4 April 1997

EU calls for panel

EU farm groups are calling for an independent panel of scientists to approve and monitor genetically modified crops and food products.

EU farm union COPA and co-op group COGECA say such a body is needed ensure EU farmers and consumers have confidence in GMOs.

The new body should assess all possible risks and be given responsibility for approving sales of GM crops on the EU market and post-release monitoring, they say.

An appropriate labelling scheme to provide complete and correct information to farmers and consumers is indispensable. And to ensure that is also achieved for imported products, a global scheme, covering approval, labelling and control of GMOs, is required.

The groups insist that approval for placing GMOs on the EU market must be based on "a comprehensive scientific assessment" over a long enough period to ensure public and animal health, and the environment, are protected. Constant post-release monitoring must also be carried out.

"Such an assessment procedure must also make it possible to ensure that products authorised in other regions of the world present the same guarantees," a statement says.

"The current risk of distortions of competition, which has emerged as a result of the recent authorisation of marketing and processing GMOs from the United States within the EU, is unacceptable and must be avoided in future," it adds.