Syngenta misled the world - European Commission must take immediate action
GMO CORN SCANDAL - SYNGENTA MISLED THE WORLD
European Commission urged to take action
FRIENDS OF THE EARTH EUROPE
Press release for immediate release: Wednesday 30 March 2005
Contact : Adrian Bebb, Friends of the Earth Europe + 49 1609 490 1163 (mobile)
Brussels, 30 March 2005 - Friends of the Earth has accused the world's largest agro-chemical company, Syngenta, of misleading Governments and the public. The company has been claiming that the unapproved genetically modified (GM) corn, which they sold to US farmers for four years, is identical to a GM corn previously approved for consumption.
But according to Nature, who published an article on their website last night, Syngenta has now admitted that the corn, called Bt10, actually contains a gene which confers resistance to an important group of antibiotics (1). The approved GMO, Bt11, does not contain this gene. Friends of the Earth revealed this information last week but Syngenta refused to confirm it publicly. The use of antibiotic resistant genes has been widely condemned by eminent bodies such as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, the Royal Society and the Pasteur Institute, who are concerned that the genes could flow from crops to micro-organisms and spread problems of antibiotic resistance in humans and animals.(2)
The European Commission last week mimicked Syngenta's view and stated in the press that the Bt10 is "genetically the same as Bt-11 which is already approved in the EU". In April 2004, the European Food Safety Authority said that marker genes conferring resistance to ampicillin "should be restricted to field trials and not be present in genetically modified plants placed on the market". (3)
Adrian Bebb, GM campaigner for Friends of the Earth said:
"Governments around the world have been taken in by Syngenta's attempt to play down the real scale of their huge error. In view of this new information, the European Commission must take immediate action to ensure that foods which aren't permitted for human consumption are removed from the food chain. "
Contact: Adrian Bebb, + 49 1609 490 1163 (mobile)
1. The Nature article can be found at:
2. Bt 10 contains the amp gene, which confers resistance to the ampicillin family of antibiotics. In recent guidance, the European Food Safety
Authority stated that GMOs containing this gene should not be approved for cultivation and their use restricted to field trials.
3.The EFSA opinion can be found at: