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APPROVAL: EU must speed response to new GMOs - Farm chief



                                 PART
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  EU must speed response to new GMOs - Farm chief
SOURCE: Reuters
AUTHOR: Jeremy Smith
URL:    http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/41732/story.htm
DATE:   07.05.2007
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EU must speed response to new GMOs - Farm chief

BRUSSELS - Europe must speed up its approval process for new biotech
crops and foods to avoid future problems with key suppliers like
Argentina, Brazil and the United States, Europe's farm chief said on Friday.

Shipments of maize feed products had fallen in the past few months due
to efforts to keep out genetically modified (GMO) materials that were
approved elsewhere but not in the 27 countries of the European Union.

EU regulators had to consider what would happen if imports had to be
blocked altogether from given origins to avoid unwanted contamination,
EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said.

"Many of our trade partners have a different perspective on GMO
regulation from ours," she told delegates at an international cereals
and oilseeds conference.

"One part of the problem seems to be that, when the European Union
considers authorising a new GMO, the approval process takes a
considerable time. We are examining why this is, and whether we can
speed it up without compromising on the risk assessment," Fischer Boel said.

Soybeans and soy products were a bigger potential headache than maize
since EU imports of maize feed were low, she said, adding that it would
be hard to replace the larger volumes of soybeans and soymeal with other
protein-rich feed.

"We hope to avoid having to block soya imports from our main suppliers
-- the United States, Argentina and Brazil," Fischer Boel said. EU
importers took more than 40 percent of Argentina's soy shipments and
more than half of Brazil's, she said.

"Whereas this could be difficult in the case of the US, Argentina and
Brazil ought to work with us actively on this issue, given that we take
a high proportion of their soyabean exports," she said. "Nevertheless,
we can't rely on hope alone."

For many years, little has changed in the split of opinion on biotech
policy among EU governments, which are consistently unable to secure the
weighted majority that is legally required to vote through a new GMO approval.

An application to approve a new GMO product usually takes many months,
if not years, as EU governments raise objections that lead to extra
scientific risk assessments. The application then goes to a committee of
EU-27 experts, then is often escalated to ministers when the experts
cannot agree.

European consumers are well known for their antipathy towards GMO foods
but the biotech industry says its products are safe and no different to
conventional foods. Europe's hostility to GMO foods is unfounded, it says.


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                                 PART II
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Prospects for the EU grain and oilseeds sectors
SOURCE: SeedQuest, USA
AUTHOR: Speech by Mariann Fischer Boel, European Commissioner
URL:    http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2007/may/19159.htm
DATE:   04.05.2007
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Prospects for the EU grain and oilseeds sectors

Mariann Fischer Boel
Member of the European Commission responsible for agriculture and rural
development
Prospects for the EU grain and oilseeds sectors
Conference by COCERAL European Grain and Oilseed Convention
Brussels, 4th May 2007


Ladies and gentlemen,

Many thanks for your kind invitation to join you today.

When I accept an invitation to speak at a conference, I find it very
reassuring if I know that there's plenty of relevant subject-matter and
that I won't just be "talking out the time".

I think you will agree that, in this sense, I don't need to worry today.
I could easily fill a twenty-minute speech simply by reading recent
media reports. I would have found plenty of material about biofuel
controversy in the US, riots in Mexico over maize shortages, anxieties
about genetically modified crops ... The list is long.

[...]
As I said a moment ago, amid all our planning, we also have to respond
to developing problems. One such problem at the moment is the growing
number genetically modified organisms (GMOs) which are approved by some
of our trade partners but not by us.

I would like to assure you that this problem has appeared clearly on my
radar. I know that maize feed product shipments have declined over the
last few months because of the difficulty of keeping out GMOs which are
authorised elsewhere but not in the European Union. And I know that the
issue of contamination has been mentioned with regard to a recent maize
gluten feed shipment.

Apart from the dangers of unwanted contamination itself, of course we
must consider what would happen if we had to block imports altogether
from given origins, to avoid such contamination.

Thankfully, the potential problem in the case of maize feed products is
not particularly large, since our imports of these products are low. On
the other hand, we import much larger volumes of soyabeans and soyabean
meal, and it would be difficult to replace these with other protein-rich feed.

We hope to avoid having to block soya imports from our main suppliers -
the US, Argentina and Brazil. And whereas this could be difficult in the
case of the US, Argentina and Brazil ought to work with us actively on
this issue, given that we take a high proportion of their soyabean
exports (more than 40 per cent of Argentina's, and more than 50 per cent
of Brazil's).

Nevertheless, we can't rely on hope alone.

The best solution is not yet clear. Many of our trade partners have a
different perspective on GMO regulation from ours. What I can tell you
is that we have had a serious discussion within the Commission, and we
are looking hard for a way through.

One part of the problem seems to be that, when the European Union
considers authorising a new GMO, the approval process takes a
considerable time. We are examining why this is, and whether we can
speed it up without compromising on the risk assessment.

At the same time, the Commission is continuing its work on the co-
existence of GM and non-GM crops.

What do I have to report? Mainly that Member States are making
considerable progress. 15 Member States have already notified their
draft national co-existence rules to the Commission, and we expect more
notifications soon.

When we look at the different measures proposed, it seems clear that we
did the right thing in leaving key decisions on co-existence rules up to
Member States initially. There are very different conditions in the
various agricultural landscapes, and these require very individual
measures. So the variety in the measures proposed comes as no surprise.

Nevertheless, there is also a common rationale to be applied everywhere.
So we have to work thoroughly on our common understanding of the science
involved before we can develop guidelines for crop-specific co-existence
measures at a technical level, as the Council has asked us to do.

We are currently setting up a European Co-existence Bureau, which will
carry out this technical work in partnership with national experts and
interested parties. The work is planned to start in the second half of
this year, and will look first at maize.

The Council has also asked the Commission to consider whether we could
take steps to harmonise co-existence legislation. With regard to this
question, the jury is still out. The basis for a decision will be a
Commission report, due in 2008, on the experiences so far with
regulatory regimes and the practical aspects of GM crop cultivation.
[...]


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