GMO news related to Belgium

03.08.2018 |

Commission authorises five Genetically Modified products for food and feed use

Daily News 03 / 08 / 2018

Brussels, 3 August 2018

Today, the Commission has adopted authorisation decisions of five Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) for food and feed use. The authorisation decisions do not cover the use of these GMOs for cultivation. Today's decisions concern 2 new authorisations (maize MON 87427 x MON 89034 x NK603, maize 1507 x 59122 x MON 810 x NK603) and the renewal of 3 existing authorisations (maize DAS-59122-7, maize GA21, sugar beet H7-1). All of these Genetically Modified Organisms have gone through a comprehensive authorisation procedure, including a favourable scientific assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). All Member States had a right to express a view in the Standing Committee and subsequently the Appeals Committee, and the outcome is that the European Commission has the legal backing of the Member States to proceed. The authorisations are valid for 10 years, and any products produced from these Genetically Modified Organisms will be subject to the EU's strict labelling and traceability rules. For more information on GMOs in the EU see: https://ec.europa.eu/food/plant/gmo_en

25.07.2018 |

Industry shocked by EU Court decision to put gene editing technique under GM law

The European Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday (25 July) that organisms obtained by mutagenesis plant breeding technique are GMOs and should, in principle, fall under the GMO Directive, in a surprising move that went contrary to the Advocate-General’s non-binding opinion.

The decision shocked the industry, which described it as a severe blow to innovation in EU agriculture and warned about economic and environmental consequences.

József Máté, Corporate Communications Leader at Corteva Agriscience, described the Court decision as a “bad day” for the EU agri-food sector.

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A ‘victory’

On the contrary, it was warmly welcomed by environmental NGOs, who said the EU shut the door to “new GMOs”. They hailed the Court’s decision and called it a victory for consumers, farmers and the environment.

Nina Holland, a campaigner from the Corporate Europe Observatory, said big agribusiness corporations will continue lobbying in Brussels to escape EU safety rules for the new GMOs.

“But today’s ruling leaves no doubt: Products from gene editing are covered by the existing EU GMO rules,” she said.

Similarly, Bart Staes MEP [Greens/EFA] noted that just because the industry has come up with new ways to modify organisms “does not mean that these techniques should be exempt from existing EU standards on GMOs.”

“Recent scientific studies show that these new techniques might not be as accurate as the industry claims them to be, that’s why it’s essential that they come under the same labelling requirements and impact assessments as existing GMOs,” he added.

25.07.2018 |

A victory for food safety and the environment: ECJ ruling on new GMOs

Today, the European Court of Justice ruled that organisms obtained by mutagenesis, otherwise known as "new breeding techniques" by the biotech industry, are in fact Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), and are subject to the 2001 EU GMO Directive and all its obligations. Despite heavy lobbying by the industry looking for ways to circumvent the GMO Directive, the Court's ruling is a victory for European food safety and the environment.

Bart Staes MEP, Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament and spokesperson on GMOs comments:

"Today's ruling is a victory for food safety and the environment. Just because the industry has come up with new ways to modify organisms does not mean that these techniques should be exempt from existing EU standards on GMOs. Recent scientific studies show that these new techniques might not be as accurate as the industry claims them to be, that's why it's essential that they come under the same labelling requirements and impact assessments as existing GMOs. These new patented organisms may have unintended effects, as well the potential to increase our dependence on the agri-chemical industry, and therefore must be stringently monitored by the European Food Safety Authority for any risks to human, animal and environmental health."

25.07.2018 |

EU's top court confirms safety checks needed for new 'GMO 2.0'

The EU's top court ruled today that a controversial new generation of food genetic engineering techniques should be subject to EU safety checks and consumer labelling.

In a landmark ruling, the European Court of Justice confirmed that new techniques to modify genetic material in plant or animal cells – so called 'GMO 2.0' – must undergo the same safety checks for their impacts on the environment and human health as existing genetically modified foods (GMOs).

Mute Schimpf, food and farming campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: "These new 'GMO 2.0' genetic engineering techniques must be fully tested before they are let out in the countryside and into our food. We welcome this landmark ruling which defeats the biotech industry's latest attempt to push unwanted genetically-modified products onto our fields and plates."

The biotech industry has been arguing that GMO 2.0 foods and crops should not go through existing EU safety and labelling laws. Today's decision therefore preserves the EU's food safety and traceability standards, which would have been threatened by any ambiguity in the ruling.

Mute Schimpf continued: "EU and national lawmakers now need to ensure that all new genetically modified products are fully tested, and they must also support the small-scale, nature-friendly agriculture we urgently need."

25.07.2018 |

New GMOs cannot escape testing and labelling under EU law, EU court rules

Brussels – A new brand of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), derived from so-called gene editing techniques, must comply with risk assessment, traceability and labelling requirements under EU GMO law, the European Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday.

The Court said that any organism obtained with new genetic engineering techniques falls within the scope of GMO law. It argued that the risks linked to the use of these techniques are comparable to those associated with conventional genetic engineering.

The ruling confirms warnings by scientists who have argued that gene editing can cause unintended DNA damage with unknown consequences. A recent article in Nature showed that CRISPR/Cas can cause much greater genetic deletions and more complex genomic rearrangements than experts thought.

Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg said: “The Court makes it crystal clear that plants and animals derived from gene editing are subject to the same safety and labelling requirements as other GM organisms. These requirements exist to prevent harm and inform consumers about the food they eat. Releasing these new GMOs into the environment without proper safety measures is illegal and irresponsible, particularly given that gene editing can lead to unintended side effects. The European Commission and European governments must now ensure that all new GMOs are fully tested and labelled, and that any field trials are brought under GMO rules.”

25.07.2018 |

ECJ ruling on gene editing products: Victory for consumers, farmers, environment

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) today published its ruling on the legal status of food and feed crops derived from certain new genetic modification techniques. It gave clear confirmation that organisms from these new gene editing techniques are covered by existing EU GMO regulation.

Reacting to the decision, which corroborates the January 2018 opinion of one of the court’s Advocates General, Corporate Europe Observatory’s agribusiness campaigner Nina Holland said:

“This is a big victory for the environment, farmers and consumers. It clarifies that EU decision makers have to ensure that products from these new techniques are assessed for potential food safety and environmental risks, and that they are properly labelled as GMOs.

“Big agribusiness corporations will continue their lobbying in Brussels to escape EU safety rules for the new GMOs, but today's ruling leaves no doubt: Products from gene editing are covered by the existing EU GMO rules.

"This ruling also means that the secret, unregulated field trial currently run in Belgium is illegal. The CRISPR-technique does in no way have a "history of safe use", and the plants used in this trial are undoubtedly GMOs. Belgian authorities should act accordingly and halt this trial."

24.07.2018 |

Unauthorised GMO field trial exposed as EU takes hands-off approach, Greenpeace

EU court set to rule on whether new GMOs fall under existing law

Press release

Brussels – Media reports in Belgium have exposed an unauthorised field trial of an experimental genetically modified maize in Flanders, preempting a ruling on the classification of a new brand of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) by the European Court of Justice on Wednesday.

The reports were published in De Morgen and La Libre.

Authorities in Belgium took a similar approach to the UK, Finland and Sweden in advising that certain plants created with a genetic engineering technique known as CRISPR do not fall under EU GMO law.

The European Court of Justice will rule whether or not GMOs produced through so-called gene editing techniques, such as CRISPR, are covered by EU GMO law or fall under an exemption reserved for so-called “mutagenesis” techniques (case C-528/16).

21.06.2018 |

New GMOs are not progress, but another tool of industrial farming

By Bart Staes, José Bové, Maria Heubuch, Martin Häusling and Thomas Waitz

The EU Court of Justice will soon publish its ruling concerning the legal statute of a group of biotechnologies, which have been called “new plant breeding techniques” by the industry.

This opinion article is co-signed by Members of the European Parliament from the Greens/EFA political group: José Bové, Martin Häusling, Maria Heubuch, Bart Staes and Thomas Waitz.

The ECJ will decide if these techniques produce GMOs – as the Greens/EFA and many environmental NGOs have been arguing for years – and if some of these will be exempt from proper assessment, traceability and labelling as if they weren’t GMOs.

After the ruling, tense negotiations will set the future of the current European GMO regulation. As always, citizens and lawmakers will face the full force of the industry lobbies.

30.05.2018 |

GMO imported crops continue to enter the EU while the flawed authorisation process undergoes reform

2 objections to GMOs were voted today

Making GMO authorizations more democratic

Little by little, the European Parliament is trying to install more democracy and transparency into the EU decision processes. Indeed, following its Committee on Industry in April, the European Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional affairs (AFCO) just adopted a position which calls for profoundly reforming the way the EU approves GMOs, active substances contained in pesticides or any product or substance susceptible of having an impact on human health or the environment.

Indeed, the current system (called “comitology”) has been dysfunctional for years, in particular in relation to GMOs. When it comes to their authorisation, the EU Parliament only has a symbolic role in the matter, whilst Member States have been unable to reach a common decision for the last 3 years. This leaves the Commission alone to decide, and the threats from biotech companies to take the Commission to court has led it to deliver the requested authorizations, thereby systematically ignoring the Parliament’s position.

16.05.2018 |

The EU needs to speak up to avoid ‘backdoor’ GMOs on our plates

By Mute Schimpf | Friends of the Earth Europe

When is a genetically modified organism (GMO) not a GMO? This is the question that the ECJ will soon rule on after a complaint from a coalition of French agriculture groups reached the EU’s highest court, writes Mute Schimpf.

Schimpf is a food campaigner for the environmental NGO Friends of the Earth Europe.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is expected to rule in the coming weeks whether new genetic modification (GM) techniques to make foods and farm crops – so-called ‘GM 2.0’ – are fully covered by existing safety laws.

Immediately after the ruling, the European Commission must quickly get its act together and ensure crops produced from new GM techniques are safety-checked and labelled, otherwise it will face public backlash and regulatory problems.

If the court’s ruling follows its Advocate General’s opinion as expected, it is likely to suggest that most food and crops derived from GM 2.0 techniques would be classified as GMOs.

However, this doesn’t automatically mean that they will be subject to the same safety checks that cover first-wave GMOs.

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