|GM contamination scandal in Germany (18/9/2007)|
Rapeseed: GM Contamination Scandal in Germany
BAYER product found in conventional seeds / European authorities urged to pull back approval
German authorities have found genetically modified rapeseed in conventional crops. A spokesperson for the environmental minister of North Rhine-Westphalia stated that consignments from the company Deutsche Saatgutveredlung contained seeds tolerant to the herbicide glufosinate. Glufosinate is sold by the German company Bayer CropScience under the trademarks LIBERTY and BASTA. About 1500 hectares have already been planted with the genetically modified crops. The origin of the contamination is unclear.
Jan Pehrke from the Coalition against Bayer Dangers comments: "Neither seed merchants nor farmers are responsible for this mess. Bayer must take responsibility for the organisms it created and must pay for the damage." Bayer is the world market leader for pesticides. The company sells a variety of crops resistant to glufosinate, including rice, cotton, corn and soybeans. "The incident shows that risks linked with modified crops cannot be controlled in the long term", Pehrke continues. "We call for a stringent application of the precautionary principle. Contamination will continue to spread unless strict controls are enforced and zero contamination of seed is the norm."
The European Union approved imports of rapeseeds tolerant to glufosinate in March 2007. An application to grow modified oilseed rape was, however, rejected in 2004 on environmental grounds. Bayer also applied for permission to import genetically modified rice and soybean. In a similar way to the recent contamination of American long-grain rice, the current case probably goes back to field trials conducted in the late nineties.
Since the cultivation of GM rapeseed is forbidden in Europe, German authorities ruled that the plants have to be destroyed immediately. As the contamination probably was not detected for several years it is highly probable that further areas are affected. The Coalition against Bayer Dangers demands that no further GM crops be approved and demands a cancellation of the import approval for glufosinate resistant rapeseed.
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