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Contaminated Cotton Pushes Greek Call for GMO-Free Zones

(13 July - Cropchoice News) -- If you'd heard that the French weren't too fond of biotech, consider the latest news from Greece, whose large cotton industry has been threatened by seed stocks contaminated with biotech (see Cropchoice 7/5). Other European companies have threatened to boycott Greek cotton because of the contamination. Greek officials have been shaken into action by the controversy, and are taking an anti-GMO stance. They are now planning to push the European Union to tighten its anti-GMO rules and to endorse the declaration of "GMO-free Zones" in Europe.

The Greek displeasure with biotech seed companies began this spring when agriculture officials discovered that a significant part of the 10,000 tons of cotton seed planted this year was illegally tainted with GMOs. An early round of of GMO testing concluded that about 275 tons (2.75% percent) of Greek seed had GMO problems. Recently officials told Reuters the percentage may rise. Problems in testing methodology have delayed the annoucement of final results and public identification of the traits and companies involved.

Greece thinks holes in Europe's legislation are partially to blame for its cotton mess, and will point to similar, but smaller, problems that have occured with canola and corn in other European countries. The Greek anti-GMO charge may find support. "GMO-free zones" are being promoted in Italy and France has just taken leadership of the European Union, which has a rotating presidency.

SOURCE: Executive News Service, Reuters, Greenpeace-Greece