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Commission Attempts to Force GM Contamination Blueprint on Member States

Immediate release (10 Mar 2006)

Calls Pete Riley 07903 341 065

Today’s EC Communication [1] on the ”coexistence” of GM and non-GM crops indicates that the Commission is prepared to plough-on with its deeply unpopular proposals to force EU Member States to adopt measures that would make GM contamination of crops routine across the whole of the EU.

The EC has rejected half the “coexistence” proposals submitted by EU Member States to date because they do not fully comply with the Commissions Recommendation of 2003 [2] which set a 0.9% GM contamination threshold (identical to the labelling threshold) for growing crops including organic ones and stated that “measures should not go beyond what is necessary in order to ensure that adventitious traces of GMOs stay below the labelling threshold laid down in Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 and Directive 2001/18/EC in order to avoid any unnecessary burden for the operators concerned”.

To date, the UK has not put forward any “coexistence” proposals but recent correspondence from Margaret Beckett indicates that they will largely follow the EC recommendations to the letter. [3]

The EC’s recommendations to set a crop threshold based on the same level of contamination agreed for labelling has been described by a leading QC as “legally irrelevant”. The legal opinion [4] describes the Recommendations as “fundamentally flawed” and to have “no basis in Community legislation and are wrong in law”. The opinion makes it clear that coexistence schemes must aim to protect the environment and human health as well as dealing with economic aspects of contamination of non GM crops.

The EC approach allows member states to develop their own scheme to introduce “appropriate measures to avoid the unintended presence of GMOs in other products”. However, some Member States have indicated that the 0.9% is unacceptable and want much lower thresholds and to avoid GM contamination by setting tough conditions for growing GM crops including liability.

At yesterday’s Council of Ministers meeting the EC’s approach and role in approving GM applications came under attack by several Member States including the use of their power to force through approvals despite the lack of a qualified majority in the Council for any GMO application in the last two years [5].

The demand for GMO free status is also growing fast with 172 regions and 4500 municipalities and local councils calling for the right to prevent GMO cultivation in their area [6].

Commenting Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:

Today’s EC communication shows that we are dealing with closed minds in Brussels. Faced with a legal opinion that condemns its approach, massive political support for zero contamination and the right to set up GM-free areas, the Commission just ploughs on with its blueprint for contamination which benefits biotech companies ahead of the European citizens. To make matters worse it appears to be trying to force through an EU wide set of rules without giving the European Parliament the chance to vote on it.

The Commission’s approach is designed to allow GM crops to be grown not to protect the rights of people to grow and buy food free from contamination.

In most of Europe “coexistence” is an impossible concept and the real choice lies between GM contamination or not growing GM crops. Politicians across Europe need to join with consumers and farmers to make sure the right to GM-free food and crops is not taken away by the GM dogma which permeates Brussels.


Calls Pete Riley 07903 341 065.

[1] Communication from teh Commission to the Council and the European Parliament, Report on the implementation of national measures on the coexistence of genetically modified crops with conventional and organic farming, {SEC (2006) 313}. Copy available on request

[2] 2003/556/EC dated 23 July 2003, Commission Recommendation on guidelines for the development of national strategies and best practices to ensure the coexistence of genetically modified crops with conventional and organic farming

[3] Letter dated 14 February 2006 to GM Freeze, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, National Federation of Women’s Institutes, GeneWatch UK and the Soil Association. Available on request.

[4] Summary of adivice or full legal opinion of Paul Lasok in relation to Coexistence, Traceability and Labelling available here.

[5] Ministers urge more change for GM crop rules Environment Daily 2055, 09/03/06

[6] See