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PLANTS: Romania's GMO dilemma: who to side with - corporations orthe EU?

                                 PART I
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TITLE:  Romania's GMO dilemma: who to side with - corporations or the EU?
SOURCE: HotNews, Romania
DATE:   19.03.2007

Romania's GMO dilemma: who to side with - corporations or the EU?

The Environment Ministry in Bucharest is due to push for public debate
two new initiatives on genetically modified food - one for the
introduction of GM soy testing and one for tests of GM plum trees. The
Ministry recently authorized tests on GM corn. The moves come as
agricultural experts are pushing hard to make Romanian citizens
understand that GM crops are not harmful.

But environmental militants are redirecting the debate towards studies
they say may help stop the expansion of non-conventional crops, while
modified corn is the only GM plant allowed in the EU agriculture.

Romania is facing backbreaking decisions on aligning its agricultural
legislation to the EU's and applying it wherever possible. But major
companies are also pushing hard to have GM crops allowed at large-scale level.

"We're doing what the EU laws says and it says very clearly what can be
cropped and what not", Environment Ministry official Catalin Cheran told

A short look over all notifications submitted on GMOs on EU territory
( shows most come from US
corporations such as Monsanto, Pioneer and Syngenta. Several other local
players - state universities and companies covering national territories
alone - are also profiled, but in a much lesser measure.

Pioneer, Monsanto and Syngenta have submitted documents asking to test
GM crops in Romania. If applied, the groups may start putting up crops
for testing GM soy, corn and plum trees.

They're also claiming that food is already insufficient and that "a
solution to these crisis is the use of biotechnology in agriculture", as
Clive James, a GMO supporter, put it during a Bucharest conference on March 2.

But anti-GM campaigners are also doing their best in preventing such
pressure. Shortly after Hungary obtained an exemption from regulations
on GM corn crops, a study was published claiming that GM corn damages
human health.

And for the first time since GM corn was authorized for food production,
a study recently published by Professor Gilles Eric Seralini of the
University of Caen claims the only EU-approved GMO used on testing
animals provides signs of toxicity in at liver and kidney level.

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                                 PART II
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TITLE:  Romania GMOs stay unchecked despite EU warning
SOURCE: HotNews, Romania
DATE:   25.10.2006

Romania GMOs stay unchecked despite EU warning

Romania has no body, governmental or autonomous, to supervise the use of
genetically modified products in the food industry.

Despite EC has mentioned the issue in its latest monitoring report on
the country before it joins the EU in January next year, 2006 is the
last year when GM crops are allowed and Romania and the country still
doesn't have a EU-level certified laboratory to identify food products
containing GMOs.

In its report on September 26, the European Commission warns that the
legislative framework on GMOs in Romania needed significant improvement
as a well-defined system was needed to guarantee the whole GM soy crops
will be registered, sent to processing plants, labelled and monitored
according to European Council requests.

That brings Romania closer to the core of a worldwide debate on
genetically modified organisms. While the US and large South American
countries are promoting GM food heavily, it is still opposed by many EU

The European opponents say that while genes have been modified to
provide higher productivity and better protection for various plants the
measure of hazard GM food poses is yet to be established clearly.

In Romania, lax legislation has allowed the development of GM soy crops
for eight years. Experiments were also made on potatoes and plum trees.
But while many US companies have lobbied for a continuation of such
practices in Romania, the EU has the last word as it forces the country
to put an end to such crops once it joins the EU in January next year.

Romania's most important problems is GM soy. In 2006 alone, Romanian
farmers cropped no less than 130,000 ha of transgenic soy, according to
Agriculture Ministry data. That means a 300,000-ton production which
nobody knows where it went and what was done with.

Romanian authorities have no idea in what measure GMO food can be
identified in the country.

Marian Avram, head of the National Sanitary-Veterinary Authority for
Food Safety, says Romania does not have a EU-sanctioned laboratory to
identify such food. He told that a national laboratory was
established in late September and it expects EU approval. Until then,
the lab results are not EU-recognized.

But Liviu Rusu, head of the General Department for Food Safety, told that Romanian GMO tests are confirmed by Europeans. Between
two conflicting statements, the EC report on Romania in September seems
to support Marian Avram.

An opinion poll run by the Association for Consumer Protection in
Romania shows 78% of Romanian consumers do not want to spend money on GM
food. And 98% of the country's citizens say the labelling of such
products is necessary, while half of them believe GM food can affect health.

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