Spain withdraws GM maize! (28/4/2004)

Spain has withdrawn a GMO from the market at the request of the EU. The concern is that Syngenta's (GM) Bt176 corn could generate resistance to antibiotics.

The withdrawal follows a report from the European Food Security Agency (EFSA) calling for an end to cultivation of several genetically modified corn varieties. Cultivation of Bt176 corn (maize) occupied 20,000 hectares in Spain, the only member state of the European Union with any significant commercial GM crop acreage.

Brussels established three groups of GM crops: those that contain marker genes resistent to antibiotics with no efficient use in human medicine and which do not need restriction; those that contain markers resistant to antiobiotics that have specific uses, and which should thus only be used in experimental work; and those that contain marker genes resistant to antiobiotics that are very important for human therapeutics (tetracicline) and which should be avoided to guarantee higher standards of health protection.

Syngenta wants to replace the withdrawn Bt176 with Bt11 corn, but Bt11 has not yet received authorisation in the EU. In fact, the French and Belgium expert committees have both refused Syngenta's Bt11 corn the green light, saying that Syngenta has not performed sufficient toxicological tests with the actual GMO but mainly provided the results with a Bt11 fodder maize. Both expert committees have demanded full toxicological studies with the GMO for which the approval is requested.

These problems are of wider significance as Syngenta is trying to gain approval for its maize elsewhere in the world and is likely to support its applications with the same "evidence" which has been rejected by the French and Belgian scientists.

Thanks to the GENET list for this information.

The original article about the Spanish withdrawal can be seen here: El Estado espanol retirara un OGM a instancias de la UE. El maiz Bt 176 podria provoca resistencias a los antibioticos, GARA, Spain http://www.gara.net/orriak/P27042004/art79966.htm

The article about the Bt11 safety rejection can be seen here: L'Afssa desapprouve un OGM que Bruxelles veut autoriser (The French Authority for Food Safety does not approve a GMO which Brussels wants to authorise), Le Monde, France, 24 Apr 20004, by Herve Kempf http://www.lemonde.fr/web/recherche_articleweb/1,13-0,36-362233,0.html

These concerns arise at the same time that the French newspaper Le Monde has exposed expert concerns about health risks with regard to Monsanto's MY 863 corn. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3308

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