Commission rejects allegations of deliberate GM report delays

May 23, 2002

Brussels, 22 May 2002

The European Commission has rejected allegations from environmental campaigners Greenpeace that it was holding back publication of a new report on GMO (genetically modified organism) contamination because it showed GM infiltration of conventional crops could be costly and difficult to avoid.

The report, produced by the Joint Research Centre's Institute for Technological Studies for the Commission's Agriculture DG, has just been officially released, although it was compiled in January.

Greenpeace says the report was not been released earlier due to the nature of its contents. Greenpeace policy advisor Lorenzo Consoli is reported as saying: 'The Commission has tried to keep this study secret because it was afraid of its political implications.'

The report found that the one per cent limit on GM content in traditional crops required under EU rules will be extremely difficult to meet. Even with significant changes in farming practice, the cultivation of GM and non-GM crops will be unrealistic even on large farms, states the report.

It predicts that to comply with a one or three per cent maximum threshold of GMOs, the costs of changes to farming practice and the introduction of insurance and monitoring systems would add between one and 10 per cent to current production prices. For some crops, including oil seed rape, the costs could be as high as 41 per cent.

'The question is, if the introduction of commercial crops on a commercial scale in Europe increases the costs of production for all farmers, makes them more dependent on the big seed companies, and require complicated and costly measures to avoid contamination, why should we accept GMO cultivation in the first place?' said Mr Consoli.

But a spokeswoman for DG Agriculture strongly refuted the group's claims. 'There is nothing secret about it at all,' she said. She explained that the version of the report mentioned in the Greenpeace press release on the issue was a draft that had yet to be passed to the Health and Consumer Protection and Agriculture DGs for their comments. 'This is the normal procedure,' she stated.

Now that all the relevant feedback has been obtained, the report has been made available (at the site below).

The spokeswoman also emphasised that the study is a computer model designed to predict future scenarios, rather than field research.

Copies of the report can be found at the following web address:

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001

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