Greens irked by shelving of GMO law

NICOSIA (Reuters) – Environmental campaigners in Cyprus accused the government of yielding to American influence yesterday by refusing to endorse ground-breaking legislation forcing retailers to segregate GMO food. President Tassos Papadopoulos has referred the law, passed by parliament on June 14, to the Supreme Court, effectively freezing its application until the court convenes to assess its legality. That is not expected to occur before the fall. «The only way the law can be applied immediately is if the president withdraws his petition to the Supreme Court,» Greens Party spokeswoman Ioanna Panayiotou said. The law, a first in an EU member state, obliges retail outlets to position food with a genetically modified content of more than 0.9 percent on separate shelves. The United States, a pioneer of biotechnology, warned Cyprus in 2005 that the move could contravene Cyprus’s obligations as a World Trade Organization member, and harm bilateral ties. «This is being done to meet the demands of Americans. Is our government merely an intermediary of American interests?» the Greens Party said in a statement. Under the present center-left administration it has been rare for the presidency to exercise its right to refer parliamentary legislation to the Supreme Court, Panayiotou said. «Certainly it’s the first time a law concerning food safety is referred to court,» she said. The Supreme Court was expected to issue a judgment on the validity of the law by autumn, she added. Papadopoulos’s referral letter, seen by Reuters, says the procedure for the adoption of the legislation, and elements of the legislation itself, could be an infringement of European Union regulations.

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