The Dutch Council of State (the country’s highest appeals body) on Thursday (16th November) cancelled seven licenses for field trials of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

The licenses were issued by the Dutch Ministry of Environment to biotech company Advanta Seeds and Greenpeace asked the Council of State for the suspension of the licences to prevent the field trials.

Greenpeace welcomed the council’s decision, a clear signal to the Dutch government that the issuing of licenses for GMO field trials is inaccurate.

The licenses would have allowed to plant genetically engineered sugar beet and rapeseed in different locations throughout the Netherlands.

The Dutch court said that the licenses did not specify with enough precision where the field trials would take place.

The verdict mentioned that the introduction of genetically modified organisms into the environment is possibly irreversible and possibly has detrimental consequences for the environment.

Greenpeace will continue legal actions against the Dutch Ministry of environment and Advanta and wants to achieve the cancellation of the licenses.

Thursday’s verdict is an important victory also because the genetically engineered sugarbeets and rapeseed plants cannot be planted until the whole procedure against the field trials is completed. It is expected that this would take at least a year.

Also, the verdict has consequences for all new licenses for field trials in the Netherlands.

In the future, it will be necessary for the applicants to name the exact location of the field trials and all pending requests for new trials will have to be brought in again at the Ministry.

Greenpeace will file legal objections against all new applications for field trials.

Advanta seeds, a subsidiary of Advanta, acknowledged in May 2000 that it had accidentally mixed genetically engineered rapeseed with conventional seeds that had been planted in France, Germany, Sweden and the UK.