12 April 2000
Liability threat to biotech companies

By FWi staff

BIOTECH companies could be made liable for any environmental damage caused by GM crops in a European Parliament vote today.

Two amendments to proposed EU law on biotechnology would require member states to prevent “genetic pollution” and to ban the antibiotic resistance marker genes used in some GM products.

However, EU environment commissioner Margot Wallström, speaking to the Assembly on Tuesday (11 April), criticised the two amendments.

The Financial Times believes this will come as a disappointment to consumer groups, who earlier this week called for the amendments to be adopted.

The issue of liability for environmental contamination caused by the new organisms has already been dealt with in legislation, said Ms Wallström:

“I can assure you that I will do my utmost to be able to present this new legislation before the end of next year.”

She called for case-by-case risk analysis, and said the same approach should be used when tackling the issue of potential gene transfer.

Intervention by the Commission will be welcomed by European biotech companies, who claim specific liability would increase insurance costs, reports the Financial Times.

  • Financial Times, 12/04/00, page 14