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EU's Fischer Boel wants lowest GMO level in seeds

(Sunday, Oct. 17, 2004 -- CropChoice news) -- Reuters, 10/08/04:
The European Union's incoming farm chief waded into the divisive issue of biotech foods on Wednesday, saying there should be as little genetically modified (GMO) material as possible in batches of conventional seeds.

Setting GMO thresholds for seeds has been a tricky area for the 25-nation bloc, with a proposal from the European Commission bouncing between its various departments for well over a year.

Mariann Fischer Boel, a former agriculture minister in Denmark, told members of the European Parliament that GMO seed thresholds should be set at the lowest possible level. This is also the position favoured by green groups. "On GMOs, I have my own personal views," she said at the hearing that is part of the process to confirm the appointment of the next EU executive, due to take office in November. "My clear view is that (GMO) residues should be as low as possible, taking into account all the interests at stake in setting a limit," she said. "If we want to continue with organic production in the long term, we have to pay attention to that."

The problem with the seeds dossier is due to a disagreement between the EU commissioners representing five policy areas: agriculture, trade, research, environment and food safety. The Commission's deadlock may now be eased, since Greece's Stavros Dimas - the designated environment commissioner - said at his hearing last week that he favoured a "detection level" of 0.1 percent, which is the lowest technically feasible.

Last month, the current Commission broke up in disarray over the latest version of the seeds proposal, meaning that the dossier is now very likely to pass to the next executive.

The proposal that was discussed would have allowed maize and rapeseed, the only two GMO crops authorised, to contain 0.3 percent GMOs before being labelled as biotech.

The seed proposal is seen as the last piece in the EU's complex jigsaw of GMO laws. The aim is to kickstart more approvals of live GMO crops after the EU allowed imports of a GMO maize in May: the formal end of its five-year biotech ban.

Source: http://www.agbios.com/main.php?action=ShowNewsItem&id=5921