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POLICY & REGULATION: EU Parliament backs national right to GE crop cultivation bans



                                  PART 1


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

TITLE:   GMOS: PARLIAMENT BACKS NATIONAL RIGHT TO CULTIVATION BANS

SOURCE:  European Parliament, Belgium

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://www.europarl.europa.eu/en/headlines/content/20110627FCS22686/8/html/GMOs-Parliament-backs-national-right-to-cultivation-bans

DATE:    05.07.2011

SUMMARY: "EU Member States should have the flexibility to ban or restrict the cultivation of genetically modified crops and should be able to cite environmental motives for doing so, according to MEPs voting on draft legislation on Tuesday. The draft amendment to existing legislation - adopted with 548 votes in favour, 84 against and 31 abstentions - will now go to the Council for further discussion. Parliament?s rapporteur Corinne Lepage (ALDE, FR) commented: ?I am pleased that the Parliament has reached an agreement on the difficult issue of GMOs, which has been an issue of public concern for years. If the Council manages to find a common position, this balanced agreement will allow countries and regions the right to not grow GMOs if they so choose.?"

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GMOS: PARLIAMENT BACKS NATIONAL RIGHT TO CULTIVATION BANS

EU Member States should have the flexibility to ban or restrict the cultivation of genetically modified crops and should be able to cite environmental motives for doing so, according to MEPs voting on draft legislation on Tuesday.

The draft amendment to existing legislation - adopted with 548 votes in favour, 84 against and 31 abstentions - will now go to the Council for further discussion. Parliament?s rapporteur Corinne Lepage (ALDE, FR) commented: ?I am pleased that the Parliament has reached an agreement on the difficult issue of GMOs, which has been an issue of public concern for years. If the Council manages to find a common position, this balanced agreement will allow countries and regions the right to not grow GMOs if they so choose.?

Grounds to ban

The Commission had proposed to grant EU Member States the right to ban crops on all but health or environmental grounds, which were to be solely assessed by the European Food Safety Authority. Committed to ensuring a firmer legal basis in the context of international trade rules, Parliament insisted that Member States should not be prevented from stating additional environmental grounds. These could include pesticide resistance, biodiversity preservation or a lack of data on potential negative consequences to the environment.

Parliament also considered that socioeconomic impacts could provide legitimate grounds for a ban, e.g. where contamination risks to conventional or organic agriculture cannot practicably be managed.

The cost of contamination

MEPs say all Member States must take measures to prevent contamination of conventional or organic farming by GM crops, and ensure those responsible for such incidents can be held financially liable.

Updating EU safety checks

An EU-level safety check and authorisation will continue to be a precondition to a green light for growing GMOs. While the proposal does not affect this process, MEPs reminded the Commission that the guidelines need updating.

Only one strain of GM maize and one modified potato are currently authorised for cultivation in the EU and most Member States do not currently grow either crop commercially. Austria, France, Greece, Hungary, Germany and Luxembourg have activated a ?safeguard clause? in the current (2001) EU Directive to expressly prohibit cultivation of certain GMOs.



                                  PART 2

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

TITLE:   EU LAWMAKERS GIVE BACKING FOR NATIONAL GM CROP BANS

SOURCE:  Thomson Reuters, USA

AUTHOR:  Gilbert Reilhac

URL:     http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/05/us-eu-gmo-cultivation-idUSTRE7644UD20110705

DATE:    05.07.2011

SUMMARY: "European Union lawmakers voted on Tuesday to strengthen proposals to let governments decide whether to grow or ban genetically modified crops, designed to break a deadlock in EU GM crop approvals. Despite the majority backing of the European Parliament for the plans, continued opposition from several large EU member states means the draft legislation is unlikely to be finalized this year, if at all. EU lawmakers agreed that governments should be free to ban the cultivation of GM crops based on environmental concerns, such as to protect biodiversity or prevent the spread of ?super weeds? that are resistant to herbicides."

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EU LAWMAKERS GIVE BACKING FOR NATIONAL GM CROP BANS

STRASBOURG (Reuters) - European Union lawmakers voted on Tuesday to strengthen proposals to let governments decide whether to grow or ban genetically modified (GM) crops, designed to break a deadlock in EU GM crop approvals.

Despite the majority backing of the European Parliament for the plans, continued opposition from several large EU member states means the draft legislation is unlikely to be finalized this year, if at all.

EU lawmakers agreed that governments should be free to ban the cultivation of GM crops based on environmental concerns, such as to protect biodiversity or prevent the spread of ?super weeds? that are resistant to herbicides.

Critics of GM crops say herbicides used in conjunction with the plants -- such as Monsanto Co?s Roundup Ready -- promote widespread resistance among weeds, or super weeds.

In its original proposal the EU?s executive, the European Commission, said governments should not use environmental or health grounds as a justification for bans, as these are already taken into account during the EU safety approval process.

