Playing safe

Published: Thursday 15 March 2001

new rules to test and monitor the safety of genetically modified organisms (gmos) were approved by the European parliament on February 14, 2001. The rules include provisions like granting a 10-year permit for gm crops to be grown and labelling of foodstuff. The legislation updates a 1990 law on gmo s that politicians and industry opined was not good enough. The new rules also pave the way for a possible lifting of an informal ban, imposed two years ago, on approving production of new gmos by any of the European parliament members.

"We now have the toughest gm legislation in the world," claimed David Bowe of the European parliament. But environmentalists feel that the new rules are not stringent enough to protect public health and the environment. "Farmers still face the consequences of gmo pollution but the biotech industry escapes without any strict liability," said Gill Lacroix of Friends of the Earth, an environmental pressure group.

Meanwhile, a German research and monitoring programme to determine the environmental impact and potential risks of genetically modified (gm) crops has been cancelled by Gerhard Schrder, Germany's chancellor.

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