Row over ban on GM-derived biofuels (16/5/2007)

GM ban could land Cyprus in hot water

By Jacqueline Theodoulou
Cyprus Mail 2007, 16 May 2007

CYPRUS' refusal to conform to EU directives over the importation of biofuels has not gone unnoticed by the EU, which has already delayed sanctioning the island over the matter.

The House Environment Committee yesterday held an extraordinary meeting to examine why President Tassos Papadopoulos had referred a law, which was voted by Parliament and banned the importation and cultivation of genetically modified plants that produce biofuels.

The chairman of the committee, AKEL's Yiannos Lamaris, said the parties would position themselves before the Plenum on Papadopoulos' decision to refer the law.

"For Cyprus, there are a number of reasons that advocate it being pronounced a GM-free zone," Lamaris explained after the meeting.

"Cyprus is a small country, with small agricultural land plots, with frequent seasonal winds that can easily spread germs [pollen?] and anything else that can affect cultivations."

But DIKO deputy Nicolas Papadopoulos pointed out an oddity: on one hand it was allowed to import GM products, and on the other "we are banning the importation of biofuels made from GM foods."

He said: "Cyprus is the first country of all the countries in the EU, which at the moment is facing sanction proceedings due to its non-compliance with the relevant EU directive regarding biofuels."

Green Party leader Giorgos Perdikis said Parliament should insist on the relevant law and despite the dangers, be condemned by the European court.

He pointed out that other countries had acted in the same way, such as Greece, Italy and Poland, while he suggested biofuels could be extracted from normal plants and without the use of GM products.

The matter will be discussed tomorrow during the weekly Plenum session.

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