Merkel calls for calmer debate on GMO crops


Reuters UK
April 24, 2009
HAMBURG (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday warned against too much immediate hostility to crops containing genetically-modified organisms (GMOs).

There must be an open political discussion about the risks and concerns about biotechnology, but the political level should not immediately give way to objections, she said at an event in Berlin.

German Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner this month banned cultivation and sale of GMO maize of type MON 810 produced by U.S. seed giant Monanto.

Aigner also said on Thursday she would make a new review of an application for open air trial cultivation of the GMO potato Amflora developed by German group BASF.

The application is being made for tests only, not for commercial plantings.

Merkel said on Friday many millions of euros had been invested in developing such crops as the Amflora potato in the hope that field trials could be made.

"This fact cannot simply be ignored because currently sentiment is hostile," Merkel said.

Merkel stressed the ban on the MON 810 GMO maize was an individual decision.

She said her own conservative CDU party should remain open to biotechnology which in future could become a key feature of agriculture.

Gemany’s GMO maize ban has also been controversial inside Germany’s ruling government coalition as there are fears it could damage Germany as a location for scientific development.

Germany’s Research Minister Annette Schavan on Tuesday called a round table meeting into the future of GMO crops.

"We must take the fear of new technology seriously but the debate cannot be left to fear only," Schavan said on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Andreas Moeser and Michael Hogan; editing by James Jukwey)

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