Press and Information Division


18 September 2002

Hearing on Tuesday, 24 September 2002 in Case C-236/01

Monsanto Agricoltura Italia and Others v Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri and Others

The companies Monsanto Agricoltura Italia Spa, Monsanto Europe SA, Syngenta Seeds SpA, Syngenta Seeds AG, Pioneer Hi Bred Italia Srl and Pioneer Overseas Corporation are active in the field of agri-food biotechnology.

Following two Commission decisions of 1998 concerning the placing on the market of genetically modified maize (on the basis of Council Directive 90/220), France and the United Kingdom authorised the placing on the market by certain companies of genetically modified corn seed, and in particular the lines Bt-11 (for insect resistance) and MON 810 (for greater herbicide tolerance). The authorisation procedure used was a "simplified" procedure.

In Italy, the Italian Government adopted, on 4 August 2000, a decree which suspended the marketing and use of those transgenic products pursuant to a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning novel foods and novel food ingredients. The Regulation confers that authority on Member States and the Commission where, as a result of new information or a reassessment of existing information, there are grounds for considering that the use of a food or a food ingredient endangers human health or the environment.

The companies referred to therefore brought an action before the Tribunale amministrativo regionale del Lazio (TAR) against the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, the Council of Ministers and its president and various other Italian authorities, seeking annulment of the Decree and compensation for the damage they claim to have suffered.

The TAR has requested the Court of Justice to rule on the validity of the simplified procedure and to determine whether it complies with the precautionary principle and the principles of proportionality and reasonableness.

In view of the potential risks, the Italian court calls into question the validity of that procedure, which does not require a full assessment of the safety of foods and food ingredients in relation to the risks they pose to human health and the environment and does not entail the participation of the Member States and their scientific bodies.

A simplified procedure of that kind, which considers only the need to expedite and simplify administrative action, results - according to the Italian court - in the placing on the market of foods and food ingredients concerning whose effects on health no information is available.

The hearing in the case will take place on Tuesday, 24 September at 10.30 a.m. in plenary session of the Court of Justice of the European Communities


The report for the hearing in the case will be available (in the language of the proceedings: Italian) on 24 September.

Please return the attached form in order to receive accreditation.

Unofficial document for media use which is not binding on the Court of Justice.
Languages available: Italian, English, French, German, Spanish. 

For further information please contact Sophie Mosca-Bischoff
Tel: (352) 43 03 32 05; fax: (352) 43 03 20 34


Please note the following;

* the use of mobile phones or other loud electronic devices is not permitted during the hearing;

* the public is requested to remain quiet and seated throughout the hearing or ceremony;

* photography and filming are authorised only at the very beginning of the hearing (seating of the President and parties, delivery of judgments and reading of Opinions );

* the use of flash or supplementary lighting systems is not permitted;

* if numerous photographers and cameramen are interested, a .pool. may be arranged by the Press and Information Division;

* photographers and cameramen may not move around the hearing room in order to take photographs or to film;

* press are asked to use the Thomas More entrance, Boulevard Konrad Adenauer.



Accreditation to be returned before 12 noon, Monday 23 September 2002
by fax to: 00 352 4303 2034
Contact: Sophie Mosca-Bischoff
Tel: 00 352 4303 3205



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