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UK Votes for All Six GM Applications in Europe, but No Majority

Immediate release (30 Jun 2010)

Calls to Pete Riley 07903 341 065

The UK voted in favour of six applications to import GM maize at yesterday’s EU Agriculture Council meeting, but none were approved because no qualified majority votes were achieved. [1]

As most EU food companies continue to avoid GM ingredients in food, the GM maize would mainly be used for animal feed. There is currently no requirement to label products produced using GM animal feed, although legislation to change this will be voted on in the European Parliament on 7 July. [2] The EU’s reliance on imported animal feeds is being challenged and is the subject of a Private Member’s Bill in the UK Parliament. [3]

These votes come at a highly sensitive time. The European Commission is attempting to speed up the approvals application process for GM crop cultivation in the EU by allowing Member States more freedom to prevent planting in return for positive votes in the European Council on GM applications. [4]

The Commission is proposing new guidance on the coexistence of GM and other crops together with amended legislation allowing crops to be banned in all or part of territories. These are likely to run into trouble because they fail to deliver the legal grounds needed to enforce such prohibitions.

The votes at yesterday’s Agriculture Council meeting were evenly divided, with 13 members voting in favour and 13-14 voting against or abstaining. Five of the crops voted on included genetic modifications for herbicide tolerance. These enable companies to increase sales of their own-brand weed killers in the face of global competition from China (the world’s largest glyphosate manufacturer). However in South and North America weed resistance to glyphosate (the main weed killer used on herbicide tolerant crops) is developing rapidly, and farmers are resorting to more and different weed killers to try and counter this. [5]

A recent opinion survey in the UK found 66% of respondents would like to buy meat and dairy from animals fed non-GM diet, 89% wanted products from GM fed animals to be labelled and 72% would be willing to pay extra for milk and meat to avoid the use of GM animal feed. [6]

Commenting Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:

We are hugely disappointed that the UK coalition government has chosen to back the Commission instead of standing up for what consumers want. People in the UK clearly do not want GM anywhere near their food, and by voting in favour of all six applications yesterday the government has shown complete disregard for the rights of the UK population to avoid the use of GM crops in their diet.

The Commission is desperate to speed up the GM approvals process in the mistaken belief that GM crops will boost the economy. Fortunately many other EU members don’t agree and want far tougher safety assessments and guarantees that crops, seeds and products can be produced without contamination.

Yesterday’s votes were another blow for the Commission and further indication that Members States will not be bullied into accepting GM crops based on false promises.

Notes

[1] Details of votes at the Agriculture Council 29 June 2010:

GM MaizeVotes in favourVotes againstAbstain
1507 x 59122 Herbicide tolerant and insect resistant

Dow/Pioneer Hybrid

Belgium, Czech Rep, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Spain, Netherlands, Portugal, Finland, Slovakia, Sweden, UK, RomaniaAustria, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovenia

(Luxemburg absent)

Bulgaria, France and Ireland
59122 x 1507 xNK603

Herbicide tolerant and insect resistant

Pioneer Hybrid

Belgium, Czech Rep, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Spain, Netherlands, Portugal, Finland, Slovakia, Sweden, UK, RomaniaAustria, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovenia

(Luxemburg absent)

Bulgaria, France and Ireland
Mon88017 x Mon810

Herbicide tolerant and insect resistant

Monsanto

Belgium, Czech Rep, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Spain, Netherlands, Portugal, Finland, Slovakia, Sweden, UK, RomaniaAustria, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovenia

(Luxemburg absent)

Bulgaria, France and Ireland
Mon89034 x NK603

Herbicide tolerant and insect resistant

Monsanto

Belgium, Czech Rep, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Spain, Netherlands, Portugal, Finland, Slovakia, Sweden, UK, RomaniaAustria, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Hungary, Malta, Poland and SloveniaBulgaria, France and Ireland
Bt11 x GA21

Herbicide tolerant and insect resistant

Syngenta

Belgium, Czech Rep, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Spain, Netherlands, Portugal, Finland, Slovakia, Sweden, UK, RomaniaAustria, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Hungary, Malta, Poland and SloveniaBulgaria, France and Ireland
Bt11 renewal

Insect resistant

Syngenta

Belgium, Czech Rep, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Spain, Netherlands, Portugal, Finland, Slovakia, Sweden, UK, RomaniaAustria, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Hungary, Malta, Poland and SloveniaBulgaria, France and Ireland

[2] See Action section of GM Freeze website for more. On 7 July 2010 the plenary of the European Parliament will vote on significant amendments to the Novel Food Regulations overwhelmingly supported by the EU Environment Committee in May. They are:

  1. a new requirement that all foods produced from animals fed GM to carry a label saying so (specifically Amendment 82)
  2. an opposition to any authorisation to use foods derived from cloned animals and their descendants and a request to the Commission to come up with a separate proposal prohibiting this outright (specifically Amendments 11, 14, 40 and 74)
  3. a requirement that foods produced by nanotechnology should undergo specific risk assessment before being put on the market and should not be approved until then (specifically Amendments 73 and 81).

(See full texts at www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2009_2014/documents/envi/pr/810/810811/810811en.pdf).

[3] See www.foe.co.uk/news/robert_felllo_bill_24350.html.

[4] See See Action section of GM Freeze website for more.

[5] See www.nytimes.com/2010/05/04/business/energy-environment/04weed.html and www.gmfreeze.org/uploads/resistance_short_final.pdf.

[6] See GM Freeze press release here and poll here.