Call for GM crop ban as Europe over-rules its ministers (6/9/2005)

1.Call for GM crop ban as Europe over-rules its ministers
2.Farmers call for ban on imports of GM rape-seed oil

1.Call for GM crop ban as Europe over-rules its ministers
Western Mail, Sep 6 2005

The European Commission has approved the import of Monsanto's genetically modified oilseed rape, making it available for food and animal feed across the EU.

The decision came despite the decision of the UK, and most EU Member State governments, not to support the application.

And Friends of the Earth warned that approval could create GM hybrids in the wider environment.

The environmental campaign group condemned the decision and called on the Government to impose a ban on the oilseed rape.

'Not only has the Commission ignored the opinion of 19 European environment ministers and recent scientific findings, but it is also allowing Monsanto to decide whether our countryside is contaminated,' said FoE's GM campaigner Clare Oxborrow.

'It is disgraceful that once again the Commission has failed to act to protect the environment.

'The UK Government did not support this approval. Now it must take matters into its own hand and impose a national ban on this GM seed.'

The oilseed rape variety, known as GT73, is resistant to Monsanto's own herbicide.

Most of EU Member States voted against the application or abstained last year because of unanswered questions over safety and impact on the environment.

Tests have shown that rats fed the oilseed rape showed increase in liver weights and there are also concerns over the impact of seed spills into the environment.

In addition, recent UK Government research has reported the discovery of the first genetically modified 'superweed' - the result of GM oilseed rape cross-breeding with the common weed charlock in the UK farm scale trials. The weed is resistant to the herbicide used on GM crops.

Member states voted 13 to six with six abstentions, including the UK, to ban imports of the crop and products made from it.

But the Commissioners ignored the vote and agreed to allow the crop into Europe on the basis of an opinion by the European Food Safety Authority.

And although the Commission accepted that the possibility of cross-breeding was an area of concern, it failed to specify safety measures to prevent accidents.

Friends of the Earth is calling on the UK Government to use the provisions in EU law to impose national bans on the GM seed.

The decision will make it even harder for farmers who want to provide non-GM feed for their livestock.

BOCM Pauls Ltd say most of their products now contain GM material, with the exception of its organic range of sheep feed and three beef diets - Eco beef grade nuts, Eco beef rolls and Eco beef mix 34, which contain less than 0.9%.

In a letter to the Welsh anti-GM campaigner Josie MacDonald the company says there is currently no demand for non-GM ewe or lamb feeds.

2.Farmers call for ban on imports of GM rape-seed oil

The Irish Cattle and Sheepfarmers Association has called on the Government to ban the importation of genetically modified rape-seed oil into Ireland.

The European Commission decided last month to allow imports of GM rape-seed oil made by the US multinational Monsanto.

The decision was made after the 25 EU member states failed to come to a consensus on the matter.

The ICSA has slammed the Irish Government for abstaining from a vote on whether to allow the imports, saying Irish consumers were vehemently opposed to GM foods.

Spokesman John Heney said: "Any time there's a survey of consumers, they say they do not want GM food on their plate, so it's totally inexcusable that our Government should go down the road of facilitating its introduction."

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