Italian biotech firms oppose GM maize ban

Association claims laboratory tests prove "substantial equivalence" with non-GM varieties

Italian biotechnology firms have complained to the European Commission over the government's recent ban on four types of genetically modified (GM) maize (ENDS Daily 7 August). In a petition sent to Brussels last week, national trade association Assobiotech said that there were no grounds for prohibition because the four products were "substantially equivalent" to normal maize.

The Assobiotech petition is based on a statement made earlier this summer by Italy's Higher Institute of Health (ISS), revising its earlier position that the GM varieties were not substantially equivalent to non modified ones. New laboratory analyses were behind the altered conclusion, the institute said.

Italian agriculture minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio and EU affairs minister Gianni Mattioli both criticised Assobiotech's renewed push for re-legalisation of the maize varieties, all of which have EU-wide marketing approval. Ivan Verga of environmental group Greens Environment and Society said: "The Assobiotech petition is a total own-goal, which makes it and the ISS cut a poor figure in the EU."

Follow Up:
Greens Environment and Society, tel: +39 06 360 8181.

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