|Vol.7, No.3, 18.1.01, p7
ITALY is mounting a last-ditch bid to block proposals which environmentalists fear could allow grapevine producers to escape the EU's unofficial moratorium on genetically-modified organisms.
Agriculture ministers are set to approve measures to update the rules for the marketing of vines, including GM plants, when they meet on 29 January. But Rome has hastily set up a panel of scientists to report to the Council of Ministers and European Commission before that date on the dangers of genetic modification.
"We don't want mad wine as well as mad cows," Italian agriculture minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio told a recent parliamentary conference on GMOs.
The directive is part of the Commission's drive to tailor regulations to specific products. Under current legislation, a GM-vine producer would require approval twice under separate rules for vines and GM products. But the latter procedure is currently stalled as governments refuse to support any new applications.
Although the new directive removes none of the legal obstacles to marketing GM vines, environmentalists fear it could pave the way for the approval of applications. "If you have GM dossiers popping up in every second committee, a few applications would go through," said Dan Leskien, GMO advisor to the Greens.
Italy is spearheading an anti-GM coalition of wine producers' and consumers' organisations and says it plans to demand a rethink on the vines directive, based on the findings of the panel set up by its agriculture ministry.
Scanio said Italy had twice acted to block adoption of the measure and would do so again. But diplomats say the new directive has already won a qualified majority in committee and is set to be approved at the end of the month.
Italy is mounting a last-ditch bid to block proposals which environmentalists fear could allow grapevine producers to escape the EU's unofficial moratorium on genetically-modified organisms.
|Business and Industry