VIENNA, Sept 20 Austria's minister for
agriculture and the environment called on the European
Commission to review its approval process for genetically
modified (GM) food after a controversial French study linked a
kind of GM corn to higher health risks in rats.
French scientists said on Wednesday that rats fed on
Monsanto's GM corn or exposed to its top-selling
weedkiller saw a higher incidence of tumours and organ damage
and died earlier than those on a standard diet.
The French government asked its health watchdog to
investigate the findings, although a number of scientists
questioned the study's basic methods and Monsanto said it felt
confident its products had been proven safe.
Calling the study a justification of consumer concern about
GM products, Niki Berlakovich said Austria - like France a
hardliner against GM food - would thoroughly examine results of
the French study when they were available.
"One thing is clear: Given this study the European
Commission has to rethink its verification practices and the
approval process must get an in-depth review," he said in a
Austria has banned all the genetically modified plants
allowed by the EU, Berlakovich noted, adding: "We want to decide
for ourselves in the future as well and keep the ban on
plantings to protect out environment and our consumers."
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are deeply unpopular
in Europe but dominate major crops in the United States.
Europe's food safety agency advisory panel on GMOs has
already expressed the opinion that NK603 - a seed variety made
tolerant to dousings of Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller and the
one used in the French study - is as safe as conventional maize.
But that opinion was based on 90-day studies, while the
latest study tracked rats over two years.