1.GM crops 'should not be approved' - BBC
2.Brits say 'No' to GM - Soil Association
3.USEFUL FACTS ON GM IN EU - GM-free Ireland
4.US spins GMO hype - AgWatch Europe
5.Support GM-Free Europe Now - ISIS

NOTE: There's absolutely nothing in the BBC report to support the claim in today's Daily Telegraph that GM crops will be along shortly in the UK.

URGENT ACTION: Don't forget to support European Commissioner Dimas - keep Europe GMO free

QUOTES: 'I don't want to be in contradiction with EU laws, but I have to make a choice. In line of the precautionary principle, I wish that the commercial cultivation of genetically modified pesticide GMOs be suspended.' - President Sarkozy introducing a GM crop ban in France (item 5)

'We will not be afraid, we will say: 'Tell us how much it will cost and we will pay it.'' - Mario Capanna, Chair of Fondazione Diritti Genetici, on if the EU moves to fine Italy for its GM-free stance.


1.GM crops 'should not be approved'
BBC News, 8 November 2007

Ministers must not approve commercial planting of GM crops in England, until it is proved safe, say the Lib Dems.

Chris Huhne said responses to a Defra survey show planting should not be allowed until ministers can prove non-GM crops will not be contaminated.

Most respondents opposed Defra's plan to allow GM crops to be grown in fields at least 35m (114ft) from non-GM crops.

A Defra spokesman said they would await the results of three reports, due next spring, before plans are taken further.

No commercial GM crops are yet grown in the UK and are not expected for several years, but the government wants to have measures in place in England for the 'coexistence' of GM, conventional and organic crops.


EU regulations state that food containing more than 0.9% of genetically modified ingredients have to be labelled as GM produce - even if they were grown as a conventional crop.

The government is proposing having compulsory separation distances between crops to minimise cross pollination of non-GM varieties.

And farmers intending to sow GM crops would be required to notify neighbouring farmers.

The three-month consultation attracted 11, 676 responses - 11,442 from 'members of the public'.

Defra said about 80% were in the form of stock letters or petitions, which conveyed a 'basic disagreement' with Defra's proposals and said 0.9% was too high and in organic produce, it should be less than 0.1%.

Responses 'polarised'

Of the remaining 20% about 1,370 people registered a 'general opposition to GM crops' while about 390 people were mainly concerned about 'a perceived threat to organic farming'.

Other responses included those from farming organisations, councils, organic farmers, biotechnology companies, scientific bodies and other organisations.

Defra said responses were 'polarised' between pro and anti-GM views - with some favouring the government's proposals as 'pragmatic and proportionate'.

Mr Huhne, environment spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said: 'People want to be safe and not sorry on GM foods, as the overwhelming bulk of responses to the government's consultation show.

'Ministers should not give any go-ahead for commercial planting until they can state confidently that GM varieties would not contaminate non-GM foods and that they are safe.

'This is essential for consumers who prefer non-GM foods, but also for organic farming which is the fastest growing part of British agriculture.'

Environment Minister Phil Woolas said the government was still awaiting three important research projects on co-existence, due to be published next spring - and EU guidance on labelling GM presence in seeds. But the intention was to have 'pragmatic measures in place'.

He said: 'GM crops may be approved for cultivation here in the future, if they pass the rigorous safety assessment procedure that is in place.

'We need to be ready for that possibility and the consultation on coexistence measures has been an important step forward in that process.'


2.Brits say 'No' to GM

More Soil Association comment: Back in 1998 Jeff Rooker MP, as Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, made the following statement on GM:

'I want to make it absolutely clear that my Ministry will be working to ensure that the expansion of organic farming is not compromised by the introduction of genetically modified crops... that is the most important sentence that I shall say this evening. I genuinely mean that - those are not words to be put in Hansard and forgotten about; I shall follow through.' [2]

The Soil Association believes that, so far, Defra is working in the opposite direction to what the Government has promised, and what the public are demanding.

Defra's summary showed that more than 95% of the public responses were opposed to Defra's proposals.



c/o GM-free Ireland

[NOTE: Recently, there have been industry claims that EU cultivation of GM crops has been rising sharply but the figures are highly misleading, counting in GM soya cultivation in Romania, which is now illegal and being phased out, and GM cultivation in France, which has recently been banned! With the figures adjusted to take account of these factors, the already minimallevel of GM crop cultivation in the EU turns out to be in decline!]

*The total area of GM crop cultivation across all parts of the EU is 0.05% of arable land - a hundred times less than organic farming. [There is no GM crop cultivation at all in many parts, including the UK and the Republic of Ireland]

*Only one variety of GM crop (Monsanto's patented MON810 maize) is authorised for commercial cultivation in the EU, but only for use as animal feed. However, as of October 2007, MON810 is banned in Austria, France, Greece, Hungary and Poland; and other EU member states may ban it soon. Switzerland has a total moratorium on GM crops and GM livestock.

*Sensible farmers in the EU do not grow GM food crops for the simple reason that there is no market for GM food in Europe.

*But a giant loophole in EU law allows meat, poultry and dairy produce from livestock fed on GM ingredients to be sold to consumers without a GM label. Earlier this year, a million EU consumers signed a petition demanding that the EC impose mandatory labelling for such produce, based on the consumer's right to know what he or she is eating.


4.US spins GMO hype
AgWatch Europe, Autumn 2007

Recent statements by US officials represent the latest efforts by the United States to pressure Europe to accept genetically modified foods, despite near-universal opposition to these products.

Nicholas Taubman, the US ambassador to Romania, recently said the EU's strict regulation of GMOs is inappropriate because it is based on deception, and called Europeans' concerns about GMOs 'science fiction.' Growing GMOs in Romania, Taubman said, would mean 'more nutritious food on the table and more money in your pocket.'

Taubman's message may fall on deaf ears. Romania banned GM soy when it joined the EU this past January and has been trying to eliminate the widespread illegal planting of GM soy, potatoes and plums.

Around the same time as Taubman's statement, the US Department of Agriculture claimed Italy is softening its opposition to GMOs. In reality, Italy is one of the EU's strongest GMO opponents. Mario Capanna, Chair of Fondazione Diritti Genetici, said that if the EU moves to fine Italy for its stance, 'We will not be afraid, we will say: 'Tell us how much it will cost and we will pay it.''

For more information on efforts to ban GMOs in Europe, contact Giuseppina Pagano of Food & Water Watch Europe at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


5.GM-Free Europe Beginning?
ISIS, 9 November 2007

A remarkable sequence of events since ISIS' European Parliament Briefing Scientists and MEPs for a GM free Europe [1] may mean the beginning of the end of genetically modified crops in Europe Dr. Mae-Wan Ho

EU Environment Commissioner proposes bans on GM maize for good reasons

For the first time since GM crops hit Europe, EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas proposed on 25 October 2007 to ban two genetically modified (GM) maize because of the risks they pose to the environment [2]. He could have mentioned the risks to animal and human health as well.

The two GM maize are Syngenta’s Bt11 [3] (Approval of Bt11 Maize Endangers Humans and Livestock, SiS 23) and Pioneer/Dow 1507 (see [4] GM Food & Feed Not Fit for 'Man or Beast', ISIS Report).

Bt11 was found to be genetically unstable [5] (Transgenic Lines Proven Unstable, SiS 20), and expresses the biopesticide protein Cry1Ab from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, known to toxic to many non-target species including humans [6-8] (GM Ban Long Overdue, SiS 29; More Illnesses Linked to Bt Crops and Mass Deaths in Sheep Grazing on Bt Cotton, SiS 30), and caddies flies, an important family in aquatic ecosystems, as recently documented [9,10] (Bt Crops Threaten Aquatic Ecosystems, SiS 36).

The maize 1507 contains another Bt toxin, Cry1F, which is totally untested, and is also engineered to be tolerant to glufosinate, a herbicide linked to birth defects and neurotoxicity (see Chapter 7 of The Case for A GM-Free Sustainable World [11], ISIS Publication).

European Commissioners Mandelson (Trade), Verheugen (Industry) and Fischer Boel (Agriculture) among others, are expected to oppose Dimas’ proposal.

France suspends GM plantings

Also on 25 October French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced he was to suspend the planting of GM pest-resistant crops until he gets the results of a review to be launched later this year or early in 2008 [12].

'I don't want to be in contradiction with EU laws, but I have to make a choice. In line of the precautionary principle, I wish that the commercial cultivation of genetically modified pesticide GMOs be suspended,' he said to Reuters’ reporter.

The only GM crop grown in the European Union is MON 810, developed by US. biotech giant Monsanto, and containing Cry1Ab (same as Bt 11). It was also found to be unstable [5] and one of its hybrids was suspected of causing illnesses to villagers in the Philippines [6]. But Monsanto maintains the protein contained in its maize has selective toxicity to corn borer and is harmless to humans, fish and wildlife. Some 22 000 hectares -1.5 percent of France’s cultivated maize - has been sown with GM maize this year.

During a visit to Paris the day before Sakozy’s announcement, European Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said a full ban on GM crops would clearly go against the rules and that France would lose in court if it implemented such a ban.

Sarkozy stressed that his move did not mean a halt to GMO research. Already during his election campaign last year, Sarkozy had expressed 'doubts and reservations' about the commercial use of GM products which for him 'had little interest'

Sarkozy’s move is generally welcomed in France. Some point out that France's policy shift on GMOs will also have implications for the rest of the EU [14].

Several other EU countries have already refused to let their farmers grow MON 810 maize or other GM crops, and many more countries and local regions around the world have done likewise within the past 18 months [15] (see No to GMOs, No to GM Science, SiS 35).

Austria triumphs again

Austria was the first European country to impose bans on GM crops, and has successfully resisted two previous attempts by the European Commission to declare its bans on two GM maize - MON 810 and T25 maize made by German company BayerCropscience illegal.

On 29 October, the European Commission’s third attempt to stop Austria was defeated yet again at a meeting held in Luxemburg.

The Netherlands, Great Britain, Estonia and Sweden supported the Commission. According to these countries, the Austrian hesitation was based on 'emotions and not on scientific facts', as already stated by the commission last December; but Austria was supported by 14 other EU countries.

This move will trigger a conflict at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Argentina, the US and Canada have complained about Austria’s position. They say Austria is violating the international trade rules.


Burcher S and Ho MW. Scientists and MEPs for a GM Free Europe. Science in Society 35, 21-25, 2007.

'Corrected EU’s Dimas opposed to growing 2 GMO maizes-document' 25 October 2007, Reuters,

Ho MW. Approval of Bt11 maize endangers humans and livestock. Science in Society 23, 26-27, 2004.

Ho MW and Cummins J. GM food & feed not fit for 'man or beast'. ISIS Report 7 May 2004,

Ho MW. Transgenic lines proven unstable Science in Society 20, 35, 2003.

Ho MW. GM ban long overdue, dozens ill & five dead in the Philippines. Science in Society 29, 26-27, 2006.

Ho MW. More illnesses linked to Bt crops. Science in Society 30, 8-9, 2006.

Ho MW. Mass deaths in sheep grazing on Bt cotton. Science in Society 30, 12-13, 2006.

Ho MW. Bt corn threatens aquatic ecosystems. Science in Society 36 (in press).

Rosi-Marxhall EJ, Tank JL, Royer TV, Whiles MR, Evans-White M, Chamgers C, Griffiths NA, Pokelsek J and Stephen ML. Toxins in transgenic crop byproducts may affect headwater stream ecosystems. PNAS 2007, 104, 16204-8.

Ho MW and Lim LC. The Case for a GM-Free Sustainable World, Independent Science Panel Report, Institute of Science in Society and Third World Network, London and Penang, 2003; republished GM-Free, Exposing the Hazards of Biotechnology to Ensure the Integrity of Our Food Supply, Vitalhealth Publishing, Ridgefield, Ct., 2004 (both available from ISIS online bookstore

'France suspends planting of GMO crops', Sybille de La Hamaide REUTERS, Oct 26 2007

'French skepticism of GMO crops signals policy shift', Deutsche Welle, 27 October 2007,,2144,2848857,00.html

Ho MW. No to GMOs, no to GM science. Science in Society 35, 26-29, 2007 'Austria wins GM corn debate', Animal Feed & Animal Nutrition News, 30 Oct 2007,