GM crops fail EU Lisbon Agenda goals

12 March 2007

New research says green farming more competitive

Brussels, March12th 2007 - Environmentally-friendly farming will create more jobs and make the EU more competitive than if it grows genetically modified (GM) crops, shows new research published today by Friends of the Earth Europe. The research coincides with the expected withdrawal later today of a European Parliament Resolution that promotes GM crops. MEPs are requesting that the text be rewritten because it attacks the precautionary principle and ignores research showing that GM food and farming has not lived up to expectations [1].

Helen Holder, European GMO campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said
"The genetic modification approach to farming is failing despite the hype, public funding and political will. Greener farming stimulates the economy, benefits the environment and the public loves it."

Today's report launched by Friends of the Earth Europe [2] highlights:

A lack of official data on how badly the agri-biotechnology sector is performing despite high levels of public funding and high political priority in key EU areas such as Enterprise and Research. After 25 years of public EU funding for research, only two GM traits have ever been commercialised on any scale.

Evidence of increased social cohesion, rapid growth and job creation in the environmentally friendly farming and food sector, for example in organics; compared with virtually no jobs, de-investment and lack of profits by companies developing GM crops and foods.

The sidelining of greener farming due to political support for GM crops and foods, despite its better economic performance and environmental credentials such as using less energy, less water and fewer pesticides.

The threat of economic damage to green farming and food production from contamination by GM crops

The report comes as the EU is preparing new targets for biotechnology as part of the mid-term review of its Biotech Strategy, which will be adopted by the EU Competitiveness Council in June [3]. Friends of the Earth Europe insists that it is economically unjustified to further promote GM crops and foods and that this must be recognized in the revised EU Biotech Strategy.

"If we want to develop a competitive and dynamic economy in Europe then it would be wise to quietly shelve the idea of genetically modified foods and put our political support and tax-payers money behind green farming methods, which can deliver. Environmentally-friendly agriculture is not only being sidelined in the doomed quest for a biotechnology solution, it is even under threat due to the risks of contamination from GM crops," Ms Holder added



[1] Resolution A6-0032/2007 "Biotechnology: Prospects and challenges for agriculture in Europe", rapporteur: MEP Kyösti Virrankoski

[2] "The EU's Biotech Strategy: Mid-term review or mid-life crisis? A scoping study on how European agricultural biotechnology will fail the Lisbon objectives and on the socio-economic benefits of ecologically compatible farming"
Friends of the Earth Europe, March 2007 (See files: Executive summary, Full report)

[3] The EU Biotech Strategy was adopted in 2002:
The European Commission will issue its recommendations for the Mid Term Review in April 2007 and conclusions will be adopted by the June 2007 Competitiveness Council.