Court allows GM ban by Italy and other countries
*Court allows Italy, other countries to temporarily ban GM foods
*Europe can ban biotech foods, court rules
EU: Court allows Italy, other countries to temporarily ban GM foods
Source: just-food.com 09 Sep 2003
The European Union's high court has ruled that Italy and other EU member states can place temporary bans on genetically modified foods if they suspect the foods pose a threat to public health or the environment.
A European nation "can as a preventive measure ... temporarily restrict or suspend the marketing of those foods in its territory," the court was quoted by the Associated Press as saying. There should be no "relaxation of the safety requirements that must be met by novel foods."
The ruling stems from a dispute between the Italian government and biotech giant Monsanto.
The court ruled that Italy was entitled in August 2000 to ban certain foods, notably flour made from genetically modified maize, from Monsanto Europe, Syngenta AG and Pioneer Hi-Bred International.
The court added, however, that Italy must provide evidence of the suspected risks in order to sustain a ban, reported AP.
Europe can ban biotech foods, court rules
Although the European Parliament lifted its five-year ban on genetically modified foods in July, the court ruled Tuesday that Italy and other European countries can temporarily ban the foods if they feel there is a threat to public health or the environment.
Reuters news service said the court ruled in favor of Italy over Monsanto Co., in what is expected to be another setback for biotech companies to sell their products in Europe. St. Louis-based Monsanto is one of the world's largest makers of genetically modified seeds.
Monsanto said it expects the Italian courts will now overturn that country's three-year ban on varieties of biotech corn which can be sold elsewhere in the European Union, Reuters reported.
In 2000 the court said Italy could ban food products made from genetically modified products by Monsanto Europe, Syngenta AG and Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc.
However, Italy must still provide detailed evidence of the products' suspected risks to sustain the ban, according to the report.
Monsanto Co. (NYSE: MON) develops insect- and herbicide-resistant crops and other agricultural products.