Over the coming days, European Commissioners are expected to
vote on a proposal from Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas to
refuse EU authorisation for two genetically modified varieties of
maize, because they are toxic to certain butterfly species and pose
a threat to other insects and soil health. The two new maize
varieties are produced by agrochemical firms Syngenta and
Pioneer/Dow, and are designed to kill insect pests.
Recent research has shown that toxin-producing GM plants can
have a range of unexpected effects, from harming beneficial
insects, to contaminating streams and poisoning aquatic life. These
findings show that growing the GMOs for which the biotech industry
is seeking EU authorisation could entail considerable environmental
Current EU legislation requires the European Commission to apply
the precautionary principle and take various aspects relevant to
GMO plants into account, when deciding on GMO authorisations, such
as new scientific evidence and social factors.
Public opinion polls constantly show that most Europeans oppose
the presence of GMOs in the food chain and in the environment. A
majority of EU member states have also repeatedly expressed
opposition to GMOs. Yet, the European Commission constantly
authorises them, with the keen backing of the US government.
"Behind our parody is a serious call for greater transparency.
We are protesting about the disproportionate influence of the GMO
industry in certain Commission departments. Industry lobby-groups
such as the European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB) and
EuropaBio, which represent the interests of agrochemical companies,
have 'excellent working relations' with the Commission," explained
Marco Contiero of Greenpeace. "We call on the European Commission
to stop listening to the powerful biotech lobby and support
Commissioner Dimas' call to refuse authorisation for the two
pesticide-producing GM maize."
As with all parodies, the performance by Greenpeace projects a
dangerous truth. This is confirmed today by the public lobbying
activity of the European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB), a
pro-GMO lobbying organisation promoting the use of biotechnology in
Europe and defending GMO industry interests. Among its members are
Monsanto, Bayer, the American Biotechnology Industry Organisation
and the German Association of Biotech Companies: hardly a
collection of independent scientists.
"The EFB is a front for companies like Monsanto. This lobby
group is obviously trying to mask commercial interest with dubious
scientific credentials. We expect the EU Commission to see through
the sham and treat them as an ordinary industry pressure group,"
VVPR info: Marco Contiero , Greenpeace European Unit, GE Policy Director +32 2 274 1906, Mobile: 0032-477777034.For Photos, contact John Novis, Greenpeace International Picture Desk, + 44 207 865 8230For Video, contact Maarten van Rouveroy, Greenpeace International video producer, 0031 646197322