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CONTAMINATION & REGULATION: EU postpones decision on controversial GMO contamination rules



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   EU POSTPONES DECISION ON CONTROVERSIAL GMO CONTAMINATION RULES

SOURCE:  Friends of the Earth Europe, Belgium

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://www.foeeurope.org/press/2011/Feb9_EU_POSTPONES_DECISION_ON.html

DATE:    09.02.2011

SUMMARY: "EU member states today postponed their decision on a proposal to allow contamination of animal feed with GMOs not approved in Europe. [...] Friends of the Earth Europe food campaigner, Mute Schimpf, said: "The postponement of the vote indicates what a controversial issue this is. The case put forward by the animal feed industry is based on scaremongering and not on reality."

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EU POSTPONES DECISION ON CONTROVERSIAL GMO CONTAMINATION RULES

Brussels, February 9 - EU member states today postponed their decision on a proposal to allow contamination of animal feed with GMOs not approved in Europe.

The European Commission is proposing to allow crops to be fed to farm animals even if they are contaminated by GMOs that have not been passed as safe anywhere in the world. Some European countries have major concerns about this weakening of Europe's current safeguards against GMO contamination and their failure to agree has resulted in a vote on the issue being delayed.

Friends of the Earth Europe food campaigner, Mute Schimpf, said: "The postponement of the vote indicates what a controversial issue this is. The case put forward by the animal feed industry is based on scaremongering and not on reality. There is absolutely no reason to allow contaminated food to be fed to animals in Europe. Friends of the Earth is now calling on the European Commission to withdraw the whole proposal. Furthermore, we believe that this proposal is legally flawed and offers no protection for consumers or the food industry."

Technical staff in the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health representing national ministries were due to vote today. The vote is now postponed until later this month.

Friends of the Earth Europe campaigns for sustainable and just societies and for the protection of the environment, unites 30 national organisations with thousands of local groups and is part of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, Friends of the Earth International.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   GM CROPS TO BE ALLOWED INTO BRITAIN UNDER CONTROVERSIAL EU PLANS

SOURCE:  The Observer, UK

AUTHOR:  Jamie Doward

URL:     http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/feb/06/genetically-modified-crops-uk

DATE:    06.02.2011

SUMMARY: "Genetically modified crops will be allowed to enter the UK food chain without the need for regulatory clearance for the first time under controversial plans expected to be approved this week. The Observer understands that the UK intends to back EU plans permitting the importing of animal feed containing traces of unauthorised GM crops in a move that has alarmed environmental groups."

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GM CROPS TO BE ALLOWED INTO BRITAIN UNDER CONTROVERSIAL EU PLANS

UK to back imports of animal feed with traces of GM crops in move to benefit US exporters

Genetically modified crops will be allowed to enter the UK food chain without the need for regulatory clearance for the first time under controversial plans expected to be approved this week.

The Observer understands that the UK intends to back EU plans permitting the importing of animal feed containing traces of unauthorised GM crops in a move that has alarmed environmental groups.

Importing animal feed containing GM feed must at present be authorised by European regulators. But a vote on Tuesday in favour of the scheme put forward by the EU?s standing committee on the food chain and animal health would overturn the EU?s ?zero tolerance? policy towards the import of unauthorised GM crops.

The move would mark a significant victory for the GM lobby, which has pushed for a relaxation of the blanket ban for years.Environmental groups claim the GM industry wants to use the presence of unauthorised organisms in animal feed as part of a wider strategy to promote its technology.

?The GM industry is pushing this proposal so it can wedge its foot firmly in the door and open up the British and European markets to food no one wants to eat,? said Helen Wallace, director of GeneWatch UK, which campaigns against GM food. ?Its long-term aim is to contaminate the food chain to such an extent that GM-free food will disappear.?

