Seed of varieties in the Common Catalogue can be
marketed in the entire EU, seed of varieties in the national catalogues
only on the market of the country concerned.

David Byrne, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection said : ęThe
inscription in the EU Seed Catalogue is a logical step as the EU
regulatory framework on GMOs is now up to date. The maize has been
thoroughly assessed to be safe for human health and environment. It has
been grown in Spain for years without any known problems. It will be
clearly labelled as GM maize to allow farmers a choice."

The inscription of the MON 810 varieties is the first time GM varieties
will be inscribed in the Common Catalogue. GM varieties can only be
inscribed if they have already been evaluated and authorised in
accordance with the legislation on GMOs1. MON 810 maize has been approved
in the EU since 1998. 17 varieties of maize derived from MON810 are
inscribed in national catalogues: 6 are listed in France and 11 are
listed in Spain. As required by Directive 2001/18/EC, Monsanto, the
authorisation holder of MON 810, provided a monitoring plan which was
positively evaluated by the Scientific Committee on Plants and approved
by Member States in the Regulatory Committee. The MON810 varieties will
be subject to labelling and traceability requirements as established in
the new regulatory framework on GMOs.


Beate Gminder: +32 2 296 5694 - beate.gminder@cec.eu.int
Catherine Bunyan: +32 2 299 6512 - catherine.bunyan@cec.eu.int

1 Directive 2001/18/E


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

TITLE:  GM CROPS: RECIPE FOR DISASTER
        Friends of the Earth urges Governments to ban GM seeds
SOURCE: Friends of the Earth Europe, Press Release
DATE:   8 Sep 2004

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***************************************************************
GM CROPS: RECIPE FOR DISASTER
Friends of the Earth urges Governments to ban GM seeds
***************************************************************

Brussels, 8 September - Friends of the Earth has condemned today's
decision by the European Commission to allow farmers to commercially grow
up to 17 different types of genetically modified (GM) maize seeds in
fields across the whole of Europe. The Commission also dropped from the
agenda any decision to legalise the widespread GM contamination of
conventional crops.

Friends of the Earth, Europe's largest grassroots environmental network,
believes the proposals will threaten Europe's food and farming and take
away consumers right to avoid GM food. They have called on Governments to
use EU law to ban the seed varieties. (1)

Geert Ritsema, GMO Campaign Coordinator of Friends of the Earth Europe said:

"The European Commission's proposals are a recipe for disaster. They will
lead to the widespread contamination of Europe's food, farming and
environment and take away consumers ability to avoid GM. European member
states must step in where the Commission has failed and ban these GM seeds."

Commenting on the decision not to discuss seed contamination, Ritsema
continued:

"Friends of the Earth welcomes this decision and believes that the
Commission now has a golden opportunity to bring out better proposals
that will protect people and the environment. Public safety must come
before the financial interests of the biotechnology industry.."

At today's meeting the outgoing European Commission decided to add 17
varieties of a GM maize made by Monsanto to Europe's Common Catalogue of
seeds. (2) The seeds will now be commercially available to farmers across
the whole EU, the first time that a GM seed has been added to the common
catalogue. Only one country - Denmark - has so far put in place "co-
existence" measures aimed at preventing the uncontrolled spread of GMOs
in the food chain and the environment. Without coexistence rules the
widespread contamination of conventional crops is highly likely, posing a
massive threat to Europe's food, farming and environment.


Notes to editors
1. According to a leaked Communication from Commissioner David Byrne "any
Member State may object to the marketing on their territory of any such
GM variety if they consider there is a risk for human health, the
environment or agronomic reasons." (Whole communication available from
Friends of the Earth)

2. Monsanto's MON810 maize, which is modified to produce a toxin to
resist a type of insect, already has a EU wide licence through GM
legislation. However, up to now it has not been made available to farmers
through the EU common catalogue. Six of the varieties are already on the
national seed lists in France (but not grown commercially as far as we
are aware) and 11 are listed on the Spanish seed list.


Contact: Geert Ritsema, Friends of the Earth Europe - mobile 00 31
(0)6 290 05 908 Adrian Bebb, Friends of the Earth Europe - mobile 00 49
(0)1609 490 1163


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

TITLE:  EC LEGALISES 17 VARIETIES OF GM MAIZE BUT LEAKED MEMO ALLOWS
        IRELAND TO BAN THEM
SOURCE: GM-free Ireland Network
        http://www.gmfreeireland.org
DATE:   8 Sep 2004

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EC LEGALISES 17 VARIETIES OF GM MAIZE BUT LEAKED MEMO ALLOWS IRELAND TO
BAN THEM

Leaked Byrne memo recognises Ireland1s right to object to marketing of GM
varieties GM-free Ireland calls for Government to use EU law to ban
Monsanto1s GM maize here EC decision on contamination of agricultural
seeds postponed EC to consider scientific evidence of GM risks in October

The European Commission decided today to allow farmers to commercially
grow up to 17 different types of Monsanto's genetically modified (GM)
maize seeds in fields across Europe. However it postponed a separate
proposal that would have allowed Europe1s agricultural seeds to be
contaminated by GM varieties without being adequately labelled.

But according to a leaked communication from EU Health and Consumer
Affairs Commissioner David Byrne which has been obtained by GM-free
Ireland, "in accordance with the seeds Directive, any Member State may
object to the marketing on their territory of any such GM variety if they
consider there is a risk for human health, the environment or agronomic
reasons."

