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KEYCODE BAYER #201

FRIENDS OF THE EARTH EUROPE, 26th July 2005

NEW SET-BACK FOR GMO CROPS IN EUROPE

Bayer withdraws GMO oilseed rape

The German biotech giant Bayer has withdrawn its applications to grow genetically modified (GM) oilseed rape in the European Union, Friends of the Earth revealed today. The move comes as public calls for GM-free zones spreads across Europe and follows a series of research findings which have uncovered environmental damage resulting from the GM crop being grown.

Bayer is the only biotech company to have applied for permission to grow GM oilseed rape commercially in Europe, but it was revealed this week that their applications have been withdrawn 1.

Earlier this year, results from the world's biggest environmental trials confirmed that growing GM oilseed rape, which has been modified to make it resistant to a weed killer, reduced the level of wildlife in the field 2. New research by the UK Government, revealed yesterday, showed that the GM crop had also crossed with wild plants to produce herbicide-resistant 'superweeds' in the UK 3.

While pressure to grow and import GM crops in Europe has grown, so has resistance from local authorities and communities. There are now GM-free initiatives virtually in every European country; 164 European regions and over 4500 local governments and smaller areas have declared themselves GM free or want to restrict commercial growing of GM crops 4. Last month European countries voted to allow France and Greece to maintain their national bans on the import and cultivation of GM oilseed rape 5.

Friends of the Earth Europe's GM Campaigner, Adrian Bebb said: "Bayer's decision to withdraw its oilseed rape is a major step forward to protecting Europe from genetically modified crops. If this oilseed rape was grown commercially in Europe it would have been a disaster for consumers, farmers and wildlife. It is now time to move forward and for Europe to support the type of farming and food production that people want and trust."

Notes:
1 Bayer's about turn on GM oilseed rape was revealed in correspondence from the UK Department of the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and confirmed by the German authorities handling the applications. Received in an email from DEFRA, 25 July 2005. "On our DEFRA web site we say that these applications are pending transfer from a 90/220 and 2001/18 application to a 1829/2003 food and feed application. Our understanding is that the applications have actually been withdrawn by Bayer."
2 www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/
gm_crop_trial_blow_to_biot_21032005.html (March 2005)
3 www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/
government_study_finds_uks_25072005.html
4 www.gmofree-europe.org
5 www.foeeurope.org/press/2005/AB_24_June_vote.htm