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POLICY & REGULATION: European Parliament strengthens draft law to ban GM crops



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT STRENGTHENS DRAFT LAW TO BAN GM CROPS

SOURCE:  Greenpeace International European Unit, Belgium

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/en/News/2011/European-Parliament-strengthens-draft-laws-to-ban-GM-crops/

DATE:    05.07.2011

SUMMARY: "Greenpeace EU agriculture policy adviser Stefanie Hundsdorfer said: ?The European Parliament today added real punch to draft laws to protect our farms and food. But let?s not forget that GM contamination doesn?t respect borders. National bans are no substitute for thorough safety testing at a European level, something the EU is failing to do so far. We and a growing majority of the public remain seriously concerned about unanswered health and environmental questions around GM crops. Ecological farming is the correct response to the challenges of food security, climate change and long-term productivity.?"

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EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT STRENGTHENS DRAFT LAW TO BAN GM CROPS

Brussels, 5 July 2011 ? The European Parliament today voted to strengthen a draft EU law giving member states a new right to ban genetically modified (GM) crops from being grown in their territories.

Greenpeace welcomes this positive outcome, but warns that national bans are no substitute for thorough safety testing at EU level.

Greenpeace EU agriculture policy adviser Stefanie Hundsdorfer said: ?The European Parliament today added real punch to draft laws to protect our farms and food. But let?s not forget that GM contamination doesn?t respect borders. National bans are no substitute for thorough safety testing at a European level, something the EU is failing to do so far.

?We and a growing majority of the public remain seriously concerned about unanswered health and environmental questions around GM crops. Ecological farming is the correct response to the challenges of food security, climate change and long-term productivity.?

Greenpeace welcomed that parliament voted to:

- Strengthen the draft legislation by recognising environmental grounds for bans, including the development of herbicide resistant weeds and biodiversity impacts.

- Allow bans where a lack of information is preventing thorough safety testing. GM seed companies are notoriously secretive about their products.

- Changing the legal basis of bans from trade to environment, making any ban based on environmental grounds more robust if challenged in court.

- Oblige biotech companies to give access to the material necessary for independent research into GM risks.

- Have all countries take mandatory measures against GM contamination. In the event these measures fail, governments should ensure that those responsible pay damages.

- Call again on the European Commission to fully implement an earlier unanimous call by environment ministers to improve safety testing of GM crops at European level.

- Ensure that the precautionary principle is embedded in the right to ban.

- Give regions the right to ban GM crop cultivation.

The law still needs approval from EU governments.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT VOTES ON CLIMATE AND GMOS

SOURCE:  Friends of the Earth Europe, Belgium (FoEE)

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://www.foeeurope.org/press/2011/Jul05_EP_votes_on_climate_and_GMO.html

DATE:    05.07.2011

SUMMARY: "Mute Schimpf, food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said: ?MEPs have today defended the right of European governments to ban genetically modified crops. The European Parliament is right to say that consumers, farmers and the environment should be better protected from GMOs and that all the impacts of growing GM crops must be taken into account in decision-making. This is a clear signal from MEPs that they are on the side of the majority of European citizens who oppose GM crops ? it is now up to the European Commission and governments to make sure safeguards against GM crops are upheld.?"

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EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT VOTES ON CLIMATE AND GMOS

Ambitious climate action rejected again

[...]

MEPs vote for stronger GMO rules

The European Parliament voted today for substantially improved rights of national governments to ban the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops in their territories.

Mute Schimpf, food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said: ?MEPs have today defended the right of European governments to ban genetically modified crops. The European Parliament is right to say that consumers, farmers and the environment should be better protected from GMOs and that all the impacts of growing GM crops must be taken into account in decision-making. This is a clear signal from MEPs that they are on the side of the majority of European citizens who oppose GM crops ? it is now up to the European Commission and governments to make sure safeguards against GM crops are upheld.?

The decision on whether to give countries more rights to ban GM crops now goes to the European Council which is currently deadlocked on the issue.

The European Parliament voted in favour of:

- A stronger legal backing for national bans

- Mandatory liability systems for contamination cases

- Compulsory measures to prevent contamination in all EU countries

- National and regional level assessments of environmental risk ? complementary to EU level assessment ? with power to ban GM crops



                                  PART 3

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TITLE:   FREEDOM OF CHOICE ON GMOS FINDS BROAD SUPPORT IN EU PARLIAMENT

SOURCE:  International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements ? EU Regional Group (IFOAM)

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://db.zs-intern.de/uploads/1309935232-110705-PR-GMO-Lepage-report.pdf

DATE:    05.07.2011

SUMMARY: "Today the European Parliament adopted its opinion on the possibility for Member States to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of GMOs in their territory. The IFOAM EU Group welcomes MEPs? support for a change of EU legislation that would finally oblige all member states to take appropriate measures to avoid the unintended presence of GMOs in other products and to establish liability systems that would ensure that the polluter has to pay in cases of GMO contamination."

