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Environment Committee adopts GMO report

The Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Protection of the European Parliament has adopted a major report on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The final vote on the subject on 21 January 1999 was 16 to 0, with 11 abstentions.

The report concerned a pr...
The Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Protection of the European Parliament has adopted a major report on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The final vote on the subject on 21 January 1999 was 16 to 0, with 11 abstentions.

The report concerned a proposal by the European Commission for a new directive to amend existing directive 90/220/EEC on the deliberate release of GMOs into the environment, whether for research purposes or to place them on the market.

The large number of abstentions brought together those who thought the report went too far in the direction of caution - and in that sense might hamper the development of this new technology - and those who thought it did not go far enough - and so might jeopardise public health. However, the rapporteur thought he had got the balance "just right".

Members of the Committee tabled 188 amendments to the proposal. One of those was an obligation on Member States and the Commission to adopt the precautionary principle - "safety first" - to avoid adverse effect on human health or the environment from the deliberate release of GMOs. Another amendment excludes human beings from the definition of organisms, which can be genetically modified.

The issue of GMOs was earlier discussed during a Council of Ministers meeting in December. It was then agreed to accelerate the process for strengthening and harmonising national legislation governing the release of GMOs into the environment.

The European Parliament will give the measure a first reading at its session between 8 and 12 February in Strasbourg.
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