Now just fancy that - according to an MEP (item 1) - the reason for the European Parliament's recent resolution calling for greater institutional and financial support for the biotech industry being so "unashamedly pro-biotech" was probably due to the "explicit involvement" of pharmaceuticals giant Glaxo Wellcome in early drafting. This is the same company whose financial support for the UK's Royal Society we recently noted
According to item 2: "Proposed EU maximum contamination thresholds to control accidental mixing of genetically modified seeds with non-GM varieties are... unworkable, the EU's scientific committee on plants (SCP) said today. An existing 1% threshold for GM contamination of food ingredients is therefore probably also unachievable... The scientific committee is telling the Commission to throw its proposal in the bin as it's not workable,"
1. Glaxo Wellcome helped draft pro-GM Euro resolution
2. GM seed contamination thresholds "unworkable"! (NB url for pdf for full opinion at end of article)
European Parliament plenary round-up
ENDS Daily - 15/03/01
MEPs voted narrowly against criticising those EU governments imposing a block on new commercial GM crop licences today in a resolution on biotechnology passed at their Strasbourg plenary session. The resolution calls for greater institutional and financial support for the industry. Rapporteur MEP John Purvis said action was needed as the EU's "reticence and indecision" over biotechnology had left it trailing "well behind" countries such as the USA and Japan. A lively debate on the draft report revealed deep divisions between bio-optimists, who stressed potential medical benefits of the new technology, and pessimists who warned of unknown environmental impacts. >
Irish Green MEP Nuala Ahern alleged that the resolution's "unashamedly pro-biotech" tone was probably due to the "explicit involvement" of pharmaceuticals giant Glaxo Wellcome in early drafting. The report was passed with virtually no amendments, but passages expressing "regret" that some EU countries had maintained an "unjustified" de facto moratorium on GM product approvals were excised by 223 to 190 votes. MEPs also inserted a clause calling for all patents of living organisms to be outlawed. In a separate vote yesterday, MEPs approved changes suggested by Finnish MEP Eija-Riitta Korhola to tighten up a European Commission proposal for a revised directive on access to environmental information held by public bodies. The plenary adopted almost unanimously the amendments made by the environment committee last month (ENDS Daily 1 March). >
These will expand the directive's scope to include financial details connected to activities affecting the environment, while also limiting costs to anyone requesting information. Finally, MEPs formally confirmed their approval of a conciliation deal with governments on a new non-binding EU recommendation on minimum standards for carrying out industrial environmental inspections. MEPs had wanted a binding directive, but were eventually forced to back down
(ENDS Daily 9 January). Follow-up: European Parliament (http://www.europarl.eu.int), tel: +32 2 284 2111, and texts adopted (http://www3.europarl.eu.int/omk/omnsapir.so/calendar?APP=P- PV2&LANGUE=EN) during the sessio [Entered March 16, 2001]
2. NB url for pdf for full opinion at end of article
GM seed contamination thresholds "unworkable" ENDS Daily - 16/03/01 Proposed EU maximum contamination thresholds to control accidental mixing of genetically modified seeds with non-GM varieties are so stringent as to be unworkable, the EU's scientific committee on plants (SCP) said today.
An existing 1% threshold for GM contamination of food ingredients is therefore probably also unachievable, it adds. The SCP's opinion is a major headache for the European Commission, which recently proposed allowing accidental GM seed contamination only up to 0.3% in seed batches of cross-pollinating crops and up to 0.5% in self-pollinating or vegetatively propagated crops (ENDS Daily 24 January). These limits are, in turn, supposed to support a parallel ceiling on GM content of food ingredients set at 1% (ENDS Daily 12 January 2000). Above these levels, seeds of foods would be required to carry warning labels. According to the SCP, such low levels of seed contamination "will only be achieved under ideal seed production conditions". Common events such as storms would produce deviations, while the expected increase in GM crop cultivation would make the thresholds even more impractical. Therefore, says the committee, "in due course the 1% [food] threshold may have to be revised [upwards]".
"The scientific committee is telling the Commission to throw its proposal in the bin as it's not workable," Garlich von Essen of the European Seed Association (ESA) told ENDS Daily today. Along with biotechnology firms and farmers' organisations, the ESA opposes the Commission's plans as unrealistically strict. Meanwhile, the SCP's opinion threatens a further reverse for the Commission over its related plan to allow accidental mixing at very low levels only of GM "events" with EU marketing authorisation, while prohibiting any presence of non-authorised ones. This objective is "unobtainable," say the scientists, and would have "severe consequences" for biosafety research and the evaluation of new GM plant varieties. A spokeswoman for EU consumer commissioner David Byrne said today: "Our proposal is not at all ready. We will formulate it based on this opinion."
Follow-up: European Commission (http://europa.eu.int/comm), tel: +32 2 299 1111; EU scientific committee on plants (http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/sc/scp/index_en.html), and its opinion (http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/sc/scp/out93_gmo_en.pdf)- ); ESA, tel: +32 2 743 28 6 [Entered March 16, 20