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Monday, March 23, 2009

The fight against GMO continues.

Today:
  1. EU meeting on GM maize ends in deadlock
  2. EU fails to lift French, Greek GM crop bans
  3. Ministers back right to refuse GM crop cultivation
  4. 'Alien' genes escape into wild corn
  5. EU urged to impose GMO limits on 'clean seeds'
The fight with GMO is very important to me and that's why you can imagine how what this post is for me. So, I hope you enjoy it. And I must say, I'm so far pleased by the EU stance on the issue. It really makes me proud. Because Europe should never succumb to the pressure from USA. After all, there is no reason why consummers desires should be less important than farmer's ones.

EU meeting on GM maize ends in deadlock

26 February 2009

A meeting of EU biotech experts ended in deadlock yesterday (25 February) after failing to agree on whether to allow more cultivation of genetically-modified crops, which are hugely controversial in Europe.

The applications for two GM maize types will now be sent to EU ministers for a decision.

The GM maize types considered at the meeting were Bt-11 maize, engineered by Switzerland's Syngenta, and 1507 maize, jointly developed by Pioneer Hi-Bred International (a unit of DuPont Coand Mycogen Seeds) and a unit of Dow AgroSciences.

"This decision only adds to our frustration," said Syngenta in a statement.

New modified crops for cultivation are the most contentious GM issue in Europe, and none have been approved since 1998.

However, a string of modified products have been approved for import since 2004 for use in food and animal feed.

But environment group Greenpeace said the stalemate reflected the need to tweak the EU's process for authorising GM crops, something already recommended by environment ministers.

"EU member states have every right to maintain total control over what is grown on their own territory until the recommendations for a review of the GMO process are taken seriously by the Commission," he added. source

My comment: My heart cries for Syngenta...Haha, fat chance :) Anyway, I absolutely agree with the decision and I think that no GMO products should be offered on EU market until complete labelling scheme isn't implemented along with draconian control over the content of food.

EU fails to lift French, Greek GM crop bans

17 February 2009

A European Commission expert committee on GMOs yesterday failed to reach agreement on lifting French and Greek national bans on GM crop cultivation, leaving the decision to the EU Council of Ministers, which has only once found a qualified majority on the issue so far.

Following the Greek and French national bans on GM maize MON810, the Commission had asked the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to examine new scientific evidence and judge whether the bans were justified.

As EFSA found no scientific justification for the bans, the Commission asked its committeeexternal on genetically-modified food and feed and environmental risk to order the two countries to repeal their national bans.

However, meetingPdf external on 16 February, the committee failed to reach a qualified majority for or against the proposals.

As the members of the committee are representatives of the EU member states, the Council is set to face a similar deadlock.

National bans have previously been introduced by Hungary and Austria and the ministers have never managed to find a qualified majority for or against them, except once in 2007, leaving the final decision to the EU executive, which has then always ordered member states to lift the bans.source

My comment: This one provides some background to the story. Anyway, I firmly believe every country should have the right to ban GMOs and the option to allow them, if that country is able to prevent genetic contamination of the region.

Ministers back right to refuse GM crop cultivation

3 March 2009
Attempts by the European Commission to force Austria and Hungary to allow the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) maize on their territory were rejected yet again by EU environment ministers yesterday (2 March).

Environment ministers from the 27-member bloc found a qualified majority against a Commission proposal to force Hungary and Austria to repeal bans on growing genetically modified MON 810 maize, which is developed and marketed by US company Monsanto.

The crop has been authorised for cultivation in the EU and received the backing of EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority.

Twenty-two member states, representing 282 votes out of 345, voted against forcing the lifting of the bans.

French Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo welcomed the vote, which he argued paves the way for a similar decision not to lift French and Greek national bans on MON 810 cultivation later this spring.

Meanwhile, the European bioindustry association EuropaBio expressed its "profound disappointment at member states' failure to defend the GM authorisation procedure, science and Europe's farmers".

Environment groups Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth Europe (FoEE) welcomed the vote, describing it as a "victory for the environment, farmers and consumers, and a major embarrassment for the Commission".

"For the fourth time, EU governments have rejected a Commission proposal to lift national bans on GM crops. What part of 'no' does the Commission not understand?," asked Greenpeace EU GMO policy director Marco Contiero.

