On August 20, the European Commission said that it had no scientific evidence of health risks from a brand of genetically modified soybeans that the environmental group Greenpeace wants banned. Last week, Belgian scientists found unidentified gene fragments in Roundup Ready soybeans, grown from seeds developed by biotechnology giant Monsanto Co. that are spliced with a bacterium to make them resistant to Roundup herbicide. According to Commission spokesperson Andrea Dahmen, the results of the Belgian study would be evaluated as a matter of routine by the Commission scientific plant committee, and any further action would depend on the committee's findings. However, she added, "From a scientific point of view there is no reason to say the product is unsafe for the plant itself or for those who eat it." On August 17, the environmental group Greenpeace called on France to ban imports of the soybeans, saying they had been authorised for use as human food and feedstock for animals on an "incomplete and false" basis. According to Dahmen, the findings did not suggest the need for an import ban, adding that it was unlikely France would impose a ban since it would first have to prove the soybeans posed a safety risk. The gene fragments had not been detected when the Commission in 1996 approved the import, but not planting, of the Roundup Ready Soybeans. Europe is a leading export market for US soybeans and soy products. "Scientifically the existence of this DNA does not mean it is a consequence of modification in the plant. It could have been generated by a spontaneous mutation, which often happens in plants," Dahmen said.