* To read what exactly GM food is please scroll down the page, the top section details the recent legislation changes regarding cultivation and import of GM animal feeds into the EU.
GM National Cultivation Bans
MEPs and member states have reached agreement on a law that will allow national governments to ban genetically modified crops, even if they have been approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
The change in the law was proposed by the European Commission in 2010 after some member states, including Austria, put national bans in place that were deemed to violate EU single market rules. Under the proposal, member states could ban crops that had been approved at EU level, but only under certain circumstances.
The anti-GM countries were concerned that the Commission’s proposal, which does not allow bans on environmental or health grounds, could be easily challenged in either EU courts or at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
In the latest agreements, MEPs were successful in adding some limited environmental grounds to be used in justifying national bans. However, they were unsuccessful in their attempt to have authorisations be given a second approval by national authorities. That was unacceptable to Germany, which is fearful of a re-nationalisation of agriculture policy.
The European Commission said the new regime will be a fulfillment of a campaign promise made by the new Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker. Vytenis Andriukaitis, the new European Commissioner for health and food safety, said the new regime, if confirmed, “would meet member states’ consistent calls since 2009, to have the final say on whether or not GMOs can be cultivated on their territory, in order to better take into account their national context and, above all, the views of their citizens.”
The deal needs to be formally approved and signed off by the Parliament and Council but should be agreed before the end of 2014 coming into effect in early 2015.
Vote on cultivation of GMO’s in individual Member States – January 2015
On January 13th the European Parliament voted on the issue of cultivation of GMO’s in member states granting each ms the power to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of GMO’s, A clear majority was reached with 480 votes to 159 and 58 abstentions. The new directive does not include mandatory coexistence measures and liability regimes which will raise issues for organic production in Europe.
The EU Commission is committed not to approve any GMO for cultivation before this new directive enters into force. In the first half of 2015 there is a review of the GMO’s authorisation process in Europe.
According to MEP, Mairead McGuinness, “today’s vote goes further in establishing a two-phase approach to ban the cultivation of GMOs. “Phase one allows Member States to participate in the GMO authorisation procedure at an EU level. Member States can request the applicant or company to modify the scope of the geographical area intended for authorisation.
“Phase two comes into effect after the authorisation procedure is complete, Member States can still prohibit the authorised GMO crop from being cultivated in their territory. However, there cannot be any conflict between national measures implemented and the environmental risk assessment carried out by EFSA,” she continued.
Member States can use grounds such as agriculture policy objectives, land use, socio-economic impacts, public policy and co-existence to restrict of prohibit GMOs in their territory. Such restrictions are applicable to both individual crops and groups of GMOs. We will monitor the next few months with growing interest.
APRIL 2015 update on imported feeds and cultivation ban
Animal feed approval
It is anticipated that the 5 soybean, 3 GM maize, 2 oilseed rape and 3 biotech cotton varieties will be rubberstamped for approval for import and use in the EU on April 22nd in Brussels. With the exception of cotton they will be used in animal feed.
With regard to cultivation, under the revised rules member states are granted flexibility on the basis of cultivation of GM crops based on a list of grounds that include ethical reasons, favouring certain habitats, landscapes or organic farms. Other grounds that may be used to introduce a GMO ban include town and country planning requirements and socio-economic impacts. However member states decisions shall in no way “conflict with the environmental risk assessment” carried out be the European food safety watchdog EFSA. Member states that decide to grow GM crops must take measures to avoid cross-border contamination of neighbouring farms but legislation does not include mandatory measures or a liability regime which is unfortunate. This new law entered into force at the start of April, however countries are not oblidged to put contamination prevention measures in place, nor to develop an effective liability scheme to compenstate victims of contamination, meaning that non GM food producers are constantly under threat from GM contamination and the onus is on them to prove that their product is GM free.
WHAT IS GM FOOD?
Genetically modified food is engineered in a labratory to produce desirable traits in food. In IOA we believe that food should be produced as naturally as possible and ideally organically! Therefore we stand firm in our belief that genetically modfied foods have no place in either human or animal food. So far the promised from the pro GM lobby about GM food have not been realised;
International GM cultivation has shown that:
- Yields have not increased as promised.
- Reliance on pesticides, herbicides, and fertilisers has increased – not decreased as promised.
- Weeds and pests have developed resistance to GM crops and pesticides resulting in ‘superweeds’ and ‘superbugs’ that need even larger amounts of herbicides and pesticides.
- There have been problems with cross contamination and cross fertilisation between GM and non-GM crops. These have led to sometimes lengthy law suits and are a potentially explosive problem if more GM crops are planted.
- This technology is expensive and costly for farmers and makes them more dependent on the agribusiness giants in order to sustain a livelihood.
- There are proven health risks associated with GM technology. Recent studies have also shown that animals fed on a GM diet do not break down the material in their intestine and there are traces of GM ingredients in animal products who consume a diet with GM ingredients in it.
- GM technology has not reduced levels of world hunger as promised. In fact, it has made poor farmers more indebted and less self sufficient and consequently more food insecure than ever before.
IOA are continuing to fight to keep Ireland free from GM crop cultivation and also campaigning for tighter laws on labelling GM foods.