GMO news related to Belgium

18.01.2018 |

Modern mutagenesis techniques are GMOs according to the European Court of Justice Advocate General

On Thursday 18 January, the European Court of Justice published the opinion of its Advocate General on the legal statute of modern mutagenesis, including some of the techniques known as “new breeding techniques”.

This opinion confirms what civil society and the Greens/EFA have been claiming from the beginning: these are not “breeding techniques” but GMOs. This is a clear victory against a corporate newspeak aimed at creating false public acceptance.

However, it isn’t all good news. At the same time, the Advocate General opens the door for some of these techniques to be exempt from risk assessment, traceability and labelling. These potential exemptions are all the more unwelcome given that the criteria proposed by this opinion are vague and subject to controversy, including within the scientific community. More worryingly, whereas a long history of safe use had been up until now considered a pre-requisite to release any products from mutagenesis in the environment without a prior risk assessment, the Advocate general considers this to be unnecessary.

Green MEP Bart Staes comments: “It would be absolutely reckless and unacceptable if products legally defined as new types of GMOs were to be released without a case-by-case risk assessment and without any labelling. Farmers have the right to know what they sow, and citizens what they eat.”

18.01.2018 |

ECJ opens back door to new GMOs

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) today gave the first indication of how it will classify foods and crops derived from new genetic engineering techniques.

The opinion issued by one of the ECJ's Advocates General noted that even if all food and crops derived from new GM techniques were to be considered genetically modified organisms (GMOs), he keeps the door open to some of them not being subject to the same risk assessment, labelling, and monitoring as existing GMOs.

Mute Schimpf, food and farming campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: "Farmers and consumers across the EU expect that any new approach to producing food and crops should be fully tested to make sure they are safe for the public and the environment.They will be counting on the European Court of Justice to not uphold today's opinion, and instead makes sure that all new genetically modified foods and crops are properly regulated."

18.01.2018 |

Special Committee on Glyphosate
Special Committee on Glyphosate

Glyphosate: European Parliament group presidents endorse Special Committee

PRESS RELEASE

Following a Greens/EFA initiative, the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament endorsed the mandate of a Special Committee to analyse and assess the authorisation procedure for pesticides today. The decision will be endorsed by the next plenary.

The committee will be composed of 30 members and will meet for nine months. The constituent meeting is expected in March 2018.

Co-presidents of the Greens/EFA group Ska Keller and Philippe Lamberts:

"Thanks to the hard work of campaigners and environmentalists, the issue of glyphosate and other harmful pesticides has been brought to the forefront of the political debate. Through this committee, the Green/EFA group will seek to analyse the failings in the process that led to the renewal of the authorisation of glyphosate. In particular, we want to look at the work of the European agencies (EFSA and ECHA) and the German agency Bfr. We want Europe's agencies to be irreproachable in their assessment of potentially dangerous substances. The protection of public health and our environment must take precedence over any other consideration and requires total independence of scientific work."

12.12.2017 |

Commission rejects demands of #StopGlyphosate citizens’ initiative

Press release - December 12, 2017

Brussels – The European Commission has issued its formal response to the #StopGlyphosate European Citizens Initiative (ECI).

It officially recognised the submission of more than one million signatures on 6 October. Today’s response is an answer to the ECI’s three demands for a ban of glyphosate, a reform of the EU pesticide approval process and mandatory EU targets to reduce pesticide use. The Commission proposed action that could fulfil one aspect of one of the three demands.

Reacting to the news, Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg said: “The Commission is trying to dress up its rejection of the #StopGlyphosate initiative with vague transparency proposals. Providing access to the data on toxic pesticides won’t make them any less dangerous. As long as the Commission leaves the testing of chemicals in the hands of the manufacturers, it will continue to lose the trust of citizens. We will continue to fight for meaningful measures to reduce pesticide use across the EU and for truly independent pesticide assessments.”

07.12.2017 |

Greens/EFA group calls for Commission decision to be annulled

Glyphosate

The Greens/EFA group will try to build a majority in the European Parliament to refer the European Commission’s decision to renew the licence for glyphosate to the European Court of Justice.

The call follows a new report from Professor Olivier De Schutter, who served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food from 2008 to 2014, outlining the reasons why the Commission's renewal should be annulled. The report is available on the Greens/EFA website.

