Brussels, Monday May 22 - Leaked documents obtained by Friends of the Earth Europe reveal that EU Agriculture Ministers will today adopt measures that will allow irreversible contamination of Europe's food and environment from GM crops.
Helen Holder , GMO campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said, "Evidence shows that you cannot introduce genetically modified crops without contaminating other food crops and the environment. Agriculture Ministers have the opportunity here to stop this contamination. Documents obtained by Friends of the Earth show that they will do the opposite and allow our food and countryside to be polluted. It is time they stood up for the public and not big business!"
Friends of the Earth Europe welcomes the Austrian Presidency's initiative for Council conclusions on coexistence, and urges Member States to use this opportunity to adopt strict measures against genetic pollution.
However, the draft conclusions, obtained by Friends of the Earth, show that EU member states will:
- ignore concerns raised by farmers, consumers, beekeepers and environmental groups at a recent stakeholder conference organized by the European Commission (1).
- reject calls for EU-wide laws to prevent contamination from GM crops. Friends of the Earth claims that this is a "wait-and-contaminate" policy that will end up with organic and conventionally grown foods polluted (2).
- ignore the calls by over 170 European regions and 4500 local authorities and smaller areas to have the right to prohibit GM crops in their areas (3).
- not demand that liability for contamination be made mandatory on the GM industry. Instead they will look at existing national legislation, which is already proven insufficient.
"The EU must stop the commercial growing of genetically modified crops until EU-wide measures are in place to protect conventional and organic food and farming from genetic pollution. Without these measures, our governments are ignoring our right to choose and putting the environment at risk ," Holder added.
(1) EU coexistence conference, April 4-6 2006, Vienna: http://europa.eu.int/comm/agriculture/events/vienna2006/index_en.htm
(2) FoE Europe position paper "Contaminate or Legislate? European Commission policy on coexistence", April 2006: http://www.foeeurope.org/publications/2006/contaminate_or_legislate.pdf