Spotlight on Juncker to oppose new genetically modified crops

27 March 2017

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 [1]. 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.

Governments voted against a proposal to authorise two new strains of GM maize, the first new GM crops since 1998. The two maize types, technically called BT11 and 1507, are owned by Syngenta and Dow-Pioneer, and are designed to be grown using Bayer's weed-killer glufosinate, widely accepted as potentially harmful to humans. There are also major questions about the safety of these GM crops, especially whether they unintentionally kill butterflies and moths.

Mute Schimpf, food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "Whether he likes it or not, the buck now stops at Jean-Claude Juncker. He can put himself on the side of the majority of countries, citizens and farmers who do not want genetically-modified crops, or he can back the mega-corporations behind the industrialisation of our countryside."

The European Commission also needs to decide on the fate of the only genetically-modified crop grown in Europe, Monsanto's MON810, which produces toxins that kill maize pests. MON810 is already banned in 17 EU countries, and grown on less than 1% of agricultural land, mainly in Spain and Portugal.

Mute Schimpf continued: "There is no political or public support for genetically-modified crops; farmers don't even want them. It's time for President Juncker to pull the plug on this failed technology once and for all, and to focus on how we make farming resilient to climate change, save family farms and stop the destruction of nature. It's time to close our countryside to genetically-modified crops and move on."

This week, Friends of the Earth Europe will launch a campaign to combat the increasing corporate monopoly over the food chain.

***

NOTES:

[1] Vote breakdown:

On renewal of GM maize MON 810

8 Member States voted in favour, representing 34.45% of the EU population: CZ, EE, ES, NL, RO, FI, SV, UK.

6 Member States abstained, representing 22.26% of the EU population: BE, DE, HR, MT, PT, SK

14 Member states voted to reject, representing 43.29% of the EU population: BG, DK, IE, EL, FR, CY, LV, LU, HU, AT, PL, SL, IT, LT 14

On authorisation of GM maize 1507

6 Member States voted in favour, representing 30.45% of the EU population: EE, ES, NL, RO, FI, UK

6 Member States abstained, representing 22.28% of the EU population: BE, CZ, DE, HR, MT, SK

16 Member states voted to reject, representing 47.27% of the EU population: BG, DK, IE, EL, FR, CY, LV, LU, HU, AT, PL, SL, SV, IT, LT, PT

On authorisation of GM maize Bt 11

6 Member States voted in favour, representing 30.45% of the EU population: EE, ES, NL, RO, FI, UK

6 Member States abstained, representing 22.28% of the EU population: BE, CZ, DE, HR, MT, SK

16 Member states voted to reject, representing 47.27% of the EU population: BG, DK, IE, EL, FR, CY, LV, LU, HU, AT, PL, SL, SV, IT, LT, PT 47,27%

The European Commission legal service has underlined that President Juncker can withdraw GM maize applications at any stage.