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EU environment ministers will discuss allowing imports of a biotech rapeseed
next week but the chances of agreement are slim, meaning EU process may well
lead to another default authorisation, officials said on December 2004 by
If so, it would be the third approval by bureaucratic default since the EU
restarted new GMO authorisations in mid-May and ended a longstanding
moratorium on new biotech imports that has angered major trading partners
like the United States.
In June, experts from the EU's 25 member states failed to agree on approving
the rapeseed, known as GT73 and marketed by US biotech giant Monsanto. Under
the EU's complex decision-making procedure, the matter has passed to
If the ministers, who are due to meet on Monday, fail to agree, then the
EU's executive Commission gains the legal right to allow the rapeseed for
import and use across EU territory.
"Some member states have changed their position but the overall picture is
that there would not be a majority either for or against," said David Grant
Lawrence, an acting director in the Commission's environment department.
"So the matter would return to the Commission," he told a news conference.
If the ministers cannot agree on the rapeseed, it would be the ninth
occasion in a row where the EU has been unable to reach a consensus on
allowing a new GMO import.
Assuming this outcome, the Commission can be expected to rubberstamp an
approval, probably some time in January.
Monsanto's requested use is for animal feed and industrial processing, not
for growing. GT73 rapeseed is altered to resist the non-selective herbicide
glyphosate, making it easier for farmers to manage weeds effectively.
In June, a committee of member state experts broke up in disarray on whether
to allow imports of the rapeseed, generally seen as a more controversial GMO
product than maize. European consumers remain largely hostile to biotech
foods with opposition rated at more than 70 percent. Supermarkets and food
manufacturers have responded to this and still tend to avoid stocking
produce that contains GMOs.
"EU member states have to take a clear position to defend consumers and the
environment from the threats posed by this GMO," international environment
group Greenpeace said.
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