Corn grenade: the winning image from the Greenpeace Seeds of Trouble competition
The proposal, under the Standing Committee on Seeds, would allow
0.3 to 0.7 percent GMO (genetically modified organism)
contamination of seeds, depending on the crop.
These numbers may sound small, but they would permit the release
of seven billion GE (genetically engineered) maize and rape plants
every year, enough to fill 45 thousand football fields.
This contamination would in fact be spread out over almost eight
million hectares of European farmland, unmonitored and unidentified
by the farmers growing it.
An initial vote on the proposed directives could take place in
early November. But why is this issue of high public importance
being decided by a small technical committee of agricultural
bureaucrats behind closed doors? Why have European Parliament
requests to involve elected MEPs in the decision-making been
The answer: because these new seed thresholds are at the request
of Monsanto and the GE giants who cannot openly sell GE crops in
Europe, and want to sneak them in instead.
Once allowed in, such pollution would be all but impossible to
breed out again. Pure seed lines of conventional crops could be
polluted in perpetuity.
"You just sort of surrender," said Don Westfall, pro-GE crop
vice president of Promar International, a major US food industry
consultancy. He also stated to a Canadian Newspaper that "the hope
of the industry is that over time the market is so flooded that
there's nothing you can do about it."
But surrender is not an option. Zero tolerance is the only
correct attitude toward the potential consequences of GE pollution
of conventional seeds, a message the EU is now hearing loud and
clear from Greenpeace
Why legislate "zero tolerance" for GE pollution? Too little is
known about GE crops to be sure that they are safe for humans,
animals or the environment. There is already serious concern about
their role in the spread of antibiotic resistance genes, and the
creation of super weeds, just two of many potential threats.
The proposed directives also spell economic disaster for organic
farmers. Organic production does not accept GE contamination of
crops. Europe's organic farmers could be forced to give up either
their principles or their livelihood.
You wouldn't guess it from the new directive, but ample supplies
of seeds with no detectable GE pollution exist (the lower threshold
of pollution detectable by current tests is 0.1 percent
contamination). With so much unpolluted seed available, it is pure
folly for the EU to set this artificially high threshold.
EU agriculture ministers must refuse the bad seeds. They must
instruct their officials not to allow any detectable contamination
For more information:
Visit our cybercentre
to send a message to your agriculture minister
Read about the winners of the Seeds of Trouble
Visit the Save Our Seeds website