Spain refuses GM corn ban

LAST UPDATED: 8 Feb, 2008 @ 11:17
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French report warns of possible risks to human health

SPAIN is refusing to ban a GM crop that poses potential dangers to human health.

France has outlawed the production of MON180, after scientists found high levels of toxicity in insects around crops of the genetically modified corn.

And there are fears that cross-pollination between the controversial corn and other crops could pose serious threat to human health.

The strain, which is engineered by company Montesano to produce a poison that kills the European corn borer caterpillar – a pest that destroys thousands of hectares of corn around the world each year, was approved for use in Spain and France in 1998.

The only GM corn to be grown in the European Union (EU), Spanish crops of MON180 account for 70 per cent of the continent’s total.

Environmentalists have welcomed the move and are now calling on the Spanish government to follow suit.

“We are surprised that France, the biggest agricultural state in the EU, has taken this responsible decision while our own government has succumbed to the power of GM companies,” Juan-Felipe Carrasco, head of the Greenpeace anti-GM campaign in Spain, said.

However, a spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture said there are no plans to outlaw MON180 and that sowing of the controversial maize will continue this year.

Spain has tripled its GM corn crop over the last decade, sowing 75,000 hectares in 2007. Aragon is home to the highest concentration of crops with 35,000 hectares, followed by Cataluña with 23,000. Around 592 hectares were planted in Andalucía last year, with Asturias the only region to opt out.

The above figures are estimates based on seed sales from agriculture company Monsanto. However, government officials refuse to pinpoint the exact location of the crops for “security reasons,” despite EU laws that oblige member states to keep public registers on GM fields.

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