In a statement, the European Parliament said allowing countries to justify bans on environmental grounds would ensure such restrictions were more likely to survive legal challenges in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Lawmakers added an amendment to the proposals that would force all EU countries to adopt rules to prevent GM contamination of conventional and organic crops.

LONG DEBATE TO COME

Environmental groups welcomed the vote as a sign the European Parliament would take a strong position against any attempts to force EU countries into allowing GM crop cultivation in their territories.

?This is a clear signal from MEPs that they are on the side of the majority of European citizens who oppose GM crops,? Friends of the Earth food campaigner Mute Schimpf said in a statement.

But the EU?s biotech industry said the vote revealed how politicized the issue of regulating GM crops had become in Europe.

?If member states can opt out of a product approval system simply because of political preference, without any scientific reasoning, the result will be more uncertainty and less choice for farmers,? said Carel du Marchie Sarvaas of EU biotech industry association EuropaBio.

The draft rules must be jointly approved by EU governments before becoming law.

France, Germany and others have refused to discuss the proposals in detail, citing fears they breach world trade rules and could lead to legal challenges by biotech companies, exporting countries and EU farmers.

Poland has not announced any plans to discuss the proposals during its six-month presidency of the EU that runs until the end of 2011.

(Reporting by Gilbert Reilhac; writing by Charlie Dunmore; editing by James Jukwey)



                                  PART 3

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

TITLE:   MEPS VOTE TO ?NATIONALISE? GM CROP PRODUCTION

SOURCE:  The Parliament, Belgium

AUTHOR:  Ruth Marsden

URL:     http://www.theparliament.com/latest-news/article/newsarticle/meps-vote-to-nationalise-gm-crop-production/

DATE:    05.07.2011

SUMMARY: "MEPs have voted to give member states more flexibility to ban or restrict genetically modified crops being grown in their territories. Defending its decision to include environmental grounds in banning the cultivation of GM crops, the European parliament said that all impacts of growing GM crops must be taken into account in decision making. The draft amendment was voted through in the Strasbourg plenary on Tuesday and must now be approved by member states in the European council. Friends of the Earth Europe food campaigner Mute Schimpf said that discussions had so far been ?deadlocked? at council level."

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MEPS VOTE TO ?NATIONALISE? GM CROP PRODUCTION

MEPs have voted to give member states more flexibility to ban or restrict genetically modified (GM) crops being grown in their territories.

Defending its decision to include environmental grounds in banning the cultivation of GM crops, the European parliament said that all impacts of growing GM crops must be taken into account in decision making.

The draft amendment was voted through in the Strasbourg plenary on Tuesday and must now be approved by member states in the European council.

Friends of the Earth Europe food campaigner Mute Schimpf said that discussions had so far been ?deadlocked? at council level.

Schimpf said, ?This is a clear signal from MEPs that they are on the side of the majority of European citizens who oppose GM crops - it is now up to the European commission and governments to make sure safeguards against GM crops are upheld.?

The draft amendment to existing legislation, if voted through by the council, will mean member states will be able to use additional ?environmental grounds?, including scientific reasons for banning GM crops at national level.

Previously, the commission had ruled to allow the ban of crops in EU countries on all but health and environmental grounds, which then had to be assessed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Expressing frustration over the vote, an industry source told TheParliament.com, ?The amendment undermines EFSA?s role in the EU scientific assessment process and further politicises the EU process.

?The new proposal appears to have no consideration for those countries that might want to grow GM crops.?

According to biotechnology industry group Europabio, member states should be free to choose to cultivate GM crops at their own pace.

Carel du Marchie Sarvaas, Europabio?s director of green biotechnology Europe, said it was ?disappointing? to see how political voting is turning Europe into ?a science museum rather than an economic motor driven by innovation?.

?Many decision makers continue to deny farmers the ability to se cutting edge technologies, already available to their counterparts outside the EU, to help them deal with these same challenges,? he said.

Parliament?s rapporteur on the draft amendment Corinne Lepage said, ?I am pleased the parliament has reached an agreement on the difficult issue of GMOs, which has been an issue of public concern for years.

?If the council manages to find a common position, this balanced agreement will allow countries and regions the right to not grow GMOs if they so choose.?

Greenpeace EU agriculture policy advisor Stefanie Hundsdorfer, also welcomed the vote, saying parliament had added ?real punch? to draft laws to protect our farms and food.

However, Hundsdorfer warned that national bans are no substitute for thorough safety testing at European level.

?We and a growing majority of the public remain seriously concerned about unanswered health and environmental questions around GM crops.

?Ecological farming is the correct response to the challenges of food security, climate change and long term productivity,? she said.



