EMBARGOED: 00:01 hours,17/12/99
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT BANS GM FOOD
The European Parliament has banned genetically modified (GM) food from
all its restaurants and cafeteria, Friends of the Earth Europe revealed today.
The ban, which follows concerns expressed by customers, is a further
blow to the biotech industry which has already seen confidence in the
controversial technology plummet across Europe. Friends of the Earth is now urging
Members of the European Parliament to remember these concerns when they vote
early next year on a new Directive determining how strict the rules are for
planting and importing GM crops.
The ban also highlights differences between the European Parliament and
the European Commission - which doesn't have a ban. During the World Trade
Organisation discussions in Seattle earlier this month, the European
Commission was widely criticised for trying to include biotechnology and GM crops
in the discussions, despite opposition from a number of European Ministers.
And earlier this week (Wednesday 15/12/99) the European Parliament voted
overwhelmingly in favour of a Resolution tabled by its Environment
Committee criticising the Commission's proposal to allow foods containing up to 1%
of GM material to be exempt from compulsory labelling laws.
Gill Lacroix, Biotechnology Coordinator at Friends of the Earth Europe
said: "We are delighted that the European Parliament has banned GM ingredients
from its restaurants. Their decision mirrors the concerns that are being
expressed throughout Europe and beyond about this new technology. Our elected
European politicians must do more to ensure that European consumers can eat food
safe in the knowledge that it is not derived from genetically modified organisms.
The European Commission must also take note, and avoid making decisions that
appear to favour the biotech industry at the expense of European consumers.
Unfortunately its record so far has not been very encouraging".
Friends of the Earth Europe will be launching a new European-wide GMO
campaign in the New Year.
Gill Lacroix: FoE Europe Office, Brussels, T. 32-2-542.0182
Neil Verlander, Press Office FoE London, T. 44-171-566.1649 (24 hours)
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