EC reverses Greek ban on GMOs

Farmers and environmentalists urged the government yesterday to contest a decision by the European Commission, which overruled Greece’s ban on the use of a type of genetically modified corn seed developed by US biotech company Monsanto. In a ruling made public yesterday, Brussels said that Greece’s ban on MON810 seed types was not warranted on health or safety grounds following its approval for sale throughout the EU in September 2004. The General Confederation of Greek Agrarian Associations (GESASE) and Greenpeace called on the government to appeal the Commission’s decision at the European Court of Justice. «The time has come for the leadership of the Agricultural Development Ministry to prove its stance against the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our country,» said Myrto Pispini from the Greek branch of the environmental organization Greenpeace. «The protection of farmers’ incomes, the natural environment and public health demands the prohibition of the release of GMOs into the environment.» These views were echoed by the farmers’ union GESASE. «Greek farmers will fight with all their power to overturn a decision that blights the trust of consumers in Greek farming, hurts farmers and damages the competitiveness of Greek agriculture,» GESASE said in a letter to the government. The US-based biotech giant Monsanto Company produces the genetically modified corn seeds for animal feed. The seeds have been altered to provide resistance to insects. Greece said in April that it would ban the MON810 seeds, despite the Commission’s decision to approve them. However, Athens has since been unable to find enough support among the 25 EU member states and Union rules allow the Commission to overturn the ban. «It is time the European Commission supported these bans instead of supporting the biotech industry,» said Adrian Bebb of environmentalist group Friends of the Earth. As of yesterday evening, the government had not commented on the Commission’s ruling.

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