                                  PART 4

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

TITLE:   GM CROPS FACE PROSPECT OF BLANKET EU BAN

SOURCE:  Euronews, Belgium

AUTHOR:  

URL:     http://www.euronews.net/2011/07/05/gm-crops-face-prospect-of-blanket-eu-ban/

DATE:    05.07.2011

SUMMARY: "Genetically modified crops now face the prospect of being banned outright in the EU. The potential prohibition, which still needs European Council approval, comes after MEPs overwhelmingly backed a draft bill on Tuesday to allow member states to halt the cultivation of GM produce. Individual countries would simply be able to cite environmental reasons for doing so."

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GM CROPS FACE PROSPECT OF BLANKET EU BAN

Genetically modified crops now face the prospect of being banned outright in the EU.

The potential prohibition, which still needs European Council approval, comes after MEPs overwhelmingly backed a draft bill on Tuesday to allow member states to halt the cultivation of GM produce.

Individual countries would simply be able to cite environmental reasons for doing so.

European Member of Parliament Corinne Lepage said: In the original directive, there were plans to study so called reception points. The places for planting. These studies were never carried out. But in Europe such reception points can be very different. In Italy or Sweden for example, environments are not the same, even the plants are different and local considerations are not the same. So my proposal is to look at these type of considerations which cannot be assessed for Europe as a whole.?

In Belgium, opposition to GM in French speaking Wallonia is strong compared to the country?s Dutch region of Flanders where authorities are more tolerant. The genetically modified potatoes grown in a Flemish field we visited don?t need pesticides. Fiercely opposed to such methods anti-GM activists stormed the field about a month ago. Scientist Marc De Loose, however, insists their fears are unfounded and there is no risk of contamination.

?For this field trial, we took all precautions to prevent this outcrossing. I know activists are claiming that there will be outcrossing. For example we had questions about honey bees. But honey bees, you have to know they do not fly on potato.?

But, what about other crops, not just potatoes.

?Last year we made an experiment. And we clearly demonstrated that a distance of 50 meters between a GM (maize) field and a non GM field is absolutely sufficient,? De Loose added.

Back in Belgium?s French speaking Wallonia, the GM buffer zone is 600 metres, 12 times more than in Flanders.

But what if one day genetically modified potatoes become common place in Belgium. How would people like their French Fries. With or without GM?

?Without, definitely,? one woman told us.



                                  PART 5

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

TITLE:   BIOTECH-CROP CULTIVATION FLEXIBILITY BACKED BY EU LAWMAKERS

SOURCE:  Bloomberg, USA

AUTHOR:  Jonathan Stearns

URL:     http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-05/biotech-crop-cultivation-flexibility-backed-by-eu-lawmakers.html

DATE:    05.07.2011

SUMMARY: "A European Union plan to let individual member countries ban the cultivation of genetically modified crops won support from the bloc?s parliament, setting up a clash with governments that oppose the step. The European Parliament endorsed a draft law that would give national governments an opt-out from rules making the EU a single market for goods. The aim is to accelerate approvals at EU level of applications to plant gene-modified seeds made by companies such as Monsanto Co."

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BIOTECH-CROP CULTIVATION FLEXIBILITY BACKED BY EU LAWMAKERS

A European Union plan to let individual member countries ban the cultivation of genetically modified crops won support from the bloc?s parliament, setting up a clash with governments that oppose the step.

The European Parliament endorsed a draft law that would give national governments an opt-out from rules making the EU a single market for goods. The aim is to accelerate approvals at EU level of applications to plant gene-modified seeds made by companies such as Monsanto Co.

The 27-nation EU is split over the safety of such foods, slowing EU permission to grow them and prompting complaints by the U.S. and other trade partners. Under current practices, national authorities throughout the EU have a say over approvals because the bloc?s common-market rules require that a product sold in one member be allowed for sale in the others.

?It is necessary to respect the rights of the member states when it comes to the use of their own territory,? said Corinne Lepage, a French member who steered the measures through the EU Parliament today in Strasbourg, France. National governments, which are blocking the draft law, need to give their backing before any final EU approval.

Governments threatened in October to reject the proposal, which was made a year ago by the European Commission. Environment ministers from countries including France and Germany said that the draft rules may splinter European trade policy.

Superweeds

The commission, the EU?s regulatory arm, wants to expand Europe?s share of the $11 billion global biotech-seed market in the face of resistance by half or more of the bloc?s members. Surveys show opposition to gene-altered foods by European consumers, who worry about risks such as human resistance to antibiotics and the development of so-called superweeds that are impervious to herbicides.

Biotech foods range from corn to oilseeds in which genetic material has been altered to add traits such as resistance to weed-killing chemicals. The EU ended a six-year ban on new gene- altered products in 2004 after tightening labeling rules and creating a food agency to screen applications.

In a case brought by the U.S., Canada and Argentina, the World Trade Organization ruled in 2006 that the European moratorium was illegal. Since 2004, the EU has let new gene- modified products be imported for food and feed uses while stopping short of endorsing any request for cultivation with the exception of one application for a potato developed by BASF SE to be grown for the production of industrial starch.