European Union blocks GMO potatoes, corn (16/10/2007)

1.European Union blocks GMO potatoes, corn
2.American expert thanks Poland for keeping GMO-free

1.European Union blocks GMO potatoes, corn
Budapest Business Journal, October 16 2007

(New World Publishing via COMTEX) -- European Union governments blocked approval of a genetically modified potato made by BASF AG and three corn varieties developed by Monsanto Co. , hampering EU efforts to expand the biotech-crop market. The opposition by health regulators from countries including Italy, Poland and Hungary prevents fast-track approval of the Amflora potato for animal feed and the corn types for feed and food. The European Commission, 27-nation EU''s executive, must now ask government ministers to give their verdict in a step that will add months to a process the US says is too slow. The potato and corn varieties pose ''no risk to human or animal health or to the environment,'' the commission said in a statement today in Brussels. A split among ministers, who have about three months to decide, would give the commission the power on its own to approve the BASF and Monsanto applications. The commission is seeking to push through approvals of products in the $6 billion global biotech crop market over the resistance of a group of countries that also include Austria, Greece, Cyprus and Luxembourg. Surveys show opposition to such foods by more than half of European consumers, who worry about risks such as human resistance to antibiotics and the development of ''superweeds'' impervious to herbicides.


Biotech foods range from corn to soybeans whose genetic material has been altered to add beneficial traits such as resistance to weed-killing chemicals. National authorities throughout the EU have a say over approvals because the bloc''s single-market rules require that a product sold in one member state be allowed for sale in the others. The EU ended a six-year moratorium on new gene-altered products in 2004 after tightening labeling rules and creating a food agency to screen applications by companies including Monsanto and Syngenta AG. Since then, the EU has approved the import of some gene-modified products for food and feed use via a slow-track procedure and has yet to endorse any requests for cultivation. Germany''s BASF is awaiting EU approval of a separate application to plant the Amflora potato for use as industrial starch. EU governments have failed over the past 10 months to muster a sufficient majority for or against this cultivation request at regulatory and ministerial levels, giving the commission the power to decide in the coming weeks.

Monsanto Corn

BASF genetically altered the potato to enhance its starch content for industries including textiles, packaging and adhesives. By-products from the starch-extraction process would be used for animal feed. The three Monsanto corn varieties are hybrid versions of products that have won EU approval for feed and food use. The three products are called MON863 X NK603, MON863 X MON810 and MON863 X MON810 X NK603. The commission''s push to allow cultivation of the BASF potato and its use in feed as well as to permit the feed and food use of the Monsanto hybrid corn varieties follows endorsements by the European Food Safety Authority, a scientific organization responsible for advising on biotech-food applications. In June, European Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said any EU delay over the approval of biotech crops declared safe by scientists risks prompting legal challenges from farm exporters such as the US, Canada and Argentina. In a case brought by these three countries, the World Trade Organization ruled last year that the 1998-2004 EU ban was illegal.

2.American expert thanks Poland for keeping GMO-free
Polish Radio, 16 October 2007

Jeffrey Smith, an American expert on genetically modified food has thanked the Polish government for its efforts to keep Poland a GM foods - free country.

Genetically modified food is not natural and not safe for your health, Smith told a press conference at the Polish environment ministry. It may do more harm than global warming, he added. Genetically modified organisms, when spreading in the environment, may adversely affect other organisms, Smith pointed out.

Polish environment minister Jan Szyszko stressed that Poland wants to keep its GMO free status because of which our food products are especially valued on the European market.

Genetically modified food supporters claim it may solve the problem of hunger in the world. Opponents warn, that there is no guarantee that GM foods are safe for people.

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