GMO COMPASS - Information on genetically modified organisms
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News Messages

April 2006 May 2006 June 2006
24 May 2006
Field Trial with GM Potatoes in Ireland Withdrawn
The German chemical and biotech company BASF announced the withdrawal of its planned 4 year field trial with GM potatoes in Meath Co., Ireland. The potatoes are genetically engineered for resistance to late blight (Phytophthora infestans), the disease responsible for the catastrophic Irish potato famine of 1846-50. The GM potatoes contain a resistance gene transferred from a wild potato variety native to Mexico.
The Irish Environmental Protection Agency had authorised the planting earlier this month, but the terms of agreement held BASF to a list of strict conditions. The company cited the stringent conditions and a tight time-frame as reasons for abandoning the tests.
BASF conducted field trials with the GM potatoes in Sweden in 2005, and Swedish authorities reported no unexpected effects. In addition to Sweden, testing sites this year include Germany and the Netherlands.
GMO Compass: Genetically Modified Potatoes
GMO Compass: Disease Resistance
EPA Ireland: Press Release
Columban Missionaries: Editorial Text on the Phytophthora Potato
Scientific Abstract: The Phytophthora Potato
23 May 2006
EU Council of Ministers: Disagreement over Threshold for GMO Traces in Organic Goods
The EU Agriculture Council was unable to agree on a threshold limit for traces of GMOs in organic products. The council opened debate on the topic for the first time on Monday, May 22nd. The current threshold for unintentional and technically unavoidable GMO presence in organic products is the same as the 0.9 percent limit for unlabelled conventional food and feed. The thresholds, however, only apply to traces of GMOs that are authorised in the EU and have undergone a comprehensive safety assessment.
At least ten member states at the council called for much lower thresholds for GM content in organic products. EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel, however, continued to warn that lowering the threshold below 0.9 percent would be a burden and would place unneeded added costs on organic producers. The Council has set up a working group that will be working on coming up with a solution.
GMO Compass: Labelling Guide
EU Agriculture Council: GMO contamination of organic products controversial (press release)
12 May 2006
Slovakia Authorises First GMO Field Trials
In late April, the Slovak government authorised field trials with genetically modified MON 810 maize at three undisclosed locations. The total area of the field trials is approximately 30 hectares. Although Slovakia never had an explicit ban on GMOs, this yearís field trials mark the first time GM seeds have ever been sown in Slovakia.
Public opinion in Slovakia is quite hostile toward GMOs. According to a 2004 poll, approximately half of Slovaks believe GMOs are dangerous to human health. Greenpeace has launched many campaigns to influence public opinion in Slovakia. Additionally, the bordering countries of Poland, Hungary, and Austria plan to remain GMO free and likely exert political pressure on Slovakia to conform. The Czech Republic, on the other hand, is one of the few European countries with commercial GM crop production.
Commercial GM crop production in Slovakia could theoretically take place soon, but current regulations make it difficult for farmers to provide the necessary documentation. Therefore, seed companies have not yet marketed GM seeds in Slovakia.
The field trials are being conducted by the agro-biotech company Monsanto.
GMO Database: MON 810 maize
12 May 2006
WTO: The EUís Former Moratorium on GMO Approvals Violated Free Trade Agreements
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) released its official decision on the trade dispute over GMOs between the EU and a group of agro-product exporters led by the United States. According to the WTO, the de facto moratorium on new GMO approvals between 1997 and 2004 violated international free trade agreements. The WTOís official decision confirms preliminary reports made in early February.
According to the European Commission, the WTOís decision will have no effect the regulatory system for GMOs now in place in the EU. EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson does not see the decision as a reason to alter the EUís current GMO policies. According to Mandelson, the United States, Canada, and Argentina launched their complaint against the former de facto moratorium, not the science-based system of risk assessment in place today.
GMO Compass: The EU Regulatory Process
EU Commission: Europeís rules on GMOs and the WTO
12 May 2006
Bt Maize in the EU: Plantings Expanding in France and in the Czech Republic
Preliminary statistics on the 2006 growing season are suggesting that Bt maize production is continuing to expand in Europe. France and the Czech Republic are posting the greatest increases over last year. According to the French seed company Vilmorin, French farmers are planting 5,000 hectares of Bt maize in 2006. Last year, French farmers planted between 500 and 1000 hectares of Bt maize. In the Czech Republic, Bt maize cultivation is expected to expand from 270 hectares last year to 1,500 hectares in 2006.
Bt maize is also commercially grown in Spain, Germany, and Portugal. Spanish Bt maize production in 2005 covered 53,000 hectares, or 12.5 percent of Spainís total maize production. This was a slight decrease from 2004, both for Bt and for conventional maize. This growing season, Bt maize plantings are expected to exceed 2005 levels. The most intensive areas of Bt maize cultivation in Spain include Aragon (30 percent of maize is Bt) and Catalonia (40 percent). These regions are especially affected by the European corn borer.
GMO Compass: The Bt Concept
GMO Compass: Commercial GMO Production in 5 Member States
GMO Database: MON 810 Maize
10 May 2006
Poland Eyes National Ban on GMOs
The Polish parliament is in the midst of finalising a piece of legislation set to restrict the sale and registration of GM crops. The extent to which the law will keep farmers from planting GM crops is not yet entirely clear. The president is expected to sign the bill, which is the final hurdle before it is made into law.
The bill has sparked considerable controversy as it puts Poland on a collision course with the EU and with a recent WTO ruling against national bans on GMOs. The European Integration Committee Office, an independent office within the Polish government, warns that the bill violates EU regulations. Polandís deputy farm minister Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski has said that Warsaw would try to word the law in line with EU rules and possibly even attempt to modify the EUís policies on biotechnology.
Polandís conservative minority government has expressed its intention to make Poland free of GMOs to protect its image as an environmentally friendly state. Some politicians opposing the bill accuse the government of putting politics over science and hindering scientific research. A movement started by leading Polish scientists opposing the bill was not successful at stopping the billís approval in parliament.
In related, but different lawmaking regarding GMOs, the European Commission gave the green light to a ban on 16 cultivars of Bt maize in Poland (MON 810). The reason given for banning the GM maize cultivars was that they are not suited to Poland's climate. A ban on an additional 700 conventional cultivars based on the same reasons was also submitted to the Commission and is still awaiting approval.
Genetically modified seeds have never been planted in Poland.
GMO-Compass: EU Regulations on GMOs
GMO Database: MON 810 Maize

Messages 2015
Messages 2013
Messages 2012
Messages 2011
The issue of contradictory results of biosafety studies
Opposition decreasing or acceptance increasing?
An overview of European consumer polls on attitudes to GMOs
German ban on MON810 maize: will the courts now decide?
China plans to invest in GM crops R&D and consumer education
"Find the wisdom to allow GM technology to flourish"
Results of the GMO Compass snapshot poll
Genetic engineering of cut flowers
Preliminary studies raise hopes: Golden Rice works well!
GMO labelling of foodstuffs produced from animals Ė the discussion continues
GM Crops in Australia Ė will the moratoria end?
International study: consumers would buy GM products
GM plants no problem for the honey industry
Are GMOs Fuelling the Brazilian Future?
Latest Eurobarometer: Yes to Biotech Ė No to GM Food
Barley, Beer and Biotechnology
Farm Fresh Pharmaceuticals
Study: GM Soy Dangerous for Newborns?
Safety evaluation: GM peas in Australia with unexpected side-effects
The western corn rootworm: A pest coming to a maize field near you
Plants for the Future
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