European Commission proposals to ban GM crops: an empty and dangerous deal

8 July 2010

New plans could open Europe’s fields to GM crops

Brussels, July 8 – New proposals due to be introduced in the coming days that are supposed to allow European countries more autonomy over the decision to ban genetically modified (GM) crops form an empty and potentially dangerous deal for member states, according to Friends of the Earth Europe.

A new legal analysis of the proposals concluded that they were deeply flawed, legally and politically [1]. Member states are being offered no additional powers to ban GM crops on health, environment and contamination impacts, despite these being the most serious and legally reliable grounds. Instead, only additional ethical grounds are offered, which are legally intangible, subjective and easily overturned in court.

In exchange for this empty offer to decide about the cultivation of GM crops on their territories the Commission is asking member states to relax opposition to future GMO applications for cultivation – fast tracking GMO approvals.

Mute Schimpf, food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "This is an empty deal that could open up Europe's fields to unwanted and risky GM crops. Any country wanting to ban GM crops under these proposals will open themselves up to legal challenges from the biotech corporations who want to force GM crops into Europe."

Additionally, while the Commission proposals address the banning of GM crops by national governments, there is nothing to protect conventional and organic farmers, and consumers, in countries that decide to allow GM crops to be grown [2]. The Commission's own impact assessment concluded that the proposals would lead to a "negative impact for non-GM farmers". [3]

Friends of the Earth Europe is calling on MEPs and member states to reject the Commission proposals.

The European public, environment and food and farming sector will only be protected if the GM framework includes strong Europe-wide measures to prevent food and feed from being contaminated, and the member states' demands to improve the safety assessments for GM crops are fully implemented. It will be vital that these measures ensure that the biotech industry is liable for damages caused by any cross-contamination as a result of GM cultivation.

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Notes

1 – The proposed legislative changes to Directive 2001/18 are" riddled with legal uncertainty and lack of reasoning. Since the legislative act itself, if maintained in its current state, is vulnerable to challenge on these grounds, this potentially renders any national measure taken on the basis of it, pursuant to it, or in accordance with it, similarly vulnerable to challenge."

See GMO legal advice above.

2 – The Commission proposals can be found here:

Download Commission proposals above.

3 – The Commission impact assessment concludes that "where GMOs would be cultivated, GM seeds, whether produced in the EU or imported, would replace conventional seeds of the same type of crops."