EU suppresses GE study

GE crops add high costs, threaten organic agriculture

Feature story - 16 May, 2002
A secret European Union (EU) study states that large-scale production of GE crops would bring high additional, in some cases unsustainable costs of production.

Greenpeace activists mark train carrying GE maize destined for the Czech republic.

The study predicts that the situation would become particularly critical for organic farming of oilseed rape as well as for intensive production of conventional maize.

The study was ordered in May 2000 by the EU Commission, to examine the co-existence of GE and non-GE crops. It was carried out by the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies of the EU Joint Research Centre.

When the study was delivered to the EU Commission in January 2002, it came with the recommendation that it not be made public.

Lorenzo Consoli, EU policy advisor for Greenpeace says that, "The European Commission has tried to keep this study secret because it was afraid of its political implications."

"The question is, if the introduction of GE crops on a commercial scale in Europe increases costs of production for all farmers, makes them more dependent on the big seed companies, and requires complicated and costly measures to avoid contamination, why should we accept GE cultivation in the first place?" asked Consoli.

The EU study states that in oilseed rape production the co-existence of GE and non-GE crops in the same region, even when "technically possible", would be "economically difficult." This is because of the additional costs and complexity of changes required in farming practices in order to avoid genetic contamination.

Both organic and conventional farmers "would probably be forced to stop saving seed and instead buy certified seed", because of the increased risk of GE impurity for seeds that have been exposed to field contamination. The study predicts that smaller farms would face relatively higher costs compared to larger entities, and that cultivation of GE and non-GE crops in the same farm "might be an unrealistic scenario, even for larger farms."

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