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9-Misc: German GM maize fight goes to court



-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  GM Maize Fight Goes to Court
SOURCE: Deutsche Welle, Germany
        http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,1564,1675080,00.html
DATE:   10 Aug 2005

------------------- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/ -------------------


GM Maize Fight Goes to Court
US seed firms want to grow in Germany

American biotech firms want to use legal action to force Germany to
approve their genetically modified maize for cultivation.

The America seed companies Monsanto and Pioneer are trying to get
provisional approval to cultivate their pest-resistant maize, Mon 810, in
Germany, according to German consumer protection authorities.

But Alexander Müller of the consumer protection office says he doesn't
believe that Mon 810 can be legally approved as seed. "It is not allowed
under European law," he told the German public broadcaster ARD. For the
past seven years, Mon 810 has been approved in the EU only as feed and as
food. Cultivation of the crop was explicitly excluded.

But the EU Commission, in contrast, says that Mon 810, also as seed, is
legal and must be allowed to be used in Germany, a commission spokeswoman
told ARD. The maize has been included in the collective EU catalogue of
allowable imports since 2004, authorizing its use.

"It must be allowed to be imported into Germany," a spokeswoman for the
European Commission said.


Spanish use contentious maize

Last year, the EU Commission approved 17 types of maize in the Mon 810
line after Spain experienced no problems with its cultivation. But
according to Müller, that approval might need to be examined by European
Court of Justice, Müller said. "If our legal interpretation is correct,
the Spanish will have to see if their approval was legitimate."

The environmental watchdog group Greenpeace is one of the groups opposed
to the cultivation of Mon 810, saying that the crop can harm butterflies.
Greece, Austria, Poland and Hungary have not given the go-ahead for the
cultivation of Mon 810. Still, German regulators have been testing the
line for several years. Regardless of the legal fight, the crop is
already being cultivated in Germany on a trial basis.


EU still wary

On a global scale, the use of genetically modified (GM) crops is
increasing, with the world's overall area of approved GM crops now at
well over 80 million hectares (8 billion acres). So far, maize, soybeans,
rapeseed and cotton account for the bulk of biotech crops on the market.

But most EU member countries, including Germany, have remained extremely
wary of biotech crop technologies. Concerns include giving multinational
corporations control of basic food products through gene patents, the
possibility of spreading allergens through genetic manipulations and the
spread of resistance to antibiotics used in genetic engineering --
concerns that are shared by non-governmental organizations such as Greenpeace.

"There's not much research done on the risks of GM plants on the
environment or on human health," Ulrike Brendel, a Greenpeace
spokesperson for the GM issue, told DW-WORLD.

Germany approved the growing of genetically modified crops in Germany
last year under a controversial law that imposes strict penalties for
possible violations of food-safety regulations. The law also requires the
labeling of foodstuffs produced with genetically modified organisms and
allows conventional farmers to file for damages if other growers
contaminating their fields with GM seeds.




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