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FREEDOM OF CHOICE ON GMOS FINDS BROAD SUPPORT IN EU PARLIAMENT

Commission and Council must now step forward in their role to strengthen the right for GMO free food

Brussels, 05/07/2011 ? Today the European Parliament adopted its opinion on the possibility for Member States to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of GMOs in their territory. The IFOAM EU Group welcomes MEPs? support for a change of EU legislation that would finally oblige all member states to take appropriate measures to avoid the unintended presence of GMOs in other products and to establish liability systems that would ensure that the polluter has to pay in cases of GMO contamination.

?The European Parliament strongly supported today the right of member states and EU citizens to stay GMO free,? states Marco Schlüter, Director of the IFOAM EU Group1. ?This is a great step in the right direction. EU citizens and the whole food chain from plant breeders to farmers and retailers need a solid legal framework that guarantees them their right to opt for GMO free feed and food. This right is threatened by  contamination: Cases of GMO commingling in GMO-free products have already cost millions, till now mostly paid by farmers, food industry and taxpayers2. This problem must be addressed in all member states.

Therefore the Council must now overcome its standstill on this issue and support the MEPs? initiative to make measures that prevent GMO contamination, as well as clear liability rules, EU wide compulsory.?

?We also welcome that the European Parliament vote provides member states with a strengthened list of grounds and legal certainty to restrict or ban the cultivation of GMOs which strengthens the possibility to protect food production and environment in whole regions,? adds policy coordinator Antje Kölling. ?But despite the positive outcome of the vote, we must not forget that many other questions related to GMO in food, and on the fields finally need to be resolved. The IFOAM EU Group calls for a moratorium3 on GMO cultivation and GMO approvals as long as the EU legal framework dealing with GMOs does not guarantee the full protection of environment, human health, animal health and the economic viability of the GMO-free food and feed sector.?

NOTES:

(1) The IFOAM EU Group represents more than 300 member organisations of IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) in the EU-27, the EU accession countries and EFTA. Member organisations include: consumer, farmer and processor associations; research, education and advisory organisations; certification bodies and commercial organic companies.

(2) Some extracts of publications about economic costs of GMO contamination and prevention in the food sector:

- Six case studies of small and medium sized food and feed processors for the prevention of GMO contaminations reveal costs between 48 000 and 876 800 Euro per year: Economic impacts of labelling thresholds for the adventitious presence of genetically engineered organisms in conventional and organic seed, study published by IFOAM EU Group 2009:

http://www.ifoam.org/about_ifoam/around_world/eu_groupnew/positions/publications/pdf/IFOAMEU_GMO-freeSeedStudy.pdf

- A baby food producer (90% organic, 10% conventional) spends per year 5000 Euro for testing/sampling plus analysis; 40 000 Euro for reporting (traceability), 35 000 Euro for staff training, 50 000 Euro for audit of commodity suppliers and has moreover to cover 770 000 Euro of additional costs for raw materials, that result from higher costs of the raw material suppliers. Source: Schadensbericht Gentechnik, Bund Ökologische Lebensmittelwirtschaft (Hrsg.) 2009:

http://www.boelw.de/uploads/media/BOELW_Schadensbericht_Gentechnik090318.pdf

- The overall costs the contamination with L601 rice has caused in 2007 throughout the food chain are estimated between 741 Million und 1.285 Billion US $. Source: NEAL BLUE, E. (2007): Risky Business. Economic and regulatory impacts from the unintended release of genetically engineered rice varieties into the rice merchandising system of the US. Greenpeace International (Amsterdam).

http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/content/international/press/reports/riskybusiness.pdf

- In 2007, the disqualification of his harvest for sale on the organic market forced organic farmer Felipe Agustín Esteve to sell in the conventional market at 10 hectare. Source: Testimonies of Contamination, published by Greenpeace 2009:

http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/content/international/press/reports/testimoniesof-contamination.pdf

- Already between 1998 and 2006, 9 organic maize contamination cases have been report by 3 different EU organic certification bodies in Navarra, Aragón and Cataluña. Source: Bello A; Porcuna JL; Gonzálvez V; Fabeiro C. 2007. Organic Farming integrity in maize cultivation in Spain. In: Stein AJ &Rodríguez Cerezo E (2007). Third International Conference on Coexistence between Genetically Modified (GM) and non-GM based Agricultural Supply Chains. Seville 20-21st of November 2007 (Book of abstracts) 373-374pp. Edited by IPTS-JRC European Commission;

http://www.agroecologia.net/recursos/posicionamientos/transgenicos/034-Bello-Organic_as1.pdf

(3) IFOAM EU Group calls for a moratorium on the cultivation of GMO (see: Malta declaration

http://www.ifoam.org/about_ifoam/around_world/eu_groupnew/

workareas/policy/pdf/100319-Malta-GMfree-declarationFINAL.pdf)