Brussels, 4 June 2010 – New proposals that would allow European countries to ban genetically modified (GM) crops are cautiously welcomed by Friends of the Earth Europe. However, to ensure GM-free food and farming, the proposals from the European Commission must be strengthened to prevent cross-contamination and ensure the biotech industry pays for any damage resulting from GM cultivation.
The European Commission has, in the past days, started formal internal procedures to change European laws for growing GM crops (1). An earlier impact assessment concluded that the proposals would lead to a "negative impact for non-GM farmers". (2)
Adrian Bebb, food and agriculture campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "This is a welcome opportunity for countries in Europe to ban genetically modified crops but it could open the door for pro-GM member states to cultivate GM crops. The public and environment will only be protected if the proposal is backed up by Europe-wide measures to prevent our food and feed from being contaminated. Until safeguards are in place we need an immediate ban on growing genetically modified crops."
The European Commission is proposing:
- To immediately relax official guidelines on co-existence (measures member states can take to stop contamination) to allow member states more autonomy to prevent GM cultivation on their territory.
- To change European law (Directive 2001/18) to allow member states full flexibility to ban GM crops.
Adrian Bebb continued: "The European public has opposed GM foods for over a decade. The European Union must agree to rules that protect the public's right to GM free food and GM free countryside. Friends of the Earth Europe calls on politicians to strengthen European law to put people and planet before the profits of the biotech industry."
Friends of the Earth Europe is calling for:
- Mandatory measures to stop contamination from GM crops;
- Strict legal liability for the biotech industry;
- Social and economic impacts on farmers to be taken into account;
- Zero threshold against contamination of seeds;
- Full implementation of member states' demands to improve the safety assessments for GM crops