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Fears over Europe's GM crop plan

Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

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Wednesday, 04 August 2010

Fears over Europe's GM crop plan

After a decade in which just a single genetically modified (GM) crop was approved for commercial planting in the European Union (EU), the European Commission has tried to break the logjam. But its new proposal, which would allow individual member states to choose whether or not to grow an approved GM crop within their borders, is likely to create further uncertainty within the agricultural biotechnology industry.The plan has drawn fire from all sides of the intense debate over GM crops, with industry officials, farmers and anti-GM campaigners all condemning the move.The EU currently takes advice from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), an independent body based in Parma, Italy, which conducts a risk assessment of each GM organism. The Council of Ministers then makes a decision on the crop that applies to farmers and agribusinesses throughout Europe. But the council's voting system means that opposition by just a few of the 27 member states can block the introduction of a crop, in which case the European Commission makes a final decision. So far, only a potato with modified starch content — Amflora, developed for industrial rather than food use by German chemical company BASF, based in Ludwigshafen am Rhein — has been approved for cultivation in the EU, and 16 other crops are still awaiting final approval.The new measure, announced on 13 July, would allow member states, or even regions within countries, to restrict GM crops, regardless of whether the EFSA has determined they pose no risk to human health or the environment and whether they have been approved by the European Commission. The commission says that, in principle, the new arrangement should make it easier to secure EU-wide approval for crops.

SOurce: greenbio.checkbiotech.org