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EU court attacks GM crop secrecy

Anti-GM protest in Luxembourg, 20 Oct 08
Anti-GM campaigners have widespread support in the EU

Europe's top court has ruled that EU governments have no right to conceal the location of field trials of genetically modified (GM) crops.

The European Court of Justice was responding to a case brought by Pierre Azelvandre in Alsace, eastern France.

He wanted to know where GM field trials had taken place in his local area.

The only EU-approved GM crop is a strain of corn developed by the US firm Monsanto. But GM trials for research are legal, under strict controls.

The court in Luxembourg ruled on Tuesday that "information relating to the location of the release can in no case be kept confidential".

It said "considerations relating to the protection of public order and other secrets protected by law... cannot constitute reasons capable of restricting access to the information listed by the [EU] directive, including in particular those relating to the location of release".

On Monday, the European Commission failed in a bid to force the governments of France and Greece to allow Monsanto's GM corn to be grown in their countries.

Opponents of GM crops say more scientific data is needed, arguing that their long-term genetic impact on humans and wildlife could be harmful.

The biotech industry says the crops are as safe as traditional varieties, and that they would provide plentiful, cheaper food.

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