THE GREENS / EUROPEAN FREE ALLIANCE IN THE EUROPEAN
Brussels, 10 July, 2001
The United Nations criticised for suggesting that only rich countries
can say no to GM-food.
The Greens/EFA in the European parliament,
today attacked the United Nations Development Programme's 2001 Report
on Human Development, launched today, which suggests that Northern countries
should set aside their fears over GMOs in order to assist developing countries
to exploit the potential of biotech. agriculture.
Speaking on behalf of the Greens/EFA Group,
Caroline Lucas MEP (Greens-UK) said:
"The UN's Development Programme's report appears to assume that the
extreme reluctance of consumers in richer countries to embrace gene food
and gene crops is simply a luxury choice based on irrational or emotional
grounds. The truth is that there are strong human health and ecological
objections to the use of GMOs in human and animal foodstuffs and these
are as equally valid for consumers and the environment in Bangladesh as
they are for Bordeaux or Berlin. By publishing such reports, the UNDP
risks allowing itself to become a vehicle for industry propaganda.
"On health grounds there is research evidence which, at its very
least, demonstrates that we do not know the possible allergic and long-term
side-effects of introducing GMOs into our diet. On ecological grounds,
claims that GM crops reduce pesticide use are being challenged by a growing
number of studies that show the opposite is true. Even on purely agronomic
grounds, many GM crops in trials in fact produce lower and less stable
yields than conventional crops.
"Some developing countries have already started to take action against
GM food. Sri Lanka, for example has notified the World Trade Organisation
that it will ban 21 categories of GM food imports to allow it time to
study health risks associated with GM foods."
Jill Evans MEP (EFA- Wales) added:
"Food shortages are not normally a problem of lack of agricultural
capacity or productivity- they are problems of distorted land use and
weak distribution infrastructures, often made worse by political instability.
The suspicion is that the true interest of the biotech 'gene giants' is
to enable more GM crops for the world market to be grown out of sight
of the more critical GM opponents.
"One of the unfulfilled and empty promises of the biotech. industry
is that GMOs will feed the world as well as cleaning up the environment
and curing the sick. The pro-GMO lobby often cites yellow rice, claiming
it reduces Vitamin A deficiency (VAD). But powerful counter arguments
challenge not only its effectiveness but the very need for it. VAD is
easily treated by a diet chosen from a range of green vitamin-A rich vegetables,
most of which can be grown readily in developing countries."
Klaus Topfer from the UNEP is appearing before the European parliament's
Environment Committee this afternoon, Tuesday, 10th July 2001.
Green/ EFA group in the European Parliament
Tel: Brussels: +32 2 284 1665 Strasbourg: +33 388 17 2936
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