On 16th of March, during the EU Environment Council meeting, seven ministers disputed Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides’ upcoming proposal to exclude a new generation of untested genetically modified organisms (new GMOs, or now so-called ‘new genomic techniques’ or NGT) from the current GMO legislation.
The debate on the proposal was initiated by the Austrian environment minister, Leonore Gewessler, who raised strong concerns about the approach taken by the European Commission and the potential harmful impacts of a deregulation on nature.
Mute Schimpf, food campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said:
“Environment ministers have more than enough reasons to reject the Commission’s plans for new GMOs and to put its risky gamble in the spotlight. The deregulation of new GMOs could have far-reaching impacts on nature, so why throw away 20 years of essential safety regulations?
We ask the Commission to listen to the ministers’ concerns and to the 400.000+ EU citizens who have asked to keep their right to choose what they eat and grow.”
Aside from Austria, six other ministers (Cyprus, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Slovenia) questioned the Commission’s approach and proposal, especially voicing criticism on:
- The proposal’s eroding of safety checks for new GMOs (Austria, Cyprus, Hungary, Luxembourg, Slovakia);
- The lack of evidence and scientifically-sound methodologies in the Commission’s preparatory work (Austria, Cyprus, Hungary, Slovenia).
Ministers also called for:
- The upcoming discussions at EU Council level to involve environment, health and agriculture ministries, to ensure that all aspects linked to GMOs are reflected in the legislation (Austria, Cyprus, Hungary, Slovenia);
- More research on how biodiversity could be harmed by the use of new GMOs (Austria, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Slovenia);
- Strict labelling requirements to be upheld for new GMOs to ensure transparency for consumers (Germany, Luxembourg).