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3-Food: EFSA opens up to discuss future of GM in Europe

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TITLE:  EFSA opens up to discuss future of GM in Europe
SOURCE: Bakery and Snack, France, by Anthony Fletcher
DATE:   20 Feb 2006

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EFSA opens up to discuss future of GM in Europe

20/02/2006 - Europe's food safety authority is holding a high level
meeting with scientists this Wednesday to discuss the future development
of Genetically Modified (GM) food within the bloc.

Scientists from environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have
been invited to share views on scientific and procedural issues related
to the authority's work and advice in this field.

Herman Koter, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)'s acting
executive director, will chair the meeting.

The summit comes just days after a WTO ruling backed the US, Canada and
Argentina in their efforts to open Europe up to genetically modified (GM)

In August 2003, the US, Canada and Argentina took the EU to the WTO for
suspending approvals for biotech products, and for six member states
national bans on EU-approved GMOs.

The WTO ruled earlier this month that any ban on GM imports contravened
the rules of free trade.

Both the European biotechnology industry and the European Commission have
welcomed the decision. "The industry continues to back a science-based
regulatory system to ensure farmers have the choice to use sustainable
techniques that best meet the needs of their farming operations," said
EuropaBio, the European association for biotech industries, in a statement.

But some anti-GM campaigners remain convinced that Europe does not want
GM food. It is clear that Member States still need to be convinced that
introducing genetically modified ingredients into food production is
acceptable the Commission has asked EU members over ten times to vote on
authorising a GMO food or feed product, but in the large majority of
cases, there was no agreement or simple deadlock.

The meeting, which will be held in Parma, Italy, will therefore provide
an opportunity for NGOs to express their concerns. Presentations will be
given on topics related to the risk assessment of genetically modified
food, including environmental aspects.

Equally, EFSA will use this opportunity to explain fundamental concepts
of hazard characterisation and risk assessment.

The objective of the meeting is to consider if there are issues of a
scientific or technical nature that the authority may wish to take into
account in the further development of its work and operating procedures.

EFSA believes that the meeting illustrates the agencys willingness to
dialogue with interested parties on scientific matters in line with
EFSA's policy on openness and transparency. The authority says that it is
committed to exchange and collaboration with all of its stakeholders,
including those who may hold different views.


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
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