The European Commission broke its own rules and is
allowing companies which stand to profit from the weakening of GMO safety rules
to help rewrite them, an investigation by Friends of the Earth
Europe has found.
The European Commission’s health division (DG Sante)
is due to publish imminently the findings of a consultation on the future of
GMOs in the EU. The outcomes will determine how a new wave of GMOs, known as
new genomic techniques, or new plant breeding techniques, will be regulated.
Crops grown using these methods are currently regulated under EU GMO safety and
Friends of the Earth Europe’s analysis reveals that DG Sante officials ignored
guidelines to produce a result that would support deregulating new GMOs. This
makes it more likely new GMOs will be exempted from safety checks and labeling
The analysis shows that, in contradiction with its own guidelines
on balance and transparency in consultations, DG Sante:
disproportionately large majority of inputs (74%) from agri-industry bodies – a
group in favour of deregulation. It also allowed a number of biotech companies
which hold patents on new GMOs to have their views represented multiple times
via umbrella organisations.
Included more than
twice as many questions about potential benefits of new GMOs than about
Failed to observe basic
transparency protocols by not publishing responses to the consultation in
advance of its publication.
The Commission is due to publish the results of the
study in April. Ahead of the publication, Friends of the Earth Europe is calling on DG Sante to immediately publish the
consultation responses, and to commit to discount the results of this flawed
process in future decisions about the whether new genomic techniques are exempt
from GMO safety laws.
Mute Schimpf, food and farming campaigner at Friends
of the Earth Europe said:
“The European Commission promised a strategy sustainable food system with
its Farm to Fork strategy, but it seems to be trying to let in a new generation
of GM crops onto our fields and plates without safety checks and labeling. It let
the agri industry dominate responses to a key study on the future of how GMOs
should be regulated, and refuses to observe basic transparency standards by
publishing the submissions.
“The European Commission needs to clean up the mess by
publishing contributions to the study like it normally would, and recognise
that it was flawed in its scope and set-up, and so cannot be used to justify
any changes in GMO safety laws.”