EU says Austria has lifted GM import ban
2.Still no GM cultivation in Austria
EXTRACT: the cultivation of GMO and the utilisation of genetically modified products cannot be anticipated in Austria at present. The Austrian Minister of Health, Andrea Kdolsky, has spoken of a voluntary agreement among the larger supermarket chains not to offer GMO-derived food products. The Minister also referred to a refusal of the animal feed industry to use MON810 and T25. (item 2)
1.EU says Austria has lifted a ban on importing, processing genetically modified corn
The Associated Press, June 24 2008
GENEVA: Austria has lifted a ban on importing and processing genetically modified corn as part of the European Union's efforts to comply with a World Trade Organization ruling on biotech foods, the EU said Tuesday.
At a regular meeting of the organization, the 27-nation EU informed trading partners that it was cooperating in good faith with Argentina, Canada and the United States, which have successfully pressed their case at the WTO.
The EU said it was taking steps to comply with a 2006 ruling that European countries illegally hindered the sale of genetically modified foods and cited the decision of the Austrian government, long one of Europe's most resistant, to allow genetically modified maize to be imported and processed.
The bloc said the ban was lifted on May 27.
Robert Prochazka at the Austrian mission in Geneva confirmed that his country implemented an EU decision on corn last month. It doesn't allow for the genetically modified crop to be planted in Austria, he said.
Genetically modified foods are highly sensitive on both sides of the Atlantic. European governments such as Germany and France, as well as a number of environmental groups, contend that many such crops are potentially unsafe for humans and the environment.
But the WTO in November 2006 concluded that the European Union had breached commitments from 1998-2004 with respect to 21 products, including types of oilseed rape, maize and cotton. It added that individual bans in Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Luxembourg were illegal, while sidestepping examinations of current EU legislation and whether biotech foods are actually safe.
The European Union had claimed the 2006 ruling was only theoretical since it officially ended its six-year moratorium on the products in 2004 by allowing onto the market a modified strain of sweet corn, grown mainly in the United States.
The U.S. said Tuesday that biotechnology could help offset some of the problems incurred by higher prices for food staples.
"The recent rise in world food prices reinforces the importance of the EC implementing its WTO commitments to adopt timely, science-based decisions on agricultural products developed using modern biotechnology," the U.S. said in a statement.
Argentina and Canada said they were extending until August 12 a deadline for EU compliance with the WTO ruling.
2.Still no GM cultivation in Austria
Co-extra, 17 June 2008
On 7th May, 2008, the EU Commission lifted the import ban on GM maize lines MON810 and T25. However, the cultivation of GMO and the utilisation of genetically modified products cannot be anticipated in Austria at present. The Austrian Minister of Health, Andrea Kdolsky, has spoken of a voluntary agreement among the larger supermarket chains not to offer GMO-derived food products. The Minister also referred to a refusal of the animal feed industry to use MON810 and T25.
Andrea Kdolsky, Austrian Minister of Health
Since June 1999, Austria had prohibited the import, processing and cultivation of the lines MON810 and T25 from the Monsanto and Bayer companies and justified this decision with reasons of health protection. Since then, the Commission has decided that the import and processing of both lines must be permitted and, in the case that this does not occur, has raised the possibility of legal consequences. The Commission responded thereby to concerns of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which demands that scientifically unfounded trade barriers to genetically modified products in the European Union be lifted. Addressing the Commission, scientists have attested to the safety of both maize types for human beings and the environment. [???]
The Austrian Minister of Health, Andrea Kdolsky, announced the formation of a research advisory council to assay "Risk Research and Use-of-Potential Analysis in Green Gene Technology". The minister emphasised that the council is expected to provide "qualitatively valuable arguments" with regard to future approval processes, "in order to effect prohibition throughout Europe".