1.Spelman and supermarkets urged to block EC plan for untested GMOs in food
2.EFSA favours cultivation of 'Roundup Ready Soy' within the EU
1.Spelman and Supermarkets Urged to Block EC Plan for Untested GMOs in Food
GM Freeze, 27 June 2012
Today GM Freeze and Friends of the Earth urged Defra Secretary of State Caroline Spelman to reject proposals from the European Commission to drop the policy of zero tolerance for unapproved and untested GMOs in food.  Proposals from Health and Consumer Commissioner Dalli are expected to set a threshold below which contaminated imports could enter Europe’s food chain regardless of the untested nature of the GMOs they contain, mimicking the Commission’s abandonment of the zero tolerance policy for unapproved GMOs in animal feed last year. 
Similar letters sent to all UK supermarkets urge them to press the Secretary of State to reject any such proposals in order to maintain their company’s assurances to customers that no GMOs are present in any of their own-brand products.
The German Government has already announced its rejection of any proposals to drop the zero tolerance policy in order to protect the health of consumers and the transparency of food labelling.
Today’s letters point out Commissioner Dalli has no mandate from EU citizens to drop the zero tolerance policy and that in fact the move contradicts routine assurances on the safety of GMOs in European food and feed because the authorisation process is said to be so thorough – a position that cannot be maintained if unapproved GMOs are permitted unlabelled and untraced in the food chain.
The letters further point out that the policy of zero tolerance for unapproved GM traits in food has enabled the EU to introduce bans on imports of Chinese rice products and US maize contaminated with escaped experimental GMOs in recent years. Data on the food safety of these experimental GM crops was not available, so they had not been assessed under EU regulations and contaminated shipments were rejected. Contaminated imports of Chinese rice products contain three unapproved GM traits the Chinese authorities have been unable to clear up, so a ban on imports remains in place. 
Secretary of State Spelman was reminded that both China and the US operate similar zero tolerance policies to protect their consumer from unauthorised and untested GMOs from other countries, and that imports of soya have not been greatly affected by unapproved GMO contamination (with a mere 0.2% of shipments to May 2010 being rejected).
Pressure to drop the zero tolerance policy comes from the US government, the WTO and the biotech industry.
Commenting, Pete Riley from GM Freeze said:
“Protection of public health has to be Commissioner Dalli’s first priority. His suggestion the EU could allow unapproved GMOs in food is an inexplicable capitulation to the US government and biotech companies.
“The UK Government must oppose these plans, ensure our food chain is free of escaped environmental GMOs and guarantee shoppers who want to exercise their right to buy non-GM can do so. Anything less would fly in the face of the Government’s claims to operate a science-based decision making process judging GMOs on a case-by-case basis.”
“Europeans don’t want GM in their food, or animal feed for that matter, and they don’t want their food contaminated with untested GMOs. This measure is totally unnecessary – the current policy works. Introducing a threshold for unapproved, untested GMOs in food would be another step in a clear erosion of the right to buy non-GM food. This is the thin end of an unpalatable wedge, and supermarkets should step up to help us stop it.”
Call to Pete Riley 07903 341 065.
 GM Freeze’s letter to Caroline Spelman dated 27 June 2012.
 See GM Freeze “Spelman Urged to Reject EC Plans to Drop GM Zero Tolerance Policy”, “GM Freeze says Zero Should Mean Zero – No imports of untested GMOs” and “EU Zero Tolerance Proposals “Completely Unacceptable”.
 See GM Freeze GM Rice Contamination - BT63 from China: EU Issues Emergency Measures from 15 April 2008.
2.EFSA favours cultivation of 'Roundup Ready Soy' within the EU
But new legal dossier shows current authorisation practice violates EU law
Test Biotech, 22 June 2012
Munich/Brussels - The European Food Safety Authority EFSA has for the first time given a positive opinion on the cultivation of genetically engineered soy in the EU. Now the EU Commission and Member States have to make a decision on final market authorisation. The applicant, US company Monsanto, wants to sell its seeds for herbicide tolerant Roundup Ready soy to European farmers. Currently, the genetically engineered soy can be imported but not grown. But as a new legal dossier prepared on behalf of Testbiotech shows, the authorisation as planned would violate existing EU law because residues remaining in the plants from spraying with the herbicide were not taken into account during risk assessment. Furthermore, EFSA does not foresee monitoring possible health effects from these residues although required to do so by EU law.
Other authorisations already issued for the usage of genetically engineered plants in food and feed suffer from the same deficiencies. According to the legal dossier, written by the well- known EU legal expert Ludwig Kraemer, these authorisations now need to be reevaluated.
“Residues from herbicides regularly sprayed on genetically engineered plants are left out of the risk assessment of these crops. So far, this practice has been fiercely defended by EU Commissioner John Dalli. He is now not only under fire for being too close to industry, but he is also becoming a major legal problem”, Christoph Then says for Testbiotech. “If the genetically engineered soy is authorised on the basis of the risk assessment as elaborated by EFSA, this should be considered a violation of existing EU law.”
Professor Ludwig Kraemer worked as an official for the EU Commission (DG Environment) until 2004. Currently he is active with Client Earth. There are four salient points in his legal dossier:
*The present practice not to monitor the potential adverse effects on human health of genetically modified plants is not in compliance with existing EU legislation.
*Monitoring of potential adverse effects on human health from genetically modified plants must be performed even if such effects are unlikely to occur.
*The objective of current EU legislation is to avoid any adverse effect on human health from genetically modified plants. Therefore, risk assessment must take the cumulative effect of herbicide residues on genetically modified plants into account.
*When the monitoring plan for a genetically modified plant does not include the control of the cumulative effect of herbicide residues on human health, the authorisation must be amended.
Despite the fact that current EU legislation has been in place for more than ten years and 45 genetically engineered events have already been authorised for usage in food and feed, observation of potential adverse health effects has not been implemented as required by EU Directive 2001/18 and Regulation 1829/2003. Further residues from spraying with herbicides and emerging cumulative effects are left out of the risk assessment of genetically engineered plants. According to a new draft regulation on the risk assessment of genetically engineered crops presented by the EU Commission, this practice will not be changed in the future. As for the residues from spraying with complementary herbicides, a lot of criticism has been voiced because pesticides like glyphosate (brand name Roundup) are increasingly used in genetically engineered crops and several scientists have warned of associated health risks.
Christoph Then, Testbiotech,
, Tel. + 4915154638040, www.testbiotech.org