Paper reveals EU plan to boost GM crop cultivation
2010-05-28 0:00


Europe faces a major overhaul in the way it deals with genetically modified (GM) crops, after the European Commission sparked controversy with new plans to circumvent its cumbersome legislative review process.

The EU executive wants to let national governments decide whether or not to grow genetically modified crops without a long drawn-out review of the bloc's current GM legislation, an initial impact assessment seen by Reuters showed.

Details of the plan, which would open the door to widespread GM cultivation in Europe, provoked a furious reaction from environmentalists already angry at the EU executive's decision to approve the commercial growing of a GM potato in March.

But the plan will be a boost to biotech companies in the EU, where blockages in the current approval system have confined commercial growing to less than 100,000 hectares across the 27-nation bloc.

It could also ease trade tensions between the EU and the United States, which launched a World Trade Organization dispute against the EU in 2003 after countries including Austria and Germany banned the cultivation of an approved GM maize.

The EU executive is hoping to unblock the paralysis in GM crop approvals by giving those countries that want to grow them the freedom to do so, while also sanctioning the current "GM-free" stance of several member states.

Rather than revise the legislation, which would require the agreement of the European Parliament, the Commission will try to make the change "within the existing legislative framework, if possible," the paper said.

"The Commission appears intent on avoiding any democratic debate with the parliament in order to please the biotech industry and get GM crops into Europe," said Friends of the Earth campaigner Adrian Bebb.

The proposals -- due to be tabled in June -- will likely have "a positive impact on biotechnology and seed companies compared to the status quo," the assessment said.

"There may be a negative impact for non-GM farmers," it added, referring to the risk of unintentional contamination of conventional farm produce by GM-crops.


The paper outlines several options for implementing the proposal within the existing legislative framework, and makes it clear that a key consideration will be the likely reaction of WTO countries, particularly the U.S.

"Biotechnology is an important topic of transatlantic dialogue and therefore relations with the U.S. ... need to be taken into consideration when developing this initiative, irrespective of the options," the assessment said.

The first and most likely option set out in the paper is that approval for GM cultivation requests would continue to be granted at EU level following a safety assessment, but countries would then decide individually whether to grow them or not.

When it comes to how member states will justify their decision whether or not to cultivate, one option is to revise non-legislative EU guidelines on the "co-existence" of GM and non-GM crops, according to the paper.

This would allow countries to specify a 5 or 10 kilometer "buffer zone" between GM and non-GM fields, which would effectively make cultivation of GM crops impossible in practice.

Another option in the paper is to allow countries to cite "socio-economic" factors as the basis for their decisions, such as protecting organic production, increasing farmers' yields, or reducing the use of herbicides and pesticides


Related Articles
The Fight over the Future of Food
Zombie crops funded by British taxpayers to get round GM ban
GM food must be allowed into Europe, WTO rules
Scientists suspect health threat from GM corn
The Unethical Biopharming of America
Jeffrey Smith - The Health Dangers of Genetically Modified Food (Video)

Latest News from our Front Page

Norwegian school brutally kicks out students, reopens as immigration center
2015-11-25 1:46
A failing Norwegian school has brutally kicked out all of the students living there with just a few days notice to find somewhere else to live and study. It has now reopened as a reception center for immigrants. The school, called Waldorf, is in the R√łyken municipality of Buskerud County. It had been failing for sometime, and was officially declared bankrupt ...
Why not hear about Islam from a woman who grew up as Muslim in the ME?
2015-11-25 1:52
Youtube description: She says: "I have reached a boiling point with these lies about Islam! Please share it, don't let me waste my breath....go to for a translation of the ISIS website along with other great articles and podcasts!" Source:
Funniest Moments of Illegal Migrants
2015-11-25 1:27
Youtube description: - Beginner picture: Macedonia - Disastrous migrant: Hungary-Serbia border (Serbian side) - Grateful migrants: Hungary (Budapest) - Border Control: Austria (Slovenian border) - Migrant actor: Hungary-Serbia border (Serbian side) - Intelligent migrants: Hungary-Serbia border (Hungarian arie) (The fence was built from the border 2,5meters, in Hungarian area) - Idiot migrant: Hungary (Bicske) Source:
Pew: 65% say the news media has a 'negative effect' on America
2015-11-25 1:55
More than six in 10 Americans believe that the news media, followed closely by Hollywood, has a negative effect on the country, according to a new survey. An extensive new Pew Research Center survey finds that 65 percent believe that the news media "has a negative effect on the way things are going in the country." Some 56 percent said the ...
Hostage situation reported in N. France, several suffer 'gunshot wounds''
2015-11-25 1:12
A hostage situation has been reported in the northern French town of Roubaix near the Belgian border. Several people have sustained gunshot wounds, Reuters reported citing medical sources. The area has been cordoned off by police, RTL reported, adding that gunfire can be heard. La Voix du Nord newspaper says the hostage takers are armed with Kalashnikovs. Witnesses told the daily that ...
More News »