US Pressures EU to Force Frankenfoods on Consumers

US Pressures EU to Force
Frankenfoods on Consumers

Independent on Sunday (London)
October 7, 2001, Sunday

BY: Geoffrey Lean Environment Editor

Brussels is mounting a campaign to increase vastly the amount of GM crops
and foods grown and eaten in Britain and throughout Europe, The Independent
on Sunday can reveal.

The European Commission is calling a meeting next week of the 15 EU
governments to persuade them to lift a three-year moratorium on approving
new GM varieties.

Documents seen by this newspaper show the EC wants them almost to double the
amount of approved GM foods and more than treble the number of permitted GM
crops even before a recently agreed directive has been put into force.
Friends of the Earth warned yesterday that the plan, if adopted, would lead
to "widespread commercial growing" of the crops and "flood" supermarkets
with the foods. There would be huge resistance from public opinion, which
brought about the standstill in the first place.

The background documents for the meeting, which will be held on 16 October,
laments the moratorium, which, it says, has resulted in no new GM products
being approved since October 1998 and compares Europe unfavourably with the
US where the crops and foods are ubiquitous.

Jointly prepared by the EC's environment and health directorates, they say
that the standstill has "clear and serious implications for European
industry, agriculture, research and related sectors, and creates legal
uncertainties and public concerns".

It adds: "In the US and Canada around 50 GMOs (genetically modified
organisms) have been approved for use in food, whereas in the European
Union, food products derived from only 13 GMOs are permitted to be
placed on the market."

The documents acknowledge that the moratorium was introduced because
governments insisted that "a more stringent and transparent regulatory
framework" should be put in place before any new products were approved. A
directive containing the new framework was approved in March, but has not
yet been put into force in national laws. The commission adopted rules for
labelling and tracing GM crops and foods in July, but these have not even
yet been passed by the European Parliament or agreed by EU governments.
But the commission is so keen to press ahead with approvals that it suggests
that they should now be done on the basis of "voluntary commitments" from GM
firms, even before any of this comes into effect.

Adrian Bebb, GM food campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: "The EU is
trying to rush ahead - under pressure from the United States and the GM
industry - disregarding concerns about public health and the environment.
The gentlemen's agreements that it is proposing with industry are likely to
be worthless, and, in any case, the public will resist having these products
forced upon them."

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