Contact l Sitemap

home industries issues reasearch weblog press

Home  » Industries » Food and Agriculture

EUROPE: Europe to Allow Two Bans on Genetically Altered Crops

by James KanterNew York Times
March 2nd, 2009

European Union governments delivered a blow Monday to the biotechnology industry, allowing Austria and Hungary to maintain national bans on growing genetically modified crops from Monsanto.

The vote, taken by European environment ministers, could irritate Washington, which has complained to the World Trade Organization about obstacles to planting bioengineered crops.

The vote was also a setback for the European Commission, the union’s executive arm. The commission has sought to ease the restrictions in Europe on gene-altered crops, in part to keep down the cost of animal feed.

Member countries were “firm” and the “commission should take a close reading of the result,” the French environment minister, Jean-Louis Borloo, said after the announcement in Brussels, according to Bloomberg News.

The market for genetically engineered crops is worth several billion dollars worldwide. Only one genetically altered crop is currently grown in Europe: a form of corn, called MON 810, produced by Monsanto and other companies.

In 2003, Argentina, Canada and the United States brought complaints about Europe’s biotechnology policies to the W.T.O., which ruled in 2006 that a de facto ban on imports of genetically modified foods from 1984 to 2004 violated trade rules.

Since that ruling, the commission has required Austria to drop its ban on imports of genetically modified foods. But some other countries have maintained bans on imports and cultivation of such crops.

“The risk has increased this morning that attention now will be thrown back to the W.T.O.,” said Willy De Greef, the secretary general of Europabio, a biotechnology industry organization in Brussels.

The United States Mission to the European Union had no immediate comment. Officials at offices of the United States trade representative could not be reached.

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.