27.11.2017 |

EU to renew glyphosate licence, ignoring concerns

Brussels – A qualified majority of European governments voted to approve the European Commission’s plan to grant a five-year unrestricted licence to glyphosate, a widely used weedkiller that has been linked to cancer and environmental harm.

The European Commission will now issue a formal renewal of the licence for glyphosate in the EU.

Reacting to the news, Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg said: “The people who are supposed to protect us from dangerous pesticides have failed to do their jobs and betrayed the trust Europeans place in them. The European Commission and most governments have chosen to ignore the warnings of independent scientists, the demands of the European Parliament and the petition signed by more than one million people calling for a glyphosate ban. The threats of corporate lawsuits are of obviously of much greater concern to them than people’s health and the environment.”

Nine countries voted against the five-year licence (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg and Malta), while one country abstained (Portugal) and the other eighteen countries voted in favour (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Spain and the UK).

The Commission plan is based on a flawed health risk assessment of glyphosate, which states there is insufficient evidence of a cancer link, despite the WHO’s classification of the weedkiller as a probable cause of cancer.

27.11.2017 |

EU fails to seize opportunity to end glyphosate

EU Member States today supported a new five-year licence for the controversial weed-killer glyphosate, missing the opportunity to ban it completely and make European food and farming safer and more sustainable.

Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth Europe said: "Glyphosate damages nature, probably causes cancer, and props up an industrial farming system that is degrading the land we need to feed ourselves. Today's approval, even if only for five years, is a missed opportunity to get rid of this risky weedkiller and start to get farmers off the chemical treadmill. Five more years of glyphosate will put our health and environment at risk, and is a major setback to more sustainable farming methods."

Glyphosate is the most widely-used weedkiller in the world and is used excessively by non-organic farmers, as well as in playgrounds, parks and other public places. Traces are found in many foods and drinks, as well as in the soil and water. Tests have also found glyphosate in the breastmilk and urine of people. In March 2015 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IACR) concluded that glyphosate was genotoxic (alters DNA) and probably causes cancer.

The EU's food safety watchdog has given glyphosate a clean bill of health but has been accused of plagiarism by copying the main safety arguments from the industry's application. In addition, papers released in the USA reveal that the main producer of glyphosate, Monsanto, has been ghost writing safety studies, covertly paying European scientists and has unduly influenced regulatory authorities to support the continued use of glyphosate.

22.11.2017 |

MEPs divided on the citizens’ initiative to ban glyphosate

More than a million European citizens have signed a petition to ban glyphosate, a pesticide classed as a probable carcinogen. In the face of European concerns, MEPs are divided. EURACTIV France reports.

Around 1.3 million European citizens want a ban on glyphosate.

The European Parliament, which rejected a 10-year renewal of glyphosate authorisation in October and proposed a total ban by 2022, debated on Monday (November 20th) a European citizens’ initiative entitled “Prohibiting Glyphosate and protecting people and the environment from toxic pesticides “.

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EU Member States will vote on renewal of glyphosate’s licence for five years on 27 November.

22.11.2017 |

PRESS RELEASE: Strong Institutional commitment needed to ensure a good legislative transition

Brussels, 22 November 2017 - The trilogue agreement for a new organic regulation reached last June was adopted by the Special Committee on Agriculture on Monday and by the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture today.

The next step is the sign off in the Parliament's plenary and the Council of Agriculture Ministers.

Christopher Stopes, IFOAM EU President: "IFOAM EU acknowledge the huge effort made by the Institutions to improve the text. We recognise that a number of concerns highlighted by IFOAM EU has been taken into consideration and some improvements have been made. The legal check has also solved some of the inconsistencies previously highlighted.

Nevertheless, the lack of a strong majority in both the SCA and the AGRI Committee has shown the fragility of this text. Countries like Austria (biggest share of organic land) and Germany (biggest EU market) did not endorse the text as it still includes a number of inconsistencies and mistakes that will make the practical implementation very difficult."

20.11.2017 |

Glyphosate: MEPs debate citizens’ call for a ban

A European Citizens’ Initiative petition calling for an EU-wide ban on herbicide glyphosate was discussed on Monday with the petitioners and the European Commission.

A European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) entitled “Ban glyphosate and protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides”, calling for a ban on the herbicide, a reform of the pesticide approval procedure and EU-wide mandatory reduction targets for pesticide use, collected over 1 million signatures.

Parliament rejected a ten-year renewal of glyphosate’s licence in October and proposed a full ban by 2022. EU member states will vote on a five-year renewal on 27 November.

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