Brussels – The European Parliament (EP) has endorsed a controversial European Commission plan that exempts many new genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from current safety rules, ignoring critical science, and farmer and consumer rights, warned Greenpeace.
The Commission plan would scrap most safety checks requirements for a new brand of genetically modified plants, produced with so-called new genomic techniques (NGTs).
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Greenpeace GMO campaigner Eva Corral said: “Members of the European Parliament have failed in their duty to protect people’s health, the environment and the future of European farming. European farmers will pay a high price, becoming increasingly dependent on a few seed firms, and risk getting sued by the multinationals who own patented GMOs. With no credible proof that new GMOs can withstand the impacts of climate change, growing corporate control in the food system means farmers could find it harder to access and develop climate resilient, locally-adapted plants.”
The Commission plan would lead to more patents, extending to conventional breeding and plant traits already present in nature. As a result, farmers and breeders could lose autonomy and the freedom to grow what they want. Today, just four companies control over 60% of the seed market worldwide: Bayer, Corteva, ChemChina-Syngenta and BASF.
A legal analysis by Greenpeace shows that, if adopted as proposed by the Commission, the law could violate EU constitutional law, which guarantees a high level of protection for people’s health and the environment, as well as for farmer and consumer rights. The law could also breach the Cartagena Protocol on biosafety, a binding international treaty for the EU and its member states that regulates the circulation of GMOs across borders. The Cartagena Protocol gives countries the right to decide whether or not to allow imports of GMOs. By deregulating new GMOs, the EU would make this decision impossible for non-EU countries, as the movement of new GM plants across borders would no longer be subject to the procedures of notification and consent that, under the current rules, apply to GMOs before they are exported.
In an open letter in November 2023, more than 70 scientists and academics expressed their concerns about the attempt to rush through this proposal before European elections in June 2024, without sufficient public debate. Several polls and a 2022 petition show that EU citizens across several countries, including France and Germany, want new GMOs regulated and labelled.
Scientists have warned that science has been ignored in the legislative process and that new GMOs carry risks, which should be managed by risk assessment, labelling and traceability. The German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) and the French National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) have also warned about the risks involved.
Once EU governments have agreed their stance on the Commission GMO plan, negotiations will start with the European Parliament.
Eva Corral – Greenpeace EU GMO campaigner: +32 479 601289, [email protected]
Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 (0)2 2741911, [email protected]
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