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EU agrees on tougher GM food control



So the brits are upholders of law and order with regard to proposed
moratorium on new applications for the licensing of Genetically
Manipulated organisms; can we remember another similar occasion?
 
========================MichaelP
INDEPENDENT (London ) June 26


	By Stephen Castle in Brussels

TOUGHER controls on genetically-modified organisms were agreed by Europe's
environment ministers yesterday as several countries threatened to block
new applications from bio-tech companies until the regulations are in
place.

In a marathon negotiating session which ended after 20 hours at 5.30am,
ministers rejected calls from France for a formal moratorium on new GM
applications, after British objections that such as move would be illegal.

However France, Italy, Greece, Denmark and Luxembourg made clear that they
will form a blocking minority if further licences are sought between now
and the date at which the new regime comes into force. With the measures
requiring approval from the European Parliament, that will probably not be
until 2002.

A spokesman for the European Commission, which has not granted an approval
for more than a year, conceded that none are likely in the near future,
although 11 applications from seven member states are in the pipeline.
"For the last year it has not been possible to reach a qualified majority
of member states," he said, "after the council meeting yesterday the
chances of having a new release approved have not improved."

Diplomats argue that the current, de facto, moratorium will continue, even
if there has been no formal declaration. One argued: "There will be a
moratorium but, clearly, member states cannot say: 'we are not going to
apply the law.'"

The declaration of war on GM applications from a range of countries is
likely to strain transatlantic trade relations, and anger bio-tech
companies such as Monsanto, which has been in the forefront of gene
manipulation.

The ministers agreed to update the existing directive 90/220, including a
new regime to continue monitoring GM foods once they come onto the market.
They will have to have new "risk assessment" rules will be introduced to
monitor scientific evidence.

Products containing more than a certain percentage of genetically altered
ingredients will have to bear a label that reads: "This product contains
genetically modified organisms.''

All new GM plants and seeds approved for sale will have to apply for
re-approval after 10 years, scrapping permanent consent currently
available.

Environment minister Michael Meacher said: "No-one can now and in the
future seriously argue that the regulatory procedures are not tight,
comprehensive and balanced and in my opinion very effective."


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