Relaxing the EU?s zero-tolerance position would greatly benefit US feed exporters. The push for Europe to drop its zero-tolerance policy began in 2009 after EU authorities found traces of GM maize in soy shipments from the US and refused to allow its entry. Such recalls are expensive and those affected are unlikely to receive compensation.

GM supporters warn that the current zero-tolerance policy could result in a dramatic shortage of feed for livestock. But critics dismiss the claims as scaremongering and say there is no evidence to back up them up.

?This is a solution without a problem, and the price could be very high indeed when unknown genetically modified organisms are let loose in the food chain,? said Eve Mitchell, food policy adviser at Food and Water Europe, a campaign group.

?Rather than ignoring EU food safety laws to help the US soy industry cut costs, we should simply buy the stuff from countries that segregate their GM properly. If it hasn?t been tested, why eat it??

Many of the GM crops, notably soy and maize, that have been found in animal feed imported into Europe are resistant to multiple herbicides. Critics blame these new GM crops for the recent rise of ?super weeds? across vast tracts of the US farm belt.

Friends of the Earth Europe said it had obtained expert legal advice questioning the legality of the EU?s plan. But European regulators believe that allowing the import of animal feed containing no more than 0.1% of GM traces does not jeopardise food security.



                                  PART 3

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TITLE:   EU TO VOTE ON NEW GMO CONTAMINATION RULES

SOURCE:  Friends of the Earth Europe, Belgium

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://www.foeeurope.org/press/2011/Feb7_EU_to_vote_new_GMO_contamination_rules.html

DATE:    07.02.2011

SUMMARY: "New proposals to weaken EU safety laws are unnecessary and legally flawed, says Friends of the Earth Europe today, on the eve of a vote on new rules that would allow animal feeds contaminated with non-authorised genetically modified crops to be sold in Europe. European legislation currently forbids any contamination of animal feed with GMOs not approved in the EU."

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EU TO VOTE ON NEW GMO CONTAMINATION RULES

Brussels, February 7 - New proposals to weaken EU safety laws are unnecessary and legally flawed, says Friends of the Earth Europe today, on the eve of a vote on new rules that would allow animal feeds contaminated with non-authorised genetically modified crops (GMOs) to be sold in Europe.

European legislation currently forbids any contamination of animal feed with GMOs not approved in the EU. Following intense lobbying by the feed industry, the European Commission is proposing to allow crops to be fed to farm animals even if they are contaminated by GMOs that have not been passed as safe anywhere in the world. EU member states will vote on the proposal tomorrow (Tuesday March 8).

A legal opinion sought by Friends of the Earth concludes that the Commission?s proposal is not legal, opening the way to possible legal challenges should it be passed. [1]

Friends of the Earth Europe food campaigner, Mute Schimpf, said: ?Weakening the safety net for GMOs shows once again that the European Commission is prepared to put consumers and the environment at risk. Instead of allowing contaminated feeds into Europe, governments and the Commission should be forcing the feed industry to clean up its act. There is absolutely no reason to allow contaminated feeds or foods into the EU.

?Furthermore, member states will be voting on a proposal that is legally flawed and does not offer the food industry any legal certainty that contamination of imports of animal feed with non-authorised GMOs will not happen. Legal experts have told us that these new rules are open to legal challenge should they be passed. We appeal to member states not to weaken our GMO rules with this ill-conceived proposal.?

NOTES:

[1] Friends of the Earth sought a legal opinion from experienced lawyers, Achim Willand, which concluded that:

The way that the European Commission is attempting to change Europe?s current laws governing GMOs would not be legal. The Commission does not have the right to introduce a GM contamination threshold by redefining testing and analysis methods in the feed control law (Regulation 882/2004). The intention of the proposal is to introduce a de-facto threshold for non-authorised GM contamination. Non-authorised GM may not sidestep the EU-authorisation process.

Friends of the Earth Europe campaigns for sustainable and fair societies and for the protection of the environment, unites more than 30 national organisations with thousands of local groups and is part of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, Friends of the Earth International.