GMO news related to Belgium

25.02.2020 |

EU mulls faster genetically modified food approvals for Trump

Such a move could shift focus to the approvals process at food safety watchdog EFSA.

Brussels is ready to offer to speed up the approval process for genetically modified organisms imported into the EU, as part of a mini trade agreement with Washington.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wants to strike such a deal with U.S. President Donald Trump by March 18.

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Marco Contiero, Greenpeace EU’s agriculture policy director, said that if turbo-charged GMO approvals were what the Commission meant by a Green Deal, “it boils down to business-as-usual greenwashing for the sake of defending the German car industry.”

“Of course, they’re ready to give the U.S. what they want, despite a clear decades-long rejection by EU citizens,” he continued. “This Commission seems to be acting just like the past one. It’s scary news.”

20.02.2020 |

Health, environment and climate are not negotiable

More than 100 civil society organisations demand a stop to trade talks with the US that will further endanger EU rules on health and the environment and aggravate the climate crisis. A change of course is needed.

We have followed the recent talks between the European Commission and the US authorities on a new trade agreement with disbelief and disappointment. It has become clear that the Commission is prepared to accommodate Trump’s demands for a reduction of EU food safety levels, to the detriment of public health, animal welfare and the environment, and also undermining EU commitments on climate change.

Fear of threats made by the US President to impose high tariffs on European cars cannot be an excuse for retreating on basic public interest. The apparent paradigm shift within the Commission, emerging after months of negotiating behind closed doors and largely shielded from public scrutiny, is highly alarming. We call on governments and parliamentarians in the EU to push the Commission to alter its course. It must be made clear to the US Administration that our public health and environmental protection levels are not for sale.

16.02.2020 |

Toxic residues through the back door

Pesticide corporations and trade partners pressured EU to allow banned substances in imported crops

Pesticide corporations and trade partners have put immense pressure on the EU to allow residues of certain hazardous pesticides - banned in Europe - to be present in food and feed imports. Facing an endless number of visits, letters and reports, complaints and threats at the WTO by the US, Canada and others, the European Commission dropped its original plan to ban residues of these dangerous chemical substances in imports. It is now up to the new Commission - with its ambitious European Green Deal - to change this approach and stand up for public health.

EU pesticide rules include a ban on particularly hazardous substances in pesticides, for instance those that are carcinogens or endocrine disruptors. These substances are so dangerous that EU regulators believe that, unlike other chemicals, there is no safe level of exposure to them.

13.02.2020 |

Epic battle over green farming divides EU departments

DG ENV officials reckon DG AGRI is out to block real change.

Two European Commission departments are at war over how much action is needed to make the EU's farming system more environmentally friendly.

Agriculture is one of the most fundamental components of the EU budget and receives about €59 billion of subsidies each year. Politically protected farmers, however, have long avoided tough, binding targets to go green, despite producing about 10 percent of Europe's emissions.

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Though it is unclear whether it is an official policy position, much of the document appears to be a response to a draft of DG ENV's biodiversity strategy, obtained by POLITICO earlier this month. That strategy called for a 2030 target to slash the use of pesticide and fertilizers by 30 percent.

But DG AGRI's document suggests the EU should not set targets for reducing the use or risks of pesticides, and instead focus on "providing alternatives and enhancing the introduction of alternative pest management." It says it would be "meaningless" from a public health perspective to reduce the "volume or value of a long set of very diverse substances."

The EU has committed to measures to "significantly reduce" the risk and use of agricultural chemicals in the Green Deal.

05.02.2020 |

New GMOs: Kyriakides gets off on wrong foot with biased consultation

The new EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides recently told EURACTIV.com that her “priority is to gather more information” on gene editing. To this end, she said, “we will be preparing a study on new genomic techniques, foreseen for spring 2021”. Clearly, the design and set-up of such a study will be crucial to its outcome, writes Nina Holland.

By Nina Holland, a researcher at Corporate Europe Observatory

On 10 February 2020, DG SANTE will hold a ‘targeted stakeholder consultation’ to discuss the set-up of this policy study on ‘new genomic techniques’.

However, only Brussels-based organisations have been invited and the list of invitees shows an enormous bias towards industry interests. Out of 94 organisations invited, more than 70% represent industrial food and farming interests, contrasting with fewer than 12% of NGOs.

Such a biased set-up raises concerns that the study is being designed to deliver a pre-determined conclusion.

11.12.2019 |

Local and GM free demands to boost EU protein crop output

EU production of soybeans and pulses will continue to grow to address feed and food demand for locally produced plant-protein products, according to the EU Commission’s outlook for EU agriculture until 2030.

10.12.2019 |

What Food Retailers Need to Know about the New GMO Deregulation

When it comes to GMOs in food, there is a strong alliance between food retailers and consumers. Consumers do not want GMOs in their food, and food retailers do not want to sell any. Leading European retailers have developed “non-GMO” and organic product lines in response to consumer demand for non-GMO products in the conventional and organic sector. Both product lines represent sustainability, transparency and quality.

But recent developments at EU level and in several member states might challenge the strategy, business model and financial results of food retailers: It is highly likely that the new EU Commission will make a proposal for the deregulation of products obtained with new genetic engineering – and food retailers could suffer tremendously from this development.

22.11.2019 |

MEPs slam gene-editing court ruling as damaging for SMEs

It is much easier for larger companies to implement new GM legislation, but it’s the smaller ones that are most affected by the recent gene-editing ruling, the chair of the agriculture committee (AGRI) MEP, Norbert Lins, told EURACTIV.com at the sidelines of a recent plant breeding conference.

His comment was in reference to the July 2018 EU Court decision that organisms obtained by mutagenesis plant breeding technique are GMOs and should, in principle, fall under the GMO Directive.

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However, the claim that SMEs hold a larger market share of NBT patents is widely refuted by NGOs.

Speaking to EURACTIV on the sidelines of the event, Jan Plagge, president of EU organic farmers (IFOAM EU), said that there are various types of patents and that although larger corporations may not hold as many of the patents for finished products, they do hold the majority of patents for gene-editing techniques.

This, he said, makes it “hard for small and medium enterprises to use this technology” and therefore the argument that “regulation is preventing SMEs from strengthening their innovation and product development is not really valid”.

He added that “four or five” large companies have the largest share of the seed market and that they secured “a lot of licenses and patents on techniques”.

18.11.2019 |

Battle over glyphosate shifts to the environmental front

Forget cancer. The next EU debate on the safety of glyphosate will be about the environment and the harm the ubiquitous herbicide can do to life in meadows and rivers.

14.11.2019 |

European Parliament Objects to Four Genetically Modified Crops

Nonbinding vote concerns EU approvals for two genetically modified corns, soybean, cotton

Approvals process characterized by country stalemate

The parliament’s votes against market approvals for two genetically modified corns, a soybean, and a cotton are nonbinding. But they put pressure on EU countries and the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, to take a more restrictive approach to genetically modified crops, Beat Spath, agricultural biotech director of industry group EuropaBio, told Bloomberg Environment.

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