[GR] Ban on GM maize extended

Despite pressure from the European Union, Greece again has extended a ban on genetically modified maize seed and has enlarged the number of GM varieties banned from sale and cultivation.

In respect to GM maize, Greece will continue its GM moratorium for at least two more years. The country also has decided to increase the varieties barred from sale and cultivation from 31 to 51, all of which are derived from the MON810 seed type, developed by Monsanto.

Greece enacted a moratorium in 2005, despite the fact that MON810 has been approved since 2004 for commercialisation in the EU. The Greek Deputy Agriculture Minister, Alexandros Kondos, said, "The ministry strongly opposes the circulation of genetically modified organisms. Our target is to produce quality products, and under no circumstances do modified products qualify as such."

The decision by the Greek government was made after statements last month by the EU Trade Commissioner, Peter Mandelson, who warned that member states of the European Union could invite legal action from the World Trade Organization against the bloc when adopting individual bans on biotech food instead of finding common rules.

However, Greece has justified its decision and stated that its actions are well-advised. A declaration from the Ministry of Agriculture commented that the new ban “is founded on the same solid scientific and legal basis, but also includes new scientific data and finds. These concern a possible threat to human health as well as to the beekeeping industry."