GM maize fails again (30/4/2004)

"At the moment, people think [GM] products are about as attractive as an atom bomb." - Heinz Mueller, analyst at DZ Bank AG in Frankfurt who is advising Syngenta shareholders to sell their shares. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3358

*GM maize fails again
*Still no GM corn

GM maize fails again
as actions spread to GM shareholders
Press Release [shortened]
Friends of the Earth Europe
Immediate Release Friday 30 April 2004

Results of GMO Vote
Against: Denmark, Greece, Luxembourg, Austria, Portugal
Abstain: Germany, Spain
For: UK, Italy, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Ireland, Finland, Sweden

European member states have failed to support the application by US-based multinational Monsanto to import a new genetically modified (GM) maize into Europe. Earlier in the week Agriculture Ministers also failed to support a different maize application after disagreements emerged over its safety.

At today's meeting of the EU's Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health, member states voted on the import of a GM maize called NK603 for human food. It has been genetically modified to be resistant to Monsanto's herbicide called RoundUp. In February member states also failed to support the same GM crop for use as an animal feed.

Friends of the Earth is critical of the Monsanto application which:

* fails to look at the grain's effects on subsequent generations, cumulative toxic effects and the effects on the health of sensitive consumers as required under EU food law (1)

* fails to explain or fully investigate unexpected discoveries occurring after the genetic modification (2)

* insufficiently investigated the possibility of the modification causing more allergies (3)  ...

Adrian Bebb, Friends of the Earth Europe - mobile +49 (0)1609 490 1163
Geert Ritsema (at Bayers AGM in Cologne/Köln) - mobile +31 (0)6 290 05 908

Still no GM corn

Europe has once again failed to come to a decision on authorising a genetically modified maize.  The European Commission's regulatory committee - made up of national representatives - on Friday discussed possible approval of Monsanto's NK603, for the second time this year.  But, as in February, no qualified majority was reached either for or against.

Denmark, Greece, Austria and Luxembourg remained opposed, and were joined this time by Portugal.  But with Spain abstaining and Italy switching to the pro-GM camp, the yays were no stronger than the nays, and the issue will have to go to national governments.

Environmentalists Greenpeace welcomed the change of heart from Spain and Portugal, telling this website that, "The Iberian peninsular saved the day".  But they added that Italy had given in "to what looks like commission arm-twisting".

Authorisation would have cleared the biotech crop for use in animal food, but not for growing or for human consumption.

NK603 was developed to be resistant to some pesticides.

It is already grown in the USA, Canada, South Africa, Japan and Bulgaria, as well as being used for food in Mexico, Australia, Russia, Taiwan and the Phillipines.

In December 2003 Europe's food agency EFSA ruled that it was "as safe as conventional maize".

But Greens remain unconvinced, with Friends of the Earth this week saying that European assessment "fails to look at the grain's effects on subsequent generations, cumulative toxic effects and the effects on the health of sensitive consumers".  

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