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for a responsible, fair & sustainable food system

UK Must Reject Danish GM Reforms

Immediate release (5 Mar 2012)

Calls to: Pete Riley 07903 341 065

GM Freeze has today asked Defra Secretary of State Caroline Spelman to reject the latest draft from the Danish Presidency proposing reform of the EU legislation on cultivating GM crops. The move claims to permit Member States to ban GM crop cultivation in their territory, but the proposal is dangerously flawed so cannot provide either legally sound means for Member States to take such action or protection for farmers who choose to avoid GM.

GM Freeze is very concerned that the legal basis for the Danish compromise proposal [1] is not sufficiently robust to prevent future legal challenges by farmers or biotech companies against Member States trying to bring in GM bans.

GM Freeze also wants scrapped suggestions that Member States should negotiate the terms of bans with biotech companies before the final authorisation vote.

Today’s letter to Secretary of State Spelman also points out that outstanding issues related to the transparency and inclusivity of the GM risk assessment process, as well as GM thresholds in seed, must be resolved before the GMO legislation is amended, as demanded by the European Council in 2008.

Explaining Pete Riley Campaign Director of GM Freeze said:

Biotech companies have plenty of opportunity to present evidence that their GM crops are safe during the application process. If they fail to convince Member States of that safety, as they have largely failed to do so far, then each country should be able to ban any crop it feels is dangerous.

But countries need to be sure the legal grounds for any ban will be strong enough to prevent legal action against them. This proposal does not give this assurance, so is not much use.

Biotech companies should have no role in the democratic process. They are not EU Member States, so cannot have any role in approving GM crops for cultivation.

Worse still, the current proposal leave Member States in the invidious position of having to approve a GM application in Brussels in order to be able ban it a home. For those who object to GM cultivation on any of a number of scientific grounds, this is a nonsense.

The principle of Member States being able to ban GM crops is fine, but bans on cultivation do nothing to protect neighbouring farmers or beekeepers from contamination and the serious financial problems this brings. Instead of helping biotech companies sell more GM seeds, it should be mandatory for Member States to introduce laws protecting non-GM farmers, growers and beekeepers from contamination and to make biotech corporation strictly liable for any harm arising from the cultivation of a GM crop.

ENDs

Notes

[1] Danish Presidency proposals available from GM Freeze.