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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-01-30

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greenpeace applauds Greek ban on GMO corn
  • [02] Finmin calls pension system a 'time-bomb'
  • [03] Gov't seeks dialogue on electronic media

  • [01] Greenpeace applauds Greek ban on GMO corn

    The environmental group Greenpeace on Monday applauded Greece's decision to renew a ban on the sale and cultivation of genetically-modified corn seed, in defiance of a European Union ultimatum ordering Athens to lift the ban by January 10.

    The Greek agriculture ministry on Monday announced that Deputy Agriculture Minister Alexandros Kontos had signed an decree banning the sale of genetically modified hybrid corn containing the MON810 genetic modification for another 18 months.

    The government decree also extends the varieties of banned hybrids from 17 to 31 and has a firmer basis in law, since it includes all the latest scientific figures and findings that formed the basis for the decision to extend the ban.

    Among these, the agricultural ministry cited scientific evidence that the MON810 genetic modification caused the following adverse effects:

    - Development of high resistance among the most damaging insects infesting Greek corn and cotton crops

    - Disruption of biodiversity among non-harmful and beneficial insects in the Greek countryside

    - Heightened danger that genetically modified pollen will be transported to cultivations far from GM crop cultivations due to the high prevalence of bee-keeping in Greece and the relatively small size of holdings.

    Stressing the need to fully and effectively implement the principles of protection and prevention, the ministry noted that each EU member-state must be given adequate time to assess the danger from the cultivation of GM crops so that they neither damage the environment nor necessitate modification of pre-existing agricultural practices in order to adapt to new conditions created by genetically modified crops.

    The ministry also announced that it will inform European Commission services of its decision, providing the scientific findings on which it was based.

    Kontos stressed, meanwhile, that "today's decision continues the government's unswerving policy for the non-cultivation of genetically modified varieties in Greece".

    According to Greenpeace, the new ban by Greek authorities affects GM corn strains developed by Monsanto and another 14 new varieties that the European Commission "secretly" added to the European list on December 30, without informing the public.

    "Greenpeace applauds the decision of the Greek government to remain steadfast in its position to protect the Greek environment and agriculture and condemns the European Commission for lack of transparency regarding its decisions for mutant products. The Commission should follow Greece's example in democracy and stop doing the dirty work of the U.S. biotechnology industry," an announcement by the environmental group said.

    Noting that the risk from genetically modified corn had not been fully assessed, Greenpeace also pointed out that there were currently 12 bans on GM products in seven member-states that the EU had allowed to stand and criticised the Commission for its constant attempts to cover up decisions concerning GMOs and trying to promote these products, in spite of the reaction from European public opinion.

    [02] Finmin calls pension system a 'time-bomb'

    The country's pension system is a "time-bomb" that is likely to explode in the next 15, 20 or 30 years, Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis warned on Monday.

    Addressing a seminar entitled, "The future of Greece's Pension System and the Third Pylon", organized in Athens by the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the Association of Insurance Companies of Greece, the Greek minister said the problem was not urgent, "but close", adding that the issue needed mild and well focused interventions.

    Alogoskoufis stressed that the government was committed to its promise that no decisions would be taken on reforming the pension system by the end of its ongoing four-year term, while urging for a dialogue on the issue to begin.

    The pension system is expensive, ineffective and unfair, Alogoskoufis said, adding that together with Labour Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos they have been trying for months to persuade political parties, employers' groups and employees' unions to begin a dialogue. The state's contribution to the pension system totaled 5.0 percent of GDP and could reach 15 pct in the future, Alogoskoufis said.

    The Greek minister said a dialogue would help to find an answer to the question of funding the pension system in the future, while adding that a milestone reform in 1992 ensured the viability of the current system.

    [03] Gov't seeks dialogue on electronic media

    Minister of State and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Monday announced that he had sent letters to the leaders of Greece's political parties, inviting them to participate in a new round of dialogue on the electronic media industry that will start on February 2.

    The talks will focus on concentration of the media market and licencing laws.

    The letter notes that the first round of dialogue with industry organisations and bodies ended on January 16.

    The the process will include a third stage, during which there will be a new discussion for the codification of the proposals put forward.

    Roussopoulos said that the dialogue process is expected to be concluded by the end of February, while the next step will be to draft a bill that will be presented to Parliament's Institutions and Transparency Committee for perusal by MPs.


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