1.Germany introduces de facto ban on growing GM corn - Der Spiegel
2.Netherlands will burn or return GM corn - Agence France-Press
3.Illegal GM maize let loose in Europe - Greenpeace
EXTRACTS: "This amounts to a de facto ban on the cultivation of genetically modified corn."
The new ruling could mean that crops already planted may not be allowed to be harvested. (item 1)
The Netherlands will return, or burn, a United States shipment of genetically modified corn (item 2)
"The EU should suspend all imports of US maize and other agricultural products that are under suspicion of being contaminated by GE organisms until they can institute a proper system to protect consumers, farmers and the environment from the risks of unwanted GE food and animal feed." (item 3)
1.CRACKDOWN ON MONSANTO SEEDS
Germany Tightens Restrictions on Genetically Modified Corn
Der Spiegel, May 9 2007 http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/0,1518,481952,00.html
The German government has imposed stricter regulations on the food company Monsanto regarding the sale of genetically modified corn seeds. The new rules are tantamount to an outright ban.
Genetically modified (GM) crops have long been controversial in Germany, where organic agriculture is booming. Now the cultivation of GM corn has been effectively banned by the government, according to media reports.
In its Wednesday edition, the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel reports that it has obtained a letter sent from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to the agricultural company Monsanto, which sells the GM corn MON 810 -- which has been legal in Germany up until now -- as seed. In the letter, the ministry writes that GM corn from the MON 810 product line can only be delivered to third parties if the firm also provides an accompanying monitoring plan which researches the effects on the environment. The German news agency DPA also reported Wednesday they had obtained a copy of the same letter.
"This amounts to a de facto ban on the cultivation of genetically modified corn," said Peter Rudolph, who is responsible for genetic technology in the Brandenburg state ministry of agriculture, in remarks to Der Tagesspiegel Tuesday. He said the letter basically means Monsanto will no longer be allowed to sell MON 810, as the company has not presented any monitoring plan up until now. Brandenburg is the German state with the largest quantity of GM corn under cultivation.
In the letter, the federal ministry justifies its decision by writing that new information "gives reasons to suppose that the cultivation of MON 810 poses a danger to the environment."
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture told the newspaper that the letter should not be interpreted as a ban, but rather as a tightening of the regulations concerning the cultivation of the GM corn.
The new ruling could mean that crops already planted may not be allowed to be harvested. Brandenburg farmer Jorg Piprek told Der Tagesspiegel the new ruling was absurd: "We've already planted the corn. They can't tell us after the fact that it was illegal."
The cultivation of genetically modified crops has been controversial all over Europe, with anti-GM activists going as far as ripping up crops. The German Agriculture Minister Horst Seehofer has up until now justified the cultivation of GM crops in Germany by arguing they are allowed under European Union regulations.
2.Netherlands refuses GM corn shipment from US
Agence France-Press (AFP), May 9 2007 http://www.france24.com/france24Public/en/administration/afp-news.html?id=070509193328.8sqb1a72&cat=science
The Netherlands will return, or burn, a United States shipment of genetically modified corn that lacks clearance from European authorities, the Dutch food security authority said Wednesday.
Environmental organisation Greenpeace recently denounced the corn gluten shipment, which arrived at the Rotterdam port on April 10. The genetically modified corn was not authorised by the European Union, the Dutch authority said in a statement.
The name of the product in the shipment was Herculex RW from US company Pioneer, the authority said. It is used in the production of animal feed.
The portion of the shipment not yet used will be recalled and either returned to the United States or burnt in the Netherlands, according to the authority.
The product is currently being tested by the European food safety agency, with EU experts set to decide on June 8 whether it will be authorised. For that reason, Dutch authorities did not order the destruction of products that have already incorporated it.
Food safety authorities in the Netherlands have also decided to increase testing for genetically modified foods. From now on, 25 percent of corn imports from the United States will be tested, compared to the previous 10 percent.
3.Illegal genetically engineered maize let loose in Europe - Dutch authorities order partial recall
Amsterdam, 9 May 2007: The Dutch Food Safety Authority (VWA) announced today that it is recalling part of a cargo containing illegal Genetically Engineered (GE) maize imported from the United States of America. The VWA has also announced that it will step up inspections of US ships, from 10 to 25%. A press release issued by VWA confirms Greenpeace's announcement made on 27 April 2007 (1) that the vessel Pakrac, which arrived in the port of Rotterdam on 10 April, brought maize containing GE Herculex RW maize gluten, produced by Pioneer/Dow. This type of GE maize is grown in the US, but is not allowed in the European Union.
Greenpeace supports the Dutch authorities' attempt to contain the spread of illegal contaminated maize but criticises both EU and Dutch authorities for being unable to detect and prevent the entry of illegal GE varieties into the EU. In the case of the Pakrac, despite the early warning issued by Greenpeace, the recall was ordered only after part of the illegal maize had already entered the food chain.
"The Pakrac cargo is just the tip of the iceberg; many more illegal GE shipments could be slipping into the EU, given the lack of systematic controls. The EU should suspend all imports of US maize and other agricultural products that are under suspicion of being contaminated by GE organisms until they can institute a proper system to protect consumers, farmers and the environment from the risks of unwanted GE food and animal feed," said Myrto Pispini, Genetic Engineering campaigner, Greenpeace International.
On 10 April 2006, members of a Greenpeace Biosafety Patrol took samples of maize from the cargo of the Pakrac. Scientific analysis of these samples confirmed the suspicion that the shipment contained illegal varieties of genetically engineered maize (Pioneer/Dow Herculex RW), including Monsanto’s MON863 variant, which is currently under review in EU for potential health risks. (2) Greenpeace released these test results and called on the VWA to clamp down on all maize imports from America, and to prevent the tainted maize from being distributed.
However, VWA has recalled only the maize gluten that has not yet been processed, and not the quantity already processed into animal feed. The recalled maize will either be sent back to the US or burned in the Netherlands. According to VWA, the processed products are not being recalled, because "there is no risk for animals' or consumers' health. The same approach was followed last year when illegal GE rice entered The Netherlands." VWA also states that the body "expects that the illegal Herculex maize will be legalised in the European Union in the near future."
"The role of the EU Commission and EU governments is not to support the biotech industry but to monitor it strictly! On what basis is the VWA assuming that this maize will be legalised? And even if it were to be legalised at a future date, as of now, this contaminant maize has not been approved for imports in the EU and is clearly an illegal import. According to EU law authorities must recall the entire tainted cargo and either destroy it, or return it to the original senders for proper disposal," concluded Pispini.
For further information please contact:
Myrto Pispini, Genetic Engineering campaigner, Greenpeace International: +306979443304 Namrata Chowdhary, Greenpeace International Communications: +44 77 261 751 48
Notes to the Editor:
(2) MON863 maize is authorised for food-and feed use in the EU. However, GE maize MON 863 is under suspicion of posing significant health risks and is currently under review by the European Food Safety Authority, after Professor Seralini, a French scientist, published a study which demonstrates that laboratory rats, fed with a genetically engineered (GE) maize MON 863, have shown signs of toxicity in kidney and liver. Seralini, G-E, Cellier, D. & Spiroux de Vendomois, J. 2007. New analysis of a rat feeding study with a genetically modified maize reveals signs of hepatorenal toxicity. Published in: "Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology".