EU Legislators Call for GE Moratorium

Oct. 12, 1998 EU Green Party Press Release
Parliament's Environment Committee Backs Green Call for GMO Moratorium
and Upholds the Ban on Gene Maize in Austria and Luxembourg

Greens Applaud Recommendation to Put GMO Releases on Hold
The European Parliament Environment Committee today adopted a radical position
on new commercial releases of GMOs. In a letter to the Commission, the
Committee will propose a moratorium on all new applications for marketing of
genetically engineered products and will also call for the Commission to
withdraw its proposed legal action against Austria and Luxembourg for banning
the use and sale within their territories of the controversial Novartis maize,
which contains an insect poison as well as being herbicide- and

Green MEP Paul Lannoye (Belgium) welcomed the decision, which was carried with
only one dissenting vote. *We have been saying for many years that GMO
releases are not being fully evaluated and that long-term and indirect risks to human
health and the environment have been consistently underestimated. What seemed
unthinkable several months ago-a general moratorium on all new commercial
releases- is now fast becoming reality. France and the UK are actively
such a possibility, Greece is waking up to the threat and others including
Germany are expected to follow*
Hiltrud Breyer MEP (Germany), who has been a persistent critic of the maize
marketing decision said *This is the most significant development since 1995
when the whole saga of the Novartis maize began. Despite mounting scientific
evidence of damage to the environment, the Commission has been looking the
other way and hiding behind its bureaucratic rules. Now it has to face up to
the political reality that no-one except the gene tech. industry either wants
or benefits from genetically engineered food crops. New rules need to be
written so that we can have and a proper independent risk assessment procedure
and a socio-economic evaluation on these products before they are introduced
into Europe.*
Gianni Tamino MEP (Italy) added *The Italians also wanted to ban the maize but
were bullied out of their opposition by the Commission. Now they will have the
opportunity and the moral right to try again. The Greens have been the only
political group with a consistent position on GMO releases and now it appears
that our doubts are shared by our colleagues. The Commission must act on this



Brussels, 12 October 1998 -- Greenpeace today welcomed the European
Parliament's Environment Committee's decision to call for a moratorium
on all new releases of genetically modified organisms onto the market.
"This is an important decision that highlights the crowing concern
over the environmental impacts of genetically engineered crops," said
Thomas Schweiger, Greenpeace EU adviser. "After this it will be more
difficult for the European Commission to reject the demands for more
precaution in the introduction of the new GE-crops to the European
The Committee today authorised the chair, Mr. Ken Collins, to write a
letter to the European Commission calling for a moratorium on all new
GMO market applications until further notice and asking the Commission
to withdraw the "implementing measures" against the Austria and
Luxembourg ban on Novartis' maize. The latter would mean that Austria
and Luxembourg would be allowed to keep the ban in force.
Mr. Collins had made the suggestion for such a move, following the
fact that the European Parliament had failed to come up with a
recommendation on the Commission's intend to over-rule Austria and
Luxembourg on the ban of Novartis' GE-maize in place since February
During the debate in the European Parliament there was overwhelming
support for the ban by Austria and Luxembourg and for a moratorium.
Quoting the growing concerns in many Member States and the fact that
the directive for the placing on the market of GMOs, 90/220/EEC, is
currently being revised and due for debate in the Environment
Committee, the Committee authorised the chair with only one objection.
"This is exactly what Greenpeace understands as the precautionary
approach," said Schweiger. "A Moratorium on the placing on the market
of all new GMOs will give the time to evaluate all the new scientific
evidence that has surfaced in the recent months on the risks of
GE-crops to the environment and public health."
Greenpeace urges the European Commission to take the European
Parliaments call on board.

For further information:
Thomas Schweiger, +32-2-280 14 00
Mika Railo, Greenpeace International Press Desk, +31-6-535 04 722

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