EU still divided on authorising GM oilseed rape imports

After EU environment ministers failed to agree, the Commission is
now being called on to make the final decision on
authorising imports of genetically modified (GM) oilseed rape.

The Environment Council, held on 20 December 2004, was unable
to decide on authorising imports of the genetically
modified (GM) oilseed rape, produced by an American
biotech giant Monsanto and modified to resist Monsanto’s own
chemical herbicide. The case will now go back to the Commission,
who may give the green light to the imports in early
2005. 

No vote was organised in the Council but only Finland, France,
the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia and Sweden were ready to allow
the imports. The Baltic countries, Denmark, Poland, Hungary,
Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Greece, Italy, Malta and Cyprus were
against. If there had been a vote, the remaining member
states would have abstained. 

According to EuropaBio, the European
association for bioindustries, “the biotech industry is concerned
about the lack of political coherence between what the member
states agreed when they approved the new regulatory framework for
the GM crops and in what they do when it comes to approving these
products”. 

Friends of the Earth “is urging the
Commission to follow the majority of European environment
ministers” and to deny the approval of imports of the GM
oilseed rape, due to two unsolved safety concerns: the food
and feed safety of the product is not yet resolved and illegal seed
are likely to spill into the environment leading to
negative effects on biodiversity in Europe.   

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