NatureFirst USA

EU-Wide Application to Grow Bayer´s GMO Oilseed Rape Rejected on Environmental Grounds

Coalition Agaisnt Dayer Danger
February 2, 2004

Environmental groups today welcomed the decision of the Belgian Government
to reject an application to grow genetically modified (GM) oilseed rape.

The EU-wide application from Bayer CropScience was
rejected after research showed that it would damage the environment.
Belgian experts concluded that growing this GM oilseed rape would have negative
impacts on biodiversity that could not be brought under control, and that
guidelines for farmers to prevent contamination of non-GM crops are unworkable
and difficult to monitor. Their advice followed the largest GM field scale
trials to date (in the UK), which concluded that growing GM oilseed rape would
be worse for wildlife than growing the conventional crop (1). Other UK studies
have also shown that insects can carry the pollen of oilseed rape over many
kilometres (2). Such research underlines how immensely difficult, if not
impossible, it would be to contain the cultivation of GM oilseed rape and
protect non-genetically engineered farming.

German-based Bayer CropScience had applied through Belgium for a Europe-wide
licence to grow the GM oilseed rape. The Belgian Government could only have
forwarded it to other member states for a joint decision if it had met European
laws to protect the environment. Two other applications for a similar crop, also
by Bayer, are being processed by Germany. Karen Simal, GMO campaigner for
Greenpeace Belgium said "This is a slap in the face of the biotech industry and
a victory for the environment. The Belgian Government has acknowledged that
growing GM oilseed rape is harmful to the environment. Governments should refuse
to even examine other applications for GM crop cultivation, because it would
harm our environment, make organic and non-GM farming impossible, and because we
still lack EU rules making the GMO industry liable for the damages."

While welcoming the Belgian government's refusal to allow cultivation, both
environmental organisations deplore the fact that, at the same time, the Belgian
Government approved the crop for import and processing in Europe. This part of
the application will now be forwarded to other EU member states.

Adrian Bebb, GMO campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "GM oilseed
rape will harm the environment and contaminate non-GM agriculture, whether it is
grown in the EU or elsewhere in the world. It is inconsistent to ban the
cultivation yet allow it for import. Protecting the environment by rejecting
GMOs should be the first responsibility of every Government." Karen Simal
continued: "Consumers are to some extent protected from GMOs as many food
manufacturers refuse to allow GMOs in their products, but allowing such
ingredients on the market places an extra burden on them. Although most
consumers have made it clear they don't want GMOs in their food, they will need
to keep on actively rejecting such products."

The largest trials to date of oilseed rape were recently conducted in the UK and
concluded that growing GM oilseed rape would be worse for the environment.
Independent scientists found that bees and butterflies were less abundant in the
GM crops than in non-GM crops due to a lack of weeds and wild plants. There were
also substantially less weed seeds present in the GM crops. Weed seeds are an
important source of food for small mammals and birds, particularly during winter.
source: Katharine Mill, Greenpeace European Unit Media Officer



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