GMO news related to Belgium

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.

03.05.2018 |

The situation of EU sugar beet farmers made worse by a GM sugar beet from Monsanto

EU farmers need a true shift to agroecology

European sugar beet producers have been suffering in recent years from a succession of transformations of the sector and low market prices. Some Member States have been using the farmers’ difficult situation as an excuse to lift the EU ban on three neonicotinoids - the famous bee-toxic pesticides. And yet, it seems that some of the same Member States are willing to let imported GM sugar beet flood the EU market.

EU sugar beet farmers in a difficult position

The recent confirmation of the ban of the three most used neonicotinoid pesticides in the EU is without a doubt the best news of the year for biodiversity, as these insecticides have been proven to be the main cause for high mortality rates of bees in intensive farming areas. However, until the end, the sugar beet sector and some Member States have been arguing against the ban, or at least in favour of a derogation for sugar beet farmers, highlighting the current dire situation of the market as their main argument.

27.04.2018 |

EU Member States back plans to protect pollinators

The Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed has today voted to approve the extension of the European Commission's restrictions on the use of three of the most widely used neonicotinoids.

Greens/EFA food safety spokesperson Bart Staes comments:

"At long last, this strong action against neonicotinoids has been approved. Comprehensively banning the mostly widely used neonicotinoids is an essential step to reverse the decline in bee populations. Bees and other pollinators play a huge role in maintaining biodiversity and in the production of our food and they have to be protected."

26.03.2018 |

Meat, animal feed and the EU's unbearable hypocrisy on GMOs

How GMOs enter the EU unnoticed

This morning, the NGO Mighty Earth published a powerful report on the dire consequences of the current EU meat, milk and eggs production system on those countries, especially in Latin America, which produce the feed for farm animals.

The report explains that The EU imports 27.8 million tons of soy from South America every year, and highlights the terrible conditions in which it is produced. Massive deforestation to make room for soy crops - more than 8 million hectares in the last 12 years - released the equivalent of 3.024 million metric tons of CO2 and endangered rare species and fragile ecosystems. According to the World Bank, the use of agrichemicals - especially glyphosate - increased by 1000 % in 20 years due to the cultivation of GM soy; this has resulted in water, air and soil pollution, and has provoked disastrous effects on the health of local populations. A staggering 19 % of deaths in Argentina are caused by cancer, disproportionally located in soy cultivation areas.

This terrible reality is the direct cause of a major, and terribly hypocritical, contradiction at the heart of the EU’s policy on GMOs.

05.03.2018 |

EU's GMO Regulator Ignored Human Health Warnings Over a Monsanto Insecticidal Corn

by Claire Robinson

A Monsanto genetically modified (GMO) maize, called MON89034, caused kidney disease and bladder stones in rats in industry tests performed in 2007. Several EU member states, including Germany, Belgium, Austria, and France, independently raised concerns about these results during the EU’s standard three-month regulatory consultation process. But the central GMO regulator of the EU, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), issued a favourable opinion on MON89034 regardless With the usual lack of agreement from EU member states on whether to authorize the maize, the EU Commission subsequently approved MON89034 for human consumption in 2011

MON89034 has since been crossed with other GM maize varieties to form “stacked” GM crops containing multiple GM traits. As each newly stacked GMO trait involving MON89034 has come up for approval, member states have continued to draw attention to the original adverse health impacts in the rats fed MON89034.

01.03.2018 |

What the Monsanto Papers tell us about corporate science

The Monsanto Papers are a treasure trove of internal documents slowly released since March 2017 as part of a US lawsuit by cancer victims against Monsanto over its ubiquitous herbicide, glyphosate. They tell a lot about how Monsanto actively subverts science, both in the company’s practices and the way it abuses science’s moral authority to push for its interests.

The Monsanto Papers make for fascinating reading, all the more since Monsanto constantly uses and abuses the moral prestige of science in its propaganda. See above and below for an example of a recent PR campaign by the company.

That Monsanto performs research is clear. The corporation spends about 10 per cent of its turnover in research & development to keep developing new agricultural technologies, and “believe[s] innovation has the potential to bring humanity’s needs in balance with the resources of our planet”.

But the Monsanto Papers show the company’s real, and rather troubling, approach to science and evidence.

27.02.2018 |

EU citizens reject Bayer-Monsanto merger, says new polling

New polling shows citizens are against the planned merger of agribusiness giants Bayer and Monsanto, with a majority (54%) thinking it is "very" or "fairly important" that the European Commission blocks it – more than three times the number who think it would be unimportant.

The YouGov survey results from Germany, France, Spain, Denmark and the UK also shows that the merger gives 47% of EU citizens "serious" or "very serious" concerns, while just 11% think the merger offers any potential.

Citizens also expressed concerns that the merger would negatively affect the farmers' choices of what crops they would be able to farm, the environment, and the amount of chemical substances used in farming to control pests and weeds.

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