Parliament must ensure that Europe can continue to have a thriving non-GMO food sector
Negotiations are in full swing on the European Commission’s proposal for a regulation on new GMO techniques (new genomic techniques, NGTs). With the Commission proposing a full deregulation of this type of gene editing, should the proposal become law, it would unleash untested and unlabelled GMOs onto European fields, into the supermarkets and on to people’s plates – GMOs that European citizens do not want in their food.
In an event at the European Parliament tomorrow, co-organised by ENGA (The European Non-GMO Industry Association) and hosted by MEPs Maria Noichl and Christophe Clergeau MEPs (S&D), MEPs from across the political spectrum will come together with companies and business from different parts of the food sector (retail, food manufacturers and the organic sector) to debate this important legislation.
The event, “The Future of Non-GMO Production in the EU - The possible deregulation of New Genomic Techniques and what it means for the food sector and EU citizens”, aims to address what the proposal from the European Commission means for the food sector, for conventional and organic Non-GMO production and for consumers. Business will lay out what is needed for them to continue to produce without GMOs and in order to safeguard the production of Non-GMO food in Europe.
The event comes at an important moment in the legislative process with the Commission’s proposal being discussed in the relevant parliamentary committees. Tomorrow’s event aims to highlight the significant risks ahead, including:
* The stark economic effects of a possible deregulation on the conventional and organic Non-GMO markets – markets worth up to 20 billion and 54.68 billion euros respectively.
* The abolition of the precautionary principle, risk assessment, traceability, and labelling for 95% of all NGTs.
* No provision for detection methods or coexistence measures for agriculture and food production with and without genetic engineering.
* Member states will not be allowed to ban NGT cultivation on their territory.
Maria Noichl, MEP said: "I see the Commission's proposal on NGTs with great concern. For me, the precautionary principle has absolute priority when it comes to breeding and new genetic engineering, especially new methods such as CRISPR/Cas. I reject any softening of the EU regulations in this regard, as currently proposed by the EU Commission, as the necessary protection from the coexistence regulations, traceability and transparency that have applied to date would be abolished, which would have devastating consequences for the coexistence of conventional and organic farming and would restrict freedom of choice of consumers."
Christophe Clergeau, MEP, said: “I am opposed to the Commission’s vision of deregulation. We must bear in mind two major concerns. Firstly, prudence and responsibility because our decisions today have consequences for the future. And secondly, my concern is for farmers’ and citizens’ rights, which have been acquired over 40 years of the internal market. Safety for the environment and for health, transparency, access to information and freedom of choice – these are the areas that we all need to work together on to change the Commission’s proposal.”
Heike Moldenhauer, Secretary General of ENGA, said: “This proposal goes against the rights of EU citizens and food business operators to have transparency over what is in their food and in their value chains. It is down to the European Parliament now to ensure that Europe can continue to have a thriving food sector where farmers, producers and retailers can choose whether they want to grow and sell food without GMOs. This is a potentially disastrous deregulation proposal, which if left as it stands will massively affect the conventional and organic Non-GMO food sectors, who will ultimately pay the price.”