22 May 1998

GMOweapon not on

IT is neither realistic nor rational to use "the GMO weapon" to keep American maize out of the EU market, the head of the ECs arable crops division told a SW NFU conference in Exeter, Devon, this week.

Responding to questions, Lars Hoelgaard said "We could use the GMO weapon for a while. But if GMOs are subjected to a scientific scrutiny as good as we can make it, and it comes out with a clean bill of health, then we cannot keep them out." In any case he believed keeping out GMOs was handing them a competitive advantage.

But he did feel consumers were entitled to expect foods labelled so that they could choose not to buy foods containing GMO-derived ingredients. Then if consumers insisted on it there would be opportunity to produce GMO-free products. "I dont think it is a big market but it is there", he said.

Mr Hoelgard said.

The "national envelopes" proposed in Agenda 2000 – lump sums which member states would be allowed to allocate how they thought fit – would definitely have to be spent on some sector of farming, according to Lars Hoelgaard, head of the ECs crops directorate. Replying to questions at the SW NFUs arable conference in Exeter, Devon, this week he said: "The national envelope belongs to the farms not to the governments. It can be redistributed between different sectors, say from intensive to more extensive farms." The leader of the Danish farmers union was in favour of national envelopes concept because it enabled local adjustments to be made, he added.