Today, Europe’s agriculture ministers challenged the Spanish presidency’s proposal to widely deregulate the new generation of genetically modified plants (new GMOs, or now so-called ‘new genomic techniques’ or NGT). The ministers’ evident lack of support  is a warning to lawmakers that excluding new GMOs from the current EU GMO rules would flood European fields with patented new GM seeds and increase monopolies in the farming sector.
Mute Schimpf, food campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said:
“Agriculture ministers hit the brakes on the deregulation of new GMOs, rightfully prioritising farmer, consumer, and environmental concerns. Today’s outcome is a relief for nature protection, our right to transparency, our right to know what we buy and eat, and our freedom of choice.”
Friends of the Earth Europe now calls on members of the European Parliament to reject the Commission’s legislative proposal. Both the EU Council and the EU Parliament will have a say on the final law in the coming months.
About the deregulation proposal
The Spanish presidency’s deregulation proposal would abolish labelling requirements, safety checks and any type of liability processes for new GMOs. As a result, consumers, farmers, and food processors will no longer have transparency on whether the plants and food they grow, buy and eat contains new GMOs or not. The proposal would mean:
- Releasing untested new GMOs into nature. So far, the direct and indirect impacts of putting new GMOs in the wild have not been assessed. For instance, no research has been conducted on how new GMOs interact with bees and other pollinators, nor on how GMO cropping can speed biodiversity loss.
- Abolishing consumers’ right to know as defined in the European treaties as well as in EU’s general food law. By excluding new GMOs from labelling requirements, consumers, farmers and the whole food chain can no longer know if the seeds, ingredients and final food products they buy contain new GMOs or not.
- Depriving governments of their right to ban the cultivation of new GMOs on their territory. Since 2015, 17 governments have already banned the cultivation of GMOs.
- Abolishing basic responsibilities for the biotech industry, such as delivering a testing method for each new GMO they develop. The new legislation makes it impossible for farmers and the food sector that want to produce conventional, organic or GMO-free food to protect themselves against unwanted contamination. The European Commission proposes to have testing methods be paid by those who want to avoid new GMOs and to remove public cultivation registers.
- Making it impossible for national authorities to control food safety of new GMOs as the biotech industry is no longer required to provide testing methods, nor are the operators obliged to trace the product along the food chain.
- Setting a precedent for corporate-driven law-making. The European Commission proposal is based on promises made by the industry about products that are currently still in the pipeline, without baseline or independent assessment on the actual sustainability of new GMOs.
Note: Germany and Bulgarian abstained. Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia raised major concerns.
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