Update GMO Campaign. Mute Schimpf Friends of the Earth Europe Riga, October 2012. FoE Europes GMO campaign. Started 1991 Main aim: keep Europe's field GMO free Combines coordination of GMO activities with FoE groups and a few allies; advocay work on Brussels level, campaigning
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Update GMO Campaign
Friends of the Earth Europe
Riga, October 2012
FoE Europes GMO campaign
GMOs in Europe: Where are we?
EU Commission website with database about authorised GMOs:http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/biotechnology/index_en.htm
How are GMO decisions taken in the EU:
Major changes in EU laws are decided on equal level amonst Eureopan Parliament, EU Commission and member states in Council – so called co-decision.
GMO authorisations as well as details about the implementation of GMO laws are decided in national expert meetings chaired by the EU Commission, so called Standing Committee meetings, name of the procedure is 'comitolgy' without involvement of Council or EU Parliament.You can find meeting agendas and minutes here:http://ec.europa.eu/food/plant/standing_committees/sc_modif_genet/index_en.htm
EU Commission: all responsibilites shifted to Health Commissioner, other Commissioners are advised to accept the lead of Health Commissioner and not involved in the 'implementation of GMO laws'
This means: national ministers are the key personsand national campaigning more important than ever before
Dropping zero tolerance for food
The EU’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy bans any food or animal feed imports found to be contaminated by a genetically modified organism (GMO) that has not been approved in the EU. This has been a key principle for GM rules in Europe. In 2011, this was dropped for non-authorised GMOs in feed imports (regulation 611/2011)
Our political arguments:
Since GMO were introduced in Europe in 1996, consumers attitude towards GM food have not changed. 66% of European consumers are concerned about GM food and food processors and retailers are aware and organised their production to fulfil the demand for conventional and organic food.
Consumers, supermarkets and food operators need full transparency. Introducing a threshold for 0.1 percent undermines this core principle of the main GMO laws on European level. This would also cause lost of consumers’ confidence.
The European Union has an existing authorisation system for GM food and feed (, framed by directive 2001/18 and the regulation 1829/2003). These legal requirements must not be bypassed by redefining testing methods in order to introduce new thresholds for non-authorised GMO in food.
Europe experienced two major contamination incidents in recent years (GM rice from US in 2006 and linseed from Canada in 2009). These cases show that there is a gap in EU legislation: the polluter pays principle is absent and there is no liability regime in force. Thus it was the European food industry which had to cover all the costs for product recalls, rather than the biotech industry which was actually responsible for the damage in the first place.
If politicians aim to give more legal certainty for the food sector and minimize risks for expensive product recalls caused by illegal contaminations, the most efficient way is introducing strict liability rules and implementing the polluters pays principle. Dropping zero tolerance for non-authorised GM food would not contribute to this, this is out of the scope of the planned proposal from the Commission.
What happened in the last months?
Early summer 2012: Lobbying in Germany resulted in rejection of the proposal by the responsible minster of consumer affairs. France and Austria also told media that they reject the proposal.
July 2012: the Commission planned to launch a draft regulation October 2012.
July 2012: FoEE successfully reminded the European Commission that such a fundamental change of GM laws should be carefully assessed and now they start an official impact assessment this means that public accessible text will be available and stakeholders will be consulted about it.
What are we planning:
Step one: looking for support from 3 leading supermarkets for a letter to Health Commissioner
Step 2: similar letters to national ministers
Mobilise around the Impact assessment
And whatever you want and organise
How to block the GM crops
Re-authorisation of maize Mon810, Monsanto, Bt crop with tolerance to European corn borer, banned in 6 member states, re-authorisation is pending since 2009, re-sent to EFSA for another opinion in July 2012, expected in Dec 2012
Maize BT 11, Syngenta, tolerant to glufosinate and resists European corn borer, pending since 2005, with several updated EFSA opinions in the meantime. EFSA stated that the glufosinate tolerance is just used as a marker gene and therefore did not assess the herbicide tolerance in its opinions. re-sent to EFSA for another opinion in July 2012, expected in Dec 2012
Maize 1507, Pioneer Hi-Bred, tolerance to glufosinate and resistance to European corn borer, pending since 2005 with several updated EFSA opinions in the meantime. EFSA stated that the glufosinate tolerance is just used as a marker gene and therefore did not assess the herbicide tolerance in its opinions. re-sent to EFSA for another opinion in July 2012, expected in October 2012
Maize GA21, Syngenta, tolerance to glyphosate, EFSA launched its opinion in 2011, discussed with member states in January 2012, in theory Commission can table it for a vote
Maize Mon88017, Monsanto, tolerance to glyphosate and resistance to Corn rootworms, EFSA launched its opinion in 2011, discussed with member states in January 2012, in theory Commission can table it for a vote
Maize NK603, Monsanto, tolerance to glyphosate, Efsa opinion 2009
Soybean 40-3-2, Monsanto, tolerance to glyphosate, EFSA launched opinion in June 2012, discussion with member states on 10 September.
Preparations so far, lobby activities
Created Alert list for urgent mobilisation with key persons from several countries
January :Joint NGO letters to ministers before the discussion of GA21 and Mon88017 in the Standing Committee
May: Joint NGO letters to Environmental ministers sent
July: great news that Commission send back 3 maizes back to EFSA
What can you in your country?
Alert civil society about upcoming authorisations
Investigate how your government will vote about GM crops for cultivation
Meetings, communication with official why Europe must not repeat the mistakes from Americas and should reject the cultivation of GM crops.