German chemical group urges EU to rethink stance on gene plants

24 February 2010 18:02  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS news)--Germany’s chemical industry wants the EU to “fundamentally rethink” its approach to genetically modified plants and to quickly resume permitting their cultivation, a trade group said on Wednesday.

Otherwise, the 27-member EU could be cut off from an important high-growth sector, said Frankfurt-based chemical producers group VCI.

Since 1998, the EU has not permitted the growing of new genetically modified plants. Within the EU Council, decision making had stalled, with neither proponents nor opponents of the technology having a majority, the group said.

It was now up the new EU Commission under Jose Manuel Barroso to put an end what had become a “12-year blockade” on genetically modified plants, VCI said.

Gene technologies offered increased and improved crops, they played a role in opening up biomass as a feedstock for biofuels production and they were important in developing new pharmaceuticals, said BASF board member Stefan Marcinowski, who heads VCI’s biotechnology portfolio.

Marcinowski said that modified plants had been under intense scrutiny for years, but there was no scientific basis for safety or health concerns.

“For many years, scientific facts and global experience in cultivation have shown that these plants are as safe as conventionally grown plants…there are hardly any other products that have been examined with such thoroughness,” he said.

He called on the EU to apply strict scientific standards towards permitting genetically modified plants. Once scientific assessment found a product safe, it should be immediately permitted, he said.

In related news on Wednesday, Swiss chemicals and pharmaceuticals trade group SGCI called on that country to end a moratorium on the cultivation of genetically modified plants in the agricultural sector.

The moratorium was not necessary, the group said, adding that it stigmatised a globally successful technologyat the expense of Switzerland’s global role in research and development.

Switzerland’s current five-year moratorium is due to expire in November, but legislators have proposed a three-year extension.

Check out Doris de Guzman’ Green Chemicals Blog for views on sustainability issues
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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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