GENTECH archive 8.96-97


Euro parliament resolution on gm maize


The European Parliament,
having regard to Council Directive 90/220/EEC on the deliberate release into
the environment of genetically modified organisms;

having regard to decision by the Commission of 18 December 1996 to authorise
the placing on the market of genetically modified maize notified by Ciba
Geigy in accordance with Council Directive 90/220/EEC (O.J. N.L/31 of

noting the conclusions drawn up by the three Scientific Committees (the
Scientific Committee on Food, the Scientific Committee on Animal Nutrition
and the Scientific Committee for Pesticides) which have been consulted by
the Commission on the issue;

having regard to its resolutions on biosafety and food security of 14.11.96;

having regard to the adoption of a European Parliament and Council
Regulation on novel foods and novel food ingredients, which is due to come
into effect shortly (adopted by Parliament in January);

having taken note of the statement made by the Commission on Friday 21
January 1996

A. Whereas the national competent authorities could not agree to approve
this application ; whereas the Commission decision has been reached although
a large majority of Member States (13 out of 15) oppose the placing on the
market of this maize;

B. whereas the minutes of the Commission discussions on 18 December 1996
disclose alarming evidence that economic and commercial pressures were put
before considerations of public health and protection of the environment;

C. whereas there is considerable concern among consumers as regards
genetically modified products; whereas consumer confidence has already
suffered due to the BSE crisis;

D. whereas the European Parliament and Council Regulation on novel foods and
novel food ingredients, which will contain certain provisions about
labelling of genetically modified foodstuffs has not yet come into force;

E. whereas there still remain serious doubts about the safety of the
genetically modified maize now authorized for placing on the market;
recalling the refusal of the Regulatory Committee created by Directive
90/220 to authorise the marketing of GMO maize on the one hand, and the
conclusions of the Scientific Committee for Food on the risks of
transmission to man of a tracer gene resistant to antibiotics, on the other;

F. whereas there is further scientific evidence which does not appear to
have been taken into account by the Commission and its advisers;

G. whereas no detailed studies have yet been carried out into the long-term
effects on genetic manipulation;

H. whereas the imports of transgenic maize place European producers in an
exremely disadvantageous competitive position and force them to use seed
based on Genetically Modified Organisms ;

I. whereas large scale use of the Bt Toxin raises environmental concerns;

J. whereas the resistance of the Maize to pesticides may have the long term
effect of increasing use of those very pesticides ;

1. reiterates its position that food safety and thus the health of consumers
must be paramount to all decisions regarding the placing on the market of
foodstuffs; considers that transparency for consumers must be guaranteed;

2. regrets that trade considerations have obviously dominated the decision
making process so far; strongly requests that food safety and health
considerations should have priority in the future;

3. regrets, further, the fact that the current rules of the WTO oblige
importing countries to prove that a product, is harmfull, rather than
requiring the exporter to demonstrate that it is safe, thereby emphasising
that commercial considerations take presidence in decision making.

4. calls on the Commission to publish the complete findings of the three
scientific committees which guided its decision and the names of the experts

5. condemns the lack of responsibility of the Commission which took the
decision, unilaterally, to authorise the marketing of GMO maize in spite of
all the negative positions of most Member States and the European Parliament
and before the coming into effect of the European Parliament and Council
Regulation on novel foods and novel food ingredients;

6. notes that certain member states of the European Union such as Austria
and Luxembourg have taken measures to prohibit the placing on the market of
genetically modified maize by applying Article 16 of Directive 90/220/EEC
and that the notifications forwarded by these countries contain new
scientific evidence which will justify their decision and which will be
examined thoroughly by the Commission and their appropriate committees;

7. deplores particularly the fact that the Commission did not take
sufficient account of the precautionary principle with regard to the health
of consumers, the protection of the environment and the concerns of
producers; deplores also the absence of clear and precise information as
regards the reasons why the Commission took such a decision which has
implication for each and every EU citizen;

8. demands therefore that the authorisation procedure be reopened and the
authorisation suspended until the reassessment has been completed;

9. questions the validity of the cooperation and consultation procedures at
inter-service level within the commission;

10. demands that the procedures to authorise the marketing of GMO products
be revised so they correctly reflect the democratically expressed opinions
of the Member States and the European Parliament;

11. is of the opinion that the way this genetically-modified maize has been
examined and authorised proves once again that the existing comitology
procedures need to be reexamined and confirms its position that this should
be done in the context of the IGC 96; invites Member States to draw the
appropriate conclusions regarding the necessary revision of the Comitology

12. instruscts its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the
Commission and the Governments and Parliaments of the Member States of the
European Union.