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[Duurzaamlijst] EU allows in new flood of GM food
On 13 Feb 2001, at 7:26, RBBAX@aol.com wrote:
EU allows in new flood of GM food
Special report: GM debate
Jason Burke, chief reporter
Sunday February 11, 2001
European laws to be introduced this week will open Britain to a
wave of controversial genetically modified crops and foods. A new
directive, which has been backed by the Government, will end a
three-year de facto moratorium on granting licences for the
commercial development of GM foods. The standstill was imposed
major European nations following concerns about the impact of the
crops on health and the environment.
'The moratorium is dead,' said David Bowe, the British MEP who
liaises between the European Parliament and the Commission on
issues. He welcomed the new legislation last week.
'This is a significant step in terms of habituating people to GM
products. There will soon be more GM foods in our shops but they
be safe. There is nothing here that will kill the world.'
But anti-GM campaigners have grave concerns.
'The [new directive] is not enough to protect the environment,
consumers and farmers from GM crops,' said Adrian Bebb of
'The British government is ignoring the wishes of the vast bulk of
British consumers. The public have made it very clear that they are
unhappy about eating GM foods and about GM crops growing in
Fourteen applications from biotech companies for licences to plant
products for commercial use have been on hold during the
Dozens of requests to develop GM organisms are now expected
major multinational firms in the wake of the new legislation. The
testing of GM crops for environmental impact has been allowed -
will be 96 such trials in the UK this year - but no planting for
commercial use has been permitted. This will be changed by the
All fresh applications will be subject to approval by a majority vote
in a committee made up of representatives of EU member states.
will have to pass the requirements of the directive.
'The regulations are so strict that some natural foods wouldn't pass
them,' said Bowe.
However from this week it will be illegal under EU law for Britain to
ban or stop the commercial planting of a crop cleared at a
level unless serious and justified concerns over environmental or
economic impact can be demonstrated. Because of the time
trials, and the 'implementation period' allowed, the effect of the
new laws is not likely to be felt for up to two years.
GM products which have commercial licences pending include
with extra-thick skins that make them less likely to bruise during
transport and harvesting. Pressure from the public has previously
forced supermarkets to withdraw paste made from the modified
The long-term effects of GM foods are not yet known.
fear that supermarkets will be encouraged to 'have another go' at
accustoming the British consumer to GM food. The Government
supported the new laws.
A spokesman for the Department of the Environment, Transport
Regions, which is responsible for the current UK non-commercial
crop trials, said the reform 'put in place new safeguards rather than
opening any floodgates.'
However there are clear signs that British consumer is not yet
to accept the new foods. Last month supermarket chains Tesco
announced they would no longer sell the meat or milk of any
fed with genetically modified soya or maize.
The two companies, which between them control 42 per cent of the
grocery market, said they will switch their imports from North
America to Brazil where commercial GM plantings are illegal.
Marks & Spencer, McDonald's and Burger King have already
remove GM in animal products.
Tony Blair appeared to be an early supporter of GM foods, hoping
Britain could be a world leader in biotechnology if 'the tyranny of
pressure groups' was resisted. However, recently he was more
cautious: 'There's no doubt that there is potential for harm both in
terms of human safety and in the diversity of our environment from
foods or crops.'
The new laws face strong opposition from other European nations
could lead to a major row. The French have said that they will try to
block all new licences for commercial growing of GM crops. They
that the question of the legal liability of biotech companies for any
damage done by the new crops has not been satisfactorily
are concerned about 'traceability' - provisions to ensure that
consumers know what they are eating. Italy, Greece and
likely to back the French position.
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