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EU lawyers say no to Poland's biotech ban


European Commission lawyers have stopped Poland's move to ban trade
and plantings of genetically modified (GMO) seeds, saying it had no
scientific justification, the EU's Official Journal said on Monday.

Poland's plans for what amounted to a national GMO ban, announced
last year, quickly drew criticism from experts at the EU executive
who routinely scrutinize any such proposals to check that they comply
fully with EU law.

Ahead of the announcement by EU lawyers, Polish Agriculture Minister
Marek Sawicki said the new centre-right government was planning to
give way and allow GMO seeds by changing a law that was to come into
effect in August.

"We are working on a bill which will eliminate the ban on using feed
with GMO components in Poland," Sawicki told Parkiet daily. "We don't
have another option. It is a issue of Polish regulations complying
with EU law," he added.

As tested on several occasions in the past, the Commission takes the
view that if a region wants to ban GMO crops or products, such
restrictions must be scientifically justified and crop-specific.

It also believes that a proposed ban mustn't be politically
motivated, nor a blanket GMO restriction that might distort the EU's
single trading market.

Poland did not provide new scientific evidence to justify its action,
as required under EU law, said the Commission's notice published in
the latest edition of the Official Journal.

There also had to be a problem specific to the member state making
the request, it said.

"The Polish notification does not provide any new scientific evidence
relating to the protection of the environment or the working
environment," the Journal said.

"The Commission therefore considers that the national provisions
notified cannot be approved," it added.

Earlier this month, France said it would activate a provision in
European law to suspend the commercial use of MON 810, an insect-
resistant maize developed by U.S. biotech giant Monsanto. The
Commission has yet to react formally.