"There is no future for GM foods or crops in the UK or in Europe. The GM market is virtually dead. A growing number of regions want to ban GM crops, and the industry is packing up and leaving." (item 1)
"the biotechnology community concedes that public opposition means the sweetcorn is unlikely to go on sale anywhere in Europe soon. Many of the existing products, such as GM tomato puree, have been shelved in the face of resistance." (item 2)
"The corn... has been approved only for import into the EU, and not for growing... Sales of the product are likely to be small because many of Europe's largest retailers have pledged to be 'GM free', and because GM foods have largely been rejected by consumers." (item 1)
"REPRESENTATIVES of UK supermarkets said they had no plans to stock genetically-modified sweetcorn" (item 2)
1.Protests after Europe ends GM food freeze
2.End to GM sweetcorn ban fails to sway stores
1. Protests after Europe ends GM food freeze
By Anthony Browne, Brussels Correspondent
The Times, May 20, 2004
THE European Union has outraged environmental groups by lifting its six-year moratorium on approving genetically modified foods for sale. However, the decision, made after months of heated debate between member states, has failed to placate the United States, which says it will still pursue legal action to open up fully the European market.
The European Commission, the EU's executive body, approved for human consumption a strain of sweetcorn that has been genetically modified by a Swiss biotech company to be more resistant to pests. The Bt11 corn, produced by Syngenta, can now be sold in Europe’s shops as food, but it must be clearly labelled as "genetically modified".
It is the first time that the EU has approved any GM food for sale since 1998, when it bowed to mounting concern about the health impact of biotech foods among some governments and pressure groups.
David Byrne, the EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, said that yesterday's decision, which was backed by Britain, had been made only after "the most rigorous premarketing assessment in the world. It has been scientifically assessed as being as safe as any conventional maize. Food safety is therefore not an issue, it is a question of consumer choice."
Mr Byrne said that the product was approved only after new EU-wide food labelling laws, introduced last month, ensured that consumers would not be tricked.
"Labelling provides consumers with the information they need to make up their own mind. Therefore it is only logical . . . the so-called de facto moratorium is ended."
However, Clare Oxborrow, GM campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: "The Commission has letEU citizens down, as has the UK Government. But there is no future for GM foods or crops in the UK or in Europe. The GM market is virtually dead. A growing number of regions want to ban GM crops, and the industry is packing up and leaving."
The corn was already approved as food in 14 other countries, including the US, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. There were already 34 different GM products approved for sale in the EU before the 1998 moratorium, which stopped any new approvals, but most have a limited market and are just used for animal feed.
The corn, designed to resist damage by corn borer worms, has been approved only for import into the EU, and not for growing, although an application for cultivation is pending. Sales of the product are likely to be small because many of Europe’s largest retailers have pledged to be GM free, and because GM foods have largely been rejected by consumers.
However, the approval of Bt11 marks a significant turning point in the intense battle over GM.
France, which was one of the driving forces behind the original moratorium, accepted that a ban could no longer be justified. Hervé Gaymard, the French Farm Minister, said: "The labelling rules are now in force, so on a case-by-case basis, we have an authorisation procedure, product by product."
Johan Vanhemelrijck, secretary-general of the European Association for Bioindustries, said that it was a first step: "We will have to wait to see whether further approvals, including those for cultivation, are forthcoming."
The US and Canada, which grow large amounts of GM crops, have insisted that the EU moratorium was not based on science, and so amounted to a politically motivated ban on trade which was illegal under World Trade Organisation rules. Their governments said yesterday that they would still pursue their action at the WTO.
Although welcoming the decision, a US official in Brussels said: "We are not seeing this as a major move. The approval of a single product will not affect our WTO challenge."
The market had to be fully opened before the US would be satisfied. "The approval of a single product is not evidence that applications are moving routinely through the approval process in an objective, predictable manner based on science and EU law, rather than political factors.
"Our basic concern is that the EU does not have a consistently functioning approval process."
2.End to GM sweetcorn ban fails to sway stores
ROB CRILLY, Environment Correspondent
The Herald (Scotland), May 20 2004
REPRESENTATIVES of UK supermarkets said they had no plans to stock genetically-modified sweetcorn after the European Commission yesterday ended a six-year moratorium on new imports.
However, the decision could open the floodgates for another 30 GM products to be licensed for sale.
Yesterday's move to allow the import of tinned GM sweetcorn was criticised by environmentalists throughout Europe, who said it lacked public and political support.
Adrian Bebb, European GM campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: "There is clearly no political consensus across Europe on this genetically-modified sweetcorn. Scientists cannot agree over its safety and the public does not want it."
Syngenta, a Swiss-based company, applied for permission to sell Bt-11 maize sold as sweetcorn in 1998.
The corn has been engineered to express a gene from a soil bacterium which produces a protein toxic to the corn borer and corn earworm, offering a degree of insect resistance.
It was caught up in a ban on the import of GM foods which was imposed when several EU countries said they would reject new authorisations until tighter controls on the testing and labelling of GM foods came into force.
However, the biotechnology community concedes that public opposition means the sweetcorn is unlikely to go on sale anywhere in Europe soon. Many of the existing products, such as GM tomato puree, have been shelved in the face of resistance.
Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, and the Co-op [and all the other supermarkets!] have all adopted a non-GM policy.