February 21, 2007


EU ministers uphold Hungary's right to ban Monsanto's GM corn



European Union environment ministers Tuesday (Feb 20) upheld Hungary's right to ban a genetically modified strain of corn made by Monsanto Co, a European Commission spokeswoman said.


A qualified majority of ministers voted against a commission proposal that would have forced Hungary to repeal its ban of MON810, an insect-resistant corn strain.


This is the third failure by the commission to demand that national governments accept imports and cultivation of biotech crops. Austria has retained its right to block the same strain, and in 2005 a number of countries won the right to unilaterally ban biotech strains. The EU is under increasing pressure from its trade partners to allow imports of genetically modified cereals and goods.


The commission argues there is "no reason to believe" MON810 harms human or animal health or the environment.


Hungary and environmental groups say the strain's effect on the Hungarian countryside has not been sufficiently tested.


"It's a good day for a country's right to choose whether to grow GMOs or not, particularly in regions that have not had a proper risk assessment," said Katharine Mill, spokeswoman in Brussels for environment group Greenpeace.


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