EurActiv - Letters to the Editor

Sir,

Regarding ‘EU to overhaul GM crop approval system‘:

The European Coordination Via Campesina is dismayed at the proposal of the European Commission to restructure decision-making processes between the EU and member states, which will result in more GM crops being grown and used in Europe.

The Commission’s proposal to allow countries to implement strict legislation on co-existence between GM and non-GM crops, effectively facilitating countries’ wishes to ‘ban’ GM crops in their territories, is a simple attempt to make it easier for states to approve GMOs, bypassing the current impasse in the decision-making process in Europe.

European citizens do not want GM crops or foods. This has been reiterated on various occasions in the Council by the negative votes of numerous governments. The Commission is now attempting to fragment opposition to GM crops at EU level.

Such a policy on such a contentious issue is simply unacceptable. The EU’s single market should not be held hostage by GM technology corporations – how will one country be able to prohibit farmers from buying and growing GM seeds which are legally for sale and freely circulating on the single market, while other farmers in neighbouring countries grow the same crops without restrictions? No member state will be able to resist pressure from the WTO for long if it is not supported by the EU.

A ‘renationalisation’ of decision-making on GMOs will create huge difficulties in competition law and the single market – and will threaten the coherence of the European Union. If the EU wishes to cease meeting its WTO commitments and permit Europe to develop agricultural policies based on social justice and food sovereignty, we congratulate it – but not when the only beneficiaries are transnational chemical and seed corporations.

Changes in the processes of evaluation and authorisation currently in force in Europe are certainly necessary, but only in order to improve and reinforce existing mechanisms, not weaken them.

It should be noted that:

  • GM agriculture and GM-free agriculture cannot co-exist.
  • GM agriculture causes huge biodiversity loss.
  • There is a strong influence of transnational corporations in the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) leading to a failure of its mandate to properly assess the impacts of GMOs.
  • The Commission has repeatedly ignored its own regulations requiring socio-economic, ethical and other related assessments.
  • Biotechnology and GMOs are not necessary in order to feed the world’s population.

The European Commission, as opposed to facilitating market access for the the biotechnology and seed industries, should instead support the wealth and history of biodiversity developed and nurtured by farmers in Europe for the last 800 years.

We ask the European Commission to reconsider its proposition and call for:

  • A permanent EU-wide ban on the cultivation and import of GMO crops and seeds.
  • Support for the development of plant varieties selected without genetic manipulation to protect European biodiversity.
  • A permanent ban on all forms of patent on genes of plants and animals.
  • EU funding to support farmers’ rights as required in the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

Yours respectfully,

Josie Riffaud & Pierre Andre Tombez

European Coordination Via Campesina

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