First GM crop life-cycle analysis reported

Assessment finds organic production leads, no differences between conventional, GM crops

Austria's environment agency today presented a life-cycle analysis (LCA) comparing two genetically modified (GM) crop strains with similar varieties farmed organically or using conventional methods, claiming this marked the first such environmental assessment.

Speaking at a seminar in Vienna, the agency's Helmut Gaugitsch said that provisional results showed that organic farming came out best in terms of overall environmental implications. Mr Gaugitsch added that "in general we can say that there is little difference between GM products and those produced conventionally from the LCA-point of view". The GM crop varieties under test were a Novartis maize and an Aventis oilseed rape.

The agency cautions, however, that much data needed for a comprehensive assessment is still missing, stressing that, for GM crops in particular, "there exist a lot of ecological risks or factors that are unknown". "We evaluated what can be evaluated so far," Mr Gaugitsch said today. Key factors include impacts on nature and consumption of energy and pesticides.

Follow Up:
Austrian environment agency, tel: +43 1 313 040.

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