“HCB, with the complicity of the French government, has dismissed any opinion contradictory to the interests of the GM industry”
The report below, sent out by the French NGO Réseau Semences Paysannes and co-signed by other groups, alleges that the French government and the High Council of Biotechnology (HCB) are colluding to get the products of new GMO techniques exempted from Europe’s GMO regulations and labelling.
The HCB stands accused of censoring a differing scientific opinion to the effect that products of the new GMO techniques carry risks and should be regulated as GMOs.
These are serious developments that demand the mobilization of all NGOs working on this issue.
New GMOs: 7 associations of civil society slam the door on the High Council of Biotechnology
Friends of the Earth France, Confederation Paysanne, FNAB, France Nature Environnement, Greenpeace, Reseau Semences Paysannes, UNAF, April 13 2016
[GMWatch translation of French language original]
The subject of new GMO techniques deserves a real societal and scientific debate, not just within the High Council of Biotechnology. That is why today, our seven civil society organizations of civil society (Friends of the Earth, Confederation Paysanne, the National Federation of Organic Agriculture, France Nature Environment, Greenpeace, the Peasant Seeds Network and the National Union of French Apiculture) have jointly resigned from this body, which is in the control of lobbyists for agrochemicals and GMO firms.
After several months of work, our organizations face the bitter fact that any debate on the issue of new GMOs has been forcibly cut short in the HCB. Despite many shortcomings, we have many times tried to bring the voice of civil society to it. It has been a wasted effort since today HCB, with the complicity of the French government, has dismissed any opinion contradictory to the interests of the GM industry.
HCB censorship and government complicity
The censorship by HCB of a differing scientific opinion from February pointing to the risks of the new GMOs was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Our organizations then suspended their work, waiting for the opinion, written by Yves Bertheau, Research Director at INRA, to finally be made public and transmitted to the French and European authorities by HCB. Two months later, it has still not been published and HCB persists in concealing all the scientific data that challenge the new techniques of genetic modification. Result: the French Government is basing its position on a seemingly true but actually fake and totally biased scientific opinion, draped in a civil society consultation that was never brought to completion. This seemingly true but actually fake opinion has also been supplied to the European Commission as a French reference.
The issue is absolutely crucial because the European Commission, after 8 years of controversy over the status of these new GMOs, will soon publish a legal interpretation, having the fake opinion as French reference. On this basis it will decide to exclude or include the new techniques of genetic modification from the EU’s GMO legislation (Directive 2001-18). If they are excluded, the products of these techniques could be freely grown in Europe without any evaluation, GMO traceability and labelling, with the consequent risks to health, environment, agricultural practices and food safety. They facilitate at the same time the patenting of life.
We will not be part of this farce, which wants us to believe that all these new genetic modification techniques are mere natural mechanisms of mutation. Our organizations are however ready to work in a truly democratic and transparent framework where decisions are not taken even before the proceedings are initiated, and where the divergent positions can be heard and communicated.
Consideration of applications from civil society arise from political decisions. Our organizations continue to mobilize and raise public awareness on this subject.
Bénédicte Bonzi: 06 68 44 06 01 (FoE)
Jean-Luc Juthier: 04 75 67 14 74 (Peasant Confederation)
Daniel Evain: 06 84 06 64 38 (National Federation of Organic Agriculture)
Marc Peyronnard: 04 76 45 27 95 (France Nature Environnement)
Anaïs Fourest: 06 25 82 83 99 (Greenpeace)
Patrick Kochko: 06 17 06 62 60 (Peasant Seeds Network)
Jean-Marie Sirvins: 06 89 37 06 12 (National Union of French Apiculture)