New rul­ing bans GM po­tato from Europe

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - BUSINESS - CHAR­LIE DUN­MORE

BRUS­SELS: Europe’s sec­ond­high­est court over­turned a de­ci­sion by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion to al­low the cul­ti­va­tion and sale of a ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied po­tato de­vel­oped by Ger­man chem­i­cals group BASF.

The Gen­eral Court of the EU said the com­mis­sion had failed to fol­low the bloc’s rules when ap­prov­ing the Am­flora po­tato, which is ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied to pro­duce ex­tra starch for use in the pa­per in­dus­try.

While Am­flora is no longer grown in Europe – BASF with­drew the prod­uct in 2012, cit­ing op­po­si­tion to the tech­nol­ogy – the rul­ing raises new con­cerns about the EU’s com­plex and much-crit­i­cised ap­proval sys­tem for GMO crops.

The sur­prise ap­proval of Am­flora was one of the first de­ci­sions taken by the EU’s then- health com­mis­sioner, John Dalli in 2010. Dalli was forced to re­sign last year af­ter be­ing linked to a to­bacco bribery scan­dal.

It was only the sec­ond time a ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied plant had been ap­proved for cul­ti­va­tion in Europe, and prompted an an­gry re­sponse from envi- ron­men­tal cam­paign­ers.

It also led to a le­gal chal­lenge against the de­ci­sion by Hun­gary, sup­ported by other EU coun­tries op­posed to GMOs, in­clud­ing France, Aus­tria and Poland.

The com­mis­sion first pro­posed the cul­ti­va­tion and sale of Am­flora in 2007, fol­low­ing a pos­i­tive sci­en­tific as­sess­ment by the Euro­pean Food Safety Au­thor­ity (EFSA).

But in its judg­ment, the Gen­eral Court said that fol­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of an up­dated sci­en­tific opin­ion by EFSA in 2009, the com­mis­sion should have sub­mit­ted new pro­pos­als for ap­proval by EU gov­ern­ments rather than sim­ply adopt­ing its 2007 ver­sion.

Cur­rently, only one GMO crop is grown com­mer­cially in Europe – an in­sect-re­sis­tant maize de­vel­oped by Mon­santo. It is sown on about 100 000 hectares of farm­land, mainly in Spain.

That level is dwarfed by an es­ti­mated 170 mil­lion hectares of GMO crop cul­ti­va­tion glob­ally, mainly in the Amer­i­cas and parts of Asia.

Re­peated EU sci­en­tific as­sess­ments have con­cluded that GMO crops are safe for hu­mans. – Reuters

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.