03 March 2004

Search all issues

powered by FreeFind

Send Your Feedback!


Legal Notice to allow applications for GMOs meets opposition

Julian Manduca

Several environmental and other NGOs have objected to the legal notice that came into force on Monday, which lays out how MEPA will process applications to release genetically modified organisms into the environment.
The legislation will mean that the highly controversial and heavily debated GMOs could be released either as living organisms into the environment or in the form of food products put on the market.
The legal notice has caused shock-waves among Maltese NGOs and will see the introduction into Malta of Genetically Modified crops as well as possibly genetically modified fish in fish farms with all the associated risks of spread into the wild.
Farmers, environmentalists and consumers are showing their concern and eight different organisations have come together to support the call for a GMO-free zone made by Alternattiva Demokratika and the Kirkop Local Council.
The organisations are insisting that MEPA’s Bio-Safety Co-ordinating Committee, set up last month to accept applications to plant GMOs, should lay down an immediate policy to prevent any plantings of genetically modified crops in Maltese soil.
The names of the Committee have not been made public and MEPA’s PRO Sylvana Debono said: “the members of the Bio-Safety Committee have not yet been formally appointed and therefore it would be inopportune to divulge their names as yet.” Asked whether the Committee is to include a representative of the NGOs, Debono said: “The committee does not have any such representative.”
To prevent the risk of contamination of the local gene pool organisations are also warning that fish which have been genetically engineered should not be released into fish farms in Maltese waters. They said it was important to preserve marine bio-diversity.
The groups also expressed their anger at environment minister George Pullicino, saying: “The NGOs deplore the lack of consultation about environmental issues generally and GMOs specifically over the past year and call on the minister responsible for the environment to involve the public in the decision making process. The minister should also explain the reasons behind the Legal Notice and how this will be beneficial to Malta's environment.”
The opposing organisations are Genista Foundation; the Malta Organic Agriculture Movement; Move!; Moviment Graffitti; the National Council of Women; Friends of the Earth; Nature Trust and the Progressive Farmers Union.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
Tel: (356) 21382741-3, 21382745-6 | Fax: (356) 21385075 | E-mail