GM products finally approved for EU import following unnecessary delays
“Although EuropaBio welcomes the recent GM product approvals, we remain very concerned”, said Beat Späth, Director for Agricultural Biotechnology at EuropaBio.
Brussels, 23 July 2016 – Yesterday the EU Commission finally authorised three new genetically modified soya bean products for import after over six months of delays. According to an Ombudsman decision of January 2016, the products should have been approved at the latest 2.5 months ago and any delays to that are likely to constitute maladministration.
Indeed, in its January decision, the European Ombudsman clearly stated that, “in circumstances where, presumably, the substantive work on the individual case had already been done in advance of engaging with the Standing Committee and Appeal Committee, it is difficult to see why the Commission would need [so much time] to take its decision”, given that delays could have adverse consequences for affected actors. With her decision, Emily O’Reilly recognised that political obstacles cannot justify maladministration and called on the Commission to comply with its legal obligations.
“Although EuropaBio welcomes the recent GM product approvals, we remain very concerned”, said Beat Späth, Director for Agricultural Biotechnology at EuropaBio. “Unfortunately, the recent actions by the Commission, including but not limited to the recent soya bean approval delays, do not reflect a commitment to safeguard scientific principles, despite the clear benefits of GM trade,” said Späth. The EU depends on imports for over 80% of its vegetable proteins, and every year we import 34 million tonnes of GM soya beans, which equates to the weight of all Europeans put together. These recent product approval delays are already estimated to have cost producers millions of Euros in delayed sales at the expense of feed market stability, which is also vital for the EU.”
The European Commission itself recognises the potential losses caused by the EU being cut off from GM imports, as noted by Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis in his speech in front of ENVI committee MEPs at the beginning of June last year, when he said, “banning GM imports means doing away with our capability of producing food”. As Commissioner Andriukaitis put it, “there is very little non-GM soya on the world market and the little there is, is way more expensive”.
“Commissioner Andriukaitis is right, and it is time for the Commission to act accordingly", concluded Späth. “In light of the evidence, EuropaBio calls on the European Commission to urgently reconsider its approach to GM approvals and to ensure proper implementation of the GM approval system in accordance with better regulation.”
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EuropaBio, the European Association for Bioindustries, promotes an innovative and dynamic European biotechnology industry. EuropaBio and its members are committed to the socially responsible use of biotechnology to improve quality of life, to prevent, diagnose, treat and cure diseases, to improve the quality and quantity of food and feedstuffs and to move towards a biobased and zero-waste economy. EuropaBio represents 77 corporate and associate members and bio regions, and 16 national biotechnology associations in turn representing over 1800 biotech SMEs.