Co-existence of GM and non-GM crops in the EU: a proven and recognised reality

01.01.2009

Co-existence of GM and non-GM crops in the EU: a proven and recognised reality

Developments in plant biotechnology offer significant opportunities to improve the productivity of agriculture whilst reducing its negative impacts on the environment. In this way, growing GM crops will be a key tool for the future in helping to feed an expanding global population, using fewer resources in an increasingly unpredictable climate. The advantages and potential are already in clear evidence around the world where GM crops are now grown on some 125 million hectares a year in 25 different countries.

However, in order for Europe’s farmers to share these benefits, it is crucial that the EU and individual Member States establish arrangements which enable different agricultural production systems to co-exist.

Coexistence is not a new concept – it is a practical reality in all forms of agriculture. Because farming takes place in the open air, 100% purity has never been achievable in any production system, but very high levels of purity and integrity are delivered by applying sensible management practices on-farm and within the supply chain.

Coexistence allows farmers to make a clear choice between growing conventional, organic and GM crops, in line with the legal requirements for labelling. Within the EU, the labelling threshold for GM presence has been set at 0.9%. Coexistence arrangements between GM and non-GM crop production must therefore safeguard a farmer’s ability to produce non-GM crops below the 0.9% threshold. At the same time, they must also protect a farmer’s right to choose to produce EU-approved GM crops if this meets their needs.

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