Science in Society Archive

Recent action on genetic engineering

This table summarises some of the recent efforts that demonstrate worldwide concern about genetic engineering and its consequences for health, farming and the environment, given the uncertainty over the safety of the technology. Please be aware that the situation is constantly changing and this only provides a snapshot of efforts that have been taken, some of which are being currently challenged or may have been reversed. A full summary of these postings and other actions, including concerns raised from the full spectrum of society, is available at

Bans/moratoria Legislation Certification/Labelling
Brazil - Ban on planting and sale in force for past 3 years. The Brazilian government is appealing this. One of a three-strong panel of federal judges has already voted to overturn the injunction. A final decision will be delayed until at least March 15 Mexico - Effective 7 February 2002, anyone who introduces, commercializes, transports, stores, or releases into the environment any GMO that negatively alters or could negatively alter natural ecosystems is liable to punishment. The Mexican Congress has demanded that President Vicente Fox ban import of GM corn. China - All genetically altered soy beans, corn, rapeseed, cotton seed and tomatoes are to be clearly labelled as GMO products after March 20. However, the US has recently won concessions for an interim arrangement that would allow trade to continue. Scotland - Petition demanding immediate stop to GM crop trials taken to the Scottish Parliament's Petitions Committee, signed by more than 4000. Constant vigil has been held at Munlochy trial site. A public meeting was also held in Newport, where there was overwhelming rejection for sowing GM oilseed rape at Wester Friarton. However, approval for 3 more field trials has been recently given.
EU - De facto moratorium on granting marketing consents in place since 1998. However, these may be 'progressively unblocked' when new biotech rules take effect in Oct. 2002. EU - Will introduce Regulation that will implement Biosafety Protocol in EU legislation. Philippines - Companies that import agricultural products will soon be required to issue certification stating whether or not they contain GMOs, as part of a new set of guidelines covering GMOs to be issued soon. England - Direct action following a public meeting and march. Nearly 100 protesters ripped up parts of a field of GM oilseed rape in the village of Long Marston. 5 were arrested.
Thailand - Banned 37 GM crops from entering the country except for scientific research. The Cabinet last year also forbid field tests of GM crops until the country has a biosafety law. Croatia - Drafting legislation to ban production and limit imports of food containing GMOs. South Korea - Food products containing more than 3% GMOs must be labelled as containing GMOs. Will also require Chinese exporters to provide non-GMO certificates. USA - Residents of 28 Vermont towns passed resolutions opposing GE food and crops by voting at annual town meetings. Eight towns took steps toward ending the use of GE crops within their towns, some through town moratoria.
Sri Lanka - Interim ban on GM foods, meant to come into force 1 May 2001 is now indefinitely suspended. There are calls to re-impose the ban. Canada - Efforts ongoing to agree voluntary standard for labelling GM food. Debate still ongoing on whether labelling should be voluntary or mandatory. Mexico - 400 representatives of NGOs, environmentalists, social activists, academics and Indian authorities gathered in late Jan. under the banner "The Defence of Maize" to formulate strategy on transgenic pollution of native maize, including demands that the govt. shut the border to U.S./ Canadian maize.
Australia - 30 local councils banned GM crop trials, but this is not legally enforceable. Tasmania has introduced a 2-year moratorium. Italy - Says it will not tolerate the accidental contamination of seeds with genetic material ('zero tolerance'). Brazil - Campaign for a GM-free Brazil on-going, to fight federal government's efforts to appeal against a 3-year old injunction forbidding planting and sale of GMOs.
Philippines (Barangay Alinguigan 2nd) - Local council moratorium on GM field trials. Philippines - Peasants and scientists held a forum with legislators, urging support of Bills that would prohibit field testing and entry and distribution of GMOs in the country, as well as mandatory labelling of GMO products.
USA - Eight towns in Vermont either declared a town moratorium or urged that the planting of GE seeds be actively discouraged within the town. South Africa - Food and Allied Workers' Union (Fawu) threatened to strike if talks with the National Economic, Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) to ban GM for five years fail.
South Korea - Local environmentalists held a rally demanding US trade officials stop pressuring South Korea to ease its regulations on GMOs.
New Zealand New Zealand - Thousands pledged to stop any GE field trials that might be approved by the government. National Maori Hui on GE urged all Maori to protest against GE.

Article first published 21/03/02

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