Over a million EU citizens finally have their say on GM crops
1. One million petition EU to halt GM crop approvals
Reuters Thu Dec 9, 2010
Campaigners presented a petition of more than a million signatures to the EU executive on Thursday, demanding a halt to approvals of new genetically modified (GM) crops.
The petition is seen as a test case for the "European citizen's initiative," introduced under the EU's new constitutional treaty, which enables a million or more people to jointly ask the European Commission to change EU legislation.
Organized by environmental campaigners Greenpeace, the petition calls on the Commission to stop approving GM crops and set up a new scientific body to study the impact of the technology and determine regulations.
It follows the Commission's decision in March to grant the first EU GM cultivation approval in 12 years for the "Amflora" potato.
"Over a million people across Europe have set the EU a democratic test -- will the EU address the real concern people have about GM crops and food, or will it side with the chemical industry lobbyists controlling GM technology?" Greenpeace's EU Director Jorgo Riss said.
"Until safety issues of GMs are examined by independent experts, all GM authorizations should stop."
Detailed rules for how the citizens' initiative will work are currently being finalized by EU governments and lawmakers, and are not expected to be in force until the end of next year, at the earliest.
As a result, the Commission has said the petition cannot officially be regarded as a European citizen's initiative, as the signatures were collected before the rules have been finalized.
A spokesman for the EU executive said it would treat the signatures "as a petition in the spirit of the citizen's initiative."
John Dalli, the EU commissioner responsible for GM policy, said: "I am committed to look seriously at the request made through this initiative."
Under draft rules for the initiative agreed by EU governments and lawmakers earlier this week, the Commission would have three months from receipt of a petition to decide what action to take.
This could include drafting new legislative proposals or taking other policy initiatives, but after considering a petition the Commission could also choose to ignore any requests for changes to EU rules.
GM crops are one of the most controversial areas of EU policy, with widespread public opposition to the technology in most EU countries.
Earlier this year the Commission proposed an overhaul of EU rules on GM cultivation, which would let governments decide individually whether or not to grow the technology, and Dalli pledged to press ahead with EU approvals while the plans are discussed.
(Reporting by Pete Harrison, writing by Charlie Dunmore)
2. Over a million EU citizens finally have their say on GM crops
Blogpost by Myrto Pispini
Greenpeace, December 9, 2010
Can you imagine how it feels to cross the finishing line of a marathon race... the smile, the thrill, the excitement, the urge to hug the fellows athletes, and also the exhaustion, the feeling of just sitting down to take several breaths before articulating a word? Well, this is exactly how I feel because we just finished an amazing race to get 1 million people calling for safe food and stopping genetically modified (GM) crops in the EU. But this is not your average petition. For the first time we're using our citizens' rights under the EU Lisbon Treaty.
What follows every amazing race is the ceremony for the winners, so together with Avaaz - we are about to celebrate reaching our finishing line - delivering over 1 million signatures to the European Commissioner of Health, John Dalli. Actually he was the reason that Avaaz initiated this petition immediately because he went ahead and authorised the controversial antibiotic-resistant GE potato back in March in spite of public opposition and scientific concerns. And we joined the petition with Avaaz just before launching our 'GMO cookbook' and billboard campaign in Brussels.
Our race has made lots of records: It is the first European Citizens' Intiative (ECI) delivered to the EU Commission after the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty. Over 1 million people signed the petition within 7 months from across Europe’s 27 countries and we actually passed the limit of the necessary number per country in 12 member states! That's double the amount required for an ECI as it stands now.
We wanted to deliver 1 million signatures in a special way in order to value every single name and I was thrilled when my colleague, Heath, came up with the brilliant idea to create a colourful 3D work of art including all of your first names - to be placed right in front of the EU Commission building. And we were incredibly lucky to get one of the most famous 3D pavement artists Kurt Wenner to accept the task. Kurt created an ecological farm symbolising the future of agriculture with no GM crops surrounded by the 1 million names. The design was then transferred to a huge 11GB file and sent to us for printing. This piece of art created by one person sets a new world record! Another world record is the printing of the art on the biggest eco-friendly canvas by Pyramid Visuals who used non-toxic inks.
We will meet Commissioner Dalli on top of the 3D pavement art with the presence of the press as we so we can broadcast the million strong call for safe food and fair farming across the EU. We expect the Commission to take this petition very seriously and act on it.
So the question for Commissioner Dalli and the European Commission is: will they listen the 1 million citizens and address the real concerns on GM crops or will they take the side of the agro-chemical industry? If the Commission is not willing to act we are prepared to explore all options available including legal avenues and we will need your support!
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