There is substantial scientific evidence of the health, environmental and
economic risks of GM food and crops, including GM-related death and
disease in laboratory and farm animals, and humans - published by the
Independent Science Panel on GM and other groups around the world.

But until now, this scientific evidence has been widely covered up and
denied by the World Trade Organisation, the US Food and Drug
Administration, the EU Joint Research Centre, the UK Royal Society,
Ireland1s Environmental Protection Agency, the Food Safety Authority of
Ireland, and by David Byrne who continues to deny the existence of any
scientific evidence of health and environmental risks of GM food and farming.

According to Greenpeace, Ireland1s new Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Barry
McSweeney, tried to suppress the publication of an EU Report on co-
existence of GM and conventional crops whilst he was the Director of the
EU Joint Research Centre. The report found that GM varieties will
inevitably contaminate conventional and organic crops and cause higher
production costs (up to 40% for oilseed rape) for EU farmers.

When Austria tried to ban one of Monsanto1s GM maize varieties, their
move was rejected by he European Food Safety Authority 3for lack of
scientific evidence2, although it is now being re-considered. Italy
imposed national measures against 4 GMOs (including some of Monsanto1s GM
maize varieties legalised today) under the Novel Foods Regulation, but an
EU Scientific Committee rejected the scientific justification for this as
3irrelevant2.

But things are changing. The Independent Science Panel is holding a
Special European Parliament Briefing on GM risks on 20 October this year.
And last week the WTO ruled in favour of the EU in the GM trade dispute
filed by the USA, by agreeing to set up a scientific panel to review the
mounting evidence of GM risks.

GM-free Ireland co-ordinator Michael O1Callaghan said 3we call on the
Government to (1) use EU law to ban the release of Monsanto1s GM maize
varieties in Ireland, (2) actively lobby the Commission to set the seeds
labelling contamination threshold at the reliable detection level of 0.1%
before this decision comes up for a vote, and (3) provide funding for
expert policy briefings on the health and environmental risks of GM food
and farming by leading independent scientists with no ties to the biotech
industry.2

The Irish Government has used its EU Presidency to promote the
legalisation of GM food, seeds, and crops throughout Europe, despite a
motion by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health opposing any release
of GM seeds and crops in Ireland. The Government has already granted 82
GMO patents and authorised the sale and GM animal feed and food here.

The GM-free Ireland Network -- whose members include An Taisce, the Irish
Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association, the Restaurants Association of
Ireland, the Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association and the Irish
Doctors Environmental Association < opposes the release of GM seeds and
crops because the resulting contamination of conventional and organic
crops and livestock will destroy Ireland's green image, reduce the value
of our food exports, threaten wildlife and human health, and rob
consumers of their right to choose safe GM-free food. Farmers would lose
the right to save and plant their own seeds - and face additional burdens
of bureaucracy, labelling, traceability, liability, and contamination
lawsuits with no insurance available to cover the risks.

For more information, please visit the GM-free Ireland web site at
http://www.gmfreeireland.org


ENDS


NOTES TO EDITORS
* Leaked Communication from David Byrne recognising Member States1 right
to refuse GM seeds and crops: http://www.gmfreeireland.org/resources/
documents/EU/ByrneLeak.pdf
* The Case for a GM-free Sustainable World: a report from the Independent
Science Panel on GM www.gm-freeireland.org/resources/documents/science/A
GM-Free Sustainable World.pdf
* GM Foods Are Inherently Unsafe: http://www.gmfreeireland.org/resources/
documents/science/smith/GM_Unsafe.pdf
* Eating GM Food is Gambling With Your Health: http://
www.gmfreeireland.org/resources/documents/science/smith/GM_Gambling.pdf
* Seeds of Deception: exposing exposing corporate and government lies
about the safety of genetically engineered food
www.seedsofdeception.com
* The GM-free Ireland Network is an association of farming organisations,
food producers and distributors, restaurants, chefs, NGOs, journalists
and ordinary people collaborating to keep the whole island of Ireland1s
GM-free - for the benefit of farmers, consumers and future generations.
Members include An Taisce, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers
Association, the Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association, the
Restaurants Association of Ireland, Irish Farmers Markets, the Irish
Association of Health Stores, Friends of the Earth, Irish Seed Savers
Association, the Irish Doctors Environmental Association, Euro-Toques
Ireland / the European Commission of Chefs, Slow Food Ireland, Food and
Wine magazine, the Food Writers Guild, Sustainable Ireland, and many
farmers and food producers.
* Last available proposal of the Commission:
www.saveourseeds.org/downloads/com_draft_seeds_04_2004.pdf
* Open letter of 60 farmers organisations letter to Fischler & Prodi:
www.saveourseeds.org/downloads/letter_farmers_16.07.pdf
* Open Letter of EFFAT, European Federation of Food, Agriculture and
Tourism Trade Unions
http://www.saveourseeds.org/downloads/EFFAT_IUF_07_04.pdf
* Ten Arguments for clean Seeds
http://www.saveourseeds.org/Download_Centre/
Ten%20arguments%20for%20clean%20seeds.rtf
* Documentation of the Economic and Social Affairs Committee hearing on
co-existence in Brussels, July
http://www.zs-l.de/coexistence
* GM-free Ireland Network:
http://www.gmfreeireland.org



ATTRIBUTION:

Michael O1Callaghan
Co-ordinator, GM-free Ireland Network - www.gmfreeireland.org
Chairman, Global Vision Consulting Ltd - www.global-vision-consulting.com

Tel: + 353 (0)404 43 885
Mobile: + 353 (0)87 799 4761




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European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

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