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FoEE GMO campaign 2008-9 Some highlights …. May 2008. European Commission “orientation debate on GMOs”

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FoEE GMO campaign 2008-9

Some highlights ….

may 2008
May 2008
  • European Commission “orientation debate on GMOs”

“Today\'s European Commission decision to send three controversial genetically modified crops back to its food safety agency is a huge vote of no confidence in the EU\'s approval system claim Friends of the Earth Europe and Greenpeace, who say it raises serious concerns about the ability of the agency to check the safety of GM crops.”

BUT – Dimas’ proposal to reject two Bt maize not upheld

june 2008
June 2008
  • Barroso has announced that EU GMO laws for imports must be weakened URGENTLY
  • FoEE, Greenpeace and Via Campesina prepare briefing paper and present it to DG Health and the Commissioner for Health: there is NO NEED to drop “zero tolerance”
  • But the Commission needs a helping hand …..
….. Visit to the Argentinean and Brazilian Embassies (!), followed by a phone call to the Financial Times…

Environmental campaigners, however, say warnings that the EU could be unable to find supplies are scaremongering. Diplomatic sources in Brazil and Argentina, which supply almost all the EU’s animal feed supplies and soya for processed food, also question the apocalyptic scenario.

Financial Times, June 24th 2008

Groups in Cyprus put pressure on Commissioner, decision is successfully stalled

july september 2008
July - September 2008
  • We hear that Barroso has set up a « Sherpa Group » on GMOs
    • By writing directly to Heads of Government
    • Going over competent Ministers and his own Commissioners
  • FoEE obtains minutes:
    • Undemocratic, unrepresentative
    • Pro GM
    • Posts minutes and names of Sherpa group members on our website, inform journalists and anti-GMO movement
july december 2008
July – December 2008
  • French EU Presidency
    • After their MON810 ban, they bring the debate to Europe
  • No suprise that Mr Barroso sets up his own group 
  • « Ad hoc group on GMOs » sets main areas for discussion based on what French campaigners have put forward!
  • EU Environment Ministers agree UNANIMOUSLY that
    • Key aspects of EU GMO laws are not being met
    • Bt crops (now called « pesticide promoting ») to be assessed under pesticide laws
    • Socio economic impacts must be looked at by June 2010
    • Political if not legal right to GMO free regions
january 2009
January 2009
  • European Commission launches offensive against 4 members states (Austria, Hungary, France and Greece) to force them to drop their national GMO bans. Commission also puts two new GM maize for commercial growing for the vote.
  • FoEE is the first to obtain the information and emails it around the European anti GM movement. That same week we and Greenpeace have a meeting with Commissioner Dimas to find out what is going on ….
“The recent surge in agricultural commodity prices could be exacerbated by trade obstacles related to GMOs”
  • Pressure is coming from President Barroso, who has become openly pro GMO. The Commission has reached an out-of-court settlement with Pioneer – the company that makes one of the “Bt” crop coming up for vote – and therefore is now forced to propose to Member States that the crop be grown
FoEE, Greenpeace and Save our Seeds launch European mobilisation on bans and two maize
  • FoE Hungary launches national and wider campaign, FoE Austria also

Who Benefits from GM crops

at a time of food price crisis?

Biotech industry fakes

growth of GM crops in Europe

"Global acceptance of GM crops would mean big bucks for an industry that profits from royalties for patented seeds and pesticides, but Europe has resisted GM food and crops for more than ten years."The biotech industry is resorting to lies in its attempt to force its products onto the public. It’s time for them to stop the spin and face the failure of GM in Europe.” Media coverage in France (Le Monde), UK (Financial Times), Specialised agriculture and EU press, Hungary (Radio), Cyprus (TV), and other countries including outside of Europe
february 16th and 25th commission proposals put to the vote
February 16th and 25th - Commission proposals put to the vote …
  • …..“non votes” every time which means that the French and Greek bans, and the two maize will next be voted on by EU ministers.

February 25th, European Voice:

EU rejects plans for new GM crops

“Helen Holder of the campaigning group Friends of the Earth Europe said that the GMs in question are developed to tolerate a pesticide that the European Parliament has said should be phased out due to risks on human health. “These crops should not be grown in Europe,” she said.”

Sunday March 1st – FoEE Director makes speech on national bans to European Ministers:

“As Ministers, you have an obligation to take International Agreements and Rulings into account. It is our firm opinion that by voting tomorrow for the safeguard clause you will be respecting these obligations.

Your vote tomorrow at the Environment Council is not a vote about trade: it is about environmental and health safety, and about Members States’ right to decide what level of risk is acceptable for their citizens.”

FoEE director also takes time to speak privately with German minister’s rep, upon which all hinges. The ministers is feeling the pressure both from campaigners (over 22 000 emails in a little over 2 days), and from Chancellor Merkel who is generally pro-GMO….. Vote moved to the morning so that Minister can support Hungary and Austria “before Berlin wakes up” ….

Environment groups Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth Europe (FoEE) welcomed the vote, describing it as a "victory for the environment, farmers and consumers, and a major embarrassment for the Commission". 

"For the fourth time, EU governments have rejected a Commission proposal to lift national bans on GM crops. What part of \'no\' does the Commission not understand?," asked Greenpeace EU GMO policy director Marco Contiero. His comments were echoed by FoEE\'s Helen Holder, who urged the EU executive to "abandon its unpopular proposals once and for all and get down to the real work of improving GMO risk assessments in the EU, as ministers have requested".  (Euractiv, March 3rd )

March 12th, Economist:

“European governments are turning against the European Commission, with mischief in mind”

The ball is rolling ….
  • Barroso, with the upcoming selection for the new Euroean Commission in mind, backs down: attack on French and Greek bans is called off ….
  • …. new national bans are announced by Luxembourg on March 22nd and, most importantly, by Germany on April 14th
  • …. Campaigns in other countries are underway ….
FoE groups with active campaigns on GM crops include Germany, France, Spain, Hungary, Austria, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine. FoE EWNI and Milieu Defensie provide important support with expertise and input via the livestock issue.We are working closely with partner organisations in Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Ireland, etc …
anti gm movement in europe
Anti GM movement in Europe
  • April 24-25th, Lucerne, Switzerland – 5th European GMO free regions conference.
  • 260 participants overall, with speakers from Government, private and NGO sectors.
    • FoEE speaker in plenary and workshop leader. Discussion on GM free Europe campaign and food sovereignty.
    • FoE France, Cyprus, Hungary, Germany, Latvia, Macedonia, Switzerland