Brussels, 14 Oct 2004
Subject: Initiatives to ensure the co-existence of GMO crops and other crops, including the setting up of a European Task Force
Seventeen (17) genetically modified maize hybrids have been recently accepted for inclusion in the Common Catalogue of varieties. Therefore the free movement of their seeds in the internal market is permitted while, as it is well known, the necessary framework of measures concerning the issue of coexistence of GM farming with conventional and organic farming has not yet been adopted.
It should be reminded to the Council that the inclusion of these maize hybrids into the Common Catalogue had been avoided for a while, after a relevant discussion on this issue at the Council in December 2002, which led to the Commission Recommendation 556/2003/EC of 23-7-2003, according to which the Member States should take measures for the coexistence of the various types of cultivation, on the basis of the guidelines referred to in this recommendation.
From what it is known, the framework concerning the measures for the coexistence of the various types of crops has not been established yet, either in Greece or in the majority of the Member States.
Particularly in Greece, the establishment of such measures is not an easy task. However, the Greek authorities are making all efforts necessary in order to overcome the difficulties, which are due mainly to the following reasons:
1. The high degree of distribution of arable land as well as the comparatively small size, in connection with the cultivation of a large number of plant species.
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Poland fully supports Denmark's view that the inclusion of 17 genetically modified varieties of maize in the Common Catalogue of Varieties in September this year (which means that they can be grown within the EU area) should not have taken place before the publication of the Commission's report on individual Member States' rules governing co-existence. In view of the lack of binding EU regulations on co-existence (the co-existence of genetically modified, conventional, and organic crops), Poland consistently expresses, in the forum of working groups, its negative opinion on the notifications for placing on the market genetically modified varieties for cultivation.
According to Commission Recommendation No. 2003/556/EC , each Member State may develop regulations governing co-existence. Developing and implementing the necessary regulations is being hindered by the fact that no agreement has been reached so far on the limit values of GMOs in seed the exceeding of which necessitates labelling the whole batch as containing genetically modified material. Work on the Commission's proposal has been suspended at the end of last year.
Poland shares Denmark's view that the Commission should take a position on the current limit value for labelling GMOs in seed as soon as possible.
Poland has welcomed Denmark's proposal to set up a Task Force to address the issue of co- existence and enable the Member States to share their experiences.
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