|European Commission to support failing GM crop sector (11/4/2007)|
1.European Commission to support failing GM crop sector
1.EUROPEAN COMMISSION TO SUPPORT FAILING BIOTECH CROP SECTOR
Brussels, 11 April The European Commission intends to promote genetically modified (GM) crops in Europe, even though it admits that that the European public does not want to eat GM foods, warned Friends of the Earth Europe today. The European Commission's mid-term review of the EU's Biotech Strategy today called for increased financial and political support for biotechnology applications - including GM crops - while acknowledging the poor performance of the GM crop sector and its widespread public opposition. 
Helen Holder, GMO Coordinator for Friends of the Earth Europe said, "The European Commission's own research shows that the use of GM crops is an economic failure. But instead of scrapping its support, the Commission is instead ignoring the wishes of the majority of the European public and asking for looser regulation and more taxpayers' money for genetically modified crops." 
Research published last month by Friends of the Earth Europe shows that environmentally-friendly farming will create more jobs and make the EU more competitive than if it grows genetically modified (GM) crops .
"Growing genetically modified crops has not lived up to expectations on increasing competitiveness and employment. In contrast, the green farming sector - including organic production - provides an environmentally friendly source of food while stimulating the economy and creating jobs, but is unfortunately starved of political and financial support by European Union decisionmakers," Ms Holder added.
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 The European Union's Biotechnology Strategy was adopted in 2002 for a period of eight years, with an evaluation due this year. The Commission's proposals are being sent to EU member states for agreement at the EU Competitiveness Council this June. For the mid-term review, see: http://ec.europa.eu/biotechnology/docs/com_2007_175_en.pdf
 The poor performance of GM crops will be confirmed by the European Commission's research institute (IPTS) next week, when the results of a cost benefit analysis of biotechnology in the European Union are presented at a conference in Brussels.
Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, Draft summary report "Contributions of modern biotechnology to European policy objectives". Study website: http://bio4eu.jrc.es/
 "The EU's Biotech Strategy: Mid-term review or mid-life crisis? A scoping study on how European agricultural biotechnology will fail the Lisbon objectives and on the socio-economic benefits of ecologically compatible farming" Friends of the Earth Europe, March 2007
2.EU biotech strategy pushes biofuels...
SOME SELECTED QUOTES BELOW
The recent adoption of an ambitious energy policy for Europe is likely to stimulate the contribution of biotechnology to another sector, alternative energy.
In March 2007, the European Council agreed a binding minimum level for biofuels of 10% of vehicle fuel by 2020. Biofuels are seen as beneficial in that they are renewable, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and boosting the EU's energy security.
The production process of bioethanol relies largely on biotechnology (through the use of enzyme or micro-organisms, to make ethanol out of biomass, whether crops, wood or biowastes).
It is estimated that the development of biofuels could create a significant number of new jobs throughout the EU and open new markets for agricultural products.
Industrial biotechnology is gaining momentum due to increasing environmental and energy supply concerns, since it represents an alternative to chemical processes and fossil fuels and promises economic and environmental benefits.
The development of biotechnology processes and their uptake by the industry are not optimal. Aside from underfunding, which is regularly highlighted by the industry, technology transfer appears to be insufficient. In combination with EU policies on innovation, this should be as a priority for the Strategy, with support actions for research and the uptake of new technologies.
GM technology is likely to have in the future more application in the field of industrial processes. For example, sectors such as the production of biofuels or paper will have an interest in higher yielding plants.