News

29.04.2021 |

New GMOs: EU Commission must make significant improvements

In its publication on the future handling of new genetic engineering methods, the EU Commission gives broad space to the positions of promoters of genetic engineering, but wants to stick to safety for consumers and the environment as guiding principles. Safety, protection of "Ohne Gentechnik" and organic farming as well as GMO labelling are explicitly mentioned, but fall far too short in the conclusions.

"There is a more than obvious need for improvement here," comments VLOG’s Managing Director Alexander Hissting: "The current rules already allow plants to be approved after comprehensive safety testing and risk assessment and with labelling of the products as GMOs. There is no ban. So there is no need for change at all. No one should seriously question careful testing and approval procedures. To foist unmarked GM food onto consumers would mean a massive loss of confidence in politics and food business.

29.04.2021 |

Press release: European Commission threatens our freedom of choice

New GMOs are being promoted in a study by the European Commission ignoring the precautionary principle and the freedom of choice for farmers and consumers. The Biodynamic Federation Demeter International is deeply concerned by this position and reiterates the necessity to oppose any deregulation of GMOs.

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GMO regulation

In view of the upcoming discussions on a potential new policy on new GMOs, the Federation urges the European Commission and the EU Member States to “take a clear stand against a deregulation of all new GMOs fully enforcing the precautionary principle of the ECJ ”. “Prior risk assessment and authorisation, as well as traceability and labelling, are essential for all products on the market to ensure the freedom of choice for both farmers and consumers, as well as to limit the risks to our health and the environment”, says Clara Behr, Head of Policy and Public Relations at the Federation.

29.04.2021 |

EU study: GMO laws needs overhaul; environmentalists protest

BRUSSELS (AP) — A new European Union study finds that the two decade-old legislation on genetically modified organisms should be revamped, a process environmentalists claim will open the door to a new generation of bioengineered crops being allowed into the EU market without proper checks.

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“The European Commission has fallen hook, line and sinker for the biotech industry’s spin, and has set the future of food and farming in the EU down a dark path,” said Mute Schimpf of Friends of the Earth Europe, reflecting the views of many environmentalists.

She said that the study was “suggesting tearing up decades of the precautionary principle, by allowing new GM crops onto our fields and plates without safety tests.”

29.04.2021 |

European Commission bowing to industry lobby campaign on new GMOs

The study released today by the European Commission on products from new GM techniques like CRISPR-Cas shows that the institution has been lending its ears almost entirely to the biotech industry.

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Nina Holland, researcher at Corporate Europe Observatory said: “DG SANTE has clearly listened more to the biotech lobby than to anyone else. Its study on new GMOs is yet another example of the corporate capture of EU decision-making. This started right from the Commission's extremely biased stakeholder consultation that fed into this study, favouring industry voices.”

29.04.2021 |

EU Commission opening the door for new GMOs

Brussels – The European Commission is gearing up to exempt new genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from current environmental rules, Greenpeace has warned. The EU Commission today released a report on new genetic modification techniques such as CRISPR/Cas, which concludes that more permissive rules may be needed to allow GMOs produced with these techniques.

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Kevin Stairs, Greenpeace EU GMO policy adviser, said: “The EU has a responsibility to protect the rights of farmers to choose what they plant and for people to choose what they eat, and to protect the environment and biodiversity from potential harm from new GMOs. The EU Commission and national governments must respect the precautionary principle and the European Court of Justice’s decision – GMOs by another name are still GMOs, and must be treated as such under the law.”

29.04.2021 |

European Commission opens the door to new GMOs

European Commission backtracks and opens the door to the deregulation of new GMOs, putting citizens and farmers’ freedom of choice at risk

Slow Food is deeply alarmed by the European Commission’s conclusions from the study on “new genomic techniques” which opens the door to the deregulation of new GMOs, ignoring the precautionary principle.

“Through the EU Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy, the European Commission committed to accelerate the transition towards a truly sustainable food system. By suggesting that EU GMO rules must be re-opened, the Commission is falling into the trap of pursuing techno-fixes rather than investing in and promoting agroecological systems that benefit farmers, local communities, and the wider environment,” says Marta Messa, director of Slow Food Europe.

29.04.2021 |

GM food can and must be labelled

As the European Commission is considering how to regulate genetically modified (GM) products created with new GM technology, Eleonora Evi argues that the EU must continue to label all GM food as such, regardless of the technology used to produce it.

Eleonora Evi is a Green MEP.

A recent EU-wide opinion poll commissioned by the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament shows that the vast majority (86%) of Europeans who have heard of genetically modified (GM) crops want food produced from these plants to be labelled as such.

The majority (68%) of respondents who have heard of new GM techniques, such as CRISPR, want food produced with these techniques also labelled as GM.

The poll confirms the Commission’s view that Europeans want detailed information about the food they buy, be it on the nutritional quality or the place and method of production.

The Commission has announced mandatory, front-of-pack nutritional information and said it would develop a “sustainable food-labelling framework” that also covers the environmental and social aspects of food production.

29.04.2021 |

Nigeria: NGO want Genetically Modified Organism ban

Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), women and farmers associations in Katsina State, have urged the Federal Government not to allow Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) into the country.

This was contained in a letter, which Mrs Gloria Okon, submitted to the Special Adviser to Gov Aminu Masari on Agriculture, Dr Abba Abdullahi, on behalf of the organisations on Thursday in Katsina.

Other associations were Women and Children Life Advancement Initiative (WACLAI), Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) and Cotton Producers and Merchants Association of Nigeria, among others.

29.04.2021 |

The European Commission wants to change GMO legislation after refusing to properly harmonise and apply it

The European Commission today published a study, commissioned by the Council of the EU, on “new genomic techniques”, in which it suggests that current GMO legislation is not “adapted to the scientific and technological progress” of new genetic modification techniques. ECVC denounces this attempt by the European Commission to cover up its inaction on the implementation of the current GMO legislation, and also denounces the considerable influence of agribusiness lobbies on the results of this study.

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The European Commission has announced the opening of a public consultation to explore policy options in the coming months. For ECVC, the Commission must quickly review its message in order to open a public debate based on facts and not mistruths.

In order to guarantee the right of farmers to freely choose and to have transparent access to information about the crops they grow, in addition to guaranteeing the right of citizens to know what kind of products end up on their plates, ECVC opposes any modification of the current European regulation. We reject the appropriation of the food chain by a handful of multinationals as a result of the patents they register on these GMOs. For this reason, and by virtue of the precautionary principle, all GMOs must remain regulated by EU GMO law, as confirmed by the Court of Justice of the European Union in its judgment of 25 July 2018.

28.04.2021 |

Gene editing and the Seed Goliaths

Early in 2021, DEFRA ran a consultation on gene editing, focusing in large part on whether gene-edited organisms (GEOs) ought to be distinguished from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in law, allowing gene-edited technologies to be liberated from GMO regulations. DEFRA stated in its press release that these new gene-editing technologies will ‘help the UK reach its vital climate and biodiversity goals in a safe and sustainable way.’ But what guarantees can we have that this will be the primary goal of the sector?

This blog considers whether deregulation of genetic editing could be yet another example of policy bias in favour of large business and technological quick-fixes over more sustainable, more democratic alternatives.

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If DEFRA’s ambition is to reach the UK’s biodiversity and climate goals, ceding more power to agribusiness is neither the only, nor the most obvious solution. A transition, instead, to more agroecological farming relies on giving power back to the farmers to be stewards of agrobiodiversity and of nature’s vital genetic resources.

Bella Driessen is Research Officer at the Food Research Collaboration, based at the Centre for Food Policy, City, University of London.

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