EuropaBio welcomes 'science-based' hearing on GM food

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Member states, Gm crops, European union

The European biotech industry has welcomed the European
parliament's public hearing on the prospects and challenges for
European agriculture.

EuropaBio said that it strongly supported such opportunities to examine the arguments for and against GM farming in what it said was a methodical, sensible fashion, using science-based research to drive the discussion.

But opposition to the technology in Europe remains strong. Many Member States, and millions of consumers, remain steadfastly against the introduction of GM food.

Last week for example Greenpeace activists created giant crop circles in maize fields on three different continents to mark the beginning of a global campaign to protect maize against what it claimed was contamination from genetically modified sources. The crop circles appeared in fields in Spain, the Philippines and Mexico.

EuropeBio, the European Association for Bioindustries, however said that GM crops are only approved following rigorous safety assessments, and have been grown around the world commercially for 10 years.

It claimed that the benefits of GM crop production include improved yields and increased food security, reduced use of spraying and reduced carbon emissions through reduced reliance on fuel-intensive crop maintenance.

"They have been consumed for over 10 years with not one single recorded negative health incident. Currently, biotech crops are grown in five EU countries (Czech Rep, France, Germany, Portugal & Spain),"​said the association in a statement.

"The evidence is that European countries and public opinion are increasingly less negative and more open to biotech crops."

Furthermore, the WTO ruled earlier this year that the EU and six member states had broken trade rules by barring entry to GM crops and foods. The world trade organisation agreed with the United States, Argentina and Canada that an effective moratorium on GMO imports between June 1999 and August 2003 had been put in place.

EuropaBio also claims that a small minority of Member States are trying to block the growth in acceptance of biotech crops in Europe and deny European consumers and farmers the choice to use labelled products. The anti-GM campaigners' view is that this technology constitutes a serious threat to biodiversity, food security, farmers livelihoods and consequently compromises consumers right to choose.

"In an increasingly globalised and competitive world, EuropaBio believes it is important to encourage companies to bring innovative products to market for the benefit of both farmers and consumers. The future competitiveness of Europes agricultural and food processing industries will depend on plant genomics, biotechnology and their smart application."

The association claimed that Europes position in this arena was in danger of declining as a consequence of the political inertia caused by the polarised and increasingly heated debate between opponents and advocates.

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