Organic Consumers Association

GE Wheat Field Trial blocked by Court in Switzerland
GM crop trial blocked by Federal Courts

March 12, 2003 7:24 PM

Scientists had hoped GM wheat crops trials would start in March
(Keystone) Switzerland's highest court has stopped an outdoor trial of
genetically modified wheat due to go ahead later this month.

Wednesday's ruling by the Federal Court overturned a decision by the
environment ministry in February giving the experiment the green light.

The court decided that the ministry had not taken into account the
opinions and concerns of those opposing the trials when it made its decision..

The ministry must now review the arguments of opponents - who include
Greenpeace, farmers and commercial groups - and come back to the court
with its findings.

The Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, which was to carry out the
trial, now doubts whether the experiment will take place this year, or
even at all.

It had hoped to plant GM wheat seeds before the end of March to ensure
they grew in optimum conditions. But it is unlikely the ministry will be
able to carry out the review in time.

End of the road

Rolf Probala, spokesman for the institute, told swissinfo the decision
might mean the end of the trial altogether.

Probala said the project, which was due to take place in Lindau near
Zurich, was now likely to face a funding crisis. Financing provided by
the Swiss Science Foundation runs out at the end of 2003.

He added that the institute might also have to recruit new researchers as
those currently working on the project only had short-term contracts.

By the time more funding and staff were found, scientists might have
missed their chance, he said.

"Maybe in a few months somebody else in another country will do this
experiment and then it's not scientifically interesting for us any more,"
explained Probala.


Greenpeace, which has led the campaign against the GM trial, said it was
relieved at the decision.

Spokeswoman Marianne Künzle said the organisation had not expected the
ruling to fall in its favour.

Although she refused to discount the possibility of the trial being
relaunched, Künzle hoped the level of opposition would deter future GM
crop trials.

"We really hope that the scientists now realise there is a big opposition
from Swiss people, and from farmer and consumer associations," she told

The main arguments of opposition groups centre around the potentially
harmful effects on the soil and concerns that GM plants might
cross-pollinate with organic crops nearby.

Long-running battle

Wednesday's decision marks the latest chapter in a long-running battle
between the institute and opponents over the trials.

The environment ministry originally rejected the institute's proposal
last year. But the ministry overturned its own decision in December,
giving the institute provisional approval.

The institute finally got the green light in February to start the trial,
but Greenpeace launched an appeal soon after the ruling.

Home | News | Organics | GE Food | Health | Environment | Food Safety | Fair Trade | Peace | Farm Issues | Politics
Español | Campaigns | Buying Guide | Press | Search | Donate | About Us | Contact Us

Organic Consumers Association - 6771 South Silver Hill Drive, Finland MN 55603
E-mail: Staff · Activist or Media Inquiries: 218-226-4164 · Fax: 218-353-7652
Please support our work. Send a tax-deductible donation to the OCA

Fair Use Notice: The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of scientific, environmental, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc. It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal or technical advice.