Belgium, September 11, 2003 -- CropChoice news -- Reuters:
If the European Union opens its market to two new genetically
modified (GMO) maize varieties, American farmers will
grow the crops on a massive scale, a United States biotech
analyst said Tuesday.
The European Commission says it could be asking member
states to drop their five-year de facto ban on most
GMO crops and food products by the beginning of 2004
as tough rules ensuring the safety of biotech products
will then be in place.
EU officials have indicated that member states could
vote first on allowing imports of two new types of GMO
maize for use in food production, though a formal agenda
has yet to be set.
They said the BT11 sweet corn produced by Swiss firm
Syngenta AG and U.S.-based Monsanto Round-up Ready maize
GA21 could be the test-case food products to get EU
At the moment, only U.S. farmers supplying the domestic
American market grow varieties of biotech maize banned
from sale and import in the 15-nation European bloc.
Leonard Gianessi, senior research associate at the
National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy, a
Washington-based private research organization, said
a positive EU decision would spur the biotechnology
"We would expect to see an increase of 50-60 percent
in the number of acres of biotech maize under cultivation,"
he told reporters after a news conference in Brussels,
adding that it would not happen overnight.
American farmers say they lose $300 million a year
in lost exports of mostly maize because of the EU stance.
The pro-biotech United States is challenging the ban
in the World Trade Organization, arguing that the EU
is acting illegally.
Green groups and GMO-sceptical member states say the
EU is responding to the demands of consumers who do
not want to buy GMO food products and also fear the
large-scale cultivation of GMO crops could harm the