The EU's top court ruled today that a controversial new generation of food genetic engineering techniques should be subject to EU safety checks and consumer labelling.
In a landmark ruling, the European Court of Justice confirmed that new techniques to modify genetic material in plant or animal cells – so called 'GMO 2.0' – must undergo the same safety checks for their impacts on the environment and human health as existing genetically modified foods (GMOs).
For more than 20 years, civil society, farmers, politicians and the food sector have successfully fought for GMO-free fields and the right to choose food without GM ingredients in Europe.
But this could be about to change. On July 25, the EU's top court will rule whether new genetically modified (GM) seeds and foods – so-called 'GMO 2.0' – should be subject to safety checks under EU law.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) today gave the first indication of how it will classify foods and crops derived from new genetic engineering techniques.
The opinion issued by one of the ECJ's Advocates General noted that even if all food and crops derived from new GM techniques were to be considered genetically modified organisms (GMOs), he keeps the door open to some of them not being subject to the same risk assessment, labelling, and monitoring as existing GMOs.
In the coming days and weeks, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will decide whether to close Europe's fields to genetically modified (GM) crops for good, or if more GM crops can be grown.
National governments have over the past decade failed to reach a consensus of whether to allow new GM crops to be grown or not. Most countries reject the crops, but under EU procedures they have insufficient numbers to ban them outright.
Because of this stalemate the final decision now lies with President Juncker.
Reacting to the official notification by Bayer to the European Commission of their planned acquisition of Monsanto, Adrian Bebb, food and farming campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said:
"This merger would be a marriage made in hell. Bayer and Monsanto already wield enormous power over our food and farming system, and their joining forces would be bad news for citizens, farmers and the environment.
This Saturday, activists around the world will unite, and march against Monsanto. Opposition has been mounting to the Bayer-Monsanto mega-merger, Friends of the Earth Europe even staged a 'marriage made in hell' outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels.
The second mega-merger in two weeks of giant agriculture corporations has been given the green light today, sparking warnings about the future of food and farming.
Friends of the Earth Europe staged a 'marriage made in hell' outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels today to symbolise the threat to food and farming posed by the planned merger of the agriculture and chemical companies Bayer and Monsanto.
The majority of European governments re-affirmed their opposition to genetically-modified (GM) crops today, although the final decision now rests with the European Commission . Friends of the Earth Europe is calling on Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, to reject the new GM crops destined for Europe's countryside.
More than 200 organisations have today raised their objections to the planned mergers of six giant agriculture corporations.