German Biotech Group Slams EU Opt-Out Clause for GMO Crops

Deutsche Industrievereinigung Biotechnologie (DIB), the association of German companies engaged in biotechnology, has criticized plans by some EU member states to opt out of planting the genetically manipulated maize Pioneer 1507, which is expected to be approved imminently by the European Commission.

DIB general manager Ricardo Gent said plans by the Commission to allow the opt-out on socio-economic rather than scientific grounds creates an unwanted precedent.

"It can't be that a positive safety appraisal by the EU and national authorities no longer plays a role," Gent said, adding that, with this approach "the EU is ruining its international reputation as an attractive location for industrial production and research."

On Feb. 17, the French government published a decree to prevent the planting of GMO maize as a stop-gap measure while it drafts a longer-term ban. The decree would take effect following a three-week consultation running up to Mar. 9. Annual sowing of maize normally gets under way in the second half of March.

In a surprise move the same day, the French senate (the upper house of parliament) rejected a proposed law banning GMO maize crops. Because of this, reports said the government would have to introduce the bill in the lower house, the Assemblée Nationale - where it has a majority.

France was one of several EU member states, including Italy, The Netherlands, Austria and Poland, seeking to block approval of Pioneer 1507, a joint development of seed treatment firm Pioneer and chemical giant DuPont.

Germany's abstention in the vote on Feb. 11 paved the way for the Commission to approve the manipulated maize.


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