BioWorld International Correspondent

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Parliament's committee on the environment, public health and consumer protection called last week for some 40 amendments to tighten up draft European Union rules on trade in genetically modified organisms.

It backed the critical report by Swedish Liberal Euro-MP Jonas Sjöstedt and voted on Sept. 10 in favor of a range of additional controls to be written into the EU proposal. The new legislation is intended to adapt EU law to the requirements of the 2000 Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which deals with trade in GMOs. The European Parliament as a whole is set to examine the subject at its plenary session in Strasbourg, France, Sept. 25.

The committee demanded clearer definitions, obligations on GMO exporters to comply with legislation in importing countries, requirements to secure express prior consent from a country importing GMOs, and new responsibilities for exporters for the products they sell and the accuracy of the information they provide.

Minimum information that would have to be divulged would include the general description of GMOs, contact details of exporters, the aim of release, the location of proposed releases and uses, environmental risk assessments, GMO monitoring and emergency intervention methods and plans, and the quantity and volume of GMOs for transfer. Only GMOs authorized in the European Union could be exported. And EU member states would have new tasks, including immediate notification of any release liable to result in the unintentional cross-border movement of GMOs.

Hit Back At Us With EU GMO Ban, Says FOE

Friends of the Earth Europe has urged the European Union to target U.S.-exported genetically modified foods in retaliation for the United States' violation of World Trade Organization rules on foreign sales corporations. The WTO recently authorized the EU to impose countermeasures on U.S.-imported goods worth US$4,043 million because the U.S. has been found guilty of offering prohibited subsidies to its exporters, and the EU is now preparing a list of targeted goods.

Alexandra Wandel of Friends of the Earth said, "We call on European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy and European governments to consider European consumer concerns and the protection of our global environment when targeting U.S. products. Genetically modified food and animal feed products, as well as energy-intensive products, seem to be the obvious choice to make a move toward fairer and more sustainable trans-Atlantic trade."

European Biotech Association Seeks Management

Emerging Biopharmaceutical Enterprises, a specialized group of 34 research-based companies developing new therapies using biosciences technologies, has grown to the point where it needs an executive manager. The group, established just two years ago by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, now needs a full-time staff member to manage its organizational structure, to help define its strategy and actions, and to coordinate its activities. The holder of the new post also will be responsible for supervising communication activities, representing EBE to the outside world, and coordination between its members, board, policy groups and chairman.