EU leaders convene for "secret" meetings on GM adoption

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					  Briefs                                                                           inform November 2008, Vol. 19 (11)             745

  In mid-October, the African Press
  Agency reported that more than
  40 nongovernmental organizations
                                           Biotechnology news
  (NGOs) took par t in protests
  against the Nairobi government’s
  move toward the use of geneti-
  cally modified organisms (GMOs).
  The protests, which also included
  consumer and community groups,
  came in response to the agricul-
  ture minister, William Ruto, unveil-
  ing a GMO bill in parliament that
  would bring GM technology to
  the country. The agency reported
  that Paul Mutuku, spokesperson
  for the Kenya Biodiversity Coali-
  tion, said its opposition to GMOs
  came because “it has been prov-
  en that GMOs are harmful to hu-
  man health.” The government has
  moved toward use of GMOs in or-
  der to combat food shortages in
  that country.
                    nnn
  In early October, it was report-
  ed that Michigan State Universi-
  ty (MSU: East Lansing, USA) sci-
  entists had made a discovery that
  could allow plant breeders to cre-
  ate new varieties of crops that          Eu leaders convene                             reports have cited growing opposition to
                                                                                          GMO (GM organisms) in Spain and Por-
  flourish in warmer, drier climates.
  The MSU researchers found that           for “secret” meetings                          tugal. Trials of GM crops in other Euro-
                                                                                          pean countries have also suffered vandal-
  the gene bZIP28 helps regulate
  heat stress response in Arabidop-
                                           on gM adoption                                 ism from opponents to their use and growth
                                                                                          (see inform 19:682, 2008).
  sis thaliana, a member of the mus-       At the end of October, a number of news             The Independent reported that “nei-
  tard family used as a model plant        outlets published reports of a “secret” and    ther the membership of the group [that
  for genetic studies. This is the first   “unprecedented” European Union (EU)            met], nor its objectives, nor the outcomes
  time bZIP28 has been shown to            plan to push the use of genetically modi-      of its meetings have been made public.”
  play a role in heat tolerance. The       fied (GM) crops in the United Kingdom          José Manuel Barroso, the president of the
  research was published in the Pro-       and Europe.                                    European Commission, set the meetings,
  ceedings of the National Academy of           The Independent (UK) reported that        held July 17 and October 10.
  Sciences (105:16398–16403, 2008).        representatives from 27 European nations            Documents obtained by the newspa-
                                           had met privately in an effort to “speed up”   per suggest that “Barroso is going beyond
       “We also found that bZIP28
                                           the use of GM crops throughout the EU.         mere exhortation by trying to get prime
  was responding to signals from the
                                           The Daily Mail (UK) reported that Euro-        ministers to overrule their own agricul-
  endoplasmic reticulum [ER], which
                                           pean leaders want to push industry and ag-     ture and environment ministers in favour
  is the first time the ER has been        ricultural representatives to work harder in   of GM. They report that the chairman ‘re-
  shown to be involved with the re-        efforts to answer environmentalists’ con-      called the importance for prime ministers
  sponse to heat,” said Robert Lar-        cerns over GM crops. Strategies for “how       to look at the wider picture.’”
  kin, MSU assistant professor of          to persuade the public to accept” GM crops          The Independent quoted Helen Hold-
  biochemistry and molecular biol-         and organisms were also discussed.             er, of Friends of the Earth Europe, as say-
  ogy and corresponding author of               France, Spain, and Portugal are the       ing:
  the paper. “We’re finding that heat      only three European co
				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: The Independent (UK) reported that representatives from 27 European nations had met privately in an effort to "speed up" the use of GM crops throughout the EU. The Daily Mail (UK) reported that European leaders want to push industry and agricultural representatives to work harder in efforts to answer environmentalists' concerns over GM crops. Strategies for "how to persuade the public to accept" GM crops and organisms were also discussed.
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