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2-Plants: EU experts fail to agree on Greece GMO seed ban

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

TITLE:  UPDATE 1-EU experts fail to agree on Greece GMO seed ban
SOURCE: Reuters, by Jeremy Smith
DATE:   20 Jul 2005

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UPDATE 1-EU experts fail to agree on Greece GMO seed ban

BRUSSELS, July 20 (Reuters) - EU food safety experts on Wednesday failed
to agree on Greece's ban on planting genetically modified (GMO) maize
seeds, leaving the decision to be made by ministers later in the year, a
European Commission official said.

In September, the EU authorised 17 different seed strains of maize made
by U.S. biotech giant Monsanto from an parent crop for planting and sale
across EU territory, flying in the face of widespread consumer resistance
to GMO crops and foods.

The parent maize, known as MON 810 and engineered to resist certain
insect pests, won approval for growing just before the EU began its
biotech ban in 1998 that lasted nearly six years.

Before this, these seeds only had national authorisations issued by
France and Spain. But EU law provides for countries to decide whether to
allow such seeds on national territory -- although a ban must be approved
by EU member states to be legal.

Greece and Poland both used this provision in early 2005.

"On Greece, there was a formal vote which was inconclusive and so the
Commission proposal will be examined by the Council (EU ministers) in the
autumn," the official told Reuters.

The experts were also due to discuss a similar ban imposed by Poland but
postponed a vote since Warsaw had amended its ban to include some non-GMO
varieties. The experts would discuss this as two separate dossiers in the
autumn, the official said.

"Poland has presented a new request also covering non-GMO varieties. As
there is no time limit for this request, the committee agreed to postpone
the discussion on both requests until after the summer," he said. "There
was no decision today."

In January, Hungary imposed a similar ban on the 17 Monsanto maize seeds
but used a different EU law as its legal basis, meaning that its ban must
first be assessed by the European Food Safety Authority, whose opinion is
due shortly. EU ministers are likely to debate the Hungarian GMO seed ban
in the autumn.

Last month, EU environment ministers delivered a stinging rebuff to the
Commission when they slapped down draft orders that required five
countries to lift national bans on various GMO crops and foods imposed
between 1997 and 2000.


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