Newly installed European Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel has signaled a major shift in European Union policies toward genetically modified (GM) crops, telling a German newspaper last week that she believes the European Union should issue guidelines for acceptable distances between GM and non-GM crops.

Currently, the European Union leaves it up to member states to regulate sowing of GM crops so they do not contaminate adjacent non-GM fields with GM pollen. Coexistence of GM and non-GM farm fields is so controversial in several EU nations, including Germany, that Fischer Boel's predecessor, Franz Fischler, simply avoided the issue.

In an interview with the daily Berliner Zeitung, Fischer Boel said that GM and non-GM fields must be separated to avoid GM contamination. However, she said: "Regulations must not be so hard that the producers of GM crops have no chance to come to market."

Some German political observers saw Fischer...

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