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German Farm Minister Wants GM-Free Zones

NOTE: This follows on from Germany's farm minister, Ilse Aigner, previously saying that "Genetic engineering for agriculture has no benefits" and that she wanted to ban it. She's also been reported as saying that whether or not a blanket ban could be achieved, she would want to ban Monsanto's MON810 maize - the only GM crop that can legally be grown in Germany.

The Bavarian environment and health minister, Markus Soder, has said he doesn't just favour a MON810 ban, he also wants a stop to all GM field trials. The Bavarian government is already opposed to any field trials with Bt maize being conducted in Bavaria. ---

--- German farm minister wants GM-free zones

Agra Europe Weekly, 19 March 2009 (requires subscription)    

German agriculture minister Ilse Aigner is aiming to apply the 'subsidiarity principle' to decisions about the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops.

This would mean transferring responsibility for such decisions from federal level to the country's regional governments, the minister said in an interview with the Bavarian newspaper Bayernkurier. She also wanted to explore whether it was possible within national law to define GM-free regions.

A general ban on GM crops was not politically achievable in Germany at present, Aigner said. If she and her CSU Party took such a stance they would be unable to get majority support at national level.

She stressed that, before approval was granted for GM seeds, it must be scientifically demonstrated that there would be no negative effects on human health or the environment, including in the long term. On the other hand, the government should not rule out the possibility of approval in advance.

"If the characteristics of GM plants are transferred to other cultivated or wild plants, it may not be possible to reverse this," Aigner warned. "We need sound science and must not rely on the information from the manufacturers."

She added that the GM maize variety MON 810 was coming up for approval again. In Germany at present, it may only be grown under strict monitoring conditions. A report investigating whether this monitoring plan should remain in place is due to be published later this month.