Brussels — Food & Water Europe welcomed today’s vote strengthening proposed rules for national or regional bans on genetically modified (GM) crops and called on the EU Commission and Council to respect the views of the Parliament in the negotiations now triggered.
EU Food Policy Advisor Eve Mitchell said: “The Parliament has rightly rejected the totally unacceptable involvement of biotech companies in national GM policy development, and it has improved the Council’s proposal in a number of ways. The ball is now firmly in the Council and Commission courts — will they listen to the democratic representatives of EU citizens, or will they listen to biotech lobbyists?”
The discussion on so-called opt-outs, whereby an EU Member State or region can ban GM crops even if the crops are authorised by Europe as a whole, has been fraught since it began in 2009. Proposals from the Council, which have failed to gain Parliamentary approval, have been legally flawed and uncertain to give bans the sound footing needed to survive any challenge from the biotech industry or international trade partners.
The Council’s latest proposal, formally adopted by the Council in July, was seriously problematic. The Parliament’s Committee today passed a series of amendments that remove many of the most offensive issues, including the involvement of GM crop applicants in the decision to grant a ban. The Parliament also added mandatory measures to prevent GM contamination. However, complex EU operating procedures mean that these disagreements between the Council and the Parliament will now be taken up in informal talks to try to find a deal that everyone can accept. How the discrepancies will be closed is now the key issue.
Mitchell said: “There is still a long way to go, but the Parliament has once again clearly rejected the Council’s approach to this issue. We call on both the Council and the Commission to respect the Parliament’s position as a first step to securing the meaningful bans on GM crops which many citizens want urgently.
“Pro-GM governments like the UK must accept that trying to force GM crops onto an unwilling public has not worked and will not work. Citizens want protection from GM contamination, the right to make decisions without interference from vested interests and the simple right to decide what they will eat and what they reject. Talk about democracy is nice, but this is what it looks like on the ground. Unresponsive Ministers and unelected Commissioners can have a deal on GM crops if they want one, but the Parliament sets the rules.”
Contact: Eve Mitchell, EU Food Policy Advisor, Food & Water Europe, +44 (0)1381 610 740 or emitchell(at)fweurope(dot)org