tweaks fail to protect public and environment
Brussels, 13 July
2010 - The European Commission today announced proposals to speed up the
union's genetically modified (GM) crop authorisation procedure. Member states
are being promised the right to ban GM cultivation if they reduce their
opposition during the EU-level authorisation process.
Commission hopes the proposal will break a decade-long deadlock  in the
authorisation procedure, according to a leaked document . It promises to
formalise in law what already exists in practice - where half a dozen countries
have banned GM crops . The Commission tried four times to overturn national
bans, but each time failed to get the qualified majority needed in Council.
Today's proposal would be the reverse of what EU environment ministers
unanimously called for in 2008 - a strengthening of the authorisation
procedure, mainly the risk assessment of new crops .
policy adviser Stefanie Hundsdorfer said: "The
Commission failed four times to overturn national bans against GM crops and
their poisonous agricultural model. Now president Barroso is admitting defeat
by presenting a compromise deal. In an attempt to muddle through with his
pro-GM agenda, he is offering countries national bans if they turn a blind eye
to the health and safety concerns they may have about new crops during the
authorisation process at EU level. Whether individual countries take a ban or
not, the real question is whether new GM crops are safe at European level. Barroso
endlessly says he wants a GM authorisation system based on science. But here he
is asking countries to drop any scientific concerns they have and wave through
new crops unchallenged. Is this leadership on such an important issue to the
the Earth Europe food campaigner Mute Schimpf said: "While
the European Commission is seemingly offering countries the right to implement
national bans, in reality the proposal aims to do the opposite, opening
Europe's fields to GM crops. The Commission continues to fail to protect Europe's food and feed from contamination by GM crops, and we urge countries to reject this
deal as it stands. Until member states' demands for a full reassessment of the
risks of GM crops are met, there should be a moratorium on authorising new GM
Commission proposal allows member states to ban GM crops on contamination
grounds, an improvement on earlier drafts, but does not give member states an
additional right to ban on the important environment or health grounds. It also
fails to deal with the contamination caused in member states that decide to
grow GM crops. The Commission's own impact assessment concluded that the
proposals would lead to a "negative impact for non-GM farmers."
Hundsdorfer added: "Barroso
seems to think that member states want to ban GM for political reasons and that
the scientific concerns they have been raising for years are mere posturing.
But their concerns are real and today's proposal will only provide the
Commission with temporary relief."
briefing document is available on request.
more information please contact:
Mute Schimpf, food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe
Tel: +32 (0) 2 893 10 38, mute.schimpf[at]foeeurope.org
Francesca Gater, communications officer for Friends of the Earth Europe
Tel: +32 (0) 2 893 10 10 or +32 4 85 93 05 15 (mobile),
Before the Amflora potato this March, no GM crop had been authorised for
cultivation in the EU for 12 years.
Draft Explanatory Memorandum, Proposal for a European Parliament and Council
Regulation modifying Directive 2001/18/EC as regards the possibility for the
Member States to prohibit, restrict or impede the cultivation of GMOs in their
Cultivation of the two genetically modified crops authorised to be commercially
grown in the EU, Monsanto's GM maize Mon810 and BASF's GM potato Amflora, has
been prohibited in several EU member states. The cultivation of Mon810 is
banned in France, Germany, Greece, Austria, Luxemburg and Hungary, whereas the cultivation of the GM potato is prohibited in Hungary, Luxemburg and Austria.
Environment ministers unanimously called on the Commission, among others, to
ensure that its scientific advisory body, the European Food Safety Authority,
assesses the environmental long-term effects of GM crops and the effects of GM
plants on the different ecosystems in the EU and that systematic and
independent research on GM risks is conducted. See: Council of the European
Union 2008: Council Conclusions on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs),
2912th Environment Council meeting, Brussels, 4 December 2008. See Greenpeace's
highlights of the original Council Conclusions 2008, available on request.