Romanian ban "fresh blow" to GM industry - FT (28/3/2008)

1.Romania set to ban approved GM corn crop - FT

2.Romania mulls national ban on Monsanto maize - REUTERS

NOTE: Romania is the European Union's top maize producer in terms of hectares. Some 300 hectares of MON 810 have been cultivated in Romania since 2007, representing only 0.01 per cent of Romania's total maize production. An opinion poll, conducted in the summer of 2007, showed that 67 per cent of Romanians do not want to eat GM food.


1.Romania set to ban approved GM corn crop
By Andrew Bounds in Brussels and Thomas Escritt in Bucharest
Financial Times, March 28 2008

Romania intends to join six other European Union members in banning the only genetically modified crop approved for use in the bloc, its environment minister said on Thursday, in a fresh blow to the biotechnology industry.

Attila Korodi called for a moratorium on planting MON810, a corn produced by Monsanto, the US company, and said his country's bio-security committee would start examining the possibility of a ban on April 15.

Romania, a major agricultural producer, was a big grower of GM crops before it joined the EU last year.

Mr Korodi told the Financial Times a ban was likely as the committee would examine studies used by Hungary and France to justify their recent prohibition of MON810 because of its negative impact on the environment.

'If they say they have concerns, then we will ask the European Commission for a temporary ban,' he said. 'We simply don't know what its environmental impact will be.'

Italy, Austria, Greece and Poland have also banned the insect-resistant corn, claiming that the toxin it contains could be harmful to other wildlife. However, the Commission, which regulates the market, has yet to sanction their bans.

Stavros Dimas, the environment commissioner, has asked the European Food Safety Authority for an expert evaluation of MON810 and recommended that two similar products not be allowed on to the market because of environmental concerns.

Polls have shown most Romanians do not want to eat GM food, in tune with public attitudes in most EU countries.

Greenpeace, the environmental group, welcomed the news. 'The Romanian people overwhelmingly reject this unsafe, unnecessary and unsustainable technology. It is vital the ban is in place as soon as possible, so natural crops can be safe from GM contamination before the sowing season starts,' said Gabriel Paun of Greenpeace Romania.

Europabio, which represents biotech companies, said the concerns were baseless and the bans would hurt farmers.

'The specific biotech maize has also been the subject of thorough scientific reviews by scientific communities around the world and has received positive approvals by the world’s most robust approval systems, as well as EFSA,' it said in a statement.


2.Romania mulls national ban on Monsanto maize
REUTERS, March 27 2008

BUCHAREST, March 27 (Reuters) - Romania's environment ministry wants to impose a national cultivation ban on Monsanto (MON.N: Quote, Profile, Research) MON 810 genetically modified maize this year, minister Attila Korodi said on Thursday.

'We're in the process of forming a committee on biosecurity that can start (working) on April 15. Taking into account all the European studies which raised too many questions regarding this maize, we will ask it to give a verdict,' minister Attila Korodi told Reuters by telephone.

'We will request the committee to consider a ban on the commercial cultivation of MON 810 because we are worried.'

Korodi said Romania has put around 330 hectares under MON 810 last year.

(Reporting by Radu Marinas; editing by Chris Johnson)

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