05 June 1998
Zeneca says EU harmed GMOs
By Jonathan Riley
AGROCHEMICAL company Zeneca has blamed the negative image of genetically modified organisms on indecision and a lack of leadership at EU level.
Giving evidence to the House of Lords select committee inquiry into the EU Commission regulation of genetic modification, Zenecas Nigel Foulkes said biotechnology offered distinct benefits in terms of productivity and product quality.
But failure by the EU to agree on a regulatory process and labelling had affected research and consumer attitudes.
Dr Foulkes said that although it had been obvious that regulations would be needed, discussions on GMOs, which started in 1990, had still not produced clear guidelines for the public or researchers.
He also blamed the effect of political compromise among EU members for diluting the scientific base for research which – coupled with greater transparency during the process – should have been used to allay consumer concerns over health.
But environmental campaigners Greenpeace told the committee that nothing less than a ban on GMOs would safeguard public health.
The group warned that biotechnology held unknown risks and said the commission regulatory process was failing to ask fundamental questions about GMOs, such as the need for them in the first place and whether consumers wanted modified products.
For this and other stories, see Farmers Weekly, 5-11 June, 1998