[AT] Upper Austria: Highest environmental official wants regional bans on GM rapeseed

The highest official for environmental matters in Upper Austria, the Umweltlandesrat Rudi Anschober (Greens) is calling for a ban on the cultivation of GM rapeseed for zones in his federal state. At a press conference on 22 September, he argued that this would be the conclusion to be drawn from the first partial results from a study on co-existence of rapeseed plants, which was ordered in Upper Austria by the state government.

Umweltlandesrat Rudi Anschober calls for a ban on GM rapeseed.
Umweltlandesrat Rudi Anschober calls for a ban on GM rapeseed.
According to Anschober, this study shows that, under the agricultural structures in Upper Austria, the co-existence of genetically modified and conventional rapeseed would be very difficult to implement. Reasons include the small average size (0.97 hectares) of filed plots, and the high proportion of organic farmers (eleven percent) in the state. In relation to out-crossings of rapeseed, no field trials were conducted for the study: older research work, authored by Kathrin Pascher of the University of Vienna, was quoted.

Anschober believes his claim for plant-specific regional bans to be in line with European law. He refers to a statement by EU agriculture commissioner, Mariann Fischer-Boel, that plant-specific GMO-free regions may be established, if co-existence is impossible for a crop species due to regional conditions.

The state government of Upper Austria is historically opposed to genetic engineering. A local law prohibiting any cultivation of GMOs was stopped by the European Court of Justice in 2005, and the appeal of the Austrian federal state against this verdict is pending. Since July 2006, a biotechnology precautionary act has been enacted which details strict requirements for farmers intending to grow GM crops on their fields.

  • Mag.ยช Sandra Haidinger
    Federal State of Upper Austria
    Phone: +43 732 7720 120 83