Greenpeace steps up pressure on Bt maize

NGO claims Novartis evaluation was flawed by "false assumptions, shoddy methodology"

Greenpeace has launched a new attack on an EU-approved type of genetically modified (GM) maize, claiming that the original scientific evaluations submitted by developer Novartis were "inappropriate and scientifically flawed". The group's assessment of the evaluations follows a recent European Court of Justice ruling, relating to the same variety, that EU clearance for GM crops could be overturned if "irregularities" could be shown in the original approval process (ENDS Daily 21 March).

The Greenpeace attack on Novartis' insecticidal "Bt" maize is based on a report commissioned from Swiss consultancy Ecostrat, reviewing evidence Novartis submitted to the French authorities on behalf of other EU countries, leading to EU approval for the Bt "event" in 1997.

The NGO yesterday handed the document to the European Commission and the French government. It said it would also communicate the results to France's Council of State, which is due to rule soon on whether the original approval of the maize was legal. Last month it presented the same information to the US Environmental Protection Agency, claiming that its approval for the same Bt maize event, plus one developed by biotech firm Mycogen, was based on questionable science.

The Ecostrat report claims a wide range of failings in Novartis' evaluations, which it concludes were "designed so poorly that there was virtually no chance to observe any adverse effects". Most of the studies did not simulate insect feeding habits realistically, it says, and ignored food chain interactions. They also used "inadequate methods" derived from chemical toxicity testing.

Follow Up:
Greenpeace International, tel: +31 20 523 6222, and press release. See also the Ecostrat report.

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