Calling on the EU to save our food

Feature story - 24 November, 2008
European Environment Ministers were asked to agree on strict controls ensuring food safety today, by our activists in Brussels. A giant banner displaying a ‘scary’ genetically modified corn plant and bearing the slogan Stop GMOs’ was dropped from a building on Schuman square (at the quarter of European Commission and European Council buildings) as dozens GM maize caricatures were laid around the street - highlighting the risks posed by genetically modified organisms such as maize.

The EU must ensure food safety and security by agreeing on tight controls.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) runs inadequate safety checks on GMOs and just rubber stamps whatever the agro-chemical industry puts on the table. This process ignores the serious and unpredictable risks to human health and the environment.

The current risk assessment process contravenes EU law because it does not, amongthe other things, consider long-term impacts of GM crops. Recently the Austrian government commissioned a scientific study on the effects of a GM maize (to which EFSA gave the green light).

The study revealed that the fertility of mice fed this type of maize was severely impaired compared with mice fed non-GM maize. This maize is authorised to enter the EU market to be used mainly in animal feed.

A safe decision needs to be made

On the 4th of December they have the chance to turn it around. The Ministers will be meeting to decide how to reform the EU authorization system of GMOs. We're asking them to:

  • Strengthen the risk assessment process and reform the EFSA  
  • Suspend all GM crop authorisations until the risk assessment process and the EFSA is thoroughly improved and equipped to assess long term impacts of GMO crops
  • Prevent GMO contamination of seeds
  • Protect the right of member stated to establish GM-free areas  
  • Ban all GM maize varieties

We are urging the EU to keep our food safe. Learn more about GMO’s in Europe.

The jury is out - GMOs are not worth the risk

GMOs are heavily promoted by the agro-biotech industry as the answer to the so-called food crisis. But existing non-GM farming methods can make a real difference in the developing world while at the same time being sustainable and not threatening the environment or human health. The most significant cause of starvation is not due to the lack of food production but the ineffective distribution of food and the way it is traded.

In contrast GMOs actually pose a major threat to food security due to their adverse effects on biodiversity, their continuous contamination of conventional crops and the monopoly of the global seeds market by big biotech corporations like Monsanto. There is growing scientific evidence of the health and environmental impacts of genetically modified crops. In addition to the recent Austrian study, several other recently published peer-reviewed studies point to numerous unexpected effects of GM cultivation. 

Who is trying to block the reform and spread GMOs in Europe?

Some Ministers are already on our side (Austria, Hungary, Greece, Luxembourg, France, Italy, Cyprus, Poland and Lithuania) but many are still sitting on the fence (Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Slovakia). There is also a small but powerful group of countries willing to block any meaningful reform (United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Portugal, Romania, Spain.) Meanwhile, the European Commission's President Barroso is actively pushing behind closed doors Member States to spread GMOs in the EU.

There is a serious risk that ministers will agree only on minor 'cosmetic' changes to the current assessment process. We can't afford to let this happen. The EU must ensure food safety and security by agreeing on tight controls.

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