Just two weeks ago, the EU environmental ministers postponed their decision on the cultivation of BASF's GM starch potato Amflora. Instead the decision has now been put on the agenda of the agricultural ministers this coming Monday. It appears that the EU Commission is determined to get this GM potato approved, and also to get the first cultivation approval since 1998 and the moratorium.

[img_assist|nid=108|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=150|height=65]The application for Amflora went unnoticed for some time, and as usual the EFSA gave a positive opinion even though Amflora contains the antibiotic resistance gene nptII against kanamycin, neomycin and a number of other antibiotic. In December 2006, the Standing Committee did not get a qualified majority in favour or against it, and the application was passed on to the environmental ministers.
However before it came to that, the possibility that the antibiotic resistance trait could be spread to soil bacteria raised concerns within the EU authorities, and DG Environment blocked the further authorisation until EMEA, the European Medicines Agency, would give an opinion on the use of this antibiotic resistance gene.

The WHO has listed kanamycin as an reserve antibiotic against multiple-resistant tuberculosis. The EMEA came to the that the antibiotics against which the nptII gene provides resistance are much more often used than the EFSA assumed.
But while EFSA acknowledges that horizontal gene transfer can occur, but it simply keeps on stating that it wouldn't happen often enough to be a problem, and that there already are soil bacteria resistant to these antibiotics. So Amflora was back on the agenda of the environmental ministers at the end of June, who in turn decided to postpone a decision until they would have more information.

[img_assist|nid=19|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=150|height=65]Geen twee maanden nadat Greenpeace illegale contaminatie van maïs pellets in de haven van Rotterdam ontdekte, heeft de EU Commissie nu geprobeerd het probleem op te lossen, door de maïs Herculex RW (59122) als veevoer en voedingsmiddel toe te laten. De verantwoordelijke commissie ging er maandag niet mee akkoord.

In april is illegale contaminatie in maïs uit de VS in de havens van Rotterdam en Dublin gevonden: maïs voor veevoer was besmet met de gentech maïs Herculex RW (DAS-59122), die in de EU niet toegelaten is. Contaminatie met deze maïs is dus verboden - onafhankelijk ervan hoe groot deze contaminatie is.

Verrassend snel heeft nu de EU Commissie geprobeerd het probleem op te lossen: op maandag 25 Juni, geen 2 maanden nadat de Herculex RW ontdekt was, stelde de EU Commissie aan het verantwoordelijke comité (Permanent Comité voor de Voedselketen en de Diergezondheid) voor, deze maïs voor de import als veevoer en voedsel toe te laten. De aanvraag voor de import van Herculex RW als veevoer was, zo als aanvragen voor andere gentech-gewassen ook, al langer ingediend, maar dat de EU Commissie Herculex RW juist nu op de agenda zette, lijkt toch voor al met de aktuelle ontdekkingen te maken hebben. Als de import van Herculex RW toegestaan zoude zijn, dan zou contaminatie alleen nog een vraag van etikettering zijn en gecontamineerde maïs zou niet meer naar de VS teruggestuurd of vernietigd hoeven te worden.

[img_assist|nid=19|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=150|height=65]Only less than two months after Greenpeace had detected illegal contamination of maize pellets in the harbour of Rotterdam, the EU commission tried to solve the problem by approving the maize Herculex RW (59122) as feed and food. The Standing Committee however did not agree with that on Monday.

In April, illegal contamination was detected in US maize in the harbours of Rotterdam and Dubin: maize feed was contaminated with the GM maize Herculex RW (DAS-59122) that is not approved in the EU. Contamination with this maize is therefore forbidden - no matter how big that contamination is.

The EU Commission then surprisingly fast tried to solve the problem: On monday 25 June, less then two months after Herculex RW was detected, the EU commission asked the Standing Committee for Foodchain and Animal Safety to approve of the import of this maize as food and feed. Just for a number of other GM crops, the application for Herculex RW EU import as feed had already been handed in a while ago, but the fact that the EU Commission decided to put Herculex RW on the agenda at this moment seem to be related to the latest findings. If the import of Herculex RW would be allowed, then contamination would only be a question of labelling and contaminated maize shipments would not anymore be send back to the US or destroyed by EU authorities.

[img_assist|nid=141|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=99|height=43]Only less than two months after Greenpeace had detected illegal contamination of maize pellets in the harbour of Rotterdam, the EU commission tried to solve the problem by approving the maize Herculex RW (59122) as feed and food. The Standing Committee however did not agree with that on Monday.

[img_assist|nid=174|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=100|height=43]Im folgenden Report werden einige mögliche Auswirkungen des Bt-Maises auf die Umwelt dargestellt. Selbst nach mehr als 10 Jahren kommerziellen Anbaus von Bt-Mais gibt es nur wenige Studien zur Risikoabschätzung. Zugleich werfen die meisten dieser Studien mehr neue Fragen auf, als sie beantworten.

A. Lorch & Ch. Then, Greenpeace, June 2007.

[img_assist|nid=174|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=100|height=43]The report presented here shows the many ways Bt maize impacts the environment. Even after more then a decade of commercial growing of Bt maize crops, the risk assessment studies are still few and most of them tend to raise more open questions than solving concerns.

A. Lorch & Ch. Then, Greenpeace, June 2007.

[img_assist|nid=75|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=150|height=65]In Duitsland heeft de overheid de verkoop van Monsanto's gentechmaïs MON810 gestopt, tot Monsanto een nieuwe plan voor de monitoring van effecten op het milieu voorlegt. Reden voor deze eis zijn nieuwe wetenschappelijke inzichten, dat MON810 grotere negatieve effecten op het milieu heeft dan tot nu toe verwacht.
Omdat de nieuwe regeling pas kort na het zaaien van het maïszaad bekend gemaakt werd, zal de teelt van MON810-maïs er dit jaar niet meer door getroffen zijn. Desondanks is deze beslissing van groot belang voor de verdere beoordeling van MON810 in de EU.

De gentech-maïs MON810 van Monsanto was al in 1998 voor commerciële landbouw in de EU toegelaten, maar wordt sinds 2003 in Spanje, en pas 2006 ook in sommige andere landen geteeld; vooral in Duitsland, waar het toelaten van MON810-soorten einde 2005 een van de eerste taken van de nieuwe regering was.

Volgens de Duitse Dienst voor Consumentenbescherming en Levensmiddelveiligheid laat nieuw wetenschappelijk onderzoek zien, in welke mate het Bt-gif van MON810 in de voedselketen van dieren terecht komt, en dat het nu bewezen is, dat ook andere dieren (zogenaamde niet-doelorganismen) zoals roof-insecten op hogere niveaus van de voedselketen aan het gif blootgesteld zijn.

Op dit moment vraagt Monsanto aan boeren, enquêtes in te vullen over algemene informatie over hun MON810 teelt en andere landbouw-parameters, maar volgens de dienst zijn deze enquêtes niet voldoende om de nodige en statisch verwerkbare informatie over effecten op het milieu en vooral over niet-doelorganismen te verzamelen.

De overheid vraagt daarom aan Monsanto een monitoring plan te ontwikkelen dat met de volgende punten rekening houdt:
a) verspreiding van kiembare maïs-korrels in het milieu,
b) verspreiding van het Bt-gif in het milieu,
c) verblijf van het Bt-gif in de bodem en effecten op bodemdieren,

[img_assist|nid=75|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=150|height=65]German authorities stopped the sales of Monsanto's GM maize MON810 till Monsanto submits a new monitoring plan for environmental effects because of new scientific knowledge that MON810 has bigger adverse effects on the environment then expected.
However, because the decision was only taken shortly after the maize sowings, the cultivation of MON810 maize will probably not affected this year. Nevertheless, the decision is important for the further assessment of MON810 in the EU.

Monsanto's GM maize was already approved for cultivation in the EU in 1998, but was only grown since 2003 in Spain and since 2006 in some other EU countries, mainly German. Here, adding MON810 varieties to the national seed list at the end of 2005 was one of the first acts of the new government.

Accodring to the German Authority for Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) new scientific research shows to which degree the Bt toxin of MON810 can get into the food chain, and that it is now proven that also non-target organisms such as predatory insects on higher levels of the food net can be subject to the Bt toxin.

At the moment, Monsanto just asks farmers to fill in surveys with general information about their MON810 cultivation and other agricultural parameters, but according to the German authority these surveys are not sufficient to collect information for statistical evaluation about effects on the environment and especially on non-target organisms.

the authorities therefore requested that Monsanto would develop a monitoring plan that takes the following issues into account:
a) exposition of germinable maize seeds in the environment (harvest, transport and processing losses),
b) exposition of the Bt toxin in the environment (for example through pollen, silage, plant residues in the soil),
c) fate of Bt toxin in the soil of fields; effects on soil organisms and soil functions,

[img_assist|nid=107|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=99|height=43]German authorities stopped the sales of Monsanto's GM maize MON810 till Monsanto submits a new monitoring plan for environmental effects because of new scientific knowledge that MON810 has bigger adverse effects on the environment then expected.

[img_assist|nid=107|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=100|height=43]In the growing season 2006, Greenpeace sampled leaves from commercially cultivated MON810 in Germany and Spain and found that Bt contents were very variable and often very low, but also that even 10 years into the cultivation of Bt crops, there is no standardised method to determine Bt contents. The results are published in this report.

A. Lorch & Ch. Then. Greenpeace Germany report, May 2007.

Pages

Subscribe to