Saturday, April 22, 2006

EU Quizzed Over GM Backing

Green Consumer Guide -- Environmental campaigners have slammed the European Commission this week after it emerged that the authority has been backing the growth of genetically modified crops despite having several serious concerns over their effects on human health and the environment. The doubts over safety were revealed in a dossier of scientific evidence that the EU sent to the World Trade Organisation, obtained by Friends of the Earth through the Freedom of Information Act regulations. The emergence of the information could lead to a significant problem for the EU, and the UK, in terms of clarifying official opinions on GMO safety.

The dossier, which was written up by EU officials in support of the original ban on GMOs, outlines the ‘large areas of uncertainty’ and gaps in the scientific knowledge on biotech crop varieties. The document goes on to detail the potential dangers that GMOs could pose to human safety, conventional crops and the wider environment, on which it highlights a key study that supports GM planting as ‘scientifically flawed’.

Since the dossier was submitted, the EU has approved seven new types of GM varieties, and commercialised thirty-one types of Monsanto’s GM maize for development in the region.

“This latest evidence is absolutely shocking,” commented Caroline Lucas, South-East England’s Green Party Euro-MP. “Not only does it reveal the depth of uncertainty – and therefore potential risks – surrounding GM, it makes plain as day the unpalatable fact that the EU Commission has been well aware of these concerns whilst authorising new GM products for sale and growth.”

“This has the makings of a full-scale EU-wide food safety scandal and the European Commission must halt the sale and import of all GM crops and products in the EU until its fears over the crops’ uncertain effects on health and the environment have been allayed,” added Dr. Lucas.

The UK Government was one of the major supporters of the EU’s aims, voting in six of the seven ballots on GM approvals, a situation which campaigners are now calling to be clarified.

"When the EU Commission broke the moratorium and forced GM foods into Europe, it told the public they were safe. But the Commission clearly knew this was not the case and was prepared to recognise the risk behind closed doors. The UK Government must now reveal whether it had access to these documents and whether it voted in support of GM foods while knowing the risks they posed," said Friends of Earth’s Claire Oxborrow.


"Should we rule out GM crops or biotechnology as a weapon in our arsenal? No. Why should we rule out any technology? GM technology is like every [other] technology," Meles told journalists. "It could be used well, or it could be misused. The issue is how to use it well. I think it can be used well if is used safely and if it does not increase the already big power of huge multinationals at the expense of the small-scale farmer."

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