NEW EURO GM RULES WON'T PROTECT PEOPLE & ENVIRONMENT
But FOE Welcomes New Moratorium Move by France & Others
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
WEDNESDAY 14th February 2001
New European rules on the licencing of GM crops and food, agreed today in Strasbourg, won't protect consumers, farmers or the environment, Friends of the Earth warned today.
After months of wrangling and lobbying by the biotech industry, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) approved a revised EU GM directive. The directive regulates the release of GMOs into the environment and food across the EU.
The proposed new directive has major failings:
”¢ antibiotic marker genes won't be banned immediately - they'll be phased out  over a number of years;
”¢ there's little to stop GM pollution contaminating organic and conventional farms ;
”¢ it doesn't make biotechnology companies liable for any of the effects (such as contamination of conventional crops) of GMO's.
But FOE has welcomed moves by six EU countries, led by France, which have stated they will not accept any new GMO approvals and will retain the "de facto" moratorium.
Adrian Bebb, GM campaigner at Friends of the Earth said "This new GM Directive will not protect European consumers, farmers or the environment. But the strong independent position taken by France and five other member states to prevent GM commercial growing is very welcome. What a contrast it makes with the UK Governments cavalier approach to proceed with large scale GM crop trials. These crops were approved under the old Directive which is widely accepted as insufficient to protect the environment. The UK Government should stop the trials and support the moratorium."
1. Antibiotic resistance marker (ARMs) genes have been used in the lab stages of many GM crops but remain in the final product. Eminent bodies such as the British Medical Association and the Pastuer Institute have called for ARMs to be banned to avoid resistance to antibiotics spreading.
2. Previous Directive amendments called for measures to prevent gene transfer in the environment - so called genetic pollution. This would have protected conventional farmers, beekeepers and the environment but was voted down by the European Parliament.
3. 6 countries (Denmark, France, Greece, Italy , Austria and Luxembourg) have said GM approvals won't be allowed until issues of traceability of GMOs and labelling have been resolved.