Non Cultivation Agreement on Genetically Modified Crops Undermines Innovation and the Single Market

04.12.2014
EuropaBio Agricultural Biotechnology

Brussels, 4 December 2014 – EuropaBio, the European Association for Bioindustries, commented on the agreement reached between national ministers and the European Parliament concerning genetically modified (GM) crops cultivation as follows:

“This is a non-cultivation agreement”, said Beat Späth, director for agricultural biotechnology at EuropaBio. “It enables Member States to formally reject safe products which are approved at European level. Rejecting modern technologies on non-scientific grounds sets a dangerous precedent for the internal market and sends a negative signal for innovative industries worldwide considering whether or not to invest and operate in Europe. European farmers have lost their freedom to choose”.

The EU legal framework for the cultivation of GM products, initially adopted in 2001 (Directive 2001/18/EC), has never been correctly implemented. GM products for cultivation are regularly not put to Member States for a vote as required by law. EuropaBio reiterates its call for products that fulfil the EU's science-based risk assessment requirements as set out in the EU legislation to be authorized without undue delay. All serious existing evidence after more than 15 years of large scale GMO cultivation and consumption has shown that GM crops are as safe as their conventional counterparts and can deliver remarkable extra benefits for farmers and consumers, and for sustainable farming.

The biotech industry firmly believes that failing to support the EU’s own best science is the single most damaging element for growth, innovation, investment and, indeed, consumer confidence and safety. Decision makers should now focus on finding a solution to the testing and sampling issue involving small traces of GMOs in seeds (as repeatedly requested by the Member States since 2006) and in food, as this represents an economic loss for a wide range of operators and threatens trade flows of commodities the EU heavily depends on.

ENDS

For media inquiries, please contact:

Nilsy Desaint

Communications and Public Affairs Manager Green Biotechnology Europe, EuropaBio

n.desaint@europabio.org

Telephone: +32 2 735 03 13

Mobile: +32 473 33 48 75

References:

On GMO safety – selected evidence from European public institutions and public researchers:

  • Positive scientific opinions by the European Food Safety Authority EFSA on over 70 GM product dossiers: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/panels/gmo.htm
  • European Commission. (2010). A decade of EU-funded GMO research (2001 - 2010). http://ec.europa.eu/research/biosociety/pdf/a_decade_of_eu-funded_gmo_re... “Biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than conventional plant breeding technologies.”
  • European Commission. (2001). EC-Sponsored research on safety the genetically modified organisms (1985-2000) http://ec.europa.eu/research/quality-of-life/gmo/: “The use of more precise technology and the greater regulatory scrutiny probably makes GMOs even safer than conventional plants and foods.”
  • EASAC – the European Academies Science Advisory Council (2013), Planting the future: opportunities and challenges for using crop genetic improvement technologies for sustainable agriculture http://www.easac.eu/home/reports-and-statements/detail-view/article/plan.... “The scientific literature shows no compelling evidence to associate such crops, now cultivated worldwide for more than 15 years, with risks to the environment or with safety hazards for food and animal feed greater than might be expected from conventionally bred varieties of the same crop”.
  • An estimated 3 trillion meals containing GM ingredients have been eaten around the world over the last 17 years without a single substantiated case of ill-health, as confirmed by the World Health Organisation has said that: ‘No effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved’. Source: World Health Organisation http://www.who.int/foodsafety/areas_work/food-technology/faq-genetically...
  • A new meta-analysis of the agronomic and economic impacts of GM crops has once again concluded that the effects have been ‘overwhelmingly positive.’ The review “the largest yet” was published in the journal PLOS ONE, found that the yield rise with GM crops was so great that farmers using them made 69% higher profits than those who did not. The authors of the review also found that the advantages afforded by GM crops were greater in developing nations than developed nations, due to greater problems posed by weeds and pests in the developing world. The article concludes that the authors of the review expressed their hope that their work ‘may help to gradually increase public trust in this promising technology.’ Source: A Meta-Analysis of the Impacts of Genetically Modified Crops http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0111629
  • The UK Royal Society of Medicine issued a statement in 2008 reporting “no ill effects” from plant biotechnology after more than 15 years of global consumption. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2408621/

On the requests from EU Member State ministers to address the issue of GM traces in seeds:

  • European Ministers have twice unanimously requested an AP in seeds threshold. In 2006, the Council of Agricultural Ministers, under the Austrian presidency, invited the Commission to “…come forward, as soon as possible, with Community labelling thresholds for seeds.”
  • In 2008, the Council of Environment Ministers, under French presidency, unanimously invited the Commission to “adopt practicable AP in seeds thresholds as soon as possible”.

For more information:

  • EuropaBio’s press release on the Council political agreement in June 2014
  • EuropaBio’s position on the ‘Commission’s Proposals to Nationalise the Approval of GM crops for EU Cultivation’: a licence to ban
  • Pocket Guide to GM Crops and Policies
  • Series of factsheets on Product Safety, Global Adoption, Trade in Agriculture, Consumer Benefits, Farming and the Environment
  • Infographics on the EU risk assessment / safety of GMOs
  • EuropaBio’s agricultural biotechnology Call to Action for the next 5 years 2014-2019

About EuropaBio:

EuropaBio is the European Association of BioIndustries. Our members are involved in research, development, testing, manufacturing and commercialisation of biotech products and processes in human and animal healthcare, diagnostics, bioinformatics, chemicals, crop protection, agriculture, food and environmental products and services. EuropaBio also counts a number of National Biotech Associations in its membership who in turn represent more than 1800 biotech SMEs.

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