EU to Impose Moratorium on GE Foods
For immediate release:

Greenpeace welcomes EU moratorium on genetically engineered crops

Luxembourg 24 June 99, 18:00 Greenpeace welcomes the decision of the
EU ministers of the Enviroment today to implement a factual ban on any new
approvals for the commercial release of genetically modified organisms
(GMOs). "This is a clear step in the right direction," commented
Greenpeaces GE expert Louise Gale, "European Unions governments have
finally come to react to their citizens massive rejection of GMOs in food
and agriculture."

Greenpeace and many other environmental and consumer organisations have
been demanding a stop of GMO releases ever since the first GMOs had been
introduced to the market from the United States in 1996. "We hope that this
decision will send out a clear signal around the world," said Gale, "GMOs
are an environmental threat and an unjustified experiment with peoples
food. We hope that this will be heard as well in the United States and
other countries around the world, who have already started to commercially
grow GMOs. European citizens just don't buy it, and, finally, EU
authorities will not accept it. We certainly hope that this will be the
first step towards a consistent ban on the release of GMOs in the future."

The acting EU president Juergen Trittin (Germany) annouced today that on
the basis of the precautionary principle the EU will not authorize any new
GMOs in Europe until the introduction of strict environmental standards.
Greenpeace estimates that this ban will last at least until the year 2002.
The final legal implementation of this decision is presently being drafted.


Benedikt Haerlin
Greenpeace International Genetic Engineering Coordinator
Chausseestr.131, D-10115 Berlin, Germany
phone +49 30 308899-16, fax +49 30 308899-30
Barbara Kuepper: +49 30 308899-14


June 24,1999 LUXEMBOURG: EU close to temporary GMO moratorium. 17:05 GMT
By Michael Mann

LUXEMBOURG, June 24 (Reuters) - European Union environment ministers on
Thursday moved closer to a moratorium on authorising new genetically
modified organisms, at least until new rules can be agreed to reassure
consumers of their safety.
"Until new rules are in place, we don't want any new products to be
released," German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin told a press
"It will be a de facto moratorium, though legally-speaking we can't call it
that," he said.

Ministers met in Luxembourg with the aim of agreeing revised rules for
approving new GMOs amid growing public concern about the safety of gene
technology following a number of food scares.

Environmental oressure group Greenpeace immediately welcomed the move
towards a moratorium."GMOs are an environmental threat and an unjustified
experiment with food," it said in a statement, adding it hoped the
temporary halt to approvals was a step to a "consistent ban".

The Commission, the EU's executive, has proposed changes to the process by
which new GMOs are authorised to tighten safety checks and ensure more
transparency in the decision-making process. All ongoing applications are
currently blocked because of shortcomings in the current approvals process,
and the Union fears it is vulnerable to attack from its trading partners,
who have a more liberal approach to licensing GMOs. Acting EU Environment
Commissioner Ritt Bjeergaard said she was confident the EU would be able to
defend itself from any legal challenges, even under World Trade
Organisation rules.

"Under the WTO, you can base yourself on new scientific evidence,"
Bjerregaard said. "I see no problem with what we're doing today in relation
to GMOs."
Bjerregaard urged ministers to continue working towards a compromise on the
revised legislation, so that consumers could be reassured that any products
coming onto the market in the future were safe.
Trittin said the revised authorisation law would not hit the statute books
for at least 18 months. GMOs already on the market would not be affected by
the moratorium, he added.

France and Greece led calls for the moratorium, supported by several other
countries, notably Italy, Denmark and Luxembourg.

"We want a declaration, with the active cooperation of the (European)
Commission, which would stop a member state being exposed to a legal
challenge," French Environment Minister Dominique Voynet told reporters.
Diplomats were trying late on Thursday to draft a statement confirming the
moratorium which was acceptable to all 15 governments.

Technical work will also continue on the long-stalled revision to the
authorisation rules, officials said.