GENTECH archive 8.96-97


EU Parliament Calls for Ban on Ciba Geigy's G-E Corn

      By Gillian Handyside 

    STRASBOURG, April 8, Reuter - The European Parliament demanded on Tuesday
the suspension of all sales of genetically modified maize in the European
Union, pending further health and safety tests. 

    Euro-MPs condemned the European Commission's market clearance of
gene-altered U.S. maize, granted in the face of opposition from several EU
governments, and accused the EU executive of not adequately analysing the
long-term effects of genetic manipulations. 

    Parliament said the Commission acted irresponsibly last December when it
authorised Ciba (CIGZn.S)Geigy's Bt-maize even though a new EU food labelling
law for such foods was not yet in effect. 

    The assembly warned in its Tuesday resolution that imports of
disease-resistant transgenic maize placed European producers in ``an
extremely disadvantageous competitive position'' and would force them also to
use GMO-based seed, in spite of long-term risks of increasing resistance to
pesticides and antibiotics. 

    During a debate on the controversy on Monday night, Euro-MPs accused the
Commission of making the same mistakes with genetically modified organisms
(GMOs) as they had with mad cow disease, putting the interests of industry
before those governing food safety and environmental protection. 

    European consumer concern about GMOs and food safety in general has grown
since the continent's outbreak of mad cow disease, the fatal brain-wasting
condition in cattle, and its perceived mishandling by Britain and the

    European environment commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard said the Commission
had fully consulted scientists before approving for EU release of products
such as Ciba Geigy's insect-resistant maize and Monsanto's
(MTC.N)weedkiller-resistant soybeans. 

    But Euro-MPs protested that Austria and Luxembourg, who have slapped
temporary national bans on transgenic maize imports, had come up with new
evidence about the risks and the Commission should therefore suspend all
sales until this data had been thoroughly examined. 

    In addition to their health and safety concerns, Euro-MPs were also
unhappy about the economic effects of current policy. 

    Gene-altered maize can be imported into Europe but European farmers
cannot yet grow it because it has not yet been added to the EU's list of new
plant species. 

07:45 04-08-97