Last December, EU environment ministers concluded that long-term environmental risk assessment of GMOs should be improved and member states allowed to establish GMO-free zones (EurActiv 09/12/08).source

My comment: I totally support the Greenpeace opinion-what part of the NO the Commission doesn't understan? Yes, we know who's pushing and pushing for that approval, but who cares?! If the GMOs are safely grown all over the world, why do Monsanto needs Europe? Oh, yeah, because it's the biggest market on the world. Well, guess what, we don't want to grow them here. I don't want to bother about one more thing killing Bulgarian nature. And as for farmers desires-why should their desires be more important than my and our desires? And GMOs might be safe for humans, but they are not safe for the Nature and the article below tells it all.

'Alien' genes escape into wild corn

  • 21 February 2009

NOW it's official: genes from genetically modified corn have escaped into wild varieties in rural Mexico. A new study resolves a long-running controversy over the spread of GM genes and suggests that detecting such escapes may be tougher than previously thought.

In 2001, when biologists David Quist and Ignacio Chapela reported finding transgenes from GM corn in traditional varieties in Oaxaca, Mexico, they faced a barrage of criticism over their techniques.

But now, Elena Alvarez-Buylla of the National Autonomous University in Mexico City and her team have backed Quist and Chapela's claim. They found transgenes in about 1 per cent of nearly 2000 samples they took from the region (Molecular Ecology, vol 18, p 750).

The escaped transgenes are common in a few fields and absent in others, he says, so gene-monitoring efforts must sample as broadly as possible.

What's more, not every detection method – or laboratory – identified every sample containing transgenes. Monitors should use many methods to avoid false negatives, says Gepts. source

My comment: More on this. Now, do you still think GMO are safe? They are not. They cannot be contained. And they are naturally adapted to fight and kill local strains of the plant. Should that happen? Should Mexico with its many types of corn be robbed of its natural treasures? I don't think so. Variety in Nature is a mechanism to fight diseases. If you have only one variety, you're begging for a catastroph.

EU urged to impose GMO limits on 'clean seeds'

3 March 2009

The European seed industry yesterday (2 March) called on the European Commission to come up with a "long-awaited" proposal for thresholds to label the accidental presence of GMOs in conventional seeds, arguing that their presence is in any case "unavoidable".

The lack of thresholds, the industry argues, has lead to an "inadequate patchwork of different rules in different countries" and thus to the absence of a EU single market for seeds.

The Commission's in-house experts, farmers and EU agriculture and environment ministers have all concluded over the past ten years that there is a need to establish thresholds. But while the EU executive has initiated drafts on the issue, it has yet to table an official proposal. According to sources, this is due to the personal resistance of Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas to "everything that is related to GMOs".

"Adventitious presence (AP) of GMOs in conventional seed is technically inevitable and unavoidable," said Olivier Lucas, head of scientific affairs at RAGT, a French breeding and seed production company. "Meanwhile, most member states apply [the principle of] zero tolerance to the presence of GMOs in conventional seeds," he added.

In the current situation, "our company works in total legal uncertainty," Lucas said, adding that the analytical process for detecting hazardous GMOs in traditional seeds is extremely expensive, further hampering his company's business.

Asked what kind of threshold the industry could accept, Lucas explained that the current unavoidable presence ranges from 0.1% to 0.9%. If all seeds currently produced were made legally marketable, the threshold would need to be around 0.9%. In the Commission's first draft proposal, dating from 2003, this level was considered far too high by environmental NGOs, which asked for no more than 0.1%.

While most member states apply the zero tolerance principle, in practice they apply different AP tolerance levels, Lucas continued. "The levels accepted are 0.1% in France, 0.5% in the UK and 0.9% in Romania," he explained.

Kofoed added that if no threshold was set, certified seeds bred and produced by seed companies would become so expensive that farmers would start producing their own, without any traceability or certification on their quality or GMO content.

The Commission is currently finalising impact studies on the establishement of seed thresholds. source

My comment: Hm, I agree there should be a treshold and it's not very wise from mr. Dimas to avoid the discussion. It's disgusting to hear that the GMO pollution is unavoidable, because it can only tell you how much GMOs are grown in Europe. That certainly makes me nervous. But there should be a treshold and I think 0.1% is a good one. Because, if 1% is a proof that there is a GMO pollution, then 10 times less should be the statistical margin for GMO free products.

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