Stop the import of GMO foodstuffs

6 September 2006

Stop the import of GMO foodstuffs

Last month traces of a banned strain of genetically modified (GM) rice were discovered in rice shipped from the United States and destined for consumption in the European Union. Last week in the Dutch port of Rotterdam a ship was seized with a cargo of 20,000 tonnes of rice suspected of being contaminated with the banned GM variety. In view of these events, SP Euro-MP Kartika Liotard, who sits on both the agriculture and environment committees of the European Parliament, today asked the European Commission subject the import of GM foodstuffs to fundamental review.

Kartika LiotardThese two incidents were far from isolated. The European Commission has itself declared its lack of confidence in the safety of GM foodstuffs(1). “I want to see a complete account of the EU's position in relation to the import of GM foodstuffs as it was presented to the World Trade Organisation (WTO)," Ms Liotard insisted. "When what's at stake is the safety of food then I feel that the Commission must come clean."

The import of foodstuffs that might contain elements of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) should be subjected to inspection and control in the exporting country. “Meanwhile we know well enough where the greatest risks lie," says Liotard "It seems therefore at the very least rather strange that the rice or maize should already be on the European market before it's subject to inspection for the presence of banned GMOs”.

The traces of the banned GM rice which were detected last month within the European Union originated in all probability in an experimental site not intended for market production, where moreover no GM rice has been cultivated for several years. “This must surely give the European Commission occasion to revise its standpoint as regards the danger of environmental contamination through GMO trials and, as a priority, to take a stricter view. Clearly contamination has been shown to be possible at a great distance and long after a crop has been cultivated.”

(1) See: Hidden Uncertainties, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, April 2006 (PDF)

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