Press Review

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Today's MLADA FRONTA DNES comments on new legislation making it compulsory for manufacturers to label foodstuffs containing genetically modified food. The newspaper sees it as a victory for consumers who fear that GM food might be dangerous or that GM organisms might escape into the wild and damage the natural environment. It is very likely, the paper writes, that there won't be much demand for GM food in the Czech Republic, but this is the producers' problem, it says. In most cases, the GM food currently available isn't cheaper, doesn't taste better and isn't better quality than 'normal' food. Until this changes, there will be no reason for consumers to buy it, MLADA FRONTA DNES concludes.

LIDOVE NOVINY comments on preparations for the forthcoming IMF and World Bank annual meeting that is to take place in Prague in September. If you're planning to visit Prague at the end of September, change your plans and go somewhere safer, the paper advises its readers. Otherwise, you could come home weeping with tear gas and carrying colourful bruises from police truncheons instead of postcards and holiday snaps. Or even worse, because the welcome the Czech police are preparing for anti-globalisation protesters resembles mobilisation for war. And all because the Czech government wants to prevent another Seattle. But the hysteria around the event is serving more as an advertisement to attract hardcore protestors looking for a good fight.

PRAVO speculates about an alleged deal between the ruling Social Democratic Party and the main opposition Civic Democrats under which Finance Minister Pavel Mertlik and one of his deputies would leave the Cabinet in exchange for the opposition's support for next year's state budget. The paper suggests that some Social Democrat leaders or the prime minister himself might see such a deal as an acceptable price for another two years in power. PRAVO points out, though, that it could seriously damage the party's popularity. Even though a Civic Democrat deputy chairman said that the party will exert no further pressure on the government, it is hard to believe, since this party, in the commentator's view, has proved in the past that it has problems telling the truth. However, pressure for the removal of the finance minister and his deputy could come in a different form - they may leave under completely unremarkable circumstances because there are many ways to have your cake and eat it, PRAVO says.

HOSPODARSKE NOVINY questions the likelihood of a referendum being held on putting the Temelin nuclear power station into operation. According to the newspaper, the Czech Republic missed its chance to call such a referendum even before it became an independent state in 1993, because the public should have been asked back in 1992 when the government was on the verge of making a decision on the fate of the project. The newspaper says the chance of politicians heeding the call for a referendum is virtually non-existent, and cites two much more important milestones in Czech history - the division of Czechoslovakia and NATO entry - neither of which were approved by a popular vote.