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MEPs debate GMO research

In a debate on the proposed regulation of transboundary movement of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), members of the European Parliament's environment committee gave their views on GMO research. Opening the debate, Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström stated that th...

In a debate on the proposed regulation of transboundary movement of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), members of the European Parliament's environment committee gave their views on GMO research. Opening the debate, Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström stated that the EU had a duty to introduce measures aimed at protecting human health in developing countries, and should provide a framework for international trade in GMOs. On the issue of research into GMOs, MEPs broadly accepted the need for further study, with some pushing for increased EU funding for new programmes. Germany's Renate Sommer was cautious. She understood the need for controls on testing, but warned that an overly restrictive approach would 'lead to scientists leaving Europe and carrying out their activities elsewhere.' The Belgian MEP Dirk Sterckx went further by advocating measures to facilitate further research. He said that 'research should be encouraged with few obstacles put in place', and warned of the effects of unnecessary layers of bureaucracy. John Purvis, MEP for Scotland, echoed these views. He highlighted the importance of the biotechnology industry, and stated that 'If the EU was to fulfil the Lisbon goal of becoming the most dynamic economy in the world, then research programmes into areas such as the development of GMOs needed to be backed.' Responding to the debate, Commissioner Wallström appeared to take a more precautionary line, remarking that 'the benefits of new biotechnology should always be balanced with the aim of preserving and enriching bio-diversity